Saturday, 30 January 2016

Our Last Best Chance - King Abdullah II of Jordan

Title: Our Last Best Chance
Author: King Abdullah II of Jordan
ISBN: 978-0-141-04879-6
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2012
Pages: 346
Photographs/maps: 39 b/w

The Kingdom of Jordan stands as a bastion of stability in a very unstable neighbourhood. That it has been able to maintain internal order and good governance despite poverty, a massive refugee challenge and a region wracked by sectarian and religious violence is a testament to its benign leadership and a moderate and balanced approach by government. The role of the Royal family in Jordan has been instrumental in the maintenance of this stability.

King Abdullah came to the throne unexpectedly upon the death of his father King Hussein in 1999. Since then he has dealt with the second Iraq War and its regional fallout, the Arab Spring, the world economic crisis of the late 2000’s, War in Syria, the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli issue and the challenge of the international perception of Islam with the rise of ISIL. His book is a reflection of his thoughts and vision of how these and other issues are being met, the challenges associated with each both regionally and internationally and what may be done to address them.

His book is a balanced and thoughtful assessment of the root causes of these issues and the role that Jordan and the international community must play in addressing them. He does not shy away from forthright criticism of all parties and the continuing narrow mindedness of the actions of individuals and states. He is particularly critical of the Israeli approach to the issue of the Palestinians; his observations however, are not simply rhetoric and bombast but measured and reflect a position based upon contemplation and experience.

His work provides an excellent insight into the realities of Arab politics: the challenges of tribalism, individuality, religion and economic disparity. His is a world where coups and the threat of political violence is a very strong reality. He outlines his efforts to improve education and the access of all to the benefits of the global economy while recognizing the history and culture of the Arab community. It is a fascinating view of the interface between politics, the integrated role of religion in all aspects of society and the lingering traditions of the Arab people relating to the role of tribes, women and honour.

King Abdullah has a foot in each camp. He brings to his book his insights into the Arab mind tempered with his exposure and understanding of the Western world. His is a benign and moderate leadership whose success is reflected in the stability of Jordan. His book represents the thoughts and contemplation's of an experienced and respected Arabic leader. They are not couched in religious rhetoric but are presented in a very readable and logical fashion. It is evident that he has thought long and deeply on these issues and that he holds very strong opinions and beliefs. This is a book well worth reading and one that, it is hoped, will be followed by further writings on the subsequent events since its publication in 2012.  

1 comment:

  1. You don't discuss any of his thoughts or positions. I do like that his perspective is from the Arab world but knows the West as well.