This is the letter sent to Prince Hassan by King Hussein of Jordan during his terminal illness, transferring the succession from his brother, Prince Hassan, to his son, Prince Abdullah.
Translation from the original Arabic, as published in The Jordan Times. It also appeared on the king's website atwww.kinghussein.gov.jo/99-jan25.html
January 25, 1999
My Dear Brother,
Your Royal Highness Prince Hassan,
May God protect you,
I am sending you Arab Hashemite greetings with affection and appreciation.
More than thirty years ago, I entrusted you with the position of crown prince, and you have accomplished the task entrusted to you with diligence, enthusiasm and resolve that knows no fatigue or failure. You have been a brother and a supporter standing by my side in difficult times shouldering with me a great deal of responsibilities on the domestic and sometimes external fronts.
When I entrusted you with this mission, it was my response to your desire and it was my appreciation of your capabilities. I was satisfied because what good we aim to achieve with God's blessing is for Jordan and for all its people and their future generations.
I entrusted you with the post of crown prince and I was, with the will of God, responsible for that decision at the time, at a time when the eldest son of the King had not reached the age defined by the Constitution to allow him to assume responsibility in case the King had died by the will of God.
At that time, a dark atmosphere was affecting the whole nation because dangers, rumours and speculation were rife concerning the imminent end of Jordan, a country with a mission, principles and morals, and a true affiliation to the nation.
At the time, we were forced to introduce an amendment to Article 28 of the Constitution so that a brother of the King could assume the post of the Crown Prince. I chose you for the post with the blessings and approval of my brother, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad. You have been privileged to hold that post despite the fact that your brother Mohammad was older than you. My dear brother Mohammad displayed understanding and altruism.
At the time my decision concerning succession to the throne was not subject to any personal or emotional considerations but rather was a national one. It was a decision stemming from my feeling of responsibility and the need to place the national interests and the country's stability and survival above all considerations and interests. My objective was to perform my duty towards my people and nation, to seek God's blessing and peace of mind, and to achieve stability and reassure all Jordanians about the future. This requires cohesion and national unity by God's grace after going through all kinds of experiences and ordeals.
We have sought to be transparent in all our affairs and we were keen on modernisation and reforms in all matters that lead to progress and success and in an atmosphere of democracy.
It was during my first trip abroad for medical treatment when cancerous cells were discovered in my left ureter, which was removed in addition to my left kidney. The suffering I felt at the time was a reason for my deep insight into the past and the present, as I was carrying the Holy Koran when I moved from one therapy session to another. God's words served as my spiritual and mental nourishment. I had reached a point when I concluded that the long trip had exhausted me physically and I felt my agility was not like before and that there were boundaries which, if crossed, would take their toll on my resistance.
I was left with my mind and memory intact, thank God, and I was looking forward to doing whatever I could towards serving the nation and its future and the coming generations until the last breath of my life.
To achieve that, I returned home deciding to abdicate the throne in your favour despite the differences between us at times. My small family was offended by slandering and falsehoods, and I refer here to my wife and children. When I heard this most of the time, I attributed it to the tendency towards rivalry among those who pretend to be faithful to you and who attribute to you anything good in whatever you do. I have failed over the years in my advice to you and our family to stop asking the media to focus on persons instead of focusing on content and on those who we should celebrate, such as graduates and creative people.
We have overlooked all these matters because when I returned, I was accorded a great reception by my Jordanian family on that eternal day, which left an indelible impression on me. The Jordanian family has overwhelmed me with its noble feelings that strengthened my resolve and determination to do the impossible to help Jordan achieve peace, following in the footsteps of Egypt and after our Palestinian brothers assumed their responsibilities towards achieving that goal, because this is a right which they exercise with their own will. We support their cause and the Palestinian leadership with all our might.
The commencement of the peace process came at a time when Jordan was under siege and the doors were closed. It came at a time when it was believed that the country had come to a standstill.
Through the peace process, we secured the restoration of occupied Jordanian territory and we found the solution for the water problem and our full share of water was returned to us. We are still searching and cooperating with all parties to secure the needs of the nation and its future generations, and we continue our efforts towards developing our agriculture and industry. We are trying to achieve peace and we are exploiting all our influence to support our Palestinian brothers, helping them regain their rights on their land and establish their own state on their national soil. We are trying to achieve the objective of all people seeking a just peace in this region. We stand strongly against any tendency towards destruction and death and against the use of weapons of mass destruction. We demand that the whole world stand united against any party seeking destruction or backing terrorism, wherever they might be.
After a thorough examination, it is clear to me that the situation has become extremely dangerous and is a source of constant concern to the world in view of the capability and ease of developing weapons and the access to expertise to make those weapons and use them. Perhaps biological weapons are the most dangerous of all, because they reintroduce to the world certain diseases that have already become extinct, like smallpox.
Production of vaccines against the disease has stopped, and the effects of these vaccines end after a time if not used. In addition, there are doubts revolving around the effect of any remaining quantities of the vaccine. The most dangerous aspects of this disease is that its symptoms do not appear immediately, and the carrier of the disease can easily transmit it to those with whom he has contact.
In the present time of fast communication, such disease can move with an amazing speed around the world, ending the lives of all people without discrimination.
In addition, the world is witnessing material greed which can cause great damage to the earth's environment unless sound measures are taken. It has to be pointed out that cancer is an outcome of that situation. For example, skin cancer has been proven to be a result of holes in the ozone layer. No doubt other forms of cancer result from environmental pollution in the atmosphere, in addition to smoking. What is more dangerous is that such an atmosphere leads towards drastic changes in the world, like changes in the climate and in rainfall. Such an atmosphere also can cause devastating floods and is behind fires that destroy tropical forests and pollute the waters of rivers, lakes and seas.
Returning to the peace process, I appreciate what you have done to make it succeed, and I should admit it was not an easy job. You have helped me in selecting competitive Jordanians who are loyal to their country and capable of working and defending its rights under all conditions.For that I am grateful and I appreciate what you have done.
Some people may question the reason behind keeping certain officials in their positions. My answer is they are the elite of this nation and they have risen to the occasion with the courage and true affiliation to the country and great affection towards serving their homeland, whether civilian or military personalities, technicians or experts.
After my first trip abroad for treatment we entered the peace process and we exerted all efforts towards making it a success. We embarked on this mission armed with our strong belief in God, our belief that we are all the descendants of Abraham and our belief in the futility of wars and tragedies that befall people.
We were oriented towards construction and doing good, and we have always sought to persuade the world that peace cannot be achieved without justice and that the world should deal with the Arabs on an equal footing so that the inhabitants of this region can protect their interests. We have called on the world to start a serious and objective dialogue in order to lay down the new principles for actual cooperation, free of selfishness and free of the desire to place petty interests above major ones. We welcome any one who is committed to contributing to a law governing bilateral or collective dealings among the people of the world to join us. Those who go astray must be held accountable for their actions, because the world should not be monopolised by groups seeking to tamper with the fate of mankind at will.
As for our Hashemite situation, I remember I spoke about that at a big meeting for officers and officials at the conference hall at Al Hussein Medical City. I stressed the formation of a family council to take care of those who are worthy of belonging to the family of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, and the house of the Prophet.
I have lived through many experiences and I noticed at an early age how some climbers climb onto the branch to ruin the relation between brothers and between father and son, and I swore to myself that this would not happen here in my lifetime. But surely, this has become the objective of every declared or hidden enemy, and all of those have used all means at their disposal to weaken confidence between leadership and people, but they have not succeeded.
Their plan at this stage, together with those who want to destroy Jordan, was to instigate infighting in the ranks of the leadership after they failed to dismantle the base, and they find in my being alive an impediment to all their designs, forgetting that Al Hussein has lived only to gain the blessings of God, to have a clear conscience and to achieve the best for all his people, regardless of their origins, who cooperate in holding the banner high and carrying the message of Jordan with their heads held high, not bowing except before God.
Until that time, I was determined to hand the first responsibility to you, but after you, I envisioned a role for the family council in which to ensure the unity of the Hashemite Family so that when the time came for you to choose your successor, the family would have a great role in naming the most suitable successor, in accordance with the benevolent traditions of Islam.
The most important traits to which young men should aspire are mutual respect, frankness, the fortitude to reject malice, and a quest for knowledge, starting with the honour of serving in the Jordan Armed Forces, the Arab Army, to be a model for young people and to earn the honour that they deserve for their abilities and capabilities.
I envisioned that the council would include all Hashemite Jordanians, including yourself, Prince Raad Ben Zeid Ben Hussein, Prince Zeid Ben Shaker and Prince Ali Ben Nayef, and that all of them would rise to the level expected of them, believing in the importance of their duty and under the threat of punishment for departing from the rules and from a consensus that would achieve the objective and light the right path for future generations and show respect for the country's laws and love for all people, without any injustice or malice. I aspired that the Hashemites would deal with all people as they would wish people to deal with them, removed from envy or greed, refraining from mobilising people against people's own interests, without dividing them into followers of this or that and destroying the edifice of Jordanian society in a way that would fulfil the interest of the country's enemies.
We differed over [the council] because your opinion was that it should be achieved only when you were at the helm. I placed between your two hands a few papers that I wrote myself. I did not show them to anyone. They consisted of the main tenets of my proposal, and when I received your comments on them, the response did not reflect the spirit of my proposal, nor did they meet the needs of the times.
We have differed, and we still do, over the succession, and who would succeed you. You were completely opposed to this until the time you would have assumed the Throne and decided who would have been your successor.
All the princes and princesses are my children and the grandchildren are mine too. You and your sister were the closest to me within the family. Your sons and daughters are like my own children; Abdullah, Faisal, Ali, Hamzeh and Hashem.
Hamzeh, may God give him long life, has been envied since childhood because he was close to me, and because he wanted to know all matters large and small, and all details of the history of his family. He wanted to know about the struggle of his brothers and of his countrymen. I have been touched by his devotion to his country and by his integrity and magnanimity as he stayed beside me, not moving unless I forced him from time to time to carry out some duty on occasions that did not exceed the fingers on one hand. That is how Hamzeh Ben Al Hussein spent his holiday, between his studies at Harrow and his admission to the military academy at Sandhurst, after my insistence. I order him now, as his father and leader, to continue his studies there without any interruption until he finishes, by God's grace.
As for his brothers and sisters, they have both visited me, leaving behind them on many occasions their families and children for extended periods of time. These visits pleased me, but at the same time made me worried about those who they left behind. Of my family, at the forefront was my brother Mohammad and my sister Basma, who visited me and donated marrow that matches my own. You also volunteered to donate marrow except that yours did not match mine.
As for Noor, she brought happiness to me and cared for me during my illness, with the utmost loving affection. She, the Jordanian, who belongs to this country with every fibre of her being, holds her head high in the defence and service of this country's interest. She is the mother who devotes all her efforts to her family. We have grown together in soul and mind, and she has had to endure a great deal of hardship to ensure that I was being attended to. And she, like me, also endured much anxiety and many shocks, but always placed her faith in God and hid her tears behind smiles. She also has not escaped the attempts of criticism. Why not? [Because there are] climbers who want to reach for the summit, and when the fever was getting high some people thought it was their chance.
I have intervened from my sickbed to prevent meddling in the affairs of the Arab Army. This meddling seemed to be meant to settle scores, and included retiring efficient officers known for their allegiance and whose history and bright records are beyond reproach. At the forefront were the Field Marshal and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was envied because of a house. I am the one who paid for the house. I have collected the money in installments over years until it was built modestly. Its costs in no way approach the estimates made by many. That was because of his loyalty and his integrity and because we wanted to give him something commensurate with his rank and position, especially that he receives his counterparts from all over the world.
Some people are asking did others receive the same care? The answer is yes. From the meek to the mighty, wherever it was possible to do so.
Perhaps it was wrong at times, but the support of those who deserve it is one of my greatest responsibilities, and [I do] not do it for personal gain. Excelling students and needy patients benefited.
And then, there is another question. Where is all this coming from? The answer is I have raised [funds] for my country and my people to ensure their progress and to ensure that they lead dignified lives, through continuous development. All [those funds] went to the objective of national self reliance and to the treasury.
On the personal level, that was God-given; the result of many brothers in Arab and Muslim nations who were very magnanimous towards me, knowing my situation and sufferings over the years. They have helped me pay my debts and helped me also to spend on those who serve their country. I thank them and I am grateful to them for their magnanimity.
All of this has given me many sleepless nights while I was on my sickbed, on top of my personal suffering. What made me sleepless for the first time in my life is that I was asking myself, why is there insistence on change in the Army since we know the need for reform and development and the Chairman and myself were busy all the time providing our army with all available experience, local and international. I have used my authority as Supreme Commander of the armed forces to stop any action that would have led to the fragmentation and politicisation of the Army . We have ensured that service in the Army would achieve all our ambitions in its continuous development on the strongest basis as a shield for the country and as our pride.
The same applies to the transfer of efficient ambassadors without reason except the reason of age, although, those ambassadors represent the king, the state and the country. That's why I returned to the homeland: to rectify matters as soon as possible and to assume my duties towards future generations.
I have found that after all these yearsóduring which circumstances and conditions have changed both in our region and at the national levelóby God's grace, we have achieved a high level of credibility, confidence and international recognition, all of which call on us to continue the tireless and sincere work to provide the chance for young people to serve their country and enrich our march with new vision and new experience. All of this require us to take great care of our affairs and look at the future with objectivity and far-sightedness.
I have received your letter in which you place the matter of succession between my hands and in which you express your readiness to hear my decision concerning that matter. I thank you for that.
I have found that to take a decision, I must refer to the original Constitutional rule, where I find that all conditions that originally dictated the exception have passed, and that, therefore, His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah would, in such a case, immediately assume all duties and responsibilities as the Crown Prince of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
I thank you, Your Royal Highness, my dear brother, and express my deepest appreciation to you for all the sincere efforts that you have exerted during the past three decades. I thank you for all your achievements in the fields of development, education, intellectual discourse, science and environmental affairs through your overseeing of many programmes at our national institutions. I value in you the spirit of true and genuine brotherhood towards myself, expressed in your generous letter, which I also feel towards you. This reflects what should ever be the case within our Hashemite Family and which should always be a pillar of the Hashemite Family of love and affection, a family which embodies a feeling responsibility and understanding towards new developments and circumstances of a new era and regards these developments with a great deal of awareness and the ability to deal with them objectivity and with selflessness.
I am sure that you are receiving this decision of mine with self content, and with the spirit of a member of the one united Hashemite team. I am sure that you will be relieved of all the psychological and familial pressures. Jordan and the world at large will be your world in which there are so many of issues in many fields that need your knowledge, expertise and deep intellect, and concerns worthy of your tireless efforts and that, by God's grace, will be supported by us. You will always stay close to me as a brother, an intellectual and a man of principle.
May God bless you,
January 25, 1999,
Shawwal 8, 1419