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Jordan's king loses throne, others 'nervous in service'

By
Phil Newsom

The shifting sands of near and mid-east politics have cost another monarch his throne.

Jordan's mentally-ailing King Talal has been tossed out and his 17-year-old son proclaimed King Hussein II. A three-man regency will rule until the new monarch comes of age next May.

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The change gives emphasis to a remark once credited to another recently deposed monarch -- King Farouk of Egypt.

Farouk is supposed to have said that soon there only would be five kings left -- the King of England and the four kings in a deck of cards. Farouk's forecast was, perhaps, a bit unfair to the king business but becomes especially interesting in light of his own recent fate and that of the King of Jordan.

Of the seven monarchies in the Middle East, two others are shaky.

In Iran, the powers of Shah Reza Pahlevi are being steadily whittled down by Nationalist Premier Mahammed Mossadegh.

Imam Ahmed of Yemen has confessed he is nervous about his future. When Farouk fell, Imam Ahmed promptly banned the use of all radio sets in his kingdom to prevent the news spreading among his people.

Two conditions have contributed to Middle East unrest and to western difficulties in pushing through such projects as agreement on defense of the Suez canal, an over-all Middle East defense plan and settlement of the Iranian oil controversy.

They are, first, a surging nationalism among all Arab states and with it the growth of "neutralism" between the western and Communist worlds, and, second, national jealousies which have prevented agreement among the Arab states themselves.

In Iran, nationalism took the form of seizure of the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil company and adamant refusal to negotiate on any except Iran's own terms, even though it could mean ruin and Communist occupation of the country.

In Egypt, it was insistence on evacuation of British troops from Suez and recognition of Egypt's king as monarch also of the Sudan.

Arab rivalries are more complicated.

Jordan's new King Hussein II is the great-grandson of King Hussein of the Hejaz in which is located Mecca and other of the Arab world's holiest cities. Hussein, claiming direct descent from Mohammed, lost the Hejaz in a bitter war with King Ibn Said of Saudi Arabia.

Hussein also was the founder of the Hashemite dynasties which now rule Iraq as well as Jordan. Thus, no love lost between Jordan and Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Syria lives in dread of a union between Iraq and Jordan; Jordan accuses Prince Naif of plotting against the throne from nearby Lebanon; they all point a finger of scorn at Egypt for her miserable showing against the Israeli and Jordan is accused of a fancy double-cross in moving on Jerusalem.

The United States and Britain, together, have a stake of more than $2,000,000,000 invested in near and mid-east oil alone. The world has a stake in mid-east defenses.

But Farouk may have been a lot closer to right than he knew.

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