Habib: The people's love for Al Hussein and his closeness to them made a solid Jordanian position

06 Feb 2020

JMI – Amman

During a seminar at the Jordan Media Institute, journalist Randa Habib presented milestones in the life of the late King Hussein Bin Talal. The presentation on Wednesday was attended by JMI students and trainees, on the 21st anniversary of the passing of the late king, described as “the most patient and humble ruler”. Habib discussed a series of situations highlighting the late monarch’s human side, which she documented in her book titled “Hussein, Father, and Son: Thirty Years That Changed the Middle East”.

Habib, who was granted the first press interview with King Abdullah bin Al-Hussein after his ascent to power in 1999, stated that King Abdullah II, much like his father, utilizes opportunities with the global press to convey the voice of his country as far as possible. She stressed that his messages clarify the solidity of the Jordanian position in an enflamed region, and that “King Abdullah II would predict the difficulties and crises approaching the region due to the experiences he learned from with King Hussein.”

Habib reminisced that the interview she conducted with King Hussein in the 1980s was her first interview with a ruler who had global popularity. She explained that at the time, she just had a pen and paper, and that the king was fasting during Ramadan when it took place. “I had little experience and was quite young and didn’t even have a recording device…I was scared and confused even though I had prepared well for the interview and read extensively, but it was difficult because the issues that the king was concerned with were endless and he shouldered great responsibilities for the country,” she stated, adding that the king was “very kind, which helped alleviate my confusion, especially as he started to give his answers slowly to me like a school teacher.”

Habib, who worked as a reporter for more than 30 years, pointed out that King Hussein warned of the rise of the extreme right in Tel Aviv and its danger to the “institutionalization of the peace process”. She added that the late Hussein considered the assassination of the former Israeli occupation PM Yitzhak Rabin to be a “burial” of peace after less than two years of signing the Wadi Araba Treaty. She added that he considered this to jeopardize the international understandings the treaty was based on, which meant moving towards a two-state solution and creating a Palestinian state on the territories of 1967, while he supported the Palestinian right of return and rejected the (forced) settling of Palestinians outside their homeland.  

Habib affirmed that the late king continuously attempted to unify the Arab world for serving its various causes and especially the Palestinian cause, despite the rejections and pressures he faced. She also addressed the efforts he exerted to reconcile the positions between Iraq and Kuwait prior to the Gulf War, and his creation of Arab alliances.      

The dean of JMI, Ziad Rifai, stated that the narrative presented by Habib regarding her experience with Hussein is beneficial for reporters to develop their skills in political media, especially in relation to analysis, observation and protecting sources. The anniversary provides lessons in politics, journalism,and media, he added, stating that “JMI believes in utilizing these occasions to highlight the milestones of our history and to enhance Jordanian journalistic skills.”