|Emirate of Transjordan
إمارة شرق الأردن
Imārat Sharq al-Urdun
|Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan memorandum|
The region administered under the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine. Transjordan is shown in brown.
|-||Apr 1921 – Oct 1921||Albert Abramson|
|-||Oct 1921 – Nov 1921||T. E. Lawrence|
|-||Nov 1921 – Apr 1924||Harry St. John Philby|
|-||Apr 1924 – Mar 1939||Henry Fortnam Cox|
|-||Mar 1939 – 17 Jun 1946||Alec Kirkbride|
|Historical era||Interwar period|
|-||Cairo Conference||March 1921|
|-||Coronation||11 April 1921|
|-||Independence announcement||25 April 1923|
|-||Anglo-Transjordanian treaty||20 February 1928|
|-||Elevated to kingdom||22 March 1946|
|-||Full independence||25 May 1946|
The Emirate of Transjordan (Arabic: إمارة شرق الأردن Imārat Sharq al-Urdun), also hyphenated as Trans-Jordan and previously known as Transjordania or Trans-Jordania, was a British protectorate established in April 1921. The Hashemite dynasty ruled the protectorate as well as the neighbouring protectorate of Iraq, following the Cairo Conference. The territory was officially under the British Mandate for Palestine but had a fully autonomous governing system from Mandatory Palestine. In 1946, the Emirate became an independent state. The state was renamed to Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
There were extensive pre-existing cultural, linguistic and religious ties between the populations living on the east of the Jordan river with those living on the west of the Jordan river. The inhabitants of northern Jordan had traditionally associated with Syria, and those of southern Jordan with the Arabian Peninsula.
During World War I, Transjordan saw the majority of the fighting of the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule. Assisted by the British army officer T. E. Lawrence, Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca led the successful revolt which contributed to the Ottoman defeat and breaking up of its Empire.
Establishment of British control
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In March 1920, the Hashemite Kingdom of Syria was declared by Faisal bin Hussein in Damascus which encompassed most of what later became Transjordan. At this point, the southern part of Transjordan was part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz. Following the provision of mandate to France and Britain at San Remo in April, the British appointed a High Commissioner in Palestine with a remit over the area west of the Jordan, and the French ended the Kingdom of Syria at the battle of Maysalun. Transjordan became, for a short time, a no man's land.
In August 1920, Sir Herbert Samuel's request to extend the frontier of British territory beyond the River Jordan and to bring Transjordan under his administrative control was rejected. The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, proposed instead that British influence in Tranjordan should be advanced by sending a few political officers, without military escort, to encourage self-government and give advice to local leaders in the territory. Following Curzon's instruction Samuel set up a meeting with Transjordanian leaders where he presented British plans for the territory. The local leaders were reassured that Transjordan would not come under Palestinian administration and that there would be no disarmament or conscription. Samuel's terms were accepted, he returned to Jerusalem, leaving Captain Alex Kirkbride as the British representative east of the Jordan until the arrival on 21 November 1920 of Abdullah, the brother of recently deposed King Faisal, who marched into Ma'an at the head of an army of 300 men. Without facing opposition Abdullah and his army had effectively occupied most of Tranjordan by March 1921.
In early 1921, prior to the convening of the Cairo Conference, the Middle East Department of the Colonial Office set out the situation as follows:
Distinction to be drawn between Palestine and Trans-Jordan under the Mandate. His Majesty's Government are responsible under the terms of the Mandate for establishing in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people. They are also pledged by the assurances given to the Sherif of Mecca in 1915 to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs in those portions of the (Turkish) vilayet of Damascus in which they are free to act without detriment to French interests. The western boundary of the Turkish vilayet of Damascus before the war was the River Jordan. Palestine and Trans-Jordan do not, therefore, stand upon quite the same footing. At the same time, the two areas are economically interdependent, and their development must be considered as a single problem. Further, His Majesty's Government have been entrusted with the Mandate for "Palestine". If they wish to assert their claim to Trans-Jordan and to avoid raising with other Powers the legal status of that area, they can only do so by proceeding upon the assumption that Trans-Jordan forms part of the area covered by the Palestine Mandate. In default of this assumption Trans-Jordan would be left, under article 132 of the Treaty of Sèvres, to the disposal of the principal Allied Powers. Some means must be found of giving effect in Trans-Jordan to the terms of the Mandate consistently with "recognition and support of the independence of the Arabs".
The Cairo Conference of March 1921 was convened by Winston Churchill, then Britain's Colonial Secretary. With the mandates of Palestine and Iraq awarded to Britain, Churchill wished to consult with Middle East experts. At his request, Gertrude Bell, Sir Percy Cox, T. E. Lawrence, Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, Sir Arnold T. Wilson, Iraqi minister of war Jaʿfar alAskari, Iraqi minister of finance Sasun Effendi (Sasson Heskayl), and others gathered in Cairo, Egypt. An additional outstanding question was the policy to be adopted in Transjordan to prevent anti-French military actions from being launched within the allied British zone of influence. The Hashemites were Associated Powers during the war, and a peaceful solution was urgently needed. The two most significant decisions of the conference were to offer the throne of Iraq to Emir Faisal ibn Hussein (who became Faisal I of Iraq) and an emirate of Transjordan (now Jordan) to his brother Abdullah ibn Hussein (who became Abdullah I of Jordan). The conference provided the political blueprint for British administration in both Iraq and Transjordan, and in offering these two regions to the sons of Sharif Hussein ibn Ali of the Hedjaz, Churchill stated that the spirit, if not the letter, of Britain's wartime promises to the Arabs might be fulfilled. After further discussions between Churchill and Abdullah in Jerusalem, it was mutually agreed that Transjordan was accepted into the mandatory area as an Arab country apart from Palestine with the proviso that it would be, initially for six months, under the nominal rule of the Emir Abdullah and that it would not form part of the Jewish national home to be established west of the River Jordan. Abdullah was then appointed Emir of the Transjordania region in April 1921.
On 21 March 1921, the Foreign and Colonial office legal advisers decided to introduce Article 25 into the Palestine Mandate, which brought Transjordan under the mandate and stated that in that territory, Britain could 'postpone or withhold' those articles of the Mandate concerning a Jewish National Home. It was approved by Curzon on 31 March 1921, and the revised final draft of the mandate (including Transjordan) was forwarded to the League of Nations on 22 July 1922. In August 1922, the British government presented a memorandum to the League of Nations stating that Transjordan would be excluded from all the provisions dealing with Jewish settlement, and this memorandum was approved by the League on 12 August.
Abdullah established his government on 11 April 1921. Britain administered the part west of the Jordan as Palestine, and the part east of the Jordan as Transjordan. Technically they remained one mandate, but most official documents referred to them as if they were two separate mandates. In May 1923 Transjordan was granted a degree of independence with Abdullah as ruler and Harry St. John Philby as chief representative.
Transjordan remained under British control until the first-Transjordanian treaty was concluded in 1928. Transjordan became nominally independent, although the British still maintained a military presence and control of foreign affairs and retained some financial control over the kingdom. This failed to respond to Transjordanian demands for a fully sovereign and independent state, a failure that led to widespread disaffection with the treaty among Transjordanians, prompting them to seek a national conference (25 July 1928), the first of its kind, to examine the articles of the treaty and adopt a plan of political action.
The borders and territory of Transjordan were not determined until after the Mandate came into effect. The borders in the east of the country were designed so as to aid the British in building an oil pipeline from their Mandate of Iraq through Transjordan to seaports in the Palestine Mandate. The strategically important southern section with an outlet to the Red Sea were incorporated into Transjordan by Abdullah, the provinces of Ma'an and Aqaba from the Kingdom of Hejaz in 1925.
The Hashemite Emir Abdullah, elder son of Britain's wartime Arab ally Sharif Hussein of Mecca, was placed on the throne of Transjordan. The applicable parts of the Palestine mandate were recited in a decision of 16 September 1922, which provided for the separate administration of Transjordan. The government of the territory was, subject to the mandate, formed by the Emir Abdullah, brother of King Feisal of Iraq, who had been at Amman since February 1921. Britain recognized Transjordan as an independent government on 15 May 1923, and gradually relinquished control, limiting its oversight to financial, military and foreign policy matters. This had an impact on the goals of Revisionist Zionism, which sought a state on both banks of the Jordan. The movement claimed that it effectively severed Transjordan from Palestine, and so reduced the area on which a future Jewish state in the region could be established.
The most serious threats to Abdullah's position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions by the Ikhwan tribesmen from Najd in modern Saudi Arabia into southern parts of his territory. The emir was powerless to repel those raids by himself, and had to appeal for help to the British who maintained a military base with a small air force at Marka, close to Amman. The British military force was the primary obstacle against the Ikhwan between 1922–1924, and was also utilized to help Abdullah with the suppression of local rebellions at Kura, and later by Sultan Adwan, in 1921 and 1923 respectively.
Independence and establishment of Hashemite kingdom
In March 1946, under the Treaty of London, Transjordan became a kingdom. On 25 May 1946, the parliament of Transjordan proclaimed the emir king, and formally changed the name of the country from the Emirate of Transjordan to the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.
The Anglo-American treaty, also known as the Palestine Mandate Convention, permitted the US to delay any unilateral British action to terminate the mandate. The earlier proclamation of the independence of Syria and Lebanon had said "the independence and sovereignty of Syria and Lebanon will not affect the juridical situation as it results from the Mandate Act. Indeed, this situation could be changed only with the agreement of the Council of the League of Nations, with the consent of the Government of the United States, a signatory of the Franco-American Convention of 4 April 1924".
The U.S. adopted the policy that formal termination of the mandate with respect to Transjordan would follow the earlier precedent established by the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon. That meant termination would generally be recognized upon the admission of Transjordan into the United Nations as a fully independent country. Members of the U.S. Congress introduced resolutions demanding that the U.S. Representative to the United Nations be instructed to seek postponement of any international determination of the status of Transjordan until the future status of Palestine as a whole was determined. The U.S. State Department also received a legal argument from Rabbis Wise and Silver objecting to the independence of Transjordan. At the 1947 Pentagon Conference, the U.S. advised Great Britain it was withholding recognition of Transjordan pending a decision on the Palestine question by the United Nations. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a plan for the future government of Palestine which called for termination of the Mandate not later than 1 August 1948.
The works of Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe, Mary Wilson, Eugene Rogan, and other historians outline a modus vivendi agreement between Abdullah and the Yishuv. Those works are taught in most Israeli university courses on the history, political science, and sociology of the region. Archival materials reveal that the parties had negotiated the non-belligerent partition of Palestine between themselves, and that initially they had agreed to abide by the terms of the UN resolution. John Baggot Glubb, the commander of the Arab Legion, wrote that British Foreign Secretary Bevin had given the green light for the Arab Legion to occupy the territory allocated to the Arab state. The Prime Minister of Transjordan explained that Abdullah had received hundreds of petitions from Palestinian notables requesting protection upon the withdrawal of the British forces. Eugene Rogan says that those petitions, from nearly every town and village in Palestine, are preserved in "The Hashemite Documents: The Papers of Abdullah bin al-Husayn, volume V: Palestine 1948 (Amman 1995)".
After the mandate was terminated, the armed forces of Transjordan entered Palestine. The Security Council adopted a US-backed resolution that inquired about the number and disposition of Transjordan's armed forces in Palestine. The Foreign Minister of Transjordan replied that neither the UN nor US recognized Transjordan, although they both had been given the opportunity for more than two years. Yet the US had recognized the Jewish state immediately, although the factors for this recognition were lacking.
Abdullah explained Transjordan's armed forces entry into Palestine to the Security Council saying "we were compelled to enter Palestine to protect unarmed Arabs against massacres similar to those of Deir Yassin."
After capturing the West Bank area of Cisjordan during the 1948–49 war with Israel, Abdullah took the title King of Jordan and, in April 1949, officially changed the country's name to the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan". The following year, he annexed the West Bank.
The United States extended de jure recognition to the Government of Transjordan and the Government of Israel on the same day, 31 January 1949. Clea Bunch said that "President Truman crafted a balanced policy between Israel and its moderate Hashemite neighbours when he simultaneously extended formal recognition to the newly created state of Israel and the Kingdom of Transjordan. These two nations were inevitably linked in the President's mind as twin emergent states: one serving the needs of the refugee Jew, the other absorbing recently displaced Palestinian Arabs. In addition, Truman was aware of the private agreements that existed between Jewish Agency leaders and King Abdullah I of Jordan. Thus, it made perfect sense to Truman to favour both states with de jure recognition."
In 1978, the U.S. State Department published a memorandum of conversation between Mr. Stuart W. Rockwell of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs and Abdel Monem Rifai, a Counselor of the Jordan Legation on 5 June 1950. Mr. Rifai asked when the United States was going to recognize the union of Arab Palestine and Jordan. Mr. Rockwell explained the Department's position, stating that it was not the custom of the United States to issue formal statements of recognition every time a foreign country changed its territorial area. The union of Arab Palestine and Jordan had been brought about as a result of the will of the people and the US accepted the fact that Jordanian sovereignty had been extended to the new area. Mr. Rifai said he had not realized this and that he was very pleased to learn that the US did in fact recognize the union.
Jordan was admitted as a member state of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.
Status of the Emirate
According to the U.S. State Department Digest of International Law, the status of the mandate was not altered by the agreement between the United Kingdom and the Emirate concluded on 20 February 1928 which recognized the existence of an independent government in Transjordan and defined and limited its powers. The ratifications were exchanged on 31 October 1929."
In 1937, the US Consul General at Jerusalem reported to the State Department that the Mufti refused the principle of partition and declined to consider it. The Consul said the Emir Abdullah urged acceptance on the ground that realities must be faced, but wanted modification of the proposed boundaries and Arab administrations in the neutral enclave. The Consul also noted that Nashashibi sidestepped the principle, but was willing to negotiate for favorable modifications.
Transjordan applied for membership of the United Nations on 26 June 1946. The Polish representative said that he did not object to the independence of Transjordan, but requested that the application be postponed for a year on the grounds that legal procedures required by the Covenant of the League of Nations had not been carried out. The British representative responded that the League of Nations had already approved the termination of the mandate in Transjordan. When the issue was voted on, Transjordan's application achieved the required total number of votes, but was vetoed by the Soviet Union which did not approve membership of any countries with which it did not have diplomatic relations. This problem and similar problems caused by vetoes of the memberships of Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Italy took several years and many votes to solve. Jordan was finally admitted to membership on 14 December 1955.
- Y. Ben Gad (1991) p 105.
- Peter Gruber, (1991) Historical Dictionary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan p 45-46.
- Norman Bentwich, England in Palestine, p51, "The High Commissioner had ... only been in office a few days when Emir Faisal ... had to flee his kingdom" and "The departure of Faisal and the breaking up of the Emirate of Syria left the territory on the east side of Jordan in a puzzling state of detachment. It was for a time no-man's-land. In the Ottoman regime the territory was attached to the Vilayet of Damascus; under the Military Administration it had been treated a part of the eastern occupied territory which was governed from Damascus; but it was now impossible that that subordination should continue, and its natural attachment was with Palestine. The territory was, indeed, included in the Mandated territory of Palestine, but difficult issues were involved as to application there of the clauses of the Mandate concerning the Jewish National Home. The undertakings given to the Arabs as to the autonomous Arab region included the territory. Lastly, His Majesty's Government were unwilling to embark on any definite commitment, and vetoed any entry into the territory by the troops. The Arabs were therefore left to work out their destiny."
- Avi Shlaim (2007) p 11
- Martin Sicker, (1999) Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831–1922 p 158.
- Wilson, Mary (1990). King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. p. 48. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. "Abdullah’s arrival in Ma’an on 21 November threatened to disrupt Samuel’s cosy arrangement. According to reports, Abdullah had a force of 300 men and six machine guns."
- Sicker, Martin (1999). Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922. pp. 159–161. "In January 1921, it was reported in Kerak that Abdullah was advancing toward the town at the head of his army. Kirkbride appealed to Samuel for instructions. The political officer had a total force of only fifty Arab policemen at his disposal and quite simply did not know what to do. Several weeks later he received the following reply from Jerusalem: “It is considered most unlikely that the Emir Abdullah would advance into territory which is under British control... Two days later Abdullah’s troops marched into British-controlled Moab. Unable to stop him, Kirkbride decided to welcome him instead. With Abdullah’s arrival the National Government of Moab went out of existence. Buoyed by his easy success, he decided to proceed to Amman. By the end of March 1921 Abdullah and his small army had effectively occupied most of Trans-Jordan unopposed... There seemed to be only two options. Either the British army had to be sent in to evict him or the French had to be allowed to cross the frontier to accomplish the task. Both courses of action were considered to be completely unacceptable. The government was simply not prepared to go to the expense of sending an army to fight in a territory of such marginal importance as Trans-Jordan, and it was equally inconceivable that British policy would permit French intervention and occupation of the area. There was, however, another alternative, which was suggested by Churchill. He observed that it was most important that the government of Trans-Jordan be compatible with that of Iraq because British strategy called for a direct overland link between Egypt and the Persian Gulf, which would have to cross both territories. Since in the meantime Feisal had been given the throne of Iraq, it might well serve British purposes to make his brother, Abdullah, ruler of Trans-Jordan or to appoint an indigenous leader approved by him."
- [Appendix 2, Memorandum drawn up in London by Middle East Department Prior to Palestine Conference, p. 30, Report on Middle East Conference held in Cairo and Jerusalem, 12 March 1921, CO935/1/1]
- Palestine Papers, 1917–1922, Doreen Ingrams, George Braziller 1973 Edition, pages 116–117
- Ian Lustick (1988). For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. Council on Foreign Relations. p. 37. ISBN 0-87609-036-6.
- Wilson, Mary (1990). King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. p. 53. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. "Abdullah began by suggesting the unification of Palestine and Transjordan under an Arab ruler, or the unification of Transjordan and Iraq. Both ideas were firmly squashed. In the end he agreed to take responsibility for Transjordan alone for a period of six months. .........It was further agreed that no British troops would be stationed there... With this agreement, the division of the Fertile Crescent into separate states dominated by either Britain or France was completed. Despite the short term nature of the arrangement, Transjordan proved to be a lasting creation. For Abdullah himself his six months lasted a life time."
- Roger Louis, William (1985). The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951. p. 348. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. "In return for providing a rudimentary administration and obviating the need for British military occupation, Abdullah in March 1921 gained assurance from Churchhill, then Colonial Secretary, that no Jews would be allowed to settle in Transjordan. That guarantee effectively created Transjordan as an Arab country apart from Palestine, where the British commitment to a "national home" remained a delicate problem between Abdullah and the British."
- "Amir Abdullah's Bodyguard on Camels with Red, Green and White Standard at Far Left". World Digital Library. 1921-04. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
- "Foundations of British Policy In The Arab World: The Cairo Conference of 1921", Aaron S. Klieman, Johns Hopkins, 1970, ISBN 0-8018-1125-2, pages 228–234
- 10 August 1922:- Order of Palestine created by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on 2 November 1917, (Balfour Declaration). Where article 86 of the Palestine Order In Council 1922 Shall Not Apply To Such Parts Of The Territory Comprised In Palestine To The East Of The Jordan And The Dead Sea As Shall Be Defined By Order Of The High Commissioner. Subject To The Provisions Of Article 25 Of The Mandate, The High Commissioner May Make Such Provision For The Administration Of Any Territories So Defined As Aforesaid As With The Approval Of The Secretary Of State May be prescribed. The Palestine Order of Council 1922 duly received Royal assent and Given at Our Court at Saint James's this Fourteenth day of August 1922, in the Thirteenth Year of Our Reign.
- Gökhan Bacik (2008). Hybrid sovereignty in the Arab Middle East: the cases of Kuwait, Jordan, and Iraq. Macmillan. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-230-60040-9. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- 12 August 1922 Britain is given the Mandate of the League of Nations to Administer Palestine.
- Avi Shlaim (2007) p 14.
- Avi Shlaim, Lion of Jordan (2007) p 17.
- Avi Shlaim (2007) p 16.
- King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan, Mary Christina Wilson
- Wasserstein, 2004; The Making of Transjordan
- Salibi, Kamal S. The modern history of Jordan. p. 104
- Salibi, Kamal S. The modern history of Jordan. p. 104–105
- Salibi, Kamal S. The modern history of Jordan. p. 107
- See Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1941. The British Commonwealth; the Near East and Africa Volume III (1941), pages 809–810; and Statement of General de Gaulle of 29 November 1941, concerning the Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. 1 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963) 680–681
- See Foreign relations of the United States, 1946. The Near East and Africa Volume VII (1946), page 798 
- See Foreign relations of the United States, 1946. General, the United Nations Volume I, (1946), 411 
- Foreign relations of the United States, 1947. The Near East and Africa, Volume V, Page 603 
- See for example "Doubting the Yishuv-Hashemite Agreement" starting on page 7 of "Refabricating 1948", by Benny Morris, Journal of Palestine Studies 
- See Chapter 5, Jordan and 1948, in "The war for Palestine: rewriting the history of 1948", By Eugene L. Rogan, and Avi Shlaim, Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-521-69934-7i
- See CABLEGRAM DATED 18 MAY 1948 FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL ADDRESSED TO THE FOREIGN MINISTER OF TRANSJORDAN, AND REPLY THERETO DATED 20 MAY 1948, UN Document S/760 of 20 May 2003 
- See UN Document PAL/167, 16 May 1948 TRANSJORDAN NOTIFIES UN OF ARMED ENTRY INTO PALESTINE 
- Foreign relations of the United States, 1949. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa Volume VI, Page 713
- Clea Lutz Bunch, "Balancing Acts: Jordan and the United States during the Johnson Administration," Canadian Journal of History 41.3 (2006)
- Foreign relations of the United States, 1950. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Volume V (1950), page 921.
- See Member States of the United Nations
- League of Nations, Official Journal, 1928, p. 1574
- 1919 Foreign Relations of the United States, vol. XIII, Paris Peace Conference (1947), p. 100. For a summary of the Agreement of 20 February 1928, between the United Kingdom and the Emir of Transjordan, see Bentwich, "The Mandate for Transjordan", X Brit. Yb. Int'l L. (1929) 212.
- Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. 1 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963) 631
- Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1937. The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa Volume II, Page 894 
- H. Duncan Hall (1948). Mandates, Dependencies and Trusteeship. London: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. pp. 126–127.
- Minutes of the 57th Session of the Security Council, S/PV.57 pp. 100–101 
- Minutes of the 57th Session of the Security Council, S/PV.57, pp. 138–139. In favour: Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Mexico, Netherlands, UK, USA. Against: Poland, USSR. Abstention: Australia
- Yuen-Li Liang (1949). "Conditions of admission of a state to membership in the United Nations". The American Journal of International Law 43: 288–303.
- Member States of the United Nations
- Wasserstein, Bernard (2004). Israel and Palestine: Why They Fight and Can They Stop?. Profile Books. ISBN 1-86197-534-1
- Jordan – History: The making of Transjordan, King Hussein's official page
- U.S. Library of Congress country study