Prince Abdullah: The chosen ruler
February 6, 1999
Web posted at: 2:25 a.m. EST (0725 GMT)
AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- The Hashemite crown is passing to a new generation.
As the long-ruling Jordanian monarch struggles for life in a hospital outside Amman, 37-year-old Abdullah Bin Hussein prepares to take up the reins of the small but strategic kingdom of Jordan.
Abdullah was until lately a political unknown, but he was catapulted into the limelight when his father, King Hussein, last month pushed aside Abdullah's uncle Hassan, who had been crown prince for thirty four years, to select him as successor.
The son of King Hussein's second wife, the British Princess Mona, Abdullah led Jordan's special forces, a critical position in a country where the army is one of the throne's important pillars.
Rania, Abdullah's Palestinian wife, is seen as a bridge between the royal family and Jordan's large population of Palestinians.
Educated in Britain and the United States, Abdullah also straddles the gap between traditional Arab values and the surging westernization of Jordan's young.
While all this argues in his favor, diplomats based in Jordan worry that Abdullah lacks the experience so crucial for survival in one of the world's roughest neighborhoods.
With Jordan's economy in the doldrums and the Arab-Israeli peace process effectively stalled, Abdullah is now under pressure to establish his credentials at home and abroad to retain his country's much envied stability.
By CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman in Amman.
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