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Jordan’s crown prince makes global debut in UN speech

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein addresses the UN. (AFP)
AMMAN: Just a year out of college, Jordan’s crown prince has made his debut on the world’s biggest stage, addressing the UN General Assembly — the clearest sign yet that he is on a fast track to a prominent public role at home and abroad.
The accelerated roll-out of 23-year-old Crown Prince Hussein underscores the continuity of the Hashemite dynasty — a reassuring prospect for Western and Arab allies who view the stability of the kingdom, a front-line state in the battle against extremism, as a key concern.
The prince is also seen as a domestic asset for the monarchy at a time of sharp economic downturn and growing discontent, particularly among his contemporaries. More than half of Jordanians are younger than 24, with more than one-third in that age group unemployed, and many feel excluded from opportunities.
Hussein’s growing visibility and focus on the concerns of his generation “would give many today a kind of hope that something will change in Jordan,” provided it is linked to a reform plan, said analyst Amer Sabaileh.
In his General Assembly speech, delivered in fluent English, the crown prince introduced himself as an advocate for the “largest generation of young people in history,” but focused mostly on familiar Jordanian themes.
He portrayed his desert kingdom bordering conflict-ridden Syria and Iraq as a defender of moderation and inclusiveness in a region “too often deafened by division and extremism.”
The palace portrayed Thursday’s speech as part a natural progression in his training, which has included an undergraduate degree in international history from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and an officer’s course at Britain’s Sandhurst military academy.
“It’s a role he has been growing into, and the issue of youth empowerment is dear and close to him,” a palace official said.
It’s also a role he might play for years to come. At age 55, his father, Jordan’s King Abdallah, is one of the region’s younger monarchs.
For Abdallah, it made sense to cede the spotlight in New York to his son, said David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank.
Abdallah, one of the best-known Arab leaders, has successfully promoted Jordan’s moderate image in 18 years in power, and presenting his son to a wider audience helps burnish “brand Jordan,” said Schenker.

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