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Jordanian statesman. He filled a number of ministerial positions within the Jordanian cabinet and Royal Court through various parts of the twentieth century

Jordanian statesman Adnan Abu Auda was the guest speaker at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies weekly seminar on Wednesday, 29 November, 2017. Abu Auda, who filled a number of ministerial positions within the Jordanian cabinet and Royal Court through various parts of the twentieth century, published his journals covering the tumultuous and decisive years from 1970 to 1988—a period set off by the milestones of Black September and official Jordanian dissociation from the West Bank, making way for the PLO—through the ACRPS earlier this year. Abu Auda's journals offer researchers an unparalleled, insightful and well informed view of the political developments in Jordan during that period. Abu Auda's journals, and the attendant seminar, also turned some of the widespread perceptions of Jordanian-Palestinian interconnections on their head .

Part of the value of Abu Auda's journals lies in the fact that they reflect the author's contemporaneous observations of important political events before, differing starkly from the ipso facto reinterpretation typical of a memoir. The significance of many of these events, however, continues to ricochet through time; Abu Auda's journals offer valuable answers, from a fresh perspective, on questions which remain unanswered.

Some of the highlights of the book, and which were discussed in the seminar, include Abu Auda's recollections of the October, 1973War, and the preparations for it; the Rabat Conference, which cemented, on the official Arab level, the position of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the "sole, legitimate representative" of the Palestinian, thereby sidelining Jordan; and the domestic Jordanian fallout of regional political affairs, particularly with regards to the Palestinian Cause. Yet, as Maan Bayyari, one of two discussants (together with Muhanad Mubidin) who shared the panel with Abu Auda made clear, the journals add value not only to histories of Jordan, but also help inform an understanding of the wider Middle East region. In particular, Abu Auda takes in the Iran-Iraq War and how it complicated intra-Arab relations, as well as how Kissinger's diplomatic involvement with the Middle East prefigured the latter series of Arab-Israeli peace agreements.

Abu Auda's journals are not merely a record or defense of his time in government: they also afforded the former statesman the chance to offer his own personal opinions and analyses of political events which he witnessed first-hand, and participated in. These include his anecdotes and personal reflections on meetings with political leaders from Arab countries and further afield, in addition to his own views on efforts to achieve a negotiated solution to the "Middle East question". Also included in the journals is a description of his  personal involvement in the formation and reshuffling of Jordanian governments.

Abu Auda's discussion was followed by interventions from Jordanian historian Muhanad Mubidin. Mubidin described Abu Auda's journals as a valuable resource on pivotal moments in the modern and contemporary history of Jordan; in fact, of the entire Arab region since the second half of the twentieth century. Mubidin described Abu Auda's journals as appealing to four distinct levels. The first, which concerned Jordan specifically, covered also questions of state formation in Jordan. A second applied to the Palestinian Cause, with its Pan-Arab appeal and, in particular, the first stirrings of Arab-Israeli peace agreements. A third part of the journals appeals to Jordan's regional relations with its Arab neighbors, including discord with Damascus over peace agreements with Israel; and relations with Iraq, the Gulf states and Egypt. The fourth area of interest concerns Jordan's relations with the former world powers, including the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. When seeking to understand why Abu Auda chose to maintain such meticulous, candid daily records of his time in various Jordanian cabinets, Mubidin offered that his work was not an abstract attempt at maintaining a record for posterity, but also seeking to find a ritualistic means of documenting his own innocence in times of power.

Mubidin was followed by Maan Bayyari, a Jordanian journalist and Head of Editorial at the Al Araby Al Jadeed. Bayyari explained how Abu Auda's journals would be useful to writers and researchers seeking to better understand the Arab-Israeli conflict and the American role within it. Bayyari described the work as "invaluable to scholars from all disciplines who wanted to better understand this issue".