“Pluralistic Middle East” Lecture Series | Yoav Alon: The Monarchy, the Tribes and the Shaykhly Families in Jordan, 1920-2012

On the afternoon of October 30th, 2020, Prof. Yoav Alon, Professor of Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University, conveyed an online lecture on the theme of “The Monarchy, the Tribes and the Shaykhly Families in Jordan, 1920-2012” for doctorate candidates at Institute of International and Area Studies, Tsinghua University (IIAS-THU) as well as scholars from and beyond IIAS. It is also the third session in the “Pluralistic Middle East” Lecture Series hosted by IIAS, which was presided over by Yang Guang, doctorate candidate in Political Science at Tsinghua University.

Prof. Yoav Alon reviewed the close ties between the Hashemites and the Al-Fayizies, the most prominent tribe in Jordan since the 1920s, and explained that the alliance between the two families is one of the key factors for the long-run stability and development of the Jordanian society. First of all, Prof. Alon introduced the definition of tribe, that is, a tribal group that isifferent from other groups on the basis of real or imagined blood ties. He pointed out that tribal issues are as significant as other issues in regional studies of Middle East, because the influence of tribes is reflected in all aspects of the modern society, including in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan and other countries. In the specific political environment in Jordan, the Fayyad family is the middleman between Hasim’s royal family and other tribes and is also an essential lever used by Hasim to balance other social forces, the value of which is self-evident. Meanwhile, several generations of the Fayyad family have been entrusted with key positions in the Jordanian government and are of great power in the national construction of modern Jordan.

The Q&A session in the second half of the lecture lasted for nearly an hour, during which Prof. Alon and the audience interacted seamlessly. Prof. Alon gave insightful and distinctive answers to the questions raised by the audience, for example, about the Palestinian community in Jordan, the relationship between Jordan and Israel, and the political development of Jordanian tribes. He won a lot of favorable comments from the audience for his witty speech style and knowledgeable expertise.

Prof. Yoav Alon is Professor of Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University, with PhD from the University of Oxford Middle East Centre. His research interest includes modern history of Middle East, Middle East politics and Middle East tribalism.

By: Zhang Yuan