All Hope Gone for Hussein, Power Is Passing to Abdullah

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AMMAN, Jordan: The lion has come home to die; how will his cub rule the pride? Jordanian officials began discreetly planning a state funeral for King Hussein, Friday, as his family pondered the decision to turn off his life-support system. Hussein returned to Jordan in critical condition Thursday after his body rejected a bone-marrow transplant to treat his cancer. The eyes of the Middle East and the world are now on Crown Prince Abdullah, the 37-year-old heir he named only last week. "Nobody doubts that Abdullah's policies are those of his father," says TIME correspondent Douglas Waller. "The question is whether he has his father's political survival skills -- Hussein managed to stay in power for close on half a century through his skill in straddling fences. A combination of charisma and firm leadership allowed Hussein to placate the Palestinians, the military and various tribes at home, as well as to be the key regional peacemaker. It remains to be seen whether Abdullah shares those attributes."

Washington hopes to see Abdullah maintain Jordan's role as honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, hold the line against Iraq despite strong sympathy for Baghdad among his subjects, and maintain stability in his fractious and impoverished desert kingdom. To put it mildly, King Hussein will be a hard act to follow.