The Hashemite dynasty is the ruling power over Jordan. In a way it is a Government in Exile. The Hashemites (or House of Hashem) were among the losers in a three-way power struggle in what is now Saudi Arabia between the House of Saud, the House of Rashid, and the Hashemites (The winner was the House of Saud, led by Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud). During World War I, the Hashemites took the British side, leading a revolt of the Arab tribes against the Ottoman Empire and recruiting a fair number of more sedentary Arabs in the process. The Brits promised the head of the family, Hussein bin Ali, that he would be king of all the Arab lands east of Egypt (modern Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, plus Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, and much of Yemen if he could win them). However, the British had also promised a homeland in Palestine for the Jews and had secretly planned to split the Middle East with France. As a result, Hussein got nothing (and was kicked out of his stronghold of Mecca by Abdulaziz bin Saud), but his sons, Abdullah and Faisal, were both given rule over British mandates; Faisal originally tried to rule all of "greater Syria" (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan), but the French kicked him out of Damascus and Palestine was a mess, so the British put him on the Iraqi throne. His older brother Abdullah was assigned Jordan (at the time, Transjordan) as his measly share of the Plunder. As it turned out, Jordan is today the only Hashemite kingdom left, ruled by Abdullah's great-grandson King Abdullah II. The memoirs of a certain liaison officer who served with Abdullah, Faisal, and their troops during the Arab Revolt managed to be made into a movie.
During this time it was necessary for there to be a force to enforce the Hashemite King's (and Britain's, not so coincidentally) interests in the desert. The British officer John Glubb took on the job of organizing what was called the Arab Legion out of Bedouin recruits. Now making warriors out of Bedouin is easy; they lived in the desert, regarded camel-rustling as their national sport and were even more tough and ornery than their camels. Making soldiers — people who will work as a team and obey the chain of command even if it is unfortunately occupied by an Obstructive Bureaucrat — is much harder. It required convincing them to relax or reinterpret their pride and to in a small degree, put reason before honor. John Glubb was however able to do this without hurting the tough survival skills that made the Bedouin such good material in the first place.
Between the wars the Arab Legion kept the peace in the desert. When World War II broke out the Arab Legion continued to do this and to watch the back of The British Empire. It also took part in a small campaign to conquer Syria, then held by Vichy France (Vichyites were everyone's Chew Toy and got regularly beat up primarily for being in the way). Ironically, in this campaign they were fighting on the same side as the Yishuv: this was where Moshe Dayan received his Eyepatch of Power.
In 1948, local ethnic troubles between Jews and Arabs in the British Mandate of Palestine became the ArabIsraeli Conflict. During this the Jordanian Army acquitted itself well in the streets of Jerusalem, despite the fact that it was effectively fighting the entire population of Jewish (i.e. West) Jerusalem. They were the only Arab army to make a creditable performance in that war. In the Six-day war they were tested again, against an Israeli army which had had time to improve. While they fought well, they lost (the Israelis having previously annihilated the entire Jordanian Air Force) and large parts of the Kingdom of Jordan became Plunder.
After the Six-Day War the Jordanian forces were seldom tested. They suppressed a revolt by the Palestinians. And they sent a nominal force to fight in the Yom Kippur War. But they continue to stand ready to fight for Jordan and their king to this day.
More recently, Jordan has taken a significant role in the fight against ISIS, with the aforementioned Abdullah II even rumored to have personally led a revenge raid for a Jordanian pilot who was captured, tortured, and murdered by ISIS.
Appears in the following works:
- Lawrence of Arabia. As a band of irregulars of course rather then an organized army.
- Cast A Giant Shadow : As the enemy.
- Exodus: Almost but not quite. The movie ends before the intervention of Arab states in the 1948 war.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: The Jordanian Military help NEST in their fight against the Deceptions.
- The Hope by Hermann Wouk.