King of Jordan sends harsh message on dissent inside the royal household

JERUSALEM (AP) – Jordanian authorities mentioned on Sunday they foiled a “malicious plot” by a former crown prince to destabilize the dominion with international backing, contradicting the senior royal’s claims that he was being punished for having denounced corruption and incompetence.

Confronted with rival narratives, the US and Arab governments shortly sided with King Abdullah II of Jordan, reflecting the nation’s strategic significance in a turbulent area.

Domestically, Prince Hamzah’s unprecedented criticism of the ruling class – with out naming the king – may help rising complaints about poor governance and human rights abuses in Jordan.

On the similar time, the king’s harsh response – inserting his in style half-brother beneath home arrest and accusing him of significant crimes – has illustrated the bounds of public dissent he’s prepared to tolerate.

“The soundness and safety of the dominion transcend every part,” mentioned Ayman Safadi, Jordanian international minister and deputy prime minister, accusing Hamzah and two senior Jordanian officers of conspiring with international parts to destabilize the dominion. “The plot is completely contained.”

But Safadi’s press convention on Sunday didn’t reply questions surrounding the dramatic occasions over the weekend. On the evening of Saturday to Sunday, Hamzah introduced in a secretly recorded video leaked to the media that he had been beneath home arrest.

Hamzah’s mom, Noor, weighed in on Twitter, writing on Sunday: “Pray that fact and justice prevail for all harmless victims of this depraved slander. Might God bless them and shield them. “

Abdullah and Hamzah are each sons of the late King Hussein, who stays a beloved determine twenty years after his loss of life. Upon ascending the throne in 1999, Abdullah appointed Hamzah as crown prince, solely to revoke the title 5 years later. Whereas the 2 would usually have good relations, Hamzah has at occasions spoken out towards authorities insurance policies and, extra lately, has solid ties with highly effective tribal leaders in a motion seen as a menace to the king.

In his video, Hamzah, 41, accused the Jordanian ruling class of corruption and stifling freedom of expression.

“I’m not a part of any nefarious conspiracy or group or international backed group, as is all the time the case right here for anybody talking out,” he mentioned. He mentioned his love for the nation was seen as “against the law worthy of isolation, threats and now minimize”.

Hamzah is a well-liked determine in Jordan, extensively considered pious and modest. However in his televised speech, Safadi painted a a lot completely different image, accusing the prince of partaking in a secret plot that will have broken nationwide safety had it not been foiled on the final minute.

“After they (the safety companies) intercepted some communications speaking about zero hour, then it was clear that they (the so-called plotters) went from conception and planning to motion,” mentioned Safadi. “In consequence, it was needed for the safety and intelligence apparatuses to maneuver to strangle this malicious plot from start.”

Safadi didn’t present particulars of the alleged conspiracy or point out which different international locations had been allegedly concerned. However he mentioned 14 to 16 Hamzah associates had been arrested, along with two former senior officers, Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal household. Awadallah is a former cupboard minister and former head of the royal courtroom.

Safadi accused Awadallah, now a distinguished Gulf businessman, of sustaining contact with foreigners and trying to arrange a aircraft to get Hamzah’s spouse in a foreign country. “There was joint coordination between Awadallah and the prince, however I will not go into particulars,” Safadi mentioned.

He declined to say whether or not the prince could be charged with against the law, saying solely that there had been makes an attempt to resolve the difficulty out of courtroom.

Such public clashes between the very best ranks of the long-ruling household are unknown, and any signal of instability in Jordan may elevate issues throughout the area.

The USA shortly introduced its “full help” for Abdullah. Saudi Arabia and different Gulf international locations, together with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, have all expressed solidarity with the king.

Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian political analyst, mentioned sturdy help for Abdullah mirrored his usually good relations within the area, in addition to fears that comparable issues may hit different international locations.

Not one of the leaders within the area “want to see devastation hit any regime,” Kamhawi mentioned. “It might be contagious.”

The USA sees Jordan as a significant ally, granting it entry to navy gear and help. US particular forces and different troops practice frequently with the Jordanians. The dominion hosts some 3,000 American troopers.

Stability in Jordan and the standing of the king have lengthy been a priority throughout the area, significantly beneath the Trump administration, which has supplied unprecedented help to Israel and sought to isolate the Palestinians, together with by reducing funding to the Palestinian refugees.

This has positioned Jordan, which serves because the guardian of Islamic holy websites in Jerusalem – and is dwelling to a big Palestinian inhabitants – in a fragile place.

Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994. The international locations preserve shut safety relations, however relations have in any other case been strained in recent times, largely resulting from variations associated to Israel’s battle with the Palestinians.

Israeli Protection Minister Benny Gantz known as Jordan a “strategic ally” and known as the unrest “an inside Jordanian situation”.

Jordan, a rustic of some 10 million individuals, has been rocked by a sequence of crises in recent times, from the rise of the Islamic State group in neighboring international locations to an inflow of Syrian refugees and an financial disaster attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bessma Momani, professor of worldwide relations on the College of Waterloo in Ont., Mentioned Hamzah’s home arrest was “doomed” as a result of it’s more likely to bolster the prince’s reputation.

Nonetheless, she mentioned it sends a robust message to the Jordanian public. “If a prince might be stranded, no Jordanian is immune from the heavy hand of the state,” she mentioned.


PA correspondent Sarah El Deeb contributed reporting from Beirut.

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