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Jordan’s king sends tough message on dissent in royal family

Jordanian authorities stated Sunday they foiled a “malicious plot” by a former crown prince to destabilize the kingdom with international help, contradicting the senior royal’s claims that he was being punished for talking out towards corruption and incompetence.

Faced with rival narratives, the United States and Arab governments shortly sided with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, 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 — might lend help to rising complaints about poor governance and human rights abuses in Jordan.

At the identical time, the king’s tough response — inserting his in style half-brother under house arrest and accusing him of great crimes — illustrated the bounds on public dissent he’s keen to tolerate.

“The kingdom’s stability and security transcend everything,” stated Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s international minister and deputy prime minister, as he accused Hamzah and two senior Jordanian officers of conspiring with international components to destabilize the dominion. “The plot is totally contained.”

Yet Safadi’s information convention Sunday did little to handle questions surrounding the weekend’s dramatic occasions. In the evening from Saturday to Sunday, Hamzah had introduced in a secretly recorded video leaked to the media that he had been positioned underneath home arrest.

Hamzah’s mom, Noor, weighed in on Twitter, writing Sunday: “Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe.”

Abdullah and Hamzah are each sons of the late King Hussein, who stays a beloved determine 20 years after his dying. Upon ascending to the throne in 1999, Abdullah named Hamzah as crown prince, solely to revoke the title 5 years later. While the 2 are stated to have typically good relations, Hamzah has at instances spoken out towards authorities insurance policies, and extra just lately had solid ties with highly effective tribal leaders in a transfer seen as a menace to the king.

In his video, Hamzah, 41, accused Jordan’s ruling class of corruption and stifling freedom of expression.

“I’m not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out,” he stated. He stated his love for the nation is seen as “a crime worthy of isolation, threats and now being cut off.”

Hamzah is a well-liked determine in Jordan, broadly seen as pious and modest. But in his televised tackle, Safadi painted a far totally different image, accusing the prince of partaking in a secret plot that may have harmed nationwide safety had it not been foiled on the final minute.

“When they (security services) intercepted certain communications speaking about a zero hour, then it was clear that they (the alleged plotters) moved from designs and planning to action,” Safadi stated. “As a result, it was necessary for the security and intelligence apparatuses to move to throttle at birth this malicious plot.”

Safadi didn’t present specifics on the alleged plot or say what different international locations had been presupposed to have been concerned. But he stated that some 14 to 16 associates of Hamzah had been arrested, in addition to 2 former senior officers, Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family. Awadallah is a former Cabinet minister and one-time head of the royal courtroom.

Safadi stated Hamzah was warned Saturday by the nation’s army chief to halt his actions however rejected the request. He claimed the prince recorded the conversations, handed them to international sources and issued his video message “in an attempt to distort facts and to gain sympathy domestically and internationally.” He stated the prince’s actions amounted to “incitement and efforts to mobilize citizens against the state.”

Safadi accused Awadallah, now a distinguished businessman in the Gulf, of dealing with the contacts with foreigners. He additionally claimed a person with hyperlinks to international intelligence providers had provided providers to Hamzah’s spouse on Saturday afternoon to attempt to get her overseas.

The Jordanian information website Amoon recognized the person as an Israeli named Roy Shaposhnik. In an announcement to the AP, Shaposhnik recognized himself as a “former Israeli” businessman dwelling in Europe, and an in depth pal of Hamzah’s, however denied ever being an intelligence agent. He stated he provided to host Hamzah’s spouse and youngsters after listening to in regards to the prince’s predicament. The provide, he stated, was primarily based on the “strong personal friendship” between their households.

Safadi declined to say whether or not the prince can be charged with a criminal offense, saying solely there have been makes an attempt to resolve the matter amicably.

Such public clashes between the best ranks of the long-ruling family are unprecedented, and any indicators of instability in Jordan might increase issues all through the area.

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

Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian political analyst, stated the robust help for Abdullah mirrored his typically good relations throughout the area in addition to a priority that related troubles might strike different international locations.

None of the leaders in the area “would like to see havoc hitting any regime,” Kamhawi stated. “It could be contagious.”

The US considers Jordan a serious ally, granting it entry to army gear and help. US particular forces and different troops routinely prepare with the Jordanians. The kingdom hosts some 3,000 American troops.

Stability in Jordan and the standing of the king have lengthy been a priority all through the area, notably throughout the Trump administration, which gave unprecedented help to Israel and sought to isolate the Palestinians, together with by slashing funding for Palestinian refugees.

That positioned Jordan, which serves because the custodian of Islamic holy websites in Jerusalem — and is residence to a big Palestinian inhabitants — in a fragile place.

Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994. The international locations keep shut safety ties, however relations have in any other case been tense in current years, largely as a consequence of variations linked to Israel’s battle with the Palestinians.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz known as Jordan a “strategic ally” and dismissed the turmoil as an “internal Jordanian matter.”

Jordan, a rustic of some 10 million individuals, has been shaken by a sequence of crises in current years, from the rise of the Islamic State group in neighboring international locations to an inflow of Syrian refugees and an financial disaster brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bessma Momani, a professor of worldwide relations at Ontario’s Waterloo University, stated the home arrest of Hamzah was “self-defeating” as a result of it’s more likely to strengthen the prince’s recognition.

Nonetheless, she stated it despatched a strong message to the Jordanian public. “If a prince can be stymied, no Jordanian is immune from the heavy hand of the state,” she stated.

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