AMMAN, Jordan — The kingdom of Jordan has lengthy been thought of an oasis of relative stability within the Middle East. While wars and insurgencies flared in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Jordan was for many years thought of a safe and reliable ally of the United States, a buffer towards assaults on Israel, and a key interlocutor with Palestinians.
But this weekend, that placid picture was upended as a long-simmering rift between the king, Abdullah II, and a former crown prince, Hamzah bin Hussein, burst into the public eye.
On Sunday the federal government accused Prince Hamzah, the king’s youthful half-brother, of “destabilizing Jordan’s security,” making much more specific claims about his alleged involvement than it did the night earlier than, when it first divulged the supposed conspiracy.
In a speech Sunday afternoon, the Jordanian overseas minister, Ayman Safadi, immediately accused Prince Hamzah of working with a former finance minister, Bassem Awadallah, and a junior member of the royal household, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, to focus on “the security and stability of the nation.”
Mr. Safadi hinted that every one three had been concerned in a failed palace coup that had overseas backing. He provided particulars about intercepted communications between the prince and Mr. Awadallah, and he introduced the arrest of at the very least 14 different individuals.
Mr. Safadi alleged that Prince Hamzah had liaised with Mr. Awadallah all through the course of the day Saturday, accusing him of “incitement and efforts to mobilize citizens against the state in a manner that threatens national security.”
The accusations adopted makes an attempt by Prince Hamzah, 41, to clear his title on Saturday evening, when he released a video wherein he mentioned he had been positioned below home arrest. The prince denied involvement in any plot towards King Abdullah, although he did condemn the federal government as corrupt, incompetent and authoritarian.
By Sunday, his mom had stepped into the fray. Queen Noor — additionally stepmother of the king — issued a combative assertion in protection of her son, saying he was the sufferer of “wicked slander.”
For a royal home that normally retains disagreements non-public, it was a showdown of surprising and uncommon depth.
“The way it unfolded, with arrests and videos, was shocking,” Jawad Anani, a former Jordanian overseas minister and economist, mentioned in a telephone interview on Sunday. “Despite the tensions, the royal family always presented the image of a united front. But yesterday’s events shattered that image, and the rifts erupted in broad daylight.”
Prince Hamzah’s father, King Hussein, dominated Jordan for 4 many years, and solid a peace cope with Israel. During King Hussein’s lifetime, his sons and his 4 wives typically jockeyed for affect. But since King Abdullah succeeded Hussein in 1999, his management has by no means been so publicly contested.
King Abdullah and Prince Hamzah had related upbringings, and had been educated at elite British and American faculties and navy faculties. But in his youth, Prince Hamzah was thought of extra tutorial — he graduated from Harvard in 2006 — and was lengthy seen because the likelier future monarch. Prince Abdullah was appointed Hussein’s successor solely within the last weeks of the king’s reign.
The two males additionally characterize totally different branches of King Hussein’s household. Abdullah is the son of Hussein’s second spouse, Princess Muna; Hamzah’s mom, the American-born Queen Noor, was Hussein’s fourth spouse.
A brigadier-general within the Jordanian military, in keeping with his web site, Prince Hamzah presents himself as an anti-corruption campaigner who would take the nation in a extra dynamic and unbiased route.
The disaster over the weekend prompted the U.S. and different Jordanian allies, which view King Abdullah as a vital companion in countering terrorism within the Middle East, to specific help for him.
Because Jordan borders Syria, Iraq, Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the nation is a thought of a linchpin of regional safety. And as the house of thousands and thousands of exiled Palestinians, and the formal custodian of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, it’s important to any future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
The United States stations troops and plane within the nation, retains shut ties with Jordanian intelligence, and final 12 months offered greater than $1.5 billion in support to the Jordanian authorities, in keeping with the State Department.
The rift gave the impression to be enjoying out not just for the Jordanian viewers, however as a public relations struggle directed at Washington as nicely. Prince Hamzah made a video in Arabic, but in addition took care to launch one in English.
To many worldwide observers, the confrontation between king and prince underscored the fragility of the social buildings that lie beneath Jordan’s calm facade.
The nation is in the course of a very brutal wave of the coronavirus. Its economic system is struggling. And with 600,000 refugees from Syria, it is among the international locations most affected by the fallout from the Syrian struggle.
A major proportion of Jordan’s 9 million residents are descended from Palestinians who fled to the nation after the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967. The relaxation are native Jordanians, whose tribes have been absorbed into the structure of the state, and whose help is essential to King Abdullah’s legitimacy, analysts say. This weekend’s imbroglio got here towards a backdrop of latest and very public makes an attempt by Prince Hamzah to construct nearer ties with these tribes.
King Abdullah, who’s 59, named Hamzah crown prince in 1999, however he stripped him of the title in 2004 and transferred it to his son, Prince Hussein, now 26.
In latest years, Prince Hamzah gave the impression to be trying to rebuild his affect, and his model.
He brought on a stir within the kingdom with latest conferences with Jordanian tribal leaders. And he raised eyebrows by publicly criticizing the federal government in 2018, when he known as for “real action against the rife corruption taking place, for the corrupt to be accountable and to build back trust between the state and the people.”
“Oh, my country,” he lamented on the time.
But none of this ready Jordanians for the dramatic occasions of Saturday evening.
The royal household hardly ever, if ever, strikes publicly towards its personal. But on Saturday, the federal government introduced that Prince Hamzah had been spoken to by Jordanian officers, amid hints of a foiled coup try.
Jordanians had been shocked, mentioned Mr. Anani, the previous minister. “Anyone that tells you they aren’t surprised by what happened in Jordan the past day is probably not being truthful,” he mentioned.
Prince Hamzah later launched the self-filmed video wherein he mentioned he had been forbidden to depart his house.
“A number of the people I know — or my friends — have been arrested, my security has been removed, and the internet and phone lines have been cut,” he mentioned. “This is my last form of communication, satellite internet, that I have, and I have been informed by the company that they are instructed to cut it so it may be the last time I am able to communicate.”
Prince Hamzah mentioned he was not “part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group” and harshly criticized the Jordanian authorities, which he described as corrupt and illiberal of criticism.
“Even to criticize a small aspect of a policy leads to arrest and abuse by the security services,” he mentioned, “and it’s reached the point where no one is able to speak or express an opinion on anything without being bullied, arrested, harassed and threatened.”
Jordan ceaselessly cracks down on main political opposition. In 2020, it arrested a whole bunch of academics who organized protests to demand higher advantages. Insulting the king is forbidden.
Freedom House, an American group that publishes an annual report on human rights world wide, not too long ago mentioned that Jordan was not a free society, having beforehand categorized it as “partly free.” Among different measures towards free expression, Jordan has banned Clubhouse, the brand new social media community, and barred demonstrators from gathering final month to protest Jordan’s coronavirus technique.
But it’s uncommon for the federal government to arrest senior Jordanian officers like Mr. Awadallah, the previous finance minister and adviser to the Saudi crown prince; and Mr. Zaid, the royal member of the family, who’s a former envoy to Saudi Arabia.
To dispel hypothesis over whether or not it may need had a job in any conspiracy, Saudi Arabia rapidly launched a robust assertion of help for King Abdullah. And on Sunday, state-run Saudi information media introduced that Prince Mohammed bin Salman had spoken with King Abdullah by telephone to point out help.
On Sunday afternoon, the Jordanian authorities once more stoked the rumors of overseas involvement.
“An individual with links to foreign intelligence services” provided to assist Prince Hamzah’s spouse escape Jordan by non-public airplane, the overseas minister, Ayman Safadi, mentioned at a press briefing. An Israeli businessman dwelling in Europe, Roy Shaposhnik, later mentioned in a statement that he had been in contact with the prince, however that he by no means served in any intelligence company.
Over the weekend, totally different factions of the royal household made a sequence of claims and counterclaims.
First, Queen Noor got here to the prince’s protection.
“Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander,” she wrote on Twitter. “God bless and keep them safe.”
Then got here the riposte from one other wing of the household.
The “seemingly blind ambition” of “Queen Noor & her sons” is “delusional, futile, unmerited,” tweeted Princess Firyal, an aunt by marriage to each the king and his half-brother.
Before deleting the tweet, she provided a phrase of recommendation: “Grow up Boys.”
Rana F. Sweis reported from Amman, and Adam Rasgon and Patrick Kingsley from Jerusalem.