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Jordan’s King Sends a Robust Message on Dissent

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

Confronted with rival narratives, america and Arab governments rapidly 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 — may lend help to rising complaints about poor governance and human rights abuses in Jordan.

On the similar time, the king’s powerful response — putting his standard half-brother underneath home arrest and accusing him of significant crimes — illustrated the boundaries on public dissent he’s keen to tolerate.

“The dominion’s stability and safety transcend every part,” 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 completely contained.”

But Safadi’s information convention Sunday did little to handle questions surrounding the weekend’s dramatic occasions. Within 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 fact and justice will prevail for all of the harmless victims of this depraved slander. God bless and maintain them secure.”

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 to the throne in 1999, Abdullah named Hamzah as crown prince, solely to revoke the title 5 years later. Whereas the 2 are stated to have usually good relations, Hamzah has at instances spoken out towards authorities insurance policies, and extra not too long ago had cast ties with highly effective tribal leaders in a transfer seen as a risk to the king.

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

“I’m not a part of any conspiracy or nefarious group or foreign-backed group, as is at all times the declare right here for anybody who speaks out,” he stated. He stated his love for the nation is seen as “a criminal offense worthy of isolation, threats and now being lower off.”

Hamzah is a well-liked determine in Jordan, extensively seen as pious and modest. However in his televised handle, Safadi painted a far completely 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.

“Once they (safety companies) intercepted sure communications talking a couple of zero hour, then it was clear that they (the alleged plotters) moved from designs and planning to motion,” Safadi stated. “Because of this, it was crucial for the safety and intelligence apparatuses to maneuver to throttle at delivery this malicious plot.”

Safadi didn’t present specifics on the alleged plot or say what different nations had been presupposed to have been concerned. However he stated that some 14 to 16 associates of Hamzah 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 one-time head of the royal court docket.

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 try and distort info and to achieve sympathy domestically and internationally.” He stated the prince’s actions amounted to “incitement and efforts to mobilize residents towards the state.”

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

The Jordanian information web site 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 a detailed 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 concerning the prince’s predicament. The supply, he stated, was primarily based on the “sturdy private 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 very best ranks of the long-ruling household are unparalleled, and any indicators of instability in Jordan may increase issues all through the area.

The USA swiftly introduced its “full help” for Abdullah. Saudi Arabia and different Gulf nations, 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 sturdy help for Abdullah mirrored his usually good relations throughout the area in addition to a priority that related troubles may strike different nations.

Not one of the leaders within the area “want to see havoc hitting any regime,” Kamhawi stated. “It might be contagious.”

The U.S. considers Jordan a significant ally, granting it entry to army gear and help. U.S. particular forces and different troops routinely practice with the Jordanians. The dominion 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 in the course of 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 nations preserve shut safety ties, however relations have in any other case been tense lately, largely on account of variations linked to Israel’s battle with the Palestinians.

Israeli Protection Minister Benny Gantz referred to as Jordan a “strategic ally” and dismissed the turmoil as an “inside Jordanian matter.”

Jordan, a rustic of some 10 million individuals, has been shaken by a collection of crises lately, from the rise of the Islamic State group in neighboring nations 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 College, stated the home arrest of Hamzah was “self-defeating” as a result of it’s more likely to strengthen the prince’s reputation.

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


AP correspondent Sarah El Deeb contributed reporting from Beirut.

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