“Cleaning the ranks”: what is behind the showdown in the royal family of Jordan


The power struggle in Jordan’s royal family has come out. The country’s authorities accused the former crown prince of Hamza ibn Hussein of attempting a conspiracy. Presumably, his ultimate goal was to overthrow his brother Abdullah II, whose policies led to an economic crisis in the country. TOPNEWS has figured out what the showdown in Jordan really means. The Jordanian authorities detained the former crown prince of the kingdom Hamza ibn Hussein and about 20 of his supporters on the night of April 3-4. They were accused of “threatening the stability of the country”, as first reported by The Washington Post.

Prince Hamza ibn Hussein, 41, the eldest son of the late King Hussein ibn Talal by his fourth wife and half-brother of the current King Abdullah II, ended up under house arrest at his palace in the capital Amman.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister of Jordan Ayman Safadi soon clarified at a press conference that the prince was allegedly preparing a conspiracy to overthrow his brother.
"Cleaning the ranks": what is behind the showdown in the royal family of Jordan

For this purpose, his associates allegedly contacted some “foreign forces”. Later, the website Ammon, which has been linked to the royal family, reported that a former Israeli foreign intelligence officer, Mossad, allegedly offered to help the prince’s wife in the evacuation.

In addition to the former heir to the king, the authorities are accused of conspiracy by another member of the royal family, Sheriff Hassan bin Zayed (who has long represented the interests of the king in Saudi Arabia), the former minister of finance and adviser to King Bassam Awadallah, several tribal leaders and representatives of the security forces.

The prince himself was soon able to broadcast a video message to the BBC channel, where he explained his vision of the situation in English.

“I am not a member of any conspiracy or any conspiratorial organization. It is no longer possible to express one’s opinion or criticize the authorities without intimidation, harassment or threats, ”said the defendant.

The prince also said that the government put personal and financial interests first, and not the lives of ten million residents. Hamza ibn Hussein also rebuked the authorities for corruption, nepotism, and poor governance, which left Jordanians feeling hopeless.

Jordanian officials soon denied the former crown prince’s house arrest, saying only about recommendations for him to limit contacts. It was emphasized that in this way the authorities are trying to resolve the crisis in the royal family, which arose due to the prince’s unwillingness to abandon destabilizing actions despite warnings.

After that, Hamza said that he was not going to escalate the conflict, but at the same time, he was not going to comply with the restrictions on home confinement and communication on the Internet.
"Cleaning the ranks": what is behind the showdown in the royal family of Jordan
The widow of the late King of Jordan and the mother of Hamza, Nur al-Hussein, called the accusations against her son evil slander and expressed hope for an early fair resolution of the conflict.

Almost all countries important for the stability of the region expressed support for the king. Among them are the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the countries of the Persian Gulf, Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Israel, as well as the League of Arab States. The Russian Foreign Ministry also supported the efforts of the legitimate authorities to ensure the stability of Jordan.

Long-standing resentment
Jordan is a dualistic monarchy, where the king’s power is partially limited by the constitution and parliament. At the same time, the king signs all laws and has a veto, which can be overcome only by two-thirds of the votes of both houses of the National Assembly.

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Prince Hamza was considered the favorite of King Hussein ibn Talala, who died in 1999. The former heir to the throne, like his three brothers, graduated from the British military school Sunhurst. After that, Hamza served in Jordan and as part of the Arab peacekeeping contingent in the former Yugoslavia.

Hamza held the status of Crown Prince of Jordan from 1999 to 2004. Then the title was transferred by King Abdullah II to his eldest son Hussein ibn Abdullah. In a letter to his brother, he motivated this decision by the fact that Hamza had to restrict freedom of action because of the duties that he had to bear because of the “symbolic position.”

“This is a power struggle within the royal family. Prince Hamza clearly harbored a grudge back in 2004. This decision was unhappy with a part of the royal family, so Hamza had supporters. In addition, he is quite popular in society, “says Nikolai Surkov, senior researcher at IMEMO RAN, in a conversation with TOPNEWS
Andrei Chuprygin, the senior lecturer at the HSE School of Oriental Studies, believes that, most likely, the latest news speaks of a purge of the ranks of the royal family. He recalls that such incidents occur quite regularly in the Middle East. At the same time, Chuprygin does not exclude Khamza’s real plans to remove the king.

Nikolai Surkov believes that the conspirators could have chosen the right moment, from their point of view, to attack the king: the country has been in a rather severe crisis for several years due to the accumulated socio-economic problems. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decrease in remittances from migrants and negatively affected the service sector. Jordan’s performance is also poor at the macro level, and the country is being saved only by subsidies from its wealthy neighbors.
"Cleaning the ranks": what is behind the showdown in the royal family of Jordan
In addition, Surkov stresses, some Jordanians believe that the king and his entourage lead a too luxurious lifestyle. But the failed conspiracy showed that most of the elite were on his side.

The only foreign policy issue that can affect the alignment of forces in Jordan, Gazeta.Ru’s interlocutors say, is the refusal to express an active position on the Palestinian issue by the authorities. “It is worth remembering that approximately 55% of the country’s population is Palestinian,” Surkov said. Chuprygin also focuses on the rather large role in the country of the Islamist organization “Muslim Brotherhood”
At the same time, experts do not believe in speculation about the involvement of foreign countries in a possible coup. In their opinion, chaos in Jordan is now not needed by any of the countries, since King Abdullah II was able to build fairly harmonious relations with almost all the key players in the region.

The former crown prince is likely to get off with only house arrest in a few months as a result of the investigation, experts agree. A rather mild punishment will follow due to the fact that the authorities were able to prevent the attempted coup d’etat itself.