Plot in the court of Jordan, the king’s half-brother under accusation
A feud between half-brothers and between queen spouses. With alliances that cross the borders of the kingdom and that risk shaking what is already one of the most unstable regions in the world.
All the ingredients of a saga are the news that has come from Jordan since last night and that has not yet acquired defined contours. The facts are certain: about twenty people were arrested in Amman on charges of having attacked the security of the state and the monarchy: in simple words, of having attempted a coup against Abdallah II.
Among those arrested – Jobi Warrick, a journalist with excellent sources in the Jordanian secret services, twice Pulitzer Prize winner, the last with a book, Black Flags, which is based on these sources, was the first to say in the Washington Post – Prince Hamza, half-brother of the king, the former crown prince. The official Jordanian agency Petra at first denies, then corrects the shot: Hamza is not under arrest, but has been questioned.
The denial comes from the prince himself, in a dramatic video sent to the BBC by his lawyer: “This morning I had a visit from the Chief of Staff of the Jordanian army, who informed me that I am not authorized to leave the house, to communicate with people or meet them because some events in which I took part – including through social media – were criticized against the government or the king “, says Hamza, stating that he was not accused of having done personally criticism. “I am not the person responsible for the crisis of governance, corruption, and incompetence that has prevailed in the structure of our government in the last 15-20 years and I am not responsible for the lack of trust in the institutions on the part of citizens”. Words that sound like a harsh indictment to the stepbrother, the king.
Jordanian security sources cited by Warrick call “a complex and far-reaching maneuver” the one that led to the stops. According to the Washington Post, those arrested also include members of the Bedouin tribes and at least one foreigner: as well as advisers in the past very close to Abdallah, such as Bassam Awadallah. The connection between the Bedouin tribes and a possible foreign agent is jolting analysts: Hamza, son of Queen Noor, American by birth, fourth wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan, was initially chosen as the heir of his father: except then change his mind in favor of Abdallah, son of Hussein’s second wife, Queen Muna.
Over the years Hamza has focused on the loyalty of the Bedouin tribes of Jordan, a substantial part of the population of the small state, who have never loved Abdallah, considered too close to the United States and the Palestinians, who represent almost a third of the Jordanian population and they find in Queen Rania, Abdallah’s wife, and in her family, the most prominent representatives of the community. The Jordanian Bedouins have always had very close ties with the Saudis, separated only by a borderline that they consider artificial.
It is no coincidence that Madawi al Rasheed, one of the most attentive analysts of Saudi things last night tweeted: “The Arab royal families are fighting each other.” Indeed, the foreigner arrested would be Saudi. After all, relations have been tensed for years: a few days ago, Abdallah II visited Saudi Arabia with his son Hussein, 26, in an attempt to repair what Bruce Reidel of Brookings described as “complicated relations.”
For now, there is no confirmation of the arrest of a Saudi citizen. As well as on the fate of Queen Noor that some gave to house arrest. Certain is the massive security array that surrounded the area of Amman’s buildings last night. And the note that the military sent to Israel: “The situation here is stable.”