Jordan king doubles down on sedition claims in opposition to brother

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BEIRUT (AP) — Jordan’s King Abdullah II addressed the unprecedented public rift inside the royal household for the primary time Wednesday, portraying it as an tried sedition involving his half-brother that had been “nipped within the bud,” but caused him anger, pain and shock.

The monarch appeared to be doubling down on the allegations against Prince Hamzah, a former crown prince, while at the same time trying to reassure Jordanians that the nation was returning to business as usual. But even if the current crisis is eventually defused, major challenges loom for the Western-allied monarchy as it confronts growing internal dissent.

Wednesday’s statement, presented by a newsreader on Jordan TV, dealt with the internal crisis that erupted over the weekend when Hamzah was confined to his home and accused of being part of a plot to destabilize the kingdom.

Hamzah has denied the allegations, saying he was simply calling out long-running corruption and mismanagement in the kingdom.

The king said Wednesday that he was hurt by the recent events.

“The challenge over the past few days was not the most difficult or dangerous to the stability of our nation, but to me, it was the most painful,” he said. “Sedition came from within and without our one house, and nothing compares to my shock, pain, and anger as a brother and as the head of the Hashemite family, and as a leader of this proud people.”

Abdullah also suggested that there was continued control over Hamzah’s movements. The prince, who has not been seen or heard from in days, was “with his family at his palace, under my care,” the assertion stated.

There was no signal that authorities have launched as much as 18 different detainees, together with members of one of many highly effective tribes on which the monarchy has traditionally relied.

Authorities have imposed a sweeping gag order on any protection of the royal dispute in an indication of how delicate they’re to how it’s perceived. The gag order and the king’s willingness to sanction his personal brother additionally reaffirmed what Jordanians perceive as their “purple line” — an absolute ban on criticizing the monarch or the royal household.

Bessma Momani, a professor of worldwide relations at Ontario’s Waterloo University, stated the disaster strengthened Hamzah’s reputation, making critics of the federal government and new followers rally behind him.

She stated the king’s doubling-down on imprecise plot allegations might additionally create issues sooner or later. Prosecuting these detained, together with members of a robust tribe, might stir protests. If they’re let go, extra questions might come up about whether or not there was ever a plot.

Even earlier than the palace drama, Jordan was grappling with an financial disaster exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with one in 4 individuals out of labor. Longstanding complaints about corruption and misrule have fueled scattered protests in current months.

At the identical time, the area’s strategic panorama is shifting as highly effective Gulf states pursue nearer ties with Israel, doubtlessly undermining Jordan’s function within the Middle East peace course of.

The White House, in a press release issued Wednesday, stated President Joe Biden had spoken with Abdullah to precise sturdy U.S. assist for Jordan and underscore the significance of the king’s management to the United States, the area and the peace course of.

Asked by reporters if he was involved in regards to the scenario in Jordan, Biden stated: “No, I’m not. I just called to tell him that he has a friend in America. Stay strong.”

The disaster within the royal household erupted Saturday when Jordan’s navy chief of workers visited Hamzah and warned him to cease attending conferences with critics of the federal government. Things shortly escalated, with Hamzah accusing the safety institution of threatening him and ordering the overall to go away his home.

Authorities positioned the previous crown prince beneath a type of home arrest and detained as much as 18 individuals, together with former senior officers. On Sunday, the federal government stated Hamzah and others had been concerned in a “malicious plot” in opposition to the dominion’s safety with international assist.

Abdullah and Hamzah are each sons of King Hussein, who dominated Jordan for nearly a half-century earlier than his demise in 1999. Abdullah had appointed Hamzah as crown prince upon his succession however stripped him of the title in 2004.

The authorities imposed the gag order on protection of the dispute after an audio recording of the assembly between Hamzah and the chief of workers, Gen. Yousef Huneiti, raised questions on its allegations of a international conspiracy. Neither talked about any such plot within the recording, which was recorded surreptitiously and circulated on-line.

Family members of those that had been arrested in reference to the alleged plot, in the meantime, stated they’ve had no communication with authorities or the detainees.

Those arrested embody Yasser al-Majali, Hamzah’s chief of workers, and Samir al-Majali, each outstanding members of the Majali tribe.

“We don’t know where he is,” stated Yasser al-Majali’s brother, Abdullah. He stated they’ve been unable to reach any officers and haven’t been knowledgeable of any expenses.

“If there is anything against them, take them to court for a fair trial,” he said. “We don’t want any trouble. We care about stability and we want our people to be released.”

The Majali tribe issued an angry statement immediately after the arrests, calling it a “black day” in which the tribe’s dignity had been insulted.

The tribe denied the men had plotted against Jordan and warned against involving them in “any internal or family dispute.” On Wednesday, video surfaced of the tribesmen holding a small rally demanding the release of their relatives and chanting: “Where is Hamzah?”

Jordan has a large Palestinian population, including more than 2 million refugees from past wars with Israel and their descendants. The monarchy has granted most of them full citizenship but has historically viewed them with suspicion. Its main base of support is powerful tribes from east of the Jordan River, who dominate the security forces.

For decades, the monarchy has cultivated close ties with the U.S. and other Western nations, which it has used to press for the creation of a Palestinian state including the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war.

That strategy has hit a wall in recent years as the peace process has ground to a halt. Israel and Jordan made peace in 1994 and maintain close security ties, but relations have soured amid a sequence of current diplomatic spats.

At the identical time, Gulf international locations have been cultivating nearer ties with Israel over their shared antipathy towards Iran, relations made public final yr when the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal. Saudi Arabia has at occasions gave the impression to be weighing the same move.

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Krauss reported from Jerusalem.

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