Reuters news agency published a report on the latest developments in Jordan and said that King Abdullah II has moved quickly to consolidate his grip on the kingdom in the last three months since an alleged plot emerged to replace him with his half-brother Prince Hamzah bin Al Hussein, leaving his rule secure for the time being but still facing economic challenges. big.
A crisis sparked by Prince Hamzah’s alleged leadership ambitions appears to have been put to bed with a military court this week that sentenced two men accused of conspiring with him (former royal court chief Basem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid), and the prince himself an “outcast” in the palace.
Away from the court proceedings, King Abdullah sought to reassert his influence over the powerful tribes that supported his rule and for whom Prince Hamzah was accused of rivalry, visiting their regions and raising his profile on their loyalty.
Officials speak of a king who is now coping and easing, in contrast to his apparent concern in the first weeks of the crisis, which the king described as “the most painful” because he came from within and outside the royal family.
The trial appears to have passed without any obvious diplomatic repercussions from Saudi Arabia, where the main defendant, Basem Awadallah, served as a senior advisor to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, having previously served as King Abdullah’s closest advisor for many years.
The indictment states that the defendants agreed that Awadallah would seek foreign support for Prince Hamzah’s ambitions, using his connections in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, and that Hamza had asked Awadallah if Riyadh would help him if something happened to him in Jordan.
But Jordanian authorities never suggested a Saudi role in the plot.
Meanwhile, support for Jordan’s most important ally, the United States, appeared steadfast, after an uncomfortable period during the tenure of former President Donald Trump, whose Middle East peace plan was seen in Amman as an existential threat.
“I just called to tell him he has a boyfriend in America.” President Joe Biden said he told the king in a call on April 7 at the height of the crisis.
Next week, King Abdullah II will become the first Arab leader to meet Biden at the White House.
“The king may not have been stronger than he is today – very strong internal support, very strong external support,” said Faris Barizat, former minister and head of the NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions think tank.
He added: “The message (from the trial) is that interference in the stability of the country cannot be tolerated.”
The trial provided a rare glimpse into the rivalries in the Hashemite family that has ruled Jordan since it became a British protectorate in 1921.
In line with the wishes of his late father, King Hussein, he appointed Abdullah Hamza as Crown Prince when he ascended the throne in 1999. But he removed him from the position in 2004 and later appointed his son Prince Hussein to the position.
Hamza escaped conviction after swearing allegiance to King Abdullah. After initially being placed under house arrest, Prime Time Zone familiar with the situation told Reuters on condition of anonymity, he is now isolated in a palace with his family and banned from any public role.
The military court issued its verdicts against Awadallah and Sharif Hassan Zaid, a relative of Abdullah, after seven sessions, saying that they sought to sow chaos and strife.
The two men, each sentenced to 15 years in prison, pleaded not guilty.
With defense requests to call witnesses denied, the speedy trial was a message to King Abdullah’s opponents that he would not tolerate any threat to his rule, politicians say.
Critics say the trial lacked due process and was aimed primarily at undermining Princess Hamzah, whom his opponents accuse of exploiting tribal grievances to incite them against the king.
“This is a court that does not have the minimum requirements of justice… It is a political trial and a conviction for Hamza before public opinion,” said Lamis Andoni, a political analyst.
An American lawyer on behalf of Awadallah said that his client was beaten and psychologically tortured and that he fears for his life.
Jordanian authorities denied this.
The US State Department said it was closely monitoring Awadallah’s case and was taking any allegations of abuse seriously.
An economist of Palestinian origin and US citizen, Awadallah is a divisive figure. He has long been infamously discredited by the ruling elite made up of the country’s tribal chiefs for his influence on the king and his free-market reforms that they saw as a threat to their privileges.
The tribes and the king of Jordan
The army and security forces are dominated by powerful Jordanian tribes, and their loyalty to the Hashemites has for decades been compensated by generous state benefits.
King Abdullah has intensified his engagement with the tribes since the outbreak of the crisis. So is Prince Hussein.
During a visit to the Red Sea city of Aqaba last month, Prince Hussein, 27, criticized mismanagement — one of the issues Prince Hamzah has publicly complained about. Several local officials were fired this week.
Jordan’s economic problems, including diminished aid from Gulf Arab states, have strained the patronage system.
The economy was particularly hard hit last year by the COVID-19 shutdown, with a record unemployment rate of 24%.
Jordan hopes Washington will extend a $1.5 billion annual support program after the International Monetary Fund praised economic reforms that will help the kingdom get more funding.
The king is pursuing economic reforms but is facing resistance from the conservative establishment.
“The challenges facing us from hunger, poverty, unemployment and loss of confidence in state institutions mean that the repercussions of (Hamza’s case) are still with us,” said Khaled Ramadan, a former politician and MP.
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