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How Jordan’s royal drama could threaten Middle East stability as US offers support




Jordans’ monarchy is in turmoil after 15 people, including a royal superior, were arrested over the weekend in connection with what the country’s government has called a “malicious plot” against the throne.

Prince Hamzah Bin Hussein, half-brother of King Abdullah II, is among the former ministers and tribal leaders arrested for allegedly attending meetings where the king has been criticized.

The palace intrigue has rocked the Arab nation of 10 million people, but could also have profound implications for global allies such as the United States who view Jordan as a reliable partner in an often tumultuous region.

Experts say the country’s location, surrounded by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria, has meant Jordan has been seen as a huge asset by acting as a geographic buffer zone in areas of conflict. throughout history.

Jordanian Prince Hamzah bin Al-Hussein, half-brother of King Abdullah, attends a press conference in Amman in 2015. The former crown prince says he has been under house arrest since Saturday after attending a meeting where criticism of the king has come under pressure. Khalil Mazraawi / AFP – Getty Images file

Jordan played a relay role. It’s that foothold in the midst of arguably the most fragile and volatile part of the Middle East, Tobias Borck, associate researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank, told NBC News.

The swift response from President Joe Bidens’ administration underscores the importance of Jordan to American interests.

We are following the reports closely and are in contact with Jordanian officials. King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support, said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

There will be a lot of people in Washington and London over the past 48 to 72 hours who have had to do a lot of work and are deeply concerned about maintaining Jordanian stability, Borck added. This will have been one of the main drivers of an incredibly swift and fairly high response that shows absolutely unequivocal support for King Abdullah.

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Ruled by the Hashemite family, whose ancestors once ruled the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina and claimed the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad, Jordan has shaped itself as a moderate voice against radical activities in neighboring countries.

And this weekend’s news comes as President Joe Biden’s administration tries to engage more with countries in the Middle East. Jordan is crucial to Biden’s goal of using a more diplomatic posture during a military intervention in the region, according to Borck.

Jordan is among the largest recipients of US economic aid in the region, with just over $ 1 billion last year. Jordans’ economy has limited natural resources and has one of the largest inflows of Syrian refugees in the world.

While this assistance did not stop under former President Donald Trump, the kingdom was largely excluded from Jared Kushners’ peace plans on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favor of the growing influence of the Gulf states. An annual visit to King Abdullah’s White House was halted under Trump.

King Abdullah II of Jordan, Queen Rania of Jordan and family during Jordan’s 70th Independence Day 2016 in Amman, Jordan. The monarchy firmly holds public dissent against the king, with his half-brother accused of participating in a “malicious plot” to undermine the monarchy. Jordanian Royal Household File / Getty Images

Unlike neighboring countries, Jordan has not seen widespread protests that swept across much of the region in 2011 to bring about regime change. The kingdom firmly holds public dissent against the monarchy.

That perception was shaken over the weekend by scathing remarks from inside the family.

In a video shared with the BBC by his lawyer, Prince Hamzah said that while he was not accused of criticizing the monarchy himself, he was accused of being present at meetings where concerns against the king were cast. Prince Hamzah, who enjoys appeal among the Bedouin tribes of the traditional society of the kingdoms, then attacked the incompetence that prevailed within the Jordanian government.

He has reached a point where no one is able to speak or express an opinion on anything without being intimidated, arrested, harassed and threatened, he said in the video.

NBC News tried to reach the prince’s lawyer on Monday but did not receive an immediate response.

At a press conference on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi fueled rumors of foreign involvement in the foiled plot, claiming that Jordanian intelligence services had intercepted communications within the internal clique of princes that showed an individual with ties to foreign intelligence services.

Tensions within Jordans’ ruling family have been high since the late King Hussein bin Talal called his eldest son, Abdullah, his successor at the last minute shortly before his death in 1999. At the time, Prince Hamzah took over at the last minute. was appointed crown prince, but was sidelined four years later after King Abdullah named his eldest son, Hussein, his successor.

Nicknamed one of his favorite fathers, Prince Hamzah, 41, had been groomed to succeed the throne by his Syrian-American mother, Queen Noor. In light of the crackdown, Noor suggested the arrests on Saturday were unfair.

Praying for truth and justice to prevail for all innocent victims of this wicked slander, she wrote in a tweet.

Yasmine Salam |

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