King Abdullah II and his former heir, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, together on Sunday staged the apparent end of the crisis that has threatened to destabilize Jordan. For the first time since the tension broke out a week ago, with the dismantling of an alleged coup plot that led to about twenty arrests, both attended the centenary commemoration ceremony in Amman along with other members of the royal family. of the Hashemite kingdom. In the absence of official statements, his appearance on television amounted to a message of family reconciliation.
In the public ceremony showcased in detail by the Jordanian state broadcaster, the two favorite sons of King Hussein, who died in 1999, laid wreaths at the memorial of the unknown soldier and at the royal mausoleum at Raghdan Palace, in the Jordanian capital. . The roughly ten million Jordanians once again saw an image of routine calm and foolproof stability – which the monarchy has been trying to guarantee for a century – that seemed to have faded in recent days.
The dean of the Hashemite royal house, Prince Hasan bin Talal, the uncle of the two opposing royals, has served as a mediator to prevent a dynastic rift. He symbolically co-chaired the ceremony to the right of the monarch. After serving as heir to his brother, Hussein, for 34 years, Hassan stepped back to cede the throne to Abdullah, son of the king's second wife (Princess Muna, of British origin), in exchange for a pact of family for Abdullah to later appoint his half-brother Hamzah, son of Hussein's fourth and last wife, Queen Noor, of American origin, as his successor.
Abdullah II made an official statement on Wednesday night to bury "the secession" in which his stepbrother was involved. But neither Prince Hamzah – who has sworn allegiance to the king, according to a statement from the royal house – nor the Hashemite monarch had so far been seen in public after the threat of a coup. “This has not been the toughest or most dangerous challenge for the stability of the nation, but it has been the most painful. I am affected by the embarrassment, grief and anger that I feel as a brother, head of the Hashemite dynasty and leader of this country, ”read the message from Abdullah of Jordan, 59, read by an announcer on state television.
Prince Hamzah, 41, is being held under house arrest at his palace in Amman. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned the Jordanian government on Friday about the lack of transparency of the situation of “de facto arrest” surrounding the former heir to the throne and about the detentions without charges. suspected of being involved in a plot to destabilize the state. "Hamzah is under my tutelage, in his palace together with his family," the royal message televised on Wednesday said without giving further details. "He has pledged to the Hashemite dynasty to remain loyal," the statement emphasized.
Staged as a family brawl, an occasional palace conspiracy, the Jordanian crisis is nonetheless systemic. Behind the draped paper curtain of Hashemite royalty hides an unemployment rate of 24% (50% among those under 30 years of age), aggravated by the presence in the country of more than a million Syrian refugees and by the runaway rise in infections caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Less than a month ago there was a popular revolt in the Arab country in which the international press hardly noticed. Eight covid-19 patients died in a hospital in the Jordanian capital due to lack of oxygen supply. After the protests, the Minister of Health, the third holder of the portfolio to resign from the position in a year, resigned.
Red line crossed
Hamzah took advantage of social unrest to vindicate himself as a defender of citizens against misrule. He left his palace to visit the relatives of deceased patients, even before the current Crown Prince Hussein, first-born of Abdullah and his wife Rania. In the presence of Hamzah, the king's management was criticized with extreme harshness while he kept silence. For the mujabarat, the Jordanian intelligence and internal security service had crossed a red line, according to an investigation carried out by Reuters.
The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, General Yusef Huneiti, also broke the immunity taboo that protects the members of the royal house, last day 3 when visiting the wayward prince at his residence. He strongly warned him to refrain from attending meetings where the monarchy was threatened. Hamzah sounded the alarm and immediately drew international attention in a video in which he claimed to be under house arrest for his proximity to critical currents with the Jordanian government. The Army was quick to deny everything. In the recording, broadcast by the BBC, he lashed out at "the incompetence and corruption that have prevailed in the country for the past 15 years."
The former heir to the throne continued to raise the tone of dissent until he was accused the next day by the government of being part of a conspiracy with foreign forces. The tension that had erupted in the usually peaceful and stable Jordan triggered a raid in which Sharif Hasan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, was arrested. Also arrested was Bassem Awadallah, who was head of the royal house, advisor to Abdullah II and minister of finance before settling in Saudi Arabia, where he treasured the crown prince, Mohamed Bin Salman.
"The family dispute in the Hashemite royal house may be considered closed, but now it is necessary to face the causes that have given rise to it, such as poverty and the management of the pandemic," argues the former official of the royal house Jawad al Anani. , quoted by Reuters. The preventive raid against the alleged coup also included between 14 and 16 unidentified suspects, including Bedouin tribal chiefs and former members of the security forces and the army.
Hamzah appeared ready to continue to fight corruption and misrule on Monday morning. In the afternoon, his uncle Hassan made him change his mind and in the evening he signed a letter swearing allegiance to King Abdullah. This Sunday he accompanied him, two steps behind, in the second row, before the grave of the common father.
Joint tribute to the ancestors
Wearing the traditional Jordanian red and white kufiya, King Abdullah and Prince Hamzah recited the first surah of the Qur'an together as a sign of reconciliation and brotherhood. The tribute to their ancestors in the centenary of the kingdom covered with flowers the mausoleums of the three monarchs that the Arab country has had: Abdullah I, Talal and Hussein.
The current heir, Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, was the only one in a military uniform, a clear symbol of his relevance. The staging that the crisis is officially over and that Hamzah is back in his rightful place in the royal family does not hide the fact that Jordan is celebrating its first century in the midst of one of its worst internal crises.
On April 11, 1921, Sherif Abdullah became Emir of Transjordan when the British forces that had defeated the Ottoman Empire in World War I divided the territories on both banks of the Jordan River to also create the Mandate over Palestine (currently Israel and Palestine). British tutelage was maintained until 1946, when, as king, Abdullah I proclaimed the independence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Since then, Jordan, which eventually annexed the current West Bank and East Jerusalem, has survived three wars with Israel (1948, 1967 and 1973); internal clashes, such as the bloody Black September in 1970, when the Army crushed and expelled the Palestinian militias that had grown strong in the country, and has remained afloat as an island of stability amid the tragic convulsions that have shaken Iraq and Syria. The pandemic now overshadows the beginning of its second century of existence.