Sibling quarrels erupt in the heart of Jordan’s royal family

When Jordan’s military chief visited Prince Hamza at his home in Amman, he paid tribute to a former crown prince of the Hashemite dynasty. But his message sounds threatening: he must stop associating with palace critics.

“Sir, you and I know this word violates the red lines,” said Major General Youssef Huneiti. “People are talking more than they need to. Therefore, we expect from His glory that you are starting from this day. . . Don’t go to these events, don’t mix with people. “

The request drew a furious response from the 41-year-old royal to become king once again: “You’re here and telling me from my people who to meet,” Hamza was heard shouting in a recording by the Financial Times. “Mismanagement of the state, is it because of me? The failure that is happening, is it because of me? ”

Saturday’s exchange of views – recorded by the prince and broadcast by his allies – triggered 48 hours of palace unrest among one of the most revered royal families in the Arab world. It’s a complete drama with Shakespearean twists that have come to the forefront of the public eye.

King Abdullah via Getty with Major General Youssef Hunayati-Jordan’s Royal Palace / AFP

Hours later, General Hunayati issued a statement saying he had warned the prince to stop activities that were a threat to the stability and security of the nation. Hamzah then claimed in a video posted on social media that he was under house arrest, and launched a treadmill against corruption and nepotism among the ruling elite. A day later, authorities accused him of conspiring to send condolences to foreign as well as domestic parties across the region to destabilize the state.

18 people were arrested, mostly friends and acquaintances of the prince. A Jordanian government official said the move against Hamza and his highway was told by the heads of security agencies to the king that his uncle had moved away from criticizing the king for taking action against him. Suspicious behavior included meeting tribal0 tribal leaders – the foundations of the Hashemite monarchy.

Among the detainees was Bassem Awdallah, once one of King Abdullah’s chief ministers and now a close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Although he is often referred to as the envoy of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Awladla, who believes in both Ardan and Saudi citizenship, is discredited by Jordanian palaces. A palace official claimed he trained and advised Hamzah. According to a source familiar with the communication between Saudi and Jordanian officials, the Hashemite kingdom refused to hand over Riyadh to Awdallah. A person briefed on the Saudi position denied the request.

Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamza bin Al-Hussein leaves with his half-brother King Abdullah Mike Nelson / EPA-FE / Shutterstock

However, some analysts have questioned the link between Hamza and Awdallah. “Hamza is a smart man, and he knows that Awdallah is unpopular in Jordan, and the prince is roaming around the country, speaking out against corruption and a new liberal recipe for the economy run by Awladar. [in the 1990s and 2000s]Hassan Barari, a Jordanian professor of international relations at Qatar University, said. “If he had any ambitions, he would have been foolish to have any contact with her.”

Barari added: “Prince Hamzah made a mistake by involving him. He is popular among Jordanians.

Although there is no talk of a coup – the army is firmly in the king’s hands – meetings with tribal leaders and the domestic pressure exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic have created concerns among communications security agencies and palaces.

Family tree for the royal family of Jordan

Hamza’s supporters have portrayed him as a victim of growing intolerance in King Abdullah’s dissenting voice. But people close to the palace describe a man on the throne who has been exploiting the country’s economic woes to discourage his brother.

A man near the palace said, “He never seemed to be king. He never decided to be king.” A person close to Hamza insisted that the prince was not preaching: “His fears have always been one of fear for his whole family and his legacy. He never did anything to threaten his family for his position. ”

Brothers and sisters have been fighting for many years. People familiar with the politics of the palace said that Hamza was King Hussein’s favorite son – he talked, dressed and looked like his late father – and that Queen Noor, a mother of American descent, had loved him since childhood. Over the weekend, the year-old queen, the late king’s fourth wife, said on Twitter that she was “praying for the innocent victims of this evil slander.”

Yuvraj Hamza with his mother Rani Noor © Hussain Malla / AP

Two weeks before Hussein’s death in 1999, Abdullah, 18 years older than Hamza, was named crown prince and heir. Abdullah’s uncle Hassan was pushed into another phase of the palace conspiracy due to the inauguration of Princess Muna’s son Abdullah, the king’s second wife of British descent. The ailing king is said to have told Hamza to become a crown prince after his death – a system that raises speculation about a possible power struggle. In 2004, King Abdullah removed Hamza as the crown prince to replace his own son Hussein with his son Hussein.

A close aide to Hamza described the relationship between the two brothers as “extremely hostile.” It began with “impressive acknowledgment” of Abdullah’s decision to bypass his younger brother, but Hamzah believed that the people around the king were corrupt and “stealing everything.”

“It is known that Hamza and Abdullah did not speak,” the person said. The man claimed that the soldier had been fired from the army several years ago and that measures had been taken to annoy him with changes to his security statement so that he felt it was “not protecting him, but spying on him”. Did.

Abdullah’s relatives say the king’s patience is running out. When anti-government protests erupted in 2018, which resulted in the king dismissing his prime minister, Prince took to Twitter to demand an end to corruption in the public sector. A man near the palace said, “The king was a great man. “But Hamza has pushed it. He littered the state and left with state protection. He has been using his privileges as a prince to work against the king. ”

Jordanian protesters chanted slogans at an anti-curiosity rally in June 201 মাধ্যমে Ahmed Gharabali / AFP via Getty

The declining economy has put pressure on the king. Jordan is mired in mass unemployment, rising debt and declining revenues. The epidemic has damaged two important sources of foreign exchange, tourism and remittance flows from abroad. The prosperous Gulf states have had more success in providing financial support to the states. Trump’s relationship with President Abdullah has been strained by ties to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The royal family has now asked for papers on the cracks. On Monday, the royal court said that after meeting with senior members of the family, Hamza signed a letter pledging his allegiance to the king. Prince Hassan was the one who gave way to Abdullah, who was cast in the role of mediator by the late Hussein many years ago. On Tuesday, the palace banned news outlets and social media users from publishing content related to the debate, including audio files of the exchange with General Huniti.

“Perhaps this is not the end of the story,” said a person close to the royal family.

Heba Saleh additional reporting in Cairo

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