3 April 2021   Leave a comment

There is political turmoil in Jordan, one of the US’s most reliable allies in the Middle East. According to CNN: “A member of the Jordanian royal family and the former head of the royal court were arrested on Saturday due to ‘security reasons,’ according to Jordan’s state news agency Petra, and the country’s former crown prince claimed he has been told not to leave his home. Former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein had released a video in which he stated he blamed the country’s leaders of being responsible for “the breakdown in governance, for the corruption, and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years, and has been getting worse by the year.”

King Abdullah has ruled Jordan since 1999 and he has walked a very difficult line between US interests in supporting Israel and the sentiments of the large Palestinian population in Jordan which opposes Israel’s control of the West Bank. Tensions between the Palestinians and the Jordanian government are long-standing, and there was a major break in 1970-71 which is referred to as Black September which led to the ouster of the Palestine Liberation Organization from Jordan. Additionally, the Jordanian economy, which is based on territory which has few valuable resources, has been ravaged by the COVID pandemic. Finally, relations between Israel and Jordan have been strained over the last few months as Israel continues to exercise greater control over East Jerusalem which was once under control of Jordan, compromising King Abdullah’s claim to be the custodian of the al Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites to many Muslims:

“Israel recognised the Hashemite role as safekeepers of al-Aqsa as part of the two countries’ 1994 peace treaty, and maintains overall security control over the holy site.

“Amman has long condemned what it says are Israeli efforts to restrict non-Jewish access to the 35-acre (14-hectare) compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

“Israel cites security concerns for restricting the access of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to the site and any limits it imposes on the number of Muslim worshippers allowed into the compound.”

The current situation resembles that of an attempted coup d’etat, but Jordan refuses to characterize it as such, even though 20 people have been arrested. King Abdullah has received strong messages of support from its Sunni Arab allies in the region and one can expect the US to continue its strong support for him. At this point it is not clear why Hamzah, King Abdullah’s oldest son, released the critical video or what his interests may be. The New York Times describes the family relationships in the Jordanian royal family:

“King Abdullah II, 59, has reigned since 1999, having succeeded his father, King Hussein. In a sign of earlier palace intrigue, Abdullah replaced Hassan bin Talal, a brother of King Hussein, as crown prince just weeks before his father’s death. Hassan had apparently fallen out of favor after making some moves that were widely interpreted as an attempt to consolidate his own power while King Hussein was undergoing treatment for cancer.

“The current crown prince is King Abdullah II’s son, Hussein bin Abdullah, 26.

“Prince Hamzah is the eldest son of King Hussein and Queen Noor, his fourth wife and widow who was born to a Syrian-American family. Hamzah was named crown prince of Jordan in 1999, but his half brother, King Abdullah II, transferred the title to his son, Prince Hussein, in 2004.

“Prince Hamzah is often photographed meeting with tribal figures and is known to be popular, especially among tribal and East Bank Jordanians for his uncanny resemblance to his father, who was beloved by many in the kingdom.”

It may be a few days before we have a clearer picture of what is going on in Jordan, but this turmoil is just another wrinkle in the political instability of the region.

Posted April 3, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: