Exclusive: Is there a coup in Jordan? Middle East experts explain the inside story

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The Jordanian royal family said on April 4 it had foiled a plot against the kingdom involving a half-brother of King Abdullah II, arresting at least 16 suspects it accused of “sedition” and alleging foreign complicity. Talking with Amine Kammouriyeh, a Lebanese expert in the middle east, Eat News explores the real story behind this coup between Prince Hamzah and King Abdullah II to research the background and motives of this overthrowing.

It is not clear what is happening in Jordan so far. Still, the lack of arrest of senior officers and the absence of any military movements in the capital and other cities weakens the premise of the “coup” attempt and favors a “preemptive operation”… for internal reasons primarily; It is not possible to understand what is happening in Jordan without understanding this entity and its concerns.

A country with few resources, small in area, located in a susceptible and difficult geographical area. It is the owner of the longest borders with occupied Palestine, neighboring other Arab countries, reconciling with it at times and disagreeing with it at different times once these countries are in the position of friend and another time in the work of opponent and enemy.

A country that remains trapped between two concerns: the obsession with the alternative homeland, and the obsession with erosion in the projects of others, need a survival strategy that takes precedence over the state and social strategy, even if the priorities of the society and the condition sometimes precede the survival of the system, Amine Kammouriey said.

King Abdullah II visits the Prime Ministry and chairs part of a Cabinet meeting.Photo: Royal Hashemite Court/Flickr

Therefore, this country is struggling to prevent its role or existence under the weight of its circumstances, its neighbors’ conditions, or the conditions of the region in general not dissolving. Jordan is facing a deep, multi-faceted crisis, internally and regionally, reflected by the high level of widespread dissatisfaction with the worsening economic and social crisis, which deepened as a result of the closure measures taken more than a year ago due to the Corona pandemic, which led to high unemployment rates. Simultaneously, the public debt exceeded one hundred percent gross domestic product, Amine Kammouriey said.

Amman complains about the decrease in international aid and says that hosting the Syrian refugees (a million-strong bloc among those registered in the UNHCR’s lists and spread in Amman and the Jordanian governorates) has cost it more than ten billion dollars in the last ten years. With the deterioration of the economic situation, King Abdullah II, whose concern was limited to how to push Crown Prince Prince Hussein to the forefront, has dispensed with centers of power that in the past played a role that would spare the royal palace from direct response to crises, Amine Kammouriey said.

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Amine Kammouriey explains in the Jordanian affair that three centers were a shield for the royal establishment: the Royal Court Presidency, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Intelligence Directorate. These sites have always been occupied by prominent personalities who have daily contact with the Jordanian street and its concerns, especially with the clans. They add that the king, who has a military character, preferred to abolish the political roles of the Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister, and the Director of Intelligence and placed in these positions ordinary employees who would not respond to him with a request Amine Kammouriey said.

The royal establishment fears or expects that what happened in other Arab countries will be repeated in Jordan, from the exploitation of some internal forces with external support, the torrent of economic and social crises to achieve political agendas and impose conditions that have nothing to do with the interest of the people, Amine Kammouriey said.

As for the more significant problem that Jordan faces at the regional level, It is the loss of its role in the past, especially in light of what happened to Iraq, which was supplying it with oil at promotional prices. There is no doubt that the normalization agreements recently concluded between the Gulf states and Israel weakened the role and function of the Kingdom, which for a long time formed a link between Israel and the rest of the Arab countries, especially the Gulf ones, Amine Kammouriey said.

It is likely that the Gulf-Israeli rapprochement at the expense of the Palestinians, who make up half of Jordan’s population, has strengthened the tension between Oman on the one hand and the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel on the other hand (this also applies to the Donald Trump administration). There is a Jordanian fear that Riyadh will take advantage of courtship with Israel to take over the Islamic holy sites’ supervision in the Al-Aqsa Mosque instead of the Hashemite patronage, Amine Kammouriey said.

Likewise, there is even deliberate Israeli neglect of Jordan’s interests, despite a peace agreement between the two countries. This neglect, some of it is political. Some of it is the result of a bad personal relationship between Abdullah II and Benjamin Netanyahu, which culminated with the cancellation of the visit of the Jordanian Crown Prince, Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the memory of Isra and Maraj, against the background of the conditions that the Israelis placed on the visit, contrary to the terms of the Wadi Agreement A vehicle that recognizes Jordanian sovereignty over the holy sites in Jerusalem, Amine Kammouriey said.

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The Jordanians were quick to respond by banning the Jordanian airspace in front of the plane that was to carry Netanyahu from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, more than once, which forced the latter to cancel his trip. This was preceded by a mountain of problems between the two countries regarding the “deal of the century”, the dispute over the “leased” Jordan Valley, the imposition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and the provocative reception by Netanyahu of the Israeli embassy guard in Amman who killed Jordanian citizens in cold blood instead of trying him, bearing in mind that Amman had refused to allow him to leave the Jordanian lands and stipulated an investigation with him due to these facts taken together, of course, would make the royal establishment fear or expect that what happened in other Arab countries will be repeated in Jordan, from the exploitation of some internal forces with external support, the torrent of economic and social crises in order to achieve political agendas and impose conditions that have nothing to do with the people’s interest, Amine Kammouriey said.

In the absence of conclusive indications of an actual coup, those who stopped him, in what Amman considered, were preparing him to be involved in a conspiracy aimed at the “security and stability of the country” by “contacting foreign parties”. What this institution did was likely a pre-abortion operation, in an attempt to organize the protests appear to be a “popular uprising with the presence of the masses in the street” with widespread tribal support, intending to ignite a “Jordanian spring” that diminishes the role of King Abdullah and can be credited to Prince Hamzah, who was excluded from the mandate of the covenant in a dramatic way, Amine Kammouriey said.

What happened in Jordan at the end of last week is not a passing event, and it remains an extraordinary thing in this country that boasts stability over a boiling volcano over the region’s geography. Will Jordan still live within the region’s maps and its vibrations and outside at the same time? Can he continue walking between traps and mines without damage? By examining the names of the most prominent defendants, the timing, and the release, it can be concluded that the preemptive operation sends messages in several directions:

Firstly, Iran – America War and peace scenarios, to the ruling family itself, because the greatest danger is to the king and his son, who carries Hashemite legitimacy, and this is what applies to Hamza bin Al-Hussein, the half-brother of the king, who was first deprived of the throne and inheriting his father the king because of his young age at the time and secondly, from the mandate of the covenant, which he was forced to abandon in the interest of his half-brother’s nephew, Amine Kammourieh said.

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Nevertheless, Hamza, who gave political opinions about critical endemic corruption from time to time, is relatively popular. Social media helped increase his popularity and charismatic presence, without neglecting the fact that there was nostalgia in narrow Jordanian circles for the late King Hussein through the personality of Prince Hamzah, who resembles him and maintains strong relations with his mother, Queen Noor, with the United States, especially with active and influential figures in the Democratic Party, Amine Kammourieh said.

Thirdly, the United States, by soliciting offers that the Kingdom still can maintain its stability despite the significant threats it is facing from within and without, and it is clear that Washington received this message with a quick response confirming the king’s support amid Israeli reluctance to condemn the coup attempt. Hopefully, this “American sympathy” will contribute to easing Israeli and Gulf pressures on Jordan, Amine Kammourieh said.

In any case, what happened in Jordan at the end of last week is not a fleeting event.

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Ornella Sukkar is a Lebanese journalist specialized in Arab-Islamic and radicalization studies from an oriental perspective and international affaires.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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