Jordan’s King Abdullah says the “painful” palace crisis is over

Jordan’s King Abdullah broke his silence on Wednesday to tell his nation that the worst political crisis in decades was triggered by an alleged conspiracy with his half-brother Prince Hamzah was over.

The government had accused Hamzah – a former crown prince who was nominated as heir to the throne in 2004 – of involvement in a conspiracy to “destabilize the security of the kingdom” and arrested at least 16 people.

But Abdullah said on Wednesday that Hamzah, who has signed a letter promising his loyalty to the king after mediation by an uncle, was safe in his palace during his “care”.

“I speak to you today, my family and my tribe … to assure you that the uprising has been squeezed into the bud, and that our proud Jordan is safe and stable,” Abdullah said in an address read in his name on state television, a day after an official blackout about the deal.

“The challenge of the last few days was not the most difficult or dangerous for the stability of our nation, but for me it was the most painful,” he said, according to an official English translation released after the broadcast.

“Rebellion came from within and without our only house,” he added.

When using the words “from within,” it was not clear whether the king was referring to actors in the royal family or the wider kingdom.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Sunday accused the plotters of being linked to foreign parties, but had refused to identify them.

‘Shock, pain and anger’

In response to the events, Abdullah said he felt “shock, pain and anger, as a brother and as the leader of the Hashemite family, and as a leader of this proud people”.

Hamzah was appointed Crown Prince in 1999 in line with his father’s wishes, but Abdullah dismissed him in 2004 and appointed his eldest son to Hamzah’s place.

After claiming he was placed under house arrest on Saturday, Hamzah had used extensive traditional and social media to crack down on his situation.

He accused Jordan’s rulers of corruption and incompetence in a video released by the BBC on Saturday.

But after a statement expressing his loyalty to the king on Monday, Abdullah said on Wednesday that Hamzah had offered his support for the monarchy.

“Hamzah today is with his family, in his palace, in my care,” Abdullah said in his address.

“Prince Hamzah promised the family to follow in the footsteps of the ancestors, to remain loyal to his mission and to put Jordan’s interests, constitution and laws above all considerations.”

An investigation into the events continues, the king said.

“As for the other aspects, they are under investigation, in accordance with the law … in a way that guarantees justice and transparency,” he added.

The crisis had created gaps in a Western country that was generally regarded as a safeguard for stability in the Middle East.

Jordan borders Israel and the occupied West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It hosts US troops and is home to millions of exiled Palestinians and more than half a million Syrian refugees.

The ruling monarchy had said it solved the issue “within the framework of the Hashemite family”.

Relief

US President Joe Biden called on Abdullah on Wednesday to express his “strong support” for the monarch and “underlines the importance of King Abdullah II’s leadership for the United States and the region,” the White House said in a statement.

Major Gulf powers, Russia, Egypt and the Arab League have all pledged support for Abdullah, and on Wednesday European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen Amman visited.

Following the meeting with Abdullah, she said the EU was “ready to continue its long-term partnership and contribute to prosperity and stability”.

The king’s address followed orders issued on Tuesday by Amman’s prosecutor Hassan al-Abdallat who banned the publication of all information about the alleged plan to keep the security service’s investigation secret.

Jordanian media were urged to wait for official statements before publishing anything about those arrested.

Wednesday morning’s newspapers were dominated by the visit the day before by Saudi Foreign Minister Faysal Bin Farhan with a message from King Salman and by the development of the coronavirus outbreak that ravaged the country.

Mustafa al-Riyalat, editor-in-chief of the government newspaper Addustour, said Jordanians “everyone feels calm, because it is as if nothing happened.”

In the streets, Jordanians expressed relief.

“When the crisis broke out on Saturday, no one was on the streets. People were scared,” said Shady, 41, who owns a clothing store in the capital, Amman.

“But thankfully, it was resolved within the royal palace.”

But Ahmed Awad, of the Phenix Center for Economics and Informatics Studies, warned that the crisis was not over yet.

“There was a solution within the royal family, but not a solution to the political crisis,” he said.

“The real political crisis … will continue until there are more democratic reforms.”

(AFP)