A crossroads country in the Middle East, Jordan is going through a period of tension within the reigning dynasty. Considered a crucial pole of stability on the borders of Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it was the scene of a major operation by the internal intelligence services on Saturday, April 3.
One of King Abdullah II’s half-brothers, former Crown Prince Hamza, has been placed under house arrest while two prominent figures from power circles have been arrested. These events occur a few days before the centenary of the state, created on April 11, 1921, on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.
At least sixteen arrests
During a press conference on Sunday, April 4, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi, who also holds the post of foreign minister, said that Prince Hamza and several people, two of whom had held positions of responsibility in Jordan had undermined the security of the kingdom. The two personalities, Bassem Awadallah and Cherif Hassan ben Zaid, as well as 14 to 16 other people were arrested.
“The security services have followed for a long time the activities and movements of Prince Hamza bin Hussein, Cherif Hassan bin Zaid and Bassem Awadallah and others”, he said. “The investigations made it possible to monitor interventions and contacts with foreign parties aimed at destabilizing the security of Jordan.” The security services recommended to King Abdullah II to bring all those implicated before the State Security Court.
A state dependent on foreign aid
A small country devoid of natural resources and with a very fragile economic structure, Jordan is a state that largely depends on foreign aid. It is an ally of Western countries, the United States, Great Britain – the former mandatory power – and France in the lead.
Having signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1994, in the context of detente created by negotiations between the Hebrew state and the Palestine Liberation Organization, it is also an important strategic partner of the authorities in Jerusalem. Relations remain delicate, however, due to the presence of a large population of Palestinian origin on its soil – just over half of the 10 million inhabitants. Around 2.2 million Palestinian refugees are now registered there with the United Nations.
Jordan is also one of the countries hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees, pushed out of their country by ten years of civil war. About 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered there with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Zaatari camp, in the northwest of the country, is one of the most populous in the world.
A dynasty claiming to be the prophet of Islam Mohammed
King Abdullah II is in the lineage of the Hashemites, an Arab dynasty that took advantage of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War to constitute several kingdoms. Originally from the Hedjaz, in present-day Saudi Arabia, the Hashemites are descendants of Hashem, considered to be the ancestor of the prophet of Islam Mohammed.
Created in 1921 as an emirate, the country gained independence and became the Hashemite Kingdom in 1946. It exercised control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem until the Six Day War in June 1967, which ends with the conquest of these territories by Israel.
The main figure in the country was King Hussein, who reigned for more than 46 years from 1952 to 1999. As his death approached, he had appointed his son Abdullah to succeed him and his son Hamza as crown prince. The two men are half-brothers, having been born to different mothers. However, in 2004, King Abdullah II appointed his own son Hussein as crown prince.
Prince Hamza had recently, according to a Jordanian analyst, ” multiplied in front of his circle of friends the criticisms against what he described as corruption within the power “. According to this same source, “ there is certainly resentment on his part, because he never digested to have lost his title of crown prince »Over 15 years ago.
Support from Arab countries
Most countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, very quickly lent their support to King Abdullah II on Sunday. These rich countries with significant oil and gas resources are important partners of Jordan, which depends heavily on international aid.
In addition, Egypt expressed its “Total solidarity and support for the Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom represented by His Majesty Abdullah II”, according to the spokesperson for the presidency, Bassem Rady. “King Abdullah II enjoys great prestige with the Jordanian people as with Arabs in general”, declared for his part the secretary general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, in a statement of support for the Jordanian kingdom.