Jordan’s Prince Hamzah to escape prosecution for involvement in alleged conspiracy
Prince to be ‘dealt with withing the framework of the royal family’
King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan and Prince Prince Hashim bin Al Hussein were joined by Prince Hamzah (centre second row) among other royal family members at prayers at the tombs of their forefathers in a supposed show of unity as they marked the centenary of the Kingdom in Amman, Jordan. Photograph: Youssef Allan/EPA
Jordan’s Prince Hamzah will not be prosecuted over his involvement in an alleged conspiracy to destabilise the kingdom but will be “dealt with within the framework of the royal family”, according to lawmakers.
The prince and 18 others, including two close aides, were detained on April 4th after being accused of liaising with disaffected tribal elements plotting with a foreign power, suspected to be Saudi Arabia.
A long-standing critic of governmental incompetence and corruption, Prince Hamzah – who was crown prince until 2004 when the king appointed his son in his stead – was in contact with powerful tribes who have formed the bedrock of the monarchy and filled the ranks of the army.
Over the past two decades key tribes have become disillusioned due to deepening socioeconomic inequality, soaring unemployment and graft. In 2011, disillusioned tribesmen joined Arab Spring demonstrations demanding reforms that failed to materialise.
In a show of unity after the most serious public family rift in decades, Hamzah appeared on Sunday alongside King Abdullah and other members at prayers at the tombs of their forefathers as Jordan marked the centenary of the founding of the Hashemite Kingdom by Britain.
Nevertheless, Prince Hamzah, reportedly, remains under house arrest with his wife and children and largely incommunicado although he managed to slip a message to the online news site Middle East Eye saying he had been spied upon during a 2019 trip to Vienna. Jordanian media outlets are muzzled, leaving the public prone to rumours.
Prime minister Bisher al-Khasawneh denied there was an attempted coup but did not elaborate.
Saudi Arabia is under suspicion because among the detainees are Bassem Awadallah, former royal court chief and Jordan’s former envoy to Saudi Arabia; and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a minor royal. Both are dual citizens of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and have extensive business interests in the Gulf.
If Jordan was to be destabilised, Saudi Arabia could claim its neighbour could no longer carry out its guardianship of Muslim and Christian religious sites in Jerusalem, the third holiest city for Muslims. This honour was assumed by the Hashemites in 1924 in after their expulsion from Mecca and Medina, the first and second holiest cities in Islam, by Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud, founder of Saudi Arabia.
As Saudi kings have taken the title, “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” the addition of Jerusalem to Mecca and Medina would be a boon to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at a time when he is snubbed by US president Joe Biden and under challenge due to his stalemated war in Yemen and human rights abuses at home.
Blaming Saudi Arabia will not, however, solve Jordan’s existential problems of overpopulation and slender natural resources, or prompt the government to tackle mismanagement and corruption.