The coup scenario against the King of Jordan, Abdullah the Second, led by his half-brother former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein who was placed under house arrest on Saturday is not a surprise for any close observer of Jordanian political scene. Yet, the alleged plotting attempt announced by the palace officials this time is not completely true.
By Handala Kanafani
In fact this scenario is rooted back even before the spark of the Arab spring in Jordan in 2011. Precisely it was spread among the masses as a desire since the famous statement of the retired military personnel in the first of May 2010, which implied an accusation to the King himself of corruption paralleled with the process of economic transformation towards neoliberalism.
Corruption together with the neoliberal economic transformation of the country were the main reasons for many voices calling prince Hamzah as a savior of the people. But, the prince himself is just a member of the royal family who can never represent the working class. Moreover he is unlikely to lead any kind of plotting, especially that he has no role in the army.
A crisis not a plot
Prince Hamzah was taken by the Jordanian bureaucracy who started to lose its power due to the economic transformation as a Messiah, or in other words The Hashemite Imam, since the King deprived him from his former position as a Crown Prince in favor of his son, Hussain, who became the current Crown Prince, and who is figured by the bureaucracy as part of a western plot against Jordan, to make it an alternative homeland for the Palestinians, who form more than half of the country’s population. Therefore the second ranks in the security apparatuses worked during the last decade on making this scenario (Hamzah as a king) not only expected, but also desired by the vast majority of the eastern Jordanians.
Taking in consideration this fact, it is also necessary to highlight another fact, that prince Hamzah himself is unlikely to lead a plot. He was simply placed in this situation as a result of the conflict within the regime between the “old guardians” (the bureaucrats) and the neoliberals. Another fact to be taken into consideration is that prince Hamzah was not the only member of the royal family who was under home arrest due to this so called plot, but also prince Hashim and prince Ali who has personal conflict with one of the countries that has influence over the Jordanian policies, i.e. the United Arab Emirates.
The true question is why King Abdullah decided particularly today that his brothers are plotting a coup against him, given the fact that he decided in 2017 to dismiss his brothers Ali and Faisal on top of his cousin Talal Bin Muhammad from the army. The plotting scenario was laid on the table since that time, what a surprise!
The royal fear
King Abdullah is simply afraid of the growing image of his half-brother Hamzah among the Jordanian tribes and the state apparatuses as well. Moreover, he is facing a conflict with his brothers, especially prince Ali, for the state policies which is increasingly influenced by the regional block led by U.A.E and Saudi Arabia, and moving rapidly toward a neoliberal dictatorship formula that – objectively – can never be forced on the Jordanian Bedouin culture and mentality.
Moreover, the growing influence of the Jordanian nationalists who form the outside opposition with an anti-liberal and anti-imperialist approach, and who managed to mobilized the masses for the recent protests in the country, raised the fear of the King, especially that this opposition is permanently calling for the legitimacy of prince Hamzah, as a representative of their ambition, unlike the current Crown Prince Hussain who is considered as a neoliberal corrupt figure.
Therefore, the King decided to get rid of any alternative that might be claimed within the ranks of his own apparatuses. Furthermore, he tried to convince the masses of this procedure by arresting one of the most corrupt liberal figures in the country: Bassem Awadallah whose arrest became a public demand during the Arab Spring demonstrations. Moreover, the news leaked by the outside opposition reveals that also the king’s wife, queen Rania Al-Yassen, who is considered by Jordanian tribes as the head of the neoliberal corrupt snake, is also under house arrest in Aqaba (a city in the south of the country) as an attempt to prevent any popular outrage through this kind of “balancing”.
The Myth of the “Imam”!
Prince Hamzah managed to leak a recorded video to the BBC via his lawyer, in which he sends a message to the Jordanian people, and to the western countries that have influence on the country’s policies as well. The outside Jordanian Opposition is trying to mobilize the masses by this video. The scene is very similar to the historical Islam story of the Imam Hussain Bin Ali who was called by the people to save them from the Umayyad rule!
The prince said in this video that he told Yousef Al-Hunaiti, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces who informed him about the house arrest decision, that he (the Prince) is not the person who is responsible of the breakdown in governance, corruption or incompetence. The Prince added addressing the masses: “I am not responsible for the lack of faith that people have in their institutions, they are responsible”. He also criticized the current policies of the King by adding that “Even criticizing a small aspect of a policy leads to arrest and abuse by the security services”. “Unfortunately, this country has reached a point in which no one is able to speak or express any opinion on anything without being bullied and arrested”. Furthermore, he emphasized that the ruling system “has decided that its personal interest – financial interest – and its corruption are more important than the lives and dignity and the future of ten million people”.
Furthermore, as a message for the western “democratic” countries, the Prince said: “I made this report to make it clear that I am not part of any conspiracy or organization or a foreign-backed group as always claimed here for anyone who speaks out”. “I am in my home alone with my wife and our young children. I wanted to make this recording so it is clear to the world that what you see here, in terms of official line, is not the reflection of the realities on the ground”. Then, he turned to the Jordanian masses, addressing them by a direct message: “All Jordanians will remember that I have always tried to serve them to the best of my ability”. “The situation will improve if we are able to come together and make our voices heard”.
Influenced by the Prince’s words, the outside opposition is doing their best to mobilize the masses for a popular outrage. Yet, it is unlikely that any revolution could be sparked to get the Hashemite Prince into power, as a new leader of the people. At the end of the day the Prince is still a member of the royal family who belongs to the “upper” class. Moreover, the Jordanian bureaucracy, who considers the Prince as their representative, was the one who empowered the rule of the royal family in the country within the framework of Jordan’s subordination to imperialist powers. Therefore, considering any member of the royal family as a revolutionary Messiah for the working class is just a myth!