Jordan is in crisis, with Prince Hamzah bin Hussein being placed ‘under house arrest’ by his half-brother, King Abdullah, on Sunday. This seemingly is part of the crackdown on critics, and the prince is in unsplendid isolation as his internet and phone lines have been cut.
The crisis appears to be more acute than the one that plagues the Saudi palace in Riyadh after the murder of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Prince Hamzah has accused the country’s leaders of corruption, incompetence and harassment.
The critical allegation has been levelled after several high-level arrests, said to be linked to an alleged coup attempt. Prince Hamzah has been ordered to stop actions that could be used to target Jordan’s “security and stability”. The move apparently comes after the Prince visited tribal leaders and is said to have garnered some support.
He has denied any wrongdoing or that he was part of any conspiracy. His predicament has caused a flutter in the regional geopolitical roost, notably in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Both countries have pledged support for King Abdullah.
Further afield and across the Atlantic, the United States, which is allied with Jordan in its campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, described the monarch as a key partner who has its full support. Jordan has little by way of natural resources and its economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also absorbed waves of refugees from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
In the video recorded on Saturday, the Prince said that the chief of the general staff had told him he was not allowed to go out or communicate with people because of criticisms of the government or the king, articulated at meetings where he had been present. “I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse. Jordan’s crisis has reached a point where no one is able to speak or express one’s opinion on anything without being bullied, arrested, harassed and threatened.”
Tensions within the royal household were manifest for some time. The crisis that confronts royalty appears to have spun badly out of control. While Jordan’s royals are not the first of the world’s royal families to experience such crisis this year, the country does have certain unique problems of its own. Covid has challenged its economy; the country, for all the opulence of the al-Salaam Palace in Amman, is in poor shape and public dissatisfaction has deepened.
The country is reportedly gripped by fear, where anyone who criticises the government risks arrest by the secret police. The palace may have shot itself in the foot, and it shall take some time for the wound to heal.