The Jordanian Monarch Isn’t Going Anywhere, but Neither Are the Problems Underlying the Recent “Coup”

April 6 2021

Over the past few days, a series of contradictory reports emerged from Jordan of an attempt by Prince Hamzah to stage a coup against his half-brother, King Abdullah—followed swiftly by a report that the prince had pledged allegiance to the king, and rumors that former senior officials were arrested. All this comes just a few weeks after a public spat between the kingdom and Israel—which depend on one another for their respective security. Ghaith al-Omari and Robert Satloff comment:

Prince Hamzah is half-brother to the current monarch and the eldest son from King Hussein’s marriage to his fourth wife, Queen Noor. Upon ascending to the throne in 1999, Abdullah appointed Hamzah as crown prince pursuant to their father’s dying wish. . . . Five years later, Abdullah relieved Hamzah of this title in favor of his own eldest son, Hussein—not an unusual act given that the late King Hussein named three different crown princes during his reign. Hamzah did not publicly object to the decision at the time, yet he subsequently positioned himself as a sympathetic figure and avatar of reform among Jordanians discontented with the country’s socioeconomic situation, especially disaffected tribal elements.

[T]he underlying sources of dissatisfaction that Hamzah tapped into are real and will inevitably manifest themselves again in the future if Amman does not address them. These include emergency issues like the pandemic, as well as more structural issues like broader economic, political, and governance reform. As in the past, the immediate aftermath of the Hamzah affair will probably see a strengthening of the security sector at the expense of reform. . . . Even before this weekend’s crisis, the government had already shut down the popular chat platform Clubhouse to prevent unwelcome online criticism.

In this context, Amman needs to tread delicately with its so-far-unsubstantiated accusations of significant foreign connections to the alleged conspiracy. Among the countries whose names have been bandied about—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel—none have an interest in stoking instability in Jordan or could have believed that an amateurish plot built around a disaffected prince and a handful of acolytes might possibly have overthrown the well-entrenched Abdullah.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Israeli Security, Jordan, King Abdullah

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship