Why Jordan’s apparent coup attempt could throw Middle East into turmoil

Jordanian authorities on Saturday arrested nearly 20 people and placed the kingdom’s former crown prince under house arrest. As the first reported speak Washington postJordanian officials moved quickly to quash a so-called “well-organized” and “far-reaching” coup attempt against King Abdullah II, who has ruled Jordan since 1999 and is a close ally of the United States and of the United States. ‘Israel. In a remarkable statement, Petra, the official Jordanian news agency, added that the alleged plot is known to have unspecified “foreign” support. The apparent coup attempt comes at a time when the Hashemite kingdom faces a host of challenges, both at home and abroad.

Although security officials stressed that Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the kingdom’s former crown prince and the eldest son of the late King Hussein, had not been arrested, he was reportedly “asked to cease all movements. or activities that could be employed to target Jordan. security and stability. ” In one video provided to the BBC, Prince Hamzah said the Jordanian Armed Forces Chief of General Staff informed him that he was not allowed to leave his home, communicate with other people or access social media because of its links to “meetings” and “criticism” against the political leadership of the country. The prince, whose phone lines were cut, denied any wrongdoing and further stated that some of his friends, that the Guardian revealed such as Sharif Hassan bin Zaid (a member of the Jordanian royal family and former envoy to Saudi Arabia) and Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah (a former head of the royal court who is said to be close to King Abdullah), had been arrested.

Although investigations are ongoing and more arrests are expected, governments from near and far have been quick to express their support for the Jordanian government and King Abdullah II. Shortly after the reports were released, Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department in Washington, declared that “We are closely monitoring the reports and are in contact with Jordanian officials. King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support. Responses from Arab states in the region have followed suit. According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen, Palestine, and the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League all statements issued in support of Jordanian sovereignty, security and stability. Israeli officials have not commented on the alleged coup plot at the time of writing, but have reportedly been briefed by the Jordanians on the security situation.

Stability in Jordan is certainly of interest to the entire Middle East and the international community as a whole. Jordan, which has maintained a peace treaty with Israel since 1994 and is seen as a key regional ally of the United States, has overcome a series of dire challenges in recent years, including hosting millions of refugees and new stresses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. . A small country of just over ten million people, Jordan currently has a population of over 1.3 million. Syrian refugees and the second largest refugee camp in the world, where conditions are poor and underfunded, and people lack access to health care and employment opportunities. This responsibility has strained Jordan’s finances, overloaded its schools and taxed its infrastructure, the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation Told the Associated Press in 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic has also increased tensions in the kingdom. Although Jordan was previously considered a success Following its swift decisions to close its borders and put in place restrictive lockdowns, the country saw a surge in cases last fall, before seeing a new wave of cases soar in March. Now account more than 622,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 7,000 related deaths, the kingdom hopes that vaccines can be its way out of a protracted crisis that is overwhelming hospital services and cemeteries.

Seemingly endless protests against the government locks, perceived political corruption and economic problems have also become more common. For example, Amman’s efforts to obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund by implementing austerity reforms have provoked sustained public opposition and claims that the government sell its policy to foreign donors. In addition, following numerous protests in response to repression a teachers’ strike and protests against the lockout, the death of nine coronavirus patients who ran out of oxygen at a government hospital led to an increase in requests to resign from the government.

These internal issues also follow a series of external political challenges for the kingdom. It is well known that Amman was not a fan of former President Donald Trump’s peace plans in the Middle East; King Abdullah warned Trump against moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and rejected Trump’s “peace to prosperity” plan in the Middle East while protests that the American president has regularly instigated. The passage of the Abrahamic Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain further shifted the ground under the feet of the kingdom. Until recently, Jordan was one of only two Arab countries to maintain close relations with Israel. The agreements, and speculation that Saudi Arabia may be next to normalize its relations with Israel, have changed this dynamic; Amman is perhaps not seen as the vital interlocutor it once was – especially now that the Arab capitals are to get closer in Israel despite the absence of Israeli-Palestinian peace. If this trend continues, Jordan will have to make difficult decisions about its place in this emerging regional order, both as regards Palestinian refugees who live within its borders and the financing of the Gulf capitals on which its survival continues to depend.

Adam Lammon is Associate Editor at National interest. Follow him on twitter @AdamLammon.

Image: Reuters.

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