Jordanian deputy PM says coup attempt ‘contained’ amid tribal tension, discontent over censorship

Jordanian deputy PM says coup attempt ‘contained’ amid tribal tension, discontent over censorship
Jordan's deputy PM says that Saturday's attempted coup is 'contained' but discontent is growing over censorship and allegations against Prince Hamzah's wife, who is a member of an influential tribe.
4 min read
07 April, 2021
Ayman Safadi said that the coup attempt in Jordan was "contained" [Anadolu Agency/Getty]
Jordan considers the alleged coup attempt involving King Abdullah II's half-brother, former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, to be contained, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The Hashemite Kingdom’s deputy prime minister, Ayman Safadi, told the US newspaper that “the movements and threats” which occurred “are [now] totally contained and under control.”

However, a number of Jordanians, including journalists and tribal groups have expressed anger about the handling of the coup and other evidence suggests that the crisis is far from over.

Read more: Jordan's detention of 'coup plotters' is really a crackdown on dissent 

King Abdullah agreed to undergo family mediation led by his uncle Prince Hassan to mend relations with his half-brother Hamzah on Monday.

These efforts began shakily, a source told The Wall Street Journal, after Safadi appeared on television on Sunday to announce serious allegations against Hamzah.

After this, an audio recording emerged on Tuesday – purportedly of a secret meeting between Prince Hamzah and the army chief of staff on Saturday. 

Just hours after the tape surfaced, prosecutor general Hassan al-Abdallat announced a media blackout on information related to it.

Khaled al-Qudah, a member of the council of the Jordanian Press Association, criticised his country’s usage of such measures. 

He told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that “every Jordanian has the right to freely express their opinion.”

Other journalists and activists joined in on social media, discussing the impact this would have on local media, given that their international counterparts were not bound by the Jordanian regulations.

If the recording is genuine, this account of the meeting, at which Hamzah claims he was placed under house arrest, seems to discredit the official narrative.

In it, the army chief says the prince’s contact with people who “started talking more than they should,” was the reason for the restrictions imposed on him, suggesting that the Jordanian royal's contact with internal dissidents, rather than foreign collaborators were the issue.

In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Jordan accused unnamed foreign parties of involvement.

Also on Tuesday, a New York Times article asked questions about Prince Hamzah’s whereabouts after news from him seemed to stop.

The Arabic-language hashtag #Where_is_Prince_Hamza began trending on Twitter in response to the article.

Meanwhile, the Kufr Khall tribe published a statement condemning the Jordanian government's for “bringing the name of the Jordanian Princess Basmah Bani Ahmad al-Otoum into [the coup attempt]".

Tribal groups in Jordan have a great deal of influence and in 2017 a delegation of tribal leaders even met the Israeli president.

Basmah Bani Ahmad is Prince Hamzah’s second wife and a member of the Kufr Khall.

She was accused by Jordanian authorities of speaking with an alleged Israeli Mossad agent, who reportedly offered to fly her and her children out of the country on Monday.

The Kufr Khall clans said they “completely reject” these allegations, according to the Arabi21 news site.

The purported Israeli agent denies having served as an intelligence operative, insisting he is a “close personal friend” of the accused prince.

In addition, a spotlight has been cast on a series of Wikileaks cables referencing Bassem Awadallah, the former head of the Jordanian royal court, who was arrested in response to the alleged plot.

Holding a Saudi passport in addition to his Jordanian one, Awadallah is an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman.

Read more: Jordanian FM meets with Saudi counterpart after alleged coup attempt

He also maintains close ties with the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed, the BBC reported, and has allegedly participated in “UAE-backed purchases” of Palestinian property in Jerusalem.

These relationships have fuelled speculation that the two Gulf monarchies were behind the supposed plot in Amman.

Although Riyadh denies it, sources told The Washington Post that a Saudi delegation wanted to take Awadallah out of the country with them.

The Wikileaks cables detail Awadallah's alleged ties to pro-Israel neoconservatives in the US administration and in one of them a US source says Awadallah considers the Palestinian right of return “more an issue of symbolism than one of practicality.”

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