Jordan enters a new phase

More than ever, in the coming days and weeks, there will be a need to revive the lines of defence of the royal establishment in Jordan.
Wednesday 07/04/2021
Jordan’s King Abdullah II inaugurates the 19th Parliament’s non-ordinary session with a speech in Amman, in December 2020. (AFP)
Jordan’s King Abdullah II inaugurates the 19th Parliament’s non-ordinary session with a speech in Amman, in December 2020. (AFP)

There need be no fear for Jordan.

This fact was clearly illustrated by the Arab and international support received by King Abdullah II in the recent crisis, support that was also deeply related to the desire to support Jordan and  its stability.

This simply means that the Jordan’s regional role has not ended,  but as it prepares to celebrate the start of  its second century, there is also clear need to create a new role.

Perhaps it is useful to recall in this regard that the emirate of Transjordan, which later became the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, was established on April 11, 1921.

It was not appropriate in any way that the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Jordan came amid an unexpected internal crisis that cannot continue for long but poses many unanswered questions.

Among those questions, can Jordan name the external party that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi mentioned in the context of the accusations levelled at Prince Hamzah and others?

Can it be certain that there is a relationship between Prince Hamzah and Basem Awadallah, the former chief of the royal court and key official responsible for the complex economic issues?

From this standpoint, it can be said that Abdullah II took the right step by entrusting the question of Prince Hamzah to Prince Hassan bin Talal, who for for 35 years was crown prince during the reign of King Hussein.

Hassan is the uncle of both Abdullah and Hamzah and is currently considered the family elder.

One can be optimistic about the king’s decision to resort to his uncle’s arbitration and to limit the dispute to a narrow, if not the narrowest confines of the Hashemite family.

Above all, Prince Hassan is a rational man who is keen on family unity.

In addition, he himself went through many experiences, some of them very cruel, but he always maintained his calm and his sarcastic tone as well as his resounding laughter in dealing with events, bitter and sweet.

One of the experiences he went through was having to relinquish the position of heir apparent at the request of King Hussein on his deathbed.

In his last days, King Hussein decided, from his sickbed, to remove Hassan from the position of crown prince and to name his eldest son Prince Abdullah in his place.

Hassan acted in a decent manner according to the wishes of his older brother and stayed home, even if he had personal objections to what had happened.

It would  not be good for the internal crisis in Jordan to continue, with all its ripple effects, given that the kingdom does not need this kind of problem at a time when it is going through very difficult and complex economic and social conditions.

Therefore, it was necessary to find a way out of this crisis, which is partly a crisis within the small family.

In addition, the crisis has many causes, some of which are internal, others regional, being related to the coronavirus pandemic, which has lasted for a long time and imposed a huge burden on the Jordanian state and its various institutions and on the average Jordanian citizen.

What is certain is that Prince Hamzah’s responsiveness to the decision by the king to refer the disagreement to Prince Hassan is reason for optimism that the whirlwind that has jolted Jordan can be put behind us, making it a storm in a teacup.

This does not mean that the challenges facing the Hashemite Kingdom no longer exist.

On the contrary, it seems more necessary than ever to think about the future and how to include the largest number of experienced Jordanian politicians and tribal leaders in sharing responsibility alongside King Abdullah II and Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, the crown prince since 2004.

In that year, the king decided to remove Hamzah from this position and replace him with his eldest son, a normal step in a monarchy.

More than that, there is nothing that prevents Prince Hamzah from playing a role, especially since he reacted favourably to the desire of his older brother Abdullah II to entrust the issue of the dispute to Prince Hassan.

He said that he would “put myself at the disposal of His Majesty the King and I reaffirm that I will always remain committed to the covenant of the ancestors, loyal to their legacy.”

What was unacceptable, but not surprising, is that in the past few years Abdullah II had to take  on himself all the problems that the country faced.

This is what he did when he personally went to Salt last month after the confusion caused by the death of seven Covid-19 patients due oxygen shortage.

The king himself took severe measures against those guilty of dereliction of duty.

It is true that the Jordanian monarch feels responsible towards each citizen, but it is also justified to ask where are the official institutions and administrations that were supposed to remedy a terrible accident like the one that occurred in the Salt Public Hospital?

More than ever, in the coming days and weeks, there will be a need to revive the lines of defence of the royal establishment in Jordan, including relations with eastern Jordanian clans, large families and all sectors of society.

For example, but not exclusively, one cannot ignore that the Majali family has always been at the centre of the Jordanian affairs.

Two of the family, Ayman Majali and Hussein Majali, stayed to the last minute with King Hussein when he was ill.

Ayman was the director of royal protocol and Hussein was the commander of the late monarch’s special guard.

When Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in Wadi Araba in October 1994, the one who signed, with Yitzhak Rabin, the one who put his signature in the name of the Hashemite Kingdom, was Doctor Abd Salam Majali, the Jordanian prime minister at the time.

What has just happened in Jordan affects the entire region, but it also concerns the Jordanians themselves.

What is certain is that the country will now enter a different and new phase where there will be a need for another government. It will also be necessary to reassess many institutions that used to constitute the line of defence of the royal establishment during the days of King Hussein, instead of letting the king personally confront every challenge, big and small and deal with the most minute of details.​

Details are undoubtedly important, but they should not consume the time of Abdullah II, an exceptional and far-sighted politician, at a very delicate stage in the region and from which Jordan cannot stay away.