What does the Jordanian Coup détat mean for the Arab Israeli conflict?

Leading Jordanian news media announced that a settlement was reached between Prince Hamzeh, the Former Crown Prince, and his half brother, King Abdallah II. The reconciliation came as a result of mediating efforts by Prince Hassan, the uncle of the two brothers.   

“I place myself in the hands of the king, confirming that I will uphold the commitment of my parents and grandparents, faithful to his legacy, and follow in his footsteps, faithful to his path, to his message, abiding by the Constitution of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan,” said Prince Hamzeh.

Earlier this month, amid a failed coup détat, the Jordanian authorities arrested around 17 officials, and banned Hamzah bin Alhussein, the former Crown Prince, from travelling. 

Jordanian news media announced that the former Prince and  17 other officials, had cooperated with “unspecified foreign parties” to jeopardize Jordan’s national security.  

 “I’m not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out,” Prince Hamzeh said. “There are members of this family who still love this country, who care for (its people) and will put them above all else” he said.  

Nevertheless, Prince Hamzeh has always been a critic of his half brother, accusing the Jordanian regime of corruption.

 Who are these foreign parties? 

 While Amman is considered a key ally to Riyadah, the Saudi Crown Prince is not satisfied by the current Jordanian regime.

In fact, the ongoing normalization deals between Israel and the Arab states, especially the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and arguably Saudi Arabia ( KSA), are working against the wishes of the Jordanian King.  

 In this regard, the current Jordanian regime poses a threat to Israel’s stability, and a tremendous challenge to the interests of the involved Arab states. Because of this, it was necessary to remove Abdallah II from power, and to replace him with a king who could satisfy the demands of Israel, KSA, and UAE.   

 Nevertheless, King Abdallah was well aware of Israel’s plan. In 2018, the King removed Awadallah, the former Head of the Jordanian Royal Court, from office, believing that he had secret ties with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Salman. It is no surprise that Awadallah was among the officials who got arrested on Saturday.  

 Despite Saudi Arabia’s non-involvement claims, Mohamed Bin Salman has an interest in the coup d’etat. Experts believe that Israel has promised to transfer Jordanian guardianship over the holy cities of Jerusalem to Saudi Arabia in exchange for  a normalization deal between the two states. The coup d’etat was a good opportunity for Riyadh to gain control over the holy cities, something which could serve the Saudi dream of leading the Islamic world. This explains why the Saudi delegation refused to leave Amman without a promise from the Jordanian authorities to release Awadallah. 

“By most accounts, what happened in Jordan was far from an attempted coup. It was, however, the manifestation of two trends the country’s leadership ought to be more proactive about addressing: the rising corruption with a corresponding sense of injustice felt by Jordanians, and the increasingly vocal critiques of the role that said leadership plays in overlooking corruption and downplaying dissent,” said Tuqa Nusarit, Deputy Director of the Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs.  

While the Jordanian King succeeded in protecting Amman’s sovereignty, the regime is facing a number of tremendous challenges. Amid a global pandemic, and a lack of an effective response, the regime has a serious legitimacy crisis. Yet it seems that the Jordanian authority is hostile to public discontent. Despite its purported dedication to the human rights cause, the Biden Administration supported the security measures taken by the Jordanian King.  

Pragmatically speaking, the U.S. will keep its support for Jordan as long as the King fulfills the demands of Washington. Needles to say that Jordan is a key ally to Washington. Amman played a critical role in the Iraqi war in 2003. In addition, it supports the U.S. global so-called anti-terrorism intiative.  

In this regard, it will be naive to argue that the U.S. will break ties with Jordan or initiate a war of words with it, even if the current Jordanian King opposes the ongoing normalization deals. 

 Ironically, the failed coup d’etat worked against the Israeli  wishes.  At the end of the day, Jordan is an important ally, and is viewed, according to the Times of Israel, as a buffer against Israel’s top enemy, Tehran. In this regard, domestic instability is not a preferred result for Tel Aviv. Jordan has always been a critical ally, especially in the 1973 war, when King Hussein met secretly with Golda Meir, to warn her of a planned attack by Egypt.  

Israelis believe that a power vacuum could pave the way for ‘terrorists’ to seize power, and to jeopardize Israel’s national security. According to the Times of Israel, Iran could seize the opportunity to open a new front against Tel Aviv.  

Generally speaking, political instability will have a disastrous impact on the international system, given the fact that Amman is home to a number of refugees who fled their home countries after 2011. 

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