What’s Behind Jordan’s Palace Intrigue?
With internal Hashemite family strife spilling out into the open, Jordan's Western allies suddenly have yet another reason to worry about the Middle East. The factors behind the imbroglio are complex and not entirely clear; but there is no question that the challenges to stability in Jordan are mounting.
WINCHESTER – “I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse.” So said Jordan’s Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, apparently from house (or rather palace) arrest, in a video message shared by the BBC on April 4.
Was the 41-year-old son of the late King Hussein planning a coup against his 59-year-old half-brother, King Abdullah? If so, that would be a rude awakening for outsiders who saluted Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel, and who have since assumed the Hashemite Kingdom to be an oasis of stability in a turbulent region.
That assumption seemed sound. Jordan was barely scarred by the upheavals of the Arab Spring a decade ago. But if that stability turns out to be illusory, one must worry about Jordan following Syria and Iraq into a state of turmoil that could also drag in Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as providing new terrain for extremist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Given the stakes, the United States and Jordan’s other Western allies might yet find themselves involved in another Middle East conflict.