02.07.2021 Author: Vladimir Danilov

The Unrest in Jordan


Over the past month, anti-government protests have not eased off in Jordan, which arose against the backdrop of a surge in pro-Palestinian sentiment in the Kingdom. The reason was the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip during the last escalation of the conflict. As a result, on May 14, about 2,000 Jordanian demonstrators organized a march of solidarity towards the Israeli border and tried to enter the Palestinian territories to join the fight against the Zionist regime on the side of the Arabs. The border troops were forced to use tear gas.

Along with this, protests were also held in the Jordanian capital, which saw protestors demand that the government expel the Israeli ambassador from the country.

The solidarity that Jordanians show towards the Palestinians is due to their close family ties, as a significant number of Arabs from the West Bank moved to Jordan in 1948 and mingled with the local population. They also have family ties in Palestine that did not disappear after the seizure of the region by Israel in 1967.

On June 7, the Jordanian parliament voted to expel MP Osama Al-Ajarmeh, accusing him of inciting unrest. A week earlier, MPs voted to suspend Al-Ajarmeh’s parliamentary membership for a year after he accused the government of deliberately “plunging the country into darkness” on camera. According to him, the power outages initiated by the kingdom’s authorities were supposed to prevent the march of solidarity of the Jordanian tribes demanding to expel the Israeli ambassador from the country for the recent bombing of the Gaza Strip.

Anti-Israel sentiment in Jordan has intensified in the last month amid litigation over the attempted coup d’etat in April in Jordan and the possible role that Israel played in it. Under these conditions, Tel Aviv and Washington even had to use their media voices, such as with The Washington Post and The Times of Israel to launch their information campaign and inform the Jordanians that the Israeli special services allegedly indicated to King Abdullah II about their non-participation in the conspiracy against him, suggesting that only Benjamin Netanyahu personally could have been involved in it. Specifically, it was pointed out that Netanyahu participated, together with the United States and Saudi Arabia, in putting pressure on King Abdullah II of Jordan as part of the promotion of the Middle East peace plan by the administration of the then US President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, in Jordan, a trial began against the former Minister of Finance and the head of the Royal Hashemite Court: Bassem Awadallah is accused of conspiracy with Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, who was suspected of plans to overthrow his half-brother, King Abdullah II. This high-profile trial is the largest ever in the history of the state, since Bassem Awadallah is the highest-ranking government official in Jordan to ever stand trial on such charges.

Now the poverty level in Jordan is about 15%, while unemployment last year reached 25%. The situation in the country is also exacerbated by the stream of refugees from Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Therefore, it is not surprising that the population of Jordan reacted with satisfaction to the trial against the ex-minister, given his active participation in corruption at the highest levels of government. He is accused of abusing his connections and international authority to promote the idea of ​​privatizing state assets, which, according to local media outlets, the former head of the Ministry of Finance used to increase his own wealth or passed on to relatives.

Two officials, Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, who were accused of conspiring to overthrow King Abdullah II of Jordan and to replace him with Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, are demanding that former Crown Prince Hamzah testify in court. Court hearings are taking place at the State Security Court in Amman. Some of the charges are based on wiretapping by the Jordanian security forces.

As reported by Al Jazeera, the ex-head of the King’s Chancellery, Bassem Awadallah, and a member of the royal family, Sheriff Hassan bin Zaid, face 20 years of hard labor on indictment charges. According to prosecutor Hazem al-Majali, the actions of the two conspirators posed a threat to the stability of the kingdom of Jordan. The indictment drawn up by him states that “in the course of the investigation, their dangerous role in plotting against the royal regime was established.” In addition, it was noted that Awadallah and bin Zayed kept drugs in their homes for the purpose of personal use. According to the Al Akhbar newspaper, the two main figures in the conspiracy uncovered by the authorities were in close contact with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud. In particular, Bassem Awadallah, who worked in the Gulf countries, had Saudi citizenship, and Sheriff Hassan bin Zaid served as a special envoy of the Jordanian monarch to Saudi Arabia.

There is no doubt that all of these problems of concern to Jordanian society will be the subject of discussion of the upcoming visit of King Abdullah II to the United States, who will meet with President Joe Biden in July. In addition to these issues, Jordanian media reported that the Jordanian monarch will bring with him a “message from Syria.”

The message from Bashar al-Assad is said to include the desire of the Syrian government to rejoin the Arab League, which was suspended in November 2011. Therefore, during the upcoming meeting in Washington, King Abdullah II intends to discuss the American “Caesar Act”, which imposed sanctions on representatives of the Syrian leadership and its business entities, which cast a “black shadow” on the economy of the Hashemite Kingdom, according to Amman.

It should be recalled that the “Caesar Act” (or “Syria civilian protection act”) is a package of economic sanctions introduced in 2020 by the previous tenant of the White House, Donald Trump, against the Syrian government. These sanctions apply to legal entities and individuals both inside and outside the SAR who are accused of supporting and financing the regime during the war, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. The Syrian Foreign Ministry described the tightening of sanctions by the United States “as economic terror, which is part of the bloody war unleashed against Syria.”

Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.