A Different Royal Feud Has Serious Consequences

The king of Jordan, a vital US ally, has placed his half brother under house arrest
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2021 9:15 AM CDT
A Different Royal Mess, This One With 2 Half Brothers
In this 2004 file photo, Jordan's Prince Hamzah left, with his mother Queen Noor, stands during his wedding ceremony in Amman, Jordan.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Headlines about a royal feud erupted over the weekend and continued into Monday, but it's not the royal family most people would think of first. This one involves Jordan, and it's more than just a trivial family spat, especially given the nation's vital role in Mideast security. “The way it unfolded, with arrests and videos, was shocking,” former Jordanian Foreign Minister Jawad Anani tells the New York Times. “Despite the tensions, the royal family always presented the image of a united front. But yesterday’s events shattered that image, and the rifts erupted in broad daylight." Coverage:

  • The players: The feud involves two half brothers, both the sons of the nation's late King Hussein. One is the current king, 59-year-old Abdullah II, and the other is 41-year-old Prince Hamzah, reports the AP. The men have different mothers—Hamzah is the son of the popular (and American-born) Queen Noor, and Abdullah is the son of Queen Muna.

  • What happened: Over the weekend, Hamzah released videos saying he'd been placed under what amounts to house arrest. The palace essentially accused him of conspiring with others, including foreign backers, of taking part in what the Times calls a "failed palace coup." Hamzah has denied this, though he described his half brother's regime as corrupt and incompetent. Queen Noor says her son is the victim of "wicked slander," but Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi accused Hamzah of having attempted to "mobilize" citizens against the state for "some time," reports CNN.
  • The latest: On Monday, Hamzah released another message, this time in the form of an audio recording. "I'm not going to obey when they say you can't go out, you can't tweet, you can't communicate with people [and] you're only allowed to see your family," he said, per the BBC. "I think it's a bit unacceptable."
  • Leaving? An Israeli businessman, Roy Shaposhnik, said Sunday that he had offered Hamzah the use of a private plane to leave Jordan, but the prince on Monday appeared to dismiss that idea, for now. "I don't want to move because I don't want to escalate (the situation) yet," he said, per the Washington Post.
  • Bad blood: Decades ago, Hamzah had been considered the favorite to replace his father, but he was seen as too inexperienced when Hussein died in 1999, per the BBC. Abdullah not only ascended to the throne, but he stripped Hamzah of the title of crown prince in 2004 and bestowed it instead on his own son.
  • Importance: Jordan for years been "an oasis of relative stability in the Middle East," per the Times. "While wars and insurgencies flared in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Jordan was for decades considered a secure and dependable ally of the United States, a buffer against attacks on Israel, and a key interlocutor with Palestinians." The US and other Jordanian allies have voiced support for the king over the dispute.
(More Jordan stories.)

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