Saudi Arabia has strongly denied any connection to the unprecedented disputes within the royal family in Jordan that have recently emerged, but the arrest of an advisor close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has raised concern in Riyadh, where sources say that the Saudi authorities are pressing for his release. </p><div> <p>On April 4, the Jordanian government accused the former crown prince, Prince Hamzah (41 years), and other people of involvement in "sinful plans" aimed at "destabilizing Jordan's security and stability," and arrested about 20 people, including the former chief of the royal court, Bassem Awadallah.
Basem Awadallah was also a former Minister of Planning, and he played a major role in managing the economic situation in the Kingdom. In 2008, he moved to Dubai and founded “Tamouh”, a company that went into business from a wide perspective. There were reports that he had links with several politicians in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has publicly expressed its support for Jordan’s King Abdullah II, following recent developments.
Saudi officials reject the speculation raised in some Western media that the kingdom is behind the public disagreement between the king and his half-brother Prince Hamzah, stressing that such internal disputes may have dangerous effects on other monarchies in the region.
The crisis erupted amid fears in Jordan, whose residents are mostly of Palestinian origin, that any potential Saudi-Israeli rapprochement could threaten the Hashemite Kingdom’s custody over the holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque. And on Sunday, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Prince Hamzah were seen together in celebrations of the centenary of Jordan’s founding, in their first public appearance since the crisis.
No interest ”
A source close to the Saudi leadership confirmed to AFP that Riyadh “has no interest in destabilizing Jordan,” its longtime regional ally. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan headed a Saudi delegation to Amman last week to affirm his country’s stand by Jordan in “facing all challenges.”
According to the source, the visit came with Saudi officials feeling that “the (Jordanian) king was listening to rumors from other parties, and they had to refute them personally and not over the phone.” But other sources familiar with the talks stated that the Saudi delegation in Amman sought to press for the release of Bassem Awadallah, who holds both Jordanian and Saudi nationalities, and reports indicated that he is close to the Saudi crown prince.
Harms the image of Saudi Arabia
Awadallah appeared in the past alongside bin Salman at the Future Investment Forum in Saudi Arabia. He was filmed performing prayers next to the prince, which the Saudi prince only does with close company. Awadallah is a controversial figure in Jordan, and previously held the position of a special Jordanian envoy to Saudi Arabia.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who is currently working with the Brookings Institution for Studies, told AFP, “The (Saudi) foreign minister did not just go to bring Basim, the director of Saudi intelligence and the director of Muhammad’s office also went with him. Bin Salman to Oman. ” The Saudi source denied that the reason for the presence of the Saudi delegation in Amman was Awad Allah, and he did not mention who were the officials participating in the delegation. A Western official in the Gulf confirms that “Awadallah has a personal relationship with the crown prince.”
“His presence in prison harms the image of Saudi Arabia in Jordan and abroad, because suspicions about Saudi Arabia’s involvement are not completely erased as a result of this,” he added. Basma Al-Muni, a professor at the Canadian University of Waterloo, believes that Awadallah is important to the Saudis because he has “practical knowledge of many Saudi economic plans, policies and strategies that they want to ensure that they are not participating” outside the kingdom.
Jordanian officials did not clarify the charges against Awadallah and whether he would be referred to trial. While the facts indicate that the crisis in Jordan is linked, especially, that the Jordanian monarch, years ago, removed Prince Hamzah from the mandate of the Covenant to appoint his son Prince Hussein in his place. According to the Western official in the Gulf, “Awadallah’s arrest distracts attention from the rivalry within the Jordanian royal family and hints at possible foreign involvement.”
The unrest in Jordan is reminiscent of a similar tension in Saudi Arabia when Saudi King Salman ousted Prince Muhammad bin Nayef in 2017 and appointed his son Prince Mohammed as crown prince.
“It remains to be seen whether King Abdullah has the will or power and authority to silence his brother, but failure to do so will weaken the monarchy and possibly undermine it,” wrote the Saudi writer and analyst Ali al-Shihabi, who is close to the ruling circles in the kingdom.
According to Al-Shehabi, this “explains why King Salman was so firm with his family” upon the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman. Any failure in this matter would expose Saudi Arabia to several episodes similar to the Hamza series. ”