Friday, September 17

Wiretaps shed more light on Jordanian prince’s alleged coup attempt | Jordan

Aides to the former Jordanian heir, Prince Hamzah, solicited pledges of allegiance on his behalf from tribal leaders and former military officials in the weeks leading up to his arrest, conversations captured by wiretaps and wiretapping devices suggest.

The recordings are key evidence in the Jordanian government’s case against two men accused of acting as Hamzah’s proxies in a failed attempt to overthrow his half-brother, King Abdullah, as monarch. Both men, Bassem Awadallah, a former envoy to Saudi Arabia, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a cousin of the king, are expected to be tried in Amman in the coming days.

The calls and interceptions, which have been overheard by The Guardian, took place over three weeks in March, a period in which officials say Hamzah tried to rally support from figures who could elevate what officials describe as a plot. seditious to a serious challenge to Abdullah’s strategy. reign.

The recordings include the Arabic term mubayaa, which implies taking an oath to a caliph or monarch. The use of such a phrase alarmed intelligence officials who had begun to keep an eye on Hamzah and his aides, setting in motion a real-life Game of Thrones, which placed two of Jordan’s most prominent royals in disagreement and implicated his two closest allies.

The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the United States had warned of the alleged plot in a call to Jordan’s spy agency in March. At the same time, a report was delivered to Abdullah, who had been barred from Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s plans to reshape the Middle East during the former US president’s tumultuous four years.

The American warning came after Bin Zaid allegedly approached an American diplomat requesting support for the former crown prince’s accession to the throne.

By then, intelligence officials had intercepted several calls that appeared to seek loyalty. One of the calls to a tribal official heard a voice say, “Our man has made the decision to move, do you pledge allegiance?”

An error placed in a gathering of tribal figures in northern Jordan recorded the men present discussing how to organize support for Hamzah. Meetings of civilians were to be limited to 15 people, while meetings of retired military leaders were limited to seven.

The Jordanian case against Hamzah, who remains under house arrest, is that he tried to act against Abdullah, who removed him from the line of succession in 2004 and installed his son, at the time of a tragedy attributed to negligence in a hospital that killed seven patients in Salt City.

“He came dressing his father [King Hussein’s] tie, ”said a senior official. “There were messages between him and his friends saying ‘you shouldn’t take a picture with Her Majesty.’

In mid-March, after warnings were delivered to the royal court and Jordan’s intelligence directorate, officials believe Hamzah saw a confluence of circumstances: commemorations of a 50-year battle with Israel and of a youth movement. of a decade. as well as Mother’s Day, as an opportunity to build momentum.

“At the time Hamzah was asking for advice on how to proceed,” the official said. “They told him, ‘These decisions need well thought out answers. When it’s time for the full knockout, you’ll know it.

“His people said to those they had recruited: ‘When he performs, it is for the jugular.’

Regional sources said the alleged plot may have been an epilogue to a larger drama in the region over the past four years: Kushner’s attempt to launch his plan called the “deal of the century,” which broke the rule book on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, was an integral part of Kushner’s ambitions. Awadallah had maintained a close relationship with Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud is believed to have flown to Amman the day after his arrest to demand his release.

Abdullah stiffly opposed the Kushner deal, as a direct threat to the kingdom’s custody of the holy sites in Jerusalem, a key facet of Hashemite legitimacy, and a blow to hopes that Jordan’s sizable Palestinian refugee population could someday return to yours. Express.

Hamzah is understood to be confined to his home, and was last heard in leaked videos in April claiming his innocence.

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