Wednesday, April 07, 2021


"Jordan: Why King Abdullah's troubles are not over" (Hearst): 

"When Abdullah’s son, Crown Prince Hussein, was supposed to visit and pray at Al Aqsa Mosque, over which Jordan has custodianship, a row broke out between the Jordanian mukhabarat and Shin Bet about how many of his bodyguards could carry arms. 

Humiliated, the crown prince cancelled the visit. In retaliation, the helicopter which was supposed to carry Netanyahu to Amman, where he would pick up a private jet sent by Mohammed bin Zayed for a photo-op in Abu Dhabi, was denied permission to cross Jordanian airspace.

In truth, the whole spat was a charade, as Netanyahu may have been under orders to stay at home. His wife Sara was undergoing surgery. After Netanyahu had an extramarital affair, Israel has been flooded with rumours that the prime minister signed a contract with his wife which stipulates that she accompanies him on overnight visits."
and (pointing to the Saudis):
"While no evidence links Prince Hamzah to the alleged coup attempt, it is also significant that Jordan security sources picked out to the foreign media, the role of two of the 20 or so who have been arrested.  
They did so because of their links with Saudi Arabia. They were directing the finger of blame to the Gulf when most of the action is taking place inside the kingdom. The two men are Hassan bin Zayed, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadallah. 
Awadallah’s role was terminated in 2018, when the king was persuaded that his envoy was closer to Riyadh than he was to Jordan. Awadallah holds both Saudi and Jordan citizenship. Awadallah was once very close to King Abdullah. Awadallah served as economic secretary to the Jordanian premier from 1992 to 1996. He was appointed head of Jordan's royal court in 2007, before being sacked from the position less than a year later. When he left Jordan, Awadallah moved to Dubai, setting up a company called Tomouh. Awadallah shuttled between the Emirates and Saudi, where he still acted as Jordan’s special envoy. 
Awadallah had meanwhile set up a network of prominent businessmen and was working as a consultant for the Saudi crown prince. He became Mohammed bin Salman's economic adviser and is helping the planning of his futuristic city Neom. He also forged strong ties with bin Zayed and was appointed to the board of directors of the University of Dubai. According to sources inside the Emirati court, Awadallah is more important to MbZ than the exiled Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan.  
Some news media outlets called Awadallah one of the masterminds of the privatisation of Aramco. Mastermind is a curious epithet as this has largely failed. But Awadallah appeared alongside his new master bin Salman at the annual Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, the so-called Davos in the Desert, in January. 
Arresting Awadallah is the biggest one finger sign Abdullah could have made to both bin Salman and bin Zayed. 
But Jordan cannot confront Saudi Arabia openly. If they did, and accused Saudi of sending messages to Hamzah through Awadallah to mount a coup d'etat, it would mean the expulsion of Jordanian workers and businessmen from Saudi which would spell economic ruin for the kingdom. 
Within hours of the news of Awadallah’s arrest, a Saudi delegation headed by the foreign minister requested permission to visit Amman. According to an intelligence source of an unnamed Middle Eastern country monitoring these events, which was quoted by the Washington Post, the Saudis requested the release of Awadallah. "The Saudis were saying that they won’t leave the country without him," the official said. "It would appear that they are worried about what he would say," the Post reported
Nor can Jordan confront Israel directly. It was the Israeli media that delved into the past of Roy Shaposhnik, the Israeli living in Europe who offered a private jet to Hamzah, so that his wife and children could leave the country. 
Shaposhnik denied he was a member of Mossad, but he worked for Erik Prince, established his own company RS Logistical Solutions which provided services to Prince’s company for training Iraqi soldiers in Jordan. He met Hamzah through mutual contacts and their families became close friends."
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