The Jordanian State Security Court’s verdict of accusing the former finance minister and a minor king of sedition received a secret reaction from the Jordanians, although it left many questions unanswered about the alleged destruction of a plot of land. longtime monarch of the country.
Former Minister Bassem Awadallah and the head of the Royal Hashemite Court and a distant relative of Jordanian family authority Sharif Hassan bin Zaid were convicted on Monday. Conspiracy of 15 years in prison with Prince Hamzah bin al-Hussein, Brother of King Abdullah of Jordan, to destabilize the country, the main US ally in the region.
On the charge page of the two men, they stated that they had worked to promote Prince Hamzah as king as a result of economic grievances and mismanagement of the coronavirus that had sparked unrest among the powerful Jordanian tribes.
The two men were arrested along with 18 other people on April 3 when the Jordanian government announced that it had thwarted the plot to destabilize the Kingdom. He was Prince Hamzah arrested at home and then he signed the letter promises his help for the monarchy. The Jordanian king said the Hashemite family was privately handling the case of his half-brother.
Awadallah and Sharif Hassan were the only two figures who tried to link to the plot, as deep cracks emerged within the Jordanian royal family and the image of the country was challenged as a bastion of stability in the region.
A trial hidden in secret
The trial began last month and ended after just six sessions. The media shut down and the government restricted public knowledge about the events inside the court.
The court rejected the defense’s effort to call witnesses, while the prosecutor only shared the alleged transcripts, but not the audio, of the two defendants’ custody. The two men’s lawyers said their clients will appeal the verdict while questioning the fairness of the trial.
Amer Sabaileh, an Amman-based political analyst who is also on the 92-member committee set up by King Abdullah to deal with the fall of the plot, was targeted in a way that sent a wrong message about Jordan’s intention to carry it out. political reform.
“This result was expected since things went well with the trial,” he said, adding: “We lost the opportunity to build trust in society. Anyone who is generally not transparent suffers from people not accepting it.”
The day before the verdict, Awadallah, who is a U.S. and Saudi Arabian citizen, was arrested and tortured. Michael Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor hired to replace Awadallah’s family in the U.S., said the trial was “completely unfair” and warranted a guilty verdict.
Khaled al-Qudah, an Amman-based political commentator, said the task was to prove Awadallah’s serious allegations of torture, “He looks tired, but he doesn’t look like he was beaten and crippled. And he waited until the last day to say something through his lawyer.”
Many Jordanians believe that Awadallah was enriched by privatizing the state’s assets and see him as a public face of a corrupt class authority responsible for worsening the country’s economic situation.
One of the complaints filed against the government as a result of the trial was to accuse Awadallah of pushing against the monarchy, but he was not charged with allegations of corruption associated with most ordinary Jordanians.
“People wanted to see him in prison for the economy and for all his corrupt treatment to be exposed to the public. They hoped the government would hold them accountable, ”al-Qudah said.
For many Jordanians who deal with a severe economy, high living costs and widespread corruption, the trial was low on the list of priority priorities.
“This case is no longer relevant to the people,” said Al Jazeera Saud al-Sharafat, a former brigade general in Jordan’s Directorate General of Intelligence. “Jordanians are more interested in Tawjihi [final high school examination] than some secret trial “.
One explanation for the apathy is that many Jordanians saw the trial as a carefully organized demonstration for the people, but they believe the real fate of the two men will be decided behind closed doors.
There is already speculation that King Abdullah may grant a royal pardon in the case of sedition because he wants to handle the surrounding fall to denounce the involvement of foreigners.
During the trial, the state prosecutor’s office said Awadallah had entered the plot because of his ties abroad. Former Finance Minister Mohammad Bin Salman was an adviser to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, fueling rumors that Riyadh was the plot of the sedition.
The Saudi government has denied any claims and plots of land regarding the participation and immediately appeared in favor of King Abdullah. They have also denied requests to return Awadallah to Saudi Arabia after his arrest.
Although Riyadh is the main donor to Amman and the two neighbors are close allies, they have a historic rivalry. The Hashemites were the guardians of Mecca and Medina, the two most sacred sites of Islam, and ruled in the Hajj, in present-day western Saudi Arabia, until they replaced the Saudi family after World War I.
Some analysts believe that Saudi Arabia saw King Abdullah as an obstacle to the Abraham Accords and as an effort by the Trump administration to reach a possible normalization agreement between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
The Hashemite king has custody of Christian and Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem, and the MBS was intended to replace the Jordanian position in the city within any normalization agreement.
“Amman managed this file very carefully to avoid any consequences for the Jordan-Saudi relationship,” said Oraib Rantawi, director of the Al Quds-based Center for Political Research in Amman.
“Political will is not a big problem with the Saudis, it’s the last thing we need,” he added.
If there has been involvement in Saudi Arabia in the case, Sharafat says the bilateral relationship has not been publicly exercised, “the border is open, embassies are operating and Saudi businesses and partners are continuing as usual in Jordan.”
Still, Rantawi says an early apology would indicate Jordan’s desire to resolve the private rift between Hashemite and Saudi families.
“If Awadallah remains in prison for a long time, it will be a reflection of the poor state of Saudi relations,” he said.