Phone interceptions further shed light on the Jordanian prince’s alleged coup attempt

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Helpers to former Jordanian heir Prince Hamzah demanded pledges of allegiance on his behalf from tribal chiefs and former military officers in the weeks leading up to his arrest, suggest intercepted conversations by phone and devices. listen.

The tapes are key evidence in the Jordanian government’s case against two men accused of acting as Hamzah’s proxies in an unsuccessful attempt to oust his half-brother, King Abdullah, as monarch. The two men – Bassem Awadallah, a former envoy to Saudi Arabia, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, the king’s cousin – are expected to stand trial in Amman in the coming days.

The calls and interceptions, which were heard by the Guardian, ran for three weeks in March, a period in which officials say Hamzah tried to rally support from figures who could elevate what officials describe. like a seditious plot in a serious challenge to Abdullah. reign.

Records include the Arabic term mubayaa, which involves taking an oath to a caliph or a monarch. The use of such a phrase alarmed intelligence officials who had started to monitor Hamzah and his aides, setting in motion a true Game of Thrones, which brought two of Jordan’s royal family into conflict and involved its two closest allies.

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

The US warning came after Bin Zaid allegedly approached a US diplomat asking for his support for the former crown prince’s ascension to the throne.

By this time, intelligence officials had intercepted several calls that appeared to seek loyalty. One of the appeals to a tribal leader heard a voice saying, “Our guy has made the decision to move out, do you pledge allegiance? “

A bug placed at a meeting 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 sought action against Abdullah, who removed him from the estate in 2004 and installed his son, during a tragedy blamed on neglect at a hospital that killed seven patients in the city of Salt.

“He arrived dressed in his father’s clothes [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 passed on to the royal court and the Jordanian intelligence branch, officials believe Hamzah saw a confluence of circumstances – commemorations of a 50-year battle with Israel. and a ten-year-old youth movement, as well as Mother’s Day – as a chance to build momentum.

“At that point, Hamzah was asking for advice on how to proceed,” the official said. “He was told, ‘These decisions require careful responses. When it’s time for the complete knockout, you’ll find out.

“His people said to those they recruited, ‘When he acts, it’s for the jugular.’ “

Regional sources said the alleged plot may have been the epilogue of a larger drama in the region over the past four years: Kushner’s attempt to launch his so-called ‘deal of the century’ plan, which tore up the rulebook on Israeli-Palestinian relations. conflict. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was an integral part of Kushner’s ambitions. Awadallah had remained on good terms with Riyadh, and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud reportedly traveled to Amman the day after his arrest to demand his release.

Abdullah strongly opposed the Kushner deal, as a direct threat to the custody of the kingdom of the holy places in Jerusalem – a key facet of Hashemite legitimacy – and a blow to the hope that the large population Palestinian refugees from Jordan could one day return to their country State.

Hamzah is reportedly housebound and was last heard in videos leaked in April claiming his innocence.

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