Jordan’s emir drops his title in protest at how the country is run

AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) – The half-brother of Jordan’s king relinquished his royal title on Sunday in apparent protest over how the country is run. It was the latest chapter in an ongoing palace dispute that saw the young royal family placed under house arrest a year ago.

Prince Hamzah published the announcement on his official Twitter account. He wrote that he was driven to the decision because his convictions could not be reconciled with the “current approaches, policies and methods of our institutions”.

He stopped short of criticizing King Abdullah II and the ruling elites directly, as he had done in the past, but his tone indicated that the dispute had not been fixed, as the royal court had suggested in the past.

There was no immediate comment from the royal court.

Abdullah and Hamza are sons of King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for nearly half a century before his death in 1999. Abdullah had appointed Hamza as crown prince to succeed him, but stripped him of the title in 2004.

The king had Hamza placed under house arrest last April over an alleged plot to destabilize the Western-allied kingdom.. In a video statement at the time, Hamza denied the allegations, saying he was being punished for speaking out against official corruption.

Last month, Hamza apologized to his brother, according to a message published by the royal court at the time. Hamza went on to express his hope that “we will be able to turn the page of this chapter in the history of our country and our family.”

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Analyst Amer Sabila said he expected Hamza’s announcement to reignite the royal feud, which many in Jordan believe was resolved with the emir’s apology.

Sabeel indicated that Hamza made the decision unilaterally and announced it on his personal account on Twitter, and not in consultation with the royal family.

“He is trying to re-engage with the old narrative,” Sabeel said of Hamza. “We’re back to the point where he says he’s not satisfied, that he’s still bitter and there’s no reconciliation.”

It was not immediately clear whether Hamza’s decision to relinquish his title would help restore his freedom of movement. Hamza has only appeared in public once since the dispute. In February, the court announced the birth of Hamza’s son.

The dispute was a rare case of infighting within the Hashemite royal family. At one point, Jordan imposed a gag order on coverage of events, reflecting the sensitivity of issues surrounding the royal family.

Abdullah accused his brother of sedition but said that the dispute was resolved within the family and that Hamza remained in his palace under the protection of the king. Two former senior officials involved in the alleged plot were convicted of sedition and sentenced to 15 years in prison by the State Security Court. No details about the alleged plot were made public.

Jordan is a close ally of the West and has long been seen as an island of stability in a turbulent region.

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