Jordan’s Prince Hamzah drops title in protest over how country run

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Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein of Jordan
Prince Hamzah

An outspoken half-brother of Jordan’s king has relinquished his princely title in apparent protest over how the country is run.

It is the latest chapter in an ongoing palace feud that saw the junior royal placed under house arrest a year ago.

Prince Hamzah posted 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 directly criticising King Abdullah II and the ruling elites, as he had done in the past, but his tone signalled that the rift had not been mended, as the Royal Court suggested in the past.

The Royal Court made no immediate comment.

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

The monarch had placed Hamzah under house arrest last April for his alleged plot to destabilise the western-allied kingdom. In a video statement at the time, Hamzah denied the allegations, saying he was being punished for speaking out against official corruption.

Last month, Hamzah apologised to his brother, according to a letter released by the Royal Court at the time. Hamzah went on to express hope that “we can turn the page on this chapter in our country’s and our family’s history”.

Analyst Amer Sabaileh said he expected Hamzah’s announcement to rekindle the royal rift that many in Jordan believed had been resolved with the prince’s apology.

Mr Sabaileh noted that Hamzah had made the decision unilaterally and announced it on his personal Twitter account, rather than in consultation with the royal family.

“He is trying to re-engage with the old narrative,” Mr Sabaileh said of Hamzah.

“We are back to the point where he is saying he is not satisfied, that he is still bitter and there is no reconciliation.”

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

The feud was a rare case of infighting within the Hashemite royal family going public. At one point Jordan imposed a gagging order on reporting about the events, reflecting the sensitivity of issues surrounding the royal family.

Abdullah had accused his brother of sedition but said the dispute was being resolved within the family and that Hamzah remained in his own palace under the king’s protection.

Two former senior officials implicated in the alleged plot were convicted of sedition and sentenced to 15 years in prison by a state security court. Particulars about the alleged plot have never been made public.

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

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