The maybe-Arab Spring of Jordan continues: Do the people want the King's brother Hamzah?
With a whole slew of fanciful king rumors doing the rounds within the kingdom of Jordan, now treacherous chatter has found its way to foreign shores. Did HM King Abdullah II attend a protest in disguise? Is he planning to abdicate? An article from the New York Times has joined in the conspiracy fray, setting tongues wagging on a people's rival to the throne.
At a time when the Hashemite kingdom is facing down discontent and open chants for regime change, (some of which don’t politely skirt around the traditionally untouchable royal chambers of power), the flagship New York paper has published a piece, titled "Jordan Protesters Dream of Shift to King’s Brother".
Everyone loves a good royal succession story– more specifically, a bitter vying-for-the-crown battle. Whether Shakespeare or history texts, monarchical struggles, romantic abdications and crown civil wars have been the stuff of our age-old fascination with blue blood and royal lineage. Sons rising against fathers, brothers slaying brothers or bastard boys tripping up legitimate heirs to the throne - it's the best of royal drama.
The protestors daring to dream are none other than the big players on Jordan’s revolution block: the coalition tagged Jordan’s Youth Movement’, (Herak) who any Jordan 'spring' followers will by now know. This same crew of provocateurs apparently wish to replace the current King with his younger half brother Prince Hamzah, the eldest son of American-born Queen Noor. The former Queen Consort to the late King Hussein, now queen dowager of Jordan's son Hamzah is a popular choice it turns out by citizens who miss their late King Hussein.
Born from the pulse of dissent, the fantasy of 32 year-old Prince Hamzah usurping his brother is capturing the imagination of the nation's feisty opponents. The report takes the words directly from one of the renegade organizers, staying low due to the gravity of such heresy: "There is a popular demand for Prince Hamzah”, admits the anonymous activist, giving the heads-up that activists will be flaunting pictures of Hamzah during the planned demonstration this week.
Why this younger half-brother? Says one citizen, quoted by the Times, “Hamzah would be better, because he was trained by his late father to become King". A female protestor adds her own reason to the madness: "During King Hussien's reign we were a proud nation, and I also like Hamzah a lot". There seems to be a nostalgic hankering back to the bygone era of a beloved king who represents strength and pride in the Hashemite’s ruling history. The people are happy to transfer their yearning for the old King onto his son Prince Hamzah.
While the Jordanian opposition’s main beef is with the rampant corruption in the Jordanian Kingdom, they also have an axe to grind with HM King Abdullah personally. They question his "loyalty", since he was educated abroad, and his suitability for the role. After all, his father the late King Hussein prepped Hamzah as the next in line. The NYT also mentions that there is no love lost between the people and Queen Rania either, and her name is never far from any grievances cited.
The report goes for the jugular, betraying a sibling rivalry: "It is no secret that King Abdullah was never the king's favorite son". Apparently, on his death bed, the late King wrote a letter asking for Hamzah to be named King Abdullah’s Crown Prince. Yet his body was barely cold, when HM Abdullah is reported to have revoked the father’s will, favoring his boy Hussein for the position, stripping his half-brother of any shot at the throne in the foreseeable future.
But for some, the brother 'choice' is less threat, more friendly shift. Loyalists site the opposition’s choice in contender to the throne as, “proof that the Jordanian opposition is more conservative than other Arab Springs." Not a bloody-thirsty European battle cry “off with their heads”, but more a mild tweaking in the current royal order.
They continue to defend the Jordanian breed of mild ‘revolution’ as having a bone with Abdullah’s economic practices, and preferring his late father’s legacy. "At least our country’s opposition keeps things ambiguous and nostalgic for the past," says one loyalist. They're not rabidly hungry for a radical future, just yet.
What do you think? Do you think there is much substance to thiis report of the people calling for the King's brother to replace their monarch? Or is this just rumor in the mill of conspiracy that continues to sweep the Kingdom as it moves further into a maybe-Arab Spring.