Why Hassan, the regent, is not crown prince anymore?
Jordan, Politics, 1/26/1999
It was a shock for most Jordanians. The prince with whom they have lived over the past 35 years as the regent of the kingdom is not there anymore, replaced by the King's elder son Abdullah.
Upon his return from a six-month absence for medical treatment in the US, King Hussein of Jordan took a decision never anticipated before. Perhaps only by a close elite of the Jordanian officials and members of the royal family who could read the king's thoughts as he was on his bed being treated from lymphoma.
Many in Jordan argue that the way Crown Prince Hassan handled the kingdom's matters over the six months of his brother's absence had angered the King. The way, they said, indicated as if Hassan was the real king. He even took decisions and made interviews as if King Hussein was never to return to Jordan, some said.
The first implicit announcement by King Hussein of his intention to depose his brother was the interview he gave CNN one day after he returned to Amman last week. He said that his decision to name Prince Hassan the regent 35 years ago was stirred by his lack of options. His oldest son, Abdullah, at the time was only three years old. Today Abdullah is 36. He is a major general in the army in charge of the Royal Special Forces. He is seen as fit to lead the kingdom in the years to come after King Hussein's disappearance for one reason or another.
But what did Prince Hassan do to antagonize his brother, King Hussein, who, according to most of those who knew him very closely, weighs his steps very carefully and rarely takes decisions haphazardly? According to reports from Amman, Prince Hassan took a number of decisions that were closely connected to daily life in Jordan, something the King never did and certainly never expected his deputy to do. For example, it was Prince Hassan who named his own son-in-law, Nasser Joudeh, minister of information without consulting the king. His move was seen as an attempt to penetrate the media both in Jordan and internationally. He also replaced the mayor of Amman, Mamdouh Abadi, without King Hussein's approval. And more importantly from the King's point of view, Prince Hassan named Dr. Jawad Anani, his close associate, as chief of the Royal Court, a highly sensitive position that only those totally loyal to the king can occupy.
Jordanian sources said that usually King Hussein used to leave day-to-day matters in the kingdom to be run by the prime minister, whom he used to meet at least once a week for a general evaluation of the situation in Jordan. Therefore, the king never intervened in this kind of decisions that Prince Hassan took. Very senior officials in Jordan had reportedly complained to the king from the way his brother was handling matters in Jordan. Some even said they were being "minimized" in a way. Of those, for instance were Lt. General Abdul Hafez Kaabneh, the chief of staff, and major general Samih Battikhi, head of the general intelligence and security services.
After a series of complaints found their way to King Hussein back in the US, he started to contemplate a drastic move as soon as he could. He prepared himself for the decision long before he returned to Amman. And when Prince Hassan felt that a dark cloud is coming, he sent a very personal letter of apology to the King pledging that he would repair any damage he may have caused, whether intentionally or accidentally. But as things have proved lately, nothing helped. The decision was made and Hassan is not the crown prince anymore.
Even on his way back to Amman, the King decided to start the implementation of his decision in practice. During his stop in London, he instructed his own associates and aides to handle all issues relevant to his return, including arrangements of reception, the route his motorcade would take through the streets of Amman and the list of those who would wait for the King, both at the airport and back at the palace. Right after his plane landed on the tarmac of Amman's old airport, currently used mainly for domestic flights, King Hussein sent the first message to his brother. He spoke highly of his second brother, Prince Mohammed and of his own children, but ignored any reference to Prince Hassan. The only times he spoke of Prince Hassan, he referred to him as "my deputy" and not "crown prince." Even the interview King Hussein gave to CNN was translated into Arabic and distributed throughout the kingdom through the Jordanian press. Immediately afterwards, Prince Hassan decided do lock himself up at his own house and avoided giving interviews or talking in the open about the latest rift with the king.
In light of the latest developments in Jordan, many leading figures are expected to disappear from the political arena. Others will restore their old glory like former prime minister Abdul Karim Kabariti who was forced to quit his job against the background of serious differences with Prince Hassan while reports at the time said he was sacked against the backdrop of the 'bread revolt" in Jordan in 1997. Kabariti, Jordanian sources said, had complained to the King during one of the visits he paid to the clinic where he was hospitalized in the US that he was so unjustly treated that year. The king, reports said, promised Kabariti that things were to become better upon his safe return to Jordan. The day King Hussein returned to Amman, Kabariti published a one-page advertisement to congratulate the king on behalf of the Jordan-Kuwaiti Bank, of which he is the chairman of the board. In that advertisement, Kabariti published the photos of King Hussein and his wife, Queen Noor, and not his brother Prince Hassan, something that Jordanian papers used to do over the past three decades.
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