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Jordan sentence coup plotters to 15 years in jail

Jordanian Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein on 11 May 2010 in Amman, Jordan [Salah Malkawi/Getty Images]
Jordanian Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein on 11 May 2010 in Amman, Jordan [Salah Malkawi/Getty Images]

Jordan's State Security Court today sentenced the two main accused in the failed April coup plot to 15 years in prison with hard labour.

Sharif Hassan Bin Zaid, a relative of the king and a powerful tribal leader; and Bassem Awadallah, a former Jordanian minister who had become a confidant of the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS), were arrested on 3 April after the kingdom's state security intercepted their communications with former Crown Prince Hamzah and foreign actors.

Both men were accused of conspiring with the former Crown Prince Hamzah and half-brother of the king to foment unrest against the monarch while soliciting foreign help. Since April, Hamzah has been placed under house arrest. Twelve other people were also detained for involvement in the plot.

At the time of the arrests, relations between Jordan and the Trump administration were at their lowest possible ebb as King Abdullah strongly opposed the president's so-called 'deal of the century'. According to reports, the king was under increasing pressure to make concessions on Jerusalem to Israel.

Tensions with the Netanyahu government at the time have led many analysts to speculate that if Israel did not actively support the plot it did at the very least not oppose it. After all, their intelligence agencies could have altered their Jordanian counterparts that something sinister was in the making.

READ: Former senior aide of Jordan king tortured in prison

The sentencing of the high-profile court officials may close one chapter to this palace intrigue but the implications are set to reverberate beyond the borders of the desert kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's attempt to mediate the release of its interlocutor, Basam Awadallah, and his imprisonment today suggest that relations with Jordan will remain frosty well into the foreseeable future.

While the local coup plotters have been convicted and jailed, their foreign co-conspirators will sooner or later have many questions to answer.

The palace plot to overthrow Jordan's King Abdullah will, like the Khashoggi murder, continue to stalk Saudi Arabia's MBS long after he succeeds his father if he actually does so.

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