Political Observation - The Salt Hospital Incident in Jordan & the Pressures and Challenges Facing King Abdullah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - The Salt Hospital Incident in Jordan & the Pressures and Challenges Facing King Abdullah

Yesterday morning, Saturday 13 March, shortage of oxygen supplies at the intensive care unit of al-Salt new hospital in Jordan caused the death of 7 patients according to health minister Dr Nathir Obeidat who was reported by Jordanian press agency Petra to have said in a press briefing that he took responsibility for the incident.

Soon after the incident, Jordanian monarch, king Abdullah II rushed “angrily” to the hospital wearing a military uniform. The prime minister announced the dismissal of the health minister as the Lower House Speaker, Abdulmunim Oddat, and President of the Senate, Faisal al-Fayez, known for their absolute loyalty to the king, called for a session of the Lower House and the Senate to debate the incident. Meanwhile, several prosecutors began their investigation amid overwhelming popular anger.

It is clear that the high-level and strong reaction of the regime reflects the sensitivity of the domestic and foreign political situation for the king and his crown prince. This is why the Jordanian regime swiftly suspended the hospital directors and charged them with causing the deaths. The surrounding political circumstances and the regime’s decision to mobilise its political forces to tackle the impact of the incident on the tense popular atmosphere is set to weaken the royal institution and contribute to the endeavour to reshape the Jordanian regime in parallel with the regional and international political events, especially liquidating the issue of Palestine, downsizing Iran, and settling the Syrian file.

Although the Salt hospital incident was caused by the government’s negligence and disregard to the wellbeing of the masses, the US embassy’s message to its citizens a day before the incident warning them against visiting several Jordanian cities including al-Salt under the pretext of “crime and terrorism” could not be viewed as sheer coincidence. This is set to turn the incident into potent ammunition for generating tension and a part of the tools of struggle between the dynamism of the opposition forces and the palace. The so-called opposition against the king have called for a demonstration on 24 March, as they took advantage of the Biden administration’s intention to exert pressure on the regimes with the pickaxe of democracy to weaken them, recycle the crises of the region, and discharge the tension within the popular atmospheres and the wastes of the oppression caused by the police regimes that America imposed on the people of the region, in order to initiate popular calls for American liberal values and perpetuate the sacrifice of the Ummah’s children for their sake.

The political facts in Jordan, the most notorious of which is imposing economic restrictions on the masses, exploiting the coronavirus to extend the lockdown, muzzle and tame the masses and deprive them of the rites reflecting their unity such as the Friday prayer, preventing the dynamism from gathering to slam the foreign plots and dictates, the king’s harassment of his brothers, especially prince Hamza and prince Hashem, his marginalising of his brothers Ali and Faisal, his embellishment of his son crown prince Hussein by projecting him extensively in the media, in addition to his visit two days ago to Saudi who had given prince Hashem a very warm welcome which vexed him and led him to dismiss his brother from his post as senior secretary at the Royal Hashemite Court, his meeting with the "Israeli" defence minister, Benny Gantz, who was quoted as saying “unfortunately, Netanyahu is a persona non grata in Jordan and his presence harms the relations between the two countries”, his refusal to meet Netanyahu who needed his backing in his electoral campaign, all this falls within the context of foreign and domestic challenges the king is facing in respect of the requirements of the forthcoming political phase and bequeathing the throne to his son. It falls also within the context of the American shift under the new administration and its approaches vis-à-vis the regional solution which the new administration aims to orchestrate through soft power and according to its interests and the interests of the usurping entity, which hinge on the need to resume the negotiations with the participation of a Palestinian authority representing all the factions, preparations for which are underway through the Palestinian elections, and on Jordan’s participation which would absorb the upshots of the final solutions, a scenario in which king Abdullah is attempting to invest to bequeath the throne to his son.

There is no change in US strategy on the file of the “Palestinian refugees” in Jordan. It is the trump card with which king Abdullah is bargaining with the US administration to secure his son’s accession to the throne, and for the sake of which he is attempting to remove the domestic obstacles facing it by restructuring the army, security services and the intelligence agency, since such institutions, in addition to the tribal dynamism and the retired army officers, represent the traditional forces opposing the notion of widening the political rights of the “Palestinian constituent”. This is why the king’s message to the Jordanian intelligence agency alluded to curtailing all its interactants pertinent to political aspects and confining its function to the professional security aspect, especially as the message, which included a reprimand to the agency, was preceded by a royal instruction to enact a new election law within the framework of the political reform being regulated according to the constructs of liquidating the “Palestinian issue”.

The friction and tension between Jordan and "Israel" falls under the atmospheres in which the king is struggling to market his successor, prince Hussein, and corroborate his Hashemite custodianship over the sacred precincts in the city of al-Quds, such as the contact between the Jordanian leadership with Benny Gantz, and Netanyahu’s decision to prevent the crown prince from visiting al-Aqsa Mosque to commemorate the night of al-Isra’, thus depriving him of the chance to market himself as custodian over the holy precincts; this was viewed as a reprimand by Netanyahu to king Abdullah who hosted his rival Gantz, and as a reflection of Netanyahu’s doctrine stipulating "Israel’s” sovereignty over al-Quds, with Jordan’s role reduced to administering and servicing the sacred precincts of the Muslims and Christians.

In light of these events, the domestic tensions and incidents are set to escalate in Jordan amid the regime’s efforts to tighten its grip on society with a catalogue of fabricated pretexts, pressures of the dynamism, as well as the foreign carrots and sticks, to eventually arrive at a restructuring of the regime, balancing between the desire of the king to bequeath the throne to his crown prince and the demands of the people of Jordan, in addition to the requirements of liquidating the “Palestinian issue”.

In the midst of this political performance by the regimes and by those who present themselves as an alternative, the people of Jordan and the children of the Islamic Ummah throughout their countries continue to pay a heavy price with their lives and their sustenance because they have turned away from the remembrance of their Lord and His Shari'ah in which their salvation, might and dignity lie. Hence, they ought to realise that they would have no human dignity and no decent living if they continued to depart in their dynamism and struggle from nationalistic and patriotic visions, declined liberal values, and false secularist solutions. They ought to realise that the rulers in their countries compete to gain the pleasure of their American master who controls them through its embassies in their countries.

30 Rajab 1442h
14 March 2021