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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Jordan's king threatens those who spread fake news with the law 

Speculation mainly on social media on why two of King Abudullah II's brothers and a cousin have retired from the military

Jordan's King Abdullah II is restructuring his country's military Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace/ AFP
Jordan's King Abdullah II is restructuring his country's military Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace/ AFP

Jordan’s Royal Court has declared legal action will be taken against those who spread rumours and misleading claims after two of the king’s brothers and a cousin retired last week from the Jordanian military as part of plans to restructure the armed forces.

“The Royal Hashemite Court will pursue legal measures against those who spread lies and false claims against Their Royal Highnesses the Princes and members of the Royal Hashemite Family, as the fabricated news circulated recently is aimed at undermining Jordan and its institutions,” the Royal Court said in a statement published by the government news agencyPetra on Sunday. “Our loyal people do not fall for such lies, which can never damage Jordan’s national unity and the deep-rooted relationship between Jordanians and the Royal Hashemite Family.”

Rumours, mainly on social media, have varied as to the reasons behind the retirement, including suggestions of moves to undermine the current monarch.

As to who is spreading the rumours, one theory places the blame on Qatar.

“It was an attempt by the Qataris to rally the Jordanian street to exert pressure on the Jordanian regime in an attempt to undermine its ties with the Saudis,” said Zaid Nawaiseh, an independent political analyst based in Amman. Saudi Arabia — along with the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — severed diplomatic, economic and transport ties with Qatar in June.

Last week King Abdullah thanked the three princes on their retirement for their service. The monarch, who is the supreme commander of the Jordan Armed Forces. said he was restructuring the military to improve operational capability, trim expenses and reorganise its command structure.

Part of the reform package, according to the Centre for American Progress, an independent non-partisan policy institute, entails restructuring and downsizing of the Jordanian Special Operations Command (JORSOCOM) — a long-time partner of the US special operations community housed under JAF.

The restructuring comes after a string of terrorist attacks in 2016, including one last December in the city of Karak which killed ten people and injured 34. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack.

It is not uncommon for members of the royal family to serve in leading positions in the army, said Amer Sabaileh, a political analyst and director of Middle East Media and Political Studies Institute, a think tank with a branch in Amman.

“When it comes to restructuring the army, it only makes sense to ask those with privileges in the army to retire as parts of attempts to cut down on expenses,” he said. “It is only a bureaucratic procedure and does not have any political significance.”