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Jordan's Royal Rift goes public

Here is today's foreign policy mandate: Jordan is shaken by a royal scandal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Corruption process continues, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov goes to India.

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The Kingdom of Jordan, a relatively drama-free country in a volatile neighborhood, got into a period of turmoil over the weekend as simmering tensions within the country's royal family seemed to boil over.

Prince Hamzah, a younger half-brother of King Abdullah II and former heir to the throne, was placed under house arrest on Saturday for allegedly undermining "the security and stability of Jordan" when rumors of a planned coup arose.

On Sunday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi brought more specific charges against Prince Hamzah, accusing him of conspiring with former Finance Minister Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, another member of the royal family and former envoy to Saudi Arabia. foreign units ”to“ mobilize citizens against the state in a way that threatens national security ”.

The arrest of Awadallah and Prince Hamzah can be a killing two birds with one stone. "The two names don't usually appear in the same sentence," Curtis R. Ryan, professor at Appalachian State University and author of two books on Jordanian politics, told Foreign Policy. The two come from different worlds, Ryan said, with Awadallah an unpopular member of the new technocratic elite, while Prince Hamzah's power base is linked to the tribal leaders and traditionalists of Jordan.

After his apparent house arrest, Prince Hamzah added his own voice to the trial and posted two videos, one in English and one in Arabic, denouncing his kidnappers (being careful not to mention names).

Seated in front of a portrait of his late father, King Hussein (whom he bears a remarkable resemblance), Prince Hamzah delivered a strongly worded political message. “I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, corruption and incompetence that has prevailed and deteriorated in our government structure for the past 15 to 20 years… And I am not responsible for the lack of faith people have in their institutions, ”he said.

Fine timing. The turmoil comes at a delicate time for the Jordanian ruling class as public demonstrations in cities across the country have put authorities to the test over coronavirus restrictions. The Jordanian economy had suffered over the past year and unemployment was approaching 24 percent. After the spread of COVID-19 had been successfully managed at the beginning of the pandemic, the cases reached their highest daily high in March with around 8,000 new cases per day in a population of 10 million people.

The international response. Saudi Arabia has been quick to reaffirm its support for King Abdullah. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who, like Jordan's leader, derives his status as heir from a late change in succession, spoke to King Abdullah on Sunday amid rumors that he was involved in the conspiracy.

According to the New York Times, senior Jordanian officials downplayed the situation to their Israeli counterparts, telling their neighbor that there had been no attempted coup and that the story had been exaggerated by the media. In public, Defense Minister Benny Gantz called Jordan a "strategic ally" and described the dispute as an "internal Jordanian matter".

On Tuesday, April 6th, The International Monetary Fund publishes its biannual world economic outlook.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, are traveling to Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Greenland voters take part in the elections, the outcome of which is likely to determine the future of a planned rare earth mine.

On Wednesday April 7th Mayoral elections, seen as leading indicators of political support ahead of next year's presidential contest, are taking place in South Korea's two largest cities, Seoul and Busan.

G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meet for a virtual meeting.

Thursday April 8th is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah).

On Friday April 9th Samoa holds elections for its national assembly.

On Saturday April 10th Experts from the European Medicines Agency are expected to come to Russia as part of their analysis of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

On Sunday April 11th Peru holds presidential and parliamentary elections. The vote is set to put an end to the turmoil in November when the country had three presidents within a week.

Ecuador has a presidential election with the left economist Andres Arauz, the winner of the first round, against the conservative banker Guillermo Lasso.

Chad is holding its presidential elections. Incumbent Idriss Deby is running for the sixth time in a row.

Benin is also holding a presidential election with incumbent Patrice Talon seeking a second term.

What we are following today

Netanyahu's trial. The corruption process of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumes today in Jerusalem. The court expects to hear evidence for the first time. The prosecution is expected to first call witnesses on one case of bribery, the most serious of the three charges. The process takes place the same week that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is supposed to appoint a party leader to form a government, although there is still no clear path to a coalition in sight.

Lavrov in South Asia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is on a two-day visit to New Delhi. He will meet his counterpart S. Jaishankar to prepare for a high-level summit between India and Russia later this year. Lavrov will then travel to Pakistan April 6-7, where he will likely discuss the Afghan peace process.

Meeting of the IMF and the World Bank. The Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank begin today in a virtual format. The IMF is due to release its world economic outlook on Tuesday, and managing director Kristalina Georgieva has already announced that the group will increase its global growth forecast from 4.2 percent to 5.5 percent due to increased stimulus spending in the US and the ongoing launch of vaccines in the Advanced Economy .

Violence in Chhattisgarh. At least 22 members of the Indian security forces were killed by Maoist fighters known as Naxals on Saturday in central Chhattisgarh state. This is the worst death toll since 2017. Interior Minister Amit Shah has praised an "appropriate response". after the attacks. Kuldiep Singh, the director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), said 25 to 30 Naxals were also killed in the fighting on Saturday.

Ruttes ructions. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's hold in power could loosen as a key potential coalition partner ruled out joining a government he led. The chairman of ChristenUnie, one of Rutte's four coalition partners until the election in March last year, said in an interview with a Dutch newspaper over the weekend that they "cannot be part of a fourth Rutte government". It is putting pressure on Rutte to step aside after two other allied parties tabled a motion of censure against him last Friday. The Dutch parliament will appoint an independent coordinator to accelerate the process of government formation this week.

Ghani's plan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will propose a three-phase peace roadmap for Afghanistan during the US-backed talks in Turkey, expected some time over the next two weeks. Ghani's plan calls for a ceasefire agreement to be concluded before a presidential election and then a new constitutional framework to be established. The plan differs from the one in Washington, according to which Ghani would be incapacitated by an interim government made up of Taliban officials. The plot stems from the Taliban threatening to resume attacking foreign troops if the United States does not withdraw its military personnel before May 1.

Seoul authorities have ruled that the vandalism of a $ 440,000 painting was unintentional after a young couple painted over part of the artwork when it was on display in a local gallery. Artist JonOne's "Untitled", a 23-foot-wide graffiti-style work of art, comes with brushes and open paint bottles as part of the exhibition. The Korean couple apparently believed the props and artwork were part of a collective display (it was the only unframed piece in the display) and added their own dark green patches.

The gallery officials also monitored the work after the incident. Gallery exhibition director Kang Wook said news of the vandalism coincided with a surge in public interest in the show.

That's it for today.

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