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Security Brief: CENTCOM Week of September 27, 2021

Week of Monday, September 27, 2021 | Issue 44

Filipe Neves, Mohammad Ali, CENTCOM Team


King Abdullah II of Jordan[1]


Date: October 3, 2021

Location: Washington DC, USA

Parties involved: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ); King Abdullah II of Jordan; Royal Hashemite Court; Jordanian tribes; Jordanian citizens; Jordanian government; Daesh; Jordanian politicians

The event: On October 3, 2021, the ICIJ published a compilation of documents exposing offshore accounts of the global elite.[2] The investigation, known as the “Pandora Papers,” revealed that the King of Jordan had reportedly acquired several luxury properties overseas and used offshore companies to maintain anonymity.[3] The king’s lawyers, as well as the Royal Hashemite Court, stated that the properties were purchased with his wealth and that the use of front companies in tax havens was solely due to security and privacy reasons.[4]

The implications:

  • The Pandora Papers will almost certainly damage the king’s image in Jordan and make the nation more vulnerable to political instability. The alleged coup d’état foiled by Jordanian authorities on April 3, 2021 indicated that Jordan was politically fragile, and this event will very likely reinforce that fragility. Prince Hamzah and several tribal leaders were reportedly involved in the alleged coup, indicating that relevant figures within the Jordanian political spectrum were likely interested in destabilizing the nation. Tribes function as a link between the Jordanian central government and citizens, so their involvement in the coup almost certainly affects the regime’s ability to ensure national stability. Disenfranchised leaders will almost certainly use the Pandora Papers to fuel distrust within their communities towards government institutions.

  • Although the Royal Hashemite Court claims that the acquisitions were lawful, the Pandora Papers will likely exacerbate citizens' dissatisfaction with the political system. Since the king is exempt from paying taxes, social unrest may likely push him to make significant adjustments, like reducing tax rates, to appear less detached from his people.

  • The post-pandemic period will likely be critical to the monarchy as it will have to address the country’s COVID-19-induced debt as well as the high unemployment rate. If the monarchy does not address economic concerns and corruption, terrorist groups like Daesh will very likely use the Pandora Papers to recruit disgruntled Jordanians.

  • If further investigation reveals that the money utilized by King Abdullah II to acquire properties overseas was not from his personal wealth, but from the foreign aid for Jordan, it will almost certainly affect Jordan’s relations with other countries. The US and other countries that have provided financial aid to Jordan are likely to reduce financial support and demand more transparency. This will almost certainly affect Jordan's ability to adequately host its large refugee population.

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[1]Jordan: Growth and Opportunity - HM King Abdullah II of Jordan” by Michael Hughes/DFID licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

[2] Pandora Papers: King of Jordan amassed £70m secret property empire, BBC News, October 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-58781350

[3] Ibid

[4] Pandora Papers: The king of Jordan's hidden property gems, Deutsche Welle, October 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/pandora-papers-the-king-of-jordans-hidden-property-gems/a-59403014

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