The event didn’t catch attention (Part II) The Jordanian crown prince, Prince Hussein, engaged with Najwa bint Khaled al-Seif from Sudeir
Date: 28/08/2022 Time: 20:27
By Pinhas Inbari
The engagement of Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah to a Sudeiri Saudi fiancée – that is, from the heart of the Saudi kingdom – sheds light on what is happening in the Bedouin tribes in Jordan and Saudi Arabia and on the interactions between them. First of all, it should be noted that the Jordanian royal house does not marry the Bedouin tribes in the kingdom but seeks brides for its sons and daughters outside Jordan. Shortly before the betrothal of the crown prince, other engagements of the Hashemite princess with a Venezuelan of Greek origin were announced. It turns out that Prince Hamzah was perhaps the only one of the Hashemite princes who married a Jordanian Bedouin from the northern tribes, and this fact can explain part of his attempted coup – an attempt to connect the Hashemite dynasty to the tribes of Jordan, rather than to external elements.
King Hussein himself married British, his brother Hassan married Pakistani, and Abdullah, as is well known, married the Palestinian Rania. In searching for brides and grooms outside Jordan, it is as if the Hashemite family is conveying a hidden message that it is not really Jordanian, that it is not rooting in the East Bank, and that it does not want to merge into the Jordanian fabric. But it is also possible that they do not want to annoy the other tribes with whom they will not marry when choosing matches from certain tribes, so it is already better to look for grooms and brides outside. The House of Saud is practicing the opposite method. they marry only in the tribes of the peninsula. The House of Saud has two branches, the Sudeiri branch from which the royal dynasty originates, and the branch of princes from daughters who had a diplomatic marriage, the daughters of the other tribes, mainly from the second large tribe of Najd, the Tamim tribe, centered in the rival Qatar.
The kings of Saudi Arabia come only from the Sudeiri branch, and against this background one can understand another aspect of the Qatari-Saudi animosity, the preference of the Sudeiri in the dynasty of kings, over the princes from the mothers of Tamim. When we try to examine why the Saudis gave their blessings to the engagement, even if with reservations, we enter into a new matter – tying the Jordanian royal house to Najd, and not to the Hijaz, and within Najd to the Sudeiri and not to the Tamimi. In other words, in a future alliance system, Sudeiri Jordan will be with Najd against Qatar. The new Saudi curriculum, the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, prioritizes the study of Najd’s heritage and history over the Hijaz. The House of Saud will zealously retain its title as the defender of the holy places, but it equally seeks to develop Saudi Arabia in a modern direction at the expense of its zealous Wahhabi character, which is the reason for turning towards Najd at the expense of the Hijaz. The Hijaz are home to the tribes that were the mainstay of the Hashemites when they ruled the Hejaz, most notably the Huweitat tribe, which stood by Lawrence of Arabia, and was one of the founders of the emirate of Transjordan, from which the present-day Kingdom of Jordan emerged.
When Mohammed bin Salman decided to establish the future city of Neum on the shores of the Red Sea, he could have approached the great Heweitat tribe in Hijaz and integrated it into the new city, but he decided the opposite— to expel the tribe from the inheritance of his ancestors and not to integrate it into the huge project. This led to clashes with the tribe, and with its forcible suppression. In other words, alongside the establishment of the new city, which changes the Islamic character of the Hejaz to a modern outlook, the future versus the past, the Saudi crown prince also sought to sweep away the memory of the Hashemite Hijaz kingdom that ruled there before the Saudis. When the Hashemites themselves marry the Sudeiri, what is left for Huweitat to say? Are the Hashemites signaling to the House of Saud that they are giving up Hijaz? As far as the Saudis are concerned, there is only one test – that the Hashemites will agree to buy their assets in Mecca – and we have not reached this stage – if at all.
The transition of the weight Hashemites from the Hejaz to Najd has a significance, and is the tendency of the southern tribes to anti-Hashemite radicalism. According to a Palestinian security source, there was a connection between the tribes of southern Jordan and the Hejaz tribes and from there to the Sinai tribes, and the remote headquarters of al-Qaeda in Sinai was located in southern Jordan. The Neum huge project interrupts this tribal connection, which may be why Saudi Arabia did not agree to incorporate Huweiti in Nayyum but to keep them away. If this is really the consideration, then there may be a quiet Jordanian and Saudi agreement to this, which will not help to keep the tribes of southern Jordan quiet.
Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.