Mudar Zahran is the Secretary General of the Jordanian Opposition Coalition. As such he is the leading Jordanian opposition figure. He put out a call recently for the world to help him, claiming: “The King will Kill my Family”.
He tweeted on a Monday that "Jordan's king's security agencies are threatening my family in Jordan with arrest, death and execution" as a means to get him to abandon attempts to overthrow the king.
What has been happening to cause this situation?
Ten months ago, namely on October 17, a conference organized by me took place at the Begin Center in Jerusalem, which explored the Jordan Option for the Ultimate Alternate Solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. This solution differed from all other solutions that have been put forward in that it called for King Abdullah of Jordan to be convinced to abdicate and for Mudar Zahran to be installed as President of Jordan.
The king was not pleased when the conference was announced, in June 2017. He mobilized Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Abbas to publically oppose the conference - which they did. In addition, some Israeli journalists attacked either the credentials of Zahran or the advisability of forcing the king from the throne.
Some called Zahran a “fake“ or a “fraud” and went out of their way to defame him and in some cases, me. They accused him of having no credibility and no following. In addition, they attempted to discredit the conference.
King Abdullah began threatening Zahran’s parents and brother in Jordanwith torture and even death. They take these threats seriously and so does Zahran.
Zahran resides in London but his parents and siblings still live in their native country Jordan. Zahran fled the country in 2010 and was quickly granted political asylum in the UK. Previously, he worked as the most senior local staff for the US Embassies in both Amman and Baghdad, where he served as a senior economic expert and assistant policy coordinator.
Since then, Zahran has been openly and avidly advocating for Jordan to be the Palestinian state and be fully-engaged with Israel on all economic, political and defense levels. For this to happen, the king would have to abdicate.
That did not sit well with the Jordanian king, who tried Zahran in absentia in the notorious military State Security Court for the crimes of "Having a long tongue against the king", "Insulting and official entity", "Writing for Israeli newspapers", "Trying to change the structure of the society" and "Attempting to change the ruling regime". He was duly tried and convicted and sentenced to a life in prison.
Thanks to the UK which granted Zahran asylum, the King could not enforce the sentence. Nevertheless, for family members who remain in Jordan, the case is totally different.
Zahran says: "Harassment of my family never stopped", Unfortunately, lately, the volume and seriousness of the threats made to my parents and my only brother have increased to an unprecedented level". Last May, the king's intelligence stopped my brother from boarding a plane to Saudi Arabia where he resides, he missed his flight and was ordered to report to the fearsome royal intelligence department. Straight from the airport he went there to endure a humiliating interrogation.
The fact is that my brother is loyal to the king and is against my political work. In addition, he is a computer genius who knows nothing about politics. Zahran adds: "The king and his people know my brother has no influence over me, they know he doesn't care for nor know much about politics. Nevertheless, they wanted to harass me", They eventually let him return to Saudi Arabia, after he booked another flight at his own expense,
"More threats were made at the same time to my parents, including my 73 year old father who is literally becoming paralyzed with Parkinson's disease. My mother has been calling me ever since, begging me to stop my political work and even to apologize to the king, she kept saying that the king's people could kill the entire family and get away with it."
Zahran says, "Jordan is flaming with anti-regime protests, that began last May right after I released six videos to the Jordanian public telling them they must protest against the king peacefully, and state that they want peace with everyone, including Israel, after the king is gone.",
"They responded and the country has been witnessing protests ever since. After meeting with President Trump, he did not return to Jordan.”
Zahran claims: "The king has lost power, he is now a paper tiger, he does not control the army nor the intelligence, nonetheless, this does not mean his thugs and secret service bodyguards could not butcher my family. They made that point very clear last Thursday".
Mudar explains: "My mother called me from Jordan begging, telling me the king's security service called my brother in Saudi, told him they would kill him and his family, that they would fabricate criminal charges for them that could result in a death sentence", "They told my brother he could not return from Saudi to see his children unless he wants to go to jail",
"My mother was too afraid to speak to me in detail but confirmed to me she and my dad were expecting to be killed. She was literally saying her goodbyes to me",
"She said 'we are so weak and have no protection and that the government could do anything'", and "'nobody would care'".
Zahran says his group, with the help of a DC lobbyist, is presenting these incidents to several international parties, including the UK's government. Zahran, who happens to be a dual-Jordanian British citizen, says: "This is not a local matter anymore, this is the case of a foreign regime practicing a threat that impacts me, an individual living on British soil, this political terrorism, extortion, and the king and his people must not simply get away with it. My family may get butchered as we speak. Perhaps they will be killed before this story is published. I am not going to sit by and let the king get away with it.".
Zahran makes a rather intriguing comparison between the way the king is treating his family and the way Israel treats families of its Arab opponents: "While my family is being terrorized by the king and his criminals because I am advocating peace, liberalism and human rights, Israel treats families of Hamas members medically for free, welcomes them to its hospitals, some of those Hamas members have killed Israelis with their own hands, some are serving multiple life sentences in Israeli jails, nonetheless, not on one occasion has Israel gone after their family members or threatened them. In my case, the king and his thugs want my brother and parents killed. Despite the fact that my father has denounced me in public several times to avoid the king's wrath, it does not seem to be working."
When asked why his family’s public denouncement of him is not working in keeping the king's wrath away anymore, Zahran responds: "Simply because the king knows he is on his way out for real this time. “
"In the past, Obama protected him and the Muslim Brotherhood which is headquartered there. Together they kept the king in power."
"The Jordanian public is fed up with the king and I cannot see how he can remain in power. Jordanians have been listening to my calls for peaceful protests and for publicly seeking peace and liberalism. He cannot tolerate that and wants to stop me by threatening my family. If he kills them or tortures them, I can assure him, he will be held accountable.”
There are many potential opposition leaders in Jordan but the only one the king is threatened by, is Zahran, and the only one whose family members are being threatened by the king’s men.
One might argue that no one else is trying to overthrow the king and that’s why Zahran is being singled out but one can’t ignore the fact that the king takes Zahran’s attempt to overthrow him, seriously.
So do I.