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Jordanian Palestinian who writes for ‘Post’ sentenced in Jordan to jail with hard labor
By Ariel Ben Solomon
16/02/2014
Mudar Zahran has been granted asylum by the UK; says source close to Abdullah told him Jordan pushing for east J'lem control.
 
Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian writer and academic from Jordan who has written op-eds for The Jerusalem Post, was sentenced in absentia last week in the Hashemite Kingdom to jail with hard labor.

He says he has learned that the Jordanian government may seek to have him extradited to Jordan to serve his sentence.

There are differing reports as to the duration of his sentence, though the AFP quoted a security official in December saying Zahran faced up to 15 years with hard labor.

Zahran told the Post in an interview from the UK, where he has sought refuge, that a source inside the palace told him that King Abdullah, on his visit to the US, pushed for control of east Jerusalem, and for an upgrade in status to key US ally in the region, even bypassing Israel in importance.

He said that Jordan sees itself as being able to help US interests in the region by handling refugees from Syria and aiding peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, partly by handling cities in the West Bank.

According to his sources, the king asked Obama for more aid and for a statement that Jordan had withstood the Arab uprisings.

However, Obama did not consent to these requests, Zahran claimed, adding that Jordan was put down for the lack of progress on making internal reforms.

These claims could not be confirmed.

Furthermore, Zahran speculated that if the king were to fall, the country would not fall into the kind of chaos like in Syria, which has allowed Islamists to fill the vacuum.

“The US controls the Jordanian army and has US bases” in Jordan, and in any case “the Muslim Brotherhood is too weak to take control,” he said.

“Most Palestinians in Jordan are against the Brotherhood.”

Zahran says Abdullah is supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime because he is worried he would be next were the regime to fall.

Zahran believes that Israel’s support for King Abdullah is the key factor keeping his regime in power. He says that Israel has a hot line to Jordan and transmits important messages to help the king maintain his rule.

“Israel has the ability to cut support and make the king fall,” he said, contending that Israel even convinced Qatar to have the Al Jazeera TV station stop inciting against, or covering opposition to, the regime.

He also claimed that by supporting the toppling of the king, Israel could “kill [US Secretary of State John] Kerry’s plan to create a Palestinian state.”

All of this information is known by the Israeli government, he said.

“The court has indicted me for the crime of ‘inciting hatred and attacking Jordan’s image and the image of its one nation,’” Zahran told the Post in a separate interview in December.

The indictment also mentions that since his arrival in the UK, he started writing in Israeli newspapers.

However, Zahran said, “the only Israeli newspaper I write for is The Jerusalem Post.”

Zahran worked at the Australian and then the American Embassy in Amman before he left for England. However, Zahran said, he was very politically active before he arrived in London.

“I was active in my father’s political party and had to quit for my job,” he had said.

The party, Al-Ansar, was outlawed in 2008.

Zahran, a Muslim, has been calling for a secular state and full civil rights in Jordan. He says that he strongly opposes the Islamists and supports a peaceful change of the regime in Amman as well as peaceful relations with Israel.
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