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King Abdullah in 2018. Photo: Jordan Pix/Getty Images

Amman, Jordan — The bombshell “Pandora papers” disclosures about King Abdullah II's multimillion-dollar real-estate holdings don't currently look like a major blow to the king's domestic standing, in part because local media have steered clear.

Driving the news: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported that King Abdullah had purchased several houses worth more than $106 million in the U.S. and U.K. during his reign, using offshore companies.

  • The palace admitted that the country’s fourth monarch does in fact own real estate in the U.S. and Europe, and it claimed the purchases had been kept outside the public eye for security reasons, to protect the royal family.
  • The statement seemed to help to defuse the situation domestically.

Between the lines: The story has hardly appeared in local media in Jordan, with most publishers practicing self-censorship and one online outlet that did publish the reports, Ammannet.net, being asked to take them down three hours later.

  • The director of the government's media commission, Tareq Abu Ragheb, claimed the media had not been pressured.
  • Instead, he told Axios, outlets had been careful “not to fall in the trap of publishing information that is considered a breach of the personal information of His Majesty the King and his need for security and thus allow themselves to be a gun in the hands of those who wish to harm the King.”
  • Some Jordanians say the disclosures are hardly a surprise. Others rationalized to Axios that the king had used his private money, not funds from international donors or the country's coffers.

“It is a serious crisis, but people are afraid of instability and therefore it will not make a big difference," says Lamis Andoni, a political analyst and former lecturer at UC Berkeley.

  • “It will increase distrust in the government and the palace, and the only way to deal with this problem is to have accountability and transparency," Andoni said, suggesting that the palace start by publishing details of its budget.

Worth noting: The Pandora Papers reports were published the same day that King Abdullah took the dramatic step of speaking to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the first time in a decade.

  • The call is part of a realization by the Jordanian government that it shouldn't wait for the U.S. or other parties to bring about a solution in Syria, and it should instead bring relations with its neighbor back to normal, Abdel Majid Dandies of the left-wing Popular Unity party told Axios.

Go deeper

Oct 7, 2021 - Podcasts

How South Dakota became a tax haven for the ultra rich

South Dakota has become a haven for an estimated $360 billion for the wealthy, according to the leaked financial documents in the Pandora Papers. Even though it’s one of the least populated states in the U.S., it now ranks as one of the top tax haven jurisdictions.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Axios’ chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon, who’s been reporting on what the Pandora Papers revealed about South Dakota.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

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