Jordan’s former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, 41, who lost his title in 2004, said he had been confined to his home, speaking in a video message which the BBC said Saturday it had obtained from his lawyer
Jordan’s official media warned Sunday that security and stability are “red line” issues after a half-brother of King Abdullah II said he was put under house arrest and others were detained amid reports of a coup plot.
Washington and Gulf allies stressed their support for the pro-Western government in Amman, which announced it was due to make an official statement later in the day.
Jordan’s former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, 41, who lost his title in 2004, said he had been confined to his home, speaking in a video message which the BBC said Saturday it had obtained from his lawyer.
Hamzah lashed out at Jordan’s “ruling system” and said several of his friends had been arrested, his security detail removed and his internet and phone lines cut.
He denied being part of “any conspiracy or nefarious organisation”, but said the country had “become stymied in corruption, in nepotism, and in misrule” and that nobody was allowed to criticise the authorities.
The official newspaper Al-Rai warned Sunday that Jordan’s “security and stability” were a “red line that must not be crossed or even approached”.
Official news agency Petra said an unspecified number of suspects had been arrested, among them former close aides to the royal family Bassem Awadallah, chief of the royal court in 2007-2008, and Sherif Hassan bin Zaid.
The pair were detained for “security reasons”, Petra said, quoting a security source.
Hamzah’s mother, Queen Noor, tweeted on Sunday that she was “praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe.”
– US closely watching –
Hamzah is the eldest son of late King Hussein and American-born Queen Noor. He has had good relations officially with Abdullah, his half-brother, and is a popular figure close to tribal leaders.
Abdullah had appointed Hamzah crown prince in 1999 in line with Hussein’s dying wishes, but in 2004 stripped him of the title and gave it to his own eldest son Hussein.
A Jordanian analyst who did not want to be named for security reasons said Hamzah had recently “stepped up his criticism of what he described as corruption within the government in front of his circle of friends”.
According to the same source, “there is certainly resentment on his part, because he has never digested losing his title of crown prince”.
The army denied Saturday that Prince Hamzah, who holds no official position, had been detained.
“What has been published about the arrest of Prince Hamzah is not true,” said Joint Chiefs of Staff head Major General Yousef Huneiti.
But the prince had been “asked to stop some activities that could be used to shake the stability and security of Jordan”, he said.
The Washington Post said the former crown prince was “placed under restriction” as part of a probe into an alleged plot to unseat the king.
“The move followed the discovery of what palace officials described as a complex and far-reaching plot,” it said, quoting a senior Middle East intelligence official.
The alleged scheme “included at least one other Jordanian royal as well as tribal leaders and members of the country’s security establishment,” the Post added.
But Al-Raiin in a front page editorial on Sunday denied such reports.
“Some people are trying to create the illusion of an attempted coup in Jordan, and trying to implicate Prince Hamzah in their sick fantasies,” it said.
“All that happened was that some of the prince’s actions were used to target Jordan’s security and stability.”
– Upcoming centenary –
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington was “closely following” the events in its close regional ally.
“King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support,” he said.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were also quick to voice their full support for Jordan’s king and all steps taken to ensure stability.
The secretary general of the Arab League, in a statement posted on Facebook, said the organisation “expressed full solidarity” with the measures taken to maintain security and stability.
The Gulf Cooperation Council also reaffirmed support for “all decisions and measures” taken by Abdullah.
Awadallah, a former finance and planning minister educated in the United States, was close to the king but has also been a controversial figure in Jordan.
Before becoming royal court chief in 2007, he was head of the king’s cabinet in 2006.
He had played a key role pushing for economic reforms in the country before he resigned in 2008 amid criticism over alleged interference in sensitive political and economic issues.
Saturday’s security sweep comes as Jordan prepares to mark 100 years since the new kingdom then named Transjordan was established alongside Palestine under British mandate.
It declared independence in 1946. Despite having little oil wealth and severely lacking water, the kingdom has managed to survive repeated wars in the region which have sent waves of refugees across its borders.
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