Hamza bin Hussein was the crown prince for four years before the title was transferred in 2004 to the current king’s eldest son, Hussein.(Reuters)
Hamza bin Hussein was the crown prince for four years before the title was transferred in 2004 to the current king’s eldest son, Hussein.(Reuters)

Jordan says King’s half-brother, Hamza Bin Hussein, plotted to destabilize country

Jordan’s stability is crucial to the region because of its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Bloomberg |
PUBLISHED ON APR 04, 2021 08:46 PM IST

Jordan said it uncovered a plot to destabilize the kingdom that involved King Abdullah II’s half-brother and extended beyond the country’s borders.

A half-brother of Jordan’s ruler, former Crown Prince Hamza Bin Hussein, was part of the foiled conspiracy, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday, in a first official explanation of a string of arrests a day earlier. More than 16 people were taken into custody, he said at a news conference in the capital, Amman.

“There was an effort to target Jordan’s security and stability, this effort was foiled,” he said. He gave no evidence to back up his claims.

The crackdown comes as Jordan, a U.S. ally that’s home to as many as 2 million Palestinian refugees and normalized relations with neighboring Israel in 1994, struggles with a worsening squeeze on its finances and a resurgence of Covid-19 cases that has prompted the government to renew restrictions on movement. The U.S. most recently provided the Middle East kingdom with $700 million in August.

“We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support.”

Jordan’s stability is crucial to the region because of its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bordering both Syria and Iraq, the kingdom has also fashioned itself as a force for moderation in a turbulent neighborhood.

Also Read | Explained: Why Jordan placed its former crown prince under 'house arrest'

Security personnel and armored vehicles were seen parked outside royal palaces and patrolling the Dabouq neighborhood of the capital, Amman, on Saturday. The Washington Post said earlier that Hamza, the eldest son of the late King Hussein and his fourth wife Queen Noor, was under house arrest at his palace in Amman. It cited a senior Middle East intelligence official briefed on the events as saying there was an ongoing investigation into an alleged plot to unseat King Abdullah, Hamza’s older half-brother.

Hamza, in a six-minute video provided to the BBC by his lawyer, said he was “not part of any conspiracy.”

Support From Allies

“I had a visit from chief of general staff of the Jordanian armed forces this morning in which he informed me that I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them because in the meetings that I had been present in -- or on social media relating to visits that I had made -- there had been criticism of the government or the king,” Hamza said in the video. He added that his Internet and phone lines had been cut.

On Twitter, Hamza’s mother, Queen Noor called the incidents a “wicked slander”.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Major General Yousef Huneiti on Saturday denied claims about the arrest of Hamza and said the prince was merely asked to stop “movements and activities that are used to target” the security and stability of Jordan. He added that the move was part of joint comprehensive investigations undertaken by security agencies, as a result of which bin Zeid, Awadallah and others were arrested.

The army chief indicated that the investigations were ongoing and their results will be announced “with full transparency and clarity.”

Hamza was the crown prince for four years before the title was transferred in 2004 to the current king’s eldest son, Hussein. He has occupied various roles, including brigadier in the Jordanian army.

Awadallah, who holds a doctorate from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has served in various positions in Jordan, including economic secretary to the prime minister, minister of finance and head of the royal court. Until 2018, he was King Abdullah’s personal envoy to Saudi Arabia, where he was close to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and other Arab states expressed support for King Abdullah. Saudi Arabia said it supported the Jordanian monarch’s decisions and measures to preserve security and stability and face any attempt to affect them.

“The Biden administration would view the potential of a failed state as detrimental to regional stability,” said Ayham Kamel, the New York-based head of Eurasia Group’s Middle East and Africa research team. “The Israeli security establishment would not look favorably toward any real instability in Jordan that triggers a Palestinian crisis.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Topics
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP