Jordan's army: Prince Hamza not arrested, but asked to stop activities

Daniel Fowler
April 4, 2021

Hamza left Saturday evening, according to the TV channel al-Jazeera He knows in a video message that he is under house arrest, and the army command told him that he is not allowed to contact anyone.

He did not specify what such actions were.

Prince Hamzah said in the video that he was "making this recording to make it clear that I'm not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out", he said.

This is a very sad and unfortunate turn for a country that as I said used to be in the forefront of the region.

Jordan's army chief of staff says the half-brother of King Abdullah was asked to "stop some movements and activities that are being used to target Jordan's security and stability" amid the arrest of former senior officials close to the ruling monarchy.

A former USA official with knowledge of the events in Jordan said the threat did not involve a physical coup. Rather, he said, those involved were planning to push for protests that would appear to be a "popular uprising with masses on the street" with tribal support.

King Abdullah and Prince Hamzah have not displayed any open rivalry over the years. But the authorities have become increasingly concerned with his efforts to build ties with disgruntled figures within the powerful tribes.

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.

Among those arrested is Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, Jordan's former royal envoy to Saudi Arabia. It gave no details. Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Qatar, along with other Arab nations, also side with the Jordanian regime.

"We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials", State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

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The US State Department said that King Abdullah is a "key partner" of the United States and "has our full support".

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.

It is rare for a senior member of the ruling family to express such harsh criticism of the government, and any sign of instability in Jordan is likely to raise concerns among the country's Western allies.

Some opposition figures have rallied around him, a move that has displeased the king, officials familiar with the situation said.

"All solidarity with the Jordanian leadership and King Abdullah II in defending the gains of the Jordanian people, protecting their stability, and refusing to interfere in their affairs", Hariri tweeted.

The tradition of the Hashemite dynasty, under the 1952 Constitution, gives the eldest son the right to take the throne, but the monarch retains the option of appointing a brother.

Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, the former head of the Royal Household, has also been detained.

Jordan's powerful intelligence agency, with a pervasive influence in public life, has played a bigger public role since the introduction of emergency laws at the outset of the pandemic a year ago, which civic groups say violate civil and political rights.

Hamzah said he told the head of the Jordanian Joint Chiefs of Staff, who arrived at his home, that, "I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse..."

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