Jordan Begins Arrests in Possible Plot Against King

Royal Hashemite Court Jordan's King Abdullah II gives a speech during the inauguration of the 19th Parliament's non-ordinary session in Amman Jordan. Jordan’s army chief of staff says the half-brother

Royal Hashemite Court Jordan's King Abdullah II gives a speech during the inauguration of the 19th Parliament's non-ordinary session in Amman Jordan. Jordan’s army chief of staff says the half-brother

In a video statement, Hamzah said he is now not allowed to leave his home or meet with other people.

"I'm not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organisation or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out", he said.

In a statement published on the state news agency, it said this was part of a broader, ongoing security investigation in which a former minister, a member of the royal family and unnamed others were detained.

He said a number of his friends had been arrested, his security removed and his internet and phone lines cut. "And I've been informed by the company that they're instructed to cut it, so it may be the last time, I'm able to communicate", Hamzah said.

"I wanted to make this recording so that it's clear to the world that what you see and hear in terms of the official line is not a reflection of the realities on the ground".

These people known as the Herak have in recent weeks called for protests against corruption in a country hit hard by the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, pushing unemployment to record levels and deepening poverty.

He said he told the army chief: "I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, for 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 by the year".

Abdullah stripped his half-brother Hamzah of his title as crown prince in 2004, saying he had chose to "free" him "from the constraints of the position of crown prince in order to give you the freedom to work and undertake any mission or responsibility I entrust you with".

The current crown prince is Abdullah's oldest son, Hussein, who is 26.

The US State Department said that His Majesty King Abdullah is a "key partner" of the US.

Prince Hamza is not seen as a major threat to Jordan's monarchy and has been marginalised for years, but the move against him represents the first such incident involving a close member of the royal family since King Abdullah came to the throne.

Abdullah and Hamzah have not displayed any open rivalry over the years.

A member of the Jordanian royal family and the former head of the royal court were arrested on Saturday due to "security reasons", according to Jordan's state news agency Petra, and the country's former crown prince claimed he has been told not to leave his home.

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What other countries are expressing solidarity with King Abdullah?

Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, said: "We are closely following the reports and are in touch with Jordanian officials. Any astute observer will say if someone this close to MBS is involved he would have to know", said the former USA official.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia reacted swiftly to developments in Amman.

General Yousef Huneiti, the army chief of staff, denied reports that Prince Hamzah was arrested but said he was asked to "stop some movements and activities that are being used to target Jordan's security and stability".

The country's top general had earlier denied that Hamzah - a former crown prince stripped of the title in 2004 - was arrested or under house arrest, even as authorities announced the arrests of former senior officials close to the ruling monarchy.

The Saudi royal court voiced its "full support" for King Abdullah and all decisions taken by him to maintain security and stability.

The Petra news agency cited a security source as saying that the arrests were made after close security surveillance and that a full investigation is underway. Awadallah, also previously served as planning minister and finance minister and has private business interests throughout the Gulf region.

Before becoming royal court chief in 2007, he was head of the king's cabinet in 2006.

Hamzah is a popular figure in Jordan.

Awadallah stepped down after coming under public criticism over alleged interference in controversial political and economic issues.

Hajraf stressed that the security of Jordan is part of the GCC states' security.

It declared independence in 1946, and despite having little oil wealth, severely lacking water and repeatedly being rocked by wars on its borders, the kingdom has managed to survive the regional upheavals.

But the centenary will be muted.

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