Jordan has arrested officials as part of a “security” investigation
Jordanian security forces have warned King Abdullah’s half-brother to suspend “activities” aimed at the nation’s security and stability, as the divisions of the western ally’s royal family have expanded significantly.
General Yousef Huneiti, the Jordanian army chief, said the warning to Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, who was the main prince before he was ousted in 2004, was “part of a comprehensive joint investigation by security agencies,” according to Petra State News Agency.
He denied a report saying the former Crown prince had been arrested. Prince Hamzah released a video, watched by the FT, claiming he was under house arrest, and also launched a fierce attack on the ruling system, accused of corruption, nepotism and misgovernment.
Prince Hamzah said the result of the government’s failures was “the apparent loss of hope of almost all Jordanians; the loss of hope for our future, the loss of dignity and the constant threat to life.”
An unknown number of other people were arrested as part of the security forces investigation, including Bassem Awadallah, the former finance minister and chief of staff of King Abdullah, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a distant member of the royal family, Petra said.
Awadallah has in recent years been an adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Prince Hamzah said he was visited by the army chief and told him that he was not allowed to leave the house or communicate with the people because the government or King Abdullah had criticized Prince Hamzah for his visits or meetings on social media.
He said he was not accused of criticizing him, but added that several people he knew had been arrested. He said his internet and phone lines have been cut.
Prince Hamzah said he made the recording to make it clear that he was not part of any “conspiracy or evil organization or foreign protection group”.
“What we see and hear in terms of the official line is not a reflection of the realities on the ground,” he said. “I am not responsible for government breakdown, corruption and the ability that has dominated the government structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has deteriorated year after year.”
Unusual events will raise concerns about Jordan’s stability, which has long been seen as an important western partner on the border with Israel, Iraq and Jordan. King Abdullah, celebrated in Washington and London, is also seen as an important voice of moderation in the Middle East.
But the crisis of family authority has erupted as Jordan exacerbates economic and social pressures and exacerbates the pandemic of the coronavirus.
Gen Huneiti said, “No one is above the law and Jordan’s security and stability is above all else.” He said investigations are continuing.
Shortly after the arrests were reported, Saudi royal court released a statement confirming its full support for the “decisions” and “measures” taken by King Abdullah to “maintain security and stability”.
Other governments in the region made similar statements in favor of the Jordanian monarch.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said the U.S. is following the reports closely and has contacted Jordanian officials.
“King Abdullah is a key partner in the United States and has our full support,” the spokesman said.
Jordan has long been dependent on financial support from western and Gulf states, and this coincides with a drop in revenues and debts that have risen to about 100 percent of its gross domestic project.
Last year, unemployment rose by more than 20 percent, a key source of foreign currency earnings and employment, and money sent as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus.
Last month, several patients died at a state hospital after running out of oxygen, causing illness Jordanian Minister of Health to resign.
In his video, Prince Hamzah said the country had been hampered by “corruption, nepotism and misgovernment”.
Additional report by Washington’s Katrina Manson