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Jordan’s royal queue deepens as the recording of the defiant prince emerges

Jordan’s royal queue deepens as the recording of the defiant prince emerges

The fierce conflict at the heart of the Jordanian royal family deepened on Monday as a defiant recording of the prince accused of plotting to destabilize the kingdom was created, sending shock waves into the Middle East.

The recording, circulated on social media and the FT was unable to authenticate, suggests Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, 59-year-old stepfather of Abdullah, may not be willing to take orders not to go out, use Twitter or communicate with people.

According to the Associated Press, the authenticity of the recording was “confirmed by a person close to the prince, due to security concerns, anonymity.”

Prince Hamzah, 41, was inherited by his older brother in 2004 and has been a critical critic of corruption in Jordan’s ruling system, which has been at the center of intrigue since the army warned him on Saturday to stop threatening “activities” with national security and stability. He said he has been placed in house arrest which the military has denied.

Bassem Awadallah, the former head of King Abdullah’s cabinet, said Jordan’s foreign minister was among those arrested © AFP Getty Images

A day later, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi accused Prince Hamzah of destabilizing Jordan in a plot involving “foreign parties” and “foreign opposition” in the conspiracy of his longtime western partner. He said 16 to 18 people had been arrested in an unusual public crackdown among the elite, including Bassem Awadallah, the former finance minister and chief of staff of King Abdullah, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a small member of the royal family.

Safadi said there had been relations between Awadallah and Sharif Hassan and the couple and Prince Hamzah.

“An effort was made to target Jordan for his security and stability [an] the effort was thwarted and treated under the law, “Safadi said. King Abdullah wants to deal privately with issues related to Prince Hamzah, he added.

Extraordinary events in a country considered a haven of stability in the region show a strange struggle for public power by the royal family, analysts based in Jordan said.

King of Jordan Abdullah II © REUTERS

Prince Hamzah has been one of the only people to publicly criticize state corruption and bad governance at a time when authorities have become increasingly intolerant of dissent, analysts said. Repression against criticism and protests has intensified in the coronavirus pandemic.

Safadi said on Sunday that a man associated with a foreign security service had contacted Prince Hamzah’s wife to offer him a plane to leave the kingdom.

Roy Shaposhnik, Israel’s defense adviser living in Europe, said in a statement released on Sunday that the offer was made as a “humanitarian gesture” between friends. He accused Abdullah of taking part in a plot against King. According to a person close to Shaposhnik, he is 41 years old and has lived in Israel for more than a decade.

Roy Shaposhnik said he “never served in any branch of intelligence in Israel or any other country.”

Shaposhnik in a statement Posted on Facebook said Prince Hamzah offered them the opportunity to stay at his European home after expressing concern for his family’s safety. A Jordanian news network later released Shaposhnik’s name, and said he was an agent for Israel’s Mossad spy agency before the report was deleted.

Shaposhnik said he “has never served in any branch of intelligence in Israel or any other country.”

After Prince Hamzah, Awadallah is the supreme Jordanian who has been in the middle of the plot. He was an adviser to King Abdullah. In recent years, Mohammed bin Salman has been an adviser to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Additional news from Heba Saleh in Cairo

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