Jordan’s official media yesterday said security and stability are “red line” issues, after a half-brother of King Abdullah II said that he was put under house arrest and others were detained amid reports of a coup plot.
Washington and Gulf allies stressed their support for the pro-Western government in Amman, which announced that it was due to make an official statement later in the day.
Jordan’s former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, 41, who lost his title in 2004, said he had been confined to his home.
He was speaking in a video message that the BBC on Saturday said it had obtained from his lawyer.
Prince Hamzah lashed out at Jordan’s “ruling system” and said that several of his friends had been arrested, his security detail removed and his Internet and telephone lines cut.
He denied being part of “any conspiracy or nefarious organization,” but said the country had “become stymied in corruption, in nepotism and in misrule” and that nobody was allowed to criticize the authorities.
The official newspaper Al-Rai yesterday said that Jordan’s “security and stability” are a “red line that must not be crossed or even approached.”
Official news agency Petra said an unspecified number of suspects had been arrested, among them former close aides to the royal family Bassem Awadallah, chief of the royal court in 2007 and 2008, and Sherif Hassan bin Zaid.
The pair were detained for “security reasons,” Petra said, quoting a security source.
Prince Hamzah’s mother, Queen Noor, wrote on Twitter that she was “praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe.”
Prince Hamzah is the eldest son of late King Hussein and US-born Queen Noor. He has had good relations officially with Abdullah II, his half-brother, and is a popular figure close to tribal leaders.
Abdullah II had appointed Prince Hamzah crown prince in 1999 in line with King Hussein’s dying wishes, but in 2004 stripped him of the title and gave it to his own eldest son, Hussein.
A Jordanian analyst who did not want to be named for security reasons said Prince Hamzah had recently “stepped up his criticism of what he described as corruption within the government in front of his circle of friends.”
The source said that “there is certainly resentment on his part, because he has never digested losing his title of crown prince.”
The army on Saturday denied that Prince Hamzah, who holds no official position, had been detained.
“What has been published about the arrest of Prince Hamzah is not true,” Joint Chiefs of Staff head Major General Yousef Huneiti said.
However, the prince had been “asked to stop some activities that could be used to shake the stability and security of Jordan,” he said.
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.
“The move followed the discovery of what palace officials described as a complex and far-reaching plot,” it said, quoting a senior Middle East intelligence official.
However, Al-Rai in a front page editorial yesterday denied such reports.
“Some people are trying to create the illusion of an attempted coup in Jordan, and trying to implicate Prince Hamzah in their sick fantasies,” it said. “All that happened was that some of the prince’s actions were used to target Jordan’s security and stability.”
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