Jordan have thwarted a malicious plot
Jordan's former crown prince was accused Sunday by a senior official of collaborating with foreign elements in a malicious scheme that jeopardized national security.
According to Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, the plot was thwarted at the "zero hour."
“At that point, it was obvious that they had gone from design and planning to action,” Safadi explained. According to him, between 14 and 16 people have been arrested.
Safadi spoke a day after Prince Hamzah, King Abdullah II's half brother, was put under house arrest in a rare public dispute between long-ruling family members.
The unprecedented incident has cast doubt on the country's stability in a volatile region and prompted an outpouring of support for Abdullah.
Hamzah accused the country's leadership of corruption and incompetence in a videotaped speech from house arrest.
Safadi, who also serves as deputy prime minister, claimed that intelligence agents have been tracking the plotters for some time and have expressed their concerns to the king.
He said that Hamzah was asked to put an end to "all these practices and movements that endanger Jordan's stability," but he declined.
Safadi made no mention of the suspected foreign countries involved in the story. He did, however, allege that a long-serving senior official with business links to several Gulf Arab states, Bassem Awadallah, was involved and was preparing to flee the country. Additionally, he claimed that Awadallah was attempting to establish a safe haven for Hamzah's wife.
The United States, Saudi Arabia, and Arab countries in the Middle East all released clear pro-Abdullah statements.
Jordan's rapid display of support emphasized the strategic value of the country as an island of relative stability in a tumultuous area. While the harsh criticism from a famous member of the royal family could bolster growing concerns about the kingdom's poor governance, the king's tough response also demonstrated the extent to which he would tolerate public dissent.
According to Jordanian analyst Labib Kamhawi, Hamzah crossed a red line by implying he might be a viable alternative to the long-ruling king.
“This is not something the king accepts or tolerates,” he said. “It is for this reason that we are now seeing what has occurred. This file has been closed to a large extent.”
On Sunday morning, Hamzah's mother, Queen Noor, expressed condolences for "innocent victims."
“Praying for the victory of truth and justice for all the innocent victims of this hideous smear. “May God bless and protect them,” she tweeted.
Hamzah said in his video that he was visited early Saturday by the kingdom's military chief and informed that he was not permitted to leave the house, speak with citizens, or interact with them. He said that his phone and internet service had been disconnected, as well as his satellite internet, which was used to record the post.
He said he was told he was being disciplined for participating in meetings at which the king was criticized, despite the fact that he said he was not accused of participating in the criticism.
Hamzah then lashed out at the "ruling system" without naming the king, claiming that it had determined "that its personal interests, financial interests, and corruption are more valuable than the lives, integrity, and futures of the ten million people who live here."
“I am not a member of any plot, nefarious organization, or foreign-backed party, as anyone who speaks out is always accused of being,” he said. “There are still members of this family who adore this nation, who care for (its people), and who will prioritize them above everything else.”
“That seems to be a crime deserving of isolation, threats, and now isolation,” he said.
Hamzah is a former crown prince who was stripped of the title by Abdullah in 2004, five years after succeeding their father, late King Hussein, as king.
Hamzah is a well-known figure in Jordan, generally regarded as devout and humble. It is exceptionally unusual for senior members of the ruling family to clash publicly in this manner.
To compound the kingdom's humiliation, his comments challenged military chief Gen. Yousef Huneiti's denials that Hamzah was detained or put under house arrest.
Whatever harm the crisis may have caused within Jordan, it seemed to have had no immediate impact on Abdullah's external support.
“King Abdullah is a critical partner of the United States, and he has our full support,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Jordan is an important ally of the United States, which provides it with military resources and assistance. US special forces and other troops practice on a regular basis with Jordanians. About 3,000 American troops are stationed in the kingdom.
Gulf Arab countries that support the United States and employ a large number of Jordanians in public sector jobs have immediately released statements expressing their support for the king and his government.
According to the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the royal court of the kingdom backed King Abdullah's efforts "to preserve security and stability and defuse any attempt to weaken them."
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have released pro-Abdullah statements.
Benny Gantz, Israel's defense minister, described Jordan as a "strategic ally" and dismissed the unrest as a "internal Jordanian matter."
Jordan's stability and the king's status have long been a source of concern throughout the region, especially during the Trump administration's unprecedented support for Israel and attempts to isolate the Palestinians, including through funding cuts for Palestinian refugees.
Jordan, which is the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and is home to a sizable Palestinian community, finds itself in a precarious situation as a result.
Jordan reached an agreement with Israel in 1994. While the countries maintain strong security links, relations have been strained in recent years, owing largely to disagreements over Israel's dispute with the Palestinians.
In early 2018, when then-President Donald Trump threatened to slash funding to countries that opposed US policies, the administration increased aid to Jordan by more than $1 billion over five years.
With Hamzah still under house arrest on Sunday, it was unclear how much longer the standoff could last without jeopardizing Abdullah's international status.
According to Adam Coogle, Human Rights Watch's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Jordan's personal freedoms have been slipping slowly but steadily in recent years.
“There is no denying that the room for vital political dialogue and fundamental freedoms have degraded significantly,” he said. “We've hit an all-time low.”
Coogle cited the rise of the Islamic State and the danger it posed to Jordan's regime, as well as the warming of relations between Israel and Gulf Arab states during the Trump administration, often at the expense of Jordan. He also cited Jordan's economy's downturn during the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment has risen to approximately 25%, as the country has been burdened by an influx of approximately 1 million Syrian refugees.
The military has denied detaining Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, but says a former minister, a member of the royal family and others have been detained as part of a continuing investigation.
In a video, Prince Hamzah accused Jordan's leaders of corruption, incompetence and harassment.
Lebanon, Egypt and Gulf countries have all expressed solidarity with Jordan's King Abdullah.