Jordan Begins Arrests in Possible Plot Against King

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 4, 2021

Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, speaks across a table to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a 2018 lunch at the royal palace in Amman.

There were also unconfirmed reports the former crown prince was under house arrest.

Petra had earlier reported that two senior officials who formerly worked for the palace, along with other suspects, had been arrested for "security reasons", without providing further details.

It gave no details.

The news comes as a shock in the desert kingdom, a close regional ally of the US often lauded for its stability in a crisis-ridden neighborhood.

Al-Hajraf affirmed the full support of the GCC for all decisions and measures taken by His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein to preserve the security and stability of brotherly Jordan, wishing brotherly Jordan continued security and stability under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II and His Highness, the faithful Crown Prince.

Hamzah is the eldest son of late King Hussein and his American wife Queen Noor.

It is rare for a senior member of the ruling family to express such harsh criticism of the government, and any sign of instability in Jordan is likely to raise concerns among the country's Western allies. Jordan's army chief of staff says the half-brother of King Abdullah II was asked to "stop some movements and activities that are being used to target Jordan's security and stability".

"No one is above the law and Jordan's security and stability are above all", he told the official Petra news agency.

Awadallah also previously served as planning minister and finance minister. "Egypt emphasizes [that] the security and stability of brotherly Jordan is an inseparable part of Egyptian and Arab national security", the spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency wrote on Facebook on Saturday. A State Department spokesman said the USA is in touch with officials in Jordan. "King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support", he said. The king has cultivated close relations with US and other Western leaders over the years, and Jordan was a key ally in the war against the Islamic State group.

Zaid is a distant cousin of King Abdullah.

"Unfortunately, this country has become stymied in nepotism, in corruption, and in misrule and the result has been the destruction or the loss of hope that is apparent in pretty much every Jordanian", he said.

Some of that nostalgia rubbed off on Prince Hamzah, who bears a striking resemblance to King Hussein and was often considered his favorite. In the videotaped statement, a portrait of King Hussein could be seen on the wall behind the prince.

Until now, Abdullah and Hamzah have not displayed any open rivalry.

USA -educated Bassem Awadallah, a long-time confidant of the king who later became minister of finance, and Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid, a member of the royal family were detained along with other unnamed figures, Petra said. He has good relations officially with Abdullah and is a popular figure close to tribal leaders. The country is experiencing a brutal coronavirus wave, with fatalities only recently dipping below 100 a day.

Relations with Israel, meanwhile, are also at a low point, with tensions brewing over Israel's plans to annex the West Bank as well as a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic slights with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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