Jordan in security sweep, king`s half-brother put under house arrest

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 4, 2021

The Washington Post said Jordanian authorities detained the former crown prince and arrested almost 20 other people after what officials called a "threat to the country's stability".

Awadallah, a former finance and planning minister educated in the United States, was close to the king but has also been a controversial figure in Jordan.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Jordan's army Yusef Huneity denied reports that Prince Hamza had been arrested but said he was told to "stop activities that are being exploited to target Jordan's security and stability".

Initial investigations have proven the existence of communication between people from the circle surrounding Prince Hamzah, said Safadi, adding that these people are passing allegations and messages to bodies overseas, including the so-called foreign opposition to use them to incite against homeland security and distort facts.

Al-Sharif Hassan Bin Zaid, Basem Ibrahim Awadallah, and 14-16 others were arrested Saturday.

Arrests of top officials and royal family members are rare in Jordan.

Qatar expressed its full solidarity with Jordan and its full support to the decisions and measures issued by King Abdullah to preserve security and stability, and boost the process of progress and prosperity, state news agency QNA said.

Most dramatically, the Jordanian military ordered the house arrest of the popular former crown prince Hamzeh bin Hussein. He has cultivated strong ties with several US administrations, but, in recent years, sparred with former president Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over proposed Israeli plans to annex the West Bank and bypass the Palestinians in a bid for Israeli normalization with the rest Arab world.

"The US administration knows that Bassam Awadullah works for MBS (Mohammed bin Salman)".

Awadallah, who was a driving force behind economic reforms before he resigned as chief of the royal court in 2008, has long faced stiff resistance from an old guard and an entrenched bureaucracy that flourished for years on government perks.

King Abdullah has succeeded in bringing political stability to the country and gaining stature as a prominent Arab leader whose message of moderation has found an echo, especially in Western forums.

Neighboring countries and allies of Jordan expressed their support for King Abdullah on Sunday.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Gulf allies rallied behind the king, highlighting Jordan's strategic importance in the region.

Saudi Arabia was among the first to voice support for the king.

Jordanian riot police last month broke up protests in Amman and other cities called to mark the 10th anniversary of Arab Spring pro-democracy demonstrations, and authorities detained dozens of activists, witnesses said.

Although the developments in Jordan have come as a surprise for many, DW reporter Aya Ibrahim says there were indications a closer look at the developments on the ground show what led to this point.

Jordan, which is now under a nightly covid curfew that is set to expire in mid-May, has been hit hard economically by the coronavirus pandemic as well as by the fallout from massive waves of refugees from neighboring Syria. "It has also had to undergo some very serious austerity measures that are starting to be really painful for ordinary Jordanians", she told DW News.

"He did say that he met with some of the tribal leaders, so one can then understand why the official view that this was a destabilizing move on his part", she said.

Amman-based journalist Rana Sweis told DW that Prince Hamzah's video appeal was "unprecedented".

Jordan has always been a key Western ally and an island of stability in a turbulent region.

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that we stand by the sisterly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the king, the government, and the people", official Palestinian news agency WAFA said in a statement. It borders Israel, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Iraq.

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