Jordan’s Queen Noor says plot attributed to son ‘depraved slander’; neighbours, allies assist safety strikes


Amman, April 4

Queen Noor, widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan, described as “wicked slander” on Saturday allegations by the authorities against her son, the former Crown Prince Hamza, of actions that undermined the stability of the kingdom.

“Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander,” she wrote on Twitter. “God bless and keep them safe.”

Prince Hamza said in a video recording he was under house arrest and had been told to stay at home and not contact anyone.

Speaking in English in the video, passed by his lawyer to the BBC, he said he was not part of any foreign conspiracy and denounced the ruling system as corrupt.

“(Jordanians’) well being has been put second by a ruling system that has decided that its personal interests, financial interests, that its corruption is more important than the lives and dignity and future of the ten million people who live here,” he said.

Jordanian military said on Saturday that Prince Hamza bin Hussein had been told to halt actions used to target the country’s “security and stability”.

In a statement published by the state news agency, it said the action was part of a broader security investigation in which a former minister, a member of the royal family and some other unidentified individuals were detained.

Earlier, army chief Yusef Huneity denied reports the prince had been arrested but said he was told to “stop activities that are being exploited to target Jordan’s security and stability”.

Two people familiar with the situation told Reuters security forces had arrived at his small palace and begun an investigation. King Abdullah dismissed Prince Hamza as heir to the throne in 2004 in a move that consolidated his power.

The Washington Post said Jordanian authorities detained the former crown prince and arrested nearly 20 other people after what officials called a “threat to the country’s stability”.

A former US official with knowledge of events in Jordan said the plot, which he described as credible and broadbased but not imminent, did not involve a “physical coup.” Rather, he said, those involved were planning to push for protests that would appear to be a “popular uprising with masses on the street” with tribal support.

Jordan would investigate whether there was a foreign hand in the plot, said the former US official.

Powerful tribes

Prince Hamza is not seen as a major threat to Jordan’s monarchy and has been marginalised for years, but the move against him represents the first such incident involving a close member of the royal family since King Abdullah came to the throne.

The authorities have become increasingly concerned with his efforts to build ties with disgruntled figures within powerful tribes.

These people known as the Herak have in recent weeks called for protests against corruption in a country hit hard by the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, pushing unemployment to record levels and deepening poverty. The authorities had cracked down on several demonstrations, detaining dozens.

Tribes who dominate the security forces form the bedrock of support for the kingdom’s Hashemite monarchy.

The state news agency said Bassem Awadallah, a U.S.-educated long-time confidant of the king who later became minister of finance and also adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid, a member of the royal family, were detained along with other unnamed figures.

It gave no details.

“The US administration knows that Bassam Awadullah works for MBS (Mohammed bin Salman). Any astute observer will say if someone this close to MBS is involved he would have to know,” said the former US official.

Arrests of top officials and royal family members are rare in Jordan, seen as one of the Arab world’s most stable countries.

Jordan’s neighbours and allies reacted with statements of support of Jordanian military action.

Following are reactions from different countries and groups:

United States

“We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials. King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in an email.

Britain

“We are following closely the events in Jordan….Jordan is a greatly valued partner for the UK. King Abdullah has our full support,” James Cleverly, a junior Foreign Office minister, on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia

“The kingdom affirms its full support, with all its capabilities, to all decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah and His Highness Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, the Crown Prince, to maintain security and stability,” the Saudi royal court said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said Jordan’s stability and prosperity was the “basis for the stability and prosperity of the whole region” and vowed “firm and lasting” support for it.

United Arab Emirates

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs stressed the UAE’s full support for all decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah and his crown prince to maintain Jordan’s security and stability and “to defuse any attempt to impact them”.

Senior Emirati official Anwar Gargash said on Twitter Jordan’s “wise policy to build bridges in a turbulent region was not an easy choice but was, and remains, the necessary direction”.

Egypt

Egypt voiced support for King Abdullah and his efforts “to maintain the security and stability of the kingdom against any attempts to undermine it”, its presidency spokesman wrote on Facebook.

Israel

“This is an internal Jordanian matter. Jordan is a neighbour with which we are at peace, and a strategic ally of ours, and we should do everything to preserve this alliance,” Defence Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement. “A prosperous and strong Jordan is in our national-security and economic interest.”

Oman

Oman completely stands by Jordan under the leadership of King Abdullah and firmly supports anything that preserves Jordan’s security, sovereignty and stability, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Bahrain

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa affirmed full support to the decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah to maintain Jordan’s security and stability and “defuse all disruptive attempts,” state news agency BNA said.

Iran

“Iran is opposed to any internal instability and foreign interference and believes that all internal affairs of the countries should be pursued within the framework of the law,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to state media.

“Internal tension and instability in the West Asian region would be in favour of the Zionist regime (Israel) … There are always traces of this regime in any sedition in Islamic countries.”

Lebanon

“Jordan’s security and safety is a fundamental basis for the security and safety of the Arab world,” Lebanese Prime Minister designate Saad al-Hariri said on Twitter. “All the solidarity with the Jordanian leadership and King Abdullah in defending the gains of the Jordanian people, protecting their stability, and refusing interference in their affairs.”

Kuwait

Kuwait’s foreign ministry expressed its support to all measures taken by King Abdullah and his crown prince to maintain the security and stability of Jordan.

Iraq

“The Iraqi government affirms that it stands with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, in any steps taken to preserve the security and stability of the country and take care of the interests of the brotherly people of Jordan, in a way that boosts their presence, by relying on measures that aim to extend the respect of the state,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Qatar

Qatar expressed its full solidarity with Jordan and 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.

It said strategic bilateral relations “will remain an honest and strong guard against any attempts to undermine the security and stability in the two countries and the region”.

Yemen

Yemen’s internationally recognised government “affirms its absolute support and totally stands with all decisions and measures taken by His Majesty King Abdullah aimed at maintaining security and ending any attempts to destabilize the sisterly Kingdom of Jordan,” state news agency Saba said.

Palestinian President

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that we stand by the sisterly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the king, the government, and the people,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said in a statement.

“We support the steps taken by King Abdullah to maintain Jordanian national security, stressing that Jordan’s security and stability is a supreme Palestinian interest.”

Arab League

“The secretary-general of the Arab League expressed full solidarity with the measures taken by the Jordanian leadership to maintain the security of the kingdom and maintain the stability,” the Arab League said in a statement on its Facebook page, citing Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

“He also stressed his confidence in the leadership’s wisdom and its keenness to secure the country’s stability in parallel with the respect for the constitution and the law.

Turkey

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry voiced support for King Abdullah and the government of Jordan, and said that it was watching developments with concern.

“We do not see the stability and calm of Jordan, a country that is key to peace in the Middle East, as separate from Turkey’s stability and calm,” the ministry said in a statement.

—   Reuters



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