Jordan prince says he won't keep silent

Jordan's estranged Prince Hamza said in a voice recording released on Monday that he would disobey orders by the army not to communicate with outside world after he was put under house arrest.

The half-brother of King Abdullah and former heir to the throne said in the recording released by the country's opposition that he would not comply after being barred from any activities and told to keep quiet.

"I am going to escalate and won't obey when they tell you you cannot go out or tweet or reach out to people and are only allowed to see the family," he said in the recording he circulated to friends and contacts.

On Saturday, the military warned the prince over actions it said were undermining "security and stability" in Jordan, a key US ally.

Prince Hamza later said he was under house arrest. Several high-profile figures were also detained.

Officials announced on Sunday that Prince Hamza had liaised with people who had contacts with foreign parties in a plot to destabilise the country and he had been under investigation for some time.

It is unclear why the kingdom decided to crack down on Prince Hamza now, but he put himself at risk by making frequent visits to tribal gatherings where some people criticised the king

Officials said efforts were under way to resolve the crisis within the royal family, in the first such open rift in many years, but Prince Hamza was not cooperative.

King Abdullah removed Prince Hamza from his position as heir to the throne in 2004, in a move that consolidated his power.

The developments are likely to rock Jordan's image as an island of stability in the turbulent Middle East. King Abdullah removed Prince Hamza from his position as heir to the throne in 2004, in a move that consolidated his power.

Although he has been marginalised for years, Prince Hamza has angered the authorities by forging ties with disgruntled figures within powerful tribes.

These people, members of loosely organised groups known as Herak which in addition to their domestic presence represent a vocal opposition based abroad, have recently called for protests against corruption in a country hard hit by Covid-19's impact on the economy.

Anger with the authorities over worsening living standards has in the past triggered major civil unrest. Jordan suffered its worst recession in decades last year as a result of the pandemic.

Prince Hamza said in a video passed to the BBC by his lawyer that Jordan's rulers are corrupt and put their interests above those of the public.

"What Prince Hamza said is repeatedly heard in the homes of every Jordanian," said Ahmad Hasan al Zoubi, a prominent columnist, on his Facebook account. "It's not a secret these same words are used every day in all homes."

"The authorities should listen to the alarm bells rung from two different sources, from the people and from within the royal family about the real conditions of the country and prevailing corruption."

Safadi said the security services have asked for those involved in the plot be referred to the state security court.

The state news agency said on Saturday that Bassem Awadallah, a U.S.-educated long-time confidant of the king who later became minister of finance and adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and royal family member Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid had been detained, among others.

Jordan's neighbours and allies expressed solidarity with King Abdullah over the security measures in the kingdom, an important ally of the United States.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called King Abdullah on Sunday to affirm their support for the steps he is taking to preserve Jordan's stability and security, state news agency SPA reported.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI held an earlier phone call with the king in which he expressed solidarity and support for the measures, Morocco's royal palace said on Sunday.

Earlier, Hamza's mother Queen Noor, the widow of Jordan's late king, defended her son.

"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."

Some opposition figures have rallied around Prince Hamza in a move that has displeased the king, officials familiar with the situation said.

But most politicians believe Prince Hamza will be silenced, with little prospect of him posing any threat given that the army and security forces who are the backbone of support for the Hashemite dynasty are firmly behind the monarch.

"I think King Abdullah has confirmed himself in the saddle and his son Hussein has consolidated himself as the heir to the throne," said Jawad al Anani, who served as the last royal court chief under the late King Hussein. "This is a page turner event."

 

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