Apr 3, 2021 - World

Former Jordanian crown prince under house arrest for alleged attempted coup

Jordanian Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein attends the SOFEX Jordan on May 11, 2010 in Amman, Jordan.

Former Jordanian Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein attends the Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference on May 11, 2010 in Amman, Jordan. Photo: Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein was put under house arrest early Saturday after allegedly plotting a coup against his half brother King Abdullah, sources familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Driving the news: Jordanian security forces arrested more than 20 former Jordanian officials, including former chief of the royal court Bassem Awadallah, Prince Hamza’s chief of staff Yasser Majali and former Jordanian envoy to Saudi Arabia Hassan Bin Zayed.

  • A security official told the official Jordanian news agency Petra that all suspects other than the crown prince had been under surveillance for some time and were arrested on security charges.
    • Petra denied that Hamza was under house arrest or arrested. 
  • The Washington Post first reported about the former crown prince arrest.

The state of play: In a video published by the BBC, Prince Hamza said the chief of the general staff of the Jordanian Army arrived at his house Saturday morning and informed him he was not permitted to leave or communicate with others because in meetings he was present for and social media posts he was mentioned in there was criticism of the king and the government.

  • "I asked him if I was the one criticizing and he said 'no,'" Hamza said. "He said this was a warning from him, from the chief of police and from the head of intelligence that I should not leave my house, that I could not tweet or meet my family."
  • He added that several of his friends had been arrested, his security removed and his phone lines cut. He said his internet connection is going to be disabled and he might not be able to communicate further.
  • "I am not the person in charge of the corruption and incompetence in our government," Hamza said in the video. "I am not responsible for the lack of faith of people in the government."
  • Hamza denied he was behind any conspiracy or that he was backed by any foreign element. He said the government was lying and stressed he was suffering retaliation by the government because of his criticism.

What they're saying: The commander of the Jordanian Army General Yousef al-Huneiti issued a statement stressing Prince Hamza was not arrested but was asked to cease activities and movements that are being exploited to target Jordan's security and stability.

  • Al-Huneiti said the investigation is ongoing and its conclusions will be published with full transparency. He added that all the actions taken were according to the law.
  • “We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials," State Department spokesman Ned Price said. "King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support.”

Flashback: Prince Hamza, King Abdullah's half brother, is highly popular in Jordan for his modest behavior and his resemblance to his father, the late King Hussein.

  • Hamza was the crown prince for the first five years after King Abdullah's rise to the throne. As a result, King Abdullah's son Prince Hussein became the apparent heir. Prince Hussein was officially appointed as the crown prince in 2009.

The big picture: Jordan sent a message to Israel earlier Saturday that “the situation is under control” after the wave of arrests and there is no threat to the stability of the kingdom.

  • Israeli officials told Axios the message was passed by Jordanian military officials to their Israeli counterparts.

Between the lines: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the economic crisis in Jordan. In recent weeks Jordan has seen a new surge in COVID-19 cases which led to harsh criticism against the government and protests in several cities.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein has been put under house arrest.

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