Snubbed Prince Under House Arrest as Jordan Claims to Have Foiled Foreign-Backed Plot

By Patrick Goodenough | April 4, 2021 | 8:22pm EDT
Jordan’s King Abdullah, left, and his half-brother, then-Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, in 2000. (Photo by Jamal Nasrallah/AFP via Getty Images)
Jordan’s King Abdullah, left, and his half-brother, then-Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, in 2000. (Photo by Jamal Nasrallah/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Arab and Muslim leaders lined up to throw their public support behind Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday after authorities said they had foiled a conspiracy against the king, allegedly involving a displaced former crown prince – the king’s half-brother – and a senior former court official.

Although rare in relatively stable Jordan, in a region that is no stranger to palace intrigues and foreign plotting, public displays of solidarity are common at such times, as leaders make clear which side they are on – or try to allay any suspicion that they may be sympathetic to the perpetrators.

Jordan has long been an important Mideast ally of the U.S., and a recipient of significant U.S. foreign aid. State Department spokesman Ned Price at the weekend called Abdullah a “key partner” and said “he has our full support.”

“We are closely following the reports out of Jordan, and we have been in touch with Jordanian officials,” Price said.

More than a dozen individuals were arrested, and former crown prince Hamzeh bin Hussein, 41, was placed under house arrest.

Hamzah is the son of the late King Hussein and the last of Hussein’s four wives, the American-born Queen Noor. After Hussein’s 46-year reign ended with his death in 1999. Hamzah was named crown prince under the new king, Abdullah II. But the king abruptly removed him from the post in 2004, subsequently giving it to his own son, also named Hussein.

Prince Hamzah bin Hussein and his mother Queen Noor, the American-born wife of the late King Hussein, in a photo dated August 1999.  (Photo by Jamal Nasrallah/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Hamzah bin Hussein and his mother Queen Noor, the American-born wife of the late King Hussein, in a photo dated August 1999. (Photo by Jamal Nasrallah/AFP via Getty Images)

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday intelligence services had been monitoring activity and movements “targeting the security and stability of the nation,” involving Hamzah, the former chief of the Royal Hashemite Court Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, and others.

“The investigations have detected interferences and communications, including some with foreign entities, on the ideal timing for taking steps towards destabilizing Jordan’s security,” the Petra news agency quoted him telling a briefing in Amman.

Safadi did not elaborate on the “foreign entities” suspected to be involved in the plotting.

He said armed forces chief Maj. Gen. Yousef Huneiti had been dispatched to Hamzah’s home the previous day to ask that he stop all activities threatening to harm state security.

“However, the prince was not responsive, and dealt with the request in a negativity that did not heed the best interest of Jordan and its people.”

Safadi characterized Awadallah as a major player in the alleged plotting. A successful businessman, Awadallah served in a series of senior, mostly economy-related posts in the Jordanian government culminating in that of chief of the royal court, until he resigned in 2008.

Safadi said Awadallah was connected to the so-called “external opposition,” again without elaborating.

Hamzah had been “coordinating” with Awadallah’s activities, while also “communicat[ing] with figures in the Jordanian society, seeking to push them into participating in activities that undermine national security.”

Safadi also revealed that, shortly after Huneiti had visited the prince, the prince had sent an audio recording of their conversation to Awadallah – who had reportedly been trying to leave the country. He is among those under arrest.

‘I am not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization’

Hamzah also posted two statements online, one in English and one in Arabic, which Safadi described as “an attempt to distort facts and to gain sympathy domestically and internationally.”

In the English-language statement, Hamzah said Jordan “has become stymied in corruption, in nepotism and in misrule.”

“No-one is able to speak or express opinion on anything without being bullied, arrested, harassed and threatened,” he said. “I am making this recording to make it clear that I am not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out.”

He said Huneiti had ordered him not to communicate with anyone, and not to post messages online, saying he expecting his satellite Internet connection to be severed at any time.

Carved out of the former British mandate of Palestine a century ago, the desert kingdom initially known as Transjordan has been heavily impacted by developments in nearby countries, including the first and second Gulf wars, the Syrian civil war and rise of ISIS, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jordan fought in wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973, occupied the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem until 1967, and in 1994 became the second Arab country to reach a peace agreement with Israel. More than half of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin.

It became a partner of the U.S. from the middle of last century, and a major non-NATO ally in 1996. The third-biggest recipient of U.S. aid, Jordan received $1.9 billion in U.S. aid in fiscal year 2020, and the administration requested $1.275 billion in FY 2021.

The main internal opposition in Jordan is the Islamic Action Front, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jordanian branch purportedly cut ties with the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood in 2016.

The foreign governments in the region closest to the Muslim Brotherhood are Turkey and Qatar.

Both were among those that expressed support for Abdullah over the weekend. Others included Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority.

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