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Jordanian FM Accuses Prince Hamzah of Plotting to Destabilize the Country


FILE - Jordan's Prince Hamzah bin al-Hussein attends a press event in Amman, Sept. 09, 2015.

An alleged plot by Jordan’s former crown prince to undermine the government was foiled, the country’s foreign minister said Sunday.

Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, told reporters at a televised news conference that Prince Hamzah bin al-Hussein, the younger half-brother of King Abdullah II, had liaised with foreign parties over a plot to destabilize the country.

"The investigations had monitored interferences and communications with foreign parties over the right timing to destabilize Jordan," Safadi said.

"Initial investigations showed these activities and movements had reached a stage that directly affected the security and stability of the country, but his majesty decided it was best to talk directly to Prince Hamzah, to deal with it within the family," he said.

Safadi, who also holds the title of the deputy prime minister, did not provide details of the alleged plot or which countries were involved. He did say that 14-16 people associated with Hamzah had been arrested, in addition to Bassem Awadallah, a former Cabinet minister, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family.

Division in the ruling royal family erupted into the open late Saturday when Hamzah, 41, announced he could not leave his home and state media reported that senior officials had been detained in a security probe. Hamzah sent a video recording to the BBC saying he was being silenced and lashed out at authorities saying the country had become “stymied in corruption, nepotism and misrule.”

Jordan’s military told Hamzah to stop activities targeting the country’s “stability and security.”

“I’m not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out,” Hamzah said in the video.

Hamzah’s mother, American-born Queen Noor, defended her son on Twitter, referring to the ordeal as “wicked slander.”

The United States and Gulf states including Saudi Arabia expressed strong support for Abdullah.

“King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support,” Ned Price, the U.S. State Department spokesperson, wrote on Twitter.

Hamzah is the eldest son of Queen Noor and the late King Hussein. He is popular in Jordan, seen as pious and modest. After Hussein’s death in 1999, Abdullah ascended to the throne and named Hamzah as crown prince. Five years later, Abdullah stripped him of the title. The position would have put Hamzah next in line for the throne. Abdullah named his eldest son, Hussein, as crown prince.

Analysts have noted that public divisions within the royal family are rare in Jordan.

Dale Gavlak contributed to this report from Amman, Jordan.