Jordan arrests officials in ‘security’ investigations

Jordanian security forces have warned King Abdullah’s half-brother to stop “activities” used to target the security and stability of the nation as divisions within the Western ally’s royal family are dramatically staged to the day.

Jordanian army chief Major General Yousef Huneiti said the warning to Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, who was crown prince before being sacked in 2004, was part of “joint global investigations by the agencies security, “according to Petra, the state news agency.

He denied a report that the former crown prince had been detained. But Prince Hamzah released a video, seen by the FT, in which he claimed to be under house arrest, while launching a scathing attack on the ruling system, accusing it of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement.

Prince Hamzah said the result of government failures was the “loss of hope that is apparent in almost all Jordanians; the loss of hope in our future, the loss of dignity and a life under constant threat ”.

An unknown number of others were arrested in connection with the security forces investigation, including Bassem Awadallah, former finance minister and chief of staff to King Abdullah, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a distant family member. royal, said Petra.

Awadallah has been adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in recent years.

Then-Jordanian Crown Prince Hamza bin Hussein delivers a speech to Muslim clerics and academics at the opening ceremony of a religious conference at Al al-Bayet Islamic University in Amman in 2004 . © REUTERS

Prince Hamzah said he received a visit from the army chief and told him he was not allowed to leave his home or communicate with people because there had been criticism of the government or King Abdullah at meetings where Prince Hamzah was present, or on social media. to the visits he had made.

He said he was not accused of making the reviews, but added that a number of people he knew, including friends, had been arrested. He said his internet and phone lines had been cut.

Prince Hamzah said he made the recording to make it clear that he was not part of any “nefarious conspiracy or organization or foreign backed group.”

“What you see and hear in terms of the official line does not reflect the realities on the ground,” he said. “I am not the person responsible for the failure of governance, corruption and incompetence that has prevailed in our governance structure for the past 15 to 20 years and which is getting worse with each passing year.”

The extraordinary events will raise concerns about the stability of Jordan, long seen as an important Western partner on the border with Israel, Iraq and Jordan. King Abdullah, celebrated in Washington and London, is also seen as an important voice of moderation in the Middle East.

But the crisis in the ruling family has erupted as Jordan faces increasing economic and social pressures, which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

General Huneiti said “no one is above the law and Jordan’s security and stability take precedence over all considerations.” He said the investigations were continuing.

Shortly after the arrests were announced, the Saudi royal court issued a statement saying it affirmed its full support for “decisions” and “measures” taken by King Abdullah to “maintain security and stability”.

Other governments in the region have issued similar statements supporting the Jordanian monarch.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said the United States was monitoring the news closely and was in contact with Jordanian officials.

“King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States and he has our full support,” the spokesperson said.

Jordan has long depended on financial support from western and Gulf states and is struggling with declining income and debt that has soared to around 100% of the gross domestic project.

Unemployment soared above 20% last year, tourism a key source of foreign currency income and jobs, and remittances have been battered by the coronavirus outbreak.

Last month there were reports that a number of patients died after a state hospital ran out of oxygen, causing the Jordanian Minister of Health to resign.

In his video, Prince Hamzah said the country had been “blocked by corruption, nepotism and mismanagement”.

Additional reporting by Katrina Manson in Washington

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