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Jordan FM: A malicious plot is uncovered to destabilize the kingdom

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Safadi spoke a day after Hamzah, a half-brother of King Abdullah II, was placed under house arrest, in a rare public clash between senior members of the ruling family during.

The unprecedented incident has raised concerns about stability in a country seen as a key Western ally in an unstable region and attracted a source of support for Abdullah.

In a statement recorded from house arrest, Hamzah accused the country’s leadership of corruption and incompetence.

Safadi, who also holds the title of deputy prime minister, said intelligence agents had been spying on the conspirators for some time and raised their concerns with the king. He said Hamzah was asked to stop all these activities and movements that threaten Jordan and its stability, but he refused.

Safadi did not identify the suspected foreign countries involved in the plot. But he said a longtime senior official with business connections in several Gulf Arab states, Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, was involved and had planned to leave the country. He also said Awadallah had tried to secure a plane for Hamzahs’s wife to flee. Awadallah and a second senior official, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, are among the suspects in custody.

There is a joint coordination between Awadallah and the prince, but I will not go into details, Safadi said. He declined to say whether the prince would be charged with any crime.

Asked if Hamzah could face charges, Safadi said there were friendly efforts to deal with him at the moment, but added that the stability and security of kingdoms transcends everything.

The plot is completely contained. Our security and stability are not shaken.

The United States, Saudi Arabia and Arab countries across the Middle East issued strong statements in favor of Abdullah.

The rapid emergence of support underscored Jordan’s strategic importance as an island of relative stability in the troubled region. While harsh criticism from a popular member of the ruling family may support growing complaints about the poor governance of kingdoms, the harsh reaction of kings also illustrated the limits to which he would accept public dissent.

Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian analyst, said Hamzah had crossed a red line indicating he could be an alternative to the long-ruling king.

This is something the king does not accept or tolerate, he said. That is why we are now witnessing what happened. This file is now more or less closed.

Early Sunday, Hamzah’s mother, Queen Noor, expressed sympathy for the innocent victims.

Pray that truth and justice prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless them and keep them safe, she wrote on Twitter.

In his video, Hamzah said he was visited early Saturday by the kingdoms’ military chief and told that he could not go out, communicate with people or meet with them. He said his phone and internet service had been cut off and his satellite internet, used to record the message, was also being cut.

He said he was told he was being punished for attending meetings in which the king had been criticized, though he said he was not accused of joining the criticism.

Hamzah then attacked the governing system without mentioning the king by name, saying he had decided that his personal interests, his financial interests, his corruption are more important than the life and dignity and future of the 10 million people living here .

I am not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group, as is always the case here for anyone who speaks, he said. There are members of this family who still love this place, who take care of (his people) and will put them above all.

Apparently, this is a crime worthy of isolation, threats and now being cut, he added.

Hamzah is a former crown prince who was removed from that title by Abdullah in 2004, five years after he became king after the death of their father, the late King Hussein.

Hamzah is a well-known figure in Jordan, widely seen as pious and modest. It is extremely rare for elderly members of the ruling family to clash so publicly.

Whatever the damage the crisis inside Jordan may have, however, it seems to have had little immediate effect on Abdullah’s external support.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States and he has our full support.

The US considers Jordan a major ally, giving it access to equipment and military assistance. US special forces and other troops routinely train with Jordanians. The kingdom hosts about 3,000 American troops.

The pro-US Arab Gulf countries, which have many Jordanians working in the public sector, also immediately issued statements in support of the king and his government.

The Saudi State Press Agency said the royal court of kingdoms supported King Abdullah’s efforts to maintain security and stability and to quell any attempt to influence them.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates similarly issued statements in support of Abdullah.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called Jordan a strategic ally and dismissed the unrest as a Jordanian internal affair.

Stability in Jordan and the status of the king have long been issues of concern throughout the region, especially during the Trump administration, which gave unprecedented support to Israel and sought to isolate the Palestinians, including cutting funding for Palestinian refugees.

This placed Jordan, which serves as the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and is home to a large Palestinian population in a delicate position.

Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994. The countries maintain close security ties, but relations have otherwise been strained in recent years, largely due to disputes over Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

In early 2018, as then-President Donald Trump was threatening to cut aid to countries that did not support U.S. policies, the administration increased aid to Jordan by more than $ 1 billion over five years.

With Hamzah under house arrest on Sunday, it was unclear how long the blockade could continue without threatening Abdullah’s international position.

Adam Coogle, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, said there has been a slow but steady slide in personal freedoms in Jordan in recent years.

There is no doubt that there has been a real degradation in the space for critical political discourse and in terms of fundamental freedoms, he said. Weve reached a real low point.

Coogle cited the rise of the Islamic State group and the threat it posed to the Jordanian regime and the warming of ties between Israel and the Gulf Arab states during the Trump era, often at the expense of Jordan. He also noted the decline in the Jordanian economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment has skyrocketed to about 25% as the country is burdened with an influx of about 1 million Syrian refugees.

AP correspondents Jon Gambrell in Dubai, Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to the reporting.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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