The saga began over the weekend, when Jordanian authorities detained around 15 people, including a high-profile political figure and at least one member of the royal family. A popular prince, Hamzah bin Al Hussein, claimed to have been have been placed under effective house arrest in a video sent to media.
Authorities alleged that Prince Hamzah was part of a plot backed by unnamed foreign entities to “destabilize” the kingdom — a claim that he has denied.
“Sedition came from within and without our one house, and nothing compares to my shock, pain, and anger as a brother and as the head of the Hashemite family, and as a leader of this proud people,” said King Abdullah in a written statement released on Wednesday.
Addressing speculation on the whereabouts of Prince Hamzah, who is Abdullah’s half-brother, the King said the popular royal was “with his family, at his palace, in my care.”
“Sedition” in the kingdom had now been “nipped in the bud,” he also said.
What Prince Hamzah said
Prince Hamzah was Jordan’s crown prince for five years after his father, King Hussein, died in 1999. In 2004, King Abdullah stripped him of his title as heir apparent, and later named his then-teenage son Prince Hussein bin Abdullah as crown prince.
In video recordings released to the BBC last weekend, Prince Hamzah denied allegations of an anti-government plot, chastised the country’s leadership, and said he was under effective house arrest with internet and phone lines had been removed.
But the debacle seemed to wind down on Monday evening when Jordan’s royal court released a document signed by Hamzah pledging allegiance to the king.
“The national interest must remain above all else, and we must all stand behind His Majesty the King in his efforts to safeguard Jordan and its national interests, and ensure the best for the Jordanian people,” reads the letter, which has the Prince’s letterhead on it.
Jordanian authorities have also eased a media gag order about Prince Hamzah’s case, allowing social media chatter again on a subject that has polarized Jordanians.
Jordan is mired in economic problems amid a growing outcry against alleged government corruption and mismanagement. Anger has been building among its youth — who account for most of the population — over the state of a deteriorating economy made worse by the pandemic.
Unemployment and poverty rates have reached record highs. Discontent has driven Jordanians to the streets, but tolerance for protests has diminished significantly.
Jordan’s King has broken his silence about a royal family fallout that rattled the country, calling the episode the “most painful” of his 22-year reign.