With rising tensions in the Jordan royal household, Prince Hamzah bin Al Hussein, the former crown prince and half-brother of ruling monarch Abdullah has reportedly been under house arrest. The government also arrested a former minister and another member of the royal family, citing “the security and stability of Jordan”.
Background of Prince Hamzah
The country, Jordan has been ruled since 1999 by 59-year-old Abdullah II, the oldest son of the revered late King Hussein and his second wife, the British-born Princess Muna.
Hamzah, who is 41, is the son of Hussein and Queen Noor. Widely considered Hussein’s favorite child, Hamzah was made crown prince of Jordan in 1999– the year of the former king’s death.
However, his older half-brother, Abdullah, ascended the throne and stripped Hamzah of the title of the crown prince in 2004 as Hamzah was viewed as very young and inexperienced.
Why has Prince Hamzah been arrested?
In the video to BBC, passed on by his lawyer, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein accuses the country's leaders of corruption, incompetence, and harassment. This comes after a high level of arrests that are said to be associated with an alleged coup plot. The military had initially denied the house arrest of Prince Hamzah and it is speculated that this arrest has been carried out after a visit by the prince to tribal leaders where he is said to have garnered some support.
While Hamzah denies any wrongdoing, he condemned the ruling government in the video, saying, “I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, for the corruption, and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years, and has been getting worse by the year”.
“[Jordanians’] wellbeing has been put second by a ruling system that has decided that its personal interests, financial interests, that its corruption is more important than the lives and dignity and future of the 10 million people who live here,” he said.
"It has reached a point where no-one is able to speak or express an opinion on anything without being bullied, arrested, harassed, and threatened."
In the video, the Prince further said that the chief of the general staff barred him from going out or communicating with people. This is because of criticisms expressed in the meetings where the Prince was present by the public against the government or the king.
Hamzah has said all his staff members have been arrested, and that he and his family have been placed in a palace outside the capital Amman. “The internet and phone lines have been cut… This may be the last time I am able to communicate,” the royal said.
Jordanian journalist Rana Sweis told the BBC, that tensions have been witnessed inside the royal family for a while.
"The former crown prince is also seen as popular. He has a very candid resemblance to his father, King Hussein, and he is also very popular with the local tribes," she said.
What is the response from Jordan’s Allies?
The US, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, which are the traditional allies of Jordan have expressed support for King Abdullah.
Jordan along with Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, are all Sunni-majority countries, and they have constantly allied against Iran which is a Shia majority. Further, the USA and Jordan share a strong bond as Jordan supported it during the Iraq War as well as its efforts against the Islamic State.
“We are closely following the reports and are in touch with Jordanian officials. King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.