Jordan foreign minister: ‘Malicious plot’ uncovered to destabilize kingdom

King receives phone calls from Arab leaders

In a press conference, Al Safadi, who is also Jordan's deputy prime minister, said the prince was in communication with several figures inside and outside Jordan, plotting to undermine the country's security and stability.

Awadallah, a former finance and planning minister educated in the United States, was close to the king but has also been a controversial figure in Jordan.

He made his comments while taking part in "Shield of the Nation", a drill that included several brigades, special forces, border guards and the Royal Air Force in the eastern region of the kingdom, the state news agency Petra said.

They had foiled a plot against his half-brother King Abdullah II, who has struck a defiant tone, insisting he will not obey orders restricting his movement.

Washington, Gulf allies and the Arab League were quick to stress their support for Abdullah's pro-Western government in Amman, seen as an anchor of stability in the Middle East.

His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday received phone calls from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Egypt President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who expressed their countries' full solidarity with Jordan, under His Majesty's leadership.

In a video recording, Prince Hamzah says he is under house arrest and had been told to stay at home and not contact anyone and that the country's leaders are a corrupt few who put their interests above the public.

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In a video the BBC said it obtained from his lawyer, Prince Hamzah said a number of his friends had been arrested, his security removed and his internet and phone lines cut.

He denied being part of "any conspiracy or nefarious organisation", but said the country of 10 million people had "become stymied in corruption, in nepotism and in misrule" and that no one was allowed to criticise the authorities. But he said that some 14 to 16 associates of Hamzah had been arrested, in addition to two former senior officials, Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family.

In a statement published by the state news agency, the military said the warning to Prince Hamzah was part of a broader, ongoing security investigation in which a former minister, a junior member of the royal family and unnamed others were detained.

Safadi declined to identify the alleged foreign parties or say what the charges were, but said authorities acted because the alleged conspirators were "talking about timing".

He accused the prince of seeking to mobilise "clan leaders" against the government, adding that the plot had been "nipped in the bud" at the "zero hour".

The pair share a father in the late King Hussein, but have different mothers.

Upon ascending to the throne in 1999, Abdullah named Hamzah as crown prince, only to revoke the title five years later.

Jordan's former crown prince Hamzah and his wife Basma.

Jordan's Joint Chiefs of Staff head Major General Yousef Huneiti said Hamzah had not been detained, but "asked to stop some activities that could be used to shake the stability and security of Jordan".

Sunday's briefing capped a dramatic moment, but it brought little clarity to what exactly transpired over the weekend when security services arrested nearly 20 people, including high-ranking government officials and a relative of the royal family.

Saudi Arabia was among the first to voice support for the king. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, speaking after the detentions, described Jordan as a "strategic ally". Before becoming royal court chief in 2007, he was head of the king's cabinet.

Awadallah, a proponent of economic reforms, resigned as chief of the royal court in 2008 amid allegations of interference in sensitive political and economic issues.

On Saturday the military said it had issued a warning to the prince over actions targeting "security and stability" in the key US ally.

It declared independence in 1946.

Which countries backed the king?

Jordan "is very well structured in terms of intelligence and national networks, and tight control, in particular of individuals suspected of being able to harm the monarchy, is a fact", he said.

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