Jordan in security sweep, king's half-brother says under 'house arrest'

Police officers at a checkpoint in Amman Jordan

The former crown prince of Jordan said he has been placed under house arrest and accused the country's leadership of corruption and incompetence.

I pray that all Jordanians will remember that I have always to tried to serve them to the best of my ability with what limited resources I have had, that I always will, and that God willing the situation will improve if we are able to come together and make our voice heard.

Hamzah was asked to "stop some movements and activities that are being used to target Jordan's security and stability", said General Yousef Huneiti, the army chief of staff.

In a videotaped statement leaked to the BBC, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, half-brother of Jordan's King Abdullah, said he was visited early on Saturday by the country's military chief and told "I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them".

The arrests were announced by the state-run Petra News agency, quoting an unnamed official who said Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadallah, a prominent official who once ran the royal court, were arrested "for security reasons" along with "others" after "close monitoring".

Israeli media claimed the Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad warned King Abdullah of the plan.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia also swiftly reacted, voicing its "full support... for the decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein to safeguard security and stability".

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

Since the news broke Saturday, #Prince_Hamzeh has trended on Twitter, along with messages of solidarity with the prince from followers in Jordan and overseas.

Saudi Arabia said it supports King Abdullah's decision to maintain the security of his country, according to a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency Saturday. Some sources say he works as a consultant for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saturday's security sweep comes as Jordan prepares to mark 100 years since the new kingdom then named Transjordan was established alongside Palestine under British mandate.

Arrests of top officials and royal family members are rare in Jordan, a key western ally that has proven a vital partner to the USA particularly in its fight against terror groups in neighbouring Syria. The kingdom, which has scant resources, received some $1.5 billion in assistance from the 2020 - a result of Abdullah's popularity among congressional leaders.

Prince Hamza had been groomed from childhood by his mother to become a king and has taken many of his late father's public behaviour and language, endearing himself to some Jordanians who are nostalgic for King Hussein's long decades of rule.

Relations with Israel, meanwhile, are also at a low point, with tensions brewing over Israel's plans to annex the West Bank as well as a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic slights with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He had played a key role pushing for economic reforms in the country before he resigned in 2008 amid criticism over alleged interference in sensitive political and economic issues.

Despite having little oil wealth and severely lacking water, the kingdom has managed to survive repeated wars in the region which have sent waves of refugees across its borders.



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