The half-brother of Jordanian King Abdullah and former Crown Prince Hamza bin Hussein was told to stop actions used to address the country’s “security and stability”, the military said Saturday.
In a statement published on the state news agency, it said this was part of a wider, ongoing security investigation that detained a former minister, a member of the royal family and unnamed others.
“What has been published about allegations of the arrest of His Highness Prince Hamza is untrue, but he was told to stop activities exploited to address Jordan’s security and stability,” said Yusef Huneity, the Jordanian army chief.
Two people familiar with the situation told Reuters security forces that they had arrived at Prince Hamza’s house and started an investigation.
They said he had not been arrested. An official source also told the state news agency that he had not been arrested. People familiar with the affair said it could be related to a plot to destabilize the country, a major ally of the United States.
The Washington Post said Jordanian authorities detained Hamza and arrested nearly 20 other people after what officials called a “threat to the stability of the country.”
King Abdullah dismissed Hamza as heir to the throne in 2004 in a move that consolidated his power.
The state news agency said US-educated Bassem Awadallah, a longtime confidant of the king who later became finance minister and also advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, and Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid, a member of the royal family. held together with other unnamed figures. It didn’t give details.
Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Arrests of top officials and members of the royal family are rare in Jordan, considered one of the most stable countries in the Arab world.
Prince Hamza, who had been cared for by his mother Queen Noor to succeed his late father King Hussein, has been pushed into the political wilderness since his dismissal as crown prince in 2004.
He has been trying to gain popularity among the country’s prominent tribes and some opposition figures have gathered around him, a move that has been viewed with displeasure by King Abdullah, officials familiar with the situation said.
Abdullah succeeded his father, King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for nearly five decades.
The tradition of the Jordanian Hashemite dynasty under the 1952 constitution gives the succession to the eldest son, but the monarch retains the option of naming a brother.
King Abdullah has succeeded in bringing political stability to the country and gaining prestige as a prominent Arab leader whose message of moderation has echoed, especially in Western forums.
Awadallah, who was a driving force behind economic reform before resigning as chief of the royal court in 2008, has long faced stubborn resistance from an old guard and a deep-seated bureaucracy that has flourished for years with government benefits.
Jordan’s powerful intelligence agency, with a ubiquitous influence in public life, has played a greater public role since the enactment of emergency laws at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, which citizen groups say violate civil and political rights.
Jordanian riot police broke out protests in Amman and other cities last month to mark the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring’s pro-democracy demonstrations, and authorities detained dozens of activists, witnesses said.