Suspected failed coup attempt Jordan’s former crown prince says at least 20 people arrested under house arrest

Members of Jordan’s Dharak forces (gendarmerie) stand guard as protesters gather to demonstrate against measures taken by authorities to curb the spread of a Communist virus outbreak in central Amman, the capital, March 15, 2021.

Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamza was placed under house arrest, and two former senior officials and at least 20 others were arrested. According to reports, the incident may be linked to a coup attempt. Amman authorities said the investigation is ongoing. Hamza denied any involvement in the plot in a video provided to the media.

Central News Agency (CNA) reported that a large number of security forces were deployed in the main streets and several sensitive sites in the Jordanian capital Amman.

Independent news outlet Middle East Eye reported that King Abdullah II’s half-brother, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, 41, who was crown prince until 2004, is under house arrest.

Jordanian sources told Middle East Eye that “at least 20 people linked to Prince Hamza were arrested at the same time” and that “it may be a failed coup attempt, the details are not clear.

However, the government denies that Hamza was arrested. The chief of staff of the Jordanian armed forces, Major General Yousef Huneiti, issued a statement on the 3rd, demanding Hamza to stop endangering national security and stability, and denying Hamza’s arrest.

Yousef said: “The investigation is ongoing and we will announce the results as soon as it is completed, all procedures are carried out in accordance with the law and all personnel act in accordance with the law. The security and stability of Jordan is the first priority.”

For its part, the military noted that Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadallah, who was head of Abdullah II’s office in 2006, were arrested “after a full investigation by security agencies.”

Of the two former senior officials arrested, Hassan was Abdullah II’s special envoy to Saudi Arabia. Some local Jordanian websites note that he holds Saudi citizenship.

After finishing his career in the king’s office and as a minister, Udallah went on to launch a career in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Sources say he served as a member of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He is said to be working as an adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Senior Middle East intelligence officials briefed on the matter told The Washington Post that the investigation into the attempted overthrow of the king is ongoing. The Washington Post reported that tribal leaders and members of Jordan’s security apparatus are known to be involved.

Hamza denies involvement in any conspiracy

In a recorded video, Hamza denied any wrongdoing or involvement in any conspiracy, dereliction of duty or disruption. In the film, he said, “The chief of staff of the Jordanian armed forces visited this morning (3) and informed me that I am not allowed to go out, talk to people or meet with them because any occasion where I am present or any social media that I have been on will have statements that are critical of the government or the king.” Hamza’s lawyer provided the BBC with the above-mentioned film on the evening of the 3rd.

Hamza said he was not accused of making the criticism. But he went on to say, “How can I be blamed for the collapse of governance, corruption and incompetence that has occurred in the ruling structure over the last 15 to 20 years, and it’s getting worse… I can’t be blamed for the loss of trust in the institutions of government.”

Hamza mentioned, “Whatever the matter is, it has reached a point where if you speak out or express your opinion, you are bound to be intimidated, arrested, harassed, threatened.”

Yaser al-Majali, head of Prince Hamza’s office, and Adnan Abu Hammad, who is in charge of affairs at the Prince’s Palace, were also detained.

Hamza was born to former Jordanian King Hussein and American-born Queen Noor, the 4th Princess. When Hussain died of cancer in 1999, Abdullah II installed Hamza as crown prince immediately after his accession, but abolished Hamza’s position in 2004 and installed his son Hussein instead.

All sides take a stand

In response to the suspected coup attempt, the Saudi royal family said in a statement, “We stand with Jordan and support King Abdullah’s decision to maintain national security.”

The U.S. State Department described Abdullah II as an “important partner” and stressed its “strong support” for him.

The Egyptian presidential spokesman said in a Facebook post that the authorities in Cairo expressed support for Abdullah II and his actions to combat the destabilization of security in the kingdom.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said in a statement that it supports all measures taken by the Jordanian and Amman authorities to maintain their security and stability.