Jordan

File - In this Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006 file photo, Prince Hamza Bin Al-Hussein, right, and Prince Hashem Bin Al-Hussein, left, brothers King Abdullah II of Jordan, attend the opening of the parliament in Amman, Jordan. Prince Hamza, the half-brother of Jordan's King Abdullah II, said he has been placed under house arrest. in a videotaped statement late Saturday, April 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad abu Ghosh, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Jordanian authorities said Sunday they foiled a “malicious plot” by a former crown prince to destabilize the kingdom with foreign support, contradicting the senior royal’s claims that he was being punished for speaking out against corruption and incompetence.

Faced with rival narratives, the United States and Arab governments quickly sided with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, reflecting the country’s strategic importance in a turbulent region.

Domestically, Prince Hamzah’s unprecedented criticism of the ruling class — without naming the king — could lend support to growing complaints about poor governance and human rights abuses in Jordan.

At the same time, the king’s tough reaction — placing his popular half-brother under house arrest and accusing him of serious crimes — illustrated the limits on public dissent he is willing to tolerate.

“The kingdom’s stability and security transcend everything,” said Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, as he accused Hamzah and two senior Jordanian officials of conspiring with foreign elements to destabilize the kingdom. “The plot is totally contained.”

Yet Safadi’s news conference Sunday did little to address questions surrounding the weekend’s dramatic events. In the night from Saturday to Sunday, Hamzah had announced in a secretly recorded video leaked to the media that he had been placed under house arrest.

Hamzah’s mother, Noor, weighed in on Twitter, writing Sunday: “Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe.”

Abdullah and Hamzah are both sons of the late King Hussein, who remains a beloved figure two decades after his death. Upon ascending to the throne in 1999, Abdullah named Hamzah as crown prince, only to revoke the title five years later. While the two are said to have generally good relations, Hamzah has at times spoken out against government policies, and more recently had forged ties with powerful tribal leaders in a move seen as a threat to the king.

In his video, Hamzah, 41, accused Jordan’s ruling class of corruption and stifling freedom of expression.

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