Mediation between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his outspoken half-brother, Prince Hamzah, successfully escalated one of the kingdom’s most serious political crises in decades, the palace and the prince’s confidant said Monday.
The apparent dissolution of the unprecedented public feud limited a weekend of palace drama in which the king had put Hamzah under house arrest for alleged planning with foreign supporters to destabilize Jordan, an important Western ally.
Jordanian authorities had accused the former crown prince of being involved in a “malicious conspiracy” along with two senior Jordanian officials. Hamzah, 41
The announcement of the successful mediation came after Abdullah’s uncle, Hassan, met with Hamzah on Monday.
The mediation took place in Hassan’s home at the Royal Hashemite Court. Hamzah was joined by his brother Hashem and three of their cousins.
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“In the light of developments over the last two days, I have made myself available to His Majesty the King,” the statement signed by Hamzah said. He said he would remain loyal to the king and Jordan’s constitution.
Malik R. Dahlan, a professional mediator and a friend of the family, then issued a separate statement saying the mediation “has been successful and I expect a decision soon.” Dahlan is the rector of the Quraysh Institution of Law and Politics, of which Hamzah Al-Hussein is the council overseer.
He said that “this unfortunate incident was the result of a clumsy act by a senior security official and the deception of a government official,” adding that “it should have been a family affair.”
This was an apparent reference to the events of Saturday, when Jordan’s army chief visited Hamzah and – according to the prince’s description – imposed restrictions on his movement and ability to communicate with the outside world.
Earlier Monday, it appeared there were still tensions in the kingdom, valued by the West as a stable ally in an unstable region. A recording circulated online in which Hamzah sounded defiant and said he would not take orders from the army chief.
“The army chief of staff came to me and issued threats in the names of the heads of security agencies,” Hamzah said in the recording. “I recorded his comments and distributed them to my acquaintances abroad as well as my family in case anything should happen.”
“I do not want to escalate now, but of course I will not hold back when he tells me ‘you are not allowed to go out, tweet or connect with people and you are only allowed to see family members,’ he said . “When an army chief of staff says that, this is something that I find unacceptable.”
The authenticity of the recording was confirmed by a person close to the prince, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns. The individual said the recording was a few days old and made after the army chief threatened the prince.
Jordan’s army chief, General Yousef Huneiti, said on Monday that the country’s armed forces and security agencies “have the power and experience” to handle any development that may take place internally or in the region.
He made his comments while participating in the “Shield of the Nation,” an exercise that included several brigades, special forces, border guards and the Royal Air Force in the eastern region of the kingdom, state news agency Petra said. The exercise did not appear to be related to the weekend events because such exercises are planned well in advance.
Huneiti said the troops would confront anyone who “tries to endanger the nation’s security, intimidate its citizens and threaten the security and stability of the kingdom.”
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday that the prince had recorded conversations and passed them on to foreign sources. He did not give details of the alleged plot or say what other countries were allegedly involved. But he said about 14-16 Hamzah staff had been arrested, in addition to Bassem Awadallah, a former cabinet minister and one-time head of the royal court, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family.
The U.S. and Arab governments quickly went after Abdullah, reflecting Jordan’s strategic importance. The kingdom borders Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the occupied West Bank.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric noted Jordan’s “vital role in the Middle East, and its peace and security and the country’s stability are critically important.”
Domestically, Hamzah’s unprecedented criticism of the ruling class – without naming the king – could support growing complaints of bad governance and human rights abuses in Jordan.
Abdullah and Hamzah are both sons of King Hussein, who remains a beloved figure two decades after his death. Upon ascension to the throne in 1999, Abdullah appointed Hamzah as crown prince, only to revoke the title five years later. Uncle Hassan had also been crown prince, but was removed shortly before Hussein’s death.
While Abdullah and Hamzah are said to have good relations in general, Hamzah has at times spoken out against government policies, and recently he had forged ties with powerful tribal leaders in a move seen as a threat to the king.