Jordan arrests top officials in security clampdown

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hamza bin Hussein delivers a speech to Muslim clerics and scholars at the opening ceremony of a religious conference at the Islamic Al al Bayet University in Amman Jordan

He denied being part of "any conspiracy, or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group", as he issued scathing criticism of the kingdom's quashing of dissent.

Jordan is one of the most stable and developed nations in the Middle East, despite the scarcity of natural resources and the weight of millions of Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

Jordan's Joint Chiefs of Staff head, Major General Yousef Huneiti, denied media reports that Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, who holds no official position, had been arrested.

The tribes dominate Jordan's security forces and army and form the bedrock of support for the kingdom's Hashemite monarchy.

Abdullah stripped his half-brother Hamzah of his title as crown prince in 2004, saying he had chose to "free" him "from the constraints of the position of crown prince in order to give you the freedom to work and undertake any mission or responsibility I entrust you with".

Jordanian authorities arrested around 20 people on Saturday and restricted the movement of ex-Prince Hamza bin Hussein in a context that the authorities described as "a threat to the stability of the country", reported the American newspaper The Washington Post.

A former USA official with knowledge of events in Jordan said the plot, which he described as credible and broad-based but not imminent, did not involve a "physical coup".

A former USA official familiar with the actions in Jordan said the alleged plan would not involve a "physical coup" but protests that would appear to be a "popular street insurgency".

Jordan would investigate whether there was a foreign hand in the plot, said the former USA official.

Security forces arrest member of royal family, a former adviser to King Abdullah and others on "security related" grounds, Petra state news agency says.

The authorities have become increasingly concerned with his efforts to build ties with disgruntled figures within powerful tribes. The authorities had cracked down on several demonstrations, detaining dozens.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt too have expressed their support to King Abdullah.

Petra had earlier reported that two senior officials who formerly worked for the palace, along with other suspects, had been arrested for "security reasons", without providing further details. "Any astute observer will say if someone this close to MBS is involved he would have to know", said the former USA official.

Gulf Cooperation Council "affirmed the full support of the Cooperation Council for all decisions and measures taken by His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein, to preserve the security and stability of brotherly Jordan, wishing brotherly Jordan continued security and stability under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II and His Highness, the faithful Crown Prince", Secretary General Nayef Falah Mubarak al-Hajraf said in a statement on GCC's website. A State Department spokesman said the USA is in touch with officials in Jordan.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

A report by Washington Post said Hamzah was placed under house arrest amid an ongoing investigation into an alleged coup plot.

Prince Hamza, who had been groomed by his mother Queen Noor to succeed his late father King Hussein, has been pushed into the political wilderness since he was sacked as crown prince.

I asked him if I was the one criticising, he said no.

FILE - In this December 10, 2020 photo released by the Royal Hashemite Court, Jordan's King Abdullah II gives a speech during the inauguration of the 19th Parliament's non-ordinary session, in Amman Jordan.

The Jordanian Hashemite dynasty's tradition under the 1952 constitution gives the succession to the eldest son but the monarch retains the option of naming a brother.