Jordan in security sweep, king's half-brother says under 'house arrest'

A Jordanian royal family member and the former head of the royal court have been arrested

Also swept up in the dragnet - according to observers and activists on social media - was Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, one-time crown prince and stepbrother to Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Following "comprehensive investigations by security services", Hamzah was "asked to stop activities and movements that are employed to target the security and stability of Jordan", al-Hunaiti said in a statement.

In a videotaped statement leaked to the BBC, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, half-brother of Jordan's King Abdullah, said he was visited early on Saturday by the country's military chief and told "I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them".

"We support the steps taken by King Abdullah to maintain Jordanian national security, stressing that Jordan's security and stability is a supreme Palestinian interest".

The alleged scheme "included at least one other Jordanian royal as well as tribal leaders and members of the country's security establishment", the Post added.

While the harsh criticism from a popular member of the ruling family could lend support to growing complaints about the kingdom's poor governance, the king's tough reaction also illustrated the limits to which he will accept public dissent. "King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support".

In a video the BBC said it obtained from his lawyer, Prince Hamzah said a number of his friends had been arrested, his security removed and his internet and phone lines cut.

Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, speaks across a table to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a 2018 lunch at the royal palace in Amman.

As the eldest son of Queen Nour (nee Lisa Halaby), his father's fourth and final queen, the now-41-year-old prince was thought to be King Hussein's top choice as successor; he was passed over because he was still in school.

In a separate statement, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said Jordan's stability and prosperity was the "basis for the stability and prosperity of the whole region" and vowed "firm and lasting" support for it.

State media only said the arrests were "security related".

The United States, which considers Jordan a critical ally and has partnered with the country for years on USA -led counterterrorism operations, said that Abdullah had its "full support".

The arrests are part of a broader investigation by security agencies.

King Abdullah, 59, who trained at Sandhurst in the 1980s, has ruled the country since King Hussein's death in 1999. He has cultivated strong ties with several USA administrations, but, in recent years, sparred with former president Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over proposed Israeli plans to annex the West Bank and bypass the Palestinians in a bid for Israeli normalization with the rest Arab world.

He had been a rising figure in Jordan, playing a key role in pushing for economic reforms in the cash-strapped country until he resigned in 2008.

It declared independence in 1946, and despite having little oil wealth, severely lacking water and repeatedly being rocked by wars on its borders, the kingdom has managed to survive the regional upheavals.