Prince Hamza backing king: Jordan royals

·3-min read

Jordan's Prince Hamza has pledged allegiance to King Abdullah after mediation by the royal family, two days after he was placed under house arrest and accused of trying to destabilise the country.

The royal court said Prince Hamza signed a letter in which he placed himself at the monarch's disposal after a meeting on Monday with Prince Hassan, the king's uncle, and other princes.

"I place myself in the hands of his majesty the king... I will remain committed to the constitution of the dear Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," Prince Hamza said in the letter released by the palace.

An earlier royal palace tweet said the king had entrusted Prince Hassan, also a former crown prince, to take charge of the matter and that Prince Hamza had agreed to family mediation over the affair.

On Saturday, the military warned Prince Hamza over actions it said were undermining "security and stability" in Jordan and he later said he was under house arrest.

Several high-profile figures were also detained.

Officials said on Sunday that Prince Hamza had liaised with people who had contacts with foreign parties in a plot to destabilise Jordan and that he had been under investigation for some time.

The half-brother of King Abdullah and former heir to the throne said in a voice recording released by Jordan's opposition that he would not comply after being barred from any activity and told to keep quiet.

While Prince Hamza is not seen as a direct threat to the king, his actions suggested he wanted to shore up his position with the Jordanian public after being removed from the royal succession.

"For sure I won't obey when they tell you that you cannot go out or tweet or reach out to people but are only allowed to see the family. I expect this talk is not acceptable in any way," he said in the recording circulated to friends and contacts.

The intrigue shook Jordan's image as a haven of stability in the unpredictable Middle East.

It is unclear why the kingdom decided to crack down on Prince Hamza now but he put himself at growing risk by stepping up visits in recent weeks to tribal gatherings where the king and his government have been criticised more openly.

Public anger has also increased since nine COVID-19 patients died when oxygen ran out in a newly built state hospital, exposing negligence blamed on official mismanagement and corruption.

Protests were broken up with tear gas.

The prince went to the homes of those who died to pay condolences, hoping to upstage the monarch who had earlier gone to the hospital to defuse anger, officials say.

It was the first such open rift in the royal family in many years.

King Abdullah removed Prince Hamza from his position as heir to the throne in 2004.

In a video passed to the BBC by Prince Hamza's lawyer on Saturday, the prince accused Jordan's leaders of corruption, apparently hoping to tap into the public's frustrations.

Prince Hamza is not seen as a threat to the monarchy, which enjoys the support of the army and security services, but has gained sympathy among Jordanians sceptical of the government's accusations about his foreign links, saying it was a campaign to defame him.