AMMAN, Jordan – Relatives said that employees and aides of a Jordanian prince accused of plotting to undermine the government were still being held incommunicado by the security forces on Tuesday, raising doubts about earlier allegations by the royal court that they had been resolved. Unusually general and bitter crack Between Prince Hamzah bin Hussein and his older half-brother, King Abdullah II.
The chief of Prince Hamzah’s court, Yasser al-Majali, and Sayyid al-Majali’s cousin, Samir al-Majali, were arrested on Saturday, the day the government claimed the prince was involved in a plot to destabilize the kingdom.
The Majali family, who is from one of the main Jordanian tribes, said on Tuesday that the two were still being held in an unknown location, less than a day after the royal court issued a statement quoting Prince Hamzah as saying that he had been arrested. He pledged his loyalty to the king.
“Every time we contact someone, they say we will come back to you,” said Abdullah al-Majali, Yasser’s brother, on an account endorsed by a second member of the al-Majali family. “We still don’t know where they are.”
Prince Hamzah’s whereabouts were not known until Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, the Jordanian government issued a gag order prohibiting Jordanian media and social media users from discussing the issue.
These developments are the latest twists and turns in the royal row that exploded in public opinion over the weekend, upending the family’s reputation for secrecy and the country’s image as a rare haven to settle in a volatile region.
Jordan is a major partner in regional counterterrorism missions, a base for U.S. forces and aircraft, and a major recipient of U.S. aid. On the borders with Syria, Iraq, Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, they are an important interlocutor in regional diplomacy – and a central pillar of any potential Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Over the weekend, the Jordanian government arrested several employees and aides of Prince Hamzah, and accused the prince himself of working with the king’s chief aide and cabinet minister, Bassem Awadallah, to undermine the country’s stability.
Government statements indicated that the detainees were involved in an attempted coup supported from abroad, but did not amount to the use of such direct language.
Prince Hamzah responded with two videos in which he criticized his brother’s government, but denied involvement in any conspiracy and said he is under house arrest – a claim the government has denied.
By Monday night, nerves appeared to have subsided, as the royal palace issued a written statement in the prince’s name pledging to “stand behind His Majesty in his efforts to protect Jordan and his interests for the nation”.
But Tuesday’s uncertainty about the whereabouts of the council and the Emir himself indicates that tensions have not completely dissipated.
The government’s account was also questioned on Tuesday after a recording of a conversation last week between the emir and the commander of the Jordanian army, Major General Yusef al-Huneiti, was leaked.
In the recording, obtained by The New York Times and other media, the general appears to acknowledge that the prince did not personally move against the king, but instead attended social gatherings where others criticized the government.
As coronavirus-related deaths rise in Jordan, allies of the prince say he has attended more awakenings and funerals than usual.
“During these meetings, there was talk about the performance of the government and the performance of the crown prince,” said Major General Al-Hunaiti, according to the recording.
“Did this talk come from me?” Prince Hamzah replied.
The general said, “No.” “From the people you were meeting. We both know, sir, that this crossed the red lines. People started talking too much. So I hope that His Royal Highness will preserve such events and refrain from attending them.”
The Majali family expressed doubt that any of the relatives would at any time be in a position to support a supposed plot to destabilize the kingdom.
Hisham al-Majali, Samir’s cousin, said that Samir al-Majali had met several times with Prince Hamzah for lunch in his official capacity as a tribal sheikh.
His brother, Abdullah al-Majali, said that Yasser was recovering at home after a heart attack that was followed by a bout of the Corona virus, and had not gone to work for several weeks.
Their relatives said that neither of the men had any connection to Mr. Awad Allah.
“They don’t even know him,” Abdullah said. “It is unacceptable for them to associate their names.”
Many Jordanians also believed that Prince Hamzah himself and Mr. Awadallah were not likely to be conspirators. Prince Hamzah is closely related to indigenous Jordanian tribes, such as majalis, while Mr. Awadallah, the former head of the royal court, is one of many Jordanian citizens from families of Palestinian origin.
The husband has different views on economic and political policy. While Mr. Awadallah was often a target of government critics while in office, the Emir presents himself as an advocate of good governance.