Jordanian royalty settles family dispute, says lawyer

Mediation between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his half-brother, Prince Hamzah, successfully reduced one of the most serious political crises in the kingdom in decades, the palace and a confidante of the prince said on Monday.

The apparent resolution of the unprecedented public dispute capped a weekend of palace drama during which the king had placed Hamzah under house arrest for allegedly conspiring with foreign supporters to destabilize Jordan, a key ally of the West.

The Jordanian authorities had accused the former crown prince of being involved in a “malicious plot”, along with two senior Jordanian officials. Hamzah, 41, denied the allegations and said he was speaking out against corruption and mismanagement.

The announcement of the successful mediation came after Abdullah’s paternal uncle, Hassan, met with Hamzah on Monday.

The mediation took place at Hassan’s home in the Hashemite Royal Court. Hamzah was joined by his brother Hashem and three of his cousins.

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“In light of the events of the past two days, I made myself available to His Majesty the King,” said the statement signed by Hamzah. He said he would remain loyal to the king and the Jordanian constitution.

Malik R. Dahlan, a professional mediator and family friend, issued a separate statement, saying that the mediation “has been successful and I expect a resolution shortly.” Dahlan is the director of the Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy, of which Hamzah Al-Hussein is a supervisor of the council.

He said that “this unfortunate incident was the result of the clumsy actions of a senior security official and misrepresentation by a government official,” adding that “it should have remained a family affair.”

This was an apparent reference to the events on Saturday when the Jordanian army chief visited Hamzah and, according to the prince’s description, imposed restrictions on his movement and ability to communicate with the outside world.

By early Monday, it appeared that tensions were continuing to rise in the kingdom, valued by the West as a stable ally in a volatile region. A recording circulated online in which Hamzah appeared defiant, saying that he would not take orders from the army chief.

“The army chief of staff approached me and issued threats on behalf of the heads of the security agencies,” Hamzah said in the recording. “I recorded his comments and distributed them to my acquaintances abroad as well as to my family in case something happened.”

“I don’t want to climb right now, but of course I won’t comply when he tells me ‘you can’t go out, tweet or connect with people and you can only see family members,'” he said. “When an army chief of staff says that, it is something that I think is unacceptable.”

The authenticity of the recording was confirmed by a person close to the prince, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons. The individual said the recording was a few days old and was made after the army chief threatened the prince.

Jordan’s army chief of staff Gen. Yousef Huneiti said on Monday that the country’s armed forces and security agencies “have the power and experience” to deal with any developments that may occur internally or in the region.

He made his comments while participating in “Shield of the Nation,” a drill that included various brigades, special forces, border guards and the Royal Air Force in the eastern region of the kingdom, the state Petra news agency said. The exercise did not appear to be related to the weekend incidents because such drills are planned well in advance.

Huneiti said the troops will confront anyone who “attempts to endanger the security of the nation, terrorize 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 relayed them to foreign sources. He did not provide details about the alleged plot or say what other countries were allegedly involved. But he said that between 14 and 16 associates of Hamzah had been arrested, in addition to Bassem Awadallah, a former cabinet minister and former head of the royal court, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family.

The Arab and American governments quickly sided with 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 stability of the country are of critical importance.”

Domestically, Hamzah’s unprecedented criticism of the ruling class, without naming the king, could underpin growing complaints about poor 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 ascending the throne in 1999, Abdullah appointed Hamzah as crown prince, only to revoke the title five years later. Hassan, the uncle, had also been a crown prince, but was removed from office shortly before Hussein’s death.

While Abdullah and Hamzah are said to have good relations overall, Hamzah has at times spoken out against government policies and more recently forged ties with powerful tribal leaders in a move seen as a threat to the king.

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