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Jordan accuses former crown prince of conspiring to destabilize the country

Barak Ravid

TEL AVIV: A day after putting former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein under house arrest, the Jordanian government on Sunday publicly accused him of conspiring to destabilize the country.

Why it matters: Prince Hamzah claims he is a victim of a campaign by the royal palace to crack down on dissent and silence his criticism of the government’s corruption and incompetence. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi rebutted those claims in a press conference.

Driving the news: Safadi said the prince had conspired with the former chief of the royal court, Bassem Awadallah, and former envoy to Saudi Arabia Hassan bin Zaid.

Price Hamzah’s associates had been in contact with elements outside the country who define themselves as external opposition to King Abdullah II, while the prince had himself focused on inciting different tribes and elements of civil society within Jordan, according to Safadi.

Jordan’s security forces had been monitoring the three, and intercepted calls and text messages they exchanged with people outside of the country about the best timing to take action to destabilize Jordan, Safadi claimed.

The security forces updated the king once they discovered that the conspirators planned to move from talk to action, Safadi claimed, and asked for his permission to act in response.

King Abdullah authorized the arrest of Prince Hamzah’s associates but wanted to speak directly with the prince to try and solve their dispute inside the Hashemite family, Jord-an’s foreign minister said.

The other side: Prince Hamzah on Saturday reco-rded a message in English and set it to the BBC. In it, he said the chief of staff of the Jordanian Army had arrived at his house and informed him he was not permitted to leave or communicate with others.

Hamzah denied involvement in any conspiracy and said the government had itself to blame for corruption and mismanagement.

Queen Noor, Prince Ha-mzah’s mother, tweeted se-veral hours earlier in defe-nse of her son. “Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe,” he wrote.

Safadi accused Hamza of using the video to “mislead public opinion in Jordan and around the world and incite the citizens against the country.”

Safadi added that a person with connections to a foreign security service had approached Prince Hamzah’s wife and offered to arrange a private jet to escort her and her family to a foreign country.

“We are in control of the situation. Jordan’s security is stable,” Safadi said.

What’s next: Safadi said that the king still wants to solve Hamzah’s situation internally, and that Ham-zah’s associates will be d-ealt with according to the law.