Jordan’s King assigns his uncle to resolve rift with Prince Hamzah

The prince says he wants to avoid escalation but that orders by the chief of staff to refrain from contacting people or expressing his views were ‘unacceptable’

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Jordan’s Prince Hasan, King Abdullah’s uncle, has been tasked with managing the rift with prince Hamzah bin Hussein, Royal court said in a tweet carried by state media on Monday.

“In line with his majesty King Abdullah’s decision to deal with prince Hamzah’s issue from within the Hashemite family, he assigned this task to his uncle prince Hasan,” the statement said.

“Prince Hasan has contacted prince Hamzah accordingly,” the statement added.

Prince Hamzah, half-brother to King Abdullah and former crown prince, had said earlier that he will disobey orders not to contact people outside his family or express his views, in a leaked audio message a day after being accused of undermining national stability.

Prince Hamzah was accused on Sunday of working with associates at home and abroad to destabilise the kingdom.

A trusted family elder

Prince Hassan has good ties with most members of the royal family and was crown prince for decades until the late King Hussein replaced him weeks before his death in 1999 with the then emir Abdullah.

King Abdullah appointed Prince Hamzah as crown prince when he took the throne in 1999 and removed him five years later.

“Prince Hamza has stressed (to his uncle) that he is committed to the path undertaken by the Hashemite family and the approach tasked by his majesty the king to prince Hasan,” the statement said.

Regional fears

Allies in the region and abroad said stability in the country, which has been an important US ally in the region for decades, should be maintained.

Jordan is in a severe economic downturn, unemployment is at a record 24 per cent and accusations of corruption in the government are widespread.

The military and authorities denied that Prince Hamzah had been put under house arrest but said he had been asked to “stop movements and activities that are employed to target the security of Jordan and its stability”. They did not specify what those actions were.

In a leaked response attributed to Prince Hamzah and circulated on social media, he said he did not want "to make moves because I don't want it to appear as if it is escalating now.

“But, for sure, I will not comply after they said you are not allowed to go out or tweet or contact the people, and you are only allowed to see the family,” he said.

He said that chief of staff Maj Gen Yousef Huneiti came to his home on Saturday to issue the instruction to cease communications.

“For a chief of staff to come and say this to you it is not acceptable in any form,” the prince said.

He said that in the encounter, which he taped, Maj Gen Huneiti made threats against him, but the prince did not give details. The tape was sent “to people I know abroad and to my folks in case something happens”, the prince said.

Deputy prime minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi said on Sunday that Prince Hamzah was engaged in activities with foreign agents to destabilise the kingdom.

The allegation came after authorities arrested 16 people, including the former chief of the royal court Bassem Awadallah, royal family member Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid.

In a video obtained by the BBC on Sunday, Prince Hamzah said he was under house arrest with his family and had been told to stay at home and not contact anyone.

Mr Al Safadi said in a televised news conference that Prince Hamzah was in communication with Mr Awadallah and other figures inside and outside the country to destabilise Jordan.

The recording attributed to the prince appeared to have been made before the news conference.

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