The statement marked the first time the king has addressed the unprecedented rift in the royal family which erupted over the weekend when Prince Hamzah, his former crown prince, was placed under a form of house arrest and accused of being part of a plot to destabilize the kingdom.
“I speak to you today as my family and tribesmen … to reassure you that the sedition has been buried,” the statement said. The statement was read by a newsreader on Jordan TV.
“The challenge of the last few days was not the hardest or the most dangerous to the stability of our nation, but it was the most painful because those who are party to the sedition were from our own home and from outside it,” the king said.
“Nothing can come close to the shock and the pain and anger I felt, as a brother, and head of the Hashemite family and as a leader to this dear people,” he added.
The palace had already insisted the dispute was being resolved inside the family, but major challenges loom for the Western-allied monarchy long seen as a lynchpin of regional stability.
The whereabouts of Prince Hamzah are unknown and there is no sign that authorities have released up to 18 other detainees, including members of one of the powerful tribes on which the monarchy has historically relied. Authorities have meanwhile imposed a sweeping gag order in a sign of how sensitive they are to how the dispute is being perceived.
A major internet provider was down for several hours on Wednesday and residents in the capital, Amman, reported seeing military aircraft and helicopters overnight. “People are not sure what’s happening to them,” a 28-year-old resident said via secure internet line, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the media gag order. “This is terrifying.”
Jordan was already grappling with an economic crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with one in four people out of work. Longstanding complaints about corruption and misrule have fueled scattered protests in recent months.
The region’s strategic landscape is meanwhile shifting as powerful Gulf states pursue closer ties with Israel, potentially undermining Jordan’s role in the Middle East peace process.
“The dispute with Prince Hamzah shows that the kingdom can no longer use its international standing as a mediator in regional conflicts and bulwark of security for the West without addressing growing economic and political challenges at home,” said Tuqa Nusairat, an expert at the Atlantic Council. “Jordanians have been consistently expressing concerns over the direction of the country, including publicly protesting,” she added.
The crisis in the royal family erupted over the weekend, when Jordan’s military chief of staff visited Prince Hamzah and warned him to stop attending meetings with critics of the government. Things quickly escalated, with Hamzah accusing the security establishment of threatening him and ordering the general to leave his home.
Authorities placed the former crown prince under a form of house arrest and detained 18 people, including former senior officials. On Sunday, the government said Hamzah and others were involved in a “malicious plot” against the kingdom’s security with foreign support, but the following day, it said the royal family had resolved the dispute.
Abdullah and Hamzah are both sons of King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for nearly a half-century before his death in 1999. Abdullah had appointed Hamzah as crown prince upon his succession but stripped him of the title in 2004.
The government imposed a sweeping gag order on coverage of the dispute after an audio recording of the meeting between Hamzah and the chief of staff, Gen. Yousef Huneiti, raised questions about its allegations of a foreign conspiracy. Neither mentioned any such plot in their exchange, which was recorded surreptitiously and circulated online.
The prince’s current status is unknown, with the hashtag #WhereIsPrinceHamzah trending on Twitter despite the gag order, which includes social media. Family members of those arrested say they have had no communication with authorities or the detainees.
Those arrested include Yasser al-Majali, Hamzah’s chief of staff, and Samir al-Majali, both prominent members of the Majali tribe.
“We don’t know where he is,” said Yasser al-Majali’s brother, Abdullah. He said they have been unable to reach any officials and have not been informed of any charges against their relatives.
“If there is anything against them, take them to court for a fair trial,” he said. “We don’t want any trouble. We care about stability and we want our people to be released.”
The Majali tribe issued an angry statement immediately after the arrests Saturday, calling it a “black day” in which the tribe’s dignity had been insulted.
It said Samir was arrested at gunpoint while shopping in a market in the town of Karak, where the tribe is based. It said Yasser was taken from the home of another tribal sheikh in a raid that violated tribal traditions. “The armed forces came in 20 vans and wore masks,” it said, adding that the men would have come in on their own had they been summoned for questioning.