Jordan's King breaks silence over rift with half-brother

Monarch says Prince's sedition nipped in the bud, dispute to be resolved within the family

King Abdullah II's open letter to the Jordanian people being read by a newscaster on television on Wednesday. On Sunday, the Jordanian government accused the King's half-brother, Prince Hamzah, of having plotted to undermine the security of the count
King Abdullah II's open letter to the Jordanian people being read by a newscaster on television on Wednesday. On Sunday, the Jordanian government accused the King's half-brother, Prince Hamzah, of having plotted to undermine the security of the country. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

AMMAN (Jordan) • King Abdullah II of Jordan has broken his silence over the unusually public rift with his half-brother, Prince Hamzah, justifying the steps he had taken to curb his brother's contact with the outside world, while asserting that the Prince's "sedition has been nipped in the bud".

In an open letter addressed to the Jordanian people that was read by a newscaster on television on Wednesday, King Abdullah wrote that Prince Hamzah had committed "to put Jordan's interest, Constitution and laws above all considerations", according to an official translation of the letter released by the Royal Palace.

The King said he had asked his uncle, Prince Al Hasan Bin Talal, to resolve the dispute with Prince Hamzah within the family. He said the case was still under investigation, without elaborating.

The King added: "Hamzah today is with his family, in his palace, under my care."

The Prince had claimed that he was under house arrest. He has not been seen in public since the rift became public this past weekend.

On Sunday, the Jordanian government accused Prince Hamzah, a former crown prince, of having plotted to undermine the security of the country.

Several aides and associates of the Prince were arrested, and the Prince himself was ordered to refrain from making public comments or communicating with people outside the royal family.

The news shocked Jordanians and foreign allies alike. Jordan has historically been a pillar of stability in the turbulent Middle East, and the ruling family has rarely aired its disputes in public.

King Abdullah's letter marks the first time that the monarch himself has commented on the rift.

Prince Hamzah had previously distributed two videos about the situation, denying any involvement in a conspiracy but excoriating the Jordanian government and saying he had been put under house arrest.

In his statement on Wednesday, the King spoke of his personal discomfort at his disagreement with Prince Hamzah.

"The challenge over the past few days was not the most difficult or dangerous to the stability of our nation," he wrote. "But to me, it was the most painful."

He added: "Sedition came from within and without our one house, and nothing compares to my shock, pain and anger as a brother and as the head of the Hashemite family, and as a leader of this proud people."

The kingdom sits at the crossroads of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is home to as many as two million Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Upheaval there could endanger the security of Israel, with which it shares a frontier and made peace in 1994.

Bordering both Syria and Iraq, Jordan has also fashioned itself as a force for moderation in a turbulent neighbourhood.

The King on Wednesday also spoke to US President Joe Biden, who sought to "express strong US support for Jordan and underscore the importance of King Abdullah II's leadership to the United States and the region", the White House said in a statement.

The pair discussed bilateral ties between the countries and strengthening cooperation on political, economic and security issues, the US said.

The Royal Hashemite Court tweeted an announcement of the call with Mr Biden, and said the King had also spoken to Polish President Andrzej Duda and met European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Jordan's King breaks silence over rift with half-brother'. Subscribe