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Jordan’s Queen Noor, mother of detained prince, attacks ‘wicked slander’ of coup

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman all voice support for Jordanian authorities as former crown prince Hamzah claims he is being held amid reported plot against king

Queen Noor of Jordan attends a ceremony in Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 11, 2015. (Amel Emric/AP)
Queen Noor of Jordan attends a ceremony in Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 11, 2015. (Amel Emric/AP)

Queen Noor, the mother of Jordan’s former crown prince Hamzah who says he is under house arrest, on Sunday denounced “wicked slander” while Gulf allies backed Jordanian authorities amid a media report of a coup plot.

“Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe,” Noor tweeted.

In a video published by the BBC, former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein said several of his friends had been arrested, his security detail removed and his communications cut, adding that the kingdom had become “stymied in corruption, in nepotism, and in misrule.”

However, Jordan’s powerful Gulf allies voiced support for King Abdullah II.

The United Arab Emirates said it was in “full solidarity” with Jordan.

In a statement on its WAM news agency, it said it backed “any measures taken by King of Jordan, King Abdullah II… to preserve the security and stability of Jordan and defuse any attempt that seeks to jeopardize either.”

Neighboring Saudi Arabia also swiftly reacted, voicing its “full support… for the decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein to safeguard security and stability.”

The remaining four members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — also voiced their support in similar terms.

Jordan’s former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein (screenshot via BBC)

The swift show of support, even as Abdullah placed Prince Hamzah under house arrest, underscored Jordan’s strategic importance as an island of relative stability in the turbulent region. While the harsh criticism from a popular member of the ruling family could lend support to growing complaints about the kingdom’s poor governance, the king’s tough reaction also illustrated the limits to which he will accept public dissent.

Jordan’s army said Saturday that Hamzah, who holds no official position, had been asked to stop “some activities that could be used to shake the stability and security of Jordan,” but denied that he had been detained.

The Washington Post said the former crown prince was “placed under restriction” as part of a probe into an alleged plot to unseat his half-brother, King Abdullah II.

Official news agency Petra said royal family former aide Bassem Awadallah and an unspecified number of other suspects had been arrested.

King Abdullah had appointed Hamzah crown prince in 1999 in line with their father Hussein’s dying wishes, but in 2004 stripped him of the title and gave it to his own eldest son, Hussein.

Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan and senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said the the past year has created “pockets of resentment and frustration” in Jordan.

But he did not think there is a credible threat to Abdullah’s rule and it is unlikely to lead to a popular uprising. “I doubt that this could be more than talk of disgruntled people, important as they are,” he said.

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