Recording casts doubts on Jordan coup tale

A new audio recording indicates that Jordanian authorities tried to silence a former crown prince for meeting with internal critics and casts doubt on their claim that he was involved in a foreign plot to destabilize the Western-allied monarchy.

It appears to capture the explosive meeting between Prince Hamzah and the army chief of staff that triggered a rare public rift in the highest echelons of the royal family. It also points to deep tensions between the prince and the security apparatus that could cause more headaches for King Abdullah II, his half-brother.

The recording, purportedly made Saturday, circulated shortly after the palace and a mediator close to Prince Hamzah said that the royal family was in the process of resolving the crisis. Hours after the recording surfaced, Jordan announced a ban on the publication of any details related to the incident.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II (left) laughs with his brother, then-crown prince Hamzah (right), on April 2, 2001, shortly before the Jordanian monarch embarked on a tour of the United States. (AP Photo/ Yousef Allan/File)

It appears to be a surreptitious recording of the meeting between Hamzah and Gen. Yousef Huneiti, the military chief of staff, who came to the prince’s palace Saturday to inform him that he was being placed under a form of house arrest. In the recording, the army chief says the prince is being punished because of meetings he had with individuals who “started talking more than they should.”

The prince raises his voice in anger, accusing the general of threatening him and saying he has no right to issue orders to a member of the royal family.

“You come to me and tell me in my house what to do and who to meet in my country and from my people? Are you threatening me?… You come to my house and tell me you and security leaders are threatening me? Not to leave your house, only go to your family and don’t tweet?”