Lawyer says mediation resolves feud among Jordan royals

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KING ABDULLAH II CROWN PRINCE HAMZEH

FILE – In this April 2, 2001, file photo, Jordan’s King Abdullah II laughs with his half brother Prince Hamzah, right, shortly before the monarch embarked on a tour of the United States. Prince Hamzah said in a recording released Monday, April 5, that he will defy government threats ordering him to stay at home and refrain from public statements following accusations he was behind a plot to destabilize the kingdom. (AP Photo/Yousef Allan, File)

BEIRUT (AP) — Mediation between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his outspoken half brother, Prince Hamzah, successfully de-escalated one of the most serious political crises in the kingdom in decades, the palace and a confidant of the prince said Monday.

The apparent resolution of the unprecedented public feud capped a weekend of palace drama during which the king had placed Hamzah under house arrest for allegedly plotting with foreign supporters to destabilize Jordan, a key Western ally.

Jordanian authorities had accused the former crown prince of being involved in a “malicious plot,” along with two senior Jordanian officials. Hamzah, 41, denied the allegations, saying he was speaking out against corruption and mismanagement.

The announcement of the successful mediation came after Abdullah’s paternal uncle, Hassan, met with Hamzah on Monday.

The mediation took place at Hassan’s home at the Royal Hashemite Court. Hamzah was joined by his brother Hashem and three of their cousins.

“In light of the developments of the past two days, I put myself at the disposal of His Majesty the King,” said the statement signed by Hamzah. He said he would remain loyal to the king and to Jordan’s constitution.

Malik R. Dahlan, a professional mediator and a friend of the family, then issued a separate statement, saying the mediation has “been successful and I expect a resolution shortly.” Dahlan is the principal of Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy, of which Hamzah Al-Hussein is a council overseer.

He said that “this regrettable incident was the result of the clumsy actions of a senior security official and misrepresentation by a government official,” adding that “it should have remained a family matter.”

This was an apparent reference to Saturday’s events when Jordan’s army chief visited Hamzah and — according to the prince’s description — imposed restrictions on his movement and ability to communicate with the outside world.

Earlier Monday, it appeared tensions were still running high in the kingdom, valued by the West as a stable ally in a volatile region. A recording circulated online in which Hamzah sounded defiant, saying he would not take orders from the army chief.

“The army chief of staff came to me and issued threats in the name of heads of security agencies,” Hamzah said in the recording. “I recorded his comments and distributed them to my acquaintances abroad as well as my family in case something happens.”

“I don’t want to escalate now, but of course I will not abide when he tells me ‘you are not allowed to go out, tweet or connect with people and you are only allowed to see family members,’” he said. “When an army chief of staff says that, this is something that I think is unacceptable.”

The authenticity of the recording was confirmed by an individual close to the prince, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. The individual said the recording was a few days old and made after the army chief threatened the prince.

Jordan’s army chief of staff, Gen. Yousef Huneiti, said Monday the country’s armed forces and security agencies “have the power and experience” to deal with any developments that might happen internally or in the region.

He made his comments while taking part in “Shield of the Nation,” a drill that included several brigades, special forces, border guards and the Royal Air Force in the eastern region of the kingdom, the state news agency Petra said. The exercise did not appear to be related to the weekend incidents because such drills are planned well in advance.

Huneiti said the troops will confront anyone who “tries to endanger the nation’s security, terrify its citizens and threatens the security and stability of the kingdom.”

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Sunday the prince had recorded conversations and passed them to foreign sources. He did not provide specifics on the alleged plot or say what other countries were purportedly involved. But he said about 14-16 associates of Hamzah had been arrested, in addition to Bassem Awadallah, a former Cabinet minister and one-time head of the royal court, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family.

The U.S. and Arab governments sided quickly with Abdullah, reflecting Jordan’s strategic importance. The kingdom borders Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the occupied West Bank.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric noted Jordan’s “vital role in the Middle East, and its peace and security and the stability of the country is critically important.”

Domestically, Hamzah’s unprecedented criticism of the ruling class — without naming the king — could lend support to growing complaints about poor governance and human rights abuses in Jordan.

Abdullah and Hamzah are both sons of King Hussein, who remains a beloved figure two decades after his death. Upon ascending to the throne in 1999, Abdullah named Hamzah as crown prince, only to revoke the title five years later. Hassan, the uncle, also had been crown prince but was removed shortly before Hussein’s death.

While Abdullah and Hamzah are said to have good relations generally, Hamzah has at times spoken out against government policies, and more recently had forged ties with powerful tribal leaders in a move seen as a threat to the king.

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Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.

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