In a stunning development Saturday, Jordanian security officials say they have thwarted a serious plot to overthrow King Abdullah II.
ALL ARAB NEWS has confirmed that Jordanian forces have arrested a group of nearly two dozen royal officials and advisors for allegedly planning a coup d’etat.
The Washington Post is reporting that former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein — half-brother to the King — has also been arrested.
However, Petra, the official Jordanian news agency, has denied this.
“An informed source for Petra: His Royal Highness Prince Hamzah bin Al Hussein is not under home residency nor is he detained, as reported by some media outlets,” Petra Tweeted at 9:34pm local time.
ALL ARAB NEWS is receiving mixed signals.
A source very close to the Royal Palace indicated to me that the Washington Post story was accurate.
“The press is reporting it accurately,” the source told me.
While Petra is denying that the Crown Prince has been detained, a U.S. intelligence source tells ALL ARAB NEWS that “he has been asked to restrict his movements, to visit only family and to stay off of social media. The steps will be more restrictive and direct.”
The source requested anonymity.
The coming hours will surely reveal more.
The Washington Post first broke the story.
“Jordanian authorities detained the kingdom’s former crown prince and arrested nearly 20 other people Saturday after what officials called a ‘threat to the country’s stability,’” reported Post foreign correspondent Joby Warrick.
“Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the oldest son of the late King Hussein and his American-born fourth wife Queen Noor, was placed under restriction at his Amman palace, amid an ongoing investigation into an alleged plot to unseat his older half brother, King Abdullah II,” the Post noted.
Additional arrests are expected, officials say.
Warrick cited a well-placed Middle East intelligence source who said that at this hour it is “unclear how close the alleged plotters were to carrying out the plan, or what, exactly, they planned to do. The intelligence official described the plan as ‘well-organized’ and said the plotters appeared to have ‘foreign ties,’ though he did not elaborate.”
In response to a question from a reporter during a press briefing on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: “This is an internal Jordanian matter. Jordan is a neighbor and strategic ally with whom we have peaceful relations. We need to do everything necessary to maintain that alliance, which is ongoing for over 30 years. A strong, thriving Jordan is an Israeli security and economic interest and we need to do everything we can to assist them. They are contending with economic and health challenges and I am in favor of the State of Israel giving them whatever aid they need. It isn’t only my call and I hope that the Prime Minister’s Office and National Security Council get on board as well. As I said, as far as the internal developments there are concerned, that is a domestic issue.”