San Francisco Chronicle
Allies of prince remain in detention in royal rift
AMMAN, Jordan — Employees and associates of a Jordanian prince accused of plotting to undermine the government were still being held incommunicado by security forces Tuesday, their relatives said, casting doubt on earlier claims by the royal court that it had resolved an unusually public and bitter rift.
The royal court released a statement less than a day ago saying that Prince Hamzah had pledged his loyalty to King Abdullah II, his older half brother. But Hamzah’s chief of staff, Yasser Majali, and Majali’s cousin, Samir Majali, are still being held in an unknown location, according to their family, which comes from one of Jordan’s main tribes.
The two were arrested Saturday, the day that the government claimed that the prince had been involved in a plot to destabilize the kingdom.
Hamzah’s whereabouts were also unknown as of Tuesday morning. And the Jordanian government issued a gag order Tuesday that barred Jordanian news outlets and social media users from discussing the case.
The developments are the latest twists in a royal feud that exploded into public view over the weekend, upending the family’s reputation for discretion and the country’s image as a rare haven of stability in a turbulent region.
Jordan is a key partner in regional counterterrorism missions, a base for U.S. troops and aircraft, and a major recipient of U.S. aid. Bordering Syria, Iraq, Israel and the Israelioccupied West Bank, it is considered an important interlocutor in regional diplomacy — and a linchpin of any potential IsraeliPalestinian peace negotiations.
Over the weekend, the Jordanian government arrested several of Hamzah’s staff members and associates, and accused the prince himself of working with a former senior royal aide and Cabinet minister, Bassem Awadallah, to undermine the country’s stability.