New Political Pressures Push US, Europe to Stop Israel-Gaza Conflict

BRUSSELS — A diplomatic flurry from the White House and Europe added pressure on Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza on Wednesday to halt their 10-day-old conflict before it turned into a war entangling more of the Middle East.

President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — their second phone call in three days — telling the Israeli leader he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” administration officials said. Although they portrayed the call as consistent with what Mr. Biden had been saying, his decision to set a deadline was an escalation.

And in Europe, France and Germany, both strong allies of Israel that had initially held back from pressuring Mr. Netanyahu in the early days of the conflict, intensified their push for a cease-fire.

French diplomats sought to advance their proposed United Nations Security Council resolution that would call on the antagonists to stop fighting and to allow unfettered humanitarian access to Gaza. It remained unclear on Wednesday if the United States, which has blocked all Security Council attempts to even issue a statement condemning the violence, would go along with the French resolution.

Twitter post afterward, he said, “I especially appreciate the support of our friend @POTUS Joe Biden, for the State of Israel’s right to self-defense.”

confronted Mr. Biden during his trip to a Ford plant, and pleaded with him to address the growing violence in the region and protect Palestinian lives.

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, who witnessed that interaction, said in an interview on Wednesday that Mr. Netanyahu’s reluctance to negotiate a cease-fire had made it harder for Democrats across the political spectrum to defend Israel’s actions.

Some saw the second phone call between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu as messaging to placate domestic constituents.

Democrats have been pushing Mr. Biden “to take a tougher line and this was his opportunity to demonstrate that he is doing so,” said Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington group that supports Mr. Netanyahu’s policies. He also said Mr. Netanyahu “does not want to give the impression that he’s been told to end this conflict before it’s the right time to do so.”

For European nations, the intensified push for a cease-fire also is based partly on political calculations.

pro-Palestinian demonstrations have sometimes turned into anti-Israeli protests and anti-Semitic attacks, including assaults on synagogues. Governments fear such protests and internal violence will worsen the longer the conflict lasts.

France is on alert for acts of Islamist terrorism, often from French-born Muslims outraged by events in the Middle East. Germany, which welcomed a million mostly Muslim migrants in 2015, is struggling to contain their anger about Israel.

At the same time, the election of Mr. Trump in 2016 also encouraged a right-wing European populism that is anti-immigration and often anti-Islamic, with a clear political identification with “Judeo-Christian values” and strong support for Israel. That is clear in France, with the far-right party of Marine Le Pen, as well as in Germany, with the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Up until now at least, there also had been a gradual de-emphasis of the Palestinian issue by governments, said Kristina Kausch, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

She attributed that de-emphasis partly to Israel’s shelved plans to annex the occupied West Bank, which Palestinians want as part of their own ambitions for an independent state, and to the 2020 Abraham Accords, Israel’s normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, all big defenders of Palestinian rights. Ms. Kausch said there had been a sense that “the Palestinian cause can be put on the back burner, that Arab countries and people don’t care anymore.”

But this new outbreak, Ms. Kausch said, had shown “that the Palestinian cause is alive and kicking.” And no longer ignorable, at least for a while.

Julien Barnes-Dacey, director of the Middle East and North Africa program for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

At the beginning of this conflict, he said, the United States and Europe had been “largely sympathetic to the Israeli narrative, willing to give them some space to accomplish their military ambitions.”

similar two-page resolution passed by the Security Council during another fierce Gaza war in January 2009, and on which the United States abstained.

The draft resolution seeks a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access to Gaza, the condemnation of the rocket barrages and any incitement to violence, the official said.

In Germany, traditional support for Israel and patience with its military campaign appears to be waning.

After speaking with Mr. Netanyahu on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel “sharply condemned the continued rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and assured the prime minister of the German government’s solidarity,” said her spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

But given the many civilian lives lost “on both sides,” Mr. Seibert said, “the chancellor expressed her hope that the fighting will end as soon as possible.”

Mr. Maas, the German foreign minister, said on Tuesday that “ending the violence in the Middle East is the first priority,” followed by political negotiations. But he also blamed Hamas for the escalation.

He appeared to be responding to domestic criticism that the government has been too lenient in the face of pro-Palestinian and sometimes anti-Semitic protests.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented that Germany should “concentrate on internal affairs and reflect that the ‘welcome culture’ extended to refugees was astoundingly naïve when it came to anti-Semitism.”

The question for Germany now, the paper said, “is how do we teach those for whom a hatred of Israel is in their DNA that Israel’s security is part of their adopted homeland’s raison d’être?”

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels, and Jim Tankersley and Katie Rogers from Washington. Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Washington.

View Source

New Political Pressures Push U.S. and Europe to Stop Israel-Gaza Conflict

BRUSSELS — A diplomatic flurry from the White House and Europe added pressure on Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza on Wednesday to halt their 10-day-old conflict before it turned into a war entangling more of the Middle East.

President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — their second phone call in three days — telling the Israeli leader he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” administration officials said. Although they portrayed the call as consistent with what Mr. Biden had been saying, his decision to set a deadline was an escalation. .

And in Europe, France and Germany, both strong allies of Israel that had initially held back from pressuring Mr. Netanyahu in the early days of the conflict, intensified their push for a cease-fire.

French diplomats sought to advance their proposed United Nations Security Council resolution that would call on the antagonists to stop fighting and to allow unfettered humanitarian access to Gaza. It remained unclear on Wednesday if the United States, which has blocked all Security Council attempts to even issue a statement condemning the violence, would go along with the French resolution.

Twitter post afterward, he said “I especially appreciate the support of our friend @POTUS Joe Biden, for the State of Israel’s right to self-defense.”

confronted Mr. Biden during his trip to a Ford plant, and pleaded with him to address the growing violence in the region and protect Palestinian lives.

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, who witnessed that interaction, said in an interview on Wednesday that Mr. Netanyahu’s reluctance to negotiate a cease-fire had made it harder for Democrats across the political spectrum to defend Israel’s actions.

Some saw the second phone call between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu as messaging to placate domestic constituents.

Democrats have been pushing Mr. Biden “to take a tougher line and this was his opportunity to demonstrate that he is doing so,” said Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington group that supports Mr. Netanyahu’s policies. He also said Mr. Netanyahu “does not want to give the impression that he’s been told to end this conflict before it’s the right time to do so.”

For European nations, the intensified push for a cease-fire also is based partly on political calculations.

pro-Palestinian demonstrations have sometimes turned into anti-Israeli protests, including attacks on synagogues. Governments fear such protests and internal violence will worsen the longer the conflict lasts.

France is on alert for acts of Islamist terrorism, often from French-born Muslims outraged by events in the Middle East. Germany, which welcomed a million mostly Muslim migrants in 2005, is struggling to contain their anger about Israel.

At the same time, the election of Mr. Trump in 2016 also encouraged a right-wing European populism that is anti-immigration and often anti-Islamic, with a clear political identification with “Judeo-Christian values’’ and strong support for Israel. That is clear in France, with the far-right party of Marine Le Pen, as well as in Germany, with the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Up until now at least, there also had been a gradual de-emphasis of the Palestinian issue by governments, said Kristina Kausch, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

She attributed that de-emphasis partly to Israel’s shelved plans to annex the occupied West Bank, which Palestinians want as part of their own ambitions for an independent state, and to the 2020 Abraham Accords, Israel’s normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, all big defenders of Palestinian rights. Ms. Kausch said there had been a sense that “the Palestinian cause can be put on the back burner, that Arab countries and people don’t care anymore.”

But this new outbreak, Ms. Kausch said, had shown “that the Palestinian cause is alive and kicking.’’ And no longer ignorable, at least for a while.

Julien Barnes-Dacey, director of the Middle East and North Africa program for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

At the beginning of this conflict, he said, the United States and Europe had been “largely sympathetic to the Israeli narrative, willing to give them some space to accomplish their military ambitions.’’

similar two-page resolution passed by the Security Council during another fierce Gaza war in January 2009, and on which the United States abstained.

The draft resolution seeks a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access to Gaza, the condemnation of the rocket barrages and any incitement to violence, the official said.

In Germany, traditional support for Israel and patience with its military campaign appears to be waning.

After speaking with Mr. Netanyahu on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel “sharply condemned the continued rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and assured the prime minister of the German government’s solidarity,” said her spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

But given the many civilian lives lost “on both sides,” Mr. Seibert said, “the chancellor expressed her hope that the fighting will end as soon as possible.”

Mr. Maas, the German foreign minister, said on Tuesday that “ending the violence in the Middle East is the first priority,’’ followed by political negotiations. But he also blamed Hamas for the escalation.

He appeared to be responding to domestic criticism that the government has been too lenient in the face of pro-Palestinian and sometimes anti-Semitic protests.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented that Germany should “concentrate on internal affairs and reflect that the ‘welcome culture’ extended to refugees was astoundingly naïve when it came to anti-Semitism.’’

The question for Germany now, the paper said, “is how do we teach those for whom a hatred of Israel is in their DNA that Israel’s security is part of their adopted homeland’s raison d’être?”

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels, and Jim Tankersley and Katie Rogers from Washington. Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Washington.

View Source

Jordan Releases 16 Accused in Alleged Plot, Soothing Royal Rift

AMMAN, Jordan — Sixteen people accused of a plot to foment unrest in Jordan this month were released from custody Thursday pending further investigation, a military judge announced, marking a new chapter in an unusually turbulent episode in the normally placid kingdom.

Jordan was roiled at the start of April when the government accused a former crown prince, Hamzah bin Hussein, of plotting to undermine state security along with 18 accomplices.

Two of the accused — the former head of the royal court, Bassem Awadallah, and a minor member of the royal family, Sharif Hassan bin Zeid — remained in custody on Thursday night because of the severity of the charges against them. The prince himself was never technically arrested, and the royal court has previously said that he remains at his palace, under the “care” of King Abdullah II, his older half brother.

The crisis has ruffled Jordan’s carefully crafted reputation as a rare beacon of stability in a turbulent region. King Abdullah is considered a critical Western ally in the Middle East, since he allows countries, including the United States, to use Jordanian soil as a base for military campaigns in the region. Jordan is also a key interlocutor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the host of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

The move on Thursday appeared to be aimed at restoring Jordan to some degree of normality. At the time of the arrests several weeks ago, the government had hinted of a foiled coup attempt. But in a statement published shortly before the accused were released on Thursday, the king stressed that they had never posed an “imminent threat to the country, since the sedition, as I have said, has been stopped.”

In the same statement, the king also framed the release as a sign of his magnanimity.

“As a father and a brother to all Jordanians,” the king wrote, “and in this holy month of tolerance and solidarity, when we all wish to be with our families, I ask the relevant officials to look into the proper mechanism to have those who were misled into following the sedition, return to their families soon.”

Rifts in the royal family have usually occurred in private. The feud between the king and the prince shocked Jordanians because of the way it played out — with public accusations of sedition by the king, and public denials by the prince.

By releasing recordings that criticized government policies, Prince Hamzah also drew rare international attention to wider societal anger at corruption and constraints on freedom, as well as to frustration and disenfranchisement among the groups that helped found the Jordanian state and on whose support the monarchy has traditionally depended.

The involvement of Mr. Awadallah, an adviser to the Saudi court, also led to rumors of Saudi involvement in the alleged conspiracy. The Saudi government has unsuccessfully requested Mr. Awadallah’s release, according to three people briefed on the request, but has denied any involved in his alleged activities.

Rana F. Sweis reported from Amman, and Patrick Kingsley from Jerusalem.

View Source

Royal Rivalry Bares Social Tensions Behind Jordan’s Stable Veneer

In recent years, Prince Hamzah has spoken out against high-level corruption, an issue the public associates with privatization. And he has visited tribal leaders and attended tribal events, perceived as a provocative attempt to foment tribal frustration and social discontent.

“He didn’t create these grievances,” said Mr. Ramadan, the former lawmaker. “He tapped into them.”

But before Prince Hamzah reinvented himself as a government critic, he was the epitome of a palace insider. After King Abdullah inherited the crown in 1999 from their father, King Hussein, he appointed Prince Hamzah as his own crown prince and successor.

King Abdullah, 59, is the eldest son of Hussein’s British-born second wife, Princess Muna. Prince Hamzah, 41, is the eldest son of Hussein’s American-born fourth wife, Queen Noor.

Both men were educated at Harrow, an elite British school, and Sandhurst, the British officer-training academy.

But their paths diverged in 2004, when King Abdullah removed his half brother as crown prince — later replacing him with his own son, Prince Hussein, now 26.

The decision devastated Prince Hamzah, according to Jordanian officials. He had been considered a favorite of King Hussein’s, a more polished orator with a more academic mind than King Abdullah, and had been groomed as a teenager for the throne. Suddenly he was ejected from the circle of influence, and cast around for a new role.

At one point he asked his half brother to be commander in chief of the armed forces, a request that King Abdullah declined, according to a person briefed on the conversation.

View Source

Jordan’s King Breaks Silence on Feud, Saying It Has ‘Ceased’

AMMAN, Jordan — King Abdullah II of Jordan broke his silence Wednesday night over the unusually public rift with his half brother, Prince Hamzah, justifying the steps he had taken to curb his brother’s movements, while asserting that their “strife had ceased.”

In an open letter addressed to the Jordanian people that was read on television, King Abdullah wrote that Prince Hamzah had committed “to place the interest of Jordan, its constitution and its laws above any other considerations.”

The king added: “Hamzah today is with his family, in his palace, under my care.” The prince has claimed that he was under house arrest.

This past weekend, the Jordanian government accused Prince Hamzah, a former crown prince, of having plotted to undermine the security of the country. Several aides and associates of the prince were arrested and the prince himself was ordered to refrain from making public comments or communicating with people outside the royal family.

The news shocked Jordanians and foreign allies alike. Jordan has historically been a pillar of stability in the turbulent Middle East, and the ruling family has rarely aired its disputes in public.

King Abdullah’s letter constitutes the first time that the monarch himself has commented on the rift.

Prince Hamzah had previously distributed two videos about the situation, denying any involvement in a conspiracy, but excoriating the Jordanian government and saying he had been put under house arrest.

Squeezed between Syria, Iraq, Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan is viewed by western powers like the United States as a key ally in international military efforts to rein in extremist groups like the Islamic State. And with a sizable population of Palestinian origin, Jordan is considered a key player in any future Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

In his statement on Wednesday the king spoke of his personal discomfort at his disagreement with Prince Hamzah.

“The challenges during the past few days were not the most challenging nor the most dangerous that the country has faced in terms of stability,” King Abdullah wrote.

“But it was the most painful to me,” he added, “because the cause of the division was someone from inside our home.”

He added: “Nothing comes close to the pain, shock and anger I felt, as a brother and guardian of the Hashemite family.”

View Source

As Jordan Seeks to Quell Royal Feud, Allies of Prince Remain in Detention

AMMAN, Jordan — Employees and associates of a Jordanian prince accused of plotting to undermine the government were still being held incommunicado by security forces on Tuesday, their relatives said, casting doubt on earlier claims by the royal court that it had resolved an unusually public and bitter rift between the prince, Hamzah bin Hussein, and his older half brother, King Abdullah II.

Prince Hamzah’s chief of staff, Yasser Majali, and Mr. Majali’s cousin, Samir Majali, were both arrested on Saturday, the day that the government claimed that the prince had been involved in a plot to destabilize the kingdom’s stability.

The Majali family, which comes from one of Jordan’s main tribes, said on Tuesday that the two were still being held in an unknown location, less than a day after the royal court released a statement that quoted Prince Hamzah as saying that he had pledged his loyalty to the king.

“Every time we call someone, they say we will get back to you,” said Abdullah Majali, Yasser’s brother, in an account corroborated by a second senior member of the Majali family. “We still don’t know where they are.”

Prince Hamzah’s whereabouts was also unknown as of Tuesday morning. And the Jordanian government issued a gag order on 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 American troops and aircraft, and a major recipient of American aid. Bordering Syria, Iraq, Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it is considered an important interlocutor in regional diplomacy — and a linchpin of any potential Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Over the weekend, the Jordanian government arrested several of Prince 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.

The government’s statements hinted that those arrested had been involved in a foreign-backed coup attempt, but stopped short of using such direct language.

Prince Hamzah fired back with two videos in which he excoriated his brother’s government, but denied involvement in any plot and said he was being held under house arrest — an allegation the government denied.

By Monday night, tempers seemed to have calmed, as the royal palace released a statement written in the prince’s name in which he pledged to “stand behind His Majesty in his efforts to protect Jordan and its interests of the nation.”

But the uncertainty on Tuesday about the whereabouts of the Majalis and the prince himself suggested that tensions had not completely dissipated.

The government’s narrative was also placed under question on Tuesday by the leak of a recording of a conversation last week between the prince and the head of the Jordanian military, Maj. Gen. Yousef Huneiti.

In the recording, which was obtained by The New York Times and other media outlets, the general appears to acknowledge that the prince had not personally moved against the king, but had instead attended social gatherings where criticism of the government was made by others.

With coronavirus-related deaths on the rise in Jordan, the prince’s allies say he had attended more wakes and funerals than usual.

“During these meetings, there was talk about the government’s performance and the performance of the crown prince,” General Huneiti said, according to the recording.

“This talk came from me?” replied Prince Hamzah.

“No,” the general said. “From the people you were meeting with. We both know, sir, this crossed the red lines. People have begun speaking out more than they should. Therefore, I hope his royal highness abides and refrains from attending such occasions.”

The Majali family expressed doubt that any relatives were ever even in a position to support a supposed plot to destabilize the kingdom.

Samir Majali had met just a few times with Prince Hamzah for lunch, in his formal capacity as a tribal elder, said Samir’s cousin Hisham Majali.

Yasser had been convalescing at home after a heart attack followed by a bout of the coronavirus, and had not been to work in several weeks, his brother, Abdullah Majali, said.

Neither man had a connection to Mr. Awadallah, their relatives said.

“They don’t even know him,” said Abdullah. “It’s unacceptable that they would link their names.”

Many Jordanians also believe that Prince Hamzah himself and Mr. Awadallah would be unlikely co-conspirators. Prince Hamzah is closely tied with Jordan’s Indigenous tribes, like the Majalis, while Mr. Awadallah, a former head of the royal court, is one of the many Jordanian citizens from families of Palestinian origin.

The pair have different views on economic and political policy. And while Mr. Awadallah was often a target of government critics while he was in office, the prince presents himself as a proponent of good governance.

View Source

Jordan’s Ex-Crown Prince Vows to Defy Efforts to Silence Him

The former crown prince of Jordan vowed on Monday to defy the orders of the government and his half brother, King Abdullah II, to stop communicating with the world even as he remained under what he described as house arrest in his home.

“I’m not going to obey when they say you can’t go out, you can’t tweet, you can’t communicate with people,” the former crown prince, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, said in an audio message posted to Twitter by his supporters.

The government has accused Prince Hussein of destabilizing the “security and stability” of Jordan, a vital American ally in the Middle East. The Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, suggested on Sunday that the prince was involved in a failed palace coup that had foreign backing.

The bitter family feud and public airing of palace intrigue has been a blow to Jordan’s image as an island of stability in a volatile region.

defending himself in a video released on Saturday.

He denied involvement in any plot against King Abdullah, though he did condemn the government as corrupt, incompetent and authoritarian.

View Source

Divided Kingdom: Jordan Shaken by Split Between King and Ex-Crown Prince

AMMAN, Jordan — The kingdom of Jordan has long been considered an oasis of relative stability in the Middle East. While wars and insurgencies flared in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Jordan was for decades considered a secure and dependable ally of the United States, a buffer against attacks on Israel, and a key interlocutor with Palestinians.

But this weekend, that placid image was upended as a long-simmering rift between the king, Abdullah II, and a former crown prince, Hamzah bin Hussein, burst into the public eye.

On Sunday the government accused Prince Hamzah, the king’s younger half-brother, of “destabilizing Jordan’s security,” making far more explicit claims about his alleged involvement than it did the evening before, when it first divulged the supposed conspiracy.

In a speech Sunday afternoon, the Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, directly accused Prince Hamzah of working with a former finance minister, Bassem Awadallah, and a junior member of the royal family, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, to target “the security and stability of the nation.”

released a video in which he said he had been placed under house arrest. The prince denied involvement in any plot against King Abdullah, though he did condemn the government as corrupt, incompetent and authoritarian.

By Sunday, his mother had stepped into the fray. Queen Noor — also stepmother of the king — issued a combative statement in defense of her son, saying he was the victim of “wicked slander.”

For a royal house that usually keeps disagreements private, it was a showdown of unexpected and unusual intensity.

important to any future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States stations troops and aircraft in the country, keeps close ties with Jordanian intelligence, and last year provided more than $1.5 billion in aid to the Jordanian government, according to the State Department.

The rift seemed to be playing out not only for the Jordanian audience, but as a public relations war directed at Washington as well. Prince Hamzah made a video in Arabic, but also took care to release one in English.

To many international observers, the confrontation between king and prince underscored the fragility of the social structures that lie beneath Jordan’s calm facade.

The country is in the middle of a particularly brutal wave of the coronavirus. Its economy is struggling. And with 600,000 refugees from Syria, it is one of the countries most affected by the fallout from the Syrian war.

A significant proportion of Jordan’s nine million citizens are descended from Palestinians who fled to the country after the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967. The rest are native Jordanians, whose tribes have been absorbed into the structure of the state, and whose support is crucial to King Abdullah’s legitimacy, analysts say. This weekend’s imbroglio came against a backdrop of recent and very public attempts by Prince Hamzah to build closer ties with those tribes.

King Abdullah, who is 59, named Hamzah crown prince in 1999, but he stripped him of the title in 2004 and transferred it to his son, Prince Hussein, now 26.

in a statement that he had been in touch with the prince, but that he never served in any intelligence agency.

Over the weekend, different factions of the royal family made a series of claims and counterclaims.

First, Queen Noor came to the prince’s defense.

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

Then came the riposte from another wing of the family.

The “seemingly blind ambition” of “Queen Noor & her sons” is “delusional, futile, unmerited,” tweeted Princess Firyal, an aunt by marriage to both the king and his half-brother.

Before deleting the tweet, she offered a word of advice: “Grow up Boys.”

Rana F. Sweis reported from Amman, and Adam Rasgon and Patrick Kingsley from Jerusalem.

View Source

Jordan Arrests High-Profile Figures, Citing Security Reasons

AMMAN, Jordan — The Jordanian government has arrested a number of high-profile figures in the kingdom, including a member of the royal family and a former chief of the royal court, for “security reasons,” the Petra state news agency said on Saturday.

Among those arrested were Bassem Awadallah, a longtime confidante of King Abdullah II who later became minister of finance, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family. They were detained along with a number of other people, the report said.

Mr. Awadallah had helped spearhead economic reforms before leaving as head of the royal court in 2008.

Arrests of top officials and royal family members are unusual in Jordan, a normally stable Arab kingdom that has been a stalwart ally of the West, particularly when it comes to counterterrorism cooperation in the Middle East. It borders Israel, Syria and Iraq.

View Source