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.”