King of Jordan Arrests Own Brothers for Links to S. Arabia

A Jordanian official complained anonymously in November that Mohammad bin Salman “deals with Jordanians and the Palestinian Authority as if they are servants and he is the master and we have to follow what he does”
King Abdullah II of Jordan
King Abdullah II of Jordan

King Abdullah II of Jordan has arrested his own brothers and cousin for suspected covert cooperation with Saudi Arabia, regional media has reported.

Jordan, which is usually seen as being a neutral state in the Middle East, is reported to have detained the three men at their homes after the individuals allegedly spoke to Saudi and Emirati leaders, reported.

Tensions across the region have risen in recent months with countries showing skepticism towards the aims of Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

Regional news site Al-sura reported that Abdullah arrested his brothers and cousin, Prince Faisal bin Hussein, Prince Ali bin Hussein and Prince Talal bin Muhammad after his intelligence services claimed they had been in contact with Saudi and Emirati leaders.

Despite the media reports, the Jordanian military has played down claims the men were placed under house arrest.

Instead, they have insisted that the brothers and cousin retired early as part of military changes to the Jordanian Army.

The men have not been seen since their alleged house arrest.


According to Breitbart, Abdullah has generally been seen as a solid US ally, both in regional diplomacy and in the war against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group. He was one of the Middle Eastern leaders told in advance of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Beit-ul-Moqaddas as the capital of Israel. Abdullah did not approve, warning Trump that the move could have “dangerous repercussions for the stability and security of the region.”

King Abdullah has been active on Beit-ul-Moqaddas recently, meeting with Pope Francis last week and promising that he would continue to fulfill his role as “Hashemite Sovereign” and “custodian of the holy places,” as the Vatican put it. This was a reference to the Jordanian royal family’s traditional role in both Islamic theology and pre-Islamic history.

Jordan, like many other countries in the Middle East, is said to suspect Saudi Arabia of planning to become a regional superpower.

The Jordanians have been somewhat skeptical of bin Salman’s rapid cultural, economic, and strategic realignment in Saudi Arabia. In particular, Jordan is said to be worried that the Saudis are moving too quickly to normalize relations with Israel at the expense of Palestinian political interests. This is a major concern for Jordan because it has a large Palestinian population.

A Jordanian official complained anonymously in November that bin Salman “deals with Jordanians and the Palestinian Authority as if they are the servants and he is the master and we have to follow what he does.”

Bin Salman’s crusade against corruption in Saudi Arabia included the detention of a Jordanian Palestinian billionaire named Sabih al-Masri, who also holds Saudi citizenship. He was arrested on his way to the airport after attending meetings of his companies in Saudi Arabia and released several days later, commenting only that he was treated with “respect” by Saudi authorities and was not charged with any crime.

Al-Masri’s detention was a stunning event in Jordan, where there was speculation he was detained to put pressure on King Abdullah to avoid attending an Organization of Islamic Cooperation emergency meeting on Beit-ul-Moqaddas called by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Saudis are seen as moving closer to President Trump and opposing the Beit-ul-Moqaddas move less vigorously than Jordan. Abdullah did attend the OIC meeting, however, while the Saudis sent a junior minister instead of their own king or crown prince.

***Regional Unpredictability

Marcus Chevenix, Middle East analyst at TS Lombard, said the diplomatic relationships in the region had become “unpredictable”.

He said: “I really struggle to predict what's going to happen next."

“This is the first time for a very long time that there hasn't been an external arbiter in the Middle East who basically defines everyone's diplomatic relationships.

“For a long time it was America and Russia, then it was just America and now there's no one."

Attempts by Saudi Arabia to dominate the region have led to many Middle East allies questioning how much they can trust the state.

Dr Simon Mabon, an expert of Middle Eastern politics at Lancaster University, warned: “At a broader regional level there’s a great deal of uncertainty that’s really blowing across the Middle East right now.”

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