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Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Published at 09:35 GMT

World: Middle East

King's harsh words for brother

Deposed: Prince Hassan hands over crownship to Prince Abdullah

Jordan's King Hussein has strongly criticised his brother, Crown Prince Hassan, in a letter dismissing him as heir to the throne.

Richard Downes reports for BBC World
In a letter to Prince Hassan broadcast on Jordanian television, the 63-year-old monarch said he had been disappointed with the way he had acted during his six-month absence for cancer treatment.

The king has now appointed his eldest son, 36-year-old Prince Abdullah, as heir to the throne.

In the 14-page letter, King Hussein accused his brother of "abusing his power" while he had been abroad.

He said he had been forced to intervene from his sickbed to prevent a major army shake-up instigated by Prince Hassan.

[ image:  ]
"I used my powers as supreme commander of the armed forces to prevent any arbitrary measures in the army that might lead to fragmenting and politicising it, until such time as the basis of the new arrangement and the service regulations have been fixed," he said.

King Hussein accused his 51-year-old brother of trying to settle scores by sending into retirement military officers whom the king said had given many years of exceptional service to the country, including the current Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Abdul-Hafez al-Kaabneh.

Bill Hudson assesses early reaction to the new crown prince
"I intervened from the sickbed to prevent interference in the affairs of the Arab Army in the changes that appeared as though they were aimed at settling of scores," he told Prince Hassan in the letter, made public on Monday night.

"On top of my personal suffering I was for the first time pained in my life as I found myself questioning why this insistence on change in the army," the monarch said.

Smear campaign

His brother's supporters had also instigated a smear campaign against his US born wife Queen Noor and his children, King Hussein said.

"I and my small family were hurt by the whispering, innuendo and the smearing ... against my wife and sons," he said.

[ image: Prince Abdullah is a career soldier]
Prince Abdullah is a career soldier
Prince Hassan had been Crown Prince since 1965, but after his brother's return to Jordan from the US last week, speculation grew about the succession, with the king recalling that he had made his brother his heir only because there had been no alternative.

The monarch singled out his favourite son, 18-year-old Prince Hamza, the eldest son of Queen Noor: "Oh, how much envy has Hamza been subjected to as a result of his closeness to me."

The king remembered how in his first battle against cancer six years ago he had even entertained the idea of abdicating the throne in favour of Prince Hassan.

"I had returned to the nation and in my mind (I had) the idea of relinquishing the throne in your favour despite some of the differences between us from time to time," he added.

Hassan 'sabotaged' plans

The king blamed his brother for sabotaging his plans to strengthen the royal family by opposing a family council that would settle disputes and have a say in the choice of a successor.

However the king praised the prince for services to Jordan over the three decades he oversaw economic planning, and said he wanted his younger brother to remain a trusted adviser and confidant.

It remains unclear what Prince Hassan's next role will be, although reports from Amman say he may be given a special role dealing with economic affairs and the Middle East peace process.

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