Your Monday Briefing

High-profile arrests rock Jordan.

By Amelia Nierenberg

Turmoil in Jordan

The Jordanian government has arrested high-profile figures, including Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadallah, a former chief of the royal court, an unusual development in the normally stable Arab kingdom. Officials cited “the security and stability of Jordan” as reasons for the moves.

According to an Israeli official, Jordanian officials said there had not been a coup attempt, that the situation was under control, and that its gravity had been exaggerated by the news media, though they did confirm that arrests had been made.

But it remains unclear if Hamzah bin Hussein, the former crown prince, is detained. In a dramatic video, he said he had no security or phone access, that the satellite internet service he was using was about to be cut and that he was under house arrest. The Jordanian Army and security services denied reports that he had been arrested.

The deputy prime minister said Prince Hamzah had worked with “foreign entities” to destabilize the state, the BBC reported. He accused Prince Hamzah of attempting to recruit “clan leaders” against the government after the prince had recent meetings with tribal leaders. Prince Hamzah also said the military leader had chastised him for being present at meetings where there had been criticism of the king or the government.

Quotable: “Even to criticize a small aspect of a policy leads to arrest and abuse by the security services,” Prince Hamzah said in the video. “It’s reached the point where no one is able to speak or express an opinion on anything without being bullied, arrested, harassed and threatened.”

Variants may undo progress

The United States appears to be bending the pandemic curve. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have fallen steeply from their highs.

But concerning variants are spreading, carrying mutations that make the virus both more contagious and in some cases more deadly. Variants first discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil are gaining a foothold, and new U.S. variants have continued to pop up, threatening to postpone the pandemic’s end.

“We don’t have evolution on our side,” said Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

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