King Abdullah Tells It Like It Is

It has been about three weeks since the conflict in Lebanon began and even longer since the chaos in Gaza started. Some of the harshest statements aimed at Israel have been by way of HM King Abdullah II that the international press has emphasized mainly because of Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel and it’s pro-western leanings. Calling Qana “an ugly crime” was an unexpected statement from the King and so was calling Israelis criminals. These statements also come in the midst of relative silence from most Arab leaders even those one would expect to be fairly vociferous about the conflict. The silence has left both the media and the Arab street to fill in the blanks, especially after the expected failure of the recent Arab League conference.

Yesterday the King gave two interviews to the Jordanian dailies Al-Ghad and Al-Rai in which a more complete view of the conflict was outlined. Whether people agree or disagree and whether these statements will invoke positive or negative reactions socially and politically does not in my opinion make them any less significant. The interview includes everything from calling Lebanon a model, Israel a criminal and harsh criticisms on US biases and policies. Another rare element is acknowledging the Arab street and their opinions on the conflict, which is something I’ve personally rarely if at all ever seen an Arab leader do.

Fellow Jordanian blogger Batir Wardam has a bullet point summary of the statements but I’d like to point out the more important ones.

â??Israel must realise that even if Hizbollah is destroyed, and still there is no peaceful solutions to the Palestinian cause, and [Israelâ??s problems with] Lebanon and Syria, another Hizbollah would emerge in a year or two in another country; maybe in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, or Iraq,â?

I am uncertain sometimes about Israel’s policies. At times they appear to be mistakes on par with naive American moves in the region but Israel is not a naive player, it knows the region well. I suppose one can argue that Israel does not make mistakes, that it’s purpose is always multifold, for example its invasion of Lebanon is also an attempt to destroy the country’s infrastructure and economic progress. Other motives include water and oil. In other words Israel does not expect to wipe out Hizballah because it realizes that attempting to do so will only increase its support and create more Hizballahs in the region.

Another statement that caught my attention was on moderation and it comes during a time when people have claimed the voice of moderation to be dead:

Those who want the voice of reason to prevail in the region have to address the causes of the crises. Moderation should accomplish something for people to believe in it. Otherwise, people will have no choice but to reject the voice of moderation and embrace other means to defend their rights.�

The rest of the interview was similarly interesting and I’ll post it here simply because the Jordan Times does not have an archiving system. It’s worth a read.

â??Achieving peace through ending occupation of Arab territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state is the only solution,â? he said, adding that there will be no solution in Lebanon without an agreement with the Lebanese government.

â??And there will be no solution in Palestine without restoring Palestinian rights. We reject the Israeli prime ministerâ??s unilateral plans. We think the US knows that now, and the Israelis must realise it as well.â?

The King said since peace negotiations in recent years did not achieve comprehensive objectives, â??the need now arises to reevaluate the peace process and rebuild it on the basis of respect for international legitimacy resolutionsâ?.

â??The entire world must know that the Palestinian problem is the core issue in all that is happening, and without a just solution that guarantees the return of the land Israel occupied in 1967, the region will pay dearly and will never calm down,â? King Abdullah warned.

â??The problem lies in the need for the world to acknowledge that Palestinian territories were occupied and should be restored and that the Palestinian people have legitimate hopes and aspirations to establish an independent state. The entire world should work to ensure such a state is established. War will not solve anything.â?

â??The Arab peoples see Hizbollah as a hero because of its fight against aggression and they will support any efforts to ensure the return of their rights,â? he said.

â??This is a fact that the US and Israel have to realise: As long as there is aggression, there is resistance and there is popular support for this resistance,â? the Monarch said.

â??The international community should shoulder its moral and political responsibilities and the US should acknowledge that war will not bring anything but more woes, violence and extremism.â?

The King spoke about his contacts with the leaders of the US, France and Germany, in addition to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. â??I talked to US President George Bush and asked him, â??What guilt have the innocents committed? Why should Beirut airport and Lebanonâ??s infrastructure be bombarded?â?? I told Bush and French President [Jacques] Chirac that â??protecting Lebanon is your responsibility.â?? Regrettably, what we initially sensed from those contacts was not encouraging,â? he said.

What they wanted, he continued, was a package of solutions that guarantee Israelâ??s security and push back Hizbollah off the Israeli borders.

â??But I think that the picture is different now. Those calling for a ceasefire are more heard now than before.â? The King, who said he made no contacts with the Israelis about the crisis, added the US has a big responsibility to shoulder in solving the crises in the Middle East.

â??The Arab peoples realise that the US is biased towards Israel. They also believe that the Middle East will never enjoy security until the Palestinians enjoy stability, restore their rights and build their state. Addressing the root causes of the conflict is the sole means to solve them… if the US wants respect and appreciation in the Arab world, it should quickly move to find a just solution to the Arab-Israel conflict.â?

â??Voice of moderation weakenedâ??

King Abdullah said Israelâ??s policies have contributed to the rise of extremism in the Arab world at the expense of moderation. The war in Lebanon has added to that, he said.

â??Yes, the war has weakened the voice of moderation… From the very beginning, there was room for diplomatic solutions instead of this destruction and these catastrophes suffered by Lebanon, but nothing happened. Here we are facing a new war: Killings in Lebanon and killings in Palestine and despair in the entire region. People do want an end to the usurpation of rights and the occupation…Those who want the voice of reason to prevail in the region have to address the causes of the crises. Moderation should accomplish something for people to believe in it. Otherwise, people will have no choice but to reject the voice of moderation and embrace other means to defend their rights.â?

The King said he understands peopleâ??s rejection of moderation under the circumstances.

â??I understand that, amid this fury, moderation will be weakened, especially that Arab moderate stands have not paid off, for reasons beyond our power. But we should not fall into despair and we will keep working and do all that we can to restore Arab rights.â?

He warned that options are limited. â??It is either a peace that restores rights, ends injustice and gives people hope, or a cycle of violence and hostility whose price will be paid by Israel, the US and the Arabs.â?

â??We are angryâ??

King Abdullah said he shared peopleâ??s anger.

â??We are all angry. When I saw the crime of shelling Beirutâ??s airport, I was shocked and furious. I directed officials to immediately make contacts to help rebuild it. I also gave directives to send Jordanian planes to Lebanon despite stumbling initial contacts. I told the chairman of the joint chiefs-of-staff: â??Go to Lebanon, even if there was risk of targeting our planeâ??.â?

â??We watch the scenes of killing and destruction in Lebanon, a country that we consider a model of progress, democracy and openness in the region, and we feel enraged when we see such a barbaric war waged against it. No one would accept what is going on in Lebanon. These criminal acts are deplorable and totally unjustifiable.â?

The King reiterated that the Israeli massacre of children and women in Qana was a heinous crime that breached all international conventions, and â??the magnitude of Israelâ??s aggression has exceeded every limit and must stopâ?.

He added that Jordanâ??s voice was the strongest in condemning the war from the beginning.

â??We have spared no effort in attempting to influence the US and to work with Europe and the Arabs to end this war instantly. Besides, we are coordinating with our Lebanese brothers on daily basis to help relieve their suffering. We shall not shirk our responsibilities towards our brothers and shall not stand aside just watching. Our contacts are continuous to bring an end to the crisis and contain its repercussions. The voice of reason must prevail in the end.â?

On the possibility of recalling the Jordanian ambassador to Israel and expelling the Israeli envoy in Amman, the King said the peace treaty Jordan signed with Israel has served the interests of Jordan and the Palestinians, and could be useful for the Lebanese. He said Jordan will do its best to serve national interests and assist the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples.

The King referred to the humanitarian aid Jordan has dispatched to Lebanon, including nine planes laden with relief assistance, the facilitation of aid bound for Lebanon, provided by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other parties, including UN organisations, and the Jordanian field hospital set up in Beirut, which has so far dealt with 2,500 cases.

â??Is that enough? No. But we are doing all that we can and will always do our utmost,â? the King said, adding that Jordan will not take part in a proposed international force to be deployed in south Lebanon.

â??Marginalisationâ?? fears

The King, meanwhile, said Jordan was working with Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt to crystallise an effective and influential Arab stand.

â??[This is] because we fear marginalisation of the Arab role and because we care about Arab blood and the Arab future,â? he said.

King Abdullah stressed that Jordan is basically against â??axis policiesâ?.

However, he asked: â??Should we be blamed that we meet and consult [with Arab leaders] to serve our nation and peoples? I have made contacts with several Arab leaders to emphasise that we need a unified stand to speak in one language. I said more than once that if the West, including the US, finds no Arab side to talk to, they would definitely find someone else, who would speak for the Arabs. Do we need others to speak on our behalf? Donâ??t we need a united Arab stand that would earn us the respect of the world around us? Whatâ??s most worrying is that things are getting out of the hands of the Arabs and, consequently, the situation becomes more complicated….â?

King Abdullah warned that the absence of such a unified stand means betrayal of the Arab peoples.

â??We shall all regret the state of loss, fragmentation and division that would plague the region. The enemies of the nation would find a fertile ground to trigger sedition and wage wars on our lands to make sure we remain weak and our decision-making and potentials easily controlled,â? he said.

â??I believe that a new chapter of Arab cooperation has started, with all of us bound by fear for our future.â?

A joint Arab stand is necessary, regardless of any alarming regional alliances, he said.

The King ruled out a â??sectarian warâ? between Arab countries and Iran, and urged all parties to stand up in the face of any one who tries to provoke religious conflicts.

â??We care for our Shiite brothers and are keen on the unity of the Muslim nation. Any one who tries to sow the seeds of sedition between the Sunni and the Shiites is a criminal… I am the descendent of Al al Bayt and unity in the Islamic ranks is a message I advocate and defend.â?

Jordan safe â??for nowâ??

King Abdullah told the Arabic dailies that now there is no direct negative impact of the war in Lebanon on Jordan, but reiterated the call for radical solutions to the regional conflicts.

The entire situation in the region is not acceptable, he stressed.

Commenting on the idea of a â??new Middle Eastâ? brought up by the US administration, he said that any plan that does not respond to the needs and aspirations of peoples and their right to self-determination will fail.

â??The Palestinians should restore their rights and establish their state, security should prevail in Iraq and Lebanon, and international resolutions should be implemented.â?


  • like we say in arabic: after she farted, she crossed her legs (so no one suspects)

    we are sick of the duplicity of our leaders, they tell us something, and tell the west something else.

  • example of duplicity:

    telling us we are striving for democracy at the same time that they (the leaders) put sticks into the cogs to stop democracy (dont we all know how king hussein was meeting Israeli officials secretly, all the while siding with saddam in 1991?)

    this is one (two) example(s)

    plus, i commented on your blog and you replied with a childish response, which is what you’re donig here too

    “Do you work as a part-time translator for Arab leaders”

  • moe can you offer me an example of how king abdullah is stopping democracy and what it has to do with what he said in this interview? thanks

  • “how king abdullah is stopping democracy”

    -nominating the PM, who subsequently selects the Minsters (all executive branch unelected)
    -suffocating real democratic parties (MB, nationalists, communists) while artificially grooming ‘decor’ political parties (with members in the tens, not even hundreds)
    -carrot/stick: coercing the elected parliament by threats of dissolution, by placing some in jails, or bribing them (BMWs?)
    -not allowing demonstrations which are an essential part of political life
    -universities’ student bodies (which are the real precusor to a genuine political life) as not allowed to flourish
    -the intelligence services still loom large over the political life (maybe you dont feel it if you have a certain last name)

    “what it has to do with what he said in this interview”

    Moe: “duplicity of our leaders”
    Batir: “example?”
    Moe: “democracy”
    Nas: “interview?? democracy??”

    Democracy was given as a second example of the duplicity of our leaders (and king, to be explicit). The example was given since Batir refused to accept the ‘green light’ followed by the king blaming the USA and shouting ‘innocent’ as an act of duplicitous behavior. Do you think it is not an act of duplictous behavior when you participate in the killing (metaphorically speaking) then walk in the funeral and play innocent?

  • moe: the king has said on more than one occassion that the direction he wants to go is towards political reform where the majority lower house party can form a government. bills and proposals are being formulated to be sent to the lower house for approval. there is no reason to do any of this unless its for real otherwise the status quo would’ve remaind as is.

    the problem is as the king pointed out and as any political scientist will tell you, its impossible to have such a system when there are 30 something parties, none of them unified, all of them bickering except for the iaf. on top of that people still vote based on tribe hence we wont need elections if this is the case, we can simply take a census and ask the biggest tribe to form the government.

    the king is not grooming parties he’s asking them to merge and this is what is happening. they choose to come together as we’ve seen in recent months. we’ve gone from 50 something parties in 1999 to 30 something parties and that in itself is an achievement considering the political atmosphere of the country.

    also the king doesnt put people in jail our judicial system does…when people break the law thats usually what happens. there are laws against supporting terrorism in the country and of all people the IAF MPs know that. the bmws were actually parliamentary members giving themselves a treat and the king ordered that they be sold back when he returned after several IAF mps refused them and it became a big deal.

    there are demonstrations all the time, every friday in fact. the government places legal restrictions such as getting permits and thats pretty much standard everywhere.

    the intelligence services are essential to the existance of any life in jordan, let alone political.

    lastly the king did not give the green light for Israel to attack lebanon, as much as you’d like to think it the King of Jordan does not have the divine powers to make one country attack another. he was one of the first leaders to condemn the act. and the usage of the term “green light” is one employed strictly by Israel who claims Arab leaders and the whole world in fact, gave it the “green light”. im sure you are not one those people who believes everything the zionists say is false progeganda intended to cause disunity in the Arab world…except when it comes to what they say about Jordan…you sound more intelligable than that

  • One thing that has always bothered me about this whole situation is how Arabs and Muslims celebrate when Israeli civilians die at the hands of Arabs, but you don’t see the reverse. Had a Hezbollah rocket killed 50 Israelis, 30 of them children, there would have been dancing in the streets of Gaza. That’s just plain wrong.

    In order to seize the moral high ground Arabs and Muslims need to act civilized. Civilians are innocent, period. Do not target them, and do not hide behind them. The Palestinian cause will get a lot more sympathy from the west if they start acting like they’re in the right and that they’re civilized.

  • RocketRay, actually you’re wrong about that, some do celebrate the death of Arabs. You also have to take into account the fact that the ratio is out of this world. A comparision of the death toll of the recent conflict is an example of that. Not to mention that killing Israelis is a much more rare event than killing Palestinians which is a daily event. Media also plays its role.

    The Palestinians cause doesn’t need anyone’s sympathy, and it’s a bit hypocricital that a nation which systematically wiped out an entire civilization should be so prepared to lecture Arabs and Muslims on how to “act civilized”.

  • Why do you say that this interview is “making headlines” in the west? (a frank question, not being sarcastic)

    I found only 1-line mentioned on CNN and 1 article buried under BBC.

    I don’t watch TV (except for Jon Stewart), so did CNN or Fox News bring up the interview in their coverage?


  • Muhammad, I didn’t say the interview was making headlines in the west

    allow me to quote myself:

    “Some of the harshest statements aimed at Israel have been by way of HM King Abdullah II that the international press has emphasized…”

    when the King called Qana an ugly crime a few days ago for instance it did make international headlines.

    jon stewart is great, but you should expand your horizons a bit, just for fun.

  • RocketRay: the very fact that your question is hypothetical is an answer by itself. During the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and in my own memory there has never been such a massacre for Israeli civilians but there have been more than 7 massacres against Arabs. When almost 1000 lebanese are killed for 30 Israelis you can understand that Arabs are too occupied with moaning their loss than expressing grief for the loss of the Israel. I wish there will be a day with no one loses a human life but with the sort of decision-makers Israel has this hope is nothing but a remote dream.

  • These are war crimes that are being committed by Israel, and it is intellectual dishonesty to carp about Israeli casualties. Israel is the one that has escalated a simple border skirmish into total war against a much weaker neighbour.

    It is something that had been planned and the arrest of the soldiers was only the pretext on which to launch it. There are over 10,000 Palestinians and Lebanese in Zionist jails, but no one massacred Israelis because of that.

    This is all so wrong and unfair and unjust. Is America part of the “civilised” world? If they are, I sure as hell am not.

Your Two Piasters: