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King Abdullah interviewed by Lateline in Australia

King Abdullah of Jordan was interviewed by the Australian television show, Lateline last week. The interviewed covered the topics of Australia’s fight against global terrorism and the impact of Donald Trump’s presidency on the Middle East.

His Majesty spoke exclusively with reporter Tony Jones in the Australian capital city of Canberra. The first question of Mr Jones was whether or not the new President-elect of the United States would “be a game changer in the Middle East.”

King Abdullah responded, “It will definitely, I think, change the status quo of a lot of issues I think we’ve been dealing with, and we’ll have to see how the transition team comes along and what their view of our part of the world but also the rest of the world. So it’s just not, I think, people in our region that are waiting with bated breath. I think everybody is.”

Mr Jones followed up by asking, ” Yes, do you think the world’s leaders are waiting with their fingers crossed quietly behind their backs after such a divisive campaign?”

His Majesty explained, “Well I mean something I think kept all of us busy for the past two years. I have had the opportunity to speak to President-elect Donald Trump last week; the synergy was very good in the phone call conversation.

“I know many members of the transitional team and obviously, America’s also built on [an] institution. So, there will be some changes in policy, but I don’t think to the extent that everybody’s panicking about. So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt at this stage.”

The ongoing conflict in Syria was also discussed. The King of Jordan spoke about the Russian aid of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad’s government and how the new American strategy will impact it all. He said, “So at this stage, we have to wait to see what is the US strategy, how they’re going to deal with Russians, I think this is on everybody’s minds.”

His Majesty went on to discuss the humanitarian disaster taking place in Aleppo but admitted that not much could be done until the new administration in the United States was in place to begin talks with the Russian government. He said there was a global terror problem and considered this a third world war.

Regarding the continuing fight against ISIS, His Majesty said, “I think the destruction of ISIS should be everybody’s priority. And I keep saying this is where the global war is today.

“We look at it as a war, a civil war inside of Islam, but we can’t do it without the help of Christians and Jews and other religions and other nations because this thing is not just located in Syria or Iraq, it’s in Libya we’re dealing with Boko Haram and Shabab you have the Al Talibab and in this neck of the woods you also have your challenges.

“So unless we look at this in a global holistic approach, we’re never going to win, and so we’re got to be using American vernacular, chew gum and walk at the same time.”

Mr Jones asked the King if there were talks with the Australian government about their role in the fight with one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, Indonesia, to their north. The King confirmed that they were and said, “Australia plays such a pivotal role in international affairs, you have a very capable special forces, we’ve seen them in our neighbourhood over the past several years…I think your government understands that we’ve had discussions along those lines so have other responsible governments in the area.”

His Majesty also took the opportunity to explain a bit about Islam. He told Mr Jones that many non-Muslims in the world do not understand the religion.

He explained further by saying, “Do they know that we believe Jesus Christ to be the Messiah? The Virgin Mary is mentioned, I think, about 35 times in our Quran, only 25 times in the Bible, but the Bible is a lot bigger. Moses is mentioned 130 times in the Quran.

“So you have to understand that a true Muslim would believe in the Bible, the Torah, as well as the Quran. We have to have a belief in Judaism and Christianity as the other two monotheistic religions.

“It’s those that don’t understand, and it’s the enemy that want to create this atmosphere that is actually us against them. And this is where I think we’re going to fall into major trouble over the next couple over years if it’s us against them mentality. We’re actually all in the same trench – Muslims, Christians, and Jews – against what I keep calling the outlaws of our religion.”

King Abdullah emphasised that fellow Muslims must be the ones to stand up to the extremists, but that they cannot do it alone. He also mentioned the amount of refugees that Jordan has taken in since the Syrian conflict began. Currently, Jordan has 1.3 million Syrian refugees in their population. He said that he had been asked to restrict the flow of refugees coming into his country, but he does not see how that is possible.

He commented, “When you have a mother, a pregnant mother with a child in the hand trying to cross the border, how are we going to stop her? Do we sort of point bayonets at these people that are running away from horrible and threatening lives? There is a level of humanity that we have to reach out to each other.”

He ended the interview by saying that Jordan and the world has a moral responsibility to help one another, and one way of doing that is giving sanctuary to those fleeing their war-torn homelands for a more peaceful and better life.

You can read the full transcript and watch the interview here.

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