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King Abdullah speaks with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in Davos

On Thursday, His Majesty King Abdullah spoke to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria during a session held at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, which was also attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II.

They spoke about the dangers of a Shiite Crescent in the Middle East and the cold war that is currently happening between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and stretching to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Qatar.

King Abdullah said, “Well, I think, maybe just to quantify what I said a while ago, the term that I use now is Iranian Crescent because I think the challenge that we’ve had is seeing religion used as a tool through politics. And as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, what we cannot afford is an inter-religious conflict that, you know, the fault lines run from Beirut to Bombay. So, there are issues that we’re having in our part of the world with Iranian foreign policy that is affecting our region. As Jordanians, we believe that dialogue is the way to solve issues, and not to exacerbate the situations that lead to armed conflict. But, obviously, we do see Iraq. We have our challenges in Syria and Lebanon, and Yemen is another example of where priorities from the Arab point of view of how to deal with Iran.”

Copyright by World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Of the possibility of a United States Embassy in Jerusalem, which was previously announced by President Trump, the King said, “It is a complication for Jordan, and we’ve had some very good exchanges with the President and with the Administration over the past year. And our position was that, look, we understand that this is something that is important to the President. It was a campaign promise. But the subject of Jerusalem has to be part of a comprehensive solution for Israelis and for Palestinians. The decision was taken, as you all know. It has created a backlash because it has frustrated the Palestinians where they feel that there isn’t an honest broker. I like to reserve judgment because we’re still waiting for the Americans to come out with their plan, but tremendous sympathy to where the Palestinians are feeling. And Jerusalem is such an emotional subject for everybody.”

Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein during the King’s discussion. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The King ended the conversation on a high note. When asked whether he was optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the Middle East, he answered, “Having said that, I think there are other countries that are coming to each other inside the Middle East on bilateral, and growing together, saying, OK, you and I think the same, so let’s come together and try, build more cohesion in Arab strategic policy. Arab nationalism, I think, ended in the Arab Spring. And whereas countries, we started saying, OK, I do have Arab concerns, but actually I am a Jordanian; I care about Jordanian issues. I am a Lebanese; I care about Lebanese issues. I am a Moroccan. And so, it’s going to take some time until everybody then gets past their nationalist feelings and get back to looking, as Europe, to the bigger picture.”

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