Jordan's Abdullah: 2011 will be very bad year for peace

In interview with the 'Washington Post,' Hashemite ruler lauds Arab Spring, warns of diminishing chances for a two-state solution.

King Abdullah_311 reuters (photo credit: Alexander Natruskin / Reuters)
King Abdullah_311 reuters
(photo credit: Alexander Natruskin / Reuters)
The prospects for Mideast peace are at the lowest point in years, King Abdullah of Jordan said this week in an interview with The Washington Post.
“2011 will be, I think, a very bad year for peace,” Abdullah said, adding that “although we will continue to try to bring both sides to the table, I am the most pessimistic I have been in 11 years.”
Without saying what outcome he saw if Israel and the Palestinians failed to reach a two-state solution, the King said: “We can always find a ‘last best chance,’ but the odds of us being able to come out with success mount against us. When we get to the point that the twostate solution is no longer feasible, what then? “Solve the problem today when you’re strong, not 10 years from now, where I think that all the trends have changed,” Abdullah urged.
This February, Abdullah penned the book Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril, in which he outlines his support for the Arab peace initiative and Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines.
According to Abdullah, peace with the Palestinians is also a precursor for the Arab world to come together against Iran.
“When [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu keeps saying to us, ‘Iran, Iran, Iran,’ I go back to him: “Peace, peace, peace.
Because the first people who will stand up and say, ‘Iran, stop pointing rockets in our direction,’ will be the Palestinians.”
The monarch also argued that a resolution to the Israel-Palestine crisis could take the wind out of the sails of global terror networks, saying, “you’re always going to have terrorism. The problem with al-Qaida, Hamas and all these groups is that they use the Israeli-Palestinian issue as a recruiting ground.
The minute the Israelis and Palestinians solve their problem, then al-Qaida no longer becomes international… al- Qaida disappears as an international organization when Israel-Palestine, as an issue, is taken off the table.”
In his interview with the Post, the Hashemite ruler spoke about the “Arab Spring,” and expressed optimism, as well as his expectation for further bloodshed.
“We’re going to look back and say it’s a good thing. I think this is really a defining moment for the Arab world.
The problem is, it is all going to be about blood, sweat and tears. In certain countries it may be just sweat, and in some countries sweat and tears, and in some countries, as you can see, a lot of blood.
I think initial, instability is something that we are all extremely nervous of.”
In terms of the political reforms he promised last week – including a reshuffling of how the cabinet is appointed – Abdullah said “the Arab Spring actually gave me, in a way, the opportunity that I’ve been looking for the past 11 years.
So it’s funny enough in Jordan, particularly, that it was the old guard that jumped onto the reform bandwagon because it was popular [and] that now have found themselves in a position that the momentum has moved forward, and cannot be reversed.
“Once you open the flood gates, that’s it. Now the challenge, I’ll be quite honest with you, is that the political reform is done in the right way.”
Abdullah told the Post that democratization could also weaken radical forces like the Muslim Brotherhood.
“If we can show democracy that leads to a two-, three-, four-party system – left, right and center – in a couple of years time, then the Muslim Brotherhood will no longer be something to contend with,” he said.
Jordan is one of the few Arab countries largely untouched by the Arab Spring – save for protests in February and March that called for an end to corruption, and for a greater emphasis on reform. Unlike elsewhere in the Arab world, Jordan has a widely-popular leader, and protests were not focused on regime change.
On Monday, it was reported that rocks and bottles were thrown at the King’s motorcade as he passed through the south of the country, which the Jordanian government has denied took place.