Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Faisal Shboul
Jordan News Agency (Petra)
02 April 2003
(Translated from Arabic)

Petra: Your Majesty, Iraq is now being exposed to an American-British invasion, which was looming almost a year ago. Everyone has followed your persistent efforts in order to prevent the risks of this war. However, a distortion on the Jordanian position, which has rejected war, has continued despite all these efforts.

King Abdullah: As everyone is well aware we have used all our relations with influential countries in order to avert the day in which we see Iraq exposed to this invasion with all what it entails of suffering of innocents and suffering of the entire region.

We have faced many problems as a result of our position, which rejects war and calls for resolving the crisis in peaceful means and through the United Nations. I have warned on more than one occasion that this war will have devastating effects not only on Iraq but on the entire region as well.

The Iraqi people are the only people who have the right to choose their leadership. Because we believe in democracy and the right of peoples to choose their leadership, we cannot imagine that people would accept the outside imposition of a leadership against their will. I have always stressed that dialogue is the right path for resolving problems and that resorting to violence will only breed violence and extremism.

We have always insisted and we are still insisting that weapons of mass destruction should be removed from all states without any exception, so that the Middle East would become a free arms zone and thus the peoples of the region would enjoy comfort, security and stability.

Petra: But Your Majesty, some are still spreading rumours that the Jordanian airspace is being used to strike Iraq?

King Abdullah: This is not true; we are not part of this war. Our position is clear and frank and we have reiterated it more than once. Jordan has never been and will never be a launch pad to attack Iraq. Had our space been used to attack Iraq, we would not have allowed civil aviation to pass freely over the Jordanian airspace and we would have closed our airspace as other countries did.

Civil aviation is still open to all airline companies, and this refutes the allegations that the Jordanian airspace is being used for military purposes in this war. Frankly, we have been asked to open our airspace to military planes towards Iraq but we have firmly rejected this request.

Petra: Your Majesty we have also heard about plans to transfer the American military troops that were supposed to launch attacks form Turkish territories against Iraq. After Turkey's refusal, some media channels pointed out that these troops would be transferred to Jordan to launch attacks against Iraq?

King Abdullah: Absolutely not; we can never allow sucha thing. I have only heard about this matter, as you have heard, from the media. I can assure you that this issue was never proposed to us and we will never allow this. We are in accord with our selves and our people who rejected and condemned the invasion. So, how would we allow our selves to be partners in this war, God forbid?

Petra: Some have also referred to the presence of Israeli troops in Jordan.

King Abdullah: It is a shame and a dangerous matter that we hear such things from some Arab media. There are no Israeli troops in Jordan and we cannot accept the presence of these troops on our territories in any condition and under any circumstances, as we are the land of the Arab Al Mustafawi Army. I am confident in our people who can distinguish facts from allegations that only seek to distort our position and the position of our people towards our brothers in Iraq.

Regrettably, there are issues that are being promoted by certain parties with the objective of harming Jordan and these issues are being handled in the media with no grounds. This is happening not only in political issues but also in social and health issues, to the extent that the distribution of multivitamins to schoolchildren in order to raise their physical and mental capabilities have incited argument among local communities, students and parents, who sadly were victims of rumours, and were made to believe that the vitamins are a conspiracy against them, although I was the first to give my children from these multivitamins. Moreover, I have exerted diligent efforts with Jordanian pharmaceutical companies to produce and manufacture these multivitamins in Jordan. The owners of these companies responded positively with their hearts before their money out of their feeling of national responsibility and their commitment to the health of this precious segment of our society.

Petra: Your Majesty, Jordan's position in expelling the three Iraqi diplomats has provided the opportunity for some sceptics to undermine the Jordanian position towards Iraq.

King Abdullah: First, I would like to assure you that we are keen to keep our historic and brotherly relations with the Iraqi people strong in the present and in the future. As for the issue of the Iraqi diplomats, the government has explained the reasons for asking these diplomats to leave Jordanian territories. I don't want to comment on that any further at the present time. It is unfortunate that these diplomats have carried out activities outside their diplomatic mandate. However, because I am keen to maintain good relations with Iraq, I have asked to move beyond this issue and not to escalate.

I have instructed the government to provide all facilities to the Iraqi brethren coming to the Kingdom, residing in it and departing from it, to help them overcome this ordeal, preserve their rights and assure them that their brothers in Jordan will never abandon them. We will safeguard the rights of the Iraqi brethren and their investments in Jordan as we have always done.

Petra: A group of Jordanian prominent personalities have presented two documents to Your Majesty regarding the Jordanian position on Iraq.

King Abdullah: I have read several documents and I respect their points of view but I wonder if all what we have done and are doing towards our brothers in Iraq diffesr from what came in some of these documents. I am a Muslim, an Arab and a Hashemite and no one can outbid my concern for my people and nation. I would like to assure my people that the principles that we have been raised on have never changed and will never change. No country has supported Iraq like Jordan and we had said no to attacking Iraq when many said yes. We have not changed our position, which rejects this war.

To me these documents represent the Jordanian pluralism that provides everybody with the opportunity to express their views freely. However, there remains a common ground agreed by everybody, which is the condemnation of war and the keenness to preserve our national unity. In this critical phase, I hope that everybody would rise to the level of the challenges with the utmost sense of awareness and responsibility. It is in difficult circumstances that men are tested.

Our people today realise what our position is and what we have offered and are offering to Iraq. All our efforts and contacts this year and in previous years were invested to defend the cause of Iraq because we were keen that things should not reach to what it has reached now and we are still working diligently to stop this war as soon as possible. The Jordanian people, and I am one of them, strongly condemn the killing of children and women and we feel pain and sorrow as we see on our television screens the growing number of martyrs from Iraqi innocent civilians. As a father, I feel the pain of every Iraqi family, of every child, and every father. At the same time I am aware that the loyalty of Jordanians, their national feelings and pride make them in a state of absolute rejection and condemnation to what is happening to their brothers in Iraq of killing and destruction.

Nevertheless, in these difficult circumstances that are prevailing in the region and our country, the most important thing is the solidarity of our internal front. As long as we are strong and united we will be able to serve our brothers and defend our interests and our nation's interests resolutely and persistently.

Petra: Despite all this, are there any diplomatic movements to stop the war?

King Abdullah: Since day one of the war, we spared no effort to express our rejection of it. Our movements and contacts with Arab brethren and some friendly countries continued in order to try to crystallise a position that would lead to the halt of the war on Iraq as soon as possible. We will not cease our efforts to halt this war and to explore means that guarantee helping the Iraqi people. This point is very important and the international community must consolidate and come together to work for it. The Iraqi people is suffering very much today and need all possible support that would ease their suffering and enable them to overcome this tragedy.

Petra: Your Majesty, one of the Arab newspapers based in London has published that a delegation from the Iraqi Constitutional Monarchy Opposition Movement, which is lead by Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein, has visited Syria on the 11th of this month and met with high ranking Syrian officials. According to what has been published, the delegation requested the printing of a million photographs and flags, on one side of which having a photograph of Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein and written on it King of Iraq. Can you comment Your Majesty on this?

King Abdullah: As I have mentioned in the beginning of my interview, we can never accept to interfere Iraqi affairs nor in the choice of the Iraqi people. We also reject that anyone impose on this brotherly people their choice, their future and the choosing of their leadership. Jordan was not and will not be part of this issue and if some countries allow themselves to interfere in the affairs of Iraq, this is their own business.