Jordan's King: Syria not changing soon
January 18th, 2012
04:34 PM ET

Jordan's King: Syria not changing soon

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jordan's King Abdullah sat down with CNN Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly to talk about the Arab Spring and Jordan's influence in the region and its efforts toward negotiating a lasting Middle East peace. Watch for more stories from Suzanne's interview with the King soon.

By Suzanne Kelly

He was the first Arab leader to call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, yet after months of violence and a less than successful effort by the Arab League to stop the killing of protesters, King Abdullah of Jordan says don't expect change in Syria overnight.

"I don't see Syria going through many changes.  I think what you're seeing in Syria today, you will continue to see for a while longer," Abdullah said in an interview with Security Clearance.

"It's a very complicated puzzle and there is no simple solution.  If you can imagine Iraq being a simple solution to move Iraq into the light a couple of years ago and it's different in Libya, so it has everybody stumped and I don't think anybody has a clear answer on what to do about Syria."

Abdullah is in Washington to meet with President Barack Obama and his administration as Jordan makes a renewed push to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in the midst of the Arab Spring, which for the past year has engulfed the region in turmoil and change.

Jordan sits in a tough spot.  A relatively small country of just 6 million, it shares a border with Syria and has been taking in waves of people fleeing violence.  To the west, there is Israel and tensions with Iran over it's nuclear program.  While Israeli officials have played down the idea of taking military action against Iran in recent days, Abdullah is opting for a "big picture" solution, which of course, he believes ultimately leads back to the peace process.

"The saber-rattling from both sides we have heard on a very regular basis over the past couple of years.  My answer to military options on Iran:  If you solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, then Iran is no longer a military problem for you because what are their positions against Israel? The future of the Palestinians and the future of Jerusalem.  If we solve that with the peace problem, then the Iranian threat is taken off the table. I think that's a much easier and cheaper way of solving the problem."

When it comes to Iran and Syria, sometimes where you sit makes all the difference in what you see. Take, for example, shared concerns about Iranian influence in Iraq as the United States pulls out troops.

"I think if you were in an Iranian's shoes and you were looking at the region and where they would like to play an influence, what's obviously happening in Syria is going to affect them negatively, because they feel that they're losing an ally if something happens with the regime or as it is today, because of the internal dimensions of Syria, it's not as an effective partner for the Iranians, so naturally I think the Iranians will be looking towards Iraq and having a stronger influence there."

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Diplomacy • Iran • Israel • Jordan • Middle East • Syria
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Kayaking Apps

    Thank goodness for king Abdullah. This guy is right in the center of all the choas and still maintains control of this country.

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  4. Matt

    If you go by Hafez he killed about 30,000 people it was more but we will stick with 30,000 back ion 1982, each corpse is worth a year of rule, that massacre provide the regimes survivability for around 30 years. Assad knows he will face IRA style resistance but it is long term survivability that he is after killing women and children provides the inter-generation stability he is looking for. He will live with the terrorism, but as far as overthrowing his rule it will never happen. The force structure for the armed resistance comes from the opposition so the massacres over the long term limit the size of the FSA IRA style campaign to something he can manage and is not a threat to the regime, like al-Qaida in Iraq they can strike but cannot overthrow the regime or pressure the regime into dialogue.

    I disagree in relation to the Palestinian issue, as long as the resistance block axis of evil is in place there will not be any peace, the West Bank will merely turn into another Gaza, as long as Assad keeps buying Russian weapons and handing them over to Hizbullah or upgrading his arsenal and handing over the obsolete weapons to Hizbullah there will be no peace.

    What Assad buys today in the end gets given to Hizbullah when he upgrades to newer platforms. So those anti-ship missiles in the end will be in Hizbullah's hands. When he upgrades air defense the old platforms end up with Hizbullah. As long as you have the hope of Israel being overthrown by the resistance, Iran providing money and weapons to factions inside the Palestinian movements peace is a dream not a reality.

    Peace does not change the Iranian involvement in Palestinian affairs or Hizbullah role in the axis, anything short of Jews out of the Middle East is unacceptable as long as there is a hope that this can be achieved Palestinians continue there campaign before and after a peace accord. As you saw with Hamas recently over the Syrian crisis, it is only weakening and removing the state sponsors of the resistance block that will bring peace, but Hamas position re Syria is temporary as Assad will not fall, but when they believed he was on the way out they hedged their bets and modified their position to slightly more moderate.

    This would also weaken Hizbullah's long term military capabilities which removes the belief that violence can secure there objective of the Jews out of Palestine. I expect on large confrontation to occur in the future that will decide the fate of Palestine for the next decades, the Palestinian issue which really is in the more extreme view Jews in Palestine will not be determine via the peace process but via war.

    After 2006 the US believes that Israel cannot defeat Hizbullah, the increased arsenal to 50,000 missiles has increased the cost enough to deter some from the repercussion of an Iran strike. The Hizbullah arsenal will continue to grow to 100,000, 150,000 to 200,000 rockets. Hizbullah will increase its anti armor and anti air capabilities.

    What Hasan meant in 2006 "I would not have done it if that was going to happen", was we were not prepared we though we were but we were not strong enough, so they increase the arsenal. People see a cold war and mutual deterrent between Israel and Hizbullah. That is not what Hizbullah see and it is merely a period of calm to rearm for the final push.

    I have said numerous times that preemptive action should take place in relation to deconstruction of the Hizbullah arsenal, because Israel faces a humiliating defeat facing 200,000 rockets and a change in the IDF policy that at the very least due to the huge cost of a Hizbullah strike on the home front allows for infiltration into the Galileei, or kidnapping of soldiers or shooting of soldiers. The shooting of two high ranking IDF officers by LAF snipers a unit under Hizbullah control at the blue line was to test the waters, yes Israel responded but the response was measured, certainly more measure than the abductions and killings in 2006 that resulted in war.

    The failure to enforce red lines and contain the threat, will lead to an Israel defeat, allowing Hizbullah to obtain longer range rockets and an arsenal that is increasing by the day beyond 50,000 that will end up being 200,000 this path has already begun, and the US will either have to become involve in which a regional war will occur with a nuclear armed Iran or leave Israel to it fate when the time comes. Cost vs benefit as with Iran, the US may well decide to abandoned Israel as the cost to save them is too high a price a regional war. That can also be reversed the risk is if some thing happens and the US has to fight another war in the Middle East, as with Iraq war under Saddam and Syrian threats or Iranian threats to target Israel in response, Israel will be destroyed. In which the US would also have to abandon Israel.

    It takes around 5 to 6 years for Hizbullah to rearm to a leave that provides Iran with strategic confidence/deterrent, if that continues at the end of Obamas next term there will be 100,000 rockets point at Israel.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Reply
    • James Stone,

      Why West goes to war against Assad’s Syrian regime.? Why ? The answer to this question has caused a seismic divide between Jewish & Christians and the modern scientific community. why mankind was created War against Syria . The Syrian will attacks Israel, The War is become Hell for Israel, The Tel Aviv will become destroyed as Ash. Due to this Americans are against the bombing, through the vast majority of them believe the Assad regime & Syrian are going To Heaven. The Syrian war is Not Afghan or Iraq war in Middle East in this Century for Americans and there allines, ( Just Like Pakistan, Saudi Arabs.) espacialy for Tarow ( hoplees) Israel, Witch have no Root in Middle of Muslim countries. The MUSLIM LONG MARCH is the END of Israel. THE 2015 IS THE END OF ISRAEL It will be a time of global peace, prosperity and truth. May that time come soon.Thanks.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  5. austine nigeria

    arabs believe in one line and is good to finish the arab spring ... then they will study and remember history well.

    January 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  6. Tony

    The crimes that Assad family and their collaborator committed against syrian people is unprecidented in the whole history of modern and ancient syria. Assad and his thugs inflicted hardship and pain on all syrians including Alawite. His father Hafez Assad did horrible atrocities against Salah Jidid an Alawite and his group to gain power in syria.
    90% OF Christians in middle east hate Assad for what he did in Lebanon. Assad is trying hard to creat division in syria by orchestrating events. He willl never succeed. Syria is not Iraq....

    January 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  7. Tony

    Syrians are going to get rid of ASSAD and the idiot president with his thugs. It is a matter of time as the King of Jordan stated. It is not only the Alawite who are supporting him. Many honest Alawites are against the president brother who is known to be mentaly ill with history of psychiatric problems that required therapy. The whole syria is at the whimpe of this mentaly ill man. Same was the holocast due to Hitler the maniac. USA and Israel has moral obligation to the region to get rid of this regime unless they want to hand it on silver plate to Russia and this out of their dreams.

    January 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  8. Tony

    Syrians are going to get rid of ASSAD ban

    January 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  9. ntm91307

    So far it seems this guy is the coolest head in the region. His idea makes sense but I'm not sure it's enough. When you have people that have been born and raised to believe a specific way it's nearly impossible for them to suddenly spin their lives, feelings and thoughts 180 degrees and "believe" something different. Each side has learned to hate and fear the other for generations. This won't just suddenly disappear with the signing of a piece of paper. It CAN happen...it HAS happened...but not overnight and not without a lot of followup work from all parties.

    I wish them all both peace and luck.

    My 2 cents...

    January 19, 2012 at 11:47 am | Reply
  10. j. von hettlingen

    It makes sense for Iran to rethink its stretegy. However much loyalty counts, the cleric regime has to be realistic: Syria is a nonstarter, while Iraq is a Thoroughbred. Bashar al-Assad's regime – the Alawite – belongs to an ethnic minority in Syria. Al-Malika's regime has wide support from Iraq's ethnic majority, the Shiites.
    That Syria is not changing so soon has to do with the opposition, which lacks consolidation and the reluctance of the West to intervene. Change has to come from within. Turkey and the GCC are pulling the strings behind the scenes.

    January 19, 2012 at 4:22 am | Reply
  11. Najimudeen Saheed Alabi

    The globalization of super pawer is just like fitmization of the world. Oh arabs, expecialy syria, dont sleep, wake up together at ones, A solution to this problem is to wage war with them. But mind you, their time have past this is our time. Spark with them, they will relief you. Great youth in syria.

    January 19, 2012 at 1:18 am | Reply
  12. Moses Kestenbaum ODA

    All this king is trying to do is to protect his behind

    January 19, 2012 at 1:00 am | Reply
    • biggerpicture

      I think this king is one of the few leaders who have legitimate concern and actually makes sense. If the plight of the Palestinian people is resolved, it really does weaken support and footing for the Iranians.

      January 19, 2012 at 10:56 am | Reply
  13. ram

    So what is wrong with Iran gaining more influence in Iraq? The americans are going to the pacific side of the world to "engage" countries in that area. What do they mean by engage or some other words used? They are trying to buy influence with aircraft carriers and defence budget (pecunia plebis- the money of the people). This is the american choice in their attempt to control the world, but they had a chance to do almost whatever they wanted in Iraq and they failed to secure the minds of the people, However, the western oil companies took the battle prize of huge oilfield contracts, a battle paid for by the citiZens of the united states. Isn't this some form of transfer payment to big oil companies? Maybe the us should transfer some payments to the old negro american lady living with 6 children in a rat-infested deserted, windowless house in the Harlem.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Reply
    • ntm91307

      I hate to burst your bubble but "the West" didn't get the oil contracts. Look it up. US was all but frozen out of the first (and most lucrative) bidding process. And, if I read correctly, the vast majority of contracts with Iraq leave them in control of most of the profit so no matter who got the contract Iraq makes a good buck. I've been reading about separate contracts with the Kurds that aren't going through the Iraqi government so those may well be different but they by no means represent the majority of Iraqs' oil output.

      In short, you're wrong dude...US isn't "getting paid" for invading Iraq....it cost us plenty.

      My 2 cents...

      January 19, 2012 at 11:35 am | Reply
  14. Yakobi

    The only way to solve this is to wage total war on all of them. A grateful world will thank us for it.

    January 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Reply
    • panzerduck

      Oh great, and the whole Arab world will see Zionist war against Islam, That will earn a nuclear demonstation.

      January 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Reply
    • biggerpicture

      because not enough people hate israel already?

      January 19, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • ntm91307

      Bring the BIG checkbook dude....war ain't cheap and it ain't pretty. And while you're at it, bring your handgun and rifle and get in line with the soldiers you would send out to fight for you.

      If you're going to insist on war you'd better be ready to put your money AND your life where your mouth is or your just another armchair general with nothing of value to offer.

      My 2 cents...

      January 19, 2012 at 11:40 am | Reply
  15. rokon

    "..The future of the Palestinians and the future of Jerusalem. If we solve that with the peace problem, then the Iranian threat is taken off the table. I think that's a much easier and cheaper way of solving the problem." Not true, because then Israel will not have any excuse for grabbing lands. Israel's population is growing and they need land. So, peace with palestine is not in the best interest for Israel.

    January 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  16. nigeria

    The iranian stands hav b the stands of osama bin laden and his followers and would b the stand of the new egypt.arabs dnt hate america 4 nothin.they see america as a force behind isreal. If palestine and isreal culd find a way to make peace then M.E can b peaceful again.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Reply
    • Gregpeck

      give peace a chance

      January 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  17. penumbra

    Pot to kettle mr Abdullah.

    January 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  18. delos

    This tell's you a lot about ta M.E. If they can't figure it out how the hell are the morons we elect here going to figure it out.
    They keep doing the same dumb @hit and expecting different results, It time to change the dynamic's of our engagement with the M.E. or get the F@@@ out. to do otherwise is just plain stupid.

    January 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  19. Brian

    People should understand the problems of the middle east. I' m trying to understand want it cost to understand the difference

    January 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  20. mipolitic

    the only thing this guy is thinking , i hope syria , egypt and so on is not contagious. if you want to see this guy spill his coffee , tell him israel is going to strike iran.

    January 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply

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