Jordan’s king downplays possible attack on Iran |

Jordan’s king downplays possible attack on Iran

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” King Abdullah II of Jordan said Monday that it’s highly unlikely that the United States, Israel or anyone else will attack Iran, “at least in the next few months,” despite mounting concern that such an attack might be in the planning stages in either the U.S. or an allied nation.

“Of course, armies will plan,” he said of the possibility, but he added, “I don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve” if, say, the U.S. were to launch some kind of incursion into Iran.

“At least in the next few months, I think it is highly unlikely that Iran will be hit,” said the confident, polished 46-year old, speaking in the Greenwald Pavilion on the grounds of The Aspen Institute on Monday.

King Abdullah and his internationally celebrated wife, Rania Al-Yassin, reportedly with members of their family, came to Aspen two days ago, staying at The Little Nell hotel, according to a source close to the royal couple’s travel arrangements.

They were due to leave Aspen on Monday afternoon to return to Jordan in time to host Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic party nominee for president, who is on a fact-finding trip in the Middle East.

The king and Obama were scheduled to meet Tuesday in Jordan, a relatively small, predominantly Arab nation sandwiched between Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah’s remarks about Iran came during a question-and-answer period following his hour-long speech to a gathering of about 750 people in the pavilion, during which he lauded the U.S. for its role in seeking a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that has been at the core of unrest in the region for more than half a century.

He also was highly complimentary about The Aspen Institute’s work in the same arena, saying, “This institute is highly respected in my region.”

But, he said, the U.S. must press ever more firmly toward a solution to the problems facing the Middle East, ranging from the questions about creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, to dealing with ongoing difficulties in securing economic and social improvements for large parts of the region.

“No other region plays so strategic a role in the hopes and possibilities of a 21st century America,” he declared. And, he insisted, “Peace in the Middle East is achievable.”

He offered some advice to whomever becomes the next president of the U.S., but only after joking that his best advice would be “to never offer your private advice to a roomful of 800 people.”

Still, he said, “I see us at a crossroads … a time of danger … but also unique opportunities.”

He urged the U.S. to use its influence to lay the groundwork for “new levels of cooperation” among states that have made overtures toward peaceful relations at different times in the past.

He was somewhat critical of Israeli policies that he maintained continue to isolate and persecute Palestinians, which he indicated has fed a resurgence of radical violence.

“If the peace process does not show some wins on the ground,” he told his audience, American influence in the region will wane.

But, he continued, a breakthrough in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would bring with it a recognition of U.S. sincerity and good will toward Arabs.

“I will tell our youth that global commitments backed by America apply to their needs as well,” he said, stressing the need for American help in cementing reforms in place across the region ” improving schools, creating jobs and ensuring the sovereignty of

Arab states.

“The West has an important role in understanding what we are trying to do and supporting reform,” Abdullah declared.

He noted that the Middle East is abuzz with interest in the new “cloud” computer technology, which is said to be an enhancement of long-distance, shared computing capabilities, but suggested that what also is needed is “a values cloud” that could provide a framework for nudging the region toward more cooperative and peaceful ways of interaction.

In response to a question from former ambassador Henry Catto, about rumors of a pending attack by Israel against Iran, Abdullah replied, “It doesn’t make any sense to me.” He pointed out that Israel, to launch a ground attack against Iran, would have to “go through several countries to get there.”

Turning to the U.S. presidential race, again in response to a question that he called “nearly impossible” to answer, Abdullah said, “If Barack Obama wins the election, I think America would have a clear slate” in terms of its relations with the rest of the world.

He said that everywhere he goes around the world, people are “talking about the American election almost as much as you guys are,” which brought chuckles from the audience.

But, more seriously, he noted that if Obama wins, “There will tremendous expectations that this is something new from America,” whereas the same expectations will not be felt if Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, wins the election.

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