AMMAN — The worst-case scenario for the Syrian crisis is for the conflict to deteriorate into an all-out civil war, His Majesty King Abdullah has said.
“It’s getting very, very messy, to a point where I think the worst-case scenario for all of us in the region is when you get all-out civil war, there is no coming back from the abyss,” the King said in an interview on Wednesday.
“Syria’s far more complicated than Iraq and other countries in the area,” he stressed, citing the mosaic of the Levant country.
The Monarch added that over the past three weeks, the sectarian violence has begun to develop to a point where different groups of Syrian society are “having a go at each other to a point where we are getting to the level of the potential of all-out civil war”.
Speaking to the CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room”, His Majesty said: “The only people that can bring us back from that brink [are], obviously, the president and the regime, and I believe this is the last chance that they have.”
The King stressed that the Syrian crisis cannot be resolved with President Bashar Assad simply stepping down, noting that issue is not simply tied to one individual, but a whole system.
“The issue is not Bashar. If Bashar was to leave tomorrow, and the regime stays, then what have we achieved?”
“Whoever comes in his place, is he or the people around him willing to create a political set of circumstances that allows for the political transition that we’re talking about?”
“So it’s not so much the individual; it’s the system that we’re talking about. And can the system allow for the political transition? And that’s where I have my doubts,” the King said.
“We need to find a formula of a transition where the regime feels that it has a stake in the future, where [the president’s] Alawite sect, an important sect of Syria, feels that they have a future in Syria, that they have a life to live.”
“The only way that we could do that is a political transition,” he added.
However, he warned that as international efforts are aimed at creating a political option, the sectarian tension on the ground could deteriorate to a point where “a political solution may no longer be an option”.
Acknowledging that “the clock is ticking”, His Majesty argued that “we should continue to give politics its due”.
He said there were indications that Al Qaeda militants are present in certain regions inside Syria, stressing that one of the “worst-case scenarios” would lead to some of the neighbouring country’s chemical weapons falling into “unfriendly hands”.
There are international concerns over the possibility that the Syrian regime might also use these weapons as the situation deteriorates further, the King said, noting that the international community will react if these weapons are used.
“… We can’t afford the use of those chemical weapons, obviously on the Syrian people, but also the chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands.”
He added that it “would be a tremendous miscalculation on the Syrian regime if they were to use” such weapons “and would elicit an immediate reaction from all of us in the region and the international community”.
Russia, the Monarch said, would also support international reactions if chemical weapons were used.
“I’m sure that they would be very supportive of international reactions, because at the end of the day, we all pay the price.”
He said arming rebels, in principle, is not rejected, but there should be guarantees that the weapon will go to “the right hands”.
Egypt and Mideast peace
On the political developments in Egypt, he said: “To us, Egypt is a vital country in the region. To us, it is one of the cornerstones of North Africa and the Arab Peninsula. Egypt, for us, is vital as a building block for the Middle East.”
The King stressed the need for Egypt to be “an active component for the peace process, for many of the challenges that we face in the region”, according to a transcript of the interview.
He voiced hope that the North African country would move on from “looking inwards” to engage on international issues.
“And we’re looking forward to engaging with the Egyptian government as soon as possible and coordinating on the issues such as the peace process as well as Syria.”
Asked about the Middle East peace process and the US presidential election, the King stressed that “whoever it is that becomes president, I’m sure both of them fully understands that whatever is happening in the Middle East, the core issue still is that of the two-state solution and the challenges of the Israeli-Palestinian people”.
“The peace discussions, so to speak, are not dead,” he said.
“Our job is to keep the process alive until the end of this year, when American elections are finalised. And depending on who wins, as of the two candidates, then that puts us into a better position to understand how to move the process forward at the beginning of next year.”