AMMAN — The Arab Spring means something different to every country, with each going through change at a pace that meets the aspirations and hopes of its people, His Majesty King Abdullah has said.
Speaking to the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart in New York on Tuesday, the King said that “whatever the Middle East is going through” at the current stage, it will take between five and ten years to show the results of each country’s “unique experiment”.
“I hope… we all look back 5, 10, 15 years from now and say that [the] Arab Spring is a good thing, and I believe it is,” he said, noting that the “pace and meaning” of change will be different for each country.
His Majesty said the Arab Spring started due to the difficult economic conditions that Arab peoples were going through, but the people’s attention turned to politics, with young men and women calling for political reform “rightly so”.
He reiterated that Jordan will have a new Parliament by the beginning of next year as a step after the constitutional amendments, the establishment of the Independent Elections Commission and the endorsement of the Elections Law, adding that the constitutional court will be formed soon.
When asked about regional issues and Iran, the King said Tehran’s nuclear programme is an issue of concern for the international community, but the reason behind the programme is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
By resolving the conflict in a just and comprehensive manner, many problems will be solved, and there would be no reason for a nuclear arms race, he explained.
Also during the interview, His Majesty condemned the film “Innocence of Muslims” for denigrating Prophet Mohammad, but he also stressed that it should not be used as a pretext to create chaos and kill innocent people.
The King also warned of exploiting people’s feelings to incite violence and extremism and the effects of that on the region.
Addressing the Kingdom’s reform process, he said the current challenge is to conduct elections that lead to a Parliament representing the people.
Then, the Jordanian Summer will begin and much more work will be needed with the start of the parliamentary government experience, the King added.
He voiced hope that Jordan would reach a stage where there emerge left, right and centre parties with a clear vision on the issues that matter to the people such as health insurance, taxes, job opportunities and sustainable development projects.
His Majesty said the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, unlike in many other Arab countries where they were outlawed, have always been working legally within the Kingdom as a political party that is part of the mosaic of Jordanian society.
He stressed that if any party or group wishes to contribute actively to the Kingdom’s political life, including changing reform-oriented laws, the only way to that will be through the next Parliament, urging every group to be part of this important step in building Jordan’s future.
During meetings in New York on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 67th General Assembly session, His Majesty stressed the need for the international community to intensify efforts to reach a swift and comprehensive solution for the Syrian crisis that ends the suffering of the Syrian people and paves the way for a political transition that meets their aspirations.
During a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the King highlighted the need to support UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in his endeavours, according to a Royal Court statement.
The Monarch pointed to the vital US role in supporting efforts to achieve comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-state solution that will lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel.
He highlighted the opportunity to bring momentum back to the peace process after the US presidential election, especially since time is running out for the two-state solution.
King Abdullah stressed that the stalemate in the peace process will only lead to the increase in tension and violence in the region.
Clinton stressed the US’ keenness to support a swift solution to the crisis in Syria and to continue the efforts to resume peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Also on Wednesday, King Abdullah held talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on means to boost bilateral ties.
During the meeting, the King and Mikati stressed the importance of enhancing joint Arab work and cooperation to meet the aspirations of the Arab people.
Also in New York, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Thursday attended the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
During the meeting, Brahimi briefed the participants on the situation in Syria and its impact on the region, stressing the need for a political solution to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Also on Thursday, Judeh held several meetings with a number of Arab and foreign ministers that covered bilateral ties and the latest developments in the region, particularly in Syria.
He met with Alistair Burt, parliamentary undersecretary of state at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and discussed prospects for further cooperation and the Middle East peace process.
Judeh underlined the need to push the peace process.
They also discussed the developments in Syria and its impact on Jordan, especially as it is hosting thousands of Syria refugees.
Judeh also held talks with his counterparts from Greece, New Zealand and Norway as well as President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic.