AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah has voiced concern over the continued conflict in Syria, warning that if no political solution is found soon, the country will be pushed to the abyss.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose, that will also be broadcast by BPS and Bloomberg, His Majesty said: “I’m worried about the longer we take to find a political solution and the more the chaos continues then we may be pushing Syria into the abyss,” noting that “there’s a reality on the ground that’s catching us up, if it hasn’t already”.
Asked on Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons he said, these are “something that scares everybody. What scares most of us is the chemical weapons” falling into the wrong hands.
On the Syrian refugees hosted by Jordan in camps, he said that there are 145,000 Syrians who crossed the border into the Kingdom.
He noted that there has been “a major spike over the past three months. We’re averaging anywhere between 300 to 1,000 an evening, mainly coming over at night. We have 30,000 Syrians that we have treated in our medical facilities. We have 25,000 children that we’ve inoculated under the age of five. There’s 8,000 students now going into our school system. So it is a pressure on us. And, you know, the numbers look like they’re increasing”.
Highlighting the close ties between the Jordanian and Syrian people, the King pointed out that around half a million Syrians are connected with Jordanians through marriage. He said that more Syrians prefer to come to Jordan than to other countries because of language and culture and because they feel more comfortable here.
He described the international community’s response to the refugee crisis as “fantastic”.
“The king of Spain called me several days ago, so did the king of Morocco. They’re trying to provide assistance. We just got a message that the French are sending a military field hospital to help build the refugee camps. So, the international community are responding tremendously to the northern border.”
On the US efforts to push the peace process forward, the King said President Barack Obama has “done as much as he could” to advance Israeli and Palestinian peace efforts in the face of distracting international economic challenges.
King Abdullah said one of his goals this year was to keep Israeli and Palestinian peace talks part of American politicians’ dialogue during an election year. He said that while other international issues, such as the Arab Spring, Syria and Iran, might dominate headlines, those are “sideline issues” to a larger problem, which is the Palestinian issue.