DAVOS-KLOSTERS, Switzerland – H.M. King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, addressing business leaders at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting today, lamented the lack of international action to end the conflict in Syria: “I urge once more a stepped-up world response to the Syrian crisis,” he said, adding that “more international support is desperately needed”.
The King called for international support to help look after the 300,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, now facing a harsh winter. He also proposed stockpiling humanitarian aid within Syria to assist civilians forced from their homes by the fighting. With more and more extremists drawn to the conflict, such aid would not only help keep displaced people alive but “win hearts and minds to avoid them falling into radical hands,” he said.
Turning to the future of the Assad regime he claimed, “Anyone saying Bashar’s regime has weeks to live doesn’t know… I give them a strong showing for the first half of 2013.” The King repeatedly appealed to the international community to “come together now, decisively, to end the bloodshed”, saying that “what is needed is a real and inclusive transition plan, one that guarantees the country’s unity and territorial integrity”. All members of Syria should have a stake in the country’s future, he said, adding that the Syrian army should stay intact as it will be the guarantor of security, and Damascus should enjoy a secular future. His government is “concentrating on” opposition elements who share these positions.
The King cautioned that “the longer this conflict goes on, the more the country will implode”, saying that any fragmentation of Syria would be “catastrophic”. Radical fighters are pouring into the country, include Al Qaeda, which has been established in Syria for “about a year”. If a stable government is installed at the end of the conflict, it will still take “two to three years of cleaning up” to get rid of extremist elements.
Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, King Abdullah said “there is no time left for Israel to play the waiting game” and called for “the international community to join Jordan in breaking the impasse and pressing for active negotiations to end this conflict”. He pointed to President Obama’s second term as the last opportunity to create a two-state solution and warned: “If we don’t fix it in the next four years, I don’t think it will ever happen.”