King Abdullah: Failure of peace process largest regional threat
Jordan's king gives exclusive to Washington Post, says he is disappointed with Bush's last visit to Middle East. 'I think peace process has lost credibility in people's minds,' he says. 'I'm concerned clock is ticking, door closing on us'
"I think the peace process has lost credibility in people's minds in this area. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been in the region and is working very closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians to move the process forward. . . . We're all very pessimistic at this stage."
When asked if he thought Iran was currently the largest threat to Middle East stability, the Jordanian leader answered that he believed the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the current major threat.
"I don't see the ability of creating a two-state solution beyond 2008, 2009. I think this is really the last chance," he said, reiterating a warning he had divulged to President Shimon Peres during their last meeting in Petra.
"If this fails, I think this is going to be the major threat for the Middle East: Are we going to go for another 60 years of 'fortress Israel', or are we going to have a neighborhood where Israel is actually incorporated? That is our major challenge, and I am very concerned that the clock is ticking and that the door is closing on all of us."
'We've reached a crossroads'
He said that though Iran posed a certain threat to the region, he considered the failure of the peace process a more immediate danger. "If the peace process doesn't move forward, then I think that extremism will continue to advance over the moderate stands that a lot of countries take. We've reached a crossroads, and I'm not too sure what direction we're heading in," Abdullah warned.
"If we don't win on the peace process, if we don't have a two-state solution, then definitely there'll be more turmoil and more instability. And I think that it may send the wrong message to extremists – that the only way to perpetuate their philosophy is through conflict."
When asked about his thoughts on the status of the Palestinian Authority, Abdullah said, "Everyone is quick to talk about how to isolate Hamas, but there is not enough discussion as to how to support Fatah. If the policy of the West is to isolate and pressure Hamas but we're not doing anything to alleviate the roadblocks, to try to get the kids back to school, try to create jobs, then how can you expect Fatah and Abu Mazen to be strengthened?"