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Jordan's King Abdullah II Addresses Key Mideast Issues in Exclusive Washington Institute Interview

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a rare, unscripted interview with Washington Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff, Jordan's King Abdullah II shared his views on a range of issues affecting the Middle East, from the implications of potential U.S. military withdrawal, to the complicated state of Jordan-Israel relations, to the threat of a resurgent ISIS.

The conversation was the highlight of the Scholar-Statesman Award presentation, in which the research organization bestowed its highest honor on the king at a special gala in New York City.

On the threat of violent extremism:

  • "ISIS has been defeated maybe in Syria and Iraq, people can say, but it's not been totally destroyed. And actually in the past couple of months, we've seen a re-emergence of them close to our borders in western Iraq."
  • "The outlaws of Islam are those that believe that all of us, everyone in this room, are heretics and unless we believe in what they say, they have the right to put us all to the sword…. There is a battleground inside of Islam … to be able to get rid of this scourge. So that what we call the takfiri (outlaw) jihadist is going to be a challenge for all of us.”

On Arab-Israeli peace:

  • "Israel's future is being part of the Middle East, [but] unless we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we'll never have the full integration that all of us deserve."
  • "Unfortunately, we're in pause mode, as you well know that Israelis have gone through a series of elections, we may be seeing another three months of elections ... that is not going to be good for anybody."
  • As every day passes, "it's going to be much more difficult, for the Palestinian and Israeli states to go forward together."

On Jordanian-Israeli relations:

  • “The Jordanian-Israeli relationship is at an all-time low, in part, because of Israeli domestic issues. We are hoping that Israel will decide its future, whether it's in the next several weeks or in the next three months.”
  • "I hope that whatever happens in Israel over the next two or three months, we can get back to talking to each other on simple issues that we haven't been able to talk about for the past two years."

On calls for U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East:

  • "Unless you solve the problem, you’re going to have to come back and revisit it at a tremendous cost to everybody. And so again, the United States is in a unique position of being the most powerful, capable country in the world, and with that comes more responsibility to help stabilize the world. In my personal opinion, sometimes when you move out of a campaign before it’s over, you’re only going to be back tomorrow to try and fix it again, having lost all that ground."

On the role of youth in future of the region: 

  • "Just know that there is a younger generation of people in our part of the world, who just want to get on with their lives. Whether you’re Israeli, or Jordanian, or Palestinian, or Yemeni, or Iranian, we want to be able to find jobs, we want to settle down with a family, we want to be able to move on...So give the young people your love and your consideration because they will make the world better if we give them a chance."

For media inquiries, contact Erika Naegeli at 202-452-0650 or via email.

About The Washington Institute: The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.