Initially published in bikyamasr
“If Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life.”
What a statement from the Jordanian King Abdullah!
Before we get carried away, I think it is important to put The Jordanian Monarch’s remarks into perspective. They are several local factors that potentially prompted the king to speak out.
First, there are at least 40.000 Syrians live in Jordan. Many already hold Jordanian citizenship, a huge number in the relatively low populated country -just over 6 Millions- Surely, the leadership will carefully consider their voice and demands. Any instability can upset the delicate balance in a country like Jordan.
(Palestinians make up about half of the population).
Second, the Islamists, particularly the influential Muslim unions-who openly opposes the kingdom pro –Western policies- constitutes a tremendous political challenge. Recently, they change tune, and become more vocal against the king, and not just the government. Resent, and anger were not tampered by the recent changes in the government and the royal court.
On the other hand, they are passionately supporting the uprising in Syria (an uprising that the Islamic groups constitute a substantial portion of it). A quick look at the map, you can spot how close Deraa is to Zarqa (The birthplace of Zarqawi, if you still remember him!).
By standing by the Syrian uprising, the king may win hearts and minds of ordinary Jordanians and deny the Islamists a powerful card, reinforce his policy of containment of their influence in the kingdom.
Third, King Abdullah is probably aware of his father serious miscalculation by standing by Saddam in the first Gulf war, a mistake that cost him dearly. Again, the king is probably not keen to repeat past mistakes.
Fourth, The impact of the events in Syria on Hamas is probably on the back of the king’s mind. As the revolt intensify, their position in Syria become more and more unattainable, and they probably want to leave (if Assad let them!).
They are already many in Jordan (including the new PM Awn Khasawneh) who viewed the expulsion of Hamas 12 years ago as a big mistake. This view may not be to the king liking, he may not be eager to receive them back in Jordan. By taking a tough stance on Assad, any future rejection of Hamas may not look that controversial.
On the other hand, I find the king ‘s remarks a bit ironical. He was never known for his bold remarks against any Arab leader. Even against Gaddafi, he was not that blunt. Plus, I am not sure he would say the same if a Monarch ruled Syria!
Nevertheless, we should welcome such stance from an Arab leader and encourage others to follow suit. The king’s wisdom may have some domestic reasons, but still a bold and desired step.
If Arab leaders are serious about reforms, they should go with the flow of the Arab uprising and not abide by their fellow friends and colleagues in the rotten club of dictators.