The King’s Speech

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Mon 22 May / May 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

It was crucial for Jordan that the King speaks clearly, precisely, and frankly to the US President and the convening heads and representatives of 55 Arab and Islamic countries at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh.

While everybody was preoccupied with the value of military and commercial transactions underway to drum up yet another regional war and inaugurate a new era of arms race, King Abdullah was keen to address President Donald Trump and administration directly, in their language, to remind them of the priorities of Arabs and Muslims, both as states and peoples.

Notably, the deals signed that day exceeded hundreds of billions of US dollars.

In the same manner and order of priority presented by the King to the leaders of the Arab countries at the Dead Sea summit two months ago, His Majesty put it clearly at the Riyadh summit.

In a four-point agenda, His Majesty summarised the challenges and concerns of the region, forming altogether an all-rounded view, rather than a bundle of segmented programmes.

King Abdullah, once again, prioritised the Arab stakes in addressing the Palestinian case, mainly the Jerusalem situation, and the war against violent extremism and terrorism.

At this decisive moment in time, Jordan was not going to miss this chance for the world, no matter how slim.

This may be Jordan’s only opportunity to redirect this unprecedented initiative and effort to reformulate a new Arab-Islamic-American agenda, which unfortunately places a secondary priority above its foremost, pressing ones.

This is why His Majesty was keen to make a substantive connection between resolving the Palestinian Cause and the war on terror and extremism.

He said: "There is no injustice that has generated more frustration than the absence of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian Cause is the region’s most fundamental, core issue. Notwithstanding our region, it is integral to the entirety of Muslim world, and it is the main reason why extremism and instability has spread throughout the whole region."

King Abdullah was the only leader to mention Jerusalem in his speech and warn of catastrophic consequences of imposing any new negotiation terms and realities on the ground.

When talking about intellectually confronting the extremist current and their obscurantist ideas, the King deliberately mentioned the Amman Message, launched 12 years ago.

Notably, the Amman Message openly acknowledges of the legitimacy of all eight sects at a time when extremists are trying to ignite an all-encompassing sectarian war throughout the Islamic world.

Meanwhile, some Arab leaders and regimes would rather fuel this war, possibly unaware of its dire consequences for the peoples of the Arab and Islamic worlds.

Sadly, the arrangements for the Summit and its urgent accords did not allow for an open American-Islamic dialogue to take place, which may have established a joint framework for the next stage.

Accordingly, it is not surprising to hear some of the participating countries say they did not know beforehand of the Summit’s closing statement!

The King’s speech was articulate. It showed thorough knowledge of the dangers surrounding the region and the threats imminent from escalating a regional, sectarian war.

Armed with an endless array of arguments, His Majesty tried to redirect the world’s compass towards its true goals and most basic causes!

Notably too, the King’s position was very similar to His father’s, may He rest in peace, King Hussein.

Twenty-five years ago, the late King Hussein stood at the summit of Cairo, in a similar situation.

He was also trying to avoid the unbearable costs of a catastrophic war and the price of foreign intervention, which we are still paying for!

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.