Clash with rad­i­cals is WW3: Jor­dan king

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY JOHN J. MET­ZLER

Among the 193 pres­i­den­tial and min­is­te­rial speeches be­ing made dur­ing the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly de­bate, most will present po­lit­i­cally pedan­tic and of­ten dron­ing re­state­ments of the ob­vi­ous; that war, ter­ror­ism, poverty and the refugee cri­sis lap­ping at Europe’s shores and hin­ter­land are among the ab­so­lute ills af­fect­ing the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. The new and re­vamped sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals are then placed on the al­tar of global diplo­macy as the penul­ti­mate of­fer­ing to save the world.

Few diplo­mats re­ally make states­man­like speeches; I sup­pose it’s be­cause there are so many politi­cians and few states­men. Jor­dan’s king is among this rare group of states­men.

King Ab­dul­lah II of the Hashemite King­dom of Jor­dan pre­sented a stun­ningly poignant and bril­liant ad­dress here at the U.N.

Chastis­ing what he calls the “se­ri­ous threat from the khawarej, the out­laws of Is­lam that op­er­ate glob­ally to­day,” the king stresses “these out­law gangs use sus­pi­cion and ig­no­rance to ex­pand their own power. Worse still is the free hand they grant them­selves to dis­tort the word of God to jus­tify the most atro­cious crimes.”

King Ab­dul­lah asks rhetor­i­cally, “Can we tol­er­ate a fu­ture where mass mur­der, public be­head­ings, kid­nap­pings and slav­ery are com­mon prac­tice? Where per­se­cu­tion of com­mu­ni­ties is law? Where hu­man­ity’s cul­tural trea­sures, pre­served for thou­sands of years, are sys­tem­at­i­cally de­stroyed?”

“I’ve called this cri­sis a third world war and I be­lieve we must re­spond with equal in­ten­sity,” the Jor­da­nian Monarch re­torted. Yet he added, “The more im­por­tant war is the one we wage on the bat­tle­grounds of the heart, soul and mind.”

Thus a key and re­spected Arab state ruler is not just call­ing for a coun­terof­fen­sive with mil­i­tary means but also with what can be called a “hearts and minds” cam­paign.

Yet King Ab­dul­lah is very clear about the threat, “when we ex­am­ine the mo­tives of these out­laws, the khawarej, “they come down to” power and con­trol: of peo­ple,

of money, of land.”

‘They use re­li­gion as a mask’

The monarch added poignantly, “They use re­li­gion as a mask. Is there a worse crime than twist­ing God’s word to pro­mote your own in­ter­ests?”

Look­ing at the wider re­li­gious pic­ture, King Ab­dul­lah adds, “In the global Mus­lim com­mu­nity, 1.7 bil­lion good men and women, one quar­ter of hu­man­ity, to­day’s out­law gangs are noth­ing but a drop in the ocean. But a drop of venom can poi­son a well.”

He called on all Mus­lims to “pro­tect the pu­rity of our faith ... as Mus- lims this is our fight, and our duty.”

Ab­dul­lah’s wider call ad­mon­ished by­standers, “Ex­trem­ists rely on the ap­a­thy of mod­er­ates.”

In­ter­est­ingly, de­spite be­ing a mil­i­tary man ed­u­cated at Bri­tain’s Sand­hurst, the monarch did not use the word ter­ror­ism in de­scrib­ing move­ments such as Is­lamic State (IS). This may be part of the wider ef­fort to marginal­ize the pub­lic­ity for Is­lamic rad­i­cal­ism rather than over­stat­ing its threat.

Nat­u­rally in a coun­try like Jor­dan be­ing buf­feted by waves of refugees from neigh­bor­ing Syria, the dan­gers of a spread­ing con­flict are equal to the hu­man­i­tar­ian bur­den the Hashemite King­dom bears from the refugees; to­day, Syr­ian refugees con­sti­tute 20 per­cent of Jor­dan’s pop­u­la­tion.

Though Jor­dan ( along with Le­banon and Tur­key) has been tak­ing the over­whelm­ing num­bers of flee­ing Syr­i­ans, there’s a se­ri­ous short­fall in in­ter­na­tional aid to help with the hu­man­i­tar­ian heavy lift­ing. Jor­dan ex­pects to be host­ing 1 mil­lion refugees by the end of this year.

Speak­ing sep­a­rately to cor­re­spon­dents, Jor­dan Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nasser Judeh ad­vised that the large num­bers of peo­ple flee­ing the Syr­ian civil war and into Jor­dan and Le­banon are “prompt­ing a sense of ur­gency” in the re­gion. He warned his coun­try has “reached a sat­u­ra­tion point,” when it comes to of­fer­ing shel­ter and aid to refugees.

De­spite a strong and com­mit­ted U.N. pres­ence in Jor­dan, King Ab­dul­lah con­ceded “we are still fac­ing huge short­falls, cuts and threats to vi­tal U.N. pro­grams and agen­cies, in­clud­ing UNRWA, UNHCR and WFP.”

The Amman gov­ern­ment is work­ing closely with the Euro­pean Union to as­sist in the grow­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian bur­den. The EU is cur­rently the big­gest donor to the aid ef­fort.

Un­til Syr­i­ans agree on a lon­gover­due po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment end­ing the civil war, the refugee cri­sis through­out the Mid­dle East and into Europe will show no signs of abat­ing. John J. Met­zler is a United Na­tions cor­re­spon­dent cov­er­ing diplo­matic and de­fense is­sues. He is the au­thor of “Di­vided Dy­namism — The Diplo­macy of Sep­a­rated Na­tions: Ger­many, Korea, China” (2014).

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