Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Lyse Doucet
14 November 2011

BBC: Let’s start with Syria, as the Arab League has voted to suspend it. Syria has called for an emergency summit, what would you say to President Assad?

King Abdullah: Well, I have spoken to him twice earlier this year expressing our frustration and concerns over what is going on over in Syria. I was attempting to reach out - not that Jordan by any means has a prefect story for reaching out in national dialogue, but we haven’t seen any deaths on our streets and it was an attempt to see how we could help. I even sent the chief of the Royal Court in late spring to see him again to see if we can work together in bringing down the violence in Syria. And it became very clear to me that they are not interested in dialogue with Jordan and a lot of other countries unfortunately.

BBC: The last time you spoke to him I understand was in the spring?

King Abdullah: I had spoken to him twice in the spring and I sent the chief of the Royal Court to see him also in the spring, to see if we can look at what we are doing in Jordan as a model to sort of help reaching out to different sectors.

BBC: Months have passed since then; it has been eight months of violence. The United Nations says 3500 people at least have died in Syria. Do you think President Assad has lost legitimacy?

King Abdullah: I think the decision taken overwhelmingly by the Arab League shows that we are extremely concerned about the future of Syria and the way the leadership is moving, but the question that all of us are asking is: ‘Will we see much of a difference?’ I don’t think that the system in Syria allows that much of a change. It’s almost impossible for anybody to predict where Syria is heading and how things are going to turn out. Having said that, I personally believe that in the short term you are going to continue to see pretty much the same as we are seeing now.

BBC: Do you think president Assad should step aside?

King Abdullah: Well, that really comes back to the Syrian regime. You know with my discussions with Bashar Al Assad I’ve gotten to know him fairly well, and I honestly believe that he has reform in his blood. The vision that he has for Syria on the times that I’ve met him was very encouraging. I think that the challenge is, does the system allow for reform so even, as you said, if Bashar was not on the scene, if the regime brings in someone else, does that person get it and realize that the world has changed, and that is where I have my doubts.

BBC: Is Bashar the one calling the shots, literally is he ordering his army on to the streets to fire on his own people? You said he has a soul of reform, but does he still have it?

King Abdullah: Well, if you understand Syrian politics, he is in the front and the image of Syria is President Bashar. Having said that, both his brother and brother in law are very active on the military side, so, at the end of the day, like all leaders in the Middle East, we are in the driver’s seat and we have to shoulder the responsibility of what happens in our country. But I don’t think it’s a one man show, I think there is a team there and again there is a system that has expectations of whomever is in the driver’s seat, unfortunately.

BBC: But he is in the driver’s seat

King Abdullah: As president, he is.

BBC: Should he get out of the driver’s seat if the car is going in the wrong direction? The Arab league has decided they have given up on President Assad, the urged him to reform, they say he hasn’t kept his promises and they say the solution lies in him and if he is not the solution he should give way.

King Abdullah: I fully agree with what you’re saying. I think that if he doesn’t accept the amendments or the expectations of the Arab Leagues proposal by the 16th [November 2011], in two days' time, then definitely we have a major problem with his leadership. I just want to point out that changing Bashar probably may not solve the problem because of the system that is there. Even if Bashar was to go, does whoever is going to come to replace him get it? I fully agree with what you are saying, we are all disturbed with what is happening in Syria but I think we deceive ourselves if we think that things will change dramatically if the individual is gone. I think the problem is deeper than that and it is the system, the political system that is set up in Syria.

BBC: US Assistant Secretary of State, Jeffery Feldman told the US Senate Committee that most of the Arab leaders he speaks to say and I quote, “Assad’s days are numbered.” Would you be one of those Arab leaders?

King Abdullah: Whenever you exert violence on your own people, it’s never going to end well and so, as far as I’m concerned, yes there will be an expiration date. But it is almost impossible for anyone to predict whether that is in six weeks, six months or six years…

BBC: You don’t know?

King Abdullah: If anyone knew, they would be a very smart person. What we will have to look at is that if Syria is kept in isolation, I think, you will continue to see what is going on pretty much the same. However, there are other forces at play, there is still the Arab peace proposal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Arab Spring in general, recently we have maybe some hype being moved on the Iranians because of the nuclear issue, the Turks are taking a more aggressive stand on the north, what could happen in Lebanon, so as you well know, the Middle East is a mosaic of things and I think the problem that is challenging the leaders throughout the Middle East is if there is life after Bashar what is that? And I think a lot of people are concerned that the unknown is scarier than the known.

BBC: The Syrians have said the Arab League decision is illegal, they want the Arab leaders to meet, is there any point in still talking to President Assad? Are you still going to give him another chance?

King Abdullah: I would imagine that if we don’t see any improvements by the 16th, an Arab League meeting will not happen. The Arab foreign ministers have been meeting for several months, the Arab League Secretary General went twice to Damascus and the ministerial team of foreign ministers went to Damascus recently; they met on the 2nd of November, when it looked like the Syrians had accepted the Arab initiative, and they met again last Saturday simply because they realised that the Syrians are not moving forward. So, the time line has been given. Let’s see some positive change by the 16th, which is after tomorrow, and I don’t see anything in the next 24 hours.

BBC: And what next? They also invited the opposition to Cairo this week. Is Jordan going to be part of those efforts to talk to the Syrian opposition?

King Abdullah: If there are meetings at the level of Arab ministers, then our foreign minister is going to be there. Yes, we are part of the overwhelming majority of countries that voted for the sanctions on Syria, so we would be able to be present. My concern as Jordan is, Syria is our northern neighbour, we have a humanitarian challenge and we have had refugees coming across the border in the thousands, not large, large numbers as you are seeing in Turkey. But we have to make sure that we position Jordan in a way that could assist, whatever happens, the Syrian people.

BBC: Have you offered President Assad asylum? Has Jordan been one country?

King Abdullah: No and I have had no calls prompted by the Syrian leader or his government since I stopped talking to him in late spring.

BBC: The Americans say that some Arab states have offered him. Would that be a way out you think that he should seek refuge somewhere?

King Abdullah: Again, I think we are going back to the issue if that could be a solution for Bashar, but would that change the long-term problem and the facts on the ground? If whoever comes in Bashar’s place is going be another Bashar, in other words.

BBC: But as you know in these countries, they are countries ruled by leaders and the leaders represent the system if you like and therefore if he were to go that would represent a break with the past and that would be hugely symbolic in start.

King Abdullah: Again when you look at Syria, there is a mosaic of different peoples, which makes it a lot more complicated. It’s not like if you look at Libya where it was sort of a rebellion, OK, Gaddafi belonged to a certain tribe, but I think when you look at the makeup of Syria where you have Druzes, Kurds, Sunnis, Christians, Muslims, Alawites, it’s a far more complicated fabric and this is why many of us in the international community are concerned, because if it starts to unravel, it’s not going to be a sort of a straight forward Libyan scenario. It will be an even more complicated Iraqi scenario, if that makes any sense to you.

BBC: Yes. Is that what makes you cautious as a leader, as a neighbour, why you are not coming out and saying President Assad should step down, because you are worried about the consequences of that, that it could collapse into chaos? This is what he says of course.

King Abdullah: We have always had a policy of non interference, so we’ve always been careful in not getting involved in other people’s business. This is something I’ve inherited from his late Majesty King Hussein, but….

BBC: But the Arab league is getting involved and Jordan was part of that decision, so you are involved.

King Abdullah: We are involved by pulling out, but we are very very concerned about intervention inside Syria because I think different countries in the area have different agendas. Getting into Syria is I think playing with Pandora’s Box. I think if you talk to the Jordanians, other Arab countries, even if you talk to the Israelis - in a way, I think one of Syrians’ strongest allies is probably Israel because the unknown is probably more problematic for them than to the rest of us. So it’s just not an easy solution and nobody has the answers. As we have discussed the issue of Syria here in London with your government, no one has an answer, so we are all in sort of crisis management mode, keeping in touch with each other as the events on the ground unfold. It’s going to be very difficult for us as part of the international community to have a long time strategy on Syria. I think it’s going to be a lot of picking up the phone the last minute and saying OK we have a potential crisis, what is the best way to deal with it.

BBC: The Arab League is now talking about protecting Syrian civilians and talking about going to the UN. What should be done? Should there be an international intervention? Some Syrians are even talking about military intervention.

King Abdullah: I have not heard from anybody from our region or outside any interest in military intervention into Syria just again because we could be playing with Pandora’s Box.

BBC: Do you support what the Turks are doing? In supporting some army officers that have defected?

King Abdullah: The Turks are talking about coming in into the north to create a security barrier. Now the question one can ask, is that security barrier five kilometres, 50 or more?

BBC: Do you support that?

King Abdullah: Once you move the military across a border, it’s very difficult to predict the outcome.

BBC: So you do or don’t support it?

King Abdullah: As Jordan’s policy of non interference, I don’t think military intervention into Syria and there is no country that I’ve talked to in the world that is seriously considering military intervention into Syria. The Turks in the north are talking about a security zone to protect the refugees because they have so many of them on the border.

BBC: President Assad is likely to insist in remaining in power. He still has some support, he says it’s armed gangs who are attacking him. Are you worried as the months go by, if it is indeed months, that the region could become destabilised including the borders of your own country?

King Abdullah: Like I said, Syria is I think a case in isolation, you will see more violence continue in Syria unfortunately. If you are looking at it from the point of view of the Syrian regime, with all that is going on, as a regime they are still in a fairly comfortable position and they will continue to play different groups against each other. So as I said, you will continue to see more of the same going into Syria. Looking at regional destabilisation, we’ve got to remember there are two other issues that are out there that are in the back of people’s minds. One is the core issue, the Israeli-Palestinian one, which has not been a good story this year. It could be leading us into tremendous difficulty into 2012. And the other sort of spike that we have seen in the past two days is the Iranian nuclear file. So, with anything that happens in the ME, one has to always look at the bigger picture. Syria is a major problem, we are all frustrated and concerned but let’s remember there are two other potential surprises that could get us at any moment.

BBC: And you think that what happens…because this is the concern is that Syria itself could create chaos, either in Lebanon or in Turkey and even in your country. Is that your concern that this could be like a lightning rod if you’d like?

King Abdullah: What happens in Syria I think we in Jordan, I think are isolated from it, except for the refugees.

BBC: And weapon smuggling we hear.

King Abdullah: We have dramatically increased our border security. There is definitely nothing that is going to go into Syria from our side and at the same time we have always had a long history of making sure that things don’t come out of Syria into Jordan. Having said that, as you have quite rightly pointed out, Lebanon is a wild card and so what happens with Iranian intervention or play in Lebanon? Is there some Syrian ambition in Lebanon? What would the Israelis do about it? We have to keep in mind that, regardless of what is happening with President Bashar, there are other players with other regional issues that are at play here.

BBC: We are going to move on to some of the other issues in just a moment. Is Jordan going to take more refugees, if the violence continues, as more men flee?

King Abdullah: We have to. Whoever comes across the border will be afforded whatever support Jordan can give. We’ve had lots of refugees come into Jordan historically, not that that makes very comfortable, but we have to open our arms. At the moment, there are thousands that have come across and we do have capability to, God forbid, take larger numbers, but we hope that that is not going to be the case. I know that you are trying to get an answer from me and this is the first time that most leaders in the Middle East don’t have a clear answer on Syria. If President Bashar were to step down with changing the way the system deals with its people, so if he were to say, you know ‘I am going to step down but let’s have new elections, let’s reach out to the people, let’s get a national dialogue,’ then it would work, but if you’re just going to remove one person and put another person in, I think you will continue to see more of the same.

BBC: Yes. As I understand for you as a neighbour, as someone who has started off in power at about the same time as Bashar Al Assad, it’s a difficult question for you, so in your own mind you have not decided whether the best way forward for him is to step down in the same way that other leaders have, or have been pushed. Someone says if he doesn’t step down, he will be pushed down.

King Abdullah: I would believe that if I were in his shoes, I would step down, however, if I were in his position, if it was me, I would step down and make sure whoever comes behind me has the ability to change the status quo that we’re seeing and again I don’t think the system allows for that. So if Bashar has the interest of his country he will step down, but he will also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life. That is the only way I would see it work and I don’t think that people asking that question are thinking simply if Bashar goes, someone else comes in but if it’s the same regime, we are going to be back to the same thing on the street.

BBC: The Arab League seems now to want to take a more active role in preparing for the day after, in talking to the opposition, in protecting the civilians and you will be part of those efforts.

King Abdullah: Yes we will be, I mean as a neighbour we have to be, using common sense and reaching out and if they are willing to listen obviously we are willing to give out our two cents worth. I don’t think it’s an easy solution and I think people are looking for the magic answer and it’s not there at the moment. No one expected Libya and there are big changes and its instantaneous across the Arab world. It’s not to say that the status quo changes very rapidly in Syria, but again you need two hands to clap so if Bashar was actively engaged, sincerely engaged with us in how to get Syria out of the plight it’s in, then we’d have something to work with, and I don’t see us in that position at the moment.

BBC: And you don’t see a Syrian opposition that could step in, you’re worried about that?

King Abdullah: If Syrian opposition, because of the way things are going, can flourish on the outside. I think Syrian opposition in the inside has to be very wary of raising its head because it will be oppressed very quickly so that’s part of the challenges. You have Syrian opposition now that are meeting outside of Syria. You don’t see a cohesive opposition inside of Syria sort of bringing people together simply because the state takes action against them and so we also have to be careful who it is that we are talking to on the outside. It’s a very complicated issue.

BBC: If you look back 12 years ago, you took power in 1999, you succeeded your father King Hussein, Bashar al Assad took power and succeeded his father Hafez Al Assad. There was always this talk of the new generation of leaders. You tried to develop a relationship with him and now look how completely different it is. Does it surprise you? Shock you?

King Abdullah: I think it shocked me to see the Arab world where it is today, but having said that, if we are talking about the Arab Spring, we will all look back whether it is a year from now or five or 10 years from now, each individual Arab country would have said, that the Arab spring is a defining cross road for the Arabs and a good one. We could all look back and say it’s a good thing that it happened. For each country, it will be their own pace, I keep saying with the least amount of blood sweat and tears. And I think we in Jordan are going from the Arab Spring into the Arab Summer, i.e., rolling up ourselves and now doing the hard work to achieve political reform, you’ll see some countries going from Arab Spring to Arab Winter to Arab Spring again. Not every country is going to face the challenges similarly and each country is distinct. And each country is looking to re identify its national character. There was this issue of pan-Arabism that I grew up with. Today, the Egyptians are trying to find out what it means to be an Egyptian, the Libyans what it means to be a Libyan, the Syrians what it means to be a Syrian and Jordanians what it means to be a Jordanian, so this is I think is a tremendous cross road and a tremendous opportunity to mature our societies in the right direction. But we have to do it with common sense and counting to 10.

BBC: An interesting question for you, what does it mean to be a Jordanian in your country? With so many different groups and a large population of Palestinian origin, different cleavages in your own country, have you been surprised by the unprecedented protests in your country?

King Abdullah: The Arab Spring took everybody by surprise and when we had demonstrations in the streets, the attitude again, that I learned from his late Majesty, is to reach out and see what people want. There have been a lot of changes in Jordan and amendments to the Constitution, election law, political party law, but now with the opening of the Parliament on the 26th of October and this new government, the devil is in the details. It’s how do we get over 30 laws and amendments passed through parliament as quickly as possible so that we’ll get ready for elections in 2012. One of the most important things is an independent commission to overlook elections. Well, that has to be ratified by Parliament to be enacted and formed. The work that we have ahead, and I described the Arab spring is from now until spring, is the government and Parliament working together to introduce all of these amendments so that we can have clear new elections in 2012. The devil is in the details now, and I hope that the government will come out with a road map to explain to everybody what’s at stake and we all have to work hard to achieve that.

BBC: You know that you have as a monarch absolute power. You appoint the PM, you appoint the Cabinet, you can dissolve the Parliament, and criticism of the King is punishable by prison sentences. The protesters seem to be saying they want an elected PM, they want a significantly stronger Parliament, they want a monarch of less power. Is this something you would accept?

King Abdullah: Just to be clear, Jordan is a constitutional monarchy and not with absolute power. Yes, at this stage I can appoint a PM but it has to be ratified by the majority in Parliament and a majority in Parliament can also disband the government. What happened actually a couple of weeks ago is that there was movement from parliament to disband the government and having sat down with parliamentarians we figured the best way to do it was in a progressive way and the PM handed in his resignation and the new government was formed. On political reform, I came out very early in the spring to say, I think my job today is to at least define as much as we can the parameters of getting people moving forward. What we would like to see in Jordan are two-five political parties as quickly as possible so that you can have a Parliament or a government elected by the people.

BBC: And how quickly is that, because you’ve talked of years?

King Abdullah: There are two ways of looking at this actually. The long term view, which I don’t believe is instinctively for me the right way of doing it, is to have a new election next year and have a new Parliament. When you have a new parliament, you will not have new political parties, we will not have left, right and centre, simply because and for me it’s been fascinating and I think Jordan is ahead of the curve. With all the groups, I sort of have town hall meetings every 10 days to two weeks. I meet people from all sectors of life and half way through the conversation I ask this question: “Where do you stand on health, taxes, services, education?” And you get a blank look. You as Europeans and Americans specifically know where you stand on health and taxes. That is not yet there in the Arab mentality, so forming political parties based on economic programs, political programs representing left right and centre is going to take some time. We are working with institutions such as the Westminster Foundation with your government to see how we could propel political parties as quickly as possible.

BBC: So you think Jordan is not ready for democracy?

King Abdullah: No, Jordan is ready for democracy. But again you have to understand that the concept of right, left and centre is not there and actually one foreign diplomat was saying, ‘the challenge is going back to the Jordanian identity, I think you as a Jordanians, you need to discover what is centre because once you can agree what is centre, you can work on what is left and what is right.’ Going back to your question on how quickly we can move, we will have elections hopefully in 2012 and we will have a new Parliament but what we’ll have is coalitions, we won’t have left, right and centre. Now, do we wait another four years for Parliament and political parties to form so that the next elections allow you left, right and centre? I think it’s too late. What I am willing to do is work with coalitions, coming together after this new election to form coalitions loosely based hopefully on something that is left and something that’s right, and from that have an elected government.

BBC: But this is a very much managed democracy. Would you contemplate a Jordan with a much less powerful monarchy, where you have less powers?

King Abdullah: We’ve already done that on the constitutional amendments, I can’t postpone elections or Parliament. Again, you have to remember that in the spring the Muslim Brotherhood was calling for us to revive the 1952 Constitution, I said no, if we are going to review the constitution let’s look at the whole constitution and from that we have 42 amendments and once the 42 amendments were put forward I said this is the beginning, this is not the end of constitutional reform. This is an evolution that has to keep going, so what you see where Jordan is today is not what Jordan is going to be tomorrow. If we have no blood on the streets of Jordan is because we’ve actually sat down and tried to figure out the road map and now we are trying to implement it.

BBC: What do you think the problem is, King Abdullah, because ever since you came to power in 1999 you talked about political reform? Everyone of your, it must have been 10 governments you’ve had these years and you’ve tasked them with political reform, so either you are choosing the wrong people or something is blocking reform. What is the problem? You’ve talked about the fear of change in your society, that some want to protect their own interest and are resisting change, you said that in one of your speeches this year. Who is stopping the change?

King Abdullah: There are a lot of those who I consider the old guard, those who have interest in the status quo. On issues, even on moving the economy, it always seems to me two steps forward one step back because those who are scared of changes, whether political or economic, have been very destructive over the past 12 years. Now I have to shoulder the responsibility for having become frustrated and complacent. But what the Arab Spring has allowed me to do is you opened this flood gate that you could never shut. Reform is the buzz word of the day. This is the opportunity to push forward and I look at the crisis as an opportunity. If you know Jordan, right after the Arab Spring when we changed a young government, people from my generation who were unpopular but doing the right things in reform, the old guard came and they were sort of saying, ‘we are what Jordan needs.’ Actually they were not interested in political reform but they were taking up the calls of the Arab street, so fine. A lot of those who were against my policies were riding the waves sort to speak, so I said, fine, you want reform. I got them exactly into the position that I want them. So as you’ve seen over the past six to seven months, we’ve managed to make all these changes to the Constitution and to the laws in Parliament.

BBC: And what do you expect? Do you expect to see a much different monarchy in Jordan?

King Abdullah: Yes, the issue is to also debate in our Jordanian society what it means because I think you are saying people swing back and forth on a lot of these issues where people take certain cries in the spring and then say uh oh, let’s think this out. We do have some issues on the political party law and the election law that are going to be discussed in Parliament. I believe in a one-man one-vote, I’ve seen it in many democracies across the world but there has been a move to go away from the one-man one-vote and that’s fine, but again the devil is in the details. We have to figure out how it will impact on a municipal level, how it impacts the fabric of our society and it’s going to be a learning process. There are definitely going to be some mistakes, but that’s democracy too. And you know what Jordan is about is evolution, not revolution.

BBC: And all this is taking place at a time when the region continues to be a big concern. You’ve talked about Jordan being between ‘Iraq and the hard place.’ American troops are going to leave Iraq at the end of the year. You’ve mentioned how there isn’t any progress at all but regression on Israeli-Palestinian peace making. Do you think 2012 will be an even more unstable year?

King Abdullah: It’s always been an interesting place, so we are used to the high stress level that we are all living in. Having said that, one of the areas we have to concentrate on is the Israeli Palestinian one because we are getting to a point, is there really hope for a two-state solution or not?

BBC: Is there? We talked about this and you said if there is not going to be progress there will be a war and years have passed and there has been more violence. The region has changed.

King Abdullah: When the Arab Spring happened, a lot of Israeli politicians said it was going to be a great thing for Israel. Actually, this has become a terrible thing for Israel. Israel’s relationships in the Middle East have become so much more unpredictable. You’ve seen the relationship…

BBC: Unpredictable in the sense of…

King Abdullah: Turkey and Israel have a bad relationship. You see what’s happening in Egypt. Jordan is the only other country that has a relationship with Israel, so we are the last man standing. I don’t think that Israel is more stable because of what is happening in the Middle East, it is less stable. If they don’t figure out whether they truly want a two-state solution, then the Israel that we know has also an expiration date. They have to decide how they want to integrate themselves into the region. And if they keep pushing this problem down the road, each year the options for Israel become less. A very well respected Western politician told me recently that if Israel continues on this policy of not moving forward on the Palestinian-Israeli issue it will find itself in the very near future with the only ally out there being the US Congress. And in my discussion in the international community, the volume of frustration that has been raised towards Israeli politics is at an all time level.

BBC: Of course you call yourself the last man standing, you are one of two countries to have a peace treaty with Israel. Some Egyptians are questioning the peace treaty with Israel, could that happen in your country - a country with a population of Palestinian origin?

King Abdullah: There is more than a call throughout the Middle East, why give Israel a chance when it’s not interested in reaching out to the Arab peace initiative or to pursue the Palestinian process. In my particular position at this stage, we have a relationship with Israel because it’s the right thing to do. We have a huge field hospital in Gaza, we have them in the West Bank, we are able to bring aid to the Palestinians. But more and more of that question is going to be asked. What is the benefit? Well, I know the benefit of peace is peace. But at the end of the day if Israel is going to continue not moving the process forward, Jordan is going to come under a lot of pressure.

BBC: And at the time Israel is warning about Iran developing a nuclear weapon, there are rumblings about Israeli attacks on Iran. You’ve always been worried about Iran’s role in the region.

King Abdullah: Yes, but the premise for Iran attacking Israel is the injustice against the Palestinians and the future of Jerusalem…

BBC: So Israel is not attacking Iran because of its IAEA report which says…

King Abdullah: Israel doesn’t even have to do that if it solves its problem with the Palestinians and the Arabs. Then why would Iran want to attack, why would Iran be a threat to Israel? So there is two ways of looking at it: You can go to war and create a problem between Iran and Israel, or you could solve the Palestinian problem and integrate yourself into the neighbourhood and the first people who would protect you would be the rest of us neighbours.

BBC: What do you predict in 2012, King Abdullah?

King Abdullah: Nobody can predict. Usually at the end of the year we like to make predictions for the next year. If you listened to my prediction at the end of last year of what 2011 would be like, I was way off the mark. And I don’t think anybody in the Middle East can predict what is going to happen and what we see as an Arab spring we are not even half way through it yet. There are going to be tumultuous changes for the Middle East for at least the next couple of years. Anything can happen.

BBC: Are you worried?

King Abdullah: When I look at the general scene, because of some issues we haven’t dealt with - the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and maybe the Iranian nuclear file - that worries me. When I think about the way we are going to chart Jordan forward, I am actually excited. It’s been a learning curve for all of us. When you face a crisis, you can either sit back and dismiss it, or you could grab the moment. I think this is an opportunity to grab the moment.

BBC: You have pictures of your son Hussein next to you and your father the late King Hussein. Do you think one day he will inherit, and there will be a Throne for him to inherit?

King Abdullah: I think the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will continue for many years to come, but definitely the way that my son, God willing, will inherit the Throne will be in completely different circumstances from the one that I inherited. It’s all about evolution. Leaders need to seize the moment for their people. This is a golden opportunity for Jordan.

BBC: King Abdullah of Jordan, thank you very much.