03:26 GMT +321 October 2019
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    Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the parliament (file)

    King of Jordan Lashes Out: 'US Thinks it Knows Middle East Better Than Us'

    © AFP 2019 / KHALIL MAZRAAWI
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    The US thinks it understands the Middle East better than those who live in the region and this is a major flaw in the West’s fight against terrorism, the King of Jordan said in a rare criticism of western policy.

    Speaking to US broadcaster CBS, King Abdullah II said the world powers needed to take a "global perspective" when fighting Islamic extremism and terrorism, particularly given the troubles in the Middle East.

    "The ethnic makeup of the region is pretty glaringly obvious for us that live in the region, that advisers and think tanks in the West seem to know us better than we supposedly know ourselves," he said.

    He also said that the complex geopolitical situation was hindering the fight against Daesh — also known as ISIL — and other jihadist groups.

    ​"I think the problem with the West is they see a border between Syria and Iraq. Daesh does not — and this has been a frustration, I think, for a few of us in this area with our western coalition partners, for several years. You know, the lawyers get into the act and say, 'but there's an international border.' And we say, 'for God's sake, Isis [Daesh] doesn't work that way,'" he said.

    "So if you're looking at it and want to play the game by your rules, knowing that the enemy doesn't, we're not going to win this."

    More Action Needed in Libya

    While Jordan is part of the US-led international coalition's fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, King Abdullah called for more effort to be put into fighting the group in Libya, which he predicted would become Daesh's stronghold.

    "And so are we going to wait to get our act together to concentrate on Libya? And then, you know, do we wait a year or two to start helping the Africans deal with Boko Haram or al Shabaab?" he said.

    "We've got to get ahead of the curve because they're reacting much quicker than we are."

    ​"We're in for the long haul, not only in Syria and Iraq, but for the whole region and for the world, unfortunately," he added.

    The king's comments echo recent criticism directed towards the British government's anti-Daesh plans, with a UK parliamentary committee report saying London had no "grand strategy" to try an defeat the group on a global level and was instead focusing on individual countries.

    ​The report also called on the UK to focus less on purely military intervention and increase efforts to improve the political and social situation in Middle Eastern countries where Daesh is present.

    Fears of Extremism in Jordan

    Despite being an ally of the West, the intervention from Jordan's king follows similar comments at last week's UN General Assembly, which comes at a time of increased tension in the country.

    While Jordan has largely escaped the violence experienced in Syria and Iraq, Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, made significant gains in last week's parliamentary elections, while an increase in religiously motivated attacks in recent months has led to fears that extremism is growing in the country.

    ​On the weekend, writer Nahed Hattar, who was facing charges after posting a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, was shot dead in the country's capital, Amman.

    Local media reported that the gunman was a Jordanian imam who had recently returned to the country from Syria.

    Related:

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    'Change the Way We Intervene': UK Slammed Over Syrian Anti-Daesh Strategy
    Jordan's King Orders Prime Minister to Form New Government
    Tags:
    anti-terrorism, military intervention, extremism, jihadism, terrorism, conflict, Daesh, Muslim Brotherhood, King Abdullah II, Libya, United States, Middle East, Jordan
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