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'Pandora's box'

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'Pandora's box'

Post by Mr007 on Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:02 pm



King Abdullah, who succeeded his father King Hussein in 1999, has been talking about political reform since he came to power. His critics accuse him of going too slowly and being wary of far-reaching democratic reform.

Asked why his frequent changes of prime ministers and governments - three this year alone - had not resulted in significant reform, King Abdullah replied: "Those who are scared of change, whether it is political or economic, have been very destructive over the past 12 years."

But he admitted he also had to "shoulder responsibility".

As for Syria, beyond calling on President Assad to do more to bring about political change, the king admitted no-one had a clear idea of how to move forward.
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Growing foreign pressure

* 10 June: Turkish PM condemns the "savagery" of the response to the unrest
* 19 July: Qatar closes its embassy in Damascus after an attack by Assad loyalists
* 8 August: Saudi Arabia condemns crackdown and recalls its envoy in Damascus
* 10 August: US imposes new sanctions on Syrian telecom companies and banks
* 18 August: US, UK, Germany and France call on President Assad to step down; US imposes full ban on oil imports
* 12 November: Arab League suspends Syria from the organisation
* 14 November: Jordanian king openly urges Mr Assad to go; EU tightens sanctions

"If there is a life after Bashar, what is it?" he asked rhetorically. Speaking of leaders across the region and beyond, he said, "the unknown is scaring them more than the known".

Mr Assad's supporters in a country comprising many ethnic and religious minoritieas also cite fears of possible chaos and collapse as a convincing reason to stick with the current order.

King Abdullah said concern about instability in Syria was heightened by other regional crises including the "Iranian nuclear file" and the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal "which could be leading us into tremendous difficulty in 2012".

But he was adamant that no country was seriously considering military intervention. He warned that "different countries have different agendas... it would be playing 'Pandora's box'".

Like all of Syria's neighbours, Jordan is already giving refuge to thousands of Syrians fleeing across the border. The king said his country would continue to "open our arms" to those who had to leave.

Syria is also a critical trade route for Jordan, providing the kingdom with essential goods, including food. Many tribes straddle the frontier, relying on cross-border trade.

Tension between Arab neighbours can be explosive. But concern over the consequences of speaking out seems to have been eclipsed by greater worry over the mounting violence next door.

King Abdullah said the Arab spring was "not even half way through". He expected "tumultuous changes" across the region for the next few years.

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Mr007

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