King of Jordan discusses threats to Jordan, Western ignorance on CBS’ 60 Minutes

Published September 26th, 2016 - 03:59 GMT
King Abdullah II of Jordan. (AFP/File)
King Abdullah II of Jordan. (AFP/File)

A video from CBS’ latest episode of 60 Minutes begins with a clip of King Abdullah II of Jordan in full combat attire shooting targets and participating in military exercises. Abdullah said, “God I miss my old job,” a reference to his military career as he went through the drills. He is also later shown driving his own vehicle around, a practice which is rarely performed by political leaders.

King Abdullah was featured last Friday on 60 Minutes, a popular US-based investigative television program which highlights various international stories.

The interview portrays the Hashemite Kingdom as strong nation in a dangerous neighborhood, which is struggling with several issues including an immense refugee problem, fundamentalist groups in the region, and more, as explained by the King. It also focuses on what the King sees as an apparent disparity between approaches taken by the West and local actors towards the Middle East.

In the segment, he said that the US thinks it knows the nuances of the Middle East better than locals, something that the King appears irritated by. “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.”

The King further expressed clear frustration with the West’s approach to Middle East conflicts in the interview. He said that the problem with the West is that they see a border between Iraq and Syria, a border that Daesh (ISIS) does not see. If the West continues to play by their own rules, they will not have success in their missions.

The host of the show, Scott Pelley, asked King Abdullah about Jordan’s breaking point, to which the king delivered a surprising answer, “About a year or two ago”. He went on describing that unemployment is skyrocketing, the country’s health sector is overwhelmed, the education system can not sufficiently handle everyone, etc. Abdullah described that conditions in Jordan are really difficult and that Jordanians are extremely frustrated. He further said that Jordanians, “just can’t take it anymore”.

On top of the aforementioned issues, the King also worries about its youth population. Abdullah noted that half of the population is under the age of 24 and that with such a high rate of unemployment, he worries about radicalization and the future of his country.

The interview took place at an important time for the Hashemite Kingdom. On Monday, prominent writer Nahed Hattar was assassinated outside of the Palace of Justice. He was on trial for sharing an anti-Daesh cartoon some found offensive to Islam.

On September 20, Jordan held general elections. The elections saw remarkably low voter turnout, and also a few protests throughout the country.

DL


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