Jordan's king urges Syria's Assad to step down - key quotes
- 14 November 2011
- From the section Middle East
King Abdullah of Jordan says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should step down in the interest of his country. Here are his key quotes.
On Assad stepping down
"If I were in his shoes, I would step down. 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. Again, I don't think the system allows for that, so if Bashar has the interests of his country, he would step down but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life."
On a successor
"This is the first time where I think most leaders in the Middle East don't have a clear answer on Syria. If Bashar was to step down, he needs to step down with changing the way the system deals with its people, so if he was to say 'I'm going to step down but let's have new elections, let's reach out to the people, let's get this as a national dialogue', then it would work. But if you're just going to remove one person and put another person in, I think that you'll continue to see more of the same."
On who's in charge
"If you understand Syrian politics, he's in front, and the image of Syria is President Bashar. Having said that, both his brother and brother-in-law are very active on military side. So at the end of the day, like all leaders in Middle East, we're in the driving seat, we have to shoulder the responsibility for what happens in that country. But I don't think it is a one-man show, I think there is a team there, and again there is a system that has expectations of whoever is in the driver seat unfortunately."
"Whenever you exert violence on your own people it is never going to end well, and so as far as I am concerned, yes there will be an expiration date, but again it is almost impossible for anybody to predict if it would be six weeks, six months or six years."
"I honestly believe that he has reform in his blood. The vision that he had for Syria the times that I met him was very encouraging. I think 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 realise the world has changed? And that is where I have my doubts."
On attempts at dialogue
"Well I have spoken to him [Bashar al-Assad] twice earlier this year expressing our frustration and concerns about what was going on in Syria... I even sent the chief of the Royal Court in the late spring to see him again to see if we can't work together in bringing the violence down in Syria. And it became very clear to me that they were not interested in dialogue with Jordan or a lot of other countries unfortunately."
On Middle East politics
"If Syria is kept in isolation, you are going to 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. You have the Arab Spring in general. Recently we have maybe some hype moved on the Iranian portfolio because of the nuclear issue. The Turks are taking more aggressive stands in the north. What's going to happen in Lebanon? As you well know the Middle East is a mosaic of things and I think the problems that are challenging leaders in the Middle East is if there is life after Bashar what is that? And I think a lot of people are concerned because the unknown is scaring them more than the known."