Jordanian ambassador: Middle East peace relies on the United States

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March 4, 2009

1:20 PM

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the Jordanian Ambassador to the United States, gave a public lecture to a crowd of approximately one hundred in Ewell Hall late Tuesday afternoon in which he argued the United States must orchestrate peace in the Middle East.

Al-Hussein served as the Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations from 2000 to 2007 and helped establish the UN’s criminal court.

The College of William and Mary asked him to speak about U.S.-Jordanian relations since 2009 marks the sixtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations. Instead, the ambassador only alluded to U.S.-Jordanian relations as he addressed the state of the Middle East as a whole and what the United States can do to address the situation.

Al-Hussein began by acknowledging that the Middle East poses a challenge to the U.S.

“The Middle East is a set of crises that have confronted every president of the United States from Harry Truman to the second Bush,” he said. “Crisis in the Middle East is like an unwanted relative … a burden unto the world and a burden unto itself.”

He then expressed his worry that the current economic struggles would put the Middle East on the sidelines for the U.S. and further hinder the development of the region. The ambassador said he met Monday with a “distinguished member” of the U.S. senate who told al-Hussein that putting the Middle East on the backburner is a distinct possibility.

Al-Hussein hopes that rather than put the Middle East aside, the U.S. will play a central role in securing peace in the region.

“When you look at the region,” al-Hussein said, “we are all traumatized, we can not do it on our own. It would require a very assertive US initiative.”

This initiative, he said, would be composed of three parts: President Barack Obama making peace in the Middle East a national security priority; resuming peace talks in the U.S.; and dealing with psychological initiatives.

The last measure deals directly with Israel. The ambassador believes that after every great success in Jewish history came an incredible setback, and the fear of a setback has penetrated the Israeli psyche.

“After returning home from a visit to Israel, a friend asked me what I thought and I responded that I was certain Israel would be a permanent fixture in the Middle East,” he said. “I had no doubt. But the Israelis were not sure of this.”

Al-Hussein proposed that in order to have peace in the Middle East this psychological issue must be remedied.

The ambassador remains hopeful that a peace can be achieved.

“We are quite hopeful for peace in the middle east,” he concluded. “And with the right determination it can happen.”

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