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  #21  
Old 04-12-2004, 01:26 PM
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April 7, 2004 by the Globe and Mail / Canada


The Third World War is Now

From Palestine to Iraq, the Region is Aflame with Conflict yet the Need for Dialogue is Ignored
by Prince El Hassan bin Talal


A friend of mine recently visited a family in a small Palestinian village on the border between Israel and the West Bank. It was, he said, like walking into a real-life version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The table was laid, the dinner was ready -- but no one was there to eat it.

He continued through the house, eventually finding the family on the roof, huddled together, crying as they watched a bulldozer tear up their orchard. The parents and their children were watching their land and their livelihood disappear behind Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new eight-meter-high security fence, which has been erected throughout the country.

The driver of the bulldozer, an Israeli, said to them afterward, "For every tree I pulled out of the ground, it was like killing a person. It tore at my heart, but I am under orders."

The tragedy is that while they might be on opposite sides of the conflict, these are ordinary, moderate human beings whose lives are being ruined by governments, terrorism and the cruel, unilateral nature of international politics.

It is not only in this deeply troubled country that such problems occur. Across the Middle East, for every orchard that is ripped apart, there is an olive branch torn down.

The Iraqis have watched their constitution being changed to allow foreign companies to own 100 per cent of Iraqi assets, except natural resources; the Lebanese live under constant threat of an Israeli air strike; and two weeks ago, the world witnessed Sheik Ahmed Yassin being assassinated.

Sheik Yassin was the founder of the terrorist group Hamas. I abhor suicide bombings; they are an affront to humanity. It must be remembered, however, that to his many supporters in the Islamic world he was an important spiritual leader.

Terrorism, violence, the proliferation of weapons, human-rights abuses and preventable or avoidable conflicts -- all these issues are debated day and night on Arab television. Across the region, millions perceive a denial of the inherent dignity that we all share -- equally -- as creatures of God, living under one sun, on a fragile earth upon which we all depend.

So perhaps it is no surprise that the mood is becoming ugly. In Jordan, where I live, and in countries throughout the Middle East, I witness the growing tensions and resentment every day.

Israel and Hezbollah are bombing in Southern Lebanon; in Syria there are conflicts between Kurds and Arabs; in the Gulf there are tensions between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Iran, still anchored on the axis of evil, gains strength, day by day, with Shia and other sympathizers around the world. The makings of a third world war are taking place in front of our eyes.

There are more than 40 so-called low-intensity conflicts in the world today. Maybe it is not the Third World War if you are living in Manchester or Stockholm, but if I were in Madrid when the bombs at the station went off, it would look very much like the Third World War to me.

What must it take to move away from the madness that is sweeping the region? The extremists are engaging more and more moderate citizens, who are becoming increasingly disillusioned and desperate. The blame for this cannot simply be laid at the West's door. We must also look closer to home.

The governments of the Middle East are losing touch with reality. While they fight to hold on to their position, the power vacuum is being filled by extremist movements. It is they who provide compensation for children who are killed in conflict, who provide soup kitchens to feed the starving and, in so doing, enlist an increasing number of supporters for their wars.

Make no mistake that this is a world war, albeit not like any we have seen before. The conflict is not being fought by regimented armies of men, but by individuals and by small terrorist cells on our streets and in our homes. The human race has now reached such a point that we are arguing the merits of killing a half-blind man in a wheelchair on one side, and the blowing up of 200 innocent Spanish citizens on their way to work on the other.

Significantly, neither action has brought us any closer to ending the conflict. Sheik Yassin's assassination has only served to elevate him to martyrdom, and will undoubtedly incite further violence in his name. We must remember the real danger of such an act, which could change the agenda from Palestinian-Israeli confrontation to that between Arabs, Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Sheik Yassin's killing, like every other killing, whether it is justified by states or by individual groups, takes us several steps away from what must be the overall objective: comprehensive peace in the region.

All initiatives in the Middle East, through NATO, the G8, the Developing 8 Muslim Countries (the D8), focus on what appears to be the business of the moment: security, security, security. I'd like to see them focus on dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.

What we really need is a Treaty of Versailles for our region, where everyone can sit down together and work towards peace. Experience has taught me that it is better for all parties to be at the table for peace talks, so that no one is left off the menu.

In this, the Middle East is at fault. Each nationality sits behind closed doors. I have sat with them, and all agree with the need for a multilateral security system. But when they come into the broad light of day, they are only worried for their own bilateral agreements with the United States. That attitude must change.

And the West, too, must adopt a different approach. Its member states need to move from the narrow day-to-day perspective of politics as usual and policies that deal with hard security -- the use of the military to control borders and regimes, and too great an emphasis on economics and profit.

My greatest fear is that if we continue to depend on the rule of force and on power as a deterrent, eventually we will be unable to disable violence.

We must become more sensitized to the concept of consequences: the consequences of poverty, illiteracy, oppression, lack of opportunity, despair and anger -- all of which can all lead to the contemplation of violence.

We are standing on the brink and that is something that binds us all together: the Israeli who thinks he will be killed by a suicide bomber, the Libyan by an air strike or the Westerner by a random terrorist attack.

So rather than fight a war on terror, why not wage a struggle for the rule of peace? The Arabic word hamas means zeal, but flip it on its head, to samah, and it stands for tolerance. Sometimes you just have to look at things in a different way.


Prince El Hassan bin Talal, brother of the late King Hussein of Jordan, is the moderator of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, president of the Club of Rome, and president of the Arab Thought Forum
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  #22  
Old 03-18-2005, 11:49 AM
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Shelley, is this one of the articles you were looking for?! I'd never read it before. . .it dispels some of the persistent rumors that P. Hassan was angling to rule Iraq, and gives us P. Hassan admirers (er, okay, lovers) something to look forward to (i.e., the day his explanation of the events of early 1999 will be heard). I already knew he was extremely intelligent, but it's nice to see someone else acknowledge that publicly.

I also find it interesting that he says he is not wedded to the idea of an authoritarian monarchy, because that is in step with these times. KA has recently said he isn't wedded to it either, but his actions speak louder than words. He seems to be clinging to it, still clamping down heavily on basic freedoms within Jordan, not truly making reforms that would lead to less power for him, but more power and basic freedom for the people. I think P. Hassan would've made a much better king of Jordan than the current job holder. :(

From The Guardian

The Man Who Could Be King
He should have been crowned King of Jordan but his brother had a deathbed change of heart. Now Prince Hassan says he would happily mediate between Saddam Hussein and the world. Michael Freedland visited him at home.

Michael Freedland
Tuesday March 18, 2003

Could the man once destined to be king of Jordan end up as king of Iraq? Not if he has his way, although the idea is being touted around the Middle East. But the former Crown Prince Hassan would not reject another notion being mooted - that he should go to Baghdad as a mediator. And when he is done with that, he might be open to the idea of taking over in New York as the next secretary general of the United Nations. But the Iraqi throne? "I've lost my red carpet fever," he says, as we sit in his Amman home. His last dose of that "fever" was four years ago when his brother, King Hussein, came home to die in his capital, but only after delivering The Letter - the one sacking Hassan as crown prince, the heir to the throne. We talk about the "scars" left by that day - in his first British interview on the subject - and about the job he says he does not want. "I am not wedded to the concept of either authoritarian monarchy or totalitarian republic," he says. "To be true to myself, I am wedded to the concept of recognising 'we the people of this part of the world'. I have no positional aspirations. I think it is for the people of Iraq to decide."

He doesn't think they would decide on him. Nor - and he is certain about this - would they welcome a Bush solution, in which America would impose a General MacArthur-type government with Iraqi "advisers".

If the idea of a monarchy in Iraq were to come up - for the first time since Hassan's then 19-year-old cousin King Faisal was assassinated in 1958 - there are numerous relatives in front of him in the queue. But - and this could be regarded as a big but - his brother Hussein did at one time share the throne of a United Arab Kingdom of Jordan and Iraq. And that might, of course, be justification for him to jump that queue.

There is another reason: Hassan is regarded as perhaps the world's most intelligent royal. He regularly flits from country to country, busy in his role as head of half a dozen non-governmental organisations. But it wasn't always like that. Hussein appointed Hassan crown prince in 1966 - over his own eldest son, Abdullah, when Hassan was 19. The king saw in the prince a brilliant mind who would benefit his kingdom and, because of that, changed the law of succession in his brother's favour.

That was how it stayed for 33 years. Hassan was more than just an heir. He was the junior member of a partnership. All over Jordan, a country where the cult of personality is not unknown, there were pictures of the two men, arm in arm: on billboards, on the walls of government offices, even on dustcarts.

It was taken for granted that one day the picture would be of a King Hassan, joined perhaps by his son, Prince Rashid, until the day in January 1999 when a deathly pale Hussein, home after cancer treatment in America, sent the letter to his heir - a catalogue of alleged misdemeanours which shocked a nation that had been looking forward to Hassan's monarchy. The king accused the crown prince of "slandering" his wife and children. He said that the prince, in his dealings with the media, focused on "personality" instead of "content". He accused him of "meddling" in the army and sacking senior officers - all of which Hassan has since denied.

The man who, as a result, lost his title of crown prince and saw his nephew Abdullah become king instead, has never before spoken about this in any detail. He is reluctant to do so now. But as we sit before a blazing fire in his house - a home, he says, rather than a palace, although it is within the royal compound - the pain is obvious. "It was," he says, "basically disappointing on a human level. After all, to me, to use the Arabic expression, Hussein was of me and I was of Hussein. It was just inconceivable that there could be a parting of the ways." He would have accepted the change of succession. "What upset me was the way that letter was sent. I answered it, but my answer wasn't published, so my side of the story has not been heard."

I ask if he feels he has been the victim of dirty tricks. He says only, "Now is the time to look forward, not back - and one day my explanation will be heard. Later, I ask a palace official who is close to the prince if Hassan felt betrayed. " Of course he did," the man said. "He is a prince. But he is also a human being."

Prince El Hassan bin Talal is a 43rd generation Hashemite, a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed. He is small in stature and has lost a great deal of weight since undergoing a procedure to widen an artery to prevent a heart attack. Educated at Harrow and Oxford University where he read Semitics - he took his Hebrew finals during the 1967 six-day war, soon after being made crown prince - he speaks colloquial English (and several other languages). It was at Oxford that he met his wife. They have four children - three girls and Prince Rashid, all of whom were educated in Jordan and in England, where he has a home. For years people have said that Hassan is too much of an intellectual. His answer to that is straightforward: "Bull****. Just because you like to think you know which way is up doesn't mean you are an intellectual."

He says that he is not looking for a job but if asked to mediate between Saddam Hussein and the allies, he would accept with alacrity, although he believes that the war is already won. "I would ask, how do we win the peace?"

The trouble, he says, is that President Saddam has an "enormous ego". He met the leader in 1990 - when the prince was cut off mid-question by an aide. Nine years earlier, he had met him to discuss the Iran-Iraq war and "disagreed with him fundamentally". But he would give the mediation job a go, "even though I walk around with so many daggers in my back. I would say to Baghdad, 'Remember the importance of plurality.' I don't have an agenda. But I am prepared to go."

Hassan says that there is a need for the entire area in which he lives to think in terms of being "a region - from Israel to India - cooperating with each other. It would be a Benelux-type community, "not one of oil and steel, but of energy and water". He would like to see an organisation of people from the region - Arabs and Israelis - meeting every three months. If he were secretary general of the UN, he would hope to have several security councils, looking after both police actions and social matters. "Every cow in Europe receives a subsidy of $2.50 a day. There are people in this part of the world living on less than $1 a day. Poverty is the recruiting ground for extremism."

He laughs his thunderous roar when he tells of the American millionaire who told him he was bad for business: "I said I regarded that as an accolade." That might not bode well for his future relations with America. He agrees. "If the idea of being secretary general of the United Nations is being Mr Nice Guy, I don't think I am cut out for that."
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  #23  
Old 03-19-2005, 05:53 AM
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Good article, Papillion. Thanks for posting. I had read this but had forgotten about it, but this is not the article I was looking for. With that one, I was particularly struck by the fact it was in a tabloid newspaper, and at the time thought, what a good idea to print something of a more serious nature in a popular newspaper. I think it was the Daily Express. What particularly struck me was remark that the King got his Crown Prince to do some of his 'dirty' work, so he could remain Mr Nice Guy and the poor prince get the flak. Probably very true but not at all fair to P. Hassan
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