In this address, delivered 39 days prior to the start of the allied bombing onslaught against Iraq, His Majesty King Hussein outlines the reasons Jordan had called for an Arab solution to the Iraq-Kuwait crisis. He details how a disagreement between two neighboring Arab countries grew into a wider chasm between other Arab countries, and then became internationalized, growing even further in scope and complexity.
His Majesty warns of the consequences of war, and calls for dialogue on the Iraqi-US levelas well as on the inter-Arab levelto resolve the crisis. Jordan has continuously stressed the need for dialogue between the United States and Iraq, and His Majestys repeated calls for such a dialogue in the spring of 1998 are a continuation of this policy. Another focal point of this address is the need to apply the same principles of international legitimacy to all parties throughout the region, and to implement UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict with the same vigor applied to resolutions pertaining to Iraq. Unfortunately, the double standard continues to be applied in the Middle East.
Address to the Military Staff College Graduation
December 9, 1990
(Translated from the original Arabic)
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,
On this auspicious occasion, which has become a blessed national event, I greet you as comrades in arms and dear brothers. I am pleased to be with you again to celebrate your graduation from the Staff College.
I am delighted to commence by congratulating the graduating officers and thanking the General Command of the Armed Forces for its ceaseless work to increase the efficiency of our courageous Arab army. I also share with the College Command its pride in this achievement and express my appreciation of the efforts of its faculty and staff.
In particular, I extend my warm congratulations to the officers from sisterly and friendly countries who have taken part in this thirty-first class of the Staff College. Their participation with Jordanian officers bears a special meaning which we cherish and will always maintain and seek to strengthen.
This time last year, shortly after the Bush-Gorbachev Summit in Malta, and in this same place, I addressed the thirtieth graduating class. In that address I touched on several current issues of the time, in particular the promises and dangers of détente, and expressed my hope that the Arab countries would formulate a pan-Arab vision towards the emerging new international order so that we would not be taken by surprise and discover, belatedly, that new international relationships were being formed at our expense.
I remember that on that occasion I spoke with hope more than with fear. There were, on the one hand, inter-Arab problems and differences, whether open or hidden. On the other, the world beyond was moving at a pace far exceeding our countries' capacities to monitor, follow and eventually equip themselves to deal with the new situation, whose ramifications pointed clearly to a world embracing democracy, and espousing cooperation instead of confrontation.
Nonetheless we were hopeful that these deep-rooted changes in international relations, with all the challenges they represented, would propel our nation to mobilize, reorganize itself and seek, with a deep sense of history, to project itself effectively on the world scene as a civilized economic and political group, capable of dealing with others with confidence and mutual respect. Our hope then was that the Arab states would have been able to draw the proper conclusions from the changes that took place in numerous countries and move to apply democratic principles and safeguard human rights including freedom of expression. Many of the conflicts and problems that have arisen in several Arab countries and between them were due to the absence of the norms, behavior and institutions of democracy.
Hoping to revive the Arab nation, we continued to communicate with our Arab brethren. We did so motivated by a firm conviction in the inevitable coming together of our nation on sound and rational foundations, based on the belief in God and our common destiny, goals and interests. Thereafter, we put border-related disputes between some Arab states as a principal item on our agenda, considering them as fundamental weaknesses which must be addressed and remedied.
Of those cracks in the Arab system, the Iraq-Kuwait dispute was, in our view, the one that should have received the greatest attention and care to resolve, because it had reached a very critical and explosive phase in an area whose regional and international importance cannot escape anyone. With goodwill and the best of intentions, we used our good offices with both sidesIraq and Kuwaitin order to narrow their differences and help bring about an amicable solution. Unfortunately, neither our efforts nor those of the others brought the desired results. Hence, our worst fears were realized and the Gulf crisis erupted, throwing our region into a new phase of its modern history. The Arab order found itself facing a severe test, the likes of which it had never experienced since the creation of the League of Arab States. Disagreement between two sister countries turned into a wider chasm in the Arab system which foreign powers, in pursuit of their interest, hastened to penetrate and to interfere directly in our own Arab affairs.
In this regard we, in Jordan, decided from the very first day of the crisis that our pan-Arab duty dictated that we should not be dragged into taking sides. We held this position in order to be able to work with everyone who opted for a similar attitude to contain the problem and bury the seeds of sedition and resolve the crisis through peaceful means within an Arab framework. Our deep concern was the fear that the problem would be internationalized, thus growing in scope and complexity.
This is why we were keen to seek a peaceful resolution to this conflict within an Arab framework, based on our adherence to the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and to ensure the rights and interests of the two sisterly countries.
Regrettably, events took the course which we had feared. A process of escalation started which complicated the crisis. The one problem became multi-faceted and the parties to the conflict increased to include others beyond the original two antagonists. The Arab nation suddenly found itself facing a situation reminiscent of the dangerous one in which it found itself in 1918. Then it discovered that its course had been set for it through the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Balfour Declaration, and at a later stage, by the League of Nations.
I do not intend to review the events since August 2, with which you are familiar. But I will say that our Arab region is on the verge of a very destructive war. This war, God forbid that it should happen, will result in a grave tragedy which will affect not only the present, but also the future. In addition, it will cause a severe international economic crisis, an environmental catastrophe, deep wounds that will take a long time to heal, and long-lasting world instability. What are we to do? Will we allow ourselves to slide into this abyss? Or will we recognize this bitter reality and its ramifications? Will we transform the 2nd of August, 1990, into a scar that will be concealed by the restoration of Arab solidarity, or will we allow it to become a festering wound depleting our strength for a long time?
Our historic duty towards ourselves and our future generations compels us to wake up and to deflect the dangers awaiting us. I believe a rescue operation is still possible and that the responsibility for it falls upon us, the Arabs, without any exceptions. If we are resolute in correcting our course and are ready for a peaceful settlement, then there are some principles which we must recall and abide by. Foremost amongst these principles that must be activated is the one that gives the Arab mediator the opportunity to act by engaging both parties to the conflict in a dialogue. This will prepare the road for them to sit down together to negotiate a resolution to the problems which gave rise to this conflict.
One of the most salient features of the Gulf crisis is what I described before as the embargo on dialogue which resulted from the absence of a mediating third party and the prevention of its emergence, although the crisis is on the verge of a destructive military confrontation. This runs against the norms of international behavior, which are supported by the experience that the resolution of international conflicts requires the presence of a mediator, particularly at the early stages of a conflict, to help resolve it peacefully.
The second principle which needs to be adopted in the Iraq-Kuwait conflict is the principle of compromise. This principle leads ultimately to a balanced and final resolution, since it allows for a process of give and take which results in an outcome acceptable to both parties.
The third important principle is the need to discuss the Gulf crisis within a comprehensive outlook which takes into account other problems of the region, which equally threaten world peace and the world's economy. Besides the Gulf crisis, our region, which contains the largest oil reserves alongside a burgeoning arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, still suffers from the serious repercussions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the failure to resolve the Palestinian problem. It is clear that peace and security will not prevail in the Middle East if only the Gulf crisis were resolved. Weapons of mass destruction cannot be eliminated from the region if the Arab-Israeli conflict is not settled. Likewise, the world will not be assured of its economic stability if the entire region does not achieve security based on a just and honorable peace.
The Middle East problems are by definition interrelated, and this is not subject to the decisions of one country or another, nor the decisions and moods of their leaders. What is required is adherence to the implementation of international legitimacy in resolving conflicts on which resolutions were adopted by the same body, the Security Council. Otherwise, how can the principle of international legitimacy, which is invoked by the super powers, be respected and be made relevant to the New World Order? How can we put our faith in international legitimacy if we do not reap its advantages equally as members of the United Nations? The resolutions of the Security Council pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which the Palestinian problem is the root cause, must be implemented with the same vigor with which the implementation of the resolutions on the Gulf crisis are being pursued. This will ensure respect for international legitimacy and reassure small countries of their future in the New World Order.
Twenty-three years have passed since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 242, which has been accepted by all parties including the PLO. It has yet to be implemented. The Palestinian problem, which continues to fester and cause great suffering to the Palestinian people, is known to the whole world.
It is high time for all to defend international legitimacy by upholding it, and for the Security Council to show that it applies one and not two yardsticks.
Hence we call for the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East at the time when the implementation of Security Council resolutions regarding Kuwait begins. The task of this conference should be the implementation, without delay, of Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict with clear determination and commitment by all. This conference should be attended by the five permanent members of the Security Council and all parties to the conflict, including the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
The convening of this conference should not be viewed as a favor from anyone nor a reward to anyone. It would be a wise decision by the international body towards the resolution of all the problems of the Middle East in affirmation of the credibility of international legitimacy, towards putting an end to conflicts in our region, paving the way for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in it, and strengthening peace and security.
The Gulf crisis, the world economy in its oil dimension, the Palestinian problem and weapons of mass destruction are all interrelated Middle Eastern problems. In our view, any position, approach or international effort to resolve only one of these problems in isolation from the others, would fail to produce security, stability and peace in the region. At best it would temporarily freeze the crises and delay the moment of explosion, rather than remove their root causes. Such a resolution is possible only when the whole world turns from confrontation to cooperation, and towards progress and prosperity instead of death and destruction.
Brother Officers, Distinguished Guests,
Our optimism and our eagerness to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace in the region, and to spread stability in it for the benefit of its peoples as well as the world economy, prompts us to view the initiative of President Bush of November 30 as a positive development and a correction of the course that has been pursued hitherto in dealing with the Gulf crisis, which is interrelated with other problems in the region.
This initiative conforms to the rules of resolving international disputes, and to what Iraq, a principle party to the conflict, has called for. It also opens the door for direct dialogue between Iraq and the United States. I emphasize here a dialogue between the two parties, in all that the word implies, in all the languages spoken on the face of the earth. This is what we called for and expected from the beginning of the crisis since the United States became a party to the dispute, by virtue of its prominent role in the adoption of Security Council resolutions on the Gulf crisis, its participation with the biggest proportion of the allied forces that were deployed in the region, and its command of these forces.
The initiative of President Bush to open direct contacts with the Iraqi leadership comes after the latest Security Council resolution authorizing the United Nations to use all means, including military force, to implement the Security Council resolutions on the Gulf. Nevertheless, we see in it a source of hope to avoid the misery of a destructive war. Therefore, we welcome it and hope that all parties will have the patience and true determination to ensure its success, so that it would be the starting point of a serious move to resolve the Gulf crisis within a comprehensive outlook that seeks to solve all the problems of the region, especially the Palestinian problem. Iraq's decision to allow all foreigners to leave is a demonstration of goodwill, not to mention its noble human dimension that elevates the value of human life above all else. Therefore it deserves appreciation and respect, and it should only be interpreted in this context.
The forthcoming Iraqi-American dialogue does not mean that the Arab states should settle for the role of spectators awaiting results. We in Jordan call for the initiation of an inter-Arab dialogue to parallel the Iraqi-American dialogue on the Gulf crisis because it is an Arab issue which concerns Arabs primarily, as applies to the Palestinian problem. This dialogue must spring out of concern for our nation's future, independence, fortitude, cohesiveness, the good of its future generations and the rights and interests of the antagonists. We should be guided by the fear of God, our faithfulness to the struggle of our forefathers and the sacrifice of the Arab martyrs, and by our adherence to the tenets of our faith and the teachings of our Arab prophet. None of us can believe that a single Arab could accept that an Arab problem, which could be solved within the Arab context, should provide the inroad for the destruction of Iraq's military and technological strength. This at a time when the heroic Palestinian people respond with stones to bullets, when the third holiest shrine (Al-Haram Al-Sharif) faces a conspiracy to Judaize it, while the waves of Soviet immigrants continue to pour into Palestine in fulfillment of the Zionist dream, and as Israel continues to develop its arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, intended for use against Arabs. We find it hard to believe that the United States should accept to hold direct contacts with Iraq, and that Europe should declare its willingness to talk to Iraq while the Arab antagonists reject such a dialogue. No one among us can believe that a single Arab rejects the linkage between the solution of the Gulf crisis and the solution of the Palestinian problem, the rescue of our holy places, and the stemming of the Israeli expansion. We consider the mere insinuation by non-Arabs that a single Arab can reject the linkage between the two problems an insult to the whole Arab nation. If such an Arab exists, let him identify himself, otherwise let the world hear from this nation, its collective view clearly and beyond any doubt.
At this point I would like to quote our popular saying: "Blood is thicker than water. Based on this truth, I call on all my brother Arab leaders to stop their recriminations and preoccupation with apportioning guilt and innocence, and to prevent the deepening of the rift and heightening of polarization. Instead, let us start a comprehensive and frank dialogue. The opportunity for reconciliation and accord between Arabs will always be there. More importantly, the opportunity for solving the Gulf crisis and the Palestinian problem on the basis of international legitimacy has never been better that it is today. Let us seize this opportunity or we will be cursed by God and by history. Let us bury our grievances and put an end to sedition, doubts and suspicions. Let us end the fabrication of conspiracy theories and tales of Arab plots against other Arabs, so we can thwart the intrigues of the covetous who always fish in troubled waters. Let us close our ranks and solve our problems to retrieve our Jerusalem by the grace of God and with His help.
Once again I congratulate you from my heart, and I thank you and wish you all success. I pray to God to guide us to do His will, and to guide our nation and its leaders to the path of righteousness.
God bless you all.
Address to the Military Staff College Graduation
December 9, 1990