This speech, delivered on the eve of the 1991 allied bombing campaign against Iraq, reflects the despair felt by Jordanians at the destruction about to be unleashed against their Arab brothers. From the beginning of the crisis, Jordan had stood in full agreement with the international community that the Iraqi invasion and annexation of Kuwait was a violation of international law which could not be allowed to stand. However, in the Jordanian view, Arab interests mandated that the crisis should be solved at the regional level in order to avoid bloodshed, economic ruin and environmental catastrophe. Unfortunately, intransigence on both sides made a negotiated settlement impossible, and the Iraqi people continue to pay the price with their lives.
In this address, King Hussein expresses his pride in the efforts that Jordan has made to save the region from war, as well as in the responsibility and awareness exhibited by the Jordanian people since the beginning of the crisis. He exhorts Jordanians to continue to set a model for the Arab region with their patriotism and democratic maturity, and prepares them psychologically for the catastrophe which they are about to witness.
Address to the Nation
January 15, 1991
(Translated from the original Arabic)
Members of the one Jordanian family,
I salute you with a sense of pride and endearment as we stand together at this very critical moment in the history of our country, our people and our nation. Our minds and hearts unite in the great hope that both our region and the world as a whole would safely surmount the grave dangers that lay ahead. This is because all the doors of reason have been shut and the avenues for an honest dialogue have been blocked, thus leaving the ghost of war hovering over the Arab individual, and, indeed, over the whole of humanity.
War is the worst option that any party to a conflict can resort to. The ugly aspect of such a war becomes even more acute, not only when we compare it to the oppositepeace and stabilitybut when we contemplate the fact that it may break out in a region rich in oil, the nerve of life and progress. Considering the quantity and types of weapons that will be deployed, this war will not only kill people and give rise to hatred instead of friendship and understanding, but the dangers to the environment are of such a magnitude that they will haunt us and affect our future for generations to come. This is a war against the earth and against everybody and everything in it.
For many long decades, our Arab homeland has been deprived of what other nations have gained in terms of security and peace. Likewise, our country has always kept aspiring to and working for what others have, in the form of a free, dignified life characterized by genuine security and comprehensive peace.
Our region is now on the verge of an abyss as the Gulf crisis evolves into an imminent catastrophe. Despite the horrors of the situation and the pain that is wrenching our hearts at the tragic turn which these events are taking, we stand with a clear conscience since I have done all I can possibly do to achieve a political settlement to the Gulf crisis. From the very first hours of the crisis, I acted in accordance with our convictions derived from our Arab identity and based on loyalty to our nation. We have never wavered from the path we have followed all along, making every effort to build friendship and harmony among the Arab peoples. I have never left a stone unturned in order to enable the single Arab family to stand united on the Gulf crisis in trying to resolve it within the Arab context. We have remained on this path without despairing or isolating ourselves, because the alternative to such an Arab solution was to complicate the crisis by internationalizing it or war. We are now hearing the drums of war which are threatening us all with the most dangerous consequences.
I have been anxious to speak to you today, cognizant of the fact that Jordans location and its stand have kept both our country and our people in the midst of consecutive crises. Such crises have only strengthened our belief in our position and cemented our steadfastness in where we stand against every enemy and conspirator. We preserved our solid unity in the fact of all threats and have remained, with the help of God and our peoples awareness, a dignified and proud country, a country of glory and sacrifice, unfailing in defending its domain with our hearts and blood.
Together with you I look forward to the triumph of reason over madness, love over hate, and the desire for security, peace and justice over the rush to war and injustice.
I pray to God that these critical moments will be the last moments of suffering and pain in our history and in the history of the whole world, hoping that the doors of evil will close and the doors of goodwill will open so that the hopes of all mothers, fathers and children will prevail over the terror that threatens humanity, the environment, and understanding between peoples. It is the people who will be the fodder of a destructive war that is on the verge of starting, leaving no victors in its wake. Real victories are those that protect human life, not those that result from its destruction or emerge from its ashes.
Our country and our region have never been through a more difficult, nor a more critical, period than the present one in which our people live, and with which they interact, under the umbrella of a true and fledgling democracy. Despite the difficulties, the crisis, and the charged emotions, our whole society has behaved with responsibility and awareness that makes every member of our Jordanian family proud of this experiment. It is inconceivable that democracy in any country should pass a more rigorous test. If our democracy passes this test safe and sound, then we can truly say that we are a people that has proven its maturity and ability to shoulder responsibility. We have the right to ask everybody, and to expect everybody, to safeguard the purity of this experiment under all conditions, so it can remain a model for our whole Arab region.
I speak to you today, as we stand proud of our achievements, which are the fruits of diligence, endeavor, and shared suffering. These circumstances present our people with one more opportunity to reaffirm, with a context of democracy, unity, and cohesion, their nobility of spirit, magnanimity, and high moral standing. Some of our guests have chosen to stay among us, to share with us our hope in peace and our condemnation of war; they chose to live with us and share our trials. These cherished guests, who decided to remain here at this critical time, see in our country a safe home that deserves their faithfulness. They have always received, and always will receive, our affection, care and attention. Through them our circle of friends will grow, and that of our enemies will recede. Let our guests be welcomed in our hearts in affection and hospitality, as we look with hope to a world of tomorrow that is more secure, more compassionate, and more harmonious.
The most glorious hope and sense of optimism are born of a moment of despair. We shall maintain our hope and our optimism. To avoid war would not be a miracle. It is the norm for any people to apply their minds, not their guns. Nevertheless, I stress that we, in this Arab country, will always be true in our faith and resolve. We shall always be ready to make sacrifices. Hard times are sent to test people, and we, in this part of the great Arab nation, have always lived a continuous test, because we live in perpetually difficult times. We shall bow our heads to none but God. No heart in our bosoms, nor limb in our bodies, will tremble with fear. We shall face our destiny as we have always known ourselves to be, and as our nation has always known us to be, one impenetrable family, tenacious in confrontation. If forced to fight, we will fight fiercely. Our banner will remain high. Our country will remain secure. Our land and our honor will not be touched while we live.
We are now in the highest state of preparedness to face any situation. Your army, the Arab Army, stands in the front line, proud of its achievements and of the cause for which it has devoted itself, confident that behind it stands the people, solid and alert as another army, as well as the security forces that safeguard our national unity in every sphere. It is an achievement worthy of pride that this country should be deeply united in one trench, that is the front line of the great nation, as it looks forward to emancipation, unity and progress.
With the deepest pride I salute the men of our armed forces in the field of honor and sacrifice. There they stand full of faith, to safeguard our country and its sovereignty, and to protect our land and honor. They have pledged before God, in all sincerity, to remain pure in their loyalty, to protect the land and skies of our country, and to prevent anyone at all from crossing it in any direction whatsoever. This is our beloved country that is cherished by our army and our people. We owe it to our country to give our lives that it may live in glory.
May Gods peace and blessings be upon you.
Address to the Nation
January 15, 1991