Full transcript. Excerpt below:
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Your majesty, when you look at the Arab Spring, is it fair to draw the inference at this point in the game that repression has not worked, but bribery has?
By which I mean to say the states that attempted repression are either — the regime’s either gone or teetering like Syria. But those that have large oil wealth, were able to provide patronage of various kinds, particularly in the Gulf, have all survived.
KING OF JORDAN, ABDULLAH II BIN AL-HUSSEIN: Well, I think you have to take a step back to look at history of how the Middle East was divided up. And this is one the problems we face in political reforms in Jordan.
We’re still living in the shadows of the Cold War and, during the Cold War, it was more sort of, let’s say, the monarchies that were allied to the West and the republics that were allied to the Soviet Union.
And so maybe you’ve seen the reaction more in the republics than you’ve had in sort of the countries that are either emirates or monarchies.
But this is what makes maybe the transition to political reform even more difficult. For example in my country, 90 percent of the people are still adverse of being aligned to political parties.
And so, although we’ve had this wonderful parliament outcome of the 56 percent plus, way beyond I think anybody’s expectations, the challenge now — and I see in Jordan specifically, the hard work for us is actually creating that political party culture where people — the word is (inaudible) in Arabic and for Jordanians to be part of a (inaudible) is still instinctively something wrong.
So the challenge that we have over the next four years is actually the hard work. I think the easiest part of Arab Spring, over the past year-and-a-half, is behind us.
ZAKARIA: When you look at these elections that were just held, you’re absolutely right, your 56 percent turnout, for the first time you let international monitors in …
KING ABDULLAH II: Second time.
ZAKARIA: Second time, but this was fairly extensive and, yet, the Muslim Brotherhood has said they will boycott it. They are intent on street protests. How serious a problem is that?
KING ABDULLAH II: In actual fact, if you’re living in Jordan today, they will tell you that it’s not a serious problem whatsoever. I think the weakest standing of any group of Muslim Brotherhood in any countries in the Middle East is actually Jordan.
At the beginning, the doubters out there and the opposition didn’t think that anybody would register to vote. We had an unprecedented registration, 70 percent, which is much higher than any country in the Middle East.
So the challenge is how do I reach out the oppositions that boycotted, that actually ended up being very smaller numbers, but we want them to be part of this process because I think anybody who’s left out in the cold it just doesn’t bode well for any of us.
So the next change is how do we — or challenge is how do they come in over the next four years and reinvent themselves to be quite honest.
ZAKARIA: You could live with a Muslim Brotherhood prime minister? KING ABDULLAH II: That would — I don’t think that would happen by the right of the people. I mean, their numbers, I think, are at a historically all-time low in Jordan.
But I believe that they’re still part of the mechanism and how do we reintroduce them into the reform aspects of the future.
ZAKARIA: What would you like to see happen in Syria? You are facing an extraordinary crisis and I think people need to remember you have now 300,000 refugees from Syria.
You’ve just gone through a decade in which you took in hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees.
KING ABDULLAH II: Yes.
ZAKARIA: The Iraqis have just started going back and you now have this new influx. Do you think that the fall of Assad will, in some way, end this crisis or will that launch the beginning of a larger Syrian civil war?
KIND ABDULLAH II: Well, the challenge that we have is the longer this conflict goes on, the more the country will implode.
And so, for the first time, again, there’s talk of is there going to be a fragmentation of Syria, the breakup into different smaller state, which I think would be catastrophic and something we would be reeling from for decades to come.
But the longer it goes on, the nastier it gets, the more complicated it gets. But, at the same time, anybody who’s saying that Bashar’s regime has got weeks to live really doesn’t know the reality on the ground.
They still have capability so I give them a strong showing at least for the first half of 2013 …
ZAKARIA: Why is it that the army has not gone to Assad and said you have to leave? In other words, there’s been relatively little defection at that highest level. Help us understand what the dynamic is that keeps the regime together.
KING ABDULLAH II: Right. Well, the regime was based on Alawite leadership that gives this a lot of its strength. And, again, part of the problem is with some of the minorities, especially if you look at the Christians and the Druze.
Part of the issue that we’ve been tackling with over the past several — the past year-and-a-half is seeing this influx of radical fighters coming into the country.
So if you were Druze or you were a Christian who are sitting on the side of the fence, and even certain Alawites are not happy with the way Bashar is dictating the future of his country, but the other alternative, radical Islamic groups coming into Jordan or Syria is more finding. So I think that’s what kept them on the sidelines and therefore given more support to the regime because, you know, option two is worse. And so one would …