Jordanian Prince wants negotiations in Iraq

PEACEMAKER. If the vicious circle is ever to be broken in Iraq, negotiations must be initiated with the insurgents. That's the view of Prince Hassan of Jordan - which, as Iraq's neighbour to the west, has been severely affected by Iraq's descent into a lawless abyss.


By Ole Damkjær
In the West, all the groups involved in resisting the Iraqi government and the American led coalition are lumped together under the term "terrorists." And, of course, there can be no negotiating with terrorists. But things are not that simple, and it is vital that a dialogue is initiated with Iraqi insurgents if Iraq's nightmare is to end.
That's the view of Prince Hassan of Jordan who is visiting Denmark at the moment.
"Negotiations with the insurgents in Iraqi are badly needed. I'm not talking about the al-Qaeda element, and fighters coming in from other countries, but solely about Iraqi insurgents, who must receive certain guarantees; just as there is a need for some kind of amnesty and a time schedule for a pull-out," says Prince Hassan, who points out that history has many examples of peace negotiations being held with so called terrorists.
"Remember that, for a very long time, nobody would hold talks with Yasser Arafat. He was a terrorist. But then suddenly he got the Nobel Peace Prize," Prince Hassan avers whilst also pointing to another decisive prerequisite for stability in Iraq.
"It is important that the people of Iraq receive some of the benefits from oil revenues. It is estimated that only around 12 percent of the population receives any financial benefit from oil. Iraq is a rich country and this disparity needs to be addressed. Justice needs to be a part of future improvements," says Prince Hassan who has been invited to Denmark in conjunction with a Mandag Morgen's 'Co-existence of Civilizations' initiative.
A project that has been near to the 59-year old Prince's heart for many years - not least following the terrorist attack on the USA in September 2001. And if the decision were left to Prince Hassan, he would change the present strategy in the fight against terror; as the focus on 'tough security' simply creates more confrontation, which first and foremost plays into the hands of the terrorists and extremists in the opposite camp.
"Unfortunately it has helped to create the impression that Islam is in confrontation with Christianity and with the West. And Bush talks about Western values being under attack. But the reality is that the attack is on values which we all share - regardless of religion, or regardless of whether one is an atheist or not. Values such as freedom and human dignity," states Prince Hassan.
He is deeply disturbed by the fact that terrorism has been elevated to the status of an ideology by governments and the media - an ism - which must be fought against just as fascism and communism was. For this just makes it easier for the terrorists to recruit new warriors to the jihad.
"I believe that this collision arises because of a process of globalisation which is devoid of any spiritual and cultural content. In our part of the world, people use the term universalising, because this implies that globalisation also concerns spiritual and moral issues. As far as the people in my region are concerned, globalisation is just another name for colonialism. When we have a globalisation without ethics, ordinary people, who are living in desperation and without hope, can be readily taken in by the message that Islam is the answer to their problems," says Prince Hassan.

The Jordanian Prince Hassan bin Talal has recently been on a visit to Denmark. Photo: Bjarke Ørsted


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