The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

King PS2 goes nuclear

So it appears from this Haaretz interview of King Abdullah "PS2" (like most people he can't find a PS3) that Jordan is joining the fast-growing gang of Arab countries with civilian nuclear programs and an ambiguous attitude as where there is going to be anything more than just civilian. The boy-king says Jordan has to even though it probably can't afford to, because of those nasty Iranians and their Shia crescent. Which is probably a lot of bull -- if Jordan gets a nuclear power station, it's because men with little black briefcases will have toured Arab capitals trying to sell multi-billion dollar plants with the backing of their governments. If Jordan goes though with, you can bet its power station will be mostly funded by the US taxpayer thanks to the Bush administration pandering to the nuclear energy lobby. That is not to say that other strategic considerations aren't important, most notably Jordan's long-term energy security. But this is not Iran's nuclear program for sure -- unless the Jordanians mean that they want to have a nuclear bomb too, but that's not want he's saying:

"But, the rules have changed on the nuclear subject throughout the whole region. Where I think Jordan was saying, 'we'd like to have a nuclear-free zone in the area,' after this summer, everybody's going for nuclear programs.

"The Egyptians are looking for a nuclear program. The GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] are looking at one, and we are actually looking at nuclear power for peaceful and energy purposes. We've been discussing it with the West.

"I personally believe that any country that has a nuclear program should conform to international regulations and should have international regulatory bodies that check to make sure that any nuclear program moves in the right direction."
I was actually more interested in other parts of the interview that were highly telling of King PS2's personality.

1. He thinks of himself as a representative of the US government:

I can say that on behalf of the U.S. president and the secretary of state, and I've talked to both, that they're very serious and very committed to moving the peace process forward, because they realize the dynamics of the region at the moment.
2. He's unhappy about Israel losing to Hizbullah last summer and doesn't bother to mention the irresponsibility of Israel's actions:

The frequency of conflict in this region is extremely alarming, and the perception, I believe, among Arabs, and partly among Israelis, is that in the summer Israel lost this round... And that creates a very difficult and a very dangerous precedence for radical thinking in the area. The stakes are getting higher and higher.
But now I suppose I have to reluctantly recognize other bits of the interview were interesting, and I suppose no head of state can give very revealing interviews anyway. Still, his unwillingness to be a tougher critic of Israel, the main "saboteur" of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, is regrettable.