The fight to defeat the Islamic State group (ISIS) is a “third World War by other means,” Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Sunday, but “it’s not a Western fight,” and he does not want to see American boots on the ground as part of the battles.
The Jordanian leader, in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on his Global Public Square show, said he has told leaders in both the Islamic and Arab world and to the world in general that the fight brings “Muslims, Christians, and other religions together in this general fight that all of us have to be in together.”
But it is a “fight inside of Islam where everybody comes together against these outlaws together,” said the king, and the military aspect is only part of the issue.
“There’s the medium part, which is the security part to it,” said Abdullah. “There’s a long-term element to this, which is obviously the ideological one. That’s the one more complicated and more difficult.”
Meanwhile, Syria and Iraq must also deal with their own issues, he said, and while that “doesn’t mean they can’t be aided by air, possibly special forces types of operations in the future,” there are many in the Middle East who look at the fight against Islamic extremists “being sort of our fight.”
“Trying to keep Western boots off the ground is, I think, an essential part of how we move forward. I think this is why most of us are looking at it that way,” he continued.
Further, there is always the perception that ISIS would use the issue of outside forces as “the wrong issue.”
“They will obviously always use the idea of this is a crusade, which it is not,” Abdullah said. “Actually, this is our fight. At the same time when you look at Syria and also Iraq, it’s the integrity and sovereignty of those countries.”
Abdullah’s interview was his first since the death of a Jordanian pilot who was videotaped being burned alive in a cage, which the king said he has not watched.
“Many of us refused to see what I think is propaganda,” he said. “I had a detailed brief of what happened. We couldn’t escape seeing, obviously, pictures in the newspapers.”
And he believes that the video was made in an attempt to intimidate Jordanians, but it had the opposite effect.
“If you look at our history, we’re a country that’s used to being outgunned and outnumbered,” said Abdullah. “It just motivated Jordanians to rally around the flag, and the gloves have come off.”
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