Official website of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Speech of His Majesty King Abdullah II
Before the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
London, UK
8 November 2001

The Right Honourable Robin Cook,
My Lords,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your warm welcome. It is an honour to be here today. Britain is known throughout the world as a model of open and democratic public life, and this Parliament, is the embodiment of that proud reputation. Your debates are justly famous.

Indeed, nowhere else on the globe do the opening words "The Right Honourable Member" carry so many, and such varied, shades of meaning. As far as I can tell, the only phrase that can cause greater fear and trembling, is "My Honourable Friend."

I hope that today, you will consider me a friend, for I am here to tell you that this institution, so much at the heart of British life, belongs also to the world.

These Houses are a historic home to the great, and now universal idea, that monarchs and governments, serve the people, and not the other way around. These Houses led the fight, in defence of freedom when the world was faced with catastrophe – not once, not twice, but many times, and at times for long years, alone. These Houses have welcomed strangers in friendship, and friends, with courteous respect.

Here, Ronald Reagan challenged the assumption that old ways, were the only ways, and called for a new birth of freedom in the East. And with the help of Britain, freedom came.

Here, Nelson Mandela thanked Members of Parliament for standing firm for justice in South Africa. Because, with the help of Britain, justice had come.

Today, I speak in the shadows of great events and great men to talk about another mission: the defeat of terror and the victory of peace. For I believe that with the help of Britain, victory will come.

I understand that I am the first head of state from the Arab Middle East, to address members of Parliament here. I am humbled by that fact. But I see it as a recognition, not of myself, but of our two nations' long friendship.

My late father, His Majesty King Hussein, led the way as a peacemaker and voice of moderation in the Middle East. I am delighted to see so many of his friends here today.

King Hussein's unceasing energy made Jordan a leader in the search for justice and progress, in our region and the world. And he always regarded a key aspect of that role to be the historic ties between Jordan and Great Britain.

Like my father, I have personal reasons to hold your country in great regard. I lived for a number of years in Britain, including a spell at a school in Surrey, and later, military training at Sandhurst, and an attachment, to the British Army, as well as academic tuition at Oxford.

It was during my school days here, that I learnt some of life's enduring truths, like:

"Any food given a nickname by generations of students is best to be avoided".

And at Sandhurst, I learnt the three commandments for every young officer who hopes to succeed:

"Listen to your sergeants.

Listen to your sergeants.


Listen to your sergeants!"

Every one of these lessons, by the way, has proved valuable in later life. While at Sandhurst, I learnt something else, and that was the value of teamwork. Partly, it's sharing in support for one another, support that gives each cadet, strength beyond his or her limits. Partly, it's the shared sense of purpose, making, and keeping, a commitment to something larger than oneself.

These, too, are lessons that have proved valuable. Aren't they, indeed, the challenge facing us today? Like so many nations, around the world, your country and mine, share important values, including respect for the rule of law, and the obligation to extend opportunity, throughout society.

Jordan is a young nation, and a small nation. We are not blessed with vast mineral wealth. We lack many natural resources, even water. But we are blessed with a wealth of creative, energetic people. Jordan has a workforce, that is now, per capita, more computer literate, and entrepreneurial and better educated, than most of the developing countries.

And we are using what resources we do have to invest in Jordan's future. To help our students compete, in a global economy, we are putting thousands more computers into the classrooms, and strengthening the curriculum with information technology, and more English-language classes.

The results of this investment are clear. Jordan's international human development ranking – a measure of how well we invest in social welfare, including our children – has improved. In turn, we've seen economic growth, greater exports, and an investment boom.

We in Jordan also take pride in our democracy, and democratic institutions. Our first legislative council, met in 1929, when Jordan was a British Mandate. After independence, our Constitution was adopted, and a two-chamber legislature was established, not unlike your system.

We continue to develop and improve our public institutions. A new elections law, that guarantees fair, free, and transparent elections, supervised by the Judiciary, was recently announced. The law also provides for an increased number of constituencies and seats in the House. This has required new registration for the voters, and administrative arrangements for delineating the boundaries of the new constituencies.

We expect all legal requirements to be completed within a few months, after which elections will be held. Jordan is committed, to preserving, protecting, and developing our democracy. And I am dedicated to ensuring that every Jordanian continues to enjoy his basic and inalienable human rights.

Thanks to these efforts, my country is in a good position to seize the opportunities of the new century – to create a better life for all Jordanians. That is my ultimate goal. And that is what I might have spoken about, here – had I spoken on September tenth.

The events of September 11 have changed our world. My goals and your goals – peace and well-being for our peoples – are still the same. But the route we must travel to reach them must take account of new dangers on the road.

We now know how terrible was the toll of the September 11 attack – not just for America, but for all of civilisation. Jordanians died, and, as you know, over a hundred Britons.

And along with you, Jordanian families watched – glued to their television screens – in horror, and grief.

We also know that the terrorists' real aim was not only physical destruction. They wanted to undermine and destroy the confidence, the close ties, and the security of people around the world.

In fact, in an era when we hear so much about technology instead of people, the events of September 11 remind us that people are the original interactive Web. When people can't travel, or educate their children or work together in safety, civilised society comes to a halt.

If terrorists can undermine confidence in a secure future, economies cannot develop and grow. If murderers can do evil and avoid justice, despair and cynicism flourish. That is the aim of the terrorists. It is up to us to see that this target is one they miss. I believe we start by being clear about where we stand.

The events of 11 September were, plainly and simply, an affront to all humanity. That is the view of the too-rarely-heard Arab majority. So let me speak for my people:

As a human being, as a father, as a Jordanian, and most of all as a Muslim – what happened on that day was evil. As human beings, we condemn that attack absolutely. And as a civilised nation, Jordan stands shoulder to shoulder with the world community in the fight.

Frankly, it is time that the anti-terror coalition works together as effectively as the terrorists do. Extremist networks are organised on a global level. They know how to co-operate and stay focused on their destructive objectives. They have found sanctuary wherever we were complacent and failed to act. No longer.

This means, as you know, a different kind of war. There is a military dimension, which must be exercised with caution, but always with unflinching resolve. An even more important role is, and will be, played by other means, economic measures, diplomacy, and the free flow of truth.

Much of this effort may, by necessity, be unseen. It will not be accomplished in a day. But I can tell you, that from the earliest hours, Jordan has contributed, condemned terrorism, shared information, and provided diplomatic support. And you can be sure that Jordan, will continue to stand with you in the days ahead.

This new kind of war will also require countries, like yours and mine, to hold fast to basic values. In a fight, where what we defend is not territory, but values, it is more important than ever to shine as a beacon of tolerance, and humanity.

Britain has won admiration, throughout the moderate Muslim World for your unceasing message, that this is a war against terror, and absolutely not a war between the West and Islam.

Let me take this opportunity – as the Leader of an Arab Muslim country and as the Chairman of the 2001 Arab Summit – to say that the Cross-Party Resolution – not to allow extremists to portray this, as a conflict between the West and Islam – that this Resolution reflects tremendous international credit for your country.

Looking forward, there is still much to do. I believe there has been – stretching back through the centuries – far too little understanding between the West and the Muslim Arab World. We have some way to travel, but I want to see a future where Muslim, Christian and Jewish boys and girls, can come together. For that day to happen, we need more understanding, not less, more respect, not less, more interaction, and not less.

It is a hard truth that out of adversity and crisis can come hope for a better world. As we fight against terror, we must rid the world of the breeding grounds for hatred and mistrust.

In the Middle East, there is now a unique opportunity to forge a comprehensive and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The need to act quickly is urgent. For far too long, terrorists have used violence, fear and community division, to spread their lies and influence. They feed on despair and injustice, like jackals stalk a victim.

Our goal must be nothing less than a just and comprehensive resolution, with the state of Palestine and the state of Israel co-existing side by side.

I call on Israel, to adhere to the international recognition of the Palestinians' right to a viable independent Palestinian state, on Palestinian soil, based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. And I endorse Prime Minister Blair's call for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. I also welcome President Bush's support.

Thanks to the work begun by my late father, Jordan will continue to play a central role in achieving a peaceful settlement. We are uniquely able to serve as a bridge to span the bitter divisions.

Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel. We recognise Israel's right to exist. And we wish its people stability, safety and prosperity. But the Palestinian people have rights too. And they include the right to statehood, because without that, and without Israel's withdrawal from all occupied Arab territory, there will never be a just and lasting resolution, to the conflict in our region.

I believe it will happen. It should happen. And my personal pledge is to work tirelessly to see that it does happen.

In the days after September 11, I received e-mail from strangers, throughout the world, many of whom had been directly touched by what had occurred. Instead of writing about their own losses, and concerns, they reached out to share Jordan's. I got some advice, as well. A 23-year-old wrote, "To combat terrorists, we need to stand together." A businessman suggested, "There is no time like the present to think outside the box." And I agree.

And I thank this body, for all that Britain has done to "think outside the box" – to stand with friends – to resist terror, to seek justice, and peace, and to build a new age of trust and hope for all humanity.

Thank you very much.