Jordan's king addresses reform
04:14 - Source: CNN

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Story highlights

King Abdullah says he has reached out to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad

"They're not really interested in what we have to say," the king says of Syria

Abdullah doubts Israel is serious about a two-state solution

If the U.S. disengages from the Middle East conflict, it risks war, the king warns

Dead Sea, Jordan CNN  — 

No one has any idea how to deal with what’s happening in Syria, Jordan’s King Abdullah told CNN, saying he has “great concern” about how things will develop there.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the region or outside who knows how to tackle the Syria issue,” Jordan’s ruler said of the country that has seen thousands killed in anti-government demonstrations over the past eight months.

The king has reached out personally to Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad, he said, with little result.

“I’ve spoken to Bashar twice. I have sent the chief of the royal court to see him on several occasions,” he said, to outline how Jordan is trying to implement its own political reforms.

“Not that we’ve got anything perfect, but you know, national dialogue and outreach – and they’re not really interested in what we have to say,” King Abdullah said.

“So we’re trying to keep the channels of communication open and watching with great concern how things are going to develop there,” he said.

Speaking to CNN on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting on the shores of the Dead Sea, the king also expressed serious doubts that Israel was serious about making peace with the Palestinians.

“I am one of the most optimistic people you’ll meet in the Middle East, and for the first time I am very pessimistic about the Israelis and Palestinians moving forward,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says all the right things about how to reach a solution, the king said, but he sighed deeply when asked if Netanyahu was sincere.

“From what I have seen of the political system in Israel…. Israel is not really interested in a two-state solution,” Abdullah said.

“And what’s the other option? I think the one-state solution has tremendous negative implications on all of us, including the Israelis,” he said.

And he pleaded with the Americans not to disengage from the region during U.S. election season, warning that to so do risks war.

“That would be disastrous because whenever there is a vacuum, whenever there is a status quo, there’s usually a war. And so we’re missing a tremendous opportunity,” he said.

The focus has to remain on the Israelis and Palestinians because they are the central issue in the region, he said.

“I think the Arab Spring was a good opportunity for some to ignore the core issue that’s always been here, that is, the future of the Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

Jordan itself is moving on from the Arab Spring, he suggested, preparing for national elections next year.

“We’re going from the Arab Spring to the Arab Summer,” the king said.