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Jordan's Prince Faisal al Hussein on Hotel Bombings


Earlier today, I spoke with his Royal Highness, Prince Feisal al-Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The brother of King Abdullah was preparing to head back to Jordan from Washington, where he attended bilateral security talks at the Pentagon. I asked him what he thought Jordan was targeted in yesterday's attacks.

Prince FEISAL AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan): Jordan has been targeted a number of times, in part, because it is and has had a long history of being a source of stability, a source of hope, a source of peace and peace-building and reconciliation in the area. And so it has made Jordan a natural target. We have been very successful in the past in combating these attempts. Unfortunately, yesterday, we weren't successful.

NORRIS: Your Royal Highness, some are now questioning Jordan's open-door policy. An Iraqi government spokesman said that these bombings should be a wake-up call for the country to close their doors, to end their sympathy with Saddam Hussein's remnants--is what he called them.

Prince FEISAL: I would actually say that the sympathy of the Jordanian people is with the Iraqi people. I don't think that there is people--or the Jordanian people, per se, have sympathy with those who supported the previous regime. Having an open-door policy, Jordan has always had an open-door--we've always accepted people from outside who have seeked either refuge or respite in Jordan, and I don't think that that's a policy that should change. I don't see that as changing as a result of what we have.

NORRIS: It's hard for me to understand why you don't beef up security at the border.

Prince FEISAL: I think we have been concerned about border security issues, and in some of the meetings I have had in the United States, we've been talking about what we can do to enhance security at the borders. This is obviously something that we're going to have to look at again. Hopefully, once we've understood how these crimes were committed, it will hopefully give us an insight to maybe review some of our procedures, look at what we could do to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.

But I don't think that the answer is just to close our doors to the Iraqi people. That's not a solution, I think, is palatable by any Jordanian there. We have always been open to all Arabs around the world. And just because we have paid the price of that willingness to support the Arabs, that we are going to just turn our tail and run from this--this is a fight that we will continue to wage, and hopefully we'll see security and stability and prosperity in the Middle East as a whole, and that's our objective.

NORRIS: Now we all know that extremist movements represent but a fraction of Arabs and Muslims. But it appears that there is deep-seeded anger towards the US, even in your country, in part because of America's support for Israel, an anger that's now compounded by the war in Iraq. And in a country like Jordan, with such a large population of Palestinians, are you concerned that the extremists may have growing appeal within the general population, the idea that, `The enemy of my enemy might be my friend'?

Prince FEISAL: No. To be honest, I think any Jordanian who sees this is not of the view as attacking Jordanian institutions or Jordanian policy. And I don't think--although some people might be frustrated with some of the policies and some of the facts on the ground in the region, I don't think there'll be a lot of people or any Jordanians that would openly sit there and say that this justifies the killing of innocents. The people at the weddings, the people in the lobbies were just going about their business, and they didn't deserve to die just because people are frustrated at policies and the facts on the ground in the region. And I don't think Jordanians would stand for that.

NORRIS: Prince Feisal al-Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Your Royal Highness, thank you so much for speaking with us.

Prince FEISAL: OK. Thank you very much.

NORRIS: Prince Feisal al-Hussein of Jordan. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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