Jordan's King: We Can Defend Ourselves from Syria
Jordan’s King Abdullah II had a message for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Sunday, as he vowed to protect his country from the war in Syria.
"Should the world not act and help us adequately address this issue, and should this issue become a threat... then we are capable at any time to take the necessary measures to protect our country and people's interests," said the Jordanian ruler, according to the Lebanon-based Naharnet.
"In our handling of the Syrian crisis, the first and ultimate goal has been to protect Jordan's and Jordanians' interests," he told a university graduation ceremony.
The comments came after the Pentagon on Saturday confirmed that U.S. F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missile interceptors will remain in Jordan after the end of a joint military exercise this month.
The “Eager Lion” military exercises, with the participation of 8,000 soldiers from 19 Arab and Western countries, began last week. Earlier reports had indicated that the U.S. would send a Patriot missile battery and F-16 fighters to Jordan for the drill and may keep the weapons there to counter the threat posed by Syria’s civil war.
United States officials later confirmed that the weapons deployed to Jordan for the Eager Lion military exercises may be kept in the country longer.
King Abdullah said Jordan was working with Arab nations as well as the United States, Russia and European countries "to find a political solution that preserves the unity and stability of Syria.”
He told the graduates at a university in the southern city of Karak that "the crisis in brotherly Syria... imposed on us some harsh realities,” according to Naharnet.
"On the other hand, we are working to secure international financial assistance to cover the costs of hosting the refugees," he added.
A U.S. defense official said this week the Americans would also keep a unit of Marines on amphibious ships off the Red Sea coast after consultations with Jordan.
Jordan is hosting nearly a half million Syrian refugees, and could serve as a conduit for the military support Washington has said it will give to rebels battling against Assad's forces.