Gathered before dozens of guests at CAA on Tuesday, Jordan’s Queen Rania Al-Abdullah said that the next U.S. presidential election will present “an opportunity for the U.S. to change course and change its standing … and to really reassert itself as a moral barometer.”
Speaking at an evening conversation with Arianna Huffington, an event sponsored by the Foreign Policy Roundtable, she said that the country could increase its efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to the region and elsewhere.
“It is important again for the U.S. to engage with the rest of the world,” Queen Rania said. “This is the worst time to isolate.”
Queen Rania, 37, who assumed the throne with her husband, King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, in 1999, has been among the most visible Arab women, travelling frequently for a variety of charitable causes and speaking out as an advocate for microlending and for children’s issues. She appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” last year, and at Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference during the day on Tuesday.
She has been particularly bent on changing stereotypes and mindsets about Arab women, the Islamic religion and the region in general.
Although its leaders opposed the war in Iraq, Jordan has absorbed some 700,000 refugees and “is stretched to the limit,” Queen Rania said. But she said that the responsibility for them lies with the international community and “not any one country.”
She also called for international cooperation — “patient engagement” — in solving the looming standoff between the United States and Iran over the latter’s development of a nuclear program.
“What is crucial is that this not become a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran,” she said.
She added that Iran had to abide by international regulations and that “Pressure has to be brought to bear” to make sure that their nuclear program is solely for civilian use.
Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, Queen Rania said that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue would help boost the voices of moderation in the region.
“The Israeli-Palestinian issue is the core issue on the minds of most Arabs,” she said, citing the way that it is used by extremists in recruitment.
“If we can really find a just solution to the conflict, those voices of moderation … will prevail.”
She favors a two-state solution, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians in which security issues can be resolved.
She said that there was a “clash of misperceptions” between those in the U.S. and those in the Middle East. As an example, she said that a frequent question she was asked when speaking to Americans after 9/11 was, “why do they hate us so much?” But that is just the same question she gets asked by citizens of her country.
“I have never seen such misunderstanding when it comes to both cultures,” she said.
Queen Rania also promoted the Jordan River Foundation, a non-profit program aimed at community development and children’s rights.
Among those present at CAA were Quincy Jones, Taylor Hackford and agency partner Rick Nicita.