The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rania urges US to leave early

Amman, April 22 (Reuters): Jordan’s Queen Rania today said a prolonged US presence in Iraq would only feed Arab fears that Washington coveted the country’s oil wealth rather than seeking to make it a democratic example to other states.

“I think every nation in the world has its national pride and no nation in the world ever welcomes an extended foreign presence,” said the 32-year-old wife of King Abdullah.

“There needs to be some kind of time frame for this,” she said. “That’s why it’s very important for the Americans to communicate very clearly to the Iraqi people what their intentions are... that they are here to do a job and that they will not stay a day longer after the job is ended,” she said.

Queen Rania, who plays a leading role alongside her husband in Jordan’s public life, said that the people of neighbouring Iraq needed assurances about the future.

“The Iraqi people have just experienced a very big upheaval in their lives, they are very much in disarray, there is a great deal of uncertainty. They need some kind of visibility to their future to know where they are heading,” she said.

It was still too early to judge the outcome of the US-led invasion of Iraq on March 20 and the ensuing American occupation of the country, she said.

“What are they going to be delivering to the Iraqi people' Are the Iraqi people going to come out of this as a stable liberal Arab democracy with a much better quality of life or aren’t they'” The queen said that a long-term US military presence in Iraq would only fuel radicalism and fanaticism, increasing instability in the region. “If the Americans mess it up then the whole world stands to suffer as we have seen in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.”

Queen Rania said it was understandable that strongly nationalist Iraqis should be suspicious of Washington’s long-term motives. Many Arabs believe the Americans want to get their hands on Iraq’s huge oil wealth.

The queen, a high-profile lobbyist for many NGOs and UN agencies, said that a strong UN role in Iraqi reconstruction, with oil revenues monitored by an international team of auditors, would allay fears.

“It’s very important for the UN to play a role and for there to be transparency in handling of Iraqi issues. It’s very important to have the credibility of the UN come into this”.

Queen Rania, whose country quietly backed Washington’s war goals in Iraq, said the final word on the war would depend on the way America handled its occupation of the country.

“At the end of the day, American success or failure will only be judged by the Iraqi individual. If the Iraqi individual comes out with this feeling he has a better standard of living, his life has improved in general, that will only build America’s credibility.”

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