Jordan's king warns of Syrian chemical weapons threat
Clinton: 'We can begin planning for the day after the Assad regime falls.'
Jordan's King Abdullah II expressed concern over the use of chemical weapons in neighboring Syria, warning that an ongoing failure to solve the conflict is tipping the country towards an "abyss."
In a pre-recorded interview with U.S. journalist Charlie Rose, Abdullah warned of the growing threat posed by Syria's alleged chemical weapons stockpiles, whose usage is a scenario that he says "scares everybody."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on Tuesday on another Syrian top official defection that of the Prime Minister Riyad Hijab noting that "the opposition is becoming increasingly coordinated and effective."
"I do think we can begin talking about and planning for what happens next, the day after the regime does fall. I'm not going to put a timeline on it. I can't possibly predict it, but I know it's going to happen, as does most observers around the world", Clinton said following her meeting in Pretoria with South African Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. "We have to make sure that the state's institutions stay intact. We have to make sure that we send very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare. Those who are attempting to exploit the misery of the Syrian people, either by sending in proxies or sending in terrorist fighters, must recognize that that will not be tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people."
King Abdullah told CBS that he thinks that Syrian President Bashar Assad "in his mentality is going to stick to his guns. He believes that he's in the right. I think the regime feels that it has no alternative but to continue. For Bashar at the moment, if I'm reading the way he's thinking is he's going to do what he's going to do indefinitely. How long does he have to govern greater Syria? Going back to plan B, he could still be in power of certain parts of Syria. It's costing him about a billion dollars a month. If I was to look at the weakness of the regime, I'd look at the finances. So if he has money coming in, technically he should be able to hold on indefinitely. If he runs out of money can't keep the electricity power stations, can't keep the water running and can't keep paying his soldiers - I think that's where the major crack is."
King Abdullah spoke of the concerns related to the chemical weapons. "I hope to God that he wouldn't [use them] because I think that would be a trip wire for many nations in the international community. Gaddafi's miscalculation was the use of his air force against his people. Chemical weapons are something that scares everybody. What scares most of us is the weapons, chemical weapons, falling into rebel hands - and who are those rebels? - and obviously the use of chemical weapons against innocent people. Those weapon sites then need to be secured by the international community. So immediately people have to cross borders with Syria to make sure that those weapons storage depots are secure. I hope that you're not looking at it as a reason for intervention. I think it's a crisis where we have to react. I hope that people are not planning to sort of push whoever they may be to make sure that those storage sites fall into rebel hands because the minute you cross the borders, no plan goes the way you planned it."
U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman speaking to CBS said he'd "start working closely" with the opposition. "I'd give them weapons. That's the key. And I'd help them set up safe zones from which they can act. I certainly don't want to see American troops on the ground. But I would leave open the option of selected use of our air power, along with our Arab allies who are prepared to join us."