ISIS on the rise again, says Jordan’s King Abdullah

King Abdullah also expressed concern for the Iraqi people amid tension between the US and Iran

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan speaks at the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly on September 24, 2019 in New York City. World leaders are gathered for the 74th session of the UN amid a warning by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his address yesterday of the looming risk of a world splitting between the two largest economies - the U.S. and China.   Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP

Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned extremist group ISIS is on the rise in the Middle East once more.

In an interview with France 24 in Amman ahead of talks between Arab leaders and the EU this week, King Abdullah said the group was resurging in southern and eastern Syria and western Iraq.

His “major concern is that we have seen over the past year the re-establishment and rise of ISIS,” after its territorial defeat in Syria last year.

“We have to deal with ISIS,” he said.

The king added the political instability in Iraq, exacerbated by the US-Iran standoff, could leave space for the group to grow stronger.

“If there is a split in Iraqi society, as there is today… that is going to create a problem with Baghdad and we need to be there to step in and help the Iraqis deal with that threat,” he said.

On the tension over the past few weeks between the US and Iran, King Abdullah expressed his hope that the current trend towards de-escalation would continue.

US-Iranian tension soared after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani on January 3.

The US drone strike also killed the Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis and several others.

King Abdullah said he hoped the trend towards de-escalation continued, also saying “we cannot afford any instability in our part of the world. An instability in our part of the world affects Europe and the rest of the globe.”

He also mentioned his concern for the people of Iraq as the proxy war waged over their heads.

“It is the Iraqi people who have suffered, who have paid the price. They deserve stability, they deserve a movement to the future.”

He said Iraq would be a core topic of conversation in Brussels this week, and that many foreigners who had fought in Syria were now in Libya.

“From a European perspective, with Libya being much closer to Europe, this is going to be an important discussion in the next couple of days,” King Abdullah said.

“Several thousand fighters have left Idlib through the northern border and have ended up in Libya.

“That is something that we in the region – but also our European friends – will have to address in 2020.”