The emptying of Aleppo winds down a four year standoff between opposition forces and those loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That standoff has grown increasingly deadly in recent months, with an indiscriminate and relentless bombing campaign led by Assad and supported by Russia that targeted civilians and medical facilities, and allegedly involved the use of cluster munitions and chemical weapons.
But the retaking of Aleppo will count as a victory for Assad, and a sort of victory for his allies as well. A meeting on Tuesday between Iranian, Russian, and Turkish defense ministers produced a “joint declaration” to find a solution in Syria, despite the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Tuesday.
The United States has been notably absent from the movement in recent days, with Secretary of State John Kerry making diplomatic overtures that often went ignored.
“I think you’re looking at three people, four people in the administration. I lost the argument. I’ve argued for the use of force. I’m the guy who stood up and announced that we’re going to attack Assad for the use of weapons,” Kerry is heard telling the Syrian attendees, referring to internal deliberations within the administration of President Barack Obama that followed Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013.
Kerry also faulted Congress for failing to support such a retaliatory strike, saying, “The bottom line is that Congress refused even to vote to allow that.”
“We have a Congress that will not authorize our use of force,” he added, explaining that a new military intervention would be difficult to bring about.
The discussion in the recording occurred only days after the United States and Russia announced a ceasefire agreement in Geneva, an accord that has since collapsed with reports of regime bombing attacks and the positioning of some 10,000 Syrian regime-aligned troops preparing to advance on Aleppo.
I wonder if he is telling the truth here or just telling a bunch of Syrians what they want to hear. Also, I’d like more clarification on this statement:
Acknowledging that Russia’s military actions have “changed the equation” and made removing Assad more difficult, Kerry suggested that Syrian refugees could one day help eject Assad if given the right to vote.
Does Kerry mean that Syrian refugees could return to Syria and vote Assad out or that they might be given the right to vote in America and vote to support more aggressive American intervention? Given that there won’t be enough Syrian refugees to make an electoral difference in America, I have to assume that he meant the former. If that’s the case, what the heck is he smoking? Does he really think that a tyrant like Assad would allow refugees to return and cast votes against him? Assad is a totalitarian of the first order. The only way he leaves power is in a body bag.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concern over the detentions of Uganda’s main opposition candidate Kizza Besigye and harassment of opposition party members in a call to President Yoweri Museveni on Friday, the State Department said.
Kerry also called on Museveni to rein in the security forces and to lift a block on social media and mobile money sites, the State Department said.
Kerry was in Cambodia after a visit to neighboring Laos as part of an effort to urge unity among leaders of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations before a summit with President Barack Obama in Sunnylands, California, next month.
In Phnom Penh, Kerry met Hun Sen, Asia’s longest serving prime minister, and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong for what Kerry described as “candid and constructive” meetings.
Hor Namhong said Cambodia’s position on the South China Sea was unchanged. It believed individual countries should settle disputes among themselves without the involvement of ASEAN, he said.
Tunis (AFP) – US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday warned the Islamic State jihadist group its “days are numbered”, following an American strike in Syria targeting British militant “Jihadi John”.
“The coalition forces conducted an air strike targeting…Jihadi John,” whose real name is Mohammed Emwazi, he said on a visit to Tunis.
“We are still assessing the results of this strike but the terrorists associated with Daesh need to know this: Your days are numbered and you will defeated,” said Kerry, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
“There is no future, no path forward” for IS, the secretary of state said.
While Kerry wants to spike the football after spending millions of dollars to kill one man, under Obama’s watch we have seen IS spread from a rag-tag group of malcontents to an organized force that infects two continents and has a solid base of power. We don’t have a perceptible strategy to do anything to inhibit IS’ growth. Frankly, as we all know it, IS has far more to fear from Putin than Obama. Putin has shown a willingness to follow up his words with action.
After Kerry’s meeting with Zarif, State Department spokesman John Kirby said they had discussed the nuclear deal but that the secretary had “also raised our concerns over the ongoing crises in Yemen and Syria.”
Kerry is also due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, and President Barack Obama will see President Vladimir Putin during a packed UNGA program.
The US diplomatic drive in New York was weakened right out of the gate by the latest news from the battlefield.
On Friday, the Pentagon admitted a 70-strong group of rebels that it had trained to fight the Islamic State as part of a $500 million program had surrendered much of its equipment, including vehicles and munitions, to the Al-Nusra Front.
US Central Command, which oversees the fight against the IS group, is also facing an investigation into reports it had manipulated intelligence reports to paint a rosier picture of the campaign.
The vessel is heading back to Galveston, Texas, with the passenger on board. But that’s not what the U.S. government wanted.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the plan was for the passenger to get on land in Belize, then be flown back to the United States. The Belize government refused to let the passenger leave the ship, given the potential Ebola exposure, despite a plea from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow.