Tag Archives: John Kerry

Trump Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS, by Max Blumenthal

Seemingly the only qualification of many critics of Trump’s troop withdrawal in Syria is that their policies have been tried…and failed. From Max Blumenthal at consortiumnews.com:

Too many of those protesting the removal of U.S. forces are authors of the catastrophe that tore Syria to pieces, reports Max Blumenthal for Consortium News.

President Donald Trump’s announcement of an imminent withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria summoned a predictable paroxysm of outrage from Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Former Secretary of State and self-described “hair icon” Hillary Clinton perfectly distilled the bipartisan freakout into a single tweet, accusing Trump of “isolationism” and “playing into Russia and Iran’s hands.”

Michelle Flournoy, the DC apparatchik who would have been Hillary’s Secretary of Defense, slammedthe pull-out as “foreign policy malpractice,” while Hillary’s successor at the State Department, John Kerry, threw bits of red meat to the Russiagate-crazed Democratic base by branding Trump’s decision “a Christmas gift to Putin.” From the halls of Congress to the K Street corridors of Gulf-funded think tanks, a chorus of protest proclaimed that removing US troops from Syria would simultaneously abet Iran and bring ISIS back from the grave.

Yet few of those thundering condemnations of the president’s move seemed able to explain just why a few thousand U.S. troops had been deployed to the Syrian hinterlands in the first place. If the mission was to destroy ISIS, then why did ISIS rise in the first place? And why was the jihadist organization still festering right in the midst of the U.S. military occupation?

Too many critics of withdrawal had played central roles in the Syrian crisis to answer these questions honestly. They had either served as media cheerleaders for intervention, or crafted the policies aimed at collapsing Syria’s government that fueled the rise of ISIS. The Syrian catastrophe was their legacy, and they were out to defend it at any cost.

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Saudi Arabia Admits To John Kerry That It Created ISIS… But There Is A Twist, by Tyler Durden

But, but, but…Saudi Arabia is our friend. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

On the day Barack Obama is kowtowing to his Saudi allies, and just days after a senior Obama administration finally made the admission that has been a “conspiracy theory” for years namely that “a lot of the money, the seed money if you will, for what became Al Qaeda, came out of Saudi Arabia,” the FT is out with another stunning revelation.

The FT has written an article that supposedly focuses on the US sources of growing diplomatic antipathy between the US and Saudi Arabia. The source of disagreement: the treatment of Iran.

As US President Barack Obama arrives on a valedictory visit to Saudi Arabia this week, that 70-year-old bargain looks frayed by fractious relations with a ruling House of Saud that is coming under unpredictable new management. The shale-based energy revolution meanwhile shows the potential to liberate the US from dependence on Saudi and Gulf oil. Mr Obama’s main foreign policy achievement, the nuclear deal struck last year between international powers and Iran, is abhorrent to Saudi Arabia, whose virulently sectarian Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam abominates the Shia Islam of Iran and its Arab network of co-religionists from Baghdad to Beirut.

But it was not just Iran.

“Even when the Iran deal was only at an interim and fragile stage in 2013, the Saudis were so affronted they rejected a seat for which they had vigorously lobbied on the UN Security Council. But differences between Washington and Riyadh had been steadily accumulating — starting with the fact that it was mainly Saudi terrorists, on orders of the Saudi Osama bin Laden, who struck America on 9/11.”

However the real reason for Iraqi fury at Obama goes further back. In fact, it appears that all current events are shaped by the disastrous foreign policy of Obama’s early years, namely the US intervention behind the Arab Spring:

The Saudis could never reconcile themselves to the US-led invasion of Iraq, not because it toppled Saddam Hussein but because it led to Shia majority rule in an Arab country. When Hosni Mubarak was toppled by Egypt’s popular revolt in 2011, Riyadh accused Mr Obama of betraying a US ally. Saudi perceptions of US complacency in the face of Iran’s advances in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen are a grievance far outweighing western perceptions of Isis jihadism as the main threat in and from the Middle East.

But the punchline: Saudi’s admission that it itself created Daesh, or ISIS. As for the twist: as the late Saudi foreign minister says, the Saudis only created ISIS in response to Obama’s disastrous policy in the region.

To wit:

After the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to a lightning Isis offensive in 2014, even the late Prince Saud al-Faisal, the respected Saudi foreign minister, remonstrated with John Kerry, US secretary of state, that “Daesh [Isis] is our [Sunni] response to your support for the Da’wa” — the Tehran-aligned Shia Islamist ruling party of Iraq.

And there you have it, and as a reminder, the person who was in charge of US foreign policy during this entire period was none other than…

To continue reading: Saudi Arabia Admits To John Kerry That It Created ISIS… But There Is A Twist

How Putin’s Leverage Shaped the Syrian Ceasefire, by Gareth Porter

From Gareth Porter at antiwar.com:

By his military withdrawal, Putin was actually enhancing his leverage over both the military situation and the political negotiations still to come

When Russian President Vladimir Putin had a substantive meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry last week, it was an extremely rare departure from normal protocol. There was some political logic to the meeting, however, because Putin and Kerry have clearly been the primary drivers of their respective governments’ policies toward Syria, and their negotiations have already led to a stunningly successful Syrian ceasefire and possible Syrian negotiations on a political settlement.

Washington and Moscow had to cooperate in order to get that ceasefire along with the jump-starting of intra-Syrian negotiations, now scheduled to begin next month, according to UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura. But the diplomatic maneuvering did not exert equal influence on each other’s policies. Putin’s Russia has now demonstrated that it has effective leverage over the policy of Kerry and the United States in Syria, whereas Kerry has no similar leverage over Russian policy.

Kerry had appeared to be the primary driver of a political settlement last year, propelled by a strategy based on exploiting the military success of the Nusra Front-led opposition forces, armed by the United States and its allies, in northwestern Syria. Kerry viewed that success a way to put pressure on both the Assad regime and its Russian ally to agree that Assad would step down.

But that strategy turned out to be an overreach when Putin surprised the outside world by intervening in Syria with enough airpower to put the jihadists and their “moderate” allies on the defensive. Still pursuing that strategy, we now know that Kerry asked US President Barack Obama to carry out direct attacks on Assad’s forces, so he could have some “leverage” in the negotiations with the Russians over a ceasefire and settlement. But Obama refused to do so, and the Russian success, especially in January and February, conferred on Putin an even more clear-cut advantage in the negotiations with the United States over a Syrian ceasefire.

The US-Russian agreement on a ceasefire has proven to be far more effective than anyone had expected, and it is now clear that the reason is that Putin was able to convert his newfound leverage into the one US diplomatic concession that is necessary to any possibility of ending the war. The agreement between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kerry was more far-reaching than what has been made public. According to a report last week by Elijah J. Magnier, who writes on regional politics and diplomacy for Al Rai, Kuwait’s leading daily newspaper, “high officials present in Syria” – which his report makes clear were Iranian – said that the United States had pledged as part of the ceasefire deal to “enforce on its regional Middle Eastern allies the cessation of the flow of weapons” into Syria.

To continue reading: How Putin’s Leverage Shaped the Syrian Ceasefire

A Glimmer of Hope for Syria, by Robert Parry

From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: With new negotiations starting in Vienna – and with Iran now allowed to participate – there is finally a glimmer of hope that the Syrian slaughter might end. But that will require concessions from all sides and President Obama standing up to the neocons who put “regime change” ahead of peace, writes Robert Parry.

Despite all the ranting from armchair-warriors across Official Washington – urging attacks on the Syrian military and even Russian warplanes inside Syria – cooler heads may have finally prevailed with Secretary of State John Kerry agreeing to a formula that will let Iran participate in Syrian peace talks set to begin Friday in Geneva.

The point here is that Iran and Russia, as allies of the Syrian government, are in a strong position to urge concessions from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, much as Russian President Vladimir Putin did in 2013 when he pressured Assad to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Also, in late 2013, Putin helped wrest concessions from Iran over its nuclear program.

Assuming Kerry shows corresponding flexibility by relenting on the U.S. demand that “Assad must go” as a precondition to negotiations – and puts pressure on the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition to accept some compromise with Assad – perhaps this humanitarian catastrophe can be brought under some measure of control.

It is way past time for sanity and realism to replace the endless “tough guy/gal” posturing that has consumed Official Washington since 2011 as a quarter million Syrians have been killed and millions have fled as refugees across the Mideast and into Europe.

The only narrative that’s been allowed in the mainstream U.S. press is that Assad is responsible for nearly every bad thing that’s happened, ignoring the support that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Israel have provided to jihadist fighters, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh).

President Barack Obama has been part of the problem, too, as he has bent to the “regime change” demands of “liberal interventionists” and their close cousins, the neoconservatives.

To appease those political/media voices, Obama has “covertly” intervened in the Syrian conflict by arming and training some rebel forces. Though the administration insists that it has armed and trained only “moderate” rebels, the reality is that such a “moderate” force is largely mythical, with many of the CIA’s recruits later joining Islamist armies and surrendering U.S.-supplied weapons to these extremists.

How U.S. officials have defined “moderate” is also in question. A source briefed on this strategy told me that the CIA supplied 500 TOW anti-tank missiles to Ahrah ash-Sham, an Islamist force founded, in part, by Al Qaeda veterans. Ahrah ash-Sham collaborates with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two leading militias in the Saudi-backed Army of Conquest.

The sophisticated TOW missiles have been “credited” with enabling the Army of Conquest to make major advances around the city of Idlib and block counter-offenses by the Syrian army. In other words, U.S. support for “moderate” rebels has strengthened the military position of Al Qaeda, even if the administration can technically argue that it isn’t giving weapons to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

To continue reading: A Glimmer of Hope for Syria

Endgame: Putin Plans To Strike ISIS With Or Without The U.S. by Tyler Durden

As SLL recently noted: “Vladimir Putin has deftly illuminated the dissembling behind US policy in Syria” (“Lies, Damnable Lies, and Syria,” 9/19/15). Further elaboration on this point from Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

On Sunday, we noted that Washington’s strategy in Syria has now officially unravelled.

John Kerry, speaking from London following talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, essentially admitted over the weekend that Russia’s move to bolster the Assad regime at Latakia effectively means that the timing of Assad’s exit is now completely indeterminate. Here’s how we summed up the situation:

Moscow, realizing that instead of undertaking an earnest effort to fight terror in Syria, the US had simply adopted a containment strategy for ISIS while holding the group up to the public as the boogeyman par excellence, publicly invited Washington to join Russia in a once-and-for-all push to wipe Islamic State from the face of the earth. Of course The Kremlin knew the US wanted no such thing until Assad was gone, but by extending the invitation, Putin had literally called Washington’s bluff, forcing The White House to either admit that this isn’t about ISIS at all, or else join Russia in fighting them. The genius of that move is that if Washington does indeed coordinate its efforts to fight ISIS with Moscow, the US will be fighting to stabilize the very regime it sought to oust.

Revelations (which surprised no one but the Pentagon apparently) that Moscow is coordinating its efforts in Syria with Tehran only serve to reinforce the contention that Assad isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the US will either be forced to aid in the effort to destroy the very same Sunni extremists that it in some cases worked very hard to support, or else admit that countering Russia and supporting Washington’s regional allies in their efforts to remove Assad takes precedence over eliminating ISIS. Because the latter option is untenable for obvious reasons, Washington has a very real problem on its hands – and Vladimir Putin just made it worse.

As Bloomberg reports, The Kremlin is prepared to launch unilateral strikes against ISIS targets if the US is unwilling to cooperate.

To continue reading: Endgame: Putin Plans To Strike ISIS

Obama Sidelines Kerry On Ukraine Policy, by Eric Zuesse

From Eric Zuesse, via zerohedge.com:

On May 21st, I headlined “Secretary of State John Kerry v. His Subordinate Victoria Nuland, Regarding Ukraine,” and quoted John Kerry’s May 12th warning to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to cease his repeated threats to invade Crimea and re-invade Donbass, two former regions of Ukraine, which had refused to accept the legitimacy of the new regime that was imposed on Ukraine in violent clashes during February 2014. (These were regions that had voted overwhelmingly for the Ukrainian President who had just been overthrown. They didn’t like him being violently tossed out and replaced by his enemies.)

Kerry said then that, regarding Poroshenko, “we would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in that kind of activity, that that would put Minsk in serious jeopardy. And we would be very, very concerned about what the consequences of that kind of action at this time may be.” Also quoted there was Kerry’s subordinate, Victoria Nuland, three days later, saying the exact opposite, that we “reiterate our deep commitment to a single Ukrainian nation, including Crimea, and all the other regions of Ukraine.” I noted, then that, “The only person with the power to fire Nuland is actually U.S. President Barack Obama.” However, Obama instead has sided with Nuland on this.

Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, bannered, on June 5th, “Poroshenko: Ukraine Will ‘Do Everything’ To Retake Crimea’,” and reported that, “President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to seek Crimea’s return to Ukrainian rule. … Speaking at a news conference on June 5, … Poroshenko said that ‘every day and every moment, we will do everything to return Crimea to Ukraine.’” Poroshenko was also quoted there as saying, “It is important not to give Russia a chance to break the world’s pro-Ukrainian coalition,” which indirectly insulted Kerry for his having criticized Poroshenko’s warnings that he intended to invade Crimea and Donbass.

Right now, the Minsk II ceasefire has broken down and there are accusations on both sides that the other is to blame. What cannot be denied is that at least three times, on April 30th, then on May 11th, and then on June 5th, Poroshenko has repeatedly promised to invade Crimea, which wasn’t even mentioned in the Minsk II agreement; and that he was also promising to re-invade Donbass, something that is explicitly prohibited in this agreement. Furthermore, America’s President, Barack Obama, did not fire Kerry’s subordinate, Nuland, for her contradicting her boss on this important matter.

How will that be taken in European capitals? Kerry was reaffirming the position of Merkel and Hollande, the key shapers of the Minsk II agreement; and Nuland was nullifying them. Obama now has sided with Nuland on this; it’s a slap in the face to the EU: Poroshenko can continue ignoring Kerry and can blatantly ignore the Minsk II agreement; and Obama tacitly sides with Poroshenko and Nuland, against Kerry.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-07/obama-sidelines-kerry-ukraine-policy

To continue reading: Obama Sidelines Kerry On Ukraine Policy

John Kerry admits defeat: The Ukraine story the media won’t tell, and why U.S. retreat is a good thing, by Patrick L. Smith

From Patrick L. Smith at salon.com:

The U.S. seems to admit it overplayed its hand over Ukraine. Caving to reality is actually the best possible policy

It is just as well Secretary of State John Kerry’s momentous meetings with Russian leaders last week took place in Sochi, the Black Sea resort where President Putin keeps a holiday home. When you have to acknowledge that two years’ worth of pointless hostility in the bilateral relationship has proven none other than pointless, it is best to do so in a far-away place.

Arriving in the morning and leaving in the afternoon, Kerry spent three hours with Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s very competent foreign minister, and then four with Putin. After struggling with the math, these look to me like the most significant seven hours the former senator will spend as this nation’s face abroad.

Who cannot be surprised that the Obama administration, having turned the Ukraine question into the most dangerous showdown since the Cold War’s worst, now declares cordiality, cooperation and common goals the heart of the matter?

The question is not quite as simple as one may think.

On the one hand, the policy cliques’ long swoon into demonization has been scandalously juvenile, and there has been no sign until now of sense to come. Grown men and women advancing the Putin-is-Hitler bit with straight faces. Getting the Poles, paranoids for understandable reasons on all questions to with Russia, to stage ostentatious displays of teenagers in after-school military exercises. American soldiers in those silly berets they affect drilling Ukrainian Beetle Baileys in “war-making functions,” as the officer in charge put it.

When the last of these theatrics got under way in mid-April, it was time for paying-attention people to sit up. As noted in this space, it seemed to indicate that we Americans were prepared to go to war with another nuclear power to rip Ukraine from its past and replant it in the neoliberals’ hothouse of client states—doomed to weakness precisely because corrupt leaders were enticed with baubles to sever their people from history.

On the other hand, it took no genius to see what would eventually come. This column predicted long back—within weeks of the American-cultivated coup that deposed President Yanukovych in February of last year—that the Obama administration would one day be forced to retreat before it all came to resolution.

It was hard then to see how anyone could anticipate any other outcome, and so it has remained. You cannot turn basic miscalculation, indifference to history and diplomatic insensitivity into a winning hand. You turn it into an overplayed hand. And that is what sent Kerry to Sochi last week.

http://www.salon.com/2015/05/19/john_kerry_admits_defeat_the_ukraine_story_the_media_wont_tell_and_why_u_s_retreat_is_a_good_thing/

To continue reading: John Kerry admits defeat