Tag Archives: Kerry

Desperate times : Kerry says US ready to turn to Iran, drone strikes, to fight ISIS

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

US Secretary of State John Kerry says that Washington is ready to use radical measures to halt the ISIS offensive in Iraq – including enlisting Iran’s help and launching air strikes.

“We’re open to discussions if there is something constructive that can be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq,” the diplomat told Yahoo News on Monday when questioned about joining forces with Iran, which enjoys religious ties with the embattled government in Baghdad.

But Kerry warned that the US should “see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements.”

Later, the State Department and the Pentagon clarified that any joint action would be political and not military.

“There is absolutely no intention and no plan to coordinate military activity between the United States and Iran…there are no plans to have consultations with Iran about military activities in Iraq,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.

The Al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS (or ISIL) – the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant – has pushed from its strongholds on the Syrian border and taken the major urban centers of Mosul and Tikrit over the past week. Its militias are currently stationed on the outskirts of Baghdad, where the government is staging a counter-offensive. Over the weekend, it claimed to have executed 1,700 loyalist officers.

“This is a challenge to the stability of the region. It is obviously an existential challenge to Iraq itself. This is a terrorist group,” Kerry said of ISIS, a Sunni organization which has exploited the sectarian tensions partially incited by the hardline Shia policies of the current government.

The diplomat heavily criticized Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, but said the US will not be “issuing instructions or orders” for him to resign or share power. He did, however, call on the “Iraqi people to form a government that represents all of the interests of Iraq — not one sectarian group over another.”

Nonetheless, Kerry reiterated previous statements saying that the US would consider using air strikes – whether manned or unmanned – to prevent Baghdad from being taken by extremists.

“They’re not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important,” said Kerry. “I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive.”

The diplomat said that President Barack Obama is conducting “a very thorough vetting of every option that is available.”

Obama previously said the US would avoid a direct military intervention in the country it invaded in 2003 and left only three years ago.

Kerry echoed concerns by other US politicians that the growing might of ISIS – which plundered US$425 million from a government vault in Mosul last week and enjoys generous funding from Wahhabis in the Arabian peninsula – is endangering American national security.

ISIS “clearly are focused not just there, but they’re focused on trying to do harm to Europe, to America and other people, and that’s why we believe it is so important for us to be engaged.”

Kerry said the organization counted fighters from the US, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands in its ranks – and that those could later return to their home countries to stage terrorist acts.

Iran + US = a far-fetched plan?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

While the idea that Washington and Tehran may work alongside each other is a testament to the thawing of relations between recent adversaries, it currently seems unlikely that the initiative will bear fruit.

The two countries share a genuine strategic interest in keeping the Maliki government afloat (though their motives for doing so are fundamentally different) and Western media outlets have reported that the Islamic Republic has already dispatched elite Revolutionary Guards troops to buffer the Iraqi government, citing Iraqi and American officials.

But Iran has denied any military involvement in its neighbor’s conflict, as the head of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, publicly rebuffed the US offer, calling it “unrealistic.”

The two countries are also locked in tense late-stage negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and potential sanctions relief. On Monday, the State Department released a statement saying that while it will discuss Iraq with Iranian officials at upcoming talks in Vienna, it is reluctant to link the two issues together.

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Do, or.. Arab Spring – Behind Kerry’s visit to Algeria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (R) in Zeralda, outside of Algiers, April 3, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (R) in Zeralda, outside of Algiers, April 3, 2014.

US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Algeria on Thursday, meeting with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Just a few days before the presidential election “17 April “.

The timing of Kerry’s visit to Algeria does not suit Algeria. However, it is the perfect time for America to get strategic agreements signed with Algeria, agreements the USA would not have secured had Algeria been in a different situation…

These strategic issues are to do with America’s wish to free the European Union from the dominance of Russian gas. And in this context, Algeria and Qatar will bear the cost of what the USA seeks to accomplish for Europe.

Qatari emir, was visiting Algiers on Thursday”.

 

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Seriously, what?! Kerry tells Russia ‘you don’t invade a country on completely phony pretexts’

The US Secretary of State spoke today of the unacceptability of invading a sovereign country on phony pretexts in order to assert one’s own interests in the 21st century. But no, he was not speaking about the United States, as one might have thought.

“You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” John Kerry said during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. “This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behaviour in the 21st century.”

Kerry has also threatened to isolate Russia economically and politically and warned of potential asset freezes and visa bans, adding to media and political hype that followed Russia authorization of sending a stabilization force in Crimea on official request from the authorities.

“There could be certainly disruption of any of the normal trade routine, there could be business drawback on investment in the country,” he said. “There could even be ultimately asset freezes, visa bans.”

Although Kerry was never challenged by the interviewer to comment in terms of that statement on Washington’s own constant threats to use force and military invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, those who watched the interview immediately smelled the hypocrisy.

“Since when does the United States government genuinely subscribe and defend the concept of sovereignty and territorial integrity? They certainly are not doing that at the moment in Syria,” Marcus Papadopoulos, commentator for ‘Politics First’ told RT. “They certainly did not do that when they attacked Libya. They certainly didn’t do that when they invaded Iraq. They certainly didn’t do that when they attacked Serbia over Kosovo and then later on recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. The United States government merely pays lip service to sovereignty and territorial integrity, it picks and choses.”

Since the crisis in Ukraine escalated to a point where the lives of the Russian speaking population of Ukraine has become threatened, Kerry’s reaction comes, some believe, as the most ridiculous thus far, taking into account US own history of military actions all over the globe.

Kerry:U just don’t in the 21stC behave in 19thC fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext. GC:Like invading Iraq?

— Gerald Celente (@geraldcelente) March 2, 2014

.@JohnKerry Wait, are you referring to the Israeli occupation of Palestine?

— Nikhil Goyal (@nikhilgoya_l) March 2, 2014

voice of experience RT @JohnKerry: Invasion is not the act of someone who is strong. It is the act of someone who is weak. @FaceTheNation

— Philip Gourevitch (@PGourevitch) March 2, 2014

Following Russia’s parliament approval of potential deployment, four countries, including the US, Canada, France and the UK have announced they have suspended preparations for the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi on June 4 and 5.

“The United Kingdom will join other G8 countries this week in suspending our co-operation under the G8, which Russia chairs this year, including the meetings this week for the preparation of the G8 summit,” UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

France has stated it wants “preparations for the Sochi G8 summit to be suspended until our Russian partners have returned to principles compatible with those of the G7 and G8.”

The US also warned Russia that it risks losing its place in the Group of Eight developed countries over the deployment of troops in Crimea.

Canada in the meantime warned of “ongoing negative consequences” for Canada-Russia relations, if Russia pushes forward with military action.

This year Russia holds the presidency in G8 that includes the governments of the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, Russia, USA, France and Japan.

Facts you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil

Crimeans began protesting after the new self-imposed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages for official documents in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language for their communication. The residents have announced they are going to hold a referendum on March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.

Feeling a threat from the new central government of questionable legitimacy, a number of regions stood up against it. Thousands of people across eastern and southern Ukraine are flooding the streets of major cities, urging local authorities to disobey Kiev’s orders. The local population is calling the government in Kiev illegitimate and demanding that their local governments refuse to take orders from it.

 

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‘US security plan included IDF troops on West Bank highway’ | The Times of Israel

The Palestinian negotiating team rejected an American peace plan which would involve Israeli military presence along the Jordan Valley highway, located five kilometers (three miles) from the Jordanian border, after the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

Contrary to earlier reports, the proposed final-status arrangement would see IDF control of a broad corridor in the Jordan Valley — not just a minimal stationing of Israeli soldiers along the border — for the first 10 years after the signing of a peace deal, Channel 10 News reported Tuesday.

According to the TV report, the plan formulated by retired US general John Allen and presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a recent visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, ensured a more significant Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley than previously reported. Earlier reports suggested that Allen’s plan stationed IDF troops on the Jordanian border, but Channel 10 cited “sources knowledgeable with the negotiations” saying it entailed an IDF presence along Route 90, the major north-south artery five kilometers west of the frontier.

Last week, the Palestinians said they rejected any proposal that didn’t entail the removal of all IDF soldiers from a future Palestinian state.

A senior Palestinian official was quoted saying that after Kerry pitched the proposal, the meeting between the Secretary of State and Abbas turned to “worse than bad.”

The presence of Israeli soldiers in the Jordan valley in a final agreement is a point of contention between Netanyahu and his chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

According to a September report in Israeli daily Maariv, Livni supports the introduction of international forces to the Jordan Valley, similar to the expanded role UNIFIL received in southern Lebanon under Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and which Livni was appointed by the government to oversee.

Netanyahu, however, adamantly opposes international forces, insisting on an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley even within the framework of a Palestinian state.

The prime minister recently ordered the government to begin construction on a major upgrade of the existing security fence along the Jordanian border, including the section of the border inside the West Bank.

Abbas, who vehemently rejects Netanyahu’s demands, had reportedly turned down Kerry’s offer, and said that Israeli presence in the Jordanian Valley would undermine the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state.

Concerned that a final status agreement may not be possible by the May target date the two sides accepted when they resumed talks in August, Kerry’s recent visit was aimed at pushing forward a framework accord that would contain the principles of a comprehensive pact, but not specific details.

If an outline were achieved, the negotiations could be extended beyond the nine-month timeline originally set by Kerry.

US officials, who spoke to Associated Press reporters aboard Kerry’s plane on condition of anonymity, stressed that an agreement on all issues by May is the US’s number one goal for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

But, should that prove unworkable, they said a framework agreement would buy time for additional negotiations.

A framework accord, the officials said, would be a “logical step” on the path to a final status agreement.

‘US security plan included IDF troops on West Bank highway’ | The Times of Israel.

Exclusive: John Kerry Defies the White House on Egypt Policy

6434566The secretary doesn’t agree with Obama’s team, especially Susan Rice, on how to deal with Egypt. Unfortunately for Rice, Kerry is the one on the ground—and he’s doing things his way.

Before Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent trip to Cairo, National Security Adviser Susan Rice told him to make strong statements in public and private about the trial of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. On his own, Kerry decided to disregard the White House’s instructions.

The tension between the national security adviser and the secretary of state spilled over into public view in the past week, when Rice laid out her critical appraisal of the Egyptian government, which contradicted Kerry’s assessment that Egypt was “on the path to democracy.” The now public rift has been simmering behind the scenes for months and illustrates the strikingly divergent Egypt policies the White House and the State Department are pursuing.

The turf battles and internal confusion are hampering the administration’s approach to Egypt, say lawmakers, experts, and officials inside both governments.

“John Kerry doesn’t agree with Susan Rice on big portions of our Egypt policy, and he made a deliberate and conscious decision not to mention Morsi in his Cairo meetings,” an administration official told The Daily Beast. “Susan Rice wasn’t happy about it.”

Two other administration officials confirmed the Kerry-Rice rift over Egypt. The secretary and national security adviser’s disagreement about how to handle the tumultuous and troubled U.S.-Egypt relationship is only the latest example of how the White House has steered America’s approach to Egypt in a way that conflicts with the views and desires of the State Department and the Pentagon, said the two officials.

“The roadmap [to democracy] is being carried out to the best of our perception,” Kerry said November 3 at a press conference during his surprise stop in Cairo, standing alongside the Egyptian foreign minister. “There are questions we have here and there about one thing or another, but Foreign Minister Fahmy has reemphasized to me again and again that they have every intent and they are determined to fulfill that particular decision and that track,” he said.

Never once during his trip did Kerry publicly mention Morsi, whose trial on charges of murder and other alleged crimes began November 4. Administration officials and sources close to the Egyptian government said Kerry also did not raise the Morsi trial in his various private meetings with Egyptian officials.

Rice delivered less praise and more admonishment for the Egyptian government in remarks at The Aspen Institute’s Washington Ideas Forum on November 13.

“We have tried to indicate to the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government that we support them in their transition back to an elected democratic government,” she said. “But that government needs to be inclusive. It needs to be brought about through a process in which all Egyptians can participate, and without violence. So when, in August, in the process of trying to clear the protesters from some of the squares in Cairo, over 1,000 people were killed, the United States, I think quite rightly, said, you know, ‘We have a problem with that. And we can’t pretend to conduct business as usual on the context of a government, however friendly, taking that kind of action against its people.’”

Well before Kerry and Rice disagreed publicly on Egypt, the White House and the State Department clashed privately over the administration’s Egypt policy. During a months-long administration review of U.S. military aid to Egypt, the State Department and Defense Department pushed internally to preserve most of the assistance, while the White House insisted most military aid be suspended, pending more progress by the Egyptian government.

“There are real differences in the fundamental approach to Egypt between Susan Rice and John Kerry,” said one Washington Egypt expert with close ties to the administration. “We wouldn’t have had any aid suspension at all if it had been up to John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.”

Rice, who has spent the bulk of her career dealing with Africa, has a long record of emphasizing human rights and democracy concerns. Kerry leans more toward economic diplomacy and engagement with regimes who may not be on their best behavior. Hagel has close relationships with Egypt’s military leaders and has spoken to Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi more than 20 times since the overthrow of the Morsi government.

But several officials also said the rift stems from the State Department’s institutional bias toward working with governments in power and maintaining important relationships. In Cairo, Kerry followed the recommendation of his own bureaucracy, which was not to mention Morsi’s name. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo, concerned about its own security since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2012, also is wary of making strong statements about the Morsi trial.

The White House maintains that all parts of the Obama administration share the same overall goal: to help Egypt get back on track toward being a functional democracy operating under the rule of law.

“The entire national security team—including Ambassador Rice, Secretary Kerry, and Secretary Hagel—is working in lock step to implement the president’s policy on Egypt: namely, to encourage Egypt’s transition to an inclusive, democratically elected, civilian-led government that respects the rights and freedoms of all Egyptians,” Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for Rice, told The Daily Beast. “The current interim government has laid out a clear roadmap for Egypt’s return to democratic rule, and across the administration we are working with Egypt’s leaders to strongly encourage them to meet their commitments.”

A senior State Department official told The Daily Beast that Kerry often raised the issue of the Egyptian government’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood during his trip, even if he didn’t utter Morsi’s name.

“[Kerry] repeatedly pressed the interim government on politically motivated and arbitrary detentions, arrests, and trials in every meeting he had,” the official said. “He also used the word ‘inclusive’ about a dozen times per meeting, stressing that the Muslim Brotherhood needed to be a part of the process.”

Nevertheless, officials and experts said the administration’s Egypt policy is hampered not only by internal tensions but also by being ad hoc and reactive, without a long-term strategy dictated by President Obama.

“What’s missing from any of the administration’s statements or actions is a clear vision of how they will preserve American interests in Egypt over the long term,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center and a former State Department official. “The president clearly made an analytical judgment that authoritarianism in the Middle East was not stable in the long term. If he still believes that, then he has to have some concerns about Egypt’s trajectory and American interests, and how to address those concerns is missing from American policy today.”

In Egypt, officials are receiving diverging messages from the U.S. government’s various parts, causing confusion as they try to decide how to react to recent U.S. actions. For example, the administration has not told the government of Egypt what exactly it must do to get the partial aid suspension lifted, said a source close to the Egyptian government.

“They are getting different messages from different people in Washington. There is confusion in Egypt as to what is actually U.S. policy,” the source said. “There is a vagueness and an unclear policy.”

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the administration is lobbying Congress to pass legislation that would allow for some military aid to Egypt to continue, but the effort is faltering. Lawmakers in both parties are still upset the administration refuses to make a determination that the Morsi overthrow was a coup.

The administration is following a law that would restrict military aid for any country that has a coup, despite its reluctance to use that word. A bill to give the administration specific authorities to continue some aid was pulled from the agenda of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting last week because various senators could not agree on what restrictions they should put on the administration’s ability to disperse the aid.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee, told The Daily Beast in an interview that he is opposed to giving the government of Egypt any more aid until it takes major steps toward restoring the rule of law.

“I’m not going to authorize more assistance to Egypt until they march toward a transition to a civilian-controlled government,” he said. “My goal is to not reinforce the coup but to reinforce the transition.”

Asked about the Kerry-Rice split on Egypt policy, Graham said, “I’m in the Susan Rice camp.”

Exclusive: John Kerry Defies the White House on Egypt Policy.

Kerry arrives to cairo tomorrow “Sunday” a day before Morsi first trial on charges of inciting violence

37AFP – US Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Cairo on Sunday for his first visit to Egypt since the army overthrew Mohamed Morsi in July, state media said.

Kerry’s visit comes at a time of strained relations between the traditional allies after Washington suspended some military aid to Egypt following Morsi’s ouster.

Egypt’s official MENA news agency said on Friday that Kerry would stay in Cairo for “several hours”.

Kerry arrives a day before Morsi and 14 other Brotherhood leaders go on trial on charges of inciting violence.