Saturday, September 26

For Pete's sake, stop spinning around like a top, Mr Kerry

After making a complete hash out of its actions toward Syria, and now that Russia is taking a constructive action in the country, the White House wants to play the big cheese and orchestrate a political solution in Syria -- one that of course doesn't include Bashar al-Assad and his government. 

And note -- note -- who's getting thrown under the bus this time. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Obama's failure to "shape a diplomatic outcome" in Syria was "diminished" because the stupid Pentagon failed to train and equip any more than a handful of "moderate" Syrian rebels. 

The real problem being that the Pentagon couldn't find any more a handful of moderates on account of there aren't any more than that. Is that English?  Am I speaking English? No matter; I'll be lucky to emerge from the Obama Era without talking in Pig Latin. Or baby talk. All right, Pundita, that's enough. Nee nee nie nie gitchy goo -- Enough. Enough.  

Michael R. Gordon
September 26, 2016
The New York Times

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary of State John Kerry sought on Saturday to draw Iran into the search for a political solution to the Syrian conflict as he began a week of diplomacy over the brutal fighting there.

“I view this week as a major opportunity for any number of countries to play an important role,” Mr. Kerry said at the start of a meeting at the United Nations headquarters with Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister. “We need to achieve peace and a way forward in Syria, in Yemen, in the region itself.”

In early 2014, the Obama administration blocked Iran from attending a peace conference on Syria, on the grounds that its paramilitary Quds Force was a belligerent in the conflict and that Iranian officials did not accept that the goal of the talks should be the formation of a transitional Syrian administration with the “mutual consent” of the opposition and the government.

When Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, invitedIran to attend the conference, which was held in Montreux, Switzerland, Mr. Kerry insisted that the invitation be rescinded.

“Iran is currently a major actor with respect to adverse consequences in Syria,” Mr. Kerry said then.

But with the Islamic State terrorist group making gains in Syria, a tidal wave of migrants swamping Europe, no formal peace talks in sight and Russia engaged in a military buildup at an air base near Latakia, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, Mr. Kerry is now reaching out to Iran, which has been a major backer of the Syrian president,Bashar al-Assad, to see if there is a basis for resuming negotiations. Mr. Kerry has also been consulting with Russia, European nations and Arab states.

Mr. Kerry’s meeting with Mr. Zarif was his first since six world powers and Iran reached a nuclear accord in July. While American officials discussed Syria with the Iranians on the margins of the nuclear talks, they saw the Saturday meeting as a chance for a fuller discussion.

Still, the conditions for a breakthrough on Syria are not auspicious. The Obama administration’s ability to shape a diplomatic outcome in Syria has been diminished by the Pentagon’s failure to train and equip more than a handful of moderate Syrian rebels to confront the Islamic State.

At the same time, Russia has expanded its influence with its military buildup at a base near Latakia. Mr. Kerry said this month in London that Mr. Assad had shown no interest in negotiating a political transition in which he would eventually step down and that Russia had done nothing to bring him to the table. Iran has long had a strategic interest in maintaining Mr. Assad in power because the airport in Damascus, the Syrian capital, serves as a channel for shipping Iranian weapons to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia. Iran pressed Hezbollah to join the fighting in Syria on the side of Mr. Assad, provided weapons to the Syrian government and sent its own Quds Force personnel there.

Wendy R. Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs, told reporters on Friday that it was unclear whether Iran was interested in working with the United States to negotiate a political transition in Syria.


[I can't do this anymore; see the website for the rest]


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