After spending 48 hours in Jerusalem and Ramallah, trying to talk Israeli and Palestinian leaders into reviving the long-stalled Middle East peace process, US Secretary of State John Kerry’s exit line Friday, May 24, was: “We’re getting toward a time now when hard decisions need to be made.”
That was all he had to say about Israel’s comments on US proposals on the subject as unworkable and the Palestinian view that American ideas were still unformed and conditions for reviving talks non-existent.
In any case, the Syrian crisis hurtling forward heedless of its disastrous potential for its neighbors is fully exercising their leaders’ attention at this time and confronting them with much more urgent “hard decisions.”
The Secretary himself had just come from a Friends of Syria meeting Thursday in Amman, which was attended by a sparse 11 members compared with the original 80. The meeting ended with a demand that the international conference on Syria, which Kerry is trying to convene in Geneva in the first week of June in partnership with Russia, will not accept Assad regime representatives with blood on their hands.
Moscow took exception to this demand Friday by means of a Russian Foreign Ministry statement that Syria has agreed in principle to participate in the conference, but obstacles to a date were still raised by the Syrian opposition.
It can’t therefore be said that Washington and Moscow see eye to eye on the key issues of Syrian representation at the conference they are jointly sponsoring.
The US still insists that Bashar Assad must go before a political solution can be broached, while Russia continues to champion and arm him.
The most conspicuous feature of Kerry’s current Middle East tour is the strong dichotomy between his public statements and mission and the events taking place in the real world around him.
debkafile analysts assign this gap between the Secretary’s perceptions and reality to US President Barack Obama’s own evasiveness on the “hard decisions” he needs to take for determining the level of US involvement in the acute crises shaking this highly volatile region.
This was evident in the speech he delivered Thursday, March 23, in which he stressed the effort to pull the United States away from its inclusive “post 9/11 war on terror” and “return to normalcy.”
He said “lethal force [such as drones] will only be used against targets who pose a continuing imminent threat to Americans.” Obama’s message was totally unrelated to the rising militancy of the two most virulent Islamic terrorist movements of the present day.
As he spoke, Al Qaeda, on the one hand, and the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, on the other, continued to pour fighting strength into Syria and feed the flames of a calamitous civil war which has claimed more than 80,000 lives in a little more than two years.
Our military sources report that Hizballah brigades are forming up with the Syrian army for their next decisive battle, after their al-Qusayr victory, for the capture of the northern city of …read more