Kerry, who was also the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before taking over from Hillary Clinton, has only a limited grasp of Middle East issues, as showcased in his latest book “Every Day is Extra”.
He explains that he knew Bashar Assad of Syria was lying to his face when he denied the existence of a nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor that was destroyed by Israeli warplanes in 2007.
But why then, after the assassination of Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in 2005, did Kerry and his wife stay in Damascus as guests of Assad? Kerry helped legitimise Syria on the international scene.
In the same way, Kerry could not see that Iran’s expansionist project was more of a problem than its nuclear programme. This meant that the 2015 nuclear deal didn’t focus on Iran’s malign behaviour across the region.
Iran was behind some of the most egregious violations of sovereignty in the Middle East, including the 1996 terrorist bombing in Khobar, but that wasn’t proof enough for Kerry of Iran’s expansionism.
In the book, Kerry touches on his meeting with Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and how he counsels patience to him, implying that the US will one day go back on its withdrawal from the nuclear deal. No wonder current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo has described this as “unseemly and unprecedented” behaviour from a former secretary of state.
It seems like Kerry wants to defend a legacy that is proving to be a disaster, no matter Iran’s role in the region. Thankfully, now there is a new tough policy on Iran, with sanctions that should prevent some of their more malign behaviours.
And these sanctions are starting to bite already, causing the collapse of the Iranian economy. The second wave – due n November – will likely result in the downfall of the Regime.
However, this should be complemented with a tough stance on Iranian influence in Iraq, where Iran-backed politicians are getting into power; something spurred by harsh US sanctions and that could prove devastating for Iraq.
Khairallah Khairallah, a Lebanese writer, wrote: “Tehran must be forced to understand that it is not accepted as a regional player in any shape or form. Its desperate bet on Kerry reflects the extent of its political bankruptcy.”