Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with two weeks left in office, issued an exit memo that concedes the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) “cannot be won overnight.”
The memo also lauds the Iran nuclear deal, while acknowledging that the Islamic Republic’s missile program and ongoing support for terrorism remain “threats” to the United States.
Kerry noted in the memo that “brutal terrorist organization” ISIS continues to pose a threat to the U.S. and its partners.
He also stressed that ISIS “continues to commit gross, systematic abuses of human rights and violations of international law,” and stated, “In my judgment, ISIL is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control (including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims). It is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases, against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”
“The fight against ISIL and violent extremism more broadly is a generational challenge that cannot be won overnight. It will require efforts on the battlefield and online, today and in years to come,” he added in his memo issued Thursday. “But I am absolutely confident that, working with our coalition partners, we will win this fight and ISIL will be defeated.”
Kerry also suggested that al-Qaeda has nearly been defeated, courtesy of counterterrorism efforts under the administration of President Barack Obama. He said:
President Obama made it a top priority from day one to go after Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. Since 2009, we have decimated al-Qaeda core’s senior leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including bin Laden, and we’ve targeted al-Qaeda’s affiliates in Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. We must remain vigilant against this threat, but there should be no doubt that, after eight years of relentless counterterrorism efforts, the al-Qaeda that perpetrated 9/11 is today a shadow of what it was on January 20, 2009.
As Breitbart News has reported, al-Qaeda has capitalized on the U.S.-led coalition primarily focusing on attacking ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. declared war on al-Qaeda more than 15 years ago, eight of which have fallen under Obama’s watch, yet the jihadist group remains active and growing in its various forms, capitalizing on the chaos in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and some African countries.
Kerry also emphasized the alleged success of one of his major initiatives as the nation’s top diplomat: the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), through which Iran, the United States-designated leading state sponsor of terrorism, committed to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions implemented by the U.S. and other countries. Kerry noted:
Before the JCPOA, Iran was under 90 days away from having the material necessary to produce one nuclear weapon. Today, because of the JCPOA, they are at least a year away and the unprecedented transparency measures allow us to know almost immediately if Iran fails to comply, giving us plenty of time to act. Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has been reduced by 98 percent not anywhere close to what’s needed to make a single nuclear weapon.
However, he later added:
As for the Iranian government, while we have made clear we are open to a different future should its many objectionable policies change, it has yet to demonstrate a willingness to do so. Our relationship remains highly contentious and we must maintain our pressure and continue to push back on Iran’s missile program, its support for terrorism, its disregard for human rights, and its destabilizing interference in the affairs of its neighbors as long as these threats persist
Kerry went on to say that “the United States, our partners and allies in the Middle East (including Israel), and the entire international community are safer today because of the JCPOA.”
Breitbart News has noted that there is no evidence to suggest that Iran has abandoned its nuclear ambitions, and subsequent revelations by the Associated Press (AP) of secret JCPOA “side deals” exposed the fact that the Islamic Republic may actually be able to double its uranium enrichment capacity after a decade.
Moreover, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, noted in February 2016 that the independent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is facing “potential challenges” in monitoring and verifying Iran’s adherence to its nuclear deal commitments.
The GAO reports:
According to current and former IAEA and U.S. officials and experts, these potential challenges include…access challenges depending on Iran’s cooperation and the untested JCPOA mechanism to resolve access requests, and…the inherent challenge of detecting undeclared nuclear materials and activities—such as potential weapons development activities that may not involve nuclear material.
Citing IAEA documents, the GAO also reports that the Islamic Republic’s past relationship with the international nuclear monitor suggests Iran may cheat when it comes to its JCPOA commitments, noting that “Iran has previously failed to declare activity to IAEA.”