Secretary of State John Kerry stated that Vladimir Putin “understands that Assad is a major blockade” to solving the problems in Syria in an interview conducted on Tuesday and broadcast on Wednesday’s “On the Record” on the Fox News Channel.
Kerry stated that Putin “accepted the idea of a dual-track effort, and he indicated a willingness to try to work through a political transition” in Syria. He also expressed hope that Russia would “join in the effort to fight ISIL, but also to be part of a political track, because you have to do both at the same time, in order to try to come to a political resolution with respect to the transition to a government of credibility and a government of capacity in Syria.”
Kerry added, “I think what he wants is a solution to the problem, and he understands that Assad is a major blockade to do that. Has he turned around and said, you know, I’m going to kick him out? No, he hasn’t said that yet. What he has said is he’s prepared to have a political process, and the end result of that process is really up to the Syrian people. So, there may be a way through that threading of needle to come to an understanding about where we’re heading. If Assad insists on staying there, Syria will be destroyed for the simple reason that the jihadis, the extremists, attracted to the fight, will come in even greater numbers, and you will never be able to make peace until you resolve the question of what is happening with respect to the political track of Assad.”
Kerry also said, “Putin now has put himself in the center of the problem. He’s there. He’s on the ground now. He says he’s going to thereby to fight ISIL. Well, guess what? If he’s there to fight ISIL, and he doesn’t have the support of Sunni, he’s never going to succeed in that fight. So, he may wind up in a very serious situation. The only problem is, it also means that Syria goes downhill. So, we all have a responsibility, because of the numbers of refugees that are leaving the country, flooding Europe, changing the politics of Europe, in an extraordinary process of destruction, of historical sites and of people, and of the capacity of a country to be whole, that’s what’s happening because of ISIL’s presence and because Assad. So, both problems is have to solved. And it may well be you have to solve them simultaneously.
He further stated, “President Obama and President Putin agreed to immediately engage in military-to-military deconfliction at the most basic level, not yet to cooperate in the missions, but to de-conflict.”
Kerry also vowed to “continue our missions exactly as we are doing them today.”
When asked what Putin’s designs were, Kerry stated, “Putin has a very legitimate concern about 2,000 Chechens who are in Syria learning how to fight and be terrorists, and very threatened by surrounding countries from which there are even more people who are there to learn the fight. I think he also is fearful that his client, Assad, was losing ground to both ISIL and the opposition, and, therefore, he wanted to shore him up. But I think shore him up with a view to trying to maintain Russia’s influence and presence in the country, even as they try to secure a political solution. It’s a complicated, very complicated series of different interests and relationships, all of which have to be managed in way to try to secure a resolution, and I think we will find out.”
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