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Kerry Backs Away from ‘Plan B’ For Syria

Aug. 3, 2016 (EIRNS)—Has Secretary of State John Kerry abandoned the "plan B" for Syria with which he was threatening Russia in May? The August 1 target date in the transition plan agreed to last December has come and gone, and all Kerry could say at a press conference on Aug. 1 was that the US would continue to prod Assad and the moderate opposition to agree to a truce and talks on a unity government.

"Almost all of the time from the moment of the announcement of the target date until today has been consumed by trying to get a cessation of hostilities in place that is meaningful,"

Kerry said. "And that is precisely what we are engaged in right now." In the view of the Associated Press, he even seemed to be taking some of the blame for the failure, pointing to offensive operations by not only the Assad government but also the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s Syria affiliate, for preventing a truce from sticking.

Several Syrian opposition groups are embedded with Nusra, and Kerry said Washington had a responsibility to control them, while Russia has to control Assad. "Now, my hope is that we can arrive at that," Kerry said, before issuing a new, if vaguer, suggestion of a potential U.S. breaking point. "If we can’t, nobody is going to sit around and allow this pretense to continue." This is less than the ultimatum he issued on May, when he warned of "repercussions" if the Aug. 1 deadline were not met. Of course, one of the things that has happened in the interim was Kerry’s trip to Moscow mid-July and the beginning of an effort to find some way to cooperate with Russia against terrorist groups in Syria, particularly Al Nusra.

In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry reacted very strongly against Kerry’s demand that Moscow stop the Syrian government offensive in Aleppo.

"As soon as there is real headway in fighting terrorists, made by the Syrian government and army with our support, the Americans started... demanding that we stop fighting terrorists,"

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

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