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Kerry on Syrian Agreement with Russia: What Alternative Is There?

Sept. 15, 2016 (EIRNS)—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Syria ceasefire agreement that he worked out with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during an interview that was aired on National Public Radio yesterday, making the point that there is no other choice. In its coverage of the interview, Reuters notes that the Pentagon and the U.S. military have been loudly saying that Russia cannot be trusted. "Well, the President of the United States is ready and I think the military therefore will be ready," he said. "Nobody’s asking people to abrogate our standards, but it is important for us to keep our part of the bargain," Kerry added.

"What’s the alternative?" Kerry went on to say in the NPR interview, indicating that the only alternative was continued warfare of much greater levels of violence, given that the United States has decided not to send in ground troops. "If you fail to get a cessation in place now and we cannot get to the table, then the fighting is going to increase significantly," he said. When asked about the problem of separating US-backed opposition groups from terrorist groups, Kerry insisted that the US supported groups will be separated from Al Nusra. "We are not going to support people who are fighting alongside al-Qaida," he said.

The separation question was apparently at the center of a telephone conversation between Kerry and Lavrov that took palce yesterday.

"Lavrov pointed to the need for the fastest implementation of the U.S. promise to separate Washington-sponsored moderate opposition forces from Jabhat al-Nusra and the groups that have in fact merged with that part of Al-Qaeda,"

said the Russian Foreign Ministry, reported TASS.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, during a news media appearance in Austin, Texas yesterday, offered a back-handed endorsement of the ceasefire agreement, putting the onus on Russia to "get it right" in Syria. He commended Kerry for getting the agreement, noted that there’s still much work ahead to implement it, but if it is, the suffering of the Syrian people will be eased. "It will mean that Russia gets on the right side of things in Syria, not on the wrong side and that’s good news," he said.

It was probably this Pentagon attitude, as reflected in Carter’s remarks, that Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was responding to when she said, yesterday, that Washington’s doubts about Moscow’s readiness to implement the agreement on Syria are illogical and do not help solve the situation.

"For some reasons the U.S. colleagues consider that the ceasefire regime is a kind of a test for Russia’s reputation. This is strange. We believe that such statements are illogical and counterproductive,"

Zakharova said. "It’s regrettable that despite the positive outcome in Geneva we hear such statements that do not do good," she added.

A Washington, D.C. source stressed to EIR yesterday, that Kerry and Lavrov intend to push forward as hard as possible on the ceasefire, despite the opposition against it in both Washington and in Syria.

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