For the first time today (December 15th), the United States has publicly and officially accepted the position that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon have consistently held on the Syrian situation: that only a free and fair internationally monitored and accepted election of Syria’s President by the people of Syria can legitimately determine whom the President of Syria ought to be, and that no Syrian citizen, not even the current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he decides to be a candidate, can be blocked by any foreign power from being a candidate in that election.
The way America’s AP (Associated Press) put this in their news-report on Tuesday December 15th, was: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday accepted Russia’s long-standing demand that President Bashar Assad’s future be determined by his own people.” (It was quickly removed from the AP’s website, perhaps because it was so embarrassing to U.S. President Obama; even its headline was embarrassing, though naming Kerry himself as the embarrassed individual, so that Kerry here is actually eating crow for what was, in fact, one of his stellar achievements as the Secretary of State: “Assad Can Stay, for Now: Kerry Accepts Russian Stance.”)
The way that Ban ki-Moon, or Mr. Ban, had expressed this “demand” is:
“I believe that the future of Syria, or the future of the peace talks, … should not be held up by an issue of the future of one man. I believe that it is up to the Syrian people who have to decide the future of President Assad.”
“The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people.”
As the present reporter had noted, headlining on November 15th, “U.S. Yields to Russia’s Insistence Upon Democracy in Syria”: “the agreement is said to specify that, by 14 December 2015, diplomats will reconvene to discuss any residual issues,” and this meant that, until this “reconvening” would be over, nothing would be final. Now that the second meeting is completed and the agreement is publicly affirmed without changes, the agreement has become official.
Here (as stated in my previous article) are the next steps that are specified in this agreement:
On 1 January 2016, the UN will then convene formal negotiations between the Syrian government and its political opponents who are not involved in terrorist activities. Obviously, defining who those parties are will be highly contentious between the U.S. and its allies, and Russia and its allies.
On 14 May 2016, free elections will be held in Syria, administered by the UN.
The agreement specifies that the war against jihadist groups, all of which have been trying to bring down the Syrian government, will continue. This provision of the agreement recognizes the unacceptable role that these groups, such as Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and ISIS, play in bombings not only in France but throughout Europe and the Middle East. The agreement won’t say whether those groups may participate in the elections, but it will specify that the war against those groups can continue, even while the peace process in Syria is being implemented. The “ceasefire” won’t apply to efforts to wipe out those jihadist groups, which are illegal in Syria.
Above and beyond those details, the atmospherics of the way that the current meeting ended, add further confirmation to the significance of what has transpired here:
In the AP’s accompanying video of the closing announcement, Putin enters the room with a smile on his face and greets the U.S. team including Secretary of State John Kerry and his Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, by warmly shaking Kerry’s hand and being warmly greeted by him, and then by (at 0:27 in the video) approaching and shaking hands with what is evidently a stand-offish if not hostile Nuland, as he bends slightly toward her and she bends slightly backward, with a facial expression that’s not entirely clear but doesn’t look at all friendly. Kerry is looking at Nuland’s face with what appears to be concerned worry, and the two other members of his team are looking down at the two shaking hands; one of those two members, the woman, looks down at the handshake sporting a quizzical expression such as if to say, “Victoria can’t be enjoying this eating-of-crow.”
Nuland is a close friend of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and was brought by Hillary into the Obama State Department after having previously been Vice President Dick Cheney’s Foreign Affairs Advisor. Her Husband, Robert Kagan, like others of his family, Fred Kagan, Donald Kagan, and Kimberly Kagan (the wife of Fred Kagan), all share a visceral hatred of Russia, and all of them also share instant entrée into the offices of almost any Republican member of Congress, and of almost all of the top or Presidential level of the Democratic Party, such as the Clintons and Obama, and their respective advisory friends. So, the Kagan clan pass easily as “neoconservatives” and “neoliberals” but, in any case, as ‘respectable’ haters of Vladimir Putin, and as passionate supporters of anyone in Russia who might be able to aid the U.S. aristocracy to bring him down and to restore post-Soviet Russia to control by the U.S. aristocracy as it had been under Boris Yeltsin.
Kerry had been advised by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to rely upon Nuland to become his chief Assistant Secretary, and even before Kerry became the new Secretary of State, Nuland was already actively working in the State Department to plan and organize a coup to bring down Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in order to enable Ukraine to become admitted ultimately into NATO and serve as a missile base against Moscow, right on Russia’s border. She installed anti-Russian racist fascists, ideological nazis, into the post-coup Ukrainian government. When Kerry finally had had enough of this, he contradicted her in public, and Obama backed Nuland and Kerry was sidelined from the Ukrainian issue for a while. This time, it’s Nuland who must eat crow.
The uprising against Assad had been in the planning stages from the very moment that Obama had entered the White House in 2009, but finally he seems to have decided that he himself will have to eat crow on this one. Kerry in that video seems pleased: he’s not being embarrassed this time, by his President, his boss.
The Russian Television (RT) video from the press conference in the morning presents Kerry sitting next to Nuland and praising both Putin and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while Nuland starts to look down at around 0:50 on the video after Kerry says, “Russia made a significant contribution to the dialogue,” and yet again at 1:00 looks down when he says “Russia has been a significant contributor to the progress that we have been able to make.” Then, he says directly to Lavrov, “You personally have been a co-convenor,” and she yet again looks down, but this time even looks away, at her notes.
These results are a victory for Putin and his team, and for Kerry personally, and for the people of Syria, but not for the U.S. President and his closest advisors. Kerry has been isolated within this Gladio Obama Administration, but nonetheless has achieved positive results, whereas Kerry’s predecessor in his office had been a failure, as her entire record in public life has been, for everyone except her corporate sponsors.
Those sponsors never give up, however. They might have lost a battle on this, but certainly not the war, which will continue.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.