Saturday 7 December 2019

How Kerry came up trumps in his 'mission improbable'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to a question during a joint news conference with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (not pictured) in Cairo September 13, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to a question during a joint news conference with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (not pictured) in Cairo September 13, 2014

Paula De Verre

IT may not have been a mission impossible, but only the most die-hard optimists would have seen it as anything other than improbable. Nonetheless American Secretary of State John Kerry said last night that he was "extremely encouraged" by pledges of military assistance against Isil militants by countries inside the Middle East.

Outside support from allies was a given but to secure backing for US efforts to build a coalition to fight Isil in the Arab world is a tougher ask.

"We have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, iall of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes if that is what it requires. And we also have a growing number of people who are prepared to do all the other things," Mr Kerry said. He also reiterated President Obama's statement that US ground troops would not be used against the Islamic State.

"We're not looking to put troops on the ground," he said. "There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that at this moment anyway," Kerry said. He did not identify the countries. But significantly, he has won the backing for a "coordinated military campaign" from 10 Arab countries - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

"This is a strategy coming together as the coalition comes together and the countries declare what they are prepared to do," Kerry said in the interview, taped on Saturday in Egypt.

"I've been extremely encouraged to hear from all of the people that I've been meeting with about their readiness and willingness and to participate," Mr Kerry insisted.

McDonough also said U.S. President Barack Obama would meet on Tuesday with General John Allen, his newly appointed special presidential envoy for building the coalition against Islamic State. McDonough also said Kerry would testify before the U.S. Congress on the matter this week.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Irish Independent

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