The Failure of the Kerry – Lavrov Agreement
04 August 2016
By Tariq Alhomayed
Our newspaper published an exclusive story about the Kerry-Lavrov agreement on
the Syria crisis two days ago. It summarised what the US Secretary of State
John Kerry communicated to his European counterparts in Brussels, after his
lengthy meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President
According to the article, Kerry told his European counterparts that his
agreement with Lavrov is based on the principle of ''breaking down'' a
solution to the Syrian crisis into stages. The first stage would involve
working on military coordination between the parties with respect to air
strikes on ISIS and Al-Nusra Front which has changed its name. This would
happen after positions belonging to the moderate opposition were separated
from those belonging to the extreme opposition. This would mean restricting
Russian air strikes and knowing their positions.
The second stage concerns the fate of Bashar Al-Assad which will be ''deferred
to later phases''. Asharq Al-Awsat was informed by European sources that Kerry
told Lavrov that what he is doing is the ''current administration's last
American attempt'' and that if Russia did not put pressure on Assad's regime
and on Iran to implement it, Washington will completely withdraw from the
Syrian crisis and leave Moscow with the burden of dealing with all the
realities on the ground.
The above is almost a summary of the ideas proposed by Kerry to his European
counterparts according to our newspaper, and therefore the simplest comment on
this initiative is that ''The Kerry – Lavrov agreement is a failure'' and is
worthless. Talk about restricting Russian aviation is a brilliant idea, but
who can guarantee this? Who will believe the Russians? Who will believe the
current US administration whose second term is coming to an end and whose
president is now a ''lame duck''?
The Russians did everything in Syria and supported Assad's crimes without
paying the price and without facing the consequences. So who will guarantee
that they keep their word this time? President Obama will always be remembered
as being weak in front of President Putin. Saying that Assad should be dealt
with at a later stage as part of a solution process that is broken down into
stages and Kerry telling Lavrov that what he is doing is ''the current
administration's last American attempt'' reveals the full story. President
Obama is trying to kill time and present formal initiatives before he leaves
the White House. He does not want to take decisive stances and has therefore
made Assad and Syria the problem of the next American president.
Therefore, what Kerry says and what the Europeans think is not important. What
Lavrov, Putin, Assad and Iran understand from this is the most important
thing. They are certainly aware that their agreement is a failure and that it
does not aim to stop the Assad killing machine or get rid of Assad. Rather, it
is an attempt to calm the situation until President Obama leaves the White
House at which point the new US president will deal with the Syria crisis.
This is the whole story, and whatever the Obama administration says and
however it justifies things, everything seems to be deferred until after the
new American president is elected and therefore the agreement is a failure.
Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr.
Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current
affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous
positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the
first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a
bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah.
He is based in London.