Kerry: Assad and ISIL have 'symbiotic' relationship
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the 3rd Annual Transformational Trends Policy Forum at the Four Seasons Hotel, November 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/AFP)
The regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and ISIL are dependent on each other, Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday.
“Assad and ISIL are symbiotic. ISIL presents itself as the only alternative to Assad. Assad purports to be the last line of defense against ISIL. Both are stronger as a result,” he said.
Kerry made his remarks at the Transformational Trends Strategic Forum organized by the Washington-based Foreign Policy Group and the State Department.
The regime has already lost its legitimacy and is the cause of the chaos in the region, Kerry said, and a comprehensive solution in Syria can be achieved only through political transformation rather than a military campaign.
Although it is a gradual process, ISIL’s upsurge has brought about “a fresh cause to move in” to solve the Syrian crisis, he said.
“To that end, the United States calls on every country that has the ability to be able to make constructive contribution to that endeavor,” he said.
Kerry said the U.S. needs to be deeply engaged in the Middle East because any disruption in the region threatens the country’s economy and national security.
“Any serious disruption to the Gulf oil supplies can have major consequences for our own well-being,” Kerry said. “Believe me, none of us miss the days of gas lines and price shocks because of instability in the Middle East," he said.
But he also cited strategic partnerships, particularly with Israel and Arab states, and historical reasons for U.S. engagement in the region.
“These relationships actually make us safer by enabling us to respond earlier and more capably to such security risks as terrorism, aggression, proliferation and organized crime,” Kerry said. “The roots of modern civilization can be traced, in part, to the men and women who centuries ago walked the narrow streets of Damascus and Alexandria, knelt at the holy places of Jerusalem and Mecca.”
U.S. National security and financial considerations notwithstanding, Kerry issued a dire warning of the consequences of not only confronting ISIL but of failing to destroy the terror group.
“If we don’t defeat ISIL, there will be no viable of acceptable future for the Middle East,” he said. “And If we don’t build a strong future for the Middle East, it won’t really matter what happens to ISIL,” he added.