U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Iraq as part a larger tour of the Middle East. His trip, unannounced until he had arrived for security reasons, is partly to encourage Sunni Muslim states to step up their fight against terrorist group ISIL in Iraq and Syria. He’s also calling on Iran to help solve some of the other conflicts in the region.
CCTV’s Nathan King has this report.
Nine month after the international community reached a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, the Middle East is still in turmoil. John Kerry is using his visit to bolster U.S. ties with Sunni States and encourage Iran to take a larger role in the peace process.
The U.S. and the international community are also pushing for peace in Yemen. This may be a great challenge as Saudi Arabia backs Yemeni government forces on the ground, while Iran has long supported the Houthi rebels.
Yemen like Syria could turn into a protracted, bloody, regional proxy war. While the U.S. is asking for Iranian help there, too, Washington and Tehran back different outcomes in Syria. There’s also the complicating fact that terror group ISIL (or Daesh) controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.
It was with ISIL in mind that Kerry made his unannounced stop in Baghdad. Iraqi government forces, with U.S. backing, are poised to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Kerry had a message of encouragement.
“Daesh (the Islamic State group) is unequivocally losing ground, losing leaders, losing fighters, losing cash, and not surprisingly, members of its ranking file are also now losing hope.”
Kerry’s visit comes at a time of continued division among Iraq’s politicians and ethnic groups. Sunnis are still not convinced that a Shiite dominated government in Baghdad is a better alternative than ISIL.
Despite the nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran, the entire Middle East region is still bitterly divided and at war. While U.S. diplomacy may help reassure its own allies, peace between those divided is still a distant hope.