News / Middle East

    Kerry: Islamic State a Threat to Russia, Too

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at the Royal Terminal of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 11, 2014.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at the Royal Terminal of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 11, 2014.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. administration are disappointed by Russia’s initial reaction to President Barack Obama’s speech on the Islamic State militant group Wednesday.

    In an interview Thursday evening with VOA in Saudi Arabia, Kerry said, "I would hope that Russia will come to see that ISIL really represents a threat to them, too.

    "There are problems through many of the countries around Russia and near Russia and even in some of the parts of Russia," he said, referring to its experience with Chechnya. "There are terrorists, many of whom will take an example from ISIL and what is happening [in Syria and Iraq]."

    Syria and Russia are both denouncing Obama's threat to attack Islamic State fighters in Syria. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said such action without the consent of the Syrian government or the U.N. Security Council "would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law."

    Kerry said Russia should not block the coalition, however, but should join the international effort against IS militants.

    Kerry said the Obama administration hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin's government will help the international community "engage in responsible behavior to deal with" ISIL and end the war in Syria.

    "I think over time, Russia will see that the real need is for them to be more cooperative and stop supporting a guy like [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], who kills his own population, and to help bring about a political solution," he said.

    "We are looking to Russia to help bring about a political solution," said Kerry. "We still believe that's the only solution for what is happening in Syria."

    VOA's Scott Stearns discusses the Kerry interview:

    VOA's Scott Stearns discusses his interview with John Kerryi
    September 11, 2014 6:58 PM
    VOA Correspondent Scott Stearns interviewed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday evening in Saudi Arabia. Kerry was in Jeddah to meet with Arab leaders to form an international coalition against Islamic State militants.

    Possible ​Iranian role

    Iran is allied with Russia in backing Syria's Assad, but it shares U.S. concerns about the Islamic State, helping arm Kurdish forces in Iraq that are backed by U.S. airstrikes.

    While Kerry said there is no direct military cooperation with Iran, he told VOA that Tehran and Washington do not want to get in each other's way as they fight a common enemy.

    "Both Iran and the United States are smart enough to take precautions to make sure that there is a deconfliction with respect to that kind of possibility," he said.

    "That's common sense, but it doesn't amount to cooperation in terms of military operations or otherwise," Kerry added. "And certainly we will keep people out of harms way as appropriately, and we would hope they would."

    A senior State Department official said the United States and its Arab allies in this coalition are "pretty much aware of what Iran is doing in Iraq. And they're not trying to conceal it either."

    France hosts a conference on the Islamic State next week that will include the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, Russia, and the United States.

    French officials have said previously that Iran should also take part in those talks. But Iran believes tackling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria should include representatives from the Syrian government, which is opposed by the United States, Britain, and France.

    The U.S. secretary of state, following up on Obama's push to "degrade and destroy" the group in both Iraq and Syria, secured a committment Thursday from 10 Gulf and Arab leaders to form an international coalition against Islamic State militants at a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

    The top U.S. diplomat continues his regional tour to forge a broad alliance against the Sunni militant group Friday in Turkey. From there he will travel to Egypt, meeting top leaders in Cairo.

    Audio of full Stearns' interview with John Kerry

    Audio of VOA's Scott Stearn's interview with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah, Sept. 22, 2014i
    September 11, 2014 8:18 PM
    Audio of VOA's Scott Stearn's interview with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 11, 2014


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    Comment Sorting
    by: Leek from: Uganda, Africa
    September 16, 2014 9:33 AM
    It is a good decision to end the conflicts in the two countries of Syria and Iraq however, this is not the right way of solving the conflicts because, the air strikes will again lead to lost of many lives then the one that had already been reclaimed. peaceful mean should be the solution, remember Libya and Iraq are now in great chaos than before because of military intervention, therefore i wouldn't like the same to happen to other countries.

    by: Dr.Weinerlick from: miami
    September 12, 2014 1:33 PM
    Although many members of Congress and the establishment media portray ISIS as the number one security threat to the nation, others have taken a more measured and even a highly critical view of the move toward war. ISIS Threat a Monumental “Farce” In the wake of Obama’s speech on ISIS Wednesday, his former top counter-terrorism adviser at the State Department, Daniel Benjamin, told The New York Times the ISIS threat is nothing less than a “farce.”

    “It’s hard to imagine a better indication of the ability of elected officials and TV talking heads to spin the public into a panic, with claims that the nation is honeycombed with sleeper cells, that operatives are streaming across the border into Texas or that the group will soon be spraying Ebola virus on mass transit systems — all on the basis of no corroborated information,” said Benjamin.

    Obama admitted during his speech an ISIS attack on America is a remote possibility at best. He characterized the group as a regional threat and said there is no specific information showing it poses a direct threat to the United States. In addition to Obama’s remarks and terrorism experts discounting and downplaying the ISIS threat at home, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said ISIS does not currently threaten the United States. Dempsey said there is no evidence the group is engaged in “active plotting against the homeland.”

    Propaganda Campaign for War Wins Hearts and Minds However, due to incessant propaganda and repeated exaggerations by the establishment media about the capability of ISIS, a large number of Americans now believe ISIS is a threat to the United States. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, in the wake of the unverified and highly suspicious alleged beheading of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, Americans now overwhelmingly support military action against ISIS.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    September 12, 2014 10:45 AM
    The al-Baghdadi (ISIL) Sunni Muslim ultra-extremist terrorist army wasn't even considered a (terrorist organization by the US), while they were in Syria (beheading, crucifying and waging war) on the Shia Muslim government of Syria, (but), after the (ISIL) invaded Iraq and took about a third of it in a couple of weeks, they became a terrorist threat to Iraq, "Saudi Arabia", Jordan and Turkey, (and now), after the (ISIL) beheaded two Americans, they have become a worldwide terrorist threat, threatening even Russia?'s only how America views things, isn't it?

    by: Mark from: Virginia
    September 11, 2014 10:02 PM
    Of course Putin is going to resist any notion of cooperation against ISIS....apparently the reverse thinking of whatever the U.S. says still applies in Moscow. Cold War thinking at its finest, whatever America says, it must mean the opposite to the minds in Moscow.
    I find it ironic that Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich saying such action without the consent of the Syrian government or the U.N. Security Council "would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law", considering what their actions (or their denial of their actions) in Crimea and Ukraine have been. The pot calling the kettle black.....
    Yes, the Cold War mentality is still alive and thriving.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    September 12, 2014 12:39 PM
    Hey Mark.... REMEMBER when the US and NATO used a UN "no fly zone" in Syria, (and a vague sentence in it), to attack and bomb Libya back to the stone age, and to target and kill Qaddafi and his family?.... Russia REMEMBERS... and they'll never trust the US and NATO on any of their proposed UN Resolutions on Syria, or any other countries ever again, because the US and NATO will target and kill Assad and his family, like they did to Qaddafi in Libya?..... They fooled Russia once, and got away with it, and if they fooled Russia twice, Russia would look really foolish now, wouldn't they?..... (Russia REMEMBERS, and won't ever forget how the US and NATO played them for fools?)...

    by: Mr a from: new york
    September 11, 2014 7:29 PM
    Saudi kingdom is a threat to the whole world. make no mistake about that

    by: JJ Joseph from: Toronto
    September 11, 2014 3:53 PM
    America has created ISIS by gifting them with trainloads of hi-tech military weapons and vehicles. Now America wants everyone else to get activated to find a solution? Somehow this defies common sense.
    In Response

    by: Danny from: Canada
    September 12, 2014 12:10 AM
    Stupid politic from you

    by: Ambalal hindu from: India
    September 11, 2014 11:53 AM
    U.S. Attacked on islamic state.i support us.finish all the islamic millitants who drunk blood of huminity.

    by: Godfrey Kamel
    September 11, 2014 8:42 AM
    And no strategy to wipe out RADICAL ISLAM which is really the DISEASE or "cancer" - Islamic State (or Al Qaeda or Hamas or whatever Psychotic Islamist Jihadi group) is ONLY THE SYMPTOM. Until USA/EU admits and attacks Radical Islam supporters wherever located - expect no end to these Jihadi Islamist groups . . .

    by: Logic
    September 11, 2014 8:37 AM
    Islamic Militants beheaded people. America is going to bomb thousands of people in Iraq in retaliation.If America kills hundreds of people with a single bomb dropped from air, It is called military action. If Some militants kill a person with a knife, They are evil and barbaric. Both USA and Islamic State are equally bad in killing people. Both Islamic State's beheading and America's Arial bombing are nothing but pure barbarism. Both America and Islamic State kill people for different reasons and with different purpose using different means.

    First, America created and armed rebels to fight Assad. Then, Those rebels became Islamic State militants.This is how, America is recklessly creating more Islamic militants and terrorists to bring down other states. Now, America is arming and supporting moderate rebels who are also terrorists in nature.These so called moderate rebels may turn against USA in future. This is how America used such terrorists to bring down USSR in the past. America's reckless policies and weapon supplies created all these problems.
    In Response

    by: HUU THO from: Viet Nam
    September 11, 2014 9:37 PM
    You are right. The USA is supporting terrorist groups to fight Syria and those terrorists turned out to cut the heads of US jounalists. So it is the matter of the US. The US must solve it by themselves to correct their mistakes. But the US must respect Syria's and Iraq's sovereignty.
    In Response

    by: JustDoug from: Seattle
    September 11, 2014 6:21 PM
    Go live over there (as I did), you would starve to death if you weren't beaten to death. Ignorance does not equate to logic.

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