News / USA

Kerry Talks Democracy, Iraq During Egypt Visit

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry following his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry following his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2014.
Elizabeth Arrott
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo on the first leg of a trip through a region increasingly worried by the sectarian conflict in Iraq. 
 
One of Kerry’s key messages during his tour is inclusion, both by the government in Iraq and in Egypt.
 
Speaking Sunday in Cairo, Kerry warned of the dangers of Sunni extremists making gains against the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad. But he added a plea to the country’s leaders.
 
“This is a critical moment where we must urge Iraq's leaders to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people,” Kerry said.
 
Kerry is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Egypt since el-Sissi, the former military leader who toppled Islamist President Mohamed Morsi after mass protests last year, won a presidential election in May.
 
The unannounced stop in Cairo, which included a meeting with el-Sissi, came at the start of a hastily arranged tour of the Middle East and Europe.  
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi before a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2014.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi before a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2014.
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi before a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi before a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2014.

While Kerry said it is up to the Iraqi people to decide who their leaders will be, the top U.S. diplomat is expected to discuss the formation of a more inclusive Iraqi government during the various stops on his trip. 
 
But, he stressed, the U.S. is not engaged in choosing or advocating for any one individual or series of individuals for the Iraqi leadership. 
 
Threat to region

Kerry also said the militants’ ideology is a threat not only to Iraq’s government, but to the entire region.
 
At a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Kerry pointed to Washington and Cairo’s “long-standing and deep partnership” and said the two would work together to counter terrorist threats.
 
But he acknowledged both sides “have things we can do better” and called for upholding universal rights of free speech and free assembly.
 
Relations between Washington and Cairo were strained by the overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Morsi, and the ensuing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails.
 
Kerry’s visit comes a day after an Egyptian court confirmed death sentences against 183 members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, including its leader Mohamed Badie, in a mass trial on charges of violence in which one policeman was killed.
 
A senior official traveling with Kerry was quoted as saying the U.S. does not agree with the Egyptian government’s view the Brotherhood is linked to terrorist groups. 
 
The official called the situation more of a political challenge than a security one.
 
Speaking shortly after his arrival, Kerry alluded to Egypt’s deep divisions.
  
"This is a critical moment of transition in Egypt,” he said. “The United States is very interested in working closely with President el-Sissi in order to help make this transition as rapidly and smoothly as possible."
 
U.S. officials acknowledged they were "balancing" different strategic interests in what is a "complicated" relationship with Egypt.
 
“They in some ways are radicalizing certain aspects of Egyptian society in ways that are not supportive of overall stability in Egypt,” said the official, who briefed reporters en route to Cairo, and was reported by Reuters.
 
Still, the official said there had been “a few flickering signs of positive movement” in recent weeks.

Among these was the release of an Al Jazeera journalist, steps to start addressing sexual violence against women and el-Sissi's call during his first cabinet meeting for the revision of the human rights law.

US influence waning

But it is unclear how much clout the United States has in Egypt, and in the region, after the fallout from its invasion of Iraq, and what many here consider Washington's mistakes during the Arab Spring uprisings and their aftermath.
 
Political Sociologist Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo says while the United States remains an important player that cannot be ignored, Kerry comes at a time when America has lost a lot of trust among Arab leaders.
  
"Egyptians distrust them because of their support of Morsi,” Sadek said. “The Saudis are also not enthusiastic about Obama. He failed them in going forward in the Syrian campaign.  Also they blame him for what is happening in Iraq.
 
“Everybody is blaming America for what is happening in Iraq,” Sadek added.
  
It is a view that makes Kerry’s job to help find solutions more difficult, when his country is considered the source of many of the problems.  
 
During his Middle East tour, Kerry is also discouraging Arab nations from sending financial support to even moderate opposition Sunni groups in Syria, fearing the aid could be used to help the growing insurgency in Iraq.
 
Kerry said he delivered that message to el-Sissi during their meeting Sunday in Cairo, adding that he plans to make the same case to other leaders in Sunni-dominated Arab states over the next several days.
 
He said he will urge Arab states to work together to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.
 
Also Sunday, U.S. officials revealed that $572 million (420 million euros) of U.S. aid, which had been frozen since October, was released to the Cairo government about 10 days ago after finally winning a green light from Congress.
 
The funds will mainly go to pay existing defense contracts, including 10 Apache helicopter gunships for counterterrorism efforts in the Sinai Peninsula.
 
Kerry said he was "confident" Egypt would receive Apache gunships soon. But the aircraft remain in storage in the U.S., an official had confirmed Sunday.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JohnnyNight from: Puerto Rico
June 22, 2014 10:22 PM
EL SISSI FOREVER...!!!

Looks like Kerry and El Sissi haven't a nice old time...

TIME TO KISS AND MAKE UP EVERYONE...!!!!

Next stop for Kerry, Syria...

I told you Assad wasn't a bad guy after all...!!!

IF WE COULD WORK WITH STALIN... Syria and Iran are Easy..!!!

So Hosni gets out of jail in few months.. My nominee to take over in Iraq... He knows what to do with the fools over there..!!

Beautiful..!!!

by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, VN
June 22, 2014 3:42 PM
Mr. Kerry looks good !
And Egypt looks good too !!

by: Marwan from: Egypt
June 22, 2014 2:34 PM
if looks could kill... the Egyptian simply can't stand this dithering mouldering old idiot - Kerry... people all over the ME are still in shock that this incompetent American administration allied itself with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood - this terrorist organization is Al Qaeda - it is Hamas - it is Al Nusra - it is ISIL...

by: Alex from: USA
June 22, 2014 2:34 PM
el-Sissi should not kill oppositions. If he does, Egypt will become like Iraq in future. He needs to have all oppositions in the government to avoid arm fighting crisis in future.

by: Bruce from: Canada
June 22, 2014 12:50 PM
It's important not to be naive about the Muslim Brotherhood. They are dedicated Islamists who want to shove their version of Islam down the throats of all Egyptians. The majority of Egyptians sensed this and the military threw them out. President el Sissi will prove to be a far more effective and tolerant leader than Morsi ever was.

by: meanbill from: USA
June 22, 2014 11:35 AM
CRAZY isn't it? -- Who's side is America on? --- (Makes you think about it), when they aid and support coup leaders in Egypt and Ukraine, and Islamic Monarchies that brutally suppress freedom and democracies, and extremists and terrorists fighting against "democratic elected" Shia led governments, and bringing violence, killings, destruction and wars, to change the leaders of those regimes they oppose?

by: kamil from: Morroco
June 22, 2014 11:06 AM
What happened in Egypt threatens to thirty or forty years of dictatorship and repression of the Egyptian people. We support you strongly

by: Anonymous
June 22, 2014 8:42 AM
Morsi is not only the muslim brothehood's leader but he was and he is the only democratically elected president of Egypt who is held in prison right now.
In Response

by: liba from: new york
June 22, 2014 11:52 AM
Morsi is gone . done deal ,bye bye. he has so many years in jail if he can handle it

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs