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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs