Finally, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has shown some anger at the UN Security Council. He has questioned the credibility of his dear colleague and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the Syrian question. The moment of truth has come, Kerry said, and the issue is no joke, said the secretary who has become himself the butt of jokes in some American and non-American circles describing him as a naïve pupil of the shrewd Russian top diplomat. The joke is now on Kerry and his department, which now answers every serious question by promising Kerry will be meeting with Lavrov soon as though it is this duo that is the determinant of Syria’s future in a corridor far removed from the actual daily tragedy.
The surprise at the Security Council this week did not come from a vacuum. The Obama administration has run out of patience as a result of successive Russian provocations and maneuverings and because of the human cost of the crisis in Syria hitting unbearable levels. So what does it mean that John Kerry has become emotional and Obama has frowned in the face of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in protest at Russian policies and practices in Syria?
The Kremlin will not have great cause for concern. Putin is confident Obama cannot stand up to him in practical terms as this requires an American-Russian showdown in Syria’s skies. The keyword here is “powerlessness” because Russia has constructed its entire Syria policy on the basis that the US under Barack Obama has become infirm and that Washington has tied up its own hands in Syria, unable to behave as a superpower not only because it does not want to fight but also because it wants to appease Iran to preserve the nuclear deal, including by bowing down to Iran’s will in Syria to hold on to Bashar al-Assad in power. Yet this does not mean that the master of the Kremlin is not worried.
The Americans and Russians will no doubt try to address the tension in the bilateral relationship because the issues in which they are both involved are not limited to Syria. The relationship will be mended, at least on the surface, because the two nations are keen to pursue their necessary partnershipRaghida Dergham