Former US Secretary of State John Kerry’s best moments was when he delivered his speech after the Assad regime targeted Ghouta with poisonous gas in 2013. It was a strong and humanitarian speech in which he repeated “and we know” what happened more than 40 times in a frank condemnation of Assad.
He used influential phrases like what happened was “a moral obscenity” and it “shock the conscience of the world”. Millions of people were waiting for an American military strike when he utters his last words.
However, his president Obama took a long tour with his chief of staff in the White House’s garden and without Kerry knowing anything, he changed his mind and decided to back down on the plan. Obama preferred Moscow’s pledge to purge Assad’s storage of Sarin gas. They were few minutes of glory and then Obama threw him under the bus, the bus of history.
Some of Kerry’s critics call him Mullah Kerry because of his obsession in the nuclear deal, the repeated concessions he made and the warmth displayed during meetings with Iranian officials.Mamdouh AlMuhaini
Like any professional diplomat Kerry swallowed the insult. He drew a smile on his face due to the accomplishment which avoided war and bloodshed. He led the negotiations then told media outlets that all chemical weapons in Syria were disposed of. We know it was a trick as the Assad regime resumed its strikes of which the most famous are the Khan Shaykhun and Duma massacres.
This was not an honorable chapter in the history of the former American administration, including of Kerry. However, he later went ahead to lead another major diplomatic mission – this time enthusiastically – and which is to seal the Iranian nuclear deal which ended up failing after President Trump tore it apart before the world’s eyes.
Violating diplomatic norms
Before the deal was made, Kerry’s injuries which he sustained after falling off his bike and which left him on crutches for a while did not stop him, and he seemed boastful as he limped competing with the European negotiators to get to negotiating halls in an attempt to finalize the agreement before it’s too late.
His activity is still on to this day as he hopes to revive the deal. Kerry still meets with Iranian officials, which is a flagrant violation of diplomatic and political norms. His successor Mike Pompeo has criticized this and Senator Marco Rubio said: “Hopefully Iran hires John Kerry to be their lead negotiator. Because he is certain to negotiate a bad deal for whichever side he is on”.
In his recently-published memoirs Every Day is Extra, Kerry narrates plenty of stories about what happened in closed meetings and about the arguments with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and which were followed by warm greetings and smiles in front of the cameras.
In one story, Kerry narrates a heated moment between Zarif and Lavrov. The latter looked at the former and sarcastically told him: “Are you really authorized to accept the final offer?” His statement insulted Zarif’s dignity so he angrily stood up and headed towards the door to leave. Kerry jumped from his seat and tried to calm him saying that the Russian minister did not mean to insult him.
However, Zarif’s satisfaction must come at a price, and he frankly said he wants more candy, i.e. concessions. This is what happened as Kerry returned to his team and pleased Zarif to resume the negotiations by cancelling some sanctions.
American writer Eli Lake wrote in his Bloomberg article that the entire story is a charade that’s planned between the Russian and Iranian ministers to manipulate Kerry and weaken his negotiating stance and corner him. Most probably this is right but it’s also clear that Kerry – upon pressure by his president – was willing to play the role of the stupid extra in the charade. He is not an idiot but he was searching for diplomatic glory for himself and for the Obama administration which failed on almost all foreign fronts.
Becoming Mullah Kerry
Some of Kerry’s critics call him Mullah Kerry because of his obsession in the nuclear deal, the repeated concessions he made and the warmth displayed during meetings with Iranian officials. This is in addition to his daughter Vanessa’s marriage to Dr. Brian Vala Nahed who is originally Iranian.
All this created – as they say –weakness inside him towards anything that’s Iranian. These are just analyses which are difficult to figure out their accuracy unless we delve into his mind and examine his heart; however, Kerry’s inclination towards the Iranians and running after them is due to purely personal goals.
Kerry is politically ambitious and he tried to be a president before and failed. In his book, he attributed Obama’s rise to him and Obama’s ability to become president to him as he has given him the golden opportunity to make his famous speech at the 2004 democratic convention.
Kerry made a mistake and four years later he saw the dream that he’s always had being achieved by a young man who is almost unknown and who has no political experience and who does not come from a rich family (Kerry’s wife Teresa Heinz is the heiress of Heinz). Hence, it was said that Kerry felt that he deserved the presidency more than Obama did.
His obsession with the nuclear deal and meetings with Iranian officials even angered some Democrats because they are an unprecedented violation that serves his own personal aims before anything else. He wants this as an accomplishment to add to his resume and to invest in later in the future to become president.
It’s difficult for him to do so as his record is full of failure. He failed at becoming a president and he failed as a secretary and finally when he sealed the largest political deal in his life Trump destroyed it.
This is why an angry Kerry insulted Trump few days ago when he said Trump “got the maturity of an eight-year-old boy with the insecurity of a teenage girl”. Actually these are nice insults said against the man who destroyed your future. Although he denied that he is planning to run for the presidency, everything he does says the opposite. Kerry loves the mullahs for his own personal aims but he’s not one of them.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.