Kerry pledges backing for Syria rebels

2013-03-04 16:53

Riyadh - US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Riyadh on Monday that Washington will work to "empower" Syria's opposition, while warning arch-foe Iran that time for talk on Tehran's nuclear ambitions could run out.

Kerry, on his first tour to the region since becoming the Secretary of State, also met over lunch with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, who flew in to Riyadh unannounced late on Sunday.

Kerry stressed that there was no question of arming the Syrian opposition, even as his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal insisted on the right of Syrians to self-defence.

The US will continue to work with its "friends to empower the Syrian opposition," Kerry told reporters during a joint press conference with the Saudi foreign minister.

Asked about reports of arms being sent to Syria's rebels from countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Kerry replied: "The moderate opposition has the ability to make sure that the weapons are getting to them and not to the wrong hands."

However, he added, "there is no guarantee that one weapon or another might not fall in the wrong hands."

The US has so far refused to arm rebels locked in a two-year war against President Bashar Assad's loyalists.

Several oil-rich monarchies of the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), notably Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have supported the rebellion against Assad, a staunch ally of their regional arch-foe Iran.

The GCC members are dissatisfied at the refusal of President Barack Obama's administration to arm Syrian rebels and its perceived lenient attitude towards Tehran, analysts say.

Kerry said his discussions with Gulf officials had also covered ongoing talks between world powers and Iran on its nuclear programme.

Talks with Iran "will not go on for the sake of talks," he said. "Talks cannot become an instrument for delay that in the end makes the situation more dangerous. So there is a finite amount of time."

"Obama has made it clear that Iran will not get nuclear weapons," said the top US diplomat. "There is a huge danger of proliferation."

World powers negotiating with Iran to rein in its nuclear programme concluded another round of talks in Kazakhstan last week, after putting forward a proposal to ease biting sanctions if Tehran halts the sensitive work of enriching uranium.

"Saudi Arabia supports the efforts to resolve the crisis diplomatically," said the Saudi foreign minister. "We hope that the negotiations will result in putting an end to this problem... the negotiations cannot go on forever."

Weapons programme

World powers accuse Tehran of masking a weapons programme under the guise of a civilian atomic drive. Iran denies these charges.

During his flurry of meetings in Riyadh on Monday, Kerry also held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, but had no plans for a meeting with King Abdullah, officials said.

He also met Palestine’s president who flew unexpectedly into Riyadh late on Sunday.

"Well, Mr President I have been waiting for this meeting and I think you have too," Kerry told Abbas. "That's right, that's right," replied Abbas.

Prior to their meeting, Palestinian envoy in Riyadh, Jamal al-Shawbaki, told the official Voice of Palestine radio that Abbas "will present the Palestinian point of view to the new US administration ahead of Obama's visit".

Obama is due to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah during a visit on 20 to 22 March.

Abbas, in his first meeting with Kerry, will also "highlight Israeli violations in Jerusalem, settlements, and the issue of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike," said Shawbaki.

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have been deadlocked for more than two years.

Abbas wants to renew peace talks in tandem with a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem.

US officials said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been made aware of the unscheduled Kerry-Abbas meeting.

After winding up the Saudi leg of his tour later on Monday, Kerry will head to Abu Dhabi and then to Qatar.

  • Philip - 2013-03-04 17:19

    Careful Kerry! Remember what happened when the US armed Bin Laden in Afghanistan to fight the Russians?

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-04 18:08

      Americans are a nation of foreign policy retards. Perhaps one day, genetic engineers can overcome this retardation. Until then, the U.S. shouldn't be allowed anywhere near other nations. It brings only destruction and death and leaves chaos (that's when it leaves).

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-03-04 17:50

    . Not good enough Kerry!! The Syrians are sick and tired of your 'friends of......tea parties' YOU, the USA, has allowed this assad DOG, KILL 70000 Syrians, injured ten of thousands more, create hundreds of thousands of refugees and have one million of Syrians on the run, And that's ALL you can do, for a nation terrorized by a mad man, clinging onto power ???? That is while these Russian bastards, continiously ,send tons of military hardware into Syria, and have 'experts, advisers and commandos on the ground!! BUT, DON'T WORRY; The Syrian population is soooo derterment to get rid of this assad, that they WILL SUCCEEED !! It is doubtful Coca Cola and KFC , will be in big demand , in years to come !!!

  • Moses Kachula - 2013-03-04 17:51

    Why call them rebels? These people are terrorists simple and plain and mr kerry pls don't insult us, of cause you are arming them and giving them military assistance covertly through your allies in the region.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-03-04 18:01

      Moses, You are brainwashed by these leftits lunatics! If there were ( that many ) American arms in Syria, you don't think assad would have shown them on 'his' TV, he is a MONSTER, but not crazy !!!!! That gaddafi psychopath called them 'Rats' this assad dog calls them 'rebels' and THE REST OF THE WORLD CALLS THEM" OPPOSITION" Are we not lucky in SA, that to get a MAJORITY government, was not left up to the ones like u you......... Cause wse would still have the Nats in power !!!!!!!! .

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-04 18:02

      What is happening in Syria is similar to the CIA destabilisation in Latin America, hiring death squads to foment rebellion and regime change.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-03-04 18:21

      . Quite frankly, the Americans, nor the Europeans, could give a damn who is the leader of Syria I would not know, what else they have to do, to 'proof' this !!!

      Rational100 - 2013-03-04 19:06

      Almost every country in the Middle East is ruled by some form of dictatorship or tribalism inclined leadership. Fact is; Bashar Assad is the internationally and nationally recognized leader of Syria hence anyone seeking to overthrow him is rightfully a rebel. Anyone failing to understand this is either mentally challenged or extremely brainwashed. Even if the Syrian rebels succeed in unseating Assad, I can assure you that one tribe will sit on top of another tribe and cause suppress them endlessly leading to decades of war. The idea that democracy is some form of grand panacea for peace in the Middle East is far fetched and ludicrous. We still have countries there that do not believe (culturally!!) that women are equal to men ....they can't drive for themselves, they can't show their face in public, they can't work etc. The situation requires a serious mind-set shift which cannot be attained by cosmetic democratic ideals of the West.

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-04 19:49

      The most undemocratic thing is to assume you have the complete answer and insist everyone else does democracy your way. The incontinent impatience of the democracy fanatics has lead to meddling in sovereign countries with terrible consequences. Democracy is not worth exporting to other countries using bombs! "World on Fire" by Amy Chua is a good book, with disturbing implications for the possibility of democracy in many countries.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-03-04 20:08

      Fanie, WOW !!!!!!!!!! Only after three comments on this site, and already some commentators are "mentally challenged" I can see where this is going, and its not pretty, actually rather ugly, I thought this fidel and patrick, gave us enough of it !!!!! """Fact is; Bashar Assad is the internationally and nationally recognized leader of Syria hence anyone seeking to overthrow him is rightfully a rebel""" What do you suggest................shall we in future, call the UN , 'a rebel organisation' as numerous UN resolutions, in the General Assembly and in the Security Council, have squarly put the blame of most atrocities at assad and demanded he step aside. It is " regime change " in diplomatic language !!!!! ""I can assure you that one tribe..............."" Well , are we not fortunate, that it was not left up to you and your like, to get MAJORITY rule in SA, Because it were those same utterances we heard from the ones who supported MINORITY rule. To face evil, like the Syrians do, one needs strong leaders to make the changes and not some weaklings, like you seem to be !!!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-03-04 20:21

      Fidel, AGAIN , you make up your own stories!! NOBODY but NOBODY, is suggesting that Syria has to have a particular kind of democracy. What the Syrians want, like the Tunisians, the Egyptians, and the Libyans wanted, is an end to -----------------THESE INSANE FAMILY DYNASTIES--------------------- as if countries are some kind of super market chain, where the business is run by a family and when daddy wants to retire he hands it over to his son....!!!! THAT is what the Arab Spring was/is all about !!!! If one would have had a government in place in Syria, which had "some kind' of accountability, this slaughter of people and this insane destruction COULD NEVER EVER HAVE HAPPENED!!! In a democracy THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE !!!!!!

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-04 21:28

      As usual, not bothering to pay attention to other things happening in the discussion. Who said anything about Syria.

      Rational100 - 2013-03-05 07:15

      @ Ant: U have all your trust in the UN??....good for u! Whilst at explain why it's "democratic" to prescribe to a multilateral body like the World Bak that it will always be headed by a US official? ...explain to why the IMF is exclusively led by a European and not dictated by democratic ideals of members??....

      AllcoveredinNinjas - 2013-03-05 07:50

      Look at who funds the world bank and IMF and you'll see why. When you forking out those amounts of funds , the funder gets control of the organisation . People tend to spend other peoples money quite liberally.

      Rational100 - 2013-03-05 08:27

      @ Allcovin Ninja: my point exactly... Western democracy is about who has financial muscle...nothing to do with majority rule !!

      AllcoveredinNinjas - 2013-03-05 08:46

      The World bank and IMF are not politicians elected to government , they provide low cost capital to states for development and financial stability . I'm sure many countries would like to hold the purse strings of other countries . Equal contribution will provide equal say . There is also just democracy , it isn't radically different to denote a designation of 'western' .

      Rational100 - 2013-03-05 09:20

      @ Allcovin Ninja: That these institutions are "not politicians elected to government" is your view and yours alone. Some of us know that the President of the US gives final clearance to the person heading the World Bank ...and this is usually publicized widely for all to know!!

  • fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-04 18:06

    The US still hasn't learnt a lesson from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and all the other countries they have got involved in and with the Syrian rebels, they will certainly bite off more then they can chew! There is an often-quoted axiom that affixes a certain label to those who continue taking the same action while hoping for a different outcome. It seems very applicable here.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-03-04 18:26

      . Libya...........................????? You suck this out of your toe... Although Nato assisted the Libans to get rid of that crazed guy, NO American soldier, war ship , nor aircraft was involved !!!!!! Maybe they had one of these 'friends of.......tea parties....tht's posssible !!!!!

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-04 18:38

      The US was very much involved in Libya. You only have my word for that, of course. You can choose whether or not you think I've made it up. But I can think of no reason why I'd bother. Or you could just look it up yourself and stop embarrassing yourself on a public forum.

      Rational100 - 2013-03-04 19:16

      @ AnthonyM - I am loosing hope in you ...You say the US was not involved in Libya??? Who was monitoring the movement of Gaddaffi's convoy from one hiding place to the other? Who was giving intelligence info about suspicious move,nets of troops ? ...Who was threatening neighboring countries about providing a safe passage for Gaddafi out of Libya?. Yes Gaddaffi was a dictator with grisly deeds but the world was robbed of an opportunity for him to tell us his side of the story about slush funds channelled to the West and never to be returned to the Libyan people even after his assassination.

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-04 19:53

      Just let the peanut gallery continue to make factual errors and keep knocking down their silly arguments!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-03-04 20:42

      Fanie, There were many countries involved in assisting the libyans to get rid of their psychopath; Belgium U.K. Canada Denmark France Italy Jordan Netherlanda Norway USA Qatar Spain Sweden Turkey And a number who had offered support and were on stand by; albania Australia Croatia Cyprus estonia Germany Indonesia Kuwait Malta poland Sudan THe USA, although it had some war ships in the area and planes available at nearby air bases, it mainly gave support with some reconnaissance flights over Libya. Cmpared with other nations, it played a minimal role in gaddafi in the end eating sand. Early at the start of the Libyan popular uprising, the US Secretary of Defense, robert Gates, said; " the USA should not get involved in this civil war, as libya has no strategic interest to us " And it is THIS, that flies right in the face of these leftits lunatics, who even today claim Libya's civil war was about oil!@!! The USA NEVER EVER got ONE BARREL of Libyan oil. ( the Chinese of course were there...........all thirty thousand of them !!!!)

      Rational100 - 2013-03-04 22:29

      @ Ant : A little bit of research should help u understand that Exxon-Mobil has been in Libya since 2005 and this my friend is an American oil company with American shareholders. You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can't all of the people all of the time !!

      Anthonym Michael - 2013-03-05 00:47

      Patrick, As usual you just suck things out of your thumb, The USA was NOT a friend and ally of gaddafi.............. Especially after the Pan Am bombing, this mad man was regarded a TERRORIST, which he was!!!!!!! Hardly a ...............friend nor ally !!!!

      Anthonym Michael - 2013-03-05 01:05

      Fanie, A little bit more of understanding , and your 'research' would have some value!! Exxon-Mobil is an oil 'exploration company' who 'extracts' oil!! That does NOT mean they 'own' the oil, and even less, that even 'one drop' will end up in America, WHICH IT DID NOT! One can talk rubbish to people ALL the time, but that does not mean they will ever believe you !!!!

      Rational100 - 2013-03-05 07:04

      @ Ant: All I can is, please grow up man! ...Exxon-Mobil is a fully integrated oil company both Upstream ( exploration and production) and Dowstream (refining and marketing). Understand that Gaddafi was instrumental in the formation of Nepad with the likes of fmr Pres Mbeki and the West did not support this ideal, understand who was behind the formation of Tamoil in Libya and why it formed, understand why Tony Blair was the first Western leader to fly to Libya within one month of sanctions being lifted...understand that the recently assassinated US ambassador in Libya was not just transiting....lets debate issues and agree to disagree rather than to force us to lecture world politics to you !!

      Rational100 - 2013-03-05 08:24

      @ Ant: Let me tel u that virtual insults don't stick on me....u can f...o..ff me a zillion times and it means zilch, zero, nothing. By now u should be mature enough to know that when oil is American oil, it does not need to be taken by ship to dock and off-load in the US... We have global traders who buy and route oil to where its needed. The US has a fleet of military planes, ships and equipment in the Middle East to which it only makes sense to seek product, refining capacity in close proximity to the action hence my assertation that they had/and still have interest. That they interest is not in itself wrong but needs to be understood. Such interests are not just announced willy-nilliy but handled strategically through an intelligence network.

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-03-05 08:42

      Fanie, that is Anthony for you, his limited understanding of geo-politics is only matched by his limited vocabulary, hence the resort to insults when he can provide a counter-argument.

      Anthonym Michael - 2013-03-05 11:23

      Fanie, Rather address your comments to Comrade brainwashed fidel, she is very very clever, she read a book on the cold war, and now knows exactly how the world works. Ohh, don't forget to ask her about the ""e hallo effect"" LOL, Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha At least when she does not bore you, she will make you in your pants !!!!!!

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