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John Kerry: Assad is the “single biggest magnet for Jihad and terror”.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has launched a defence of America’s foreign policy, strongly rebuffing claims that President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to deploy force in troubled regions meant it was withdrawing from the world stage.

...“I must say, I’m perplexed by claims I occasionally hear that somehow America is disengaging from the world – this myth that America is pulling back, or giving up or standing down,” Kerry said. “In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. This misperception appears to be based on the simplistic assumption that our only tool of influence is our military, and that if we don’t have a huge troop presence or aren’t brandishing an immediate threat of force, we are somehow absent from the arena.”

He added: “The most bewildering version of this disengagement myth is about a supposed US retreat from the Middle East. You can’t find another country, not one country, as proactively engaged, or that is partnering with so many Middle Eastern countries as constructively as we are, on so many high-stake fronts.”

After flying in from Syrian peace talks in Montreux, Kerry said there would never be a lasting settlement until Assad had gone. “This one man must step aside,” he said. “Assad can’t be part of it because of the havoc he has wreaked on his own people." He described Assad as the “single biggest magnet for Jihad and terror”.


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