In a March 15, 2015 interview with CBS, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that it is important to achieve a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria and that the negotiations would have to involve Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
This statement sparked much criticism in the Arab press. An especially harsh response came from 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the former director of Al-Arabiya TV, who wrote in an article titled "Has Kerry Gone Mad" that this is the worst thing Kerry has ever said. If Kerry thinks that he must ally himself with Assad in order to fight ISIS, Al-Rashed wrote, then he should know that his position will actually cause millions of Syrians to ally themselves with ISIS to fight Assad. Al-Rashed added that, if Kerry's position is meant to please Iran, the American government should think twice, because this position "subjects its interests to bigger threats and poses a threat to the region." He concluded that "Kerry has [opened] the gates of hell on himself and his country" in a region that is already furious at the U.S. for its silence over Assad's genocide and for its refusal to arm the Syrian opposition.
The following are excerpts from the article as published March 17, 2015 on Al-Arabiya's English-language website.
'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed
"I don't understand how an official like the U.S. Secretary of State says that Bashar al-Assad can be accepted because he needs him in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). John Kerry's statement is enough to push millions of people here to support ISIS. If Kerry's excuse is that he will cooperate with Assad because he [Assad] despises ISIS, then millions of Syrians will cooperate with ISIS because they despise Assad.
"And these Syrian people's justifications are greater than Kerry's excuse. The Assad regime, aided by his allies - the Iranians and Hezbollah - [has] killed more than a quarter of a million people. It's impossible for them to reconcile with [Assad] regardless of what the American justifications are.
"Does the U.S. Secretary of State think that millions of Syrians will be silent and forget about the massacres and displacement which have befallen them just because Kerry [has] decided to ally with the devil [in order] to fight another devil? Despite his many slips, Kerry's latest statements were his worst. This is regardless of whether they were simply made to please Iran into signing a nuclear deal or whether they were the result of advice by his advisers who care little about the plight of the Syrian people.
"The fundamental rule in the fight against ISIS is [to] make sure it is confronted locally. This can be done by getting regional people together to cooperate, since ISIS poses a shared threat to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Without regional cooperation, no one will be able to defeat terrorist groups, which attract volunteers and donors with claims of standing against [a] tyrant! How can the region's governments convince their citizens otherwise, when the U.S. Secretary of State publicly announces that he [is willing to] negotiate with and accept the worst regime the region has known - especially when this regime has done worse than Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and worse than Moammar Qaddafi's regime in Libya?
"If the aim of his statement is to please the Iranians, the American government must think twice, because this harms everything it has built over long decades. And it also subjects its interests to bigger threats and poses a threat to the region. In the end, the U.S. will get nothing but more regional problems from the Iranians, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.
"Kerry has [opened] the gates of hell on himself and his country in an angry region, most of [whose] people feel that Obama's administration has been silent over daily crimes of genocide in which forbidden chemical weapons have been used, and has also prohibited arming the opposition with qualitative weapons, and now [it] wants to reconcile with murderers in broad daylight."