Swoop: Washington’s World: February 17th – 23rd, 2014 – Syria, The Asian Pivot and AIPAC

Swoop: Washington’s World: February 17th – 23rd, 2014 – Syria, The Asian Pivot and AIPAC
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Swoop: “Even as he pursues a crowded agenda of top-level meetings in South Korea and China followed by a visit to Indonesia, Secretary of State Kerry is facing calls for urgent action on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria. With the UN mediation efforts close to failure and amid reports of the growing influence of the most extreme groups and of a new inflow of sophisticated weaponry to the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) from the Saudis and UAE, Administration officials have come to a crossroads.

As he returns to the US via the UAE next week, Kerry will be meeting regional figures to explore options. Our sources report, however, that the SRF leadership will meet with Congressional leaders in Washington next week to put their case for more US support to their efforts.  They will likely to receive a mixed reception, as Congress remains split on this issue.

p020714al-0008 Meanwhile, with regard to his sessions in Beijing and Seoul, State Department officials are drawing satisfaction from the range of topics under discussion. Some progress has been made, they feel, over North Korea with the Chinese leadership now more committed to keeping Pyongyang in line.

Kerry was also able to discuss the delicate subject of how recent Japanese statements are being interpreted in Beijing and Seoul. As we have reported, there is growing concern in Washington that tensions between South Korea, Japan and China could degenerate into a regional Cold War or, worse, a regional arms race.

To head this off, Kerry cautioned his Chinese hosts against the declaration of a new Air Defense Identification Zone in the South China Sea. Although the Chinese reaction was firmly negative, Kerry’s calculation is that, if he can restrain Beijing from pre-emptive action, US leverage over Tokyo will be strengthened. An NSC Asia expert commented privately to us: “When we announced the so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific, we had little idea that we would be entering into this minefield caused by our own allies.”

Turning to Iran, a new round of P5+1 talks resumes on February 17th. US officials close to the talks remain confident that some kind of deal is within grasp.

With the annual conference of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee due to be held in Washington in early March and to be addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the Administration will hear robust criticism of its approach, but the White House has now successfully deflected pressure for new sanctions against Iran and, for the time being, can pursue a deal relatively untroubled by political pressure.”

SourceSwoopPhotos added by Cap Falcon.

Photo Credits:
Header: A member of the color guard holds a French flag as President Barack Obama listens to remarks by President François Hollande of France during the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
Article: President Barack Obama arrives back at the White House aboard Marine One following a trip to East Lansing, Mich., Feb. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon).