April 8, 2014, Cairo, Egypt—Senior U.S. diplomat Thomas Shannon says that Secretary of State John Kerry persists in engaging the Middle East’s intractable disputes because progress could unlock “a whole world of possibilities.” In an interview with the Cairo Review of Global Affairs published today, Shannon rejects criticism that Kerry’s policy is “delusional” arguing that it is part of a broader vision of the U.S. role in the 21st century.Shannon, State Department counselor and a member of Kerry’s inner circle, spoke to the Cairo Review last Thursday amid talks on the economy with the Egyptian officials.
Highlights from the interview:
On Syria: Shannon says the Geneva process has “hit a rough patch.” He says greater support for the opposition is “part of the debate.” The ultimate solution: “President Assad has to go.”
On Egypt: “We’re encouraged that Egypt is headed towards a presidential election. We were encouraged by the new constitution. We were encouraged by the vote on the referendum. And we hope that this upcoming election will show itself to be free and fair.” U.S.-Egypt relations are “strong” and “resilient.”
On Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: Despite setbacks, “we have to keep pushing them together and insisting they find a way to resolve this dispute.”
On the possible release of American spy Jonathan Pollard as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal: “Not that I am aware of.”
On Iran nuclear talks: The U.S. is seeking to determine whether Iran is making a “strategic shift” in its foreign policy, but “we don’t know yet.”
On Russia: Russia’s annexation of Crimea is a “mistake of historic proportions.” The “big challenge” is whether it will affect U.S.-Russian cooperation on broader issues including Syria.
To read the full interview with Ambassador Thomas Shannon, go to www.thecairoreview.com
The Cairo Review of Global Affairs is the quarterly journal of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP). The journal is also available online atwww.thecairoreview.com