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Not Even John Kerry Thinks His New Syria Deal Will Work

REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry privately admits he does not think his newly brokered ceasefire with Russia in Syria will work, The New York Times reports.

Kerry instead frames the ceasefire as a way to protect his and President Barack Obama’s legacy in Syria, to show that they at least tried to stop the bloodshed of the Syrian civil war. Kerry’s agreement stipulates that all parties in Syria must participate a “genuine reduction of violence,” for a period of one week.

If the ceasefire holds for a week, then the U.S. will open a joint operations center with Russia meant to target the Islamic State and al-Qaida elements in Syria.

Kerry and Obama’s ceasefire deal has met widespread condemnation throughout the U.S. government. Pentagon officials demurred Tuesday on committing to military cooperation with Russia. “It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it,” commander of U.S. Air Operations in the Middle East Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian told reporters Tuesday.

Pentagon officials are especially worried that they will be held liable if a Russian airstrike kills civilians, especially if that airstrike was greenlit with U.S. cooperation. Other officials told the Associated Press they believed Russia would continue to strike U.S. backed rebels inside Syria, to undermine the U.S. anti-ISIS mission.

The U.S. intelligence community is also wary that sharing information with Russia will reveal how the U.S. collects valuable intelligence on groups inside Syria. Russia has consistently undermined the U.S. intelligence community, and is suspected of widespread penetration attempts of the U.S. government. Pentagon officials cautioned that increased cooperation will also reveal valuable U.S. military intelligence techniques, which Russia could use to its advantage in a future confrontation with the U.S.

The White House won’t even publicly commit to the ceasefire’s full implementation, likely echoing Kerry’s private sentiments.

“I think we’d have some reasons to be skeptical that the Russians are able or are willing to implement the arrangement consistent with the way it’s been described,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.

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