Obama administration legacy: ‘Iran nuclear deal was a positive step, but no thanks to Kerry’

The only positive thing the Obama administration did was support the P5+1 deal with Iran – which in any event was done by another five countries, while the US almost destroyed it on many occasions, says Gregory Copley, editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs.

As Donald Trump and his new team gear up to move into the White House, the old administration is preparing to leave. One of the key figures departing is John Kerry.

RT spoke to Gregory Copley, editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs, and discussed the state of US foreign policy in the run-up to a new administration taking office.

RT: How would you assess the work of the outgoing US administration, especially in regards to the fight against ISIS?

Gregory Copley: The anti-ISIS coalition has little or nothing to do with the US. Certainly, they are making a lot of headlines about it, and there are many air strikes in Syria, in Iraq, and Libya. But in reality and in terms of the substantive fight against ISIS, particularly against Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, the US has been counterproductive. This is more the case because the Obama White House and the State Department have actually been supporting the various jihadist groups and rebels including ISIS through Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, because of Kerry’s ineptitude, the US is now mired in meddling in Syria and Yemen in ways which will considerably exacerbate the conflicts and the human suffering in those countries.

We only have to look at what happened to the US intervention in support of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Libya, for example, they introduced jihadist groups there which subsequently introduced ISIS forces there largely and logistically supported by the Turks but with US support. And even now we see this fighting in Sirte between the so-called provisional government and the ISIS forces – in fact, it’s the US supporting both sides of the game. The provisional government itself is actually a jihadist Al-Qaeda group which is being supported by the US…

I think the next US administration is going to be much more clear-sighted about this and will actually start to work possibly with Russia in actually combating ISIS and other jihadist groups because really we can’t differentiate between ISIS and the other jihadist groups in terms of the fact that they are opposed to the stable governments in the Middle East and in fact they are opposed to the Western and world life generally.

RT: Could you highlight some positive results of the Obama administration – and Secretary Kerry's - foreign policy over the recent years?

GC: Strangely enough, the only thing which the Obama administration and John Kerry did of a positive nature on the global scene was to support the P5+1 deal with Iran. Ironically, this is the one achievement which they are getting some great domestic opposition for in the US. The reality is that any deal that broke the logjam with Iran would have been beneficial. Iran is geopolitically critical, and Russia certainly acknowledges that. It is the pivotal geopolitical link from Eurasia into the Middle East, it is the only historically stable entity in the region… But the deal for which the State Department is claiming credit for Kerry was in any event done by five other countries plus Iran. So, Kerry and the US almost destroyed it on many occasions because of the historical US fears of Iran. And the US is still likely to sabotage the deal by its ongoing sanctions against Iran.

I believe that the incoming US administration and President-elect Trump will start to rectify that and we will start to see normalization there… Resolving the stand-off between the West - and particularly the US and Tehran - is critical and it really is a positive step forward, but frankly - no thanks to John Kerry.

RT: President-elect Donald Trump nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. What do you think of this choice?

GC: Naturally, any selection of President-elect Trump is going to be criticized and the fact is that the State Department Secretary of State nominee Tillerson is extremely well-qualified. The fact that he is knowledgeable about Russia is critical. I don’t think there is anything in his record to suggest that he would compromise US interests for the interests of Russia or any other foreign power. I think he will act very decisively in favor of US interests…

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.