Military, National

Remarks by Secretary of State Kerry on the U.S. Strategy in Syria, Nov. 12, 2015

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 12, 2015.

SECRETARY KERRY: Nancy, thank you very, very much. I apologize for being a couple minutes late over here. And I’m delighted to see a lot of friends and pleased that all of you could come here, share some thoughts this afternoon. It’s great for me to be here, and I want to thank the United States Institute of Peace for hosting all of us here this afternoon. I have to tell you I’m used to flying long distances to deliver a speech, so it’s really nice, although perhaps no less dangerous, to walk across 23rd Street – (laughter) – and just arrive.

This institute, as everybody knows, is really a spectacular place. And I have to tell you that even though it has reached the pivotal age of 30 – I say that; as some of you may remember, my generation was taught not to trust anybody over 30, if you’ll recall. (Laughter.) But given that I am now more than twice that age, my message to young people is: Don’t believe everything you’re taught. (Laughter.)

The truth is that under the leadership of Nancy Lindborg and my old friend Bill Taylor, this 30-year-old institute is really hitting its stride as a force for reconciliation and conflict resolution. And precisely because of the experience that it has gained, USIP is increasingly effective. It is a place where smart and energetic people come to help others, and I’m absolutely confident that that is going to remain the case for many, many decades to come. So congratulations to all those of you who are part of that effort. And as soon as I’m done, I expect every single one of you to go right back to work. (Laughter.)

Now, there’s another reason that I am especially pleased to be here, and that is stated boldly in the very name of this institute: peace. Across the street in the Harry Truman building, there are thousands of men and women who think about peace and work for peace every single day. And they think about especially what it would mean to the many millions of people who live without it, including many who have never in their entire lives actually known it. And as a veteran, a diplomat, a citizen, a father, a grandfather, I personally believe that peace is as worthy a pursuit that anybody could imagine, and that no matter how hard it is to achieve, the attempt, if guided by principle and realistic vision, is always worthwhile.

I doubt there are many leaders who at the end of their lives look back with regret at having done all that they could to prevent war. And I hope there are none who think to themselves, “Thank God I didn’t bother to lift a finger to stop people from killing each other.” I doubt that.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that peace is a major theme, here at this institute this afternoon, of my remarks. As you know, these are extremely complicated times. That’s not an excuse; it’s a statement of the playing field. And I appreciate the chance to share some thoughts in advance of the G20 summit that begins Sunday in Antalya, Turkey. Our leaders will assemble there with a full agenda, which reflects the fact that our country, my country, the United States of America, is today engaged in more areas of the world on more important issues with more partners with higher stakes than at any time in history. And that is not an exaggeration.

Along the Pacific Rim, we have negotiated a landmark trade pact that will bind together 40 percent of global economies based on high labor and environmental standards and 21st century rules of the road.

In Africa, we are working with local partners to train the leaders of tomorrow, to increase access to electricity, improve food security, to end debilitating conflicts, and ensure that our success in stopping Ebola cold and in slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS is sustained into the future.

In Latin America, we are reaching out to the people of Cuba by normalizing relations after 54 years, while also working hard with our special envoy to help Colombia to move closer to a negotiated solution to the decades-long struggle with the rebel group, FARC – the longest conflict, openly, on the planet.

In Europe, we are standing firm with our allies in support of a democratic and sovereign Ukraine, and in sending a strong message of reassurance that NATO’s promise of collective defense will be upheld.

And in recent days, we have seen the beginning of what promises to be the most dramatic transformation of a nuclear program since the breakup of the Soviet Union, as Iran begins to mothball centrifuges, destroy the core of its heavy water plutonium reactor, and export much of its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Finally, at the end of this month and into December, I will join the President in Paris, where we are determined to negotiate a truly ambitious, durable, and inclusive framework for curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Earlier this week in Norfolk, I laid out the national security implications of this challenge, from the impacts of our own military readiness to the potential multiplication of overseas crises caused by food and water shortages, higher temperatures, extreme weather events, sea level rise, and the movement of people away from areas that can literally no longer sustain life.

The good news that it is not too late to reduce emissions, to limit the damage, and seize the economic and environmental benefits, which are extraordinary, staring at us, waiting to be grabbed, all of them the possibilities that come from a transformed energy future. Because, as we all know, the solution to climate change is energy policy. We are pulling out all the stops to make sure that we can succeed, because the consequences of continued inaction, of more excuses, more delays, more refusals to acknowledge what is taking place right before our eyes are simply unacceptable.

So it is an understatement to suggest that it’s complicated, that there’s a lot going on out there. In fact, there are many important subjects that we could be discussing will through this afternoon and into the evening.

But today, I really want to focus on an area of the world – and, in fact, one particular country – that has been the central concern of the Obama Administration for the past four and a half years, and that is Syria. The civil war there and the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding before the world’s eyes, that has flowed from all of the insecurity and challenges of modernity clashing with culture and young people and their aspirations – all of that will be a major topic of discussion at the G20 summit, and before that at the meetings that I will participate in in Vienna on Saturday.

So I thought this might be a good time to bring you up to speed on the Administration’s strategy in Syria, on decisions made by the President, and on the actions that we are taking and will build on in weeks and months to come.

Now, Syria as we know it is not just another country. In fact, it is one of the first places that most of us learned about when studying history in school. Damascus and Aleppo are among the oldest continually inhabited cities on the face of the Earth. They are part of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization. For 4,000 years, empires have risen and fallen, but Syria has remained a commercial crossroads. And this has contributed to a rich cultural mix of ethnicities, customs, and creeds.

But the story of modern Syria has been a grim one. In 1970, a Baathist military leader, Hafez al-Assad, seized power, ushering in an era of limited modernization accompanied by unlimited repression. In the year 2000, Assad was succeeded by his son, Bashar, raising hopes for the possibility of greater political openness – hopes that the new leader chose not to fulfill.

It was little wonder, then, that when the sparks of Arab Spring began to ignite, demands for change were heard in Syria. The protests were actually quite modest at first, and they were driven not by sectarian or religious differences, but by the lack of freedom and jobs. The violence only began when Assad responded to peaceful demonstrations by sending in thugs to beat up young people. And when the parents of those young people objected – they took to the streets themselves, the regime replied with bullets and then with bombs.

Having made peaceful change impossible, Assad made war inevitable. And this war gave rise to Daesh – ISIL – the gravest extremist threat faced by our generation and the embodiment of evil in our time.

The result, as we know, has been four and a half years of nonstop horror. One Syrian in twenty has been wounded or killed. One in five is a refugee. One in two has been displaced. The average life expectancy dropped by 20 years. Eighty percent of the electricity has been knocked out, plunging much of the country literally into darkness. And the burden of the conflict falls most heavily on the smallest shoulders.

Imagine what it would mean for America’s future if the entire public school systems of our largest cities – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles – were suddenly to close and stay closed. And then there are children like two-year-old Yazan al-Najjar, whose birth in Lebanon could not be registered because his parents were separated during the war. Officially, he is neither Syrian like his mother nor Lebanese. And there are thousands like him – young people growing up in camps, many of them without education; growing up in overcrowded apartments, under bridges, and in the streets, without a country to call their own or any official identity at all. Make no mistake: The longer this terrible civil war lasts, the harder it will be for the country to recover, and the more wounds of body and mind we will see opened – wounds that can never be truly closed.

Since the fighting began, and as senator and as Secretary of State, I have met with many of those personally touched by this conflict: doctors who are risking their lives in a country where treating the injured can be equated with treason; women who struggle to keep their families together despite constant attacks, threats of abuse, bitter cold, shortages of water and food; a courageous whistleblower who emerged from Syria with photographic evidence of the torture that Assad’s security forces inflicted on thousands of victims. And just a few weeks ago, with refugees – I’ve talked to those refugees too, who had survived barrel bombs dropped from helicopters and made their way to Berlin, Germany.

Given all of this, I want to be very clear. From the beginning of this crisis, there has not been a single idea for addressing the Syria conflict that has been discussed in public that hasn’t been the subject of intense scrutiny within the Administration. Whatever questions one might have about the content of our policy, there should no doubt about the effort made to consider every single option for ending this crisis.

That explains why the United States originally supported the deployment of international human rights monitors to Syria; why our UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, led the fight in the Security Council to demand access for humanitarian relief agencies and for an investigation into war crimes by the International Criminal Court; and it is why we have been at the forefront of every single attempt to forge a diplomatic solution from the day I know that I became Secretary of State.

It’s why we have been in regular contact from the outset with mainstream Syrian opposition groups, meeting with them repeatedly, helping them in ways both public and private, and encouraging them to unify and take steps to broaden their support.

It is why we have worked hard to mitigate the incredible burden the war has placed on Syria’s neighbors – on Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Excuse me, not Iran, Iraq. And in each case, we have coordinated closely with the government in order to prevent the violence from spreading and to help them cope with the massive influx of refugees that has now spread even beyond their own region into the heart of Europe.

To date, as was mentioned, we have proudly given, contributed more than 4.5 billion in humanitarian relief and we are constantly exhorting other countries to open their wallets. Because, even as another winter closes in, the need for help far outweighs the supply.

In addition, we have announced a six-fold increase in the number of Syrian refugees that we will welcome to our shores in the United States.

In addition to all this, the United States led a successful international effort to eliminate Syria’s inventory of chemical weapons. Now when Assad attacked his own people with these horrific weapons, banned by international law, President Obama’s threat of military strikes forced the Syrian regime to back down and enabled us to strike a deal with Russia and other members of the UN Security Council.

As a result, for the first time in history, weapons of mass destruction were removed from a country while that country was engaged in a conflict. And let me tell you something, it is a plenty good thing that that happened, because you can only imagine the devastation the leaders of Daesh could have been able to wreak if they had gotten their hands on Syria’s arsenal of sophisticated, lethal chemical arms.

Now I emphasize this because the list of crimes for which Daesh is responsible is already numbing. These thugs aren’t just terrorists; they’re also smugglers, kidnappers, raw criminals. They butcher teachers, burn books, wage war on knowledge itself. They execute journalists for doing their jobs and average citizens, not for anything that they have said or done but simply for who they are, for what they believe about religion and God.

In Iraq, Daesh fighters have been abducting, raping, and auctioning off women and girls, even teaching that the abuse of underage, non-Muslim girls is not only acceptable but a form of prayer, an expression of the will of God. That is how perverse this has become. And they have urged followers and affiliates from across the globe to murder their neighbors, to commit homicides and suicide at the same time.

This past summer, terrorists picked up sledgehammers and smashed half a dozen statues in the ancient city of Palmyra. They destroyed the 1,800-year-old Roman Arch and temples that were even more venerable. They seized the city’s director of antiquities, made him kneel in a public square, cut off his head, and left his body tied to a pole. The man was 83 years old and he had been in charge of preserving Palmyra’s cultural heritage for more than 50 years.

It couldn’t be plainer. History doesn’t matter to Daesh; human dignity doesn’t matter to Daesh; and the sacredness of life itself is alien to Daesh. Their leaders represent everything that we fought against from World Wars I and II to today, and everything that we have tried to build up that is right and good in all of our societies. And in confronting them, we face a fight against medieval and modern fascism at the same time.

Let me be clear. This isn’t just a fight that we must make on behalf of others, as important as that is at times. The United States does not go in search of enemies, but there are times when enemies come in search of us. And we know for a fact that Daesh means what it says when it threatens to attack America and attack Americans and attack America’s interests.

So the stakes could not be higher. Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States has mobilized a 65-member coalition to take on Daesh and defeat Daesh. And notwithstanding whatever you read recently about people diverted with other interests – yeah, there are other conflicts too, but they remain committed, deeply committed, and at the table in Vienna helping to broker a solution. We have said from the beginning that this would be a multiyear effort, but as I will describe in a couple of minutes, we are on the right track and we are making gains, and we are clear about the road ahead.

My friends, the Syrian civil war has dragged on now for more than four and a half years. We recall with sadness that the civil war in neighboring Lebanon lasted for 16. Regrettably, this is not a part of the world where flames, once ignited, simply extinguish themselves.

The intractable nature of the conflict in Syria is attributable to a number of factors, beginning with the Assad government. The four decades of dictatorial rule choked off any attempt to develop an organized political opposition. Sectarian differences that might have worked themselves out peacefully in a more open society instead festered beneath the surface. And the forces unleashed by the Arab Spring emerged so suddenly that the collision between rising alarm on one side and skyrocketing expectations on the other was much more traumatic than otherwise might have been the case.

The situation was further complicated by the involvement of regional actors, especially Hizballah, which intervened on behalf of Assad, and the foreign terrorist fighters who have joined Daesh and other terrorist groups, and members of the IRGC who crossed an international border to become involved in this fight.

We face an environment now that bears little resemblance to the kind of black-and-white scenarios that make decisions relatively easy. Put simply, there are bad guys all around and good guys who are not accustomed to working with each other. But the dominant truth about the situation in Syria is that, although Assad and Daesh are supposed to be bitter opponents, they are both parts of the same problem.

In fact, the rise of Daesh is directly attributable to the policies and actions of the Assad regime, and that is why we have referred to Assad as a magnet for terrorism. This is a case, and there are many in history, in which two supposed enemies are in fact symbolic. Loathing towards Assad drove thousands of Syrians into the arms of Daesh. And fear of Daesh caused some Syrian groups to feel that they had no realistic option but to support the government. That’s not just symbolic; that’s a symbiotic relationship, each piece dependent on the other. And the desire to flee both explains the massive refugee crisis that we face today.

The relationship between Assad and Daesh clarifies one of the apparent peculiarities of this conflict – that the two extremes have only rarely targeted one another. Think about that. In fact, they even do business with each other, buying and selling oil. Assad and Daesh are enemies far more in theory than in fact, and neither has shown any interest in bringing the killing to an end.

If neither the dictator nor the terrorists are the answer – and they are not – our challenge is to create conditions under which a clear and broadly acceptable alternative can emerge.

To that end, President Obama has set for our nation three interrelated goals.

We begin with Daesh. Some 14 months ago, the President made it clear that the United States was committed to the defeat and dismantlement of this terrorist organization. And over the last month, he has directed every member of his national security team to pick up the pace and move forward with ideas for degrading and defeating Daesh more rapidly, more completely, and permanently.

Second, we are intensifying our diplomatic effort to finally bring an end to the civil war in Syria.

And third, we are determined to support our friends in the region, and to ensure that the instability created by the Syrian crisis does not spread further beyond its borders.

Now, these measures are mutually reinforcing. The more progress we make on one, the more likely we are to succeed on the others.

President Obama has made his view clear that the crisis in Syria cannot be resolved militarily, and that remains the case. But it’s also clear that the chance for successful diplomacy depends, in part, on the ability to exert leverage, on control of territory, on perceptions about who is gaining or has the upper hand. That’s why it matters that there is increasing evidence in both Iraq and Syria that Daesh can be defeated – even routed – when faced by the combination of coalition airstrikes and effective partners on the ground.

Remember this coalition has only been together for 14 months. People forget that. Last summer it did not even exist. But the coalition has already made a huge difference in reversing Daesh’s momentum and in saving people’s lives. And the evidence is there for everybody to see. To date, the coalition has launched more than 8,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, and the number is rising every day. There were more than 40 just last night.

The coalition and its allies on the ground have defended Mosul Dam and other vital facilities in Iraq while also preventing a terrorist assault on Baghdad. We have driven Daesh from the critical border town of Kobani – everybody predicting it was going to fall and how terrible that would be. Well, it didn’t fall. And it didn’t fall because we stepped up and the President ordered the strikes, and we reinforced and we provided ammunition and capacity, and people were able to fight back. We’ve seen the city of Tikrit liberated, enabling most of its population, about 100,000 people, to return and start to rebuild their communities.

With its partners, the coalition helped to rescue an endangered minority on Sinjar Mountain. And today, as we sit here, allied forces are engaged in a major operation to liberate Sinjar itself, cut off Highway 47, which is Daesh’s main artery from Syria into Iraq.

We have also established a robust program, including the deployment of thousands of American advisers, to train and assist Iraqi security forces.

We have significantly degraded Daesh’s top leadership, including Haji Mutazz, the organization’s second in command, and we continue to eliminate commanders and other personnel from the battlefield.

Overall, Daesh is unable to operate in 20 to 25 percent of the territory it controlled a year ago. And we are just getting started. We now know more about the enemy than we did, and we know more about what has worked and what has not worked and what can work. And so, at the President’s direction, and with those lessons in mind, we are stepping up our strategy in all its aspects.

In Iraq, we are supplying our partners with the help that they need, in the form of armored bulldozers and mine-clearing equipment, to break down the Daesh defenses around the key city of Ramadi. In fact, as I speak, Iraqi forces are engaged in a systematic but carefully calibrated effort to encircle and re-take that city.

Meanwhile, another Iraqi force recently took back the Baiji oil refinery, which is strategically located on the road linking Baghdad and Mosul.

In Syria, we have increased the shipment of supplies and ammunition to moderate opposition forces fighting Daesh. And the President has authorized the deployment of a small number of U.S. Special Forces in an advisory role to help them in this fight.

We are encouraging our European allies to do more – and they are. We are increasing our operational tempo out of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, flying more often and to greater effect. We joined with our Kurdish partners in a daring rescue operation that saved the lives of 79 Daesh prisoners who were about to be executed one by one.

We remain in constant communication with our Arab friends, who are fully supportive of our goals and continue to participate in coalition efforts, which are not just military but also include putting relentless pressure on Daesh’s finances, on its ability to attract foreign recruits, and on countering its message of division and hate using all of the media available to do so.

We’re also providing additional assistance to enhance the security capabilities of Jordan and Lebanon.

And these efforts are paying off. Not long ago, Daesh controlled more than half of Syria’s 500 mile-long border with Turkey. Today, it has a grip on only about 15 percent, and we have a plan with our partners to pry open and secure the rest. And we will.

We are striving with local forces to put the squeeze on al-Raqqa, the center of Daesh’s operations. We have hit some of the organization’s key energy facilities, including just recently the Omar oil field, from which the terrorists derive both revenue and fuel. And we have made Daesh change the way it moves and operates, because its leaders now get up each morning worrying about what might come down from the sky.

All of this and more is part of a strategy to continue building on what has worked and to apply pressure against Daesh from as many directions as possible, with as much intensity as possible, for as long as it takes.

At the same time, we know full well that the struggle against Daesh is not taking place in a political vacuum. And that is why we are working to promote a fully sovereign, stable, self-reliant, inclusive Iraq that is secure in its borders and able to protect all of its citizens.

But the truth is that nothing could do more to bolster the fight against the terrorists than a broadly supported diplomatic process that would begin to de-escalate the conflict, and that would give the Syrian people a real choice – not between Assad and Daesh – but between the status quo and something far better and long overdue: a true transition in which responsible Syrians from across the political spectrum will have a voice.

That is why another core element of our strategy in Syria is diplomatic; a renewed political initiative – broader and more action-oriented than any previously attempted – to isolate the terrorists and set Syria on the path to peace.

Now, this possibility was the focus of meetings in Vienna at the end of last month; meetings that for the first time brought together all the key international interested parties to the very same table. And guess what? It came out with a product. That session produced a communique endorsed by every country who attended – countries that don’t always agree on much – like Saudi Arabia and Iran – but who do agree that Daesh is evil and that the war in Syria must be brought to an acceptable end as soon as possible.

More specifically, the countries represented in Vienna agreed to support Syria’s unity, independence, territorial integrity, and pluralist character.

We agreed, all of us, that Daesh and other terrorist groups have to be defeated.

We agreed, all of us, that Syria’s state institutions should remain intact so we don’t have the implosion that we saw in Iraq.

We saw and we all agreed that the rights of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination, have to be protected in whatever government comes out.

We agreed, all of us, that access for humanitarian relief has to be assured throughout the country, and that will be one of the topics we talk about on Saturday.

We agreed, all of us, to increase support for internally displaced persons and for refugees and for the countries that host them.

And we agreed, all of us, that the UN should convene members of the Syrian Government and the Syrian opposition to develop a plan along the lines of the 2012 Geneva communique, leading to a credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance followed by a new constitution and by free and fair, transparent, accountable elections run under the supervision of the United Nations to the highest standards of elections anywhere in the world. We agreed on that – all of us.

And we agreed to explore the possibility of a nationwide ceasefire to be initiated in parallel with this renewed political process. Now, obviously, such a ceasefire does not include Daesh, because our effort to defeat Daesh – and the effort of our partners to defeat Daesh – will continue until we prevail. In fact, it is precisely through this political process that we can, for the first time, if it works, marshal the support of the entire international community against a single common enemy – Daesh.

I want to be clear: The Syrian people will be the validators of this whole effort. UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura has met with representatives of more than 230 Syrian groups. Our own Special Envoy, Michael Ratney, has also been in constant communication with Syrian representatives, and I have met with Syrian opposition leaders myself. So this is not about imposing anything on anyone.

We are trying to come together as stakeholders to create a framework which can ignite the United Nations negotiating process. But the Syrians will be the first to tell you that they need help from the international community to get there; and what they especially need is a consensus about how to achieve a political transition that will free them from the stranglehold of extremists on the one side and the stranglehold of a dictator on the other, and allow them to shape their own destiny.

Now, I want to underscore: The leaders of the responsible Syrian opposition are not focused on revenge; they have no desire to prolong the war; and they understand that compromise will be required. But at the same time, it’s simply not possible to go back to the situation that existed before the conflict began. Who in the world truly believes that’s possible? Not after month upon month of indiscriminate violence and torture and bloodshed; not after 40 years of dictatorship. Asking the opposition to trust Assad or to accept Assad’s leadership is simply not a reasonable request, and it is literally, therefore, a non-starter. And even if we wanted to, my friends, even if you made the worst deal with the devil, as one says, and said, “Well, that’s what you have to do to try to make this process go forward,” I got news for you, it will not stop. Because there are those invested in what has happened and in what has been done to them, who see Assad as the critical component of the transition. That’s why we are pushing so hard for a real transition. Because without a real transition, no matter how much we want it, the fighting will continue and the war will never end.

On this point, I acknowledge that we are still working through with Russia and Iran the question of Assad and his role. It has not been settled, and we acknowledge that. But we believe that through this organic process of Syrians defining the future of Syria, we and our partners believe that we can find a road ahead. We can believe that neither peace nor the defeat of Daesh is possible with Assad in power, and that four and a half years of bitter civil war has made the position on the Syrian people on this subject very clear.

So even while divided on this critical issue, the United States and Russia and other countries involved have decided, wisely, I think, not to let that disagreement prevent us from trying to build on the common ground that we have established, build a legitimate, organic, negotiating process. Our goal is to develop a timetable for action based on interim steps, the participation of a broad range of Syrian parties, including both men and women, and the kind of political transition that will empower the center against the extremes.

Now, I cannot say this afternoon that we are on the threshold of a comprehensive agreement, no. There remains a lot of work to be done. The walls of mistrust within Syria, within the region, within the international community are thick and they are high. But those walls will never be breached unless we make a concerted effort and a creative effort to surmount them. Our meeting at the end of October showed that the agreed basis for action is much wider than many had supposed.

And looking ahead, it should be crystal clear that Daesh can never again be allowed to gain any control of territory or even – perish the thought – control of Syria and equally clear that Assad lacks the ability either to unite, to wipe away the crimes of war and govern a country or end the war. So if the war is to end, we must find an alternative. That logic is compelling and it provides a basic unifying principle for our efforts going forward.

So on Friday evening, I will return and be in Vienna. Assembled there will be representatives from the Arab League, China, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations – an extraordinary group. And with those many people gathered around the principles that we’ve already agreed on, our hope and prayer is that we will be able to find a sensible way forward.

America’s message to each is that we all have a responsibility, not to dig in our heels, but to take the next step forward, so that the bleeding can stop and the building can begin, and so that the habits of civilization can once again take hold in the region where civilization itself was born.

There are moments in managing world affairs, as all of you know, when the elements required for progress simply do not exist. But time and turbulence can generate new possibilities. We do not know for sure whether the right possibilities have yet come together in connection with Syria. We do not know for certain whether the kind of political transition we seek in that country can be achieved. We do not know for certain how long it will take before we can say that Daesh has been defeated.

But we do know for certain that we have an obligation to ourselves, to friends throughout the region, and, above all, to Syria’s next generation, to test those possibilities to the fullest – and even more, not to accept no for an answer. We have a responsibility to do everything we can, for as long as we must, to fulfill the high aspiration enshrined in the very name of this institution. We have a duty to peace.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)