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Secretary Kerry’s Interview with Media Sources on Iraq

Secretary Kerry
Secretary Kerry

Secretary Kerry’s Interview with Fox on Iraq

24 June 2014

U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.
June 24, 2014

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Erbil, Iraq
June 24, 2014

Interview With James Rosen of Fox

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you for this honor. It’s always an honor to travel with you and have a chance to sit down with you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Delighted to do so. I’m happy to do so.

QUESTION: The latest New York Times/CBS news poll finds nearly 6 in 10 Americans disapproving of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy, including nearly a third of Democrats. This is not just one snapshot poll. If you look at the realclearpolitics.com average of major reliable polls on this subject, the handling of foreign policy, NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Fox News poll, all of them produce the identical result. So clearly, right now it is a fact that Americans are expressing disapproval of the President’s and your performance.

Are you humbled by that?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, look, it’s a good thing that we don’t do foreign policy by polls. That would be a tragedy and a huge mistake.

QUESTION: So are you doubting the verdict?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, no, no. Let me just finish. It is inevitable that with a certain amount of upheaval all around the world that people are going to stand back and they’re going to question it. A huge amount of what is happening is not happening because the United States is there or because the United States isn’t there; it’s happening because people in these places want something different. That’s what the Arab Spring was all about. Tahrir Square didn’t happen because of or the lack of the United States; it happened because young people wanted a new future and wanted to throw off the yoke of a dictator. Same thing in Tunisia, same thing in Syria. And the fact is that people in these regions have to make choices too.

QUESTION: The American people are expressing disapproval. Are you doubting their judgment?

SECRETARY KERRY: I understand that. I understand that.

QUESTION: Are you doubting their judgment?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I’d never doubt the judgment of the American people. But I think it’s inevitable that people will have a sense of dissatisfaction when things are in upheaval. And what I am trying to convey is that we are as involved as we ever have been at any time, in the crises of North Korea working to denuclearize, Iran to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon, Syria to help the moderate opposition to deal with a dictator who is killing his own people. These are complicated things.

QUESTION: Involved, yes. Efficacious?

SECRETARY KERRY: The American people —

QUESTION: Are you effective?

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just finish. American people also don’t want American troops going into these places to fight the wars for these people. So there are very limited tools, very limited tools. And I believe we’ve just had a huge success in being able to get chemical weapons out of Syria. I think that right now we’re working hard here in Iraq to be able to pull together a unifying government, a competent government that’s prepared to be able to try to deal with some of the issues here.

So my real test will not be what the American people make a judgment about today. It will be what they make a judgment about when we finish, and then we’ll see what the legacy is.

QUESTION: It sounds like you like the polls you like and you don’t like the polls you don’t like.

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I just don’t pay attention to polls. If I paid attention to polls, I would have quit in Iowa a long time ago. I don’t pay attention to polls.

QUESTION: We seldom hear mention of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS. This may be the most successful terrorist of modern times, if measured by the acquisition of territory or cash reserves. And yet I think there are only two known authenticated photos of the guy. You’ve said recently that President Obama is benefitting from improved intelligence product from this region. Is that helping you to draw a better bead on where Mr. al-Baghdadi is and how to neutralize him? Should he be fearful?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the last thing I’m going to do is discuss intelligence in any form whatsoever.

QUESTION: Do you know where he is?

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m not going to discuss intelligence in any form whatsoever. But I would say to you that we have proven our ability to be pretty effective in the recent capture of Khatallah and we will continue to keep a thoughtful, careful approach that protects our interests and continues to make it difficult for terrorists in any part of the world to focus on the United States or on our allies and friends.

QUESTION: Should he be fearful?

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m not going to get into any of the details. I’m not – I need to – I wouldn’t even – I’m just not going to go into any details.

QUESTION: You and President Obama have both suggested that the only real surprise in ISIS’s capture of Mosul was how swiftly the Iraqi armed forces melted away. But given all that America has done and sacrificed to stand up the Iraqi armed forces over the years, given too that ISIS captured Fallujah and Ramadi in January, shouldn’t the fighting capability of the Iraqi armed forces have been precisely the kind of thing that our intelligence services and the Obama White House National Security Council should have had a much better grasp on?

SECRETARY KERRY: Until the fight is engaged, no, you don’t know the answer to that. I think in this case —

QUESTION: This was not an intelligence failure?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Jim, if somebody could have found out that leaders were going to literally betray and cave in and desert, that would have been terrific. But we don’t have people embedded in those units, and so obviously nobody knew that. I think everybody in Iraq was surprised. People were surprised everywhere.

QUESTION: But look, you said repeatedly that President Obama began, as you put it, way back in the last year adding material and support, trying to build up Iraq as the crisis has been looming.


QUESTION: Obviously, whatever steps he took, which you’ve only described vaguely, proved inadequate to prevent this current crisis from developing and now occupying so much of your and his time. So this, to a reasonable observer, will appear as either an intelligence or a policy failure, or both.

SECRETARY KERRY: I really think that having done what we have done – the United States of America – to build up a several hundred thousand person armed force in Iraq, and having created the structure that was created, but not being permitted by the Iraqi Government to keep personnel here, as you know, as a result we don’t have eyes on, we didn’t have eyes in there. That’s absolutely correct. We just didn’t. But the Iraqis didn’t even have a sense of what was happening. And they did – these are their people. They have the command structure. They were there.

QUESTION: So when we left, we left —

SECRETARY KERRY: In fact – let me just finish. When we – no, we had embassy personnel and we have military attaches and we have personnel in Iraq. But we don’t have personnel in every unit in every part of Iraq, and nor should we, as a matter of fact. I don’t think the American people want that. They don’t want Americans to –

QUESTION: But you saw Fallujah fall and you saw Ramadi fall, and what did you do about it to prevent Mosul from falling? It doesn’t seem like very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: I can give you a detailed accounting of the additional personnel and the additional effort and supplies and warnings and meetings and all those things that took place. In the end, the Iraqis are responsible for their defense, and nobody expected wholesale desertion and wholesale betrayal, in a sense, by some leaders who literally either signed up with the guys who came in or walked away from their posts and put on their civilian clothes. No, nobody expected that. That’s absolutely correct.

QUESTION: Your aides are wrapping the interview. I’d like to close on a somewhat lighter note. You once told me that you introduced John Lennon at an antiwar rally in the early 1970s. Does anything he said to you on that occasion, backstage or anything at all about that encounter with John Lennon, stay with you today? Anything you can relate?

SECRETARY KERRY: Nothing I would relate. But the whole visit stays with me, sure.

QUESTION: Are you withholding things that you could relate, or that’s —

SECRETARY KERRY: Strictly personal. Strictly personal. That’s all.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Secretary Kerry’s Interview with BBC on Iraq, Egypt

24 June 2014

U.S. Department of State
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Erbil, Iraq
June 24, 2014

Interview With Kim Ghattas of BBC

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for speaking to the BBC. I wanted to start by asking you: Why are we in Erbil? You were in the Iraqi capital yesterday. Do you consider this a separate entity? Is this the new Iraqi reality that Mr. Massoud Barzani is talking about?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, not at all. But the Kurd participation in the governing formation process is very, very important. The Kurds have been very key to helping to draw a line against ISIL. They’re cooperating in the security arrangement, and I think it’s very, very important to touch all of the bases. And because of some of the internal politics of Iraq right now, it was important for me to come here and I’m glad I did.

QUESTION: The Kurds are fighting back against ISIS. They’re also trying to hold more territory and gaining ground themselves. Is that going to stay like that?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s going to be something that has to be resolved by Iraqis, by the new government. They have to form a government, so whatever that government is is clearly going to have to tackle some of these issues. But we believe, I believe, President Obama believes very deeply that a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq and it is very, very important for that unity to be shown now to deal with the internal political crisis as well as the security crisis.

QUESTION: There’s a lot of talk about unity, a lot of talk about the politics. But on the ground, ISIS, as we call it, or ISIL, is making a lot of gains. They’ve just reportedly seized the largest oil refinery, Baiji in Iraq. How do you even start to reverse these territorial gains, or have you accepted that this militant group now simply holds territory?

SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely not. And President Obama is very concerned about it, but the President also is deeply concerned about the political situation in Iraq. Without the formation of a government, without an adequate transformative decision by the leaders of Iraq, anything that the United States or others or allies or friends would do to try to fight back is going to be limited, if not impossible. You need a competent, unified government that is prepared. That’s the first step. The second step is, obviously, you’ve got to reconstitute the military, and that’s going to take this political leadership to help to do that. And then you’ve got to lay out a strategy and understand exactly what you’re doing. But I have no question but that every country in the region will combine in order to ultimately take on and expel ISIS, because it is simply unacceptable to have a terrorist organization grabbing territory and challenging the legitimacy of governments and then challenging neighboring countries externally with acts of terror.

QUESTION: Unity is important, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is hated by the Sunnis. How can there be peace while he’s still in power?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s exactly what a government formation process is about. It’s not up to the United States of America or some other country to come prancing in and tell Iraqis who their leaders ought to be or what they need to do. What we’re trying to do is honor a process. They have chosen to have democracy. They have a constitution. They have a constitutional process by which they now will choose a new government after they have elections. I mean, 14 million Iraqis came out, they voted. They’ve participated in the democratic process. That’s, frankly, a huge affirmation of the constitution itself and of this democratic moment. So now it’s up to Iraqis to decide who can unify Iraq, who will they all come together and join with in an effort to seize this moment.

QUESTION: It’s not up to the U.S. to pick Iraq’s leaders, but they do look like they need a bit of help. Are you going to appoint, perhaps, a special envoy or a special representative?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, no, no We have an extraordinary ambassador here and an assistant secretary of state who’s been out here many, many times. They both have very good relationships with all of the personalities.

QUESTION: But they need sustained support, sustained help and mediation.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, there’s an organic process, which is the best way for this to, frankly, take hold and is playing out right now. And one of the things I’ve come away from in the last 24 hours in all of the meetings I’ve had is a sense of urgency, a sense of commitment, and a determination by Iraqis themselves to take steps to go forward.

Now, words are cheap. We know that. So it’s actions that will matter. And we will watch very carefully and continue to nudge and to encourage and to try to provide a clarity of the vision that is at the end of this process, because that’s the way they’re going to earn the most help and support from everybody else in the world.

QUESTION: You’ve promised sustained and intense support for Iraq’s security forces, but so far that’s only translated into 300 military advisors. That’s not very intense.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re setting up the joint operations command. In addition to that, we have very significantly increased the intelligence gathering that is taking place here. The President has insisted on doing what our military believes it needs to do in preparation for any contingency. But most important to the President and to me and to all of us is the government formation. If you don’t have —

QUESTION: So no military airstrikes before a government formation?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I mean, barring some exigent emergency or something that predicates that the President makes a decision which he always has available to him with respect to any country or any crisis in the world. But basically, there must be a government here so that there can be a strategy going forward, because just a strike alone is not going to change the outcome. You need to have a full-fledged strategy that is being implemented which is principally a political strategy.

And as even President Barzani and his folks today said, there has to be – they concur there’s no military solution. There may be military action, but there has to be a political solution that deals with empowering the people in the communities where ISIL is today to be prepared to take them on. That takes a certain amount of preparation, strategy, implementation. And what President Obama is trying to do is encourage that process to come together as rapidly as possible, because without it everything else would be wasted.

QUESTION: We’re running out of time. I want to try to squeeze in two very quick questions. You’re fighting ISIS. You’re calling on your allies to fight ISIS. President Assad of Syria says he’s fighting ISIS. How long until the U.S. is going to turn around and work with President Assad again?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, President Assad is one of the principal reasons – the principal reason – that ISIS exists. President Assad is a magnet for jihadists and foreign fighters from around the world, and that’s why they’ve been conglomerating in Syria and spreading their tentacles out. So if President Assad really wants to fight terrorists, he would declare that he is not going to continue to serve, he will work for a transition government, and he will end the crisis of Syria. That’s the way you deal with it.

QUESTION: And a final question, Mr. Secretary, about the verdict, the sentences handed out yesterday to Al Jazeera journalists in Cairo. You were just in Cairo. You described yesterday the sentences as chilling. And yet the U.S. continues to provide Egypt with various forms of aid, including military. What is the U.S. really prepared to do at this stage to pressure Egypt to show clemency?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’ve actually reduced our aid. We are not providing aid directly to the government. We provide aid to the military because there’s a military-to-military relationship which is critical to security in the Sinai, to the truce with Hamas in Gaza, to counterterrorism. And we’ve had a longstanding relationship, and the military, frankly, played a very key role in helping to bring about the elections and the transition on two occasions.

QUESTION: What about pressure now?

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me – I will come to that. And in addition to that, we are only providing assistance that goes directly to the people.

Now, we have made it clear that our – in my conversations in Egypt while I was there, I made it very, very clear that if this road towards democracy, if there isn’t a change in these, whether it’s the Al Jazeera journalists or whether it’s activists who’ve been imprisoned or others who are demonstrators who were simply caught up and still, if that doesn’t begin to change, it’s going to have a profound impact on the ability and willingness of the United States to engage. And I communicated that very directly yesterday to the foreign minister.

I do not view this, as their ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement, as somehow interference from outside. I view this as a universal standard that most countries attempt to apply to journalists or to their own citizens. That sentencing is indeed chilling and it’s a terrible message, and it will, unfortunately, have an impact, a negative impact, on Egypt’s ability to attract investment, to have stability, to begin to move in the direction it wants to go.

QUESTION: Are you going to push for a pardon?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re going to push for appropriate response by Egyptian authorities that liberates these journalists and recognizes the freedom of people to spread news, to report on news, and to be able to live up to the international standard with respect to journalism. And that’s what we will continue to press for.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for your time.

SECRETARY KERRY: My pleasure, thank you.

Secretary Kerry’s Interview with ABC on Iraq

24 June 2014

U.S. Department of State
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Erbil, Iraq
June 24, 2014

Interview With Alexander Marquardt of ABC

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is Iraq already in a state of civil war, and if so is there really anything that the U.S. can do about it?

SECRETARY KERRY: No. I don’t think – I mean, it’s in civil strife. I don’t think it’s in civil war. It could get there, clearly. But at the moment, the Sunni leaders that I met with, the current leaders I met with this morning, and even some of the Shia leaders I met with yesterday are all determined to follow the constitutional process to try to form a government that can be a unity government and that can pull people together.

So there’s this shot, this opportunity, for Iraq to come up with its own choice that would avoid, actually, falling into civil war. But there is, obviously, the invasion of ISIL, which is a terrorist organization, that is pulling some people towards that potential. No question.

QUESTION: And are 300 American advisors enough to keep them at bay, and if not are you and President Obama ready to —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, America is not going to keep them at bay. That is not the definition here. America is going to help Iraqis keep them at bay. And what the President has asked me to do is try to assess what the political appetite here is to be able to put together the kind of government that can help reconstitute the army sufficiently that they have the ability to put it together, because if the President were to decide to do something abstractly and U.S. simply gauging without Iraq’s capacity to support that, it’s going to fail. And nobody wants that. At least…nobody… And we’ve already decided – the President has decided – and the American people have made clear: Nobody wants to see American soldiers coming back here in a combat role.

So you have to look to Iraq, to its government, to its military, to be able to make the decisive difference here, and we’re trying to find out whether or not they’re capable of doing that.

QUESTION: Former Ambassador Ryan Crocker has called ISIS al-Qaida on steroids. Al-Qaida itself has rejected ISIS as too extremist. Is ISIS more of a threat to Americans, to the world, than al-Qaida and Usama bin Ladin before 9/11?

SECRETARY KERRY: Look, I don’t want to create something out of ISIS that it’s not yet. Is it a serious threat? Yes, it is. Do we take it seriously? Yes, we do. I don’t think we need to make one comparison or another. They are a threat. And they are a threat to the region as well as to Iraq itself and the integrity of this country. We are committed to try to help Iraqis be able to fight back, but we need to be able to know that we have a government in place that is not going to exacerbate the sectarian divisions of this country. We need to know there’s a government that’s prepared to pull people together, share power, end the sectarian division, and focus on ISIL and on the long-term future. If that happens, then the Iraqis themselves have the best opportunity to be able to regain this.

President Barzani this morning said this very clearly, that the solution to the areas where ISIL is today is not going to be found in American military might. The real solution is going to be found – it doesn’t mean you don’t need some of it – but the real solution is going to be found in the Iraqis in those areas wanting their community back and wanting their lives back. And that’s what we have to encourage.

QUESTION: Are you afraid that ISIS could launch attacks against the United States from this territory that they’ve captured in eastern Syria, in western Iraq?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, they have indicated a desire to do so. They’ve already indicated and the rhetoric has embraced attacks against the West.

QUESTION: Do you think they can?

SECRETARY KERRY: Not yet, but – and certainly one of the considerations we have is to make sure that they never can. But that’s exactly what the President is busy trying to determine now, is: What is the best way to approach that so that we are most effective and, frankly, in a way that is sustainable over the long haul?

QUESTION: You’ve said that only Iraqis can choose Iraq’s leaders, but do you have full faith in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki given the widespread criticism that he has only deepened the sectarian divisions? Do you think he can lead this country and bring it back together?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s not up to – and look, if I answer that question, then I’m engaging the United States directly in their choice —

QUESTION: Should Iraqis have faith in him?

SECRETARY KERRY: — and I’m not going to do that. It’s up to Iraqis. Iraqis have to make their decision, and they are. All the leaders I met with are busy engaged in the politics of government formation. And it’s up to – what we need to do is give them the space to do that over the course of these next days. In seven days, the Council of Representatives will convene, elect a speaker, elect a president of Iraq, and then elect the prime minister. And I have sensed in all of the meetings I have had a commitment to trying to do that with urgency and to find a way to create a unity government in which Iraqis can have faith.

I hope that can happen, and it’s imperative that that happens because that’s the key to really being able to be successful in fighting ISIL and in putting Iraq back together.

QUESTION: Have you found that Prime Minister Maliki is out of touch in thinking that he can unite the country?

SECRETARY KERRY: Again, it’d be inappropriate for me to comment on anything except that he is committed to – he says he is committed to the constitutional process, wants to see the parliament convene on the 1st of July, and will work to try to create a government of unity and a government that can bring Iraq together. It’s up to the Iraqis in these next days to make that choice, but it is an essential choice, and a prerequisite, frankly, to success against ISIL or to meet any of the other challenges that Iraq faces.

QUESTION: Before this crisis erupted, you had only visited Iraq once as Secretary of State quite briefly. Your predecessor, Secretary Clinton, had only visited once. There wasn’t a great relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Maliki. And all that time Iraq was falling apart. Just this year, thousands of Iraqis have died. So my question is: Why hasn’t there been a stronger real diplomatic push until now?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I would disagree with your judgment about how the – the sort of – what was happening over the course of the last few years. As everybody knows, Vice President Biden has had a very, very strong relationship and was managing that file for a period of time. And the – I think he’s visited here any number of times as Vice President. I came when it was appropriate within those intervals. And I think that – and —

QUESTION: But to not much avail.

SECRETARY KERRY: And Prime Minister Maliki visited Washington and we’ve had unbelievable contact at an unusually high level on a regular basis, because Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk has been here on a regular basis working with our ambassador, who’s been here for three years – two of the most experienced and capable diplomatic hands – and they’ve been here consistently working this.

We have plussed-up our assistance to Iraq over the last year. We’ve been deeply engaged in providing additional military assistance, additional economic and other kinds of engagement. So things have happened here that have been negative, absolutely. But most people here will tell you it’s not because of the absence of the United States. It’s because the Iraqi Government has not been responding adequately to the needs that have been expressed.

For instance, for eight or nine years now, people have been fighting to get an oil revenues law in place; it’s still not done. Constitutional reforms were supposed to be effected; they still have not been done. Promises that were made with respect to inclusivity were not fulfilled. Those are things that the government has to do here, and that’s one of the reasons why there is a strong movement now to try to create a unity government and a change that will reflect a confidence by all the political players and the people of Iraq that this is a new moment, a new set of possibilities, and they’re going to take advantage of it.

In the end, words mean nothing right now, today. It’s the actions of the next week and the next days that will make the difference. And as they say, the proof will be in the pudding, not in the promises today.

QUESTION: New actions means new leader?

SECRETARY KERRY: It means what the Iraqi people decide it means. It means a new direction, thats for certain. It means a new, inclusive process for certain. Whether the Iraqi people decide it’s going to be a new leader or not is up to them. But we need a new government that comes together with whichever leaders they choose in order to move the process forward. And that is the best and only way to have the kind of success in the long term that Iraq needs and deserves.

QUESTION: All right. Very good. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

Secretary Kerry’s Interview with CBS on Iraq

24 June 2014

U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.
June 24, 2014

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Erbil, Iraq
June 24, 2014

Interview With Margaret Brennan of CBS

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, both you and the President have said that a safe haven for ISIS is a national security threat for the United States. But that safe haven already exists, and it’s in Syria. Now it’s in Iraq. So how do you actually reverse those gains?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, first of all, it’s not a safe haven at this point in time.

QUESTION: Syria’s not?

SECRETARY KERRY: I would say it’s not particularly safe. They’ve been kicked around and attacked by the moderate opposition and by others there, including Assad, so they’re moving around, and may be one of the reasons that they chose to move into this other territory. But look, the bottom line is the President and I stand by that, absolutely. And the President is carefully putting together an appropriate counterterrorism strategy to deal with this, but you have to deal with it thoughtfully. And that is exactly what we’re doing.

If the President were to just make some decision to strike here or there, there’s no backup, there’s no “there” there in the Iraqi Government, it could be completely wasted. It’s not a pathway to victory. So what you need to do first is get the government formation done here in Iraq. You need to have leadership that can unify Iraq, reconstitute the military, the army itself here in Iraq, and help them to be able to push back.

There will also be a need to – and President Barzani talked to me about this here today. He said there’s no pure military victory here; you’ve got to have a political solution. And a political solution will involve empowering the people in the communities where they are now to push back against them. That’s what happened originally in Anbar Province, in Fallujah way back a number of years ago, and so you’ve got to sort of put together an appropriate strategy, which is precisely what the President is doing.

QUESTION: But as that political process goes on, on the battlefield ISIS is making gains and the Iraqi army just walked away. I mean, is the U.S. willing to strike at safe havens in Syria and in Iraq?

SECRETARY KERRY: The President is going to make the judgment based on what Iraqis themselves determine they’re prepared to do and based on the security threat that is defined over the course of these next days. The President –

QUESTION: But nearly every Iraqi leader —

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just answer. Let —

QUESTION: — asked you for military help.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the President – sure. I’m sure he’d like to have the United States have – become his air force. But the question is: Is he prepared to become a legitimate government? Is the government here prepared to do what’s necessary?

QUESTION: Maliki, you’re talking about?

SECRETARY KERRY: Not just Maliki. Will they all come together in a unified government that has the ability to make whatever the President decides to do a success? It would be a complete and total act of irresponsibility for the President just to order a few strikes, but there’s no government, there’s no backup, there’s no military, there’s nothing there that provides the capacity for success.

So what we are doing is a deliberate, careful, thoughtful approach, listening to the people here, listening to the allies, listening to the partner countries in the region, and putting together something that can work. And the President always reserves the right, as he does anywhere in the world in any crisis, to use force if it’s going to be to the advantage of a particular strategy. And he reserves that right. But he and I and our government are insisting that the constitutional process needs to be respected in Iraq, there needs to be a unity government that is prepared to stand up to ISIL, prepared to reconstitute the military, prepared to make the decisions that actually can turn the present —

QUESTION: That takes time.

SECRETARY KERRY: No – well, it’s happening very rapidly right now. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been here. In the next few days, they will be meeting and deciding. In about a week from now, they will convene as a Council of Representatives in order to elect a speaker, elect a president, and then move to the election of the prime minister. And if in the meantime there’s a need, the President obviously reserves the right to do what might be necessary. But his focus and mine is on the issue of government formation so we’re not making some decision about American force in a vacuum, but it’s, rather, tied into a prospect for success in the long run.

QUESTION: Did Prime Minister Maliki tell you whether he will be making himself a candidate in this new government?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I think it’s up to Prime Minister Maliki to make that announcement publicly to people.

QUESTION: He didn’t indicate to you?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we had a private conversation about what he may or may not choose to do, but it’s up to him to decide when or if he wants to make his intentions known publicly. What I do know he has committed to is to form this government as rapidly as possible, to live up to the constitution, and to see the Council of Representatives convened as rapidly as possible.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, CBS and New York Times had a poll that shows a real sharp rise in dissatisfaction with how this Administration is specifically handling Iraq. Two-thirds of them do not think the President has done enough to explain American goals in Iraq; 52 percent disagree with how he’s handling the violence. I mean, have you learned anything on this trip that will lead to a change in that policy and perhaps address some of those questions and skepticism?

SECRETARY KERRY: What I’ve learned is – on this trip – that there’s a great dissatisfaction here in Iraq with the current government. And I ran into a universal sense of a commitment, a desire by Iraqis to make up for the mistakes that have been made in the past. Now, what that means in terms of personalities or individuals who might fill one role or another, I can’t tell you. That’s up to Iraqis.

What we did impress on people – what I did impress on people – was the urgency of their making this decision, of following the constitutional process, and providing a framework within which the friends of Iraq have an ability to be able to be helpful. Without a government that is confident and prepared to move forward and bring the unity that is necessary, it’s very difficult to see how you can be successful in taking on ISIL, at least in its current format. Now —

QUESTION: But then every Iraqi leader you met with yesterday asked for military help, and they feel very anxious. They want that now. Are they expecting too much of the United States?

SECRETARY KERRY: They also, every single one of them, before they want the military help, said we have to have a government that works. And we have to have —

QUESTION: Before they have military strikes, they want this cohesion —

SECRETARY KERRY: Well no – not in every case before, no. Some, in fact – there were a couple who weren’t supportive of the action, but the point is what they did say was that they want to have a government that is representative of everybody. And what they expressed was significant dissatisfaction with the status quo. Now even Prime Minister Maliki expressed dissatisfaction with the status quo and ways in which he thought that some of these things could be changed.

So what is critical now, Margaret, is that in order to be able to be – but there’s nothing that the American people would react to more adversely than a bunch of bad choices about how to suddenly engage military in Iraq without a real plan. So the President —

QUESTION: But it also looks like an excuse for inaction.

SECRETARY KERRY: No. There’s no excuse for inaction. I wouldn’t be here if we were looking for inaction. The President of the United States is trying to move this process forward in the – in what I think is a thoughtful and focused, disciplined way, so that we have a structure in Iraq which will give the greatest capacity for success. And the President reserves the right to use force, as he does anywhere in the world, if it is necessary.

But he wants to do so, if he were having to do so, and it was the decision he ultimately made, with knowledge that there’s a government in place that can actually follow through and guarantee that what the United States is working towards can actually be achieved. That has not been true these last years. And that’s one of the reasons why there is expressed dissatisfaction in America and elsewhere about what is happening in Iraq. So we look forward to that decision-making process taking place as rapidly as possible. That’s the only way forward that’s successful.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we’re out of time, but —


QUESTION: — thank you very much.


Nightmarish Nephrectomies: An Overview of Organ Harvesting in North Africa

HRW traced the Organ Harvesting Route in the Middle East
HRW traced the Organ Harvesting Route in the Middle East

While transnational organized crime is inherently filled with malicious vice, few crimes are as heinous as organ harvesting in North Africa. Approximately 2,000 irregular immigrants per month seek to escape oppressive regimes in Eritrea and Sudan – the source states, move with the assistance of smugglers through Eritrea, Sudan, and Egypt – the transit states, and seek to reach a more prosperous life with family in Egypt, or continue to cross the Sinai into Israel.[1] However, some smugglers take advantage of this movement, and turn the irregular immigration into human trafficking or organ harvesting in the Sinai Peninsula – the market region.[2] Thousands of irregular immigrants have perished from organ harvesting and torture from their captors.[3] This crime is transnational in its framework, and has a litany of legal remedies working to end this trade; however, the governments of North Africa are not doing enough to fight this crime and needs to change their strategy in the Sinai to mitigate the illicit sale of organs.

Legal Framework

Organ harvesting explicitly goes against three U.N. multilateral frameworks, a conglomerate declaration, and a law in Egypt. The first U.N. document that challenges organ harvesting is the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,” which Egypt ratified in March 2004.[4] This document mentioned “the removal of organs” when defining “trafficking in persons” and “exploitation.”[5] Egypt, Eritrea, and Sudan signed another U.N. document, the “Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.”[6] This protocol condemns the, “Transfer of organs of the child for profit.”[7] Egypt and Sudan also signed the “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” in June 1986.[8] This convention defines torture as, “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person.”[9] Furthermore, Article 2 of this convention stresses state-signatory action in that “Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”[10] The U.N. arranged a potent multilateral framework against organ harvesting and torture.

Additionally, the international private and public sectors spoke out against organ trafficking and transplant tourism with the Declaration of Istanbul. This summit had over “150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from around the world, government officials, social scientists, and ethicists, was held in Istanbul from April 30 to May 2, 2008.”[11] The agenda, developed by the World Health Organization, the International Society of Nephrology, and Transplantation Society, recommended best practices on organ transplanting, lobbying governments against organ harvesting, and providing substantive definitions.[12] This declaration provided definitions of organ trafficking, transplant commercialism, and transplant tourism.[13] The Declaration of Istanbul also noted best practices for principles of organ transplanting, legal frameworks for combating organ trafficking, and care of living donors.[14] This summit was important for North Africa as government representatives included Omar Abboud from Sudan, Mohamed Abel Bakr from Egypt – who was also on the Steering Committee for the Declaration of Istanbul, and Ahmed Adel Hassan from Egypt.[15] Thus, the Declaration of Istanbul served as a nexus for the public and private sectors, and provided further guidance on combating organ harvesting.

The Egyptian government has unilaterally attempted to legislate on organ harvesting in February 2010 with the Law on Human Organ Transplantation in Egypt. This law “condemn[s] organ trafficking,” through law enforcement surveillance and interdiction of organ harvesting criminal networks.[16] Furthermore, this law legalized organ transplantation from deceased donors, which Egyptians had previously viewed as a social taboo.[17] While this law provides a legal basis in combating the Egyptian organ trade, it has struggled against competing priorities in the wake of Arab Spring, the lack of a process for the harvesting of deceased peoples’ organs, and the lack of a regional multilateral framework.[18] Furthermore, Sudan and Eritrea do not have explicit domestic legal provisions against organ harvesting. Legal measures provide a framework on prohibiting the organ harvesting trade.

The Crime of Organ Harvesting

There are several parties of perpetrators involved in the crime of organ harvesting because of the transnational movement of the irregular immigrants. The initial party for the irregular immigrants are the contacts for the smugglers. These contacts are often urban Eritreans who have connections with the military and the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice political party, or brokers within Sudanese refugee camps.[19] The refugees seek to leave the camps in Sudan, such as Shagarab, as quickly as possible, because they are precariously close to the Eritrean border and are known to be violent.[20] The contacts will then arrange for smugglers, most notably the Rashaida “nomad camel pastoralists” for the journey from Eritrea and Sudan through Egypt to Israel.[21] These herdsmen are economically marginalized, and are known to traffic in people, weapons, capital, and goods.[22] The Rashaida bribe border guards to facilitate the movement of the illicit goods and irregular immigrants.[23] Some of the Rashaida further extort the Sudanese and Eritrea refugees by demanding additional funding or the nomads would sell them to Bedouins.[24] If the refugees fail to pay the increased price, then sometimes the Rashaida hand the immigrants over to “rogue” members of the influential Sawarka Bedouin tribe in the Sinai.[25] The movement from Sudan and Eritrea brings culpability on the brokers for the smugglers, the Rashaida smugglers, and the Bedouin holders.

The Bedouins then facilitate the organ harvesting with Egyptian doctors as a last resort to make money off of the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees. The Bedouin captors use sadistic means to force the compliance of their prisoners, including, but not limited to:

[The] rape of women, including having plastic piping inserted into their anuses and vaginas; burning of women’s genitalia and breasts; stripping women naked and whipping their buttocks; rape of men with plastic piping; beating with a metal rod or sticks; whipping with rubber whips or plastic cables; dripping molten plastic or rubber onto skin; burning with cigarettes or cigarette lighters; hanging from ceilings to the point of deforming arms; giving electric shocks; beating the soles of feet; forced standing for long periods, sometimes days; threatening to kill them, remove their organs, or cut off fingers; burning with a hot iron rod or boiling water; sleep deprivation; and putting water on wounds and beating the wounds.[26]

While this torture is occurring, the Bedouins will have the victims call their family members, especially the wealthier ones among the diaspora, to fund their release.[27] The captors will ransom their prisoners from $20,000 to $60,000, and if the price is not met, the Bedouins sometimes will cut their losses and harvest the victims’ organs.[28] Doctors from Cairo contact the captors, and will buy organs, such as corneas, livers, and kidneys, from $1,000 to $20,000 dollars.[29] Hamdy Al-Azazy, leader of the New Generation Foundation, an Egyptian anti-organ trafficking NGO, noted the modus operandi of the doctors in mobile clinics as “They [the harvesting doctors] drug them [the immigrants] first and remove their organs, then leave them to die and dump them in a deep dry well along with hundreds of bodies.”[30] This vile trade has led some of the Bedouin traffickers to make profits up to $200,000 annually.[31] The organs are often then sold and surgically implanted into wealthy patrons from the Gulf States.[32] The harvesting of organs brings together networks of doctors from Cairo and Bedouins from the Sinai.

This crime negatively impacts the welfare of the victims – if they survive a single nephrectomy and torture – as well as the internal security of North African states. Victims often suffer “a deterioration of their health in addition to negative social, economic, and psychological consequences as a result of the experience.”[33] This deterioration becomes apparent as victims contend with reduced health, hunger, pain, continued unemployment, stigmatization, family disruption, and depression.[34] Furthermore this trade spurs other transnational crime, including money laundering using the hawala system, arms smuggling, marijuana smuggling, corruption of law enforcement, and forced labor of irregular immigrants by the trafficking Bedouins.[35] Thus, organ harvesting in North Africa, involves the moment of irregular immigrants from Sudan and Eritrea through Egypt in an attempt to arrive at Israel. Sometimes, this irregular immigration turns into human trafficking, and the various criminal parties extort money and organs from their victims. This trade weakens any survivors and destabilizes the rule of law in Egypt.

Fighting the Crime

The instability of the North African region is limiting the response of the state in combating the transnational crime of organ harvesting. Surprisingly, tribal leaders in the Sinai are leading the charge against organ harvesters in lieu of the state. Additionally, NGOs and IGOs are gathering and disseminating information on the vile trade. In a similar manner, U.S. and the European Union are extending moral support through publications. Israel, however, has sought to seal its border to limit the trade, which has worsened the plight of refugees. The current measures to fighting the crime are not effective as they could be because of the hesitance of the state to stamp out the trade while facing other contending priorities.

The states of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea are rife with conflict and competing priorities to combating the illicit organ trade. Arab Spring in Egypt led to the removal of President Hosni Mubarak and Present Mohammed Morsi.[36] Furthermore, Egypt and Israel have a history of sparring over control of the Sinai, leading to mutual distrust.[37] Additionally, the Egyptian government has treated the Bedouin minority “disproportionately harshly,” as limited infrastructure and opportunity has lead the herdsmen to turn to crime for profit.[38] The Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions, an activist NGO, noted, “the period of instability in Egypt and through the region will allow all forms of human trafficking of all forms to flourish.”[39] Eritrea, in its border skirmishes with Ethiopia, is using armed non-state actors to destabilize the region.[40] Furthermore, Eritrean President Isaias Afworki is turning Eritrea into a police state by utilizing conscription with indefinite service terms and stringent border controls.[41] Furthermore, Eritrea has only one political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, which suppresses the dissent of the Eritrean population.[42] Sudan is struggling with two civil wars; the first against the residents of South Sudan and the second against the residents of Darfur.[43] These conflicts are further compounded with the genocidal policies of Arabization, leading to segments of the population to flee to the prospects of work and safety in Israel.[44] The states of North Africa have competing priorities that take precedence over the organ trade.

Expectedly, the North African states’ response to organ harvesting has been poor and negligent. Corrupt law enforcement officers continue to collaborate with the smugglers.[45] The judicial systems in Egypt and Sudan have rendered few prosecutions. Egypt has not yet tried any law enforcement officers for collaborating with the smugglers, and only one trafficker has been prosecuted.[46] Sudan has prosecuted four corrupt police officers and 14 smugglers.[47] Law enforcement in the Sinai continues to be a problem, as the few official that acknowledge the organ trade is occurring lack the information on the perpetrators for large scale action.[48] Human Rights Watch framed this inaction well: “Senior officials in Sinai and Cairo either deny the abuses happen, or say Egypt’s public prosecutor is powerless to investigate such crimes without receiving names and locations of the traffickers.”[49] Reports of organ harvesting slowed following Egyptian military intervention against jihadists in the Sinai in October 2013.[50] The response of law enforcement and courts have been poor; the military option yielded some gains in the fight against organ harvesting.

The most effective apparatus against the organ harvesters have been Bedouin tribal leaders. Sawarka Bedouin Sheikh Mohammad Abu Bilal has worked with other local community leaders in setting up sanctions against the traffickers, such as denying them the right to purchase goods at Bedouin stores and marriage rights, as they have publically deemed the organ harvesting trade to be un-Islamic.[51] In addition to this effort Shiekh Abu Bilal has opened recovery homes to facilitate the well-being of irregular immigrant escapees.[52] Another Bedouin Sheikh, Ibrahim al Manai, has publically deemed the trade to be against Bedouin values, and has contributed 200 men to fight the organ trade.[53] These grassroots sheikhs have mobilized the local populace against the organ harvests.

NGOs and IGOs have been instrumental in fact-finding on this malignant trade, giving policy makers concrete information. The Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions (COFS) has provided surveys for victims of organ harvesting, given medical services to commercial living donors, organized support groups, facilitated legal advice, and collaborated with other NGOs to arrange jobs for the victims.[54] CNN released two news documentaries on organ trafficking in the Sinai, “Death in the Desert” and “Stand in the Sinai.”[55] Following the filing of “Death in the Desert,” Egyptian intelligence pressured the Bedouin smuggles to end the trade; for a brief time the price of ransom shrank and more irregular immigrants were released.[56] Egyptian NGOs such as the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the New Generation Foundation have gathered evidence on the atrocities of organ harvesting and have prescribed legal recommendations to the Egyptian government. Physicians for Human Rights, an Israeli NGO, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have conducted systematic interviews of African refugees in Israel to gather information on their journey.[57] Yet the Egyptian government blunted the efforts of the UNHCR by denying the group access to the Sinai.[58] Additionally, when Egyptian law enforcement officers arrested North African irregular immigrants in the Sinai, they were “without access to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, thereby denying them the right to make an asylum claim.”[59] The most current NGO report is Human Rights Watch’s “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die,” which contains a map of the irregular immigration routs (featured on the cover), testimony from irregular immigrants, photos of the mutilations Bedouin captors did to the irregular immigrants (some featured in the annex), the compilation of work by NGOs and IGOs, and striking statistics on the movement of people in the North African region.[60] NGOs and IGOs have gathered the information on organ harvesting, and have presented this information along with prescriptions to the general public and to the governments of North Africa.

The U.S. and the EU have served as a moral force behind ending the organ trade in the region. The European Parliament has stressed the values espoused in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the Conference of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network to the North African states.[61] The European Parliament condemned the human trafficking in the Sinai, where people were held hostage, tortured, raped, had their organs harvested, and coerced into forced labor.[62] Furthermore, the EU called for a greater pro-active stance by Egyptian law enforcement to end the human trafficking and protect the vulnerable refuges.[63] Within the member states, German MP Annette Growth has called for putting organ harvesting in the Sinai on the German Parliament’s agenda.[64] Across the Atlantic, the U.S. Department of State listed Egypt as a Tier 2 country, while marking Eritrea and Sudan as Tier 3 countries in its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report.[65] This second tier ranking means that Egypt has strived to working towards compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).[66] The third tier ranking of Eritrea and Sudan means they have not complied with the TVPA, and face American sanctions on non-humanitarian aid.[67] The EU and the U.S. have sought to mitigate organ harvesting through publications and the threat of American sanctions against non-compliant countries.

Israel has responded defensively to the irregular immigration. The irregular immigrants from North Africa tend to go to Israel because there are job prospects.[68] However, Israel has recently become more xenophobic, passing an amendment to the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law in January 2012, labeling irregular immigrants as “infiltrators.”[69] This designation makes no distinction between asylum seekers, refugees, or smugglers, and any “infiltrator” can be detained up to 3 years before being deported from Israel.[70] The Israeli government, seeking to emulate the U.S. government’s policies on its Mexican border, have erected a fence along the Israeli-Sinai border and established a new jail in the Negev, which can hold up to 10,000 prisoners.[71] Furthermore, Egyptian border guards have “a shoot-to-kill policy in place” to defend their territory from smuggler, escalating strained tensions.[72] These escalated measures have led smugglers along with their human cargo to attempt going west through Libya and via a precarious boat journey into the Europe.[73] Israel has turned to defensive policies to stem the tide of North African irregular immigration.

What Now Can Be Done to Mitigate Organ Harvesting?

The current efforts to mitigate organ smuggling are ineffective at the state level and only mildly effective at the grassroots and NGO/IGO level. The efficiency of the efforts have become stagnated due to other pressing security concerns and the turmoil of regime change. The appropriateness of the response seems to be poor. NGOs have offered strong prescriptions to further mitigate the trade; perhaps combined with structural reforms and a counterinsurgency campaign, these prescriptions could further mitigate the organ harvesting trade.

As mentioned previously, the state level has struggled to make an impact on this transnational organized crime. Few prosecutions, corrupt border officials, and the sidelining of the 2010 Law on Human Organ Transplantation in Egypt, have stalled judicial and law enforcement efforts in the Sinai. Furthermore, denials of the trade by senior law enforcement officials delegitimize any effort against the vile exchange. Yet the Egyptian military has proven to be effective as an institution and as a fighting force in the Sinai. When the army manifested to fight jihadists in the Sinai in late 2013, the reports of organ harvesting dropped. Thus, the problems from a law enforcement or judicial perspective seem not to be in control; however, the deployment of the army seems to be a viable option to restore control.

The grassroots level has sought to use identity unity, sanctions, and pursuit of the harvesters to mitigate the trade, mitigating the trade. Sheikh Mohammad Abu Bilal and Sheikh Ibrahim al Manai have made a difference in rallying the local population against the trade and in rehabilitating the survivors of torture in the Sinai. While these actions serve as a short term solution to mitigating the trade, only long term solutions with the government in Cairo can truly cripple the trade. While these two sheikhs have spoken against the trade, other Bedouins still try to cover up the grave business. Perhaps an exchange program of information on the traffickers for aid and development could be reached between the government of Egypt and the Bedouins. While the steps of the sheikhs are a good first step, long term solutions for socio-economic distress and for counterinsurgency intelligence between the Bedouins and the Egyptian government still need to be discussed and executed.

NGOs and IGOs have done a fair job on reporting the information on the organ harvesting trade. Some of the numbers regarding this heinous business have fluctuated because of its clandestine nature. Furthermore, the Sinai has become a denied area for some NGOs and IGOs, such as the UNHCR. Additionally, the NGOs and IGOs have failed to push the issue of organ harvesting on the legislative agenda of states, despite successes on the international level through the U.N. and summits. NGOs and IGOs have performed as well as they can, barring the restrains placed on them by Egypt.

Resources could be more efficiently and more appropriately by enacting the legislative reforms on organ transplantation, aiding the Bedouin grass root movements against the traffickers, and the employment of the military option to establish security, rather than striving for a solution using corrupt or ignorant law enforcement officials and a hesitant judiciary. The Law on Human Organ Transplantation in Egypt is inefficient because it lacks a regional framework and it lacks a process for the harvesting of organs of the deceased. This inefficiency could be corrected by having the Egyptian parliament call for a conference between the North African states or through the Arab League on this issue and setting a legal framework base line on this issue. Furthermore, Egypt could establish a donation framework like the American organ donation program with driver’s licenses, allowing for a continuous stream of organs to be used for the needy. This donation framework would increase the supply of organs for transplant, and lessen the need to use coercively gained or illicitly obtained organs through transnational organized crime. Furthermore, the Egyptian government could go further in working with the Bedouin tribes in combating organ harvesting by creating a deeper dialogue. This dialogue could take place by increasing the buy in of the Bedouins in the Egyptian state through aid and development projects or creating a Council of Regions within the Egyptian parliament. These democratic inspired solutions could yield improved efficiency and appropriateness. Another program that could yield great success would be a chieu hoi like program, where smugglers that surrendered could start to work for the Egyptian government by providing intelligence in exchange for monetary inducements. While this option would be effective, it would essential be spying and bribery to ending the organ smuggling trade. If this dialogue facilitated usable intelligence against the traffickers and if the Bedouins did not compel the traffickers to change their ways, the Egyptian military could launch a counterinsurgency campaign against the criminal networks, perhaps with the tactic approval of Israel. Much can be done to further expand on the appropriateness and efficiency of the current efforts on fighting organ harvesting in North Africa.

NGOs have prescribed several actions that would work in concert with legal reform and a counterinsurgency campaign. COFS used an economic model of organ harvesting arguing that, “With transplants as the preferred therapy for renal failure, demand for kidneys will continue to outpace supplies. Until nations can build transparent, reliable systems of organ donation through altruistic donations from healthy individuals and deceased donors, poor and vulnerable individuals are at risk for being targeted to supply organs to privileged patients.”[74] Thus, COFS suggested strengthening the Law on Human Organ Transplantation in Egypt and the development of laws against organ harvesting elsewhere. EIPR reiterated stricter legislation against organ harvesting and stressed Egyptians adopt “a culture of donation” of organs.[75] Human Rights Watch provided a comprehensive list of prescriptions to mitigate organ harvesting and torture in North Africa. Like the other NGOs, they stressed increasing the power and enacting the provisions of the legal framework against this transnational crime.[76] The NGO also stressed changing the approach to irregular immigrants from criminal based investigations to victim care approaches.[77] Human Rights Watch also advised the Egyptian and Sudanese bureaucracy to investigate claims of corruption and torture by law enforcement officials.[78] A key institution for this expanded fight against the harvesters would be Egypt’s National Coordinating Committee on Combating and Preventing Human Trafficking through increased clout and situational updates from the Sinai.[79] Thus, NGOs have recommended the enforcement of the 2010 Egyptian law through reformed police agencies.

Ultimately, the nightmarish nephrectomies in the Sinai will persist. Immigrants fleeing repressive regimes in Sudan and Eritrea will continue to be preyed upon by smugglers in Egypt on their journey to Israel. Yet, current actions emplace by Bedouins, NGOs, and IGOs have mitigated this trade. For the suppression of organ harvesting, the states of North Africa need to work together as a region and collaborate with local and non-governmental resources to end the socioeconomic roots of this vile trade. This end state could be accomplished through aid and development in the Sinai in combination with a counterinsurgency campaign along with following the prescriptions of NGOs.


















Warning: Images Are Graphic – Viewer Discretion Is Advised

Annex A:

Eritrean Victim of Torture in the Sinai, Photographed by Tome Dale of HRW


Annex B:

Body Recovered in the Sinai with Organs Missing, Recorded in CNN’s “Death in the Desert.”








Budiani-Saberi, Debra. “Human Trafficking for Organ Removal: Evidence from Egypt.” Rights Work. March 5, 2012. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://rightswork.org/2012/03/human-trafficking-for-organ-removal-evidence-from-egypt-by-debra-budiani-saberi/.

Budiani-Saberi, Debra and Amr Mostada. “Care for commercial living donors: the experience of an NGO’s outreach in Egypt.” Transplant International. February 28, 2011.

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——. “Eritrea.” CIA. Accessed January 20, 2014. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/er.html.

——. “Sudan.” CIA. Accessed March 31, 2014. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/su.html.

CNN. “Death in the Desert.” The CNN Freedom Project. November 8, 2011. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/08/death-in-the-desert/.

——. “Stand in the Sinai.” The CNN Freedom Project. September 26, 2012. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/26/stand-in-the-sinai-now-online/.

Coalition for Organ Failure Solutions. “Sudanese Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt.” December 2011.

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “Organ Transplant Legislation: From Trade to Donation.” March 31, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2014. http://eipr.org/node/792.

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Human Rights Watch. “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die.” February 11, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2014. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2014/02/11/i-wanted-lie-down-and-die.

——. “World Report 2012: Egypt.” 2012. Accessed January 2014. http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-egypt.

Humphris, Rachel. “Refugees and the Rashaida: Human Smuggling and Trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt.” Research Paper No. 254. March 2013. UNHCR.

International Summit on Transplant Tourism and Organ Trafficking. “The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism.” May 2, 2008. Accessed March 31, 2014. http://www.declarationofistanbul.org/index.php.

Pleitgen, Fred and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy. “Refugees Face Organ Theft in the Sinai.” CNN Freedom Project. November 3, 2011. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/03/world/meast/pleitgen-sinai-organ-smugglers/.

Reilly, Jill. “Child torturers of the desert: Horrific footage reveals human traffickers are even targeting BABIES to get families to pay ransoms.” Daily Mail. September 20, 2012. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2205627/Child-torturers-Sinai-desert-Horrific-footage-reveals-human-traffickers-targeting-BABIES-families-pay-ransoms.html.

Sherwood, Harriet. “Hundreds of Eritreans Enslaved in Torture Camps in Sudan and Egypt.” The Guardian. February 11, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/11/eritreans-enslaved-traffickers-sudan-egypt-torture-camps.

United Nations. “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” December 10, 1984. Accessed April 24, 2014. https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?mtdsg_no=IV-9&chapter=4&lang=en.

——. “Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.” March 16, 2001. Accessed March 31, 2014. https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=IV-11-c&chapter=4&lang=en.

——. “Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.” March 16, 2001. Accessed April 24, 2014. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/54/263.

——. “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.” November 15, 2000. Accessed March 31, 2014. https://treaties.un.org/pages/viewdetails.aspx?src=ind&mtdsg_no=xviii-12-a&chapter=18&lang=en.

United Nations Human Rights. “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” December 10, 1984. Accessed April 24, 2014. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.” New York, 2004. Accessed April 24, 2014. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CTOC/#Fulltext.

United States Department of State. “Trafficking in Persons Report.” June 2013. Accessed March 31, 2014. http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/.

Woldemariam, Yohannes. “Egypt: Human Trafficking in Sinai.” April 17, 2013. Think Africa Press. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://thinkafricapress.com/egypt/human-trafficking-sinai-eritrea-israel-sudan.


[1] European Parliament, “Human trafficking in Sinai, in particular the case of Solomon W.” P7_TA(2012)0092. March 15, 2012. Accessed January 20, 2014; Rachel Humphris, “Refugees and the Rashaida: Human Smuggling and Trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt,” Research Paper No. 254. March 2013. UNHCR, 4.

[2] Debra Budiani-Saberi, “Human Trafficking for Organ Removal: Evidence from Egypt,” Rights Work. March 5, 2012. Accessed January 20, 2014.

[3] Ibid.

[4] United Nations, “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.” November 15, 2000. Accessed March 31, 2014.

[5] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.” New York, 2004. Accessed April 24, 2014.

[6] United Nations, “Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.” March 16, 2001. Accessed March 31, 2014.

[7] United Nations, “Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.” March 16, 2001. Accessed April 24, 2014.

[8] United Nations, “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” December 10, 1984. Accessed April 24, 2014.

[9] United Nations Human Rights, “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” December 10, 1984. Accessed April 24, 2014.

[10] Ibid.

[11] International Summit on Transplant Tourism and Organ Trafficking, “The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism.” May 2, 2008. Accessed March 31, 2014, Preamble.

[12] Debra Budiani-Saberi and Amr Mostada, “Care for commercial living donors: the experience of an NGO’s outreach in Egypt,” Transplant International. February 28, 2011.

[13] International Summit on Transplant Tourism and Organ Trafficking, “The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism,” Definitions.

[14] Ibid., Principles and Proposals.

[15] Ibid., Participants of Istanbul Summit.

[16] Coalition for Organ Failure Solutions, “Sudanese Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt.” December 2011.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Coalition for Organ Failure Solutions, “Sudanese Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt.” December 2011.

[19] Rachel Humphris, “Refugees and the Rashaida,” 11-13.

[20] Ibid., 8

[21] Ibid., 9.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Yohannes Woldemariam, “Egypt: Human Trafficking in Sinai,” Think Africa Press. April 17, 2013. Accessed January 20, 2014.

[24] Rachel Humphris, “Refugees and the Rashaida,” 11-15.

[25] Fred Pleitgen and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, “Refugees Face Organ Theft in the Sinai,” CNN Freedom Project. November 3, 2011. Accessed January 20, 2014.

[26] Human Rights Watch, “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die.” February 11, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2014, 28-29.

[27] CNN, “Death in the Desert,” The CNN Freedom Project. November 8, 2011. Accessed January 20, 2014.

[28] Jill Reilly, “Child torturers of the desert: Horrific footage reveals human traffickers are even targeting BABIES to get families to pay ransoms,” Daily Mail. September 20, 2012. Accessed January 20, 2014.

[29] Fred Pleitgen and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, “Refugees Face Organ Theft in the Sinai.”

[30] Fred Pleitgen and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, “Refugees Face Organ Theft in the Sinai.”

[31] Harriet Sherwood, “Hundreds of Eritreans Enslaved in Torture Camps in Sudan and Egypt,” The Guardian. February 11, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2014.

[32] Coalition for Organ Failure Solutions, “Sudanese Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt.”

[33] Debra Budiani-Saberi, “Human Trafficking for Organ Removal: Evidence from Egypt.”

[34] Coalition for Organ Failure Solutions, “Sudanese Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt.”

[35] CNN, “Death in the Desert.”; Human Rights Watch, “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die,” 25, 31.

[36] CIA World Factbook, “Egypt,” CIA. Accessed March 31, 2014.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Yohannes Woldemariam, “Egypt: Human Trafficking in Sinai.”

[39] Coalition for Organ Failure Solutions, “Sudanese Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt.”

[40] CIA World Factbook, “Eritrea,” CIA. Accessed January 20, 2014.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] CIA World Factbook, “Sudan,” CIA. Accessed March 31, 2014.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Harriet Sherwood, “Hundreds of Eritreans Enslaved in Torture Camps in Sudan and Egypt.”

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] CNN, “Death in the Desert.”

[49] Human Rights Watch, “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die,” 10.

[50] Ibid.

[51] CNN, “Stand in the Sinai,” The CNN Freedom Project. September 26, 2012. Accessed January 20, 2014; Jill Reilly, “Child torturers of the desert: Horrific footage reveals human traffickers are even targeting BABIES to get families to pay ransoms.”

[52] Ibid.

[53] CNN, “Stand in the Sinai.”

[54] Debra Budiani-Saberi and Amr Mostada, “Care for commercial living donors: the experience of an NGO’s outreach in Egypt.”

[55] CNN, “Death in the Desert.”; CNN, “Stand in the Sinai.”

[56] CNN, “Stand in the Sinai.”

[57] Human Rights Watch, “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die,” 33-34.

[58] Ibid., 34.

[59] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2012: Egypt.” 2012. Accessed January 2014.

[60] Human Rights Watch, “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die,” Summary.

[61] European Parliament. “Human trafficking in Sinai, in particular the case of Solomon W.”

[62] Ibid.

[63] European Parliament. “Human trafficking in Sinai, in particular the case of Solomon W.”

[64] CNN, “Stand in the Sinai.”

[65] United States Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report.” June 2013. Accessed March 31, 2014, 56.

[66] Ibid., 44, 55.

[67] Ibid., 46-47, 55.

[68] Rachel Humphris, “Refugees and the Rashaida,” 4.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Ibid., 4-5.

[72] Yohannes Woldemariam, “Egypt: Human Trafficking in Sinai.”

[73] Human Rights Watch, “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die,” 12.

[74] Debra Budiani-Saberi, “Human Trafficking for Organ Removal: Evidence from Egypt.”

[75] Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, “Organ Transplant Legislation: From Trade to Donation.” March 31, 2014. Accessed April 24, 2014.

[76] Human Rights Watch, “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die,” 14.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid., 17.

Arab Spring Timeline

Arab Spring Timeline, courtesy of the Daily Mail U.K.
Arab Spring Timeline, courtesy of the Daily Mail U.K.

Blight Garry, Sheila Pulham and Paul Torpey. “Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests.” The Guardian. January 5, 2012. http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2011/mar/22/middle-east-protest-interactive-timeline.

This multimedia interactive has a detailed timeline from December 12, 2010 through December 17, 2011 on the Arab Spring protests that swept the MENA region.[1] The analysts used a simple typography, diving up events by a key (Protest/Response to Protest, Political Move, Regime Change, and International/External Response). The countries included Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.[2] Each event has a brief synopsis and links to pertinent Guardian articles. The key changes over this period are: people in the MENA region gradually evolved to see themselves more as citizens of a state than subjects of an administration, and the growth of web-based epistemic communities through social media as a vehicle for reform.


OSINT on the MENA Region

MENA Map, courtesy of the LoC
MENA Map, courtesy of the LoC

American Government:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). “The World Factbook: Middle East.” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/wfbExt/region_mde.html
——. “The World Factbook: Africa.” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/wfbExt/region_afr.html
House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/subcommittees/the-middle-east-and-north-africa
Library of Congress (LoC). “Country Studies.” http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html
National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Middle East and North African Region Information, Grants and Resources.” Fogarty International Center. http://www.fic.nih.gov/WorldRegions/Pages/MiddleEastNorthAfrica.aspx
United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “Middle East.” http://www.usaid.gov/where-we-work/middle-east
United States Department of Defense (DoD). “Middle East and North Africa.” http://search.defense.gov/search?affiliate=DEFENSE_gov&query=Middle+East+and+North+Africa&x=0&y=0
United States Department of State (DoS). “Middle East and North Africa.” http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/maps/64374.htm
——. “Near Eastern Affairs: Countries and Other Areas.” http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/maps/64374.htm

Empirical Data Sources:
CountryReports. http://www.countryreports.org/index.htm
CountryWatch. “Featured Country.” http://www.countrywatch.com/
International Crisis Group. “Middle East & North Africa.” http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa.aspx
Pew Research Center. “Middle East.” http://www.pewresearch.org/search/middle+east/
——. “North Africa.” http://www.pewresearch.org/search/?s=north%20africa&x=0&y=0&site

International Money Fund (IMF). http://www.imf.org/external/country/Index.htm
UN News Centre. “Winds of change: North Africa & Middle East.” http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=129&Body=North+Africa&
The World Bank. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country

African Journals Online. http://www.ajol.info/
Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. “Journal of the Middle East and Africa.” http://www.asmeascholars.org/publication_cat/journal-of-the-middle-east-and-africa/
The Journal of Democracy. “Middle East and North Africa.” http://www.journalofdemocracy.org/regions/middle-east-and-north-africa
The North Africa Journal. http://www.north-africa.com/

Al Jazeera. American Edition. http://america.aljazeera.com/
allAfrica. http://allafrica.com/middleeastandafrica/
BBC. “Africa.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world/africa/
——. “Middle East.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world/middle_east/
CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/
Financial Times. “Middle East & North Africa.” http://www.ft.com/world/mideast
The Guardian. “Middle East and North Africa.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/middleeast/roundup

Mother Jones. “Politics.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics

Reuters. “Middle East.” http://www.reuters.com/subjects/middle-east

——. “North Africa.” http://www.reuters.com/places/africa

VICE News. “Middle East.” https://news.vice.com/topics/middle-east

Amnesty International. “Middle East and North Africa.” http://www.amnestyusa.org/search/node/Middle%20East%20North%20Africa

Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Global. http://www.crdfglobal.org/where-we-work/regions/middle-east-and-north-africa

Reporters Without Borders. “Middle East and North Africa.” http://en.rsf.org/middle-east-north-africa.html

Transparency International. http://www.transparency.org/

OSINT Guides

Internet Archive. “Way Back Machine.” https://archive.org/

Reuser’s New Repertorium. “The Open Source Intelligence Resource Discovery Toolkit.” http://rr.reuser.biz/

Think Tanks

Carleton University Country Indicators for Foreign Policy. http://www4.carleton.ca/cifp/

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). “Middle East and North Africa.” http://www.cfr.org/region/middle-east-north-africa/ri165

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “Africa.” http://csis.org/region/africa

——. “Middle East.” http://csis.org/region/middle-east

Duke University. “Middle East & Islamic Studies.” http://guides.library.duke.edu/mideast

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. http://www.start.umd.edu/

National Defense University. “MERLIN.” http://ndu.libguides.com/merln

Naval Post Graduate School Dudley Knox Library. “Africa.” http://libguides.nps.edu/africa?hs=a

——. “Middle East.” http://libguides.nps.edu/middleeast?hs=a

RAND. “Center for Middle East Public Policy.” http://www.rand.org/international/cmepp.html

Stanford University. “Middle East Political Sites Project.” http://webarchives.cdlib.org/a/MidEastPolitics/sites

STRATFOR Global Intelligence. “Middle East and North Africa.” http://www.stratfor.com/search/site/Middle%20East%20North%20Africa

University of Michigan. “Center for Middle East and North Africa Studies.” http://www.ii.umich.edu/cmenas/

Wilson Center. “Middle East and North Africa.” http://www.wilsoncenter.org/region/middle-east-and-north-africa
MENA Media Assets:
(Found using BBC Country Profiles)

Al-Ahram Weekly. http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/
• State owned, English edition of the oldest newspaper in the Arab World
Daily News Egypt. http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/
• Privately owned, English edition
Egypt Independent. http://www.egyptindependent.com/
• Private daily paper in English

Azzaman English. http://www.azzaman.com/english/
• Private English newspaper, printed in Baghdad and Basra
Iraqi News. http://www.iraqinews.com/#axzz2wzSdArp4
• English news web page
National Iraq News Agency. http://www.ninanews.com/English/index.asp
• Private, English daily paper
Fars News Agency. http://english.farsnews.com/
• Iranian Revolutionary Guards affiliated paper
Iran Daily. http://www.iran-daily.com/
• State ran, English paper
Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA). http://www.isna.ir/en
• English paper
Mehr News. http://en.mehrnews.com/
• Islamic Propaganda Organization newspaper
Press TV. http://www.presstv.ir/
• State ran satellite channel
Tehran Times. http://www.tehrantimes.com/
• State ran, English paper

Israel Hayom. http://www.israelhayom.com/
• English newspaper in Tel Aviv
The Jerusalem Post. http://www.jpost.com/
• Bestselling English daily newspaper in Israel
Yediot Aharonot. http://www.ynetnews.com/home/0,7340,L-3083,00.html
• English newspaper based in Tel Aviv

Saudi Arabia:
Al-Sharq al-Awsat. http://www.aawsat.net/
• Arab newspaper published in London
Arab News. http://www.arabnews.com/
• English newspaper from Jeddah.
Saudi Gazette. http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/
• English newspaper from Jeddah.
Saudi Press Agency. http://www.spa.gov.sa/English/index.php
• State owned English paper

CNN Turk. http://www.cnnturk.com/
• Turkish version of CNN
Daily Sabah. http://www.dailysabah.com/
• Mass circulation newspaper translated into English
Hurriyet Daily News. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/
• Mass circulation newspaper translated into English
Today’s Zaman. http://www.todayszaman.com/home
• Mass circulation newspaper translated into English

From Heart Surgeon to Politial Satire – Bassem Youssef


Meet the “Jon Stewart of Egypt”: Bassem Youssef. CBS NEWS. March 16, 2014. http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/meet-the-jon-stewart-of-egypt-bassem-youssef/

“I chose the Egyptian dream!

BBC on Arab Spring

New Libyan Army, courtesy of the BBC.
New Libyan Army, courtesy of the BBC.

The BBC has a network page dedicated to the Arab Spring revolts across the Middle East and North Africa. It is a great overview of the rapid changes in states, on a country by country basis, including Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia. It is truly a great synopsis.

BBC. “Special Report: Arab Uprisings.” December 2013. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12813859