The New York Times reported that Kerry told foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about hundreds of covert Israeli operations being carried out in Syria, according to a March interview between Zarif and economist Saeed Leylaz.
“Kerry has to tell me that Israel has attacked you 200 times in Syria?” said Zarif in the recording, according to Spectrum News’s NY1.
“You did not know?” Leylaz replied.
“No, no,” said Zarif.
In response, the longtime Massachusetts senator and failed 2004 presidential candidate tweeted an unequivocal denial of the allegations.
I can tell you that this story and these allegations are unequivocally false. This never happened – either when I was Secretary of State or since. https://t.co/BTOdFE1khW
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 26, 2021
Nonetheless, the revelation drew sharp condemnation and calls to resign from congressional Republicans.
“It’s unfathomable that any U.S. diplomat, past or present, would leak intelligence to the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism at the expense of one of our staunchest allies,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., in a statement. “If this report is accurate and he did leak intelligence, John Kerry should resign.”
Some hinted that Kerry was a pushover, too eager to please and impress other world leaders to the detriment of US interests.
“It’s become clear…that our adversaries, whether Beijing or Iran, like it when John Kerry is in charge of foreign policy and national security,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. “Why? Because they know how to use him to their advantage.”
Others hinted at something more sinister, recalling that Kerry faced accusations of violating the Logan Act during the Trump administration for meeting with Iranian leaders and encouraging them to wait it out before canceling the controversial nuclear deal he helped to broker.
“John Kerry sharing sensitive information with Iran on Israeli covert operations further confirms the anti-Israel bias of the Obama–Biden years,” said Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas.
“Kerry has time and time again violated the Logan Act with no repercussions,” Marshall added. “However, this conversation shows he is willing to sell out Israel and share damaging information with a terror regime that has murdered hundreds of Americans. What else has he discussed with the Iranian regime?”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, noted that Kerry’s Iran deal was itself a major boon for Iran, unfreezing billions in assets that the terrorist-sponsoring regime used to fund operations against Israel and the US.
“If this tape is verified … it would be consistent with his long pattern of empowering Iran’s regime,” Cruz said. “Kerry poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the Ayatollah’s terrorist bank accounts, was a close confidant with Zarif during the Obama administration, and was caught repeatedly meeting with him during the Trump administration (notwithstanding the Logan Act)—and has never publicly accounted for what they discussed.”
Some called for Kerry to be brought before the Foreign Affairs Committee to explain himself. That included Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-NY, a staunch pro-Israel advocate in the House.
“Israel remains America’s staunchest and most loyal ally in the Middle East, and the idea that America’s former top diplomat would leak sensitive information about covert military operations to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror—putting Israeli lives at risk—is massively alarming,” Zeldin said.
It is unlikely, however, that Democrats in Congress will move to hold one of their own accountable.
While several—including Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tim Kaine, D-Va.—did not dispute the seriousness of the charges, they signaled their intention to stand by their former Senate colleague.
“These are unsubstantiated allegations and Secretary Kerry says they’re not true and I have no reason to think that he’s not being straight with us,” Kaine said Tuesday, according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden sought to weather yet another scandal involving leaked material, with his administration resurrecting some of the same rhetoric used to ride out the pre-election scandal surrounding the recovered laptop of his son Hunter.
“That we don’t comment on purportedly leaked material, of course we can’t vouch for the authenticity of it, for the accuracy of it, and so of course I’m not going to comment directly on what’s on that tape on that recording,” State Department spokesman Ned Ryan said Monday, according to Fox News.
The bombshell comes at a delicate time as Biden considers the possibility of reinstating the Obama-era Iran deal, which former president Donald Trump rejected.
Despite having courted Iran during the campaign season, though, Biden has taken a harder line after the Islamic republic insisted on being paid reparations simply to return to the negotiating table.
Among Biden’s first acts as president was to bomb Syria, which many construed as a warning sign to Iran.