Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Egypt: Prison by the Numbers

by Elliott Abrams Monday, July 6, 2015

Question: What do you call an Egyptian journalist who reports numbers about terrorism that differ from those offered by the government?

Answer: a prisoner.

That will soon be the case, when Egypt adopts a new law forbidding publishing “false news or statements about terrorist operations in contradiction to official statements.” There is no parliament in Egypt right now, so all that is needed to turn the draft into law is President Sisi’s approval. The new law would provide sentences of two years in prison. Read more »

Ignoring Human Rights in Cuba

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, July 1, 2015

President Obama proudly announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba today–after a week of additional arrests on that island.

Here’s the most recent story: “Police arrested Emilio García Moreira and Alexander Veliz García, along with 10 members of the Ladies in White and 12 other activists on the their way to speak with Cienfuegos bishop Domingo Oropesa Lorente.” Read more »

The Non-Existent Progress in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Obama administration has decided to resume military aid to Bahrain, or more exactly to dispense with the limits on such aid that had been imposed after the 2011 crackdown there.

One can make a national security case for doing this. Given the security situation in the region, terrorism, the role of Iran, the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, and other factors, it is possible to argue that the United States does not have the luxury right now of considering internal matters in Bahrain–such as repression. In announcing the resumption, the State Department did say this: “Bahrain is an important and long-standing ally on regional security issues, working closely with us on the counter-ISIL campaign and providing logistical and operational support for countering terrorism and maintaining freedom of navigation.” Read more »

Obama on Iran and Syria: See No Evil

by Elliott Abrams Friday, June 26, 2015

The slaughter in Syria and the awful human rights violations in Iran cannot be denied by the Obama administration, but they sure can be downplayed and ignored.

On the Iran point, consider the release yesterday, four months late, of the State Department’s annual human rights reports. The reports were presented by Secretary of State Kerry and Assistant Secretary for human rights Tom Malinowski.  The Iran report is tough. Here’s an excerpt: Read more »

Why Is Obama’s Human Rights Report 115 Days Late?

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, June 16, 2015

By law, the State Department is required to release reports on the human rights situation in every country on February 25 of each year. Those voluminous reports are often a bit late, by a few days or a few weeks. In the George W. Bush years, a delay of a few days or a week was as I recall it common. Read more »

How Isolated Is Israel?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, June 1, 2015

It’s common to hear about Israel’s growing isolation in the world, and UN votes are sometimes held up as evidence of this. The BDS movement, especially in Europe, is also adduced to show Israel’s increasing isolation.

In that context the following announcement is of interest: the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, will become the first prime minister of India to visit Israel. India’s foreign minister made the announcement today; the dates are not yet set. Read more »