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.

The Successor to Prince Saud?

by Elliott Abrams Friday, July 29, 2011

An interesting royal decree from Saudi Arabia this past week suggests who may finally succeed Saud bin Faisal as foreign minister.

Saud, son of the late King Faisal (who ruled 1964-1975) has been foreign minister for thirty-five years. Appointed at the age of thirty-four, he is the world’s longest-serving foreign minister and a sharp player. But now Saud is ill (Parkinson’s among other ailments), and has several times asked to retire. There has for years been a guessing game as to who might succeed him: his brother, Turki, former Saudi Intelligence chief and once their ambassador to Washington? But Turki did not get good reviews back home for his performance here, and does not have the reputation his older brother enjoys. The current ambassador here, Adel al-Jubeir? But he is not a member of the royal family, which has been a prerequisite. Might the job be given out as part of succession deal among the rival clans in the royal family after the death of King Abdallah (who is eighty-seven years old according to official accounts but may be older, and is also not in perfect health)? Read more »

Syria Wins the Hypocrisy Award

by Elliott Abrams Monday, July 25, 2011

Even by its own unrivaled standard of hypocrisy, the Assad regime’s “reform” permitting the formation of new political parties is prize-winning.

According to Reuters, under Syria’s new political parties law “The establishment of any party has to be based on … a commitment to the constitution, democratic principles, the rule of law and a respect for freedom and basic rights.” Read more »

Who Is Losing Legitimacy Over Syria?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, July 18, 2011

American policy toward Syria is increasingly inconsistent and unintelligible.

On Saturday, the Assad regime murdered another thirty-two peaceful protesters. What was the secretary of state’s reaction? She was in Istanbul, where some Syrian opposition leaders are located, but she did not meet with them—nor it seemed did she dispatch any of her aides to do so. Instead, she advised them to negotiate with the Assad government. The Washington Post tells the story: Read more »

Can Israel Be a “Jewish State?”

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, July 14, 2011

Negotiations between Israel and the PLO have been stalled for many reasons, but a central issue is the Palestinian refusal to acknowledge Israel as a “Jewish state.”

The whole idea behind the partition of the Palestine Mandate in 1947 was, in the words of U.N. General Assembly resolution 181, the creation of an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state.” The Arab rejection of Israel as a Jewish state is in fact at the heart of the Middle East conflict. It is based on the widespread refusal to accept Israel as a permanent presence in the region, but is usually couched in more acceptable terminology—indeed, the language of “rights.” As one news story put it, “Palestinian negotiators have recognized Israel’s right to exist, but not as a Jewish state, which officials say would prejudice the right of return for refugees and violate the rights of Israel’s non-Jewish residents.” Read more »

What Happens When Iran Kills American Soldiers, Take Two

by Elliott Abrams Monday, July 11, 2011

On July 8 I noted the comments of the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mullen, that “Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shia groups which are killing our troops.”  Today, our new Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, added his voice during a visit to Iraq where he spoke to U.S. troops: Read more »

Syria Spies on American Protesters

by Elliott Abrams Friday, July 8, 2011

In a remarkable revelation today , the State Department acknowledged that the Syrian Embassy in Washington is tracking Americans, and Syrians visiting or living in the United States, who protest against the crimes of Assad regime.

Here is the comment by State:

Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell called Syrian Ambassador Imad Mustapha into the State Department on Wednesday, July 6, 2011 to express a number of our concerns with the reported actions of certain Syrian embassy staff in the United States.

We received reports that Syrian mission personnel under Ambassador Mustapha’s authority have been conducting video and photographic surveillance of people participating in peaceful demonstrations in the United States.

Read more »