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.

Iran’s Obligations, and Ours

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The decision of the Iranian regime to attack the British Embassy in Tehran is a subject I address here, in The Weekly Standard. Briefly, I argue that the United States should back President Sarkozy’s proposal of last week for sanctions against Iran’s central bank and for a cut-off of Iran’s oil exports. Read more »

Arab League Turns on Assad

by Elliott Abrams Monday, November 28, 2011

The Arab League statement this past weekend marks a significant break with the Assad regime in Syria.

I wrote a short piece about this in National Review magazine, concluding this way: “There were elections in Tunisia in October, and Egyptians start voting later this week. From the experiences of the dictators in those countries Assad has learned nothing. But his Arab neighbors appear to have learned something after all: When the day comes that you can stay in power only by shooting at the crowds, it’s too late.” Read more »

Last Chance for Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, November 24, 2011

The report this week by the international commission on Bahrain represents the royal family’s, and that nation’s, last chance. If the conclusions of the report do not lead to compromise and reform, the future holds instability, violence, and in the end the demise of al-Khalifa rule. Read more »

Israel and the Republican Debate

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, November 22, 2011

With the exception of Ron Paul, every one of the Republican candidates on the stage at Constitution Hall is a strong supporter of the alliance between the United States and Israel. In Tuesday night’s debate as in previous outings, they stated in compelling terms their understanding of why the friendship and cooperation between Israel and our country is of great value to us. For the most part they did not blink at the possibility of a military strike on Iran as a last resort and as an outcome preferable to permitting Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. Read more »

Israel’s Sinai Fence

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fifteen percent of the entire annual steel consumption of the State of Israel is now being targeted at the construction of a Sinai fence. If this barrier ever has a name, perhaps it could be called the Arab Spring Memorial.

The demise of the Mubarak regime has left the Egyptian army focused on Egypt’s largest cities, and the Sinai has become an even more lawless place. Bedouin smugglers, Hamas terrorists, and African migrants seeking to cross into Israel now face Egyptian police or military action only in the aftermath of a serious incident, such as occurred in August when terrorists struck near Eilat. But a lawless Sinai is a nightmare for Israel, so it has decided to build a serious barrier to infiltration (as an excellent article in Haaretz describes). Read more »

The Noose Tightens on the Assad Regime

by Elliott Abrams Monday, November 14, 2011

The demise of the Assad regime in Syria is inevitable, as the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said recently.

The first Arab leader to call upon Assad to step down is King Abdullah of Jordan, who today said “If Bashar had an interest in his country he would step down….If I were in his shoes, I would step down….” Given the history of close Syrian-Jordanian relations and the king’s customary restraint, this is a remarkable statement. The swing of Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt against Assad is another clue that the regime’s fall is coming. Jumblatt said in late October that  “the Syrian people are revolting against oppression and tyranny,” and he is a man with his finger perpetually up to measure how the wind is blowing. Read more »

The Departure of Dennis Ross

by Elliott Abrams Friday, November 11, 2011

The announcement that Dennis Ross is leaving his post creates a serious problem for the Obama administration.

Ross has spent decades working on the “peace process” and knew almost every influential Israeli and Palestinian official. He also knew almost every influential American Jewish leader. The former pattern of acquaintances has not enabled Ross to get anywhere in the Middle East due mostly to errors made by President Obama and his initial Middle East envoy George Mitchell. Once they posited that a total Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, was a necessary precondition for negotiations, the possibility of talks was gone. The Palestinians could henceforth accept no less, but no Israeli leader could offer such a freeze. Read more »

Secretary Clinton Discovers Human Rights

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Secretary of State Clinton gave a strong human rights speech on Monday night, to the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Like its cousins the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy, NDI was established by the Reagan administration to promote human rights and democracy, and NDI has done a superb job for decades. Read more »