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.

Mubarakism Without Mubarak

by Elliott Abrams Friday, December 30, 2011

Yesterday’s Cairo raids on human rights organizations were not an attempt by the Egyptian military to crush Egyptian extremists or to weaken the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafist party after their recent election victories. They were instead an effort to weaken and demonize centrist and liberal forces. The raids on Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute, the Adenauer Foundation, and other groups helping Egyptians move toward respect for democratic politics and human rights were of a piece with the practices of Hosni Mubarak—only bolder and more repressive. Read more »

What Would a Hamas-Fatah Agreement Mean?

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, December 28, 2011

There are repeated efforts to forge a unity agreement of some sort between Hamas and Fatah, leading to a new “unity government” for the Palestinian Authority. Such a coalition was briefly in force in 2007 after the Saudi-sponsored Mecca Agreement. It quickly broke down into violence and led to the Hamas coup in Gaza. What would it mean today? Read more »

Congress Late but Right on Lebanon, Religious Freedom

by Elliott Abrams Monday, December 26, 2011

In the fine print of the recently adopted 1200-page Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3671) Congress made two little-noticed decisions that deserve attention and commendation.

First, it continued military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces (“LAF”). The funds will be available “only to professionalize the LAF and to strengthen border security and to combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF to secure Lebanon’s borders, interdicting arms shipments, preventing the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups, and to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.” At the beginning of 2011 I had been one of those questioning whether it made sense to continue such assistance, for the LAF was refusing to confront Hezbollah in any useful way. But events in Syria have changed the Levant: Hezbollah will be weaker when Assad falls, and Syria under another regime is likely to play a far different role in Lebanon. The LAF would have a new opportunity to assert itself, for example protecting the Syria/Lebanon border for the first time. So the decision to continue the aid and condition it on performance was wise. Let’s see how the LAF reacts to the fall of Assad before making any decision to end U.S. aid and the ties and influence it may bring. Read more »

Mr. Panetta’s New Hard Line

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What does Secretary of Defense Panetta think about the Iranian nuclear weapons program? A couple of weeks ago he moaned to a Brookings audience about the risks any military strike would bring, and clearly suggested that he opposed it. I, like many others, wondered why it was wise for our secretary of defense to say this on the record and thereby reassure Tehran. More recently Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes has delivered similarly odd remarks, suggesting that an Iranian effort at hegemony in the Gulf would not be opposed forcefully by the United States. Read more »

Iceland, Palestine, and Israel

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Iceland recently recognized Palestine as a state. As I noted in The Weekly Standard,

according to Iceland, Palestinian sovereignty includes 100 percent of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Palestine, as Icelanders see it, includes the Western Wall of the Second Temple, Judaism’s holiest site. The judenrein policy enforced by Jordan during the years it ruled Jerusalem would thus be reinstated. And Israel in any recognizable form would anyway disappear, for the Allthingi resolution calls for all Palestinian refugees–of whom according to the U.N. there are five million–to “return” to Israel. Read more »

Bahrain: Clinton Flubs an Opportunity

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 16 was Bahrain’s “National Day” and the secretary of state duly released a congratulatory statement. Here it is in its entirety:

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate the people of Bahrain as you celebrate your National Day. Our two countries have shared a long history of partnership built on mutual interest and mutual respect. The United States values this friendship, rooted in the history of our people-to-people ties dating back to the early years of the 20th century. We look forward to working closely with the Government of Bahrain and all Bahrainis on the important endeavor of building a prosperous, secure, and peaceful future for your nation. Read more »

Who Will Condemn Haniyah’s Call for Terror?

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, December 15, 2011

With the Palestinian Authority still negotiating for a unity government with Hamas, and elections now scheduled for May 2012, it is worth asking whether Hamas has changed. Has the effect of the Arab Spring, where Islamist parties have won elections in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, led Hamas to turn away from terrorism toward the ballot box or to moderate any of its positions? Read more »