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.

Syria, Israel, and “World Opinion”

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 24, 2012

The complaint that the Obama administration believes in “leading from behind” received new strength yesterday, when Secretary Clinton made an astonishing comment about the Syrian opposition. It came in the context of the Assad regime’s continuing massacres, an accusation from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that crimes against humanity are being committed, and the gathering today of 70 nations in Tunis to discuss the Syrian situation. Read more »

What Next on Syria?

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Syrian tanks are seen in Bab Amro near the city of Homs February 12, 2012. Syrian forces resumed their bombardment of the city of Homs on Monday, with government troops concentrating their fire on Baba Amro neighbourhood in the south of the city and al-Waer in the west. Opposition campaigners said tank fire was concentrated on two large Sunni Muslim neighbourhoods that have been at the forefront of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad. (Courtesy Mulham Alnader/REUTERS) Syrian tanks are seen in Bab Amro near the city of Homs February 12, 2012. Syrian forces resumed their bombardment of the city of Homs on Monday, with government troops concentrating their fire on Baba Amro neighbourhood in the south of the city and al-Waer in the west. Opposition campaigners said tank fire was concentrated on two large Sunni Muslim neighbourhoods that have been at the forefront of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad. (Courtesy Mulham Alnader/REUTERS)

What should the United States do about the continuing attacks by the Assad regime on the population of Syria? The Council on Foreign Relations asked several Senior Fellows to answer that question, and the short replies are here. Read more »

Playing Down the Iranian Threat

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 17, 2012

The February 16 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, General Ron Burgess, looks like an effort to play down the threat from Iran. I analyze their testimony in a short article in the Weekly Standard. Read more »

Conspiracy Theories in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abou El Naga speaks during the "India-Africa Forum Summit 2008" in New Delhi April 9, 2008. (B Mathur/Couresty Reuters) Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abou El Naga speaks during the "India-Africa Forum Summit 2008" in New Delhi April 9, 2008. (B Mathur/Couresty Reuters)
 
 

One of the greatest dangers to democracy in Egypt is the prevalence of conspiracy theories warning that secret plots are under way against the country. The purpose is to persuade citizens that what they see before them—repression by the army, for example—is not real, while behind the scenes invisible evil plots are under way. Read more »

Turning Point in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, February 12, 2012

February 14 will be the anniversary of the date when demonstrations began in Bahrain last year. More demonstrations will mark the date, and violence is feared.

No events connected to the so-called “Arab Spring” have been as depressing as those in Bahrain. The tiny country (only slightly larger than the city of New York) was long viewed as a peaceful and enlightened place, but by the actual Spring of 2011 Bahrain was mired in sectarian divisions, security force violence, and errors and excesses by the government and the opposition, all worsened by the presence of foreign troops from other Gulf Cooperation Council nations. In the end, dozens were killed and communications between the Sunni government and royal family and the Shia majority had broken down. On February 11, this past Saturday, there were more demonstrations and police used tear gas to break some of them up. Read more »

The New Palestinian Prime Minister

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (L-R) talk before an agreement signing ceremony in Doha February 6, 2012. The leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas signed a deal in Qatar on Monday to form a unity government of independent technocrats for the West Bank and Gaza, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Courtesy REUTERS/Stringer) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (L-R) talk before an agreement signing ceremony in Doha February 6, 2012. The leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas signed a deal in Qatar on Monday to form a unity government of independent technocrats for the West Bank and Gaza, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Courtesy REUTERS/Stringer)

Once upon a time, progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace was thought to require reform of Palestinian political institutions. Creation of the post of Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, separate from that of PA president, was viewed as a milestone. On March 14, 2003, President Bush marked creation of the prime minister post in a press conference: Read more »

The Nature of the Islamic Republic

by Elliott Abrams Monday, February 6, 2012

Two keen insights into the nature of Iran’s regime have appeared recently.

The first is an account by a German journalist who was imprisoned in Iran in October 2010 “after interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.” The journalist, Marcus Hellwig, was freed a year ago and has only now told his story. Hellwig told the German press that
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