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.

Save Kofi Annan

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kofi Annan is a very nice man. All the people around the world who would second that notion, or indeed advance it with great energy, should be joining together now to salvage his reputation.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, Annan did not achieve much and did not push the great powers hard. But that is precisely why he was chosen to be the SG, and then re-elected. He got along with everyone, and unlike Kurt Waldheim did nothing that brought opprobrium on the institution. So he emerged with his reputation intact in 2006, and kept it that way: no dirty deals for quick millions, no associations with rotten causes. Read more »

Recent Articles on President Abbas, Iran’s Nuclear Program, and Egypt

by Elliott Abrams Monday, April 23, 2012

I’ve written articles recently on several Middle East subjects.

In a National Review article entitled “Egypt: Pity the Winner,”  I discussed the Egyptian presidential elections, the remaining candidates, and the economic crisis the winner will face. Read more »

The Talks with Iran

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy talk is one of the great concerns we should all have about the talks with Iran in Istanbul, which just concluded with an agreement to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad.

What happened in Istanbul? Judging from the account in the New York Times, not much. The EU’s Lady Ashton says the talks were “useful and constructive,” but there is no real reason to believe this. The Times continues: Read more »

What Does the Muslim Brotherhood Intend?

by Elliott Abrams Friday, April 13, 2012
Presidential candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Khairat al-Shater waves to his supporters after presenting recommendation documents to the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) headquarters in Cairo April 5, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih) Presidential candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Khairat al-Shater waves to his supporters after presenting recommendation documents to the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) headquarters in Cairo April 5, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

What does the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for president of Egypt believe? What kind of Egypt would he seek to create?

Some answers to that question were given by a MB delegation to Washington recently, sent to reassure Americans about their intentions. The Project on Middle East Democracy has a good summary of the visit here and at my colleague Steven Cook’s CFR blog there is a good summary of the views of Khairat al-Shater, the MB’s candidate for Egypt’s presidency. Read more »

Iran on Best Behavior

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, April 12, 2012

Iran is under remarkably tough sanctions and about to begin negotiations over its nuclear program. So how is it signaling its willingness to play by the rules and engage in serious dialogue?

First came the ridiculous proposal that the negotiations be held in Syria, Lebanon, China, or Iraq, a suggestion that seemed to make a mockery of the talks. They are to take place in Turkey. Far more serious was the visit of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, on April 11, to the Persian Gulf island of Abu Musa.  Abu Musa is one of three islands strategically located at the entrance to the Gulf. In 1971 Iran agreed that one of the Emirates, Sharjah, had sovereignty over the islands, but in 1992 it forcibly took control of them. The UAE has sought United Nations help and International Court adjudication of sovereignty, but Iran has refused: those are games Iran will not play unless it is sure of winning. And why risk adjudication when force is available? Read more »

Freedom Suffers a Blow in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, April 5, 2012

Egypt is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 18 states that:

1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. Read more »

Will Assad Return To Killing Lebanese Leaders?

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, speaks during a news conference at his house in Maarab village, north of Beirut, October 12, 2010. (Courtesy REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir). Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, speaks during a news conference at his house in Maarab village, north of Beirut, October 12, 2010. (Courtesy REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir).

Throughout the past decade there have been a series of assassinations and attempted murders of political leaders in Lebanon. Almost all of these plots have one common element: the person whose life was threatened or taken was anti-Assad, and just about everyone in Lebanon believes Syria was behind or involved in the wave of violence. Read more »