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.

Going Directly to the Wastebasket: Another Plan for the “Peace Process”

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some “peace processors” never give up. In the New York Times today, four of them try an old and very bad idea: forget about negotiations, and substitute the views of some un-elected elderly “statesmen” and of the UN Security Council.

In an op-ed piece entitled “Going Directly to Israelis and Palestinians,” Shlomo Ben-Ami, Thomas Schelling, Jerome Segal, and Javier Solana suggest “a new approach” that isn’t new at all. The heart of it is this: Read more »

Kofi Annan’s Test

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kofi Annan arrived in Syria today. His peace plan is in ruins, all the more visibly after this weekend’s atrocities: the killing of hundreds in the village of Houla. Annan called this “an appalling crime” that “shocked and horrified” him. He has also said that the Assad regime has failed to implement the peace plan he devised. Read more »

Disgrace in Syria

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, May 27, 2012

Headlines around the world this weekend tell of a massacre in Syria: artillery killed ninety people, of whom a third were children, in one village. The Assad regime has of course denied responsibility, but the village was in an area of anti-regime activity and no other group in Syria has the ability to use artillery in this way except the government. Accordingly even the UN–in a statement jointly from Kofi Annan and Ban ki-Moon–has blamed the government for shelling a residential neighborhood. Read more »

The Palestinian Disunity Government

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Last Sunday in Cairo, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement to create the national unity government to which they agreed in principle months ago in Doha. They will meet on May 27 and have given themselves ten days to negotiate a new coalition that would then carry out elections.

This announcement is interesting and potentially significant, but not in obvious ways.

First, it was brokered by the Egyptian General Intelligence Service. This is a significant display of the continued vigor of that organization and its influence on the Palestinian parties. Read more »

Hezbollah Fighters in Syria

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 16, 2012

While there has been considerable discussion in the United States about jihadis who may be fighting in Syria against the Assad regime, less attention has been paid to the presence of Hezbollah fighters acting on the side of that regime.

Asharq Alawsat, the London Arabic-language newspaper, reports on this issue today in a story entitled “FSA: Hezbollah fighters in Syria, carrying out raids.” According to the FSA, the Free Syrian Army, there are also Iranian elements present. What are they doing? According to the newspaper’s sources, the Iranian are providing technical advice and assistance: “there are also Iranian specialists present in the northern areas [of Syria] close to the Turkish borders who have set-up operation rooms…in order to intercept the telephone calls of activists and FSA members…the Iranian specialists’ tasks include training, communication operations and uncovering activists.” But the Hezbollah men are operational: they are snipers. Read more »

China’s Cultural War Against Tibetans Continues

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The recent closure of two private schools in China for the crime of trying to sustain Tibetan culture is a reminder that Beijing’s war on Tibetans continues.

Radio Free Asia reports that “Chinese authorities have closed two Tibetan private schools in the Gansu and Qinghai provinces and detained at least five staff as authorities moved to restrict assertions of national identity in Tibetan-populated areas of western China.” Read more »

M. Hollande’s Bad Start with Iran

by Elliott Abrams Monday, May 14, 2012

Francois Hollande is not even president of France yet but France’s tough position on the Iranian nuclear program already looks weaker.

Today the former French prime minister Michel Rocard is in Tehran meeting with top officials including the foreign minister and the nuclear negotiator. As this trip comes only days after Hollande’s victory, and as Rocard is like Hollande from the Socialist Party, it is hard to believe there was zero coordination or that Rocard would have gone if Hollande had asked him not to. If that is indeed the case, let us hope M. Hollande says so, and fast. Read more »

Missing in Bahrain: Leadership

by Elliott Abrams Friday, May 11, 2012

The situation in Bahrain continues to boil. Every week brings new reports of protests and police abuses, and the gap between the Sunni royal family and the mostly Shia population is by all accounts widening. There are also reports of growing radicalization within both the Sunni and Shia camps: more Shia demanding not reform and constitutional monarchy but an end to the rule of the al-Khalifa family, more Sunnis fearing that democracy will lead to Iranian influence and eventually domination. Every Bahraini with whom I have spoken this year acknowledges these growing divisions in their society. It is logical to fear that the center will not hold. Read more »