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.

Who’s Visiting Cairo?

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, June 27, 2012

After President Obama’s congratulatory call to Egypt’s president-elect Morsi, it seems the administration seeks further contact in the coming days. On June 25 the Washington Post reported this:

U.S. officials hope to make a strong impression on Morsi, 60, during an upcoming visit by a senior American official to Cairo, said another senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak for the record.

“Senior official” is an elastic term, but let us hope it does not refer to Secretary of State Clinton. Read more »

The Voice of Iran

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why is it significant that the vice president of Iran has used a United Nations forum to deliver an appalling anti-Semitic speech?

This happened yesterday in Geneva, as the New York Times reported. Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi blamed “Zionists” for the world’s drug trade, citing the Talmud and leaving his audience at the anti-drug conference in shock. Read more »

Who Lost Egypt?

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In a very interesting column entitled “Who Lost Egypt?” in today’s Wall Street Journal, my friend Bret Stephens proposes three answers: “the Egyptians, obviously;” the Obama and Bush administrations; and “liberal abdicators.” The article is well worth reading.

But it errs in overlooking someone who should be at the top of the list, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak, after all, ruled Egypt for 30 years. During all that period he warned against the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood take-over, yet somehow he managed to deliver Egypt to exactly that fate. How did that happen? Read more »

Birds of a Feather Meet in Havana

by Elliott Abrams Monday, June 25, 2012
Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko shakes hands with Cuban vice minister of foreign affairs Dagoberto Rodriguez at Havana's Jose Marti airport on June 24, 2012 (Enrique de la Osa/Courtesy Reuters).

It is not surprising that the worst regime in Europe and the worst regime in Latin America see much in common, so the visit to Cuba today by the president of Belarus has a certain logic to it.

In fact President Lukashenka is going on a Latin autocracy tour, following Cuba with Venezuela and then Ecuador. They can all share notes on how to suppress press freedom, silence dissidents, jail those who demonstrate against the regime, and crush civil society. Those who pretend they can see serious reforms in Cuba should be reminded by this visit of the true nature of the Castro regime. Lukashenka is their kind of guy. Read more »

How Many Refugees?

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A general view of the Jenin refugee camp is seen near the West Bank city of Jenin September 6, 2011 (Courtesy REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini). A general view of the Jenin refugee camp is seen near the West Bank city of Jenin September 6, 2011 (Courtesy REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini).

Today the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (or PCBS) commemorated World Refugee Day by releasing new statistics on Palestinian refugees. Therein lies a tale.

The PCBS reported that there are now 5.1 million Palestinian refugees. Here is what it said about their age:

The Palestinian Refugees are characterized as young population where 41.7% of them are under the age of 15 years for Palestinian refugees in Palestinian territory, 35.9% of Palestinian  refugees in Jordan in 2007, and 33.1% for Palestinian refugees in Syria in 2009, while 30.4% for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in 2010.

Read more »

Succession in Saudi Arabia

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, June 16, 2012

The death of Saudi crown prince Nayef came as no surprise, for he had been seriously ill for several years. He spent much of the past year outside the Kingdom, for medical treatment in the United States and then recuperation. Since the death in 2011 of the then third in line for the throne, long-time Minister of Defense Prince Sultan, and his replacement at Defense by Riyadh’s long-serving governor Prince Salman, it has been thought that Prince Salman would become crown prince next. That change should come in the next few days, after Nayef’s burial. Read more »

Blaming Bibi

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, June 14, 2012

I am in Jerusalem, where the State Comptroller has just issued a lengthy report blaming Prime Minister Netanyahu for his handling of the Mavi Marmara affair.

The BBC summarized the report this way:

Israel’s state watchdog has criticised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the navy’s interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla which left nine Turkish activists dead and commandos injured. In a report, the State Comptroller identified “serious shortcomings” in the way decisions were taken by Mr Netanyahu before the May 2010 incident….
“The process of decision-making was done without orderly, agreed-upon, co-ordinated and documented staff work, despite the recognition of the senior political echelon and IDF (Israel Defence Forces) chiefs, intelligence bodies and the National Security Council on the exceptional nature of the Turkish flotilla compared to previous flotillas,” the reports said.

I don’t buy it. Read more »

Economics May Trump Politics in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams Friday, June 8, 2012

Egypt’s political crisis is getting the attention it merits as the presidential election approaches.  But the economic crisis is not getting enough.

The financial commentator David Goldman wrote in April that “Last week, Egypt’s central bank reported that total reserves had fallen to $15 billion, but – more importantly – liquid foreign exchange reserves had fallen to only $9 billion, equivalent to just two months’ imports. Foreign exchange futures markets expect the Egyptian pound to lose half its value during the next year….” Read more »

The Syria Charade Turns Ghastly

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon told the Security Council that “Heavy weapons, armor-piercing bullets and surveillance drones have been used against UN observers in Syria to hamper their efforts to monitor the worsening conflict….” Ban condemned the most recent massacre as “an unspeakable barbarity” and called for implementation of the Kofi Annan peace plan. Read more »