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.

What Was That About Syria’s “Lethal” Air Defenses?

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, January 31, 2013

Israel’s air strike on a Syrian weapons convoy is not the first such successful attack they have done. In September 2007, Israel attacked the nuclear reactor Syria was building (with North Korean help) and eliminated it. In both these cases, Syria’s air defenses proved worthless and Israel lost no planes. Read more »

Is “Insulting the President” or Converting to Christianity a Crime?

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is “Insulting the President” a crime? How about converting to Christianity?

Both are crimes in Egypt today.

A new report by the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, entitled “The Crime of Insulting the President: A Crime of an Authoritarian Regime,” tells us how many times this law has been invoked since its adoption in 1909–when the crime was “insulting the king.” Read more »

Qatar in Mali: Which Side Are They On?

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, January 22, 2013
French soldiers stand guard in front of charred pickup trucks in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Joe Penney). French soldiers stand guard in front of charred pickup trucks in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Joe Penney).

In the last decade the influence of Qatar has grown greatly, fueled by its vast oil and gas revenues and by the skill of its leaders. Whether that influence is being used positively, or in ways that comport with American interests, are separate matters. Read more »

68,000 Invisible Americans–or 21 Million?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, January 21, 2013

There are now about 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan. Last year, more than 300 were killed and many more injured.

Yet they did not earn a mention in President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address.

He did say that “Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.” But when it came to listing those to whom a debt must be paid or “our journey is not complete”–the poor, women, non-whites, gays, the elderly, immigrants, children–our military forces and indeed America’s veterans were absent. Read more »

Freedom in the World 2013

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The invaluable annual survey of freedom by Freedom House has just been released. Freedom In The World 2013 describes a year of gains and losses:

The findings of Freedom in the World 2013, the latest edition of Freedom House’s annual report on political rights and civil liberties, showed that more countries registered declines than exhibited gains over the course of 2012. This marks the seventh consecutive year in which countries with declines outnumbered those with improvements. Yet the number of countries ranked as Free increased by three, and now stands at 90, suggesting that the overall ferment includes a potential for progress as well as deterioration. Read more »

Time for Panetta to Visit Paris

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Foreign Policy reports that Secretary of Defense Panetta is in Europe: “The SecDef is wheels up from Lisbon this morning, headed for a day-stop in Madrid and then staying overnight in Rome. In Madrid, he will meet with the crown prince, the president, and the minister of defense, and he will hold his second press conference of the day, Situation Report is told. In Portugal, Panetta visited Air Base Lajes…. Panetta also visited Strike Force NATO, a U.S.-led command in Portugal that conducts maritime security operations.” Panetta is also scheduled to visit London. Read more »

Mali: Vive La France

by Elliott Abrams Monday, January 14, 2013

The French intervention in Mali deserves American applause and support, and thus far is getting both.

While regarded for many years as one of Africa’s model democracies, Mali had a weak central government and never seriously addressed the north-south regional conflict within the country. That conflict exploded last year, and the timing reflected the return home of Malians who had served in Qadhafi’s forces. They brought arms back with them and quickly overwhelmed Malian Defense Force (MDF) troops and captured most of the north. This humiliation for the MDF in turn contributed to a military coup that has left Mali with an even weaker government–and left it ineligible for American aid. Read more »

The Egyptian Constitutional Struggle

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, January 10, 2013

The struggle over Egypt’s new constitution is elucidated in a penetrating new analysis by Samuel Tadros entitled “What Is A Constitution Anyway?”

It is published by the Hudson Institute as part of its “Current Trends in Islamist Ideology” series and can be found here. Tadros is a Research Fellow at Hudson’s Center for Religious Freedom, and was a founder of the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth. Read more »