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.

The Permanent Reprehensive

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 28, 2013
Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York April 21, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Allison Joyce). Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York April 21, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Allison Joyce).

As I wrote in this blog earlier today, the ambassador– or “Permanent Representative,” to use the correct UN language–of Syria was recently elected to a position in the UN Special Committee on Decolonization. Read more »

The United Nations Elevates Syria and Sudan

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 28, 2013

It is always a mistake to conclude, after some untoward event at the United Nations, that the bottom has been reached. Just in the past few weeks there have been two new events that suggest there is no bottom.

First, the ambassador of Sudan was elected at the end of January as a Vice-President of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). If this was not bad enough, the President of ECOSOC (Amb. Osorio of Colombia) issued the following organizational statement on February 12: Read more »

American Humanitarian Aid in Syria: Too Little, Too Late, Too Much to Assad

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today’s Washington Post reports that

The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide rebels there with equipment such as body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly military training, and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition. Read more »

Europe and Hamas

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 22, 2013

The London newspaper Al Hayat carried a story on February 21 about the intentions of EU states to support Hamas participation in a Palestinian “national unity government.”

It seems that “the European boycott of the Palestinian Government formed by Hamas after winning the 2006 elections will not be repeated,”  according to someone described as a “senior European diplomat.” France and Britain want to relaunch the “peace process,” and this time “on a new basis and without preconditions.”  The diplomat is quoted as saying “today there exists an international consensus on the need for the establishment of a Palestinian State….we welcome the entry of Hamas into the PLO and the fact that it accepted the PLO charter.” Read more »

Are Iran Sanctions Working?

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 21, 2013

It’s a commonplace to say that sanctions against Iran are tighter than ever and are working. Here’s an example from White House spokesman Jay Carney last Fall: “We have diplomatic isolation and international isolation that’s unprecedented in history and it’s having a profound impact on both the Iranian economy and the Iranian regime’s internal political structure.” Read more »

Egyptian Realities

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, February 17, 2013

It would be far easier to understand Egypt if the trend lines pointed up or down, rather than presenting an immensely complex picture. But consider two groups of issues: relations with Hamas, and respect for human rights.

It was reasonable to assume that a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt would be very much more accommodating to Hamas than the Mubarak regime had been–and Hamas so assumed. But in the last week we have seen two striking decisions by the Morsi government and the Egyptian military. First, they have once again refused to allow Hamas to open an office in Cairo. The Jerusalem Post reported as follows: Read more »

Is Insulting the President a Crime: Ramallah This Time

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 8, 2013

On January 23, I did a blog post here noting that in his short time in power Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi had 24 times had people jailed for the “crime” of “insulting the president.” My comment then was that “This is a striking example of the way in which Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are ruling Egypt, and should give pause to those who believe the Brotherhood can be won over to a belief in democracy and respect for human rights.” Read more »

Egypt’s Economic Woes

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 8, 2013
100 Egyptian Pound Note August 14, 2007 (Courtesy FLICKR/David P.) 100 Egyptian Pound Note August 14, 2007 (Courtesy FLICKR/David P.)

The political troubles in Egypt would be daunting even in a situation of economic growth and financial stability. But the current data suggest there is far more trouble ahead.

Egypt’s currency has fallen again in value, to 6.720 to the dollar in an auction this week. The Egyptian pound has lost 8 percent of its value already this year. In January, Egypt’s reserves dropped to a 15-year low of $13.6 billion dollars. As the Financial Times pointed out, “Reserves have fallen by $23bn in the two years since the start of the Egyptian revolution.” Because Egypt is a large importer of food and petroleum, the lack of foreign currency reserves is a great problem. The FT continues: “the Egyptian government’s hopes are pinned on securing a long-awaited $4.8bn loan from the IMF, who are due to visit Egypt again in the coming weeks. The problems remain the same: the IMF want unpopular reforms; the government is struggling to restore order on the streets. A swift conclusion to the deal is far from guaranteed.” Read more »