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.

Hezbollah, Syria, and the Brezhnev Doctrine

by Elliott Abrams Monday, May 27, 2013
During the Cold War the Soviets pronounced the “Brezhnev Doctrine,” under which no state that was in the Soviet camp would be permitted to leave it. This is my topic in an article in the new edition of The Weekly Standard, entitled “The Brezhnev Doctrine, Iran-style.” Now the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has enunciated his intentions with great clarity, as the New York Times reports: Read more »

Iran’s Presidential Candidates: Two Are Terrorist Suspects, One Boasts of Beating Students

by Elliott Abrams Friday, May 24, 2013

The disqualification of most of the men who sought to run in Iran’s presidential election has left a narrow field distinguished by allegations of involvement in terrorism and repression.

Both Mohsen Rezai and Ali Akbar Velayati are thought to have been involved in planning and approving 1994 attack on the Jewish community’s headquarters in Buenos Aires, an act of terror that killed 85 people. Rezai was the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard at the time of the attack and Velayati was Minister of Foreign Affairs. There is actually an Interpol warrant, a “Red Notice,” out for Rezai. Read more »

In Egypt, Obama Even Less Popular Than Bush Was: New Pew Poll

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, May 23, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010. (Courtesy REUTERS/Jason Reed)

There are many ways to measure the success of American foreign policy, and popularity is not necessarily the best one.

But when an administration and a president start out as Mr. Obama did, in essence reviling his predecessor’ policies in the Arab world and assuring Arabs that he had a new and better way, it is striking if the product is less popularity. Read more »

Is Algeria the Next Crisis?

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi (L) talks to Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Gaddafi coming to power, at the Green Square in Tripoli September 1, 2009. (Courtesy REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra) Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi (L) talks to Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Gaddafi coming to power, at the Green Square in Tripoli September 1, 2009. (Courtesy REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

As the “Arab Spring” swept the fake republics of North Africa–Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt–Algeria seemed immune. Media reports dwelled on its stability (see this 2011 BBC and this 2012 Deutsche Welle story). Read more »

Rafsanjani: “Moderate” or Terrorist?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, May 20, 2013

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has now declared his candidacy for president of Iran, and many Western media accounts suggest that he is the kind of “moderate” who could radically change Iran’s conduct and its relations with the United States.  The Guardian in London referred to him as “the 79-year-old moderate politician famous for his pragmatism.” The BBC says he is “seen as a moderate.” France 24 calls him “this pragmatic moderate.” The Associated Press refers to him as a “moderate former president.” There are many others examples. Read more »

Erasing Sykes-Picot

by Elliott Abrams Friday, May 17, 2013
Map of Sykes-Picot Agreement (Courtesy Wikipedia Commons/Rafy December 28, 2011).

Much has been written about whether the instability in Iraq, the warfare in Syria and the crises this causes for Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, the Kurdish drive for autonomy (at least) in Iraq and Turkey, will at some point combine to unravel the Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and England in 1916. Put another way, the question is whether the borders established in the context of the First World War will stick. Read more »

The Egyptian Opposition: Not as Weak as Is Often Claimed

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It is fashionable to claim that support for democracy in Egypt is a fool’s errand, given the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood and the weakness of the opposition. Both claims deserve skeptical analysis.

The newest polls tells us that President Mohamed Morsi’s popularity continues to decline. Today 47 percent of Egyptians say they are dissatisfied with his performance while 46 percent approve of it. Only 30 percent would today vote for him for president. Read more »

“Iran’s Lech Walesa” Driven Into Exile

by Elliott Abrams Friday, May 10, 2013

To be called “Iran’s Lech Walesa” probably very badly hurt Mansur Osanlu, head of the Tehran bus drivers’ union and the best known labor leader in Iran. The regime knows that a free labor movement is dangerous to its hold on power. So it was that Osanlu was jailed by the regime–and now has been forced into exile. Read more »

Middle East Diplomacy: Forgetting the Past

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 8, 2013

During Secretary of State Kerry’s visit to Moscow, it seems we have proposed an international conference on Syria as a step toward peace there. Here is the BBC version:

Russia and the US have agreed to work towards convening an international conference to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry announced it would follow on from an Action Group for Syria meeting in Geneva last June. Mr Kerry said they would try to “bring both sides to the table”. Read more »