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.

Praise the Lord and Pass the MREs

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It’s getting to be a habit. For the Ukrainians facing Russian aggression, we shipped MREs: meals ready to eat.

For Syrian rebels facing Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and Assad’s armed forces, we are shipping ambulances and medical kits. To be more exact, Foreign Policy reports that “The State Department is about to begin delivering tens of millions of dollars worth of new assistance into Syria, including ambulances, communications gear and Toyota pickup trucks for the country’s beleaguered rebels. The so-called non-lethal assistance effort for rebels has included buses and pickup trucks, blankets, 550,000 packaged military meals and, just last month, about 1,000 medical kits.” Read more »

Still Vacant: The Post of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In January, I noted the vacancy in the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. As I wrote then,

When the Obama administration began, the post of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom was vacant. This post, at the State Department, was established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 because Congress wanted State, and the entire Executive Branch, to pay more attention to the issue of religious freedom. (The act also established the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, of which I am a  member.) Read more »

The President Ignores Human Rights in Iran–Again

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, March 20, 2014

Yesterday President Obama delivered his “Nowruz” message to Iran, on the occasion of that annual holiday. From the human rights perspective it is an appalling message. Ostensibly a message not just to Iran’s rulers but to its people, it lauds last year’s election of Rouhani as if that had been a democratic election and he the free choice of Iranians. The President makes one reference to the miserable human rights conditions in Iran, when he says “A comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue—and an Iran that upholds universal rights, at home and abroad—would help move Iran along the new path that so many Iranians seek.” It isn’t even clear in this formulation –and may not be clear to Iranians– whether he is referring to universal rights related to nuclear energy or to human rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other documents. Once again, he refuses to use the term “human rights” when those are the precious rights Iranians seek, deserve, and are denied by the regime. Read more »

“Atrocity Prevention is a Core National Security Interest for the United States”

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Over in Geneva, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall gave a speech yesterday to the United Nations Human Rights Council. It’s available at the State Department web site under the title noted above.  Here is an excerpt. Read more »

Ukraine and Iran

by Elliott Abrams Saturday, March 1, 2014

Today’s news from Ukraine is grim. It’s increasingly clear that Putin believes he has an opportunity to move in the Crimea, and perhaps to take eastern portions of Ukraine for Russia, while destabilizing the new government in Kiev. So far the American reaction has been pathetically weak: a few words from Kerry and Obama but no action. Not even diplomatic action like a UN Security Council session or a meeting of the NATO Council, or a Kerry visit to Kiev. Read more »