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.

Kerry’s Fantasy Egypt

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Under Secretary of State for “Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights,”  Sarah Sewall, is today in Egypt. She might as well have stayed home.

Because today, Secretary of State Kerry did a joint press appearance with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and showed that he has zero interest in “Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights” in Egypt. Read more »

Iran’s Ruthless Persecution of the Baha’i Continues

by Elliott Abrams Monday, February 8, 2016

The vicious persecution of Iran’s Baha’i community continued this past week. A court sentenced 24 Baha’i to prison sentences of up to 11 years. These are heavy sentences even by Iranian standards.

Their crime? Being Baha’i, and nothing more. The court made not even a pretense that they had committed acts of violence or otherwise broken the law. Their faith has been criminalized in the Islamic Republic. Read more »

Castro Mocks the American Outreach

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 5, 2016

The efforts of the Obama administration to ‘normalize’ relations with Cuba have been mocked this past week.

The U.S. Southern Command holds an annual regional security conference. For decades one of its main purposes was to protect the region against Cuba, but this time the Obama administration made sure that Cuba was invited to attend. The conference was held at the very end of January. Read more »

The “Stabbing Intifada” Gets Worse (But Not on CBS)

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 4, 2016

The stabbing attacks that have plagued Israel in the last several months have generally been “lone wolf” attacks. That is, as bad as the attacks were, they have been actions by single individuals. Yesterday that situation changed.

In Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate to the Old City, three Palestinians attacked when they were approached by border police, killing an 18 year old border policewoman and wounding another. The three terrorists were armed not only with knives, but also with automatic weapons and explosive devices. It seems obvious they were planning a larger event, with many fatalities. So this was no lone wolf attack, but a planned conspiracy to inflict mass casualties. Read more »

World’s Largest Payoff

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, January 27, 2016

World’s largest payoff? Not really.

In Malaysia, hundreds of millions of dollars turned up in the personal bank accounts of prime minister Najib Razak. The facts appeared to suggest that the money had been siphoned off from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment fund. Not coincidentally, the prime minister was also finance minister and the chief advisor to 1MDB. The affair has rocked Malaysian politics. Read more »

Two Anniversaries, But No Democracies

by Elliott Abrams Monday, January 25, 2016

Today, January 25, 2016 is the fifth anniversary of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and the tenth anniversary of the Palestinian legislative elections that were won by Hamas.

In both cases high hopes were crushed by events. Egypt today is more repressive than it was under Mubarak, and Palestine is divided between Gaza, ruled by Hamas without a scintilla of democratic practice, and the West Bank, ruled by Fatah just as it was when Yasser Arafat lived. Read more »

The Iran Nuclear Agreement and Reform in Iran

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It was widely assumed that with the end of sanctions, Iran would “join the world” and become a less repressive state. To take just one example, the Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo argued in Huffington Post that the nuclear deal created “the opportunity for Iranian civic actors to enable and empower Iran’s civil society space” and “help the country to become more open, transparent and susceptible to international pressure on issues like the death penalty and the imprisonment of civic actors in Iran.” Last summer Reuters carried this story: “Iranian pro-democracy activists, lawyers and artists have thrown their weight behind last month’s nuclear deal with world powers, hoping it will lead to a promised political opening that President Hassan Rouhani has so far failed to deliver.” Read more »