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.

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Showing posts for "Democracy and Human Rights"

“To You, the Court, I Have Nothing to Say”

by Elliott Abrams

In July 1978, the Soviet dissident Anatoly Sharansky was sentenced in a Soviet court for the “crimes” of teaching Hebrew, seeking emigration to Israel, and being part of the human rights movement in Moscow. He was charged with treason and espionage for these activities. His speech to the court is rightly famous: Read more »

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

by Elliott Abrams

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 »

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

by Elliott Abrams

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 »

Huber Matos, R.I.P.

by Elliott Abrams
Photo: By Gabematos35 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Photo: By Gabematos35 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Huber Matos, a great hero of the struggle for freedom in Cuba died today at age 95.

Matos was a revolutionary comandante in the Cuban revolution, a leader of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship. He later broke with Fidel Castro when it became apparent that Castro was fighting for personal power and for a communist system, not for freedom. For this, Castro had him imprisoned for twenty years, from 1959 to 1979, and he described the maltreatment, brutality, and torture to which he was subjected in his memoir Como Llego La Noche (How The Night Came). Read more »

Algeria, Young and Old

by Elliott Abrams

The median age of the Algerian population is 27 years, and 46 percent of the population is under the age of 24. But its president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is 76 years old, and is now set to take another five-year term that will have him in office at age 80. And Mr. Bouteflika is already suffering from poor health that has led him to spend months on end in France for medical treatment. Read more »

Push Polls and Cuba

by Elliott Abrams

You can’t always get what you want, the Rolling Stones once told us. But you can, actually, in a push poll: a poll designed to elicit a certain result and then advertised as achieving that result.

This past week the Atlantic Council released a poll it had sponsored about U.S. relations with Cuba. Here’s one key aspect of the poll: When respondents were told “Cuba continues to have a dismal human rights record. The Castro regime represses virtually all forms of political dissent through detentions, arbitrary arrests, beatings, travel restrictions, forced exile, and sentencing dissidents in closed trials,” we find that 33 percent this was a “very important” reason to keep the current U.S. policy and 17 percent said it’s “somewhat important,” for a total of 50 percent. And 43 percent the human rights abuses make it somewhat important or very important to change the policy. Read more »

“Soft Bigotry,” Secretary Kerry, and the PLO

by Elliott Abrams

Secretary of State Kerry continues to press forward in his negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians, seeking some sort of “framework” document that would be an acceptable basis for future negotiations. We’ve been here before: the “Roadmap” of 2003 was supposed to provide such a basis and was accepted–with reservations–by both sides. My guess is that Kerry will succeed, if success is defined as keeping both sides at the table. Read more »

The EU’s Mrs. Ashton and the Invisible Jews

by Elliott Abrams

It’s becoming a habit. The EU’s “foreign minister,” High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, cannot seem to see Jews or anti-Semitism or to pronounce the word “Jew.”

In 2012 a terrorist murdered three Jewish children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France. Mrs. Ashton issued a statement saying that “When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world, we remember young people and children who lose their lives.” It was beyond her to acknowledge what had just happened: the murder of Jewish children in Europe for the crime of being Jewish. Read more »

Egypt’s Referendum

by Elliott Abrams

Egypt’s constitutional referendum this week should be no cause for celebration. It was not free and fair; the turnout did not suggest a consensus among Egyptians; and the future stability of Egypt is in doubt.

According to the Egyptian authorities, turnout was 38.6 percent,  and 98.1 percent of those Egyptians who voted said yes. The 98 percent figure should give anyone pause. If it is accurate, it’s obvious that everyone opposed to the new constitution stayed away–hardly a reliable basis for political stability and consensus. That more than 60 percent of Egyptians did not vote, despite a huge campaign by the government, is not reassuring either. Read more »