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 "Egypt"

The Danger to Scholars

by Elliott Abrams

I’m a proud co-signer of an open letter defending some of America’s most impressive scholars against Middle Eastern dictators who are trying to keep them out and shut them up. The title is “Open letter on the hostility of Middle Eastern governments and media to foreign researchers and journalists,” and it can be found here (with a full list of signers) and below. Read more »

Another Defense of Sisi Down the Drain

by Elliott Abrams

Defenders of Egypt’s President Sisi have long claimed that he was a protector of that country’s beleaguered Christian minority. Roughly ten percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians, and they suffer not only discrimination but repeated physical attacks (that the authorities do not fully investigate and do not punish). Moreover, for decades they have been refused permission to repair old churches or build new ones. Read more »

Israel and Saudi Arabia: Good Neighbor Policy

by Elliott Abrams

The recent announcement that Egypt was returning control over Tiran and Sanafir islands in the Gulf of Aqaba to Saudi Arabia has gotten some attention, but deserves more. It is a moment that reveals much about current Middle Eastern politics.

In 1950 the Saudis transferred control, but in their view never sovereignty, over the islands to Egypt to protect them from what it claimed was the threat of an Israeli takeover. During a visit to Egypt by King Salman this past week, control was transferred back. (There is a reasonably fierce debate in Egypt over whether in fact President Sisi has unconstitutionally abandoned sovereign territory– or anyway as fierce as debates can be given repression and censorship in Egypt.) Read more »

President Sisi and the Status of Christians in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams

There are a lot of fans of Egypt’s President Sisi nowadays in Washington, who argue that he is fighting terrorism and deserves American support.

Those fans ought to be aware of the ongoing persecution of Christians, which Sisi could act strongly to prevent–but does not. A very good example is the case of four Christian teenagers who have just been convicted under Egypt’s “blasphemy” laws–and sentenced to five years in prison, the maximum penalty. Read more »

Abandoning Human Rights in Egypt Will Not Produce Stability

by Elliott Abrams

In Congressional testimony yesterday, Secretary of State Kerry was challenged on administration efforts to abandon human rights in Egypt. As the law reads today, the administration must withhold a certain amount of U.S. aid to Egypt unless it can certify human rights progress, and even the withheld amount can be granted with a “national security waiver,” but the administration wants all connections between human rights and our aid program severed. Read more »

Kerry’s Fantasy Egypt

by Elliott Abrams

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 »

Is President Sisi a Bulwark Against Terrorism?

by Elliott Abrams

There are very few people nowadays ignoring the growing repression in Egypt. Most recently, a new “counter-terrorism” law was imposed this week–but it snuffs out free speech more than terror. Even the State Department denounced the law: “We are concerned that some measures in Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law could have a significant detrimental impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms,” its spokesman said. The new law punishes as a crime the publication of information that differs with the official version of facts about terrorism, which means you agree with Sisi or you go to jail. Read more »