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.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Egypt"

About Military Aid to Egypt

by Elliott Abrams
Egyptian military jets fly over Tahrir square as protesters who are against former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi gather, in Cairo July 7, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh) Egyptian military jets fly over Tahrir square as protesters who are against former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi gather, in Cairo July 7, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Should U.S. military aid to Egypt now be suspended, as the law appears to require when there has been a military coup?

My answer is yes. First, it should be clear that there was a coup: the Army overthrew an elected president, and did so without judicial or legislative justification. I discussed this at greater length last week in National Review. Second, we should follow our law and explain to the Egyptian military why we are doing so and what it means–and does not mean. Read more »

NGO Verdict in Cairo, Failure in Washington

by Elliott Abrams

Here is what happened in Cairo in the case of 43 NGO workers whose crime was to promote democracy in Egypt:

An Egyptian court on Tuesday convicted 43 nonprofit workers, including at least 16 Americans, of illegally using foreign funds to foment unrest in the country and sentenced them to up to five years in prison. Most of the Americans were sentenced in absentia because they had long left the country, including Sam LaHood, son of the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He received a five-year jail term…. Read more »

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

by Elliott Abrams
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) 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 »

The Egyptian Opposition: Not as Weak as Is Often Claimed

by Elliott Abrams

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 »

Middle East Diplomacy: Forgetting the Past

by Elliott Abrams

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 »

Is Egypt Broke?

by Elliott Abrams

That Egypt is encountering economic problems is no secret, but the gravity of the situation is being underestimated.

We know that the IMF negotiations with Egypt for a loan of $4.8 billion have dragged on month after month, and that the IMF team that was sent to conclude the deal left Egypt without doing so. On the other hand, Qatar and Libya agreed last week to increase aid to Egypt by $5 billion. And officially, Egypt claims to have about $16 billion in reserves. Read more »

Sandmonkey, Egypt, and the IMF

by Elliott Abrams

When I began this blog a little more than two years ago, one of the early posts was entitled “Free Sandmonkey.” Sandmonkey is the “nom de blog” of Mahmoud Salem, then Egypt’s most famous blogger, and he had that day in 2011 been “ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated, my car ripped apar& supplies taken,” as he informed his readers. He continues to be one of the most interesting and persuasive commentators on events in Egypt. Read more »

Egypt Outlaws Protests

by Elliott Abrams

The degree of freedom in Egypt is declining steadily, and took another large step downward yesterday with the adoption of a law limiting political protests.

The new law, adopted by the Shura Council, requires three days’ notice to the police for any demonstration of more than 20 people–and the notice must name the organizers of the demonstration. Moreover, demonstrators must keep 600 feet away from any government building–making them invisible to the officials in that building in many cases. The punishment for “harming citizens’ interests” or posing a risk to national security is a fine and possible jail time at hard labor, as the Egypt Independent reports. Terms like “harming citizens’ interests” are purposely vague enough to permit officials to act against any protests they find inconvenient. Read more »

Egyptian Realities

by Elliott Abrams

It would be far easier to understand Egypt if the trend lines pointed up or down, rather than presenting an immensely complex picture. But consider two groups of issues: relations with Hamas, and respect for human rights.

It was reasonable to assume that a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt would be very much more accommodating to Hamas than the Mubarak regime had been–and Hamas so assumed. But in the last week we have seen two striking decisions by the Morsi government and the Egyptian military. First, they have once again refused to allow Hamas to open an office in Cairo. The Jerusalem Post reported as follows: Read more »