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 "Middle East"

Obama, the EU, Brexit, and Syria

by Elliott Abrams

President Obama has been in Europe this week. In the U.K., he told the Brits not to think of leaving the E.U. In Germany, he said that

So this is a defining moment. And what happens on this continent has consequences for people around the globe. If a unified, peaceful, liberal, pluralistic, free-market Europe begins to doubt itself, begins to question the progress that’s been made over the last several decades, then we can’t expect the progress that is just now taking hold in many places around the world will continue. Instead, we will be empowering those who argue that democracy can’t work, that intolerance and tribalism and organizing ourselves along ethnic lines, and authoritarianism and restrictions on the press — that those are the things that the challenges of today demand. Read more »

Biden’s Untimely Assault on Israel

by Elliott Abrams

Yesterday, Israel was assaulted twice: once by terrorists, and once by the Vice President of the United States.

The physical attack was in Jerusalem, where a bomb injured 21 people in a bus, several of them seriously.

On the very same day, the VP addressed the group called J Street and shared with it not solidarity with Israelis under attack but–with remarkable timing–a rhetorical attack on the government of Israel. 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 »

The Erdogan Visit to Washington

by Elliott Abrams

To welcome Turkey’s President Erdogan to Washington, a group of several dozen former officials, foreign policy analysts, and academics have written him an open letter. The letter can be found here, and signatories include two former U.S. ambassadors to Turkey and two former U.S. senators, in whose company I am happy to find myself. Read more »

The President Gratuitously Damages American Alliances

by Elliott Abrams

American alliances are not in good shape these days, with many countries worrying that President Obama does not value the alliances, their own role in those alliances, or the commitments our alliances imply to the safety of states that are to some degree dependent on the United States. 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 »

The Syria “Cease Fire”

by Elliott Abrams

The Syrian American Council last week distributed a memorandum, whose full text is below, about the new cease fire that has been negotiated between John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov, and other parties. The Council, speaking on behalf of a number of Syrian groups that oppose both jihadis and Assad, found the agreement wanting, and explained why. 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 »