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"

“Pantomime of Outrage:” Obama and Syria

by Elliott Abrams

I’ve called attention to the writings on Syria of Amb. Fred Hof in several blog posts (here’s one). Hof, after a career in the U.S. Army, became the State Department’s resident expert on Syria and the Obama administration’s “Special Adviser” on Syria policy. He left the administration and joined the Atlantic Council, where he continues to write about  Syria. Read more »

Did Mahmoud Abbas Just Resign?

by Elliott Abrams

There’s a bit of confusion about the recent “resignation” of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. What actually happened?

Abbas wears three hats, as his predecessor and mentor Yasser Arafat did: head of the Fatah Party, president of the Palestinian Authority, and chairman of the PLO. Abbas just organized the resignation of ten members of the PLO Executive Committee, including himself, and he resigned as its chairman. The purpose is not to walk away, go home, and retire, but to force a meeting of the PLO’s “legislative body,” the Palestine National Council, to elect a new Executive Committee. This will allow Abbas to push off the Committee individuals whom he doesn’t like or who are political opponents of his. 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 »

Europe Goes Back to the “Peace Process”

by Elliott Abrams

Syria is coming apart and there are millions of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. ISIS threatens Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq– which is also coming apart. The new Iran nuclear deal would deliver $150 billion in cash to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the removal of sanctions will bring even more money to the Revolutionary Guards. ISIS and other jihadis are increasingly active in Sinai. Hamas has a firm grip on Gaza. Read more »

Iran’s War in Syria

by Elliott Abrams

The war in Syria is becoming increasingly an Iranian war rather than a civil war.

Consider this new report by Now Lebanon, entitled “Syria Alawites reportedly clash with regime, Iran troops.” Two facts are striking. First, the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad is having enormous trouble recruiting Alawite youths to join the military. It has long been said that the Alawite community is his base and will fight for him, if only out of fear that if the regime falls they will pay the price when Sunnis attack Alawites. But more and more Alawites, it seems, do not wish to risk their lives for Assad. This should not be quite so surprising, because only the Alawite upper classes benefitted financially from the regime (and some became millionaires and even billionaires), while many Alawites remained in poverty. Read more »

Obama on Iran and Syria: See No Evil

by Elliott Abrams

The slaughter in Syria and the awful human rights violations in Iran cannot be denied by the Obama administration, but they sure can be downplayed and ignored.

On the Iran point, consider the release yesterday, four months late, of the State Department’s annual human rights reports. The reports were presented by Secretary of State Kerry and Assistant Secretary for human rights Tom Malinowski.  The Iran report is tough. Here’s an excerpt: Read more »

IMF Realism About the West Bank and Gaza

by Elliott Abrams

In the aftermath of the last round of conflict between Israel and Hamas, in the summer of 2014, many donors made big pledges of aid for Gaza at a special conference in Cairo. And many haven’t paid up.

This is one conclusion that emerges in the newest IMF report on the Palestinian economy, dated May 18, 2015. It is a report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the donor group that meets to coordinate aid. In the report the IMF decries “shortfalls in donor aid relative to Cairo pledges.” The IMF notes that “the reconstruction process in Gaza is moving far more slowly than expected,” and one big reason is “unfilled donor pledges.” Because the United States has met its pledges, it seems likely that the unmet pledges are from Arab donors—or to be more precise, from Arab non-donors. Read more »