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"

Abbas Spurns Rivlin’s Hand–and Peace

by Elliott Abrams

Since leaving the White House in January, 2009, I’ve been telling audiences that Palestinian president and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas will never, never sign a peace agreement with Israel–no matter what its content.

Those still in doubt might reflect on the events of this week. Abbas and Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, were both in Brussels, and European President Martin Schulz thought it would be nice to get them together. Rivlin’s post is ceremonial, but that’s all the more reason for a ceremonial gesture toward reconciliation. Abbas simply refused. Rabin could shake the hand of the terrorist Arafat, but Abbas could not shake the hand of the ex-parliamentarian, now president, Rivlin. Read more »

Bahrain Slips Further into Repression

by Elliott Abrams

The Project on Middle East Democracy sums up the week in Bahrain:

First, “A Bahraini court ordered the suspension of all activities by al-Wefaq, the island-nation’s largest opposition party. The Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry, which asked the court to issue the order, said al-Wefaq’s shuttering was needed to “safeguard the security of the kingdom….” Read more »

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 »