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 "Persian Gulf"

Danger Ahead in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

It has been a while since I wrote about Bahrain, because I’ve always been hopeful that this or that piece of bad news was transitory and that reason would prevail. I’m losing hope.

The basic situation has been clear for several years: the majority of the population, which is Shia, feels deprived of political rights by the royal family, which is Sunni. There have been several efforts to come up with a compromise, especially after the “Arab Spring” began in 2o11. But as The Economist wrote last December, “Human-rights organisations warn that the situation is deteriorating. Two years after an even-handed report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry—a laudable effort by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa—few of its recommendations have been implemented.” That article was entitled “Trouble Ahead: the government is poisoning the well.” Sure enough, the so-called “national dialogue” launched in February 2013 got nowhere and was suspended in January 2014. Read more »

Our New Ally Iran?

by Elliott Abrams

Will the crisis in Iraq lead to a rapprochement with Iran? Will the effort to strike a nuclear deal expand into a broader agreement?

That is the nightmare of many of our allies in the Middle East, including the Gulf Arab states, Jordan, and Israel. My colleague Max Boot in his blog today explains why it is a dangerous idea to think that we have common interests with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.  At the Commentary Magazine web site, Max has written “Getting Fooled by Iran in Iraq.” Here is an excerpt: Read more »

The Case of the Phony Fatwa

by Elliott Abrams

It’s common knowledge that Iran’s “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei, has issued a fatwa banning the possession of nuclear weapons.

This “fact” has recently been cited by President Obama and by Secretary of State Kerry. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, the President said
Read more »

Due Process in Bahrain?

by Elliott Abrams

A week ago, a Bahraini “National Safety Court” sentenced a group of doctors and nurses to lengthy sentences for their activities in February and March. Eight doctors got fifteen-year sentences for what they and their defenders said was simply tending to demonstrators who had been injured. These sentences and others suggested that the royal family had decided to forget about compromises and seek only to crush dissent. Read more »

The Successor to Prince Saud?

by Elliott Abrams

An interesting royal decree from Saudi Arabia this past week suggests who may finally succeed Saud bin Faisal as foreign minister.

Saud, son of the late King Faisal (who ruled 1964-1975) has been foreign minister for thirty-five years. Appointed at the age of thirty-four, he is the world’s longest-serving foreign minister and a sharp player. But now Saud is ill (Parkinson’s among other ailments), and has several times asked to retire. There has for years been a guessing game as to who might succeed him: his brother, Turki, former Saudi Intelligence chief and once their ambassador to Washington? But Turki did not get good reviews back home for his performance here, and does not have the reputation his older brother enjoys. The current ambassador here, Adel al-Jubeir? But he is not a member of the royal family, which has been a prerequisite. Might the job be given out as part of succession deal among the rival clans in the royal family after the death of King Abdallah (who is eighty-seven years old according to official accounts but may be older, and is also not in perfect health)? Read more »

Can Bahrain Save Itself?

by Elliott Abrams

The first real glimmers of positive news emerged from Bahrain in the last two days. The king lifted the state of emergency on June 1. He then called for “all necessary steps to prepare for a serious dialogue, comprehensive and without preconditions” that would “start from July 1,” and sent the interior minister to meet that same day with opposition parties. Those parties have now responded positively; the main group, al Wefaq, said it “welcomes the appeal from King Hamad for a serious, comprehensive dialogue based on the principle of national consensus.” Read more »