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 "Russia"

Egypt Ends the Year With Prison Sentences

by Elliott Abrams

On December 18, Egyptian security forces raided the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), a leading think tank.  The timing is extraordinary, because foreign diplomats and human rights activists were still in town after the December 16-17 meeting of the “Forum for the Future.”  The Forum was a G-8 Initiative established during the Bush years to promote closer cooperation between governments and civil society organizations in the Middle East, and thereby help promote human rights and democracy. The full story is told by Michele Dunne and Amy Hawthorne here. Read more »

Electing the New UN Human Rights Council

by Elliott Abrams

Next week, on November 12, new members of the UN Human Rights Council will be elected. Among the candidates are nations that should never be allowed on the Council, and indeed whose presence will make the Council a mockery: Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, and Vietnam. Read more »

The Syria Deal

by Elliott Abrams

The text of the framework agreement between the United States and Russia leaves one with more questions than answers.

Until last week Syria denied having any chemical weapons, so its willingness to account for 100% of them is, to say the least, in doubt. Secretary Kerry himself said, when he first mentioned a possible deal, that it couldn’t work. And our partner in this endeavor, Russia, has itself failed to meet all its obligations with respect to chemical weapons. Worse, it remains the key conventional weapons supplier to Syria. Read more »

Life in Putinland

by Elliott Abrams

As we watch the Snowden (NSA leaker) episode unfold in Moscow, it is worth recalling the backdrop to Vladimir Putin’s defense of the rule of law in Russia.

Yesterday Putin told the media that Snowden was in transit and thus never admitted to Russia, and anyway Russia has no legal authority to extradite him. Speaking of Snowden and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, Putin added that “Assange and Snowden consider themselves human rights activists and say they are fighting for the spread of information. Ask yourself this: should you hand these people over so they will be put in prison?” 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 »

Syria, Russia, and American Weakness

by Elliott Abrams

On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin showed his contempt for the United States by making our secretary of state wait three hours to see him. It is an unprecedented and unheard-of insult.

But the background makes this insult less startling. Kerry was in Moscow to plead for Russian help in sorting out the administration’s terrible dilemma in Syria. President Obama does not wish to intervene but the humanitarian toll–75,000 killed since he said in the summer of 2011 that Assad must go–and the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria make that position increasingly indefensible. We may not want some sort of proxy war in Syria but Iran and Hezbollah do. And their presence has helped attract some 6,000 Sunni jihadis, whose presence destabilizes not only Syria today but potentially several other countries tomorrow. Read more »

For Peace in Syria, Assad Must Go First

by Elliott Abrams
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus December 24, 2012 in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Brahimi met with Assad in Damascus on Monday to discuss a solution to the country's 21-month-old conflict. (Courtesy REUTERS/Sana). Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus December 24, 2012 in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Brahimi met with Assad in Damascus on Monday to discuss a solution to the country's 21-month-old conflict. (Courtesy REUTERS/Sana).

With 45,000 or more Syrians dead at the hands of Bashar al Assad and his “security forces,” it should be obvious that any conclusion to the current civil war must include his departure from power as soon as possible.

But it isn’t obvious. Unsurprisingly Russia is trying to save him, and is pushing a “peace plan” that leaves him in place.  As the Washington Post reported today, Russia is still promoting a plan, agreed in Geneva when Kofi Annan was the UN envoy, that might save Assad: Read more »

This Week’s Elections

by Elliott Abrams

The elections this week—February 27 in Senegal, March 2 in Iran, and March 4 in Russia—are reminders of the key role elections play in building democracy.

It has been fashionable for years to say “elections don’t mean democracy” or “elections should come at the end of the road, when democracy is firmly built.” Of course elections are only part of a truly democratic system, which must also include critical building blocks like freedom of expression and the rule of law. And of course elections held in a non-democratic system and run by a non-democratic regime will be highly imperfect and often flatly fraudulent. Read more »