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 "Saudi Arabia"

Yemen and Gaza: Why the Different Reactions?

by Elliott Abrams

The Washington Post reported this today:

An airstrike killed dozens of people Monday at a camp for displaced people in northern Yemen, in what appeared to be the single deadliest attack since a Saudi ­Arabia-led coalition sent warplanes to target Shiite insurgents advancing across the country. Read more »

The al-Saud Do It Again

by Elliott Abrams

In 2001 to 2003, after the 9/11 attacks, more and more analysts predicted the demise of the House of al-Saud. I recall classified intelligence analyses saying this, and a good example of the journalism of the time is “The Fall of the House of Saud” by Robert Baer (a former intelligence officer) in The Atlantic. The last line of that piece was “sometime soon, one way or another, the House of Saud is coming down.” Read more »

The Gaza War and the Feeble PA

by Elliott Abrams

The Gaza war took a new turn today, when Hamas violated a cease-fire in order to kill and capture IDF soldiers. The reasonable conclusion to draw is that Hamas’s agreement to the cease-fire was a ruse, meant to give them this opportunity.

That action has several effects beyond destroying the cease-fire itself and prolonging the war. It certainly solidifies Israeli public backing for the war, which was extremely high anyway. The nature of the enemy is made even clearer. The contemptible nature of so much of the criticism of Israel around the world is also made clearer, coming from voices that appear indifferent to the nature and conduct of Hamas, to Israeli deaths, and to the deaths of Arabs anywhere else—in Syria, for example—as long as Jews are not responsible for those deaths and if there’s no opportunity to criticize Israel. 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 »

Kerry Foreign Policy: Does the United States Stand for Anything at All?

by Elliott Abrams

Does the United States stand for anything at all? Do we have a view about, say, slavery, or child prostitution, or the stoning of gays?

What  should be a ridiculous question is raised by Secretary of State Kerry’s offensive obeisance to the Saudis yesterday when visiting Riyadh. Here is the AP story: Read more »

“Plotting to Celebrate Christmas”

by Elliott Abrams

Here’s a non-celebratory story for the new year, from the newspaper Al Akhbar on December 27:

Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said. Read more »

Generational Change in Saudi Arabia

by Elliott Abrams
Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef salute during a Saudi special forces graduation ceremony near Riyadh September 25, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed) Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef salute during a Saudi special forces graduation ceremony near Riyadh September 25, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed)

Since the death of modern Saudi Arabia’s founder in 1953, the kingdom has been led by his sons–serving as kings, crown princes, and cabinet ministers. The crown has been passed from brother to brother, not from father to son.

Obviously this system has an inherent and incurable flaw: men grow old. The current king is about 90 and his surviving brothers are mostly in their 80s or 70s–and not all are viewed as eligible for the throne. Some have personal “issues” such as poor health, a pattern of unreliability, or a mother who did not come from a favored Saudi tribe. Yet even as the brothers aged no member of the next generation, grandsons of the founder, has ever been elevated to membership in the cabinet and leadership of a ministry. Until now. Read more »

Shia Unrest in Saudi Arabia

by Elliott Abrams

Though there is not much Western reporting yet on this phenomenon, Shia unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province appears to be growing.

Two recent reports, including interesting amateur films of demonstrations and some violence, can be found in this Arab web site and buried in the New York Times here. The key question is whether the unrest is over or will spread among Saudi Shia. Read more »