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 "Syria"

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 »

Obama and Human Rights Violations: See No Evil?

by Elliott Abrams

Last week The Cable reported that

The U.S. State Department plans to cut its entire $500,000 in annual funding next year to an organization dedicated to sneaking into abandoned Syrian military bases, prisons, and government facilities to collect documents and other evidence linking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its proxies to war crimes and other mass atrocities…. Read more »

The Challenge of ISIS is Not Only Military

by Elliott Abrams

The military challenge posed by ISIS (or the “Islamic State”) is grave, as we have seen in both Syria and Iraq. It has destroyed the border between those two states and roams over both at will. It captured Mosul and threatens Baghdad; its forces defeated the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Pesh Merga easily in several battles. The threat was sufficient to force an extremely reluctant President Obama to pivot to the Middle East, use American forces, and work to build a coalition of states that would bomb the ISIS forces. Read more »

The Obama Speech About ISIS: Giving Himself An “A”

by Elliott Abrams

There is too much one could say about the President’s speech last night to fit in a blog post, but there are a couple of items worth noting.

I was struck by the President’s unacknowledged turnaround on the Syrian rebels. Just weeks ago, the notion that they might be worth helping was a “fantasy.” Here is an excerpt from the Thomas Friedman interview of August 10th, just a month ago. Read more »

On Attacking the “Islamic State” in Syria

by Elliott Abrams

The threat to the United States and to American interests from the “Islamic State” is now obvious and has been acknowledged by President Obama and his entire administration. The Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security have stated that there is a threat to the homeland, and the President has spoken about the brutality of this group in commenting on its beheading of the American journalist James Foley. 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 »

Assad Still Using Chemical Weapons–and the United States Does Nothing

by Elliott Abrams

Last September, 2013, after President Obama changed his mind at the last minute about attacking the Assad regime to punish it for the use of sarin gas, the United States entered into an agreement with Russia that was supposed to get all chemical weapons out of Syria and prevent a recurrence of these war crimes. Read more »