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"

Hezbollah, Syria, and the Brezhnev Doctrine

by Elliott Abrams
During the Cold War the Soviets pronounced the “Brezhnev Doctrine,” under which no state that was in the Soviet camp would be permitted to leave it. This is my topic in an article in the new edition of The Weekly Standard, entitled “The Brezhnev Doctrine, Iran-style.” Now the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has enunciated his intentions with great clarity, as the New York Times reports: 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 »

Syria: Greetings From Hezbollah

by Elliott Abrams

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke about Syria on Tuesday, and it is fair to say that he is not intimidated by American policy. The Nasrallah speech is a reminder that use of chemical weapons is not the only issue we face in Syria; the intervention of Iranian IRGC and Hezbollah troops is another. Read more »

Syria, Iran, and American Credibility

by Elliott Abrams

The probable chemical weapons use by the Assad regime in Syria and the Obama administration’s handling of this matter have many negative repercussions.

It is certainly wise to look closely at the evidence, for intelligence can be and often has proved to be wrong. But the refusal of the intelligence community (IC) to state a conclusion with absolute certainty cannot always be the best guide to action–or inaction. In the case of the Syrian nuclear reactor discovered by Israel in 2007, the IC told the president that it had “low confidence” that reactor was part of a nuclear weapons program. Why? The reactor was not connected to Syria’s electric grid, so it was obviously not meant to produce electricity. What else could it be? The IC said they could not find, yet anyway, the rest of the program: efforts to build a warhead, for example. Thus the “low confidence” judgment. When asked what they thought the reactor was, they would say “part of a nuclear weapons program.” That was the only logical conclusion. But they could not say it as an official assessment. Once burnt in Iraq, twice shy. That was one reason President Bush did not act against that reactor, leaving any action to the Israelis–who fortunately destroyed it. Read more »

What To Do About Syria

by Elliott Abrams

The continuing, and worsening, crisis in Syria leaves some analysts confused and their writing not very useful. The best guide to what is happening, and what the United States should do, is the writing of Fred Hof of the Atlantic Council. Hof was until last year a key figure in the making of American policy toward Syria, though we can see from his analyses that all too often his excellent advice was rejected by the Obama Administration. Read more »

The Permanent Reprehensive

by Elliott Abrams
Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York April 21, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Allison Joyce). Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York April 21, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Allison Joyce).

As I wrote in this blog earlier today, the ambassador– or “Permanent Representative,” to use the correct UN language–of Syria was recently elected to a position in the UN Special Committee on Decolonization. Read more »

American Humanitarian Aid in Syria: Too Little, Too Late, Too Much to Assad

by Elliott Abrams

Today’s Washington Post reports that

The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide rebels there with equipment such as body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly military training, and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition. Read more »