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"

Palestinians From Syria: The Worst Treatment of All

by Elliott Abrams

There are over 500,000 Palestinian “refugees” in Syria, as counted by the UN agency handling Palestinian “refugees,” the UN Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA. The quotation marks are especially apt in this case, for the great majority of the “refugees” were born in Syria and have lived there all their lives. Only under UNRWA’s definitions of “refugee” (Palestinians who left what is now Israel in 1948, and all of their descendants until the end of time) would they qualify. 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 »

Syria: The (Non-Chemical) Killing Goes On

by Elliott Abrams

The emphasis on the need to stop the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons is understandable. We all want to maintain the international taboo on their use.

But people killed by the Assad regime are no less dead if more traditional means of attack are used. Yesterday, Assad’s forces bombed a field hospital in the province of Aleppo. The vast majority of the 100,000 (or many more) Syrians killed have been killed by bullets and artillery. A “solution” that forces Assad to give up using chemical weapons but does not address the regime’s campaign against civilians–which has also left 2 million Syrians as refugees and millions more as displaced persons–is no solution at all. As Fred Hof (formerly the administration’s chief expert on Syria) wrote today, Read more »

Degrading Bashar’s Air Power is Possible

by Elliott Abrams

Is there anything the United States can do to slow or stop the recent advances being made by Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, who are getting valuable help from Iranian and Hezbollah troops?

Unfortunately, the message from the Obama administration and from the Pentagon is “no.” From those sources we hear that the only military options are hopelessly expensive and dangerous. CJCS chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey once said 700 sorties would be needed before we even start, to suppress Syrian air defenses, and billions of dollars would be spent. Sen. John McCain has rightly excoriated Gen. Dempsey and the others who are taking this misleading line. Read more »

Syria and the 700 Sorties

by Elliott Abrams

Yesterday the columnist Jeffrey Goldberg reported that Secretary of State Kerry argued, inside the Obama administration, for air strikes on Syrian regime air bases, especially those from which chemical weapons attacks were launched. Here is Goldberg’s account of a Principals’ Meeting last week, after Kerry made his pitch: Read more »

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 »