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 "U.S. foreign policy"

Cuba: More Political Prisoners, But the New U.S. Policy Marches Onward

by Elliott Abrams

There are more Cuban political prisoners  today than on the day President Obama announced his deal with the Castro brothers, December 17.

Part of that deal was supposed to see 53 Cuban political prisoners released, but now it’s three weeks later and they have not been released. Nor have they even been identified. As the Washington Post put it in a headline, “Mystery surrounds 53 Cuban political prisoners supposed to be set free.” Instead of releasing them, the Cuban regime has in fact arrested more dissidents, two weeks after the Obama speech and just before New Year’s. Read more »

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill and Payments for Terrorists

by Elliott Abrams

The Omnibus Appropriations bill recently passed by Congress contains an interesting provision regarding the support for terrorists and their families by the Palestinian Authority:

The Secretary of State shall reduce the amount of assistance made available by this Act under the heading “Economic Support Fund” for the West Bank and Gaza by an amount the Secretary determines is equivalent to that expended by the Palestinian Authority in payments to individuals and the families of such individuals that are imprisoned for acts of terrorism or who died committing such acts during the previous calendar year. Read more »

Predictions for 2015

by Elliott Abrams

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” Yogi Berra once said. But it’s also necessary, and the Council on Foreign Relations tries it at the end of each year. The Center for Preventive Action at CFR surveys 2200 foreign policy officials, academics, and experts to see what they think will emerge as the toughest and most dangerous problems of the coming year. Read more »

What’s General Sisi So Scared Of?

by Elliott Abrams

This morning’s New York Times reveals the paranoia and vulnerability of the current Egyptian regime.

Michele Dunne, a former career diplomat who served in Cairo and also at the National Security Council (in the George W. Bush administration), is now a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment. She was refused entry into Egypt yesterday. Here is part of the Times story: 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 »

What Relationship with the United States Does Sisi Want?

by Elliott Abrams

What kind of relationship with the United States does Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi really want? Friendly and cooperative, or characterized by hostile charges, suspicions, and conspiracy theories?

We have a much better idea today than we did last week, unfortunately. That’s because Sisi has just appointed as his national security advisor an official named Fayza Abu el-Naga. Read more »

U.S. Policy, Viewed From the Middle East

by Elliott Abrams

It’s natural that in the United States we see the Middle East from our own perspective, but very useful to step away from that perspective for a moment to try and see the region as our closest allies there do. By closest allies I refer to Israel and to Arab states such as the UAE, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. 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 »

Danger Ahead in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

It has been a while since I wrote about Bahrain, because I’ve always been hopeful that this or that piece of bad news was transitory and that reason would prevail. I’m losing hope.

The basic situation has been clear for several years: the majority of the population, which is Shia, feels deprived of political rights by the royal family, which is Sunni. There have been several efforts to come up with a compromise, especially after the “Arab Spring” began in 2o11. But as The Economist wrote last December, “Human-rights organisations warn that the situation is deteriorating. Two years after an even-handed report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry—a laudable effort by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa—few of its recommendations have been implemented.” That article was entitled “Trouble Ahead: the government is poisoning the well.” Sure enough, the so-called “national dialogue” launched in February 2013 got nowhere and was suspended in January 2014. Read more »