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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A Reminder About Hamas

by Elliott Abrams

Every once in a while we get a useful reminder why there is no peace between Israelis and Palestinians–and the answer isn’t that Israel has put up 100 or 1,000 housing units.

This week, Palestinian terrorists attacked an Israeli family on their way to a Passover seder in the West Bank. The terrorists murdered the father of the family and left the wife and nine-year-old child wounded. Read more »

April 4, 2002: Bush on Middle East Peace (and a Correction on Cheney)

by Elliott Abrams

On April 4, 2002, twelve years ago today, President George W. Bush gave the first of two important speeches about Middle East policy. The April 4 speech challenged the leadership of Yasser Arafat, whom the administration had found to be continuing to support terrorism and lie to American officials about it. Bush said this: Read more »

The President Ignores Human Rights in Iran–Again

by Elliott Abrams

Yesterday President Obama delivered his “Nowruz” message to Iran, on the occasion of that annual holiday. From the human rights perspective it is an appalling message. Ostensibly a message not just to Iran’s rulers but to its people, it lauds last year’s election of Rouhani as if that had been a democratic election and he the free choice of Iranians. The President makes one reference to the miserable human rights conditions in Iran, when he says “A comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue—and an Iran that upholds universal rights, at home and abroad—would help move Iran along the new path that so many Iranians seek.” It isn’t even clear in this formulation –and may not be clear to Iranians– whether he is referring to universal rights related to nuclear energy or to human rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other documents. Once again, he refuses to use the term “human rights” when those are the precious rights Iranians seek, deserve, and are denied by the regime. Read more »

Royal Tourism

by Elliott Abrams
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The heir to the British throne is shown in this photo during a “private visit” to Saudi Arabia. Such a visit is entirely appropriate, but it is a reminder that the British royals appear to have an allergy to visiting Israel. The Queen has never set foot there. Prince Charles did attend the Rabin funeral, but has never gone back and never made an official visit. Such a visit is occasionally hinted at or predicted, but then never gets scheduled. The continuing failure or refusal of any royal to make an official or state visit to Israel is an anomaly that suggests bias, and undermines potential British influence in the region.

Push Polls and Cuba

by Elliott Abrams

You can’t always get what you want, the Rolling Stones once told us. But you can, actually, in a push poll: a poll designed to elicit a certain result and then advertised as achieving that result.

This past week the Atlantic Council released a poll it had sponsored about U.S. relations with Cuba. Here’s one key aspect of the poll: When respondents were told “Cuba continues to have a dismal human rights record. The Castro regime represses virtually all forms of political dissent through detentions, arbitrary arrests, beatings, travel restrictions, forced exile, and sentencing dissidents in closed trials,” we find that 33 percent this was a “very important” reason to keep the current U.S. policy and 17 percent said it’s “somewhat important,” for a total of 50 percent. And 43 percent the human rights abuses make it somewhat important or very important to change the policy. Read more »

The Cost of the “Peace Process”

by Elliott Abrams

The goal of Secretary of State Kerry’s energetic diplomacy with the Israelis and Palestinians is the two-state solution, which means the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestine living at peace with its neighbor Israel.

Or is it? What’s missing in that sentence is the word “democratic.” Do we care? Once upon a time, the United States worked hard to give Yasser Arafat, a terrorist and thief, a state to rule. That policy was changed in the George W. Bush administration, when we began to care not only about the borders of the new Palestine but was within those borders. Bush said he would not support establishment of a Palestinian state if that state would just be another dictatorship, another kleptocracy, another home for terrorism. Read more »

The Muslim Brothers in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams

Doing some research for a project,  I came across this interesting assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its role in politics there:

The record of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt following [Hassan al] Banna’s assassination shows that this essentially popular protest movement directed against misgovernment and oppression by the rulers sought total power for itself as the only efficacious remedy for social and political ills. After the military coup d’etat of 1952,the Brothers were in hopes that the new regime, which included officers who had sympathized with, or even belonged to, the movement, would move to institute the godly rule for which it hankered. The Brothers were sorely disappointed. The new rulers, led by Nasser, were willing neither to accept the Brothers’ ideology nor to allow them even a share of power. Read more »