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.

Chemical Warfare in Syria Continues, Unpunished

by Elliott Abrams Monday, May 25, 2015

In September 2013 the Obama administration congratulated itself on an agreement, brokered by Russia, that supposedly ended the use of chemical weapons in Syria. For the killings by using sarin gas Syria’s president Assad was not punished in any way, but he was supposedly going to turn over all his CW and the possibility of a recurrence was thus ended. Read more »

IMF Realism About the West Bank and Gaza

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In the aftermath of the last round of conflict between Israel and Hamas, in the summer of 2014, many donors made big pledges of aid for Gaza at a special conference in Cairo. And many haven’t paid up.

This is one conclusion that emerges in the newest IMF report on the Palestinian economy, dated May 18, 2015. It is a report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the donor group that meets to coordinate aid. In the report the IMF decries “shortfalls in donor aid relative to Cairo pledges.” The IMF notes that “the reconstruction process in Gaza is moving far more slowly than expected,” and one big reason is “unfilled donor pledges.” Because the United States has met its pledges, it seems likely that the unmet pledges are from Arab donors—or to be more precise, from Arab non-donors. Read more »

A Sad Anniversary as Iran’s Brutalization of the Baha’i Continues

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This week marks a landmark in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s crimes against that country’s small Baha’i community: Seven years ago this week the regime imprisoned seven peaceful Baha’i leaders. What is the true nature of Iran’s clerical regime? The answer is visible in its continuing brutal treatment of this religious minority, just 300,000 people in a nation of 70 million—less than one half of one percent of the population. Read more »

The Morsi Death Sentence

by Elliott Abrams Monday, May 18, 2015

An Egyptian court has sentenced Mohammed Morsi and about 100 others, including other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, to death. Carrying out those sentences would be a huge mistake.

The sentences have been denounced widely because Egyptian courts these days are not independent, nor do they follow what we would call due process. Those are good enough reasons for eschewing the death penalty. So is the fact that he was the democratically elected president of Egypt. Read more »

Leopoldo Lopez, Democracy, and the 2016 Presidential Race

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Today at the Council on Foreign Relations we hosted Lilian Tintori, the wife of the Venezuelan political leader—and political prisoner—Leopoldo Lopez. With her were Lopez’s father and mother, and his five year old daughter. They are in Washington campaigning for his freedom, and for the freedom of all Venezuelans. For fifteen months Lopez has been jailed by the Maduro regime on ludicrous, trumped-up charges after a phony, fixed trial. He remains in a military prison. His true crime was be an elected mayor and a leader of the opposition, and far more popular than Maduro. Read more »

Guess Who’s Coming to (the GCC) Dinner?

by Elliott Abrams Friday, May 8, 2015

On May 13 and 14, President Obama will be hosting a summit meeting with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation. The members nations are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar.

The problem is, it may not exactly be a “summit” meeting at all. Sultan Qaboos of Oman has been ill, as is Sheik Khalifa, president of the UAE. Two down. I imagine the king of Bahrain, King Hamad, will attend, and so will the young Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim. Read more »

Reminders About Iran

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, May 7, 2015

During the three-month period between April 2 and June 30, Iran and the P5+1 are supposed to negotiate a comprehensive agreement about Iran’s nuclear program. The United States has been careful not to exacerbate relations with Iran, with the Obama administration trying hard not to upset any apple carts. The theory seems to be that there are hardliners in Iran (who are just like our own hardliners, the administration appears to believe) and we mustn’t annoy them. Read more »

Senegal vs. Iran?

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, May 5, 2015

One of the oddest news stories of the week reported that:

Senegal will send 2,100 troops to Saudi Arabia as part of an international coalition combating Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen, the West African nation’s foreign minister said on Monday….”The international coalition is aiming to protect and secure the holy sites of Islam, Medina and Mecca,” Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye told parliament. “The president…has decided to respond favourably to this request by deploying a contingent of 2,100 men in the holy land of Saudi Arabia,” he said. Read more »

The Saudis Make Some Changes

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Saudi Royal court announced several important decisions yesterday. The most significant are the retirement of Saud Al-Faisal as foreign minister and his replacement by Adel Al-Jubeir, who has been Saudi ambassador to the United States, and most important of all a change in the line of succession. Crown Prince Muqrin is out, deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN) is now first in line for the throne, and the new deputy crown prince is the king’s son Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Read more »