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.

John Kerry, George Shultz, and the Kerry Visit to Cuba

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, August 6, 2015

Secretary of State Kerry will visit Cuba soon–on August 14.

Since the opening of diplomatic relations and of the Cuban embassy in Washington, what’s been going on in Cuba?

More repression. There were 630 political arrests in June, according to the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights. Jorge Ramirez Calderon, one of the political prisoners released as part of President Obama’s rapprochement with the Castro regime, was notified this week that he is facing a 4-year sentence for “public disorder.” His crime was joining a demonstration for human rights in March. So, while Kerry was celebrating the opening of Castro’s embassy in Washington, the Cuban regime was cracking down harder on the Cuban people. Read more »

Europe Goes Back to the “Peace Process”

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Syria is coming apart and there are millions of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. ISIS threatens Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq– which is also coming apart. The new Iran nuclear deal would deliver $150 billion in cash to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the removal of sanctions will bring even more money to the Revolutionary Guards. ISIS and other jihadis are increasingly active in Sinai. Hamas has a firm grip on Gaza. Read more »

Unraveling the Iran Nuclear Deal on “Day One”

by Elliott Abrams Monday, July 20, 2015

Two of the Republican candidates for president, Gov. Scott Walker and Gov. Jeb Bush, are in an argument over how the United States can best get out of the Obama nuclear agreement. This argument has now become the subject of press comment too: for example, by Steve Hayes in an article entitled “Bush-Walker Dispute Catches Fire Over Iran Nuclear Deal” in The Weekly Standard, and by CFR’s own Max Boot in a Commentary blog post entitled “Can the Iran Deal be Reversed on Day One?” Read more »

There Goes the International Criminal Court

by Elliott Abrams Friday, July 17, 2015

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was an experiment. From the beginning its potential success was threatened, as all United Nations-linked bodies are, by the danger of falling into UN Human Rights Council-like obsessions with Israel. Such actions would delegitimize the new ICC, certainly for Americans and anyone else taking a fair look at its activities. Read more »

The Nation’s Meet The Spies Tour

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, July 16, 2015

Travel to Cuba is a new fad, helped by the changes the Obama administration has made in U.S. policy. It’s easy now for almost any group to go there, under the guise of some educational program or purpose.

But travel to Cuba has long been a practice for American leftists, who have seen the Castro regime not as a brutal oppressor of human rights but as a beacon of light in the Hemisphere. No democracy, free expression, freedom of the press, free trade unions? Who cares, after all? The thrill of visiting the communist island has been too much to resist. Read more »

Iran’s Nuclear Achievement

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a great achievement for Iran.

In National Review today I write about the nuclear deal, having read it this morning. Given Iran’s weak bargaining position, what is has achieved is remarkable. The structure of sanctions it took decades to build has been destroyed, but there is no end to the Iranian nuclear program. That program will continue, and eventually grow very large. Meanwhile, the arms embargo on Iran will be lifted after five years–the blink of an eye in international politics–and without requiring any change in Iran’s support for terror or its military actions in the region. Read more »

Iran’s War in Syria

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The war in Syria is becoming increasingly an Iranian war rather than a civil war.

Consider this new report by Now Lebanon, entitled “Syria Alawites reportedly clash with regime, Iran troops.” Two facts are striking. First, the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad is having enormous trouble recruiting Alawite youths to join the military. It has long been said that the Alawite community is his base and will fight for him, if only out of fear that if the regime falls they will pay the price when Sunnis attack Alawites. But more and more Alawites, it seems, do not wish to risk their lives for Assad. This should not be quite so surprising, because only the Alawite upper classes benefitted financially from the regime (and some became millionaires and even billionaires), while many Alawites remained in poverty. Read more »

Egypt: Prison by the Numbers

by Elliott Abrams Monday, July 6, 2015

Question: What do you call an Egyptian journalist who reports numbers about terrorism that differ from those offered by the government?

Answer: a prisoner.

That will soon be the case, when Egypt adopts a new law forbidding publishing “false news or statements about terrorist operations in contradiction to official statements.” There is no parliament in Egypt right now, so all that is needed to turn the draft into law is President Sisi’s approval. The new law would provide sentences of two years in prison. Read more »