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.

Why Is Obama’s Human Rights Report 115 Days Late?

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, June 16, 2015

By law, the State Department is required to release reports on the human rights situation in every country on February 25 of each year. Those voluminous reports are often a bit late, by a few days or a few weeks. In the George W. Bush years, a delay of a few days or a week was as I recall it common. Read more »

How Isolated Is Israel?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, June 1, 2015

It’s common to hear about Israel’s growing isolation in the world, and UN votes are sometimes held up as evidence of this. The BDS movement, especially in Europe, is also adduced to show Israel’s increasing isolation.

In that context the following announcement is of interest: the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, will become the first prime minister of India to visit Israel. India’s foreign minister made the announcement today; the dates are not yet set. Read more »

Cuba and the Terrorism List

by Elliott Abrams Friday, May 29, 2015

The Obama administration announced today that Cuba comes off the “terrorism list.”

Here is some of what it said:

the President in December instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and conclude that review within six months. In April, the Secretary of State completed that review and recommended to the President that Cuba should no longer be designated as a State Sponsors of Terrorism. The President then submitted to Congress the statutorily required report indicating the Administration’s intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including the certification that Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six-months; and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future. Read more »

Castro 200, Obama 0: While Talks Continue, Beatings Continue

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When President Obama junked 60 years of U.S. foreign policy to seek a rapprochement with the Castro regime in Cuba, he was aware that he would be accused of ignoring human rights. After all, the Obama administration got next to nothing for the concessions it made to Cuba, and from all accounts did not bargain hard for more. So the administration took the line, right from the start, that its actions would help human rights in Cuba almost automatically. Read more »

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 »