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.

The Non-Existent Progress in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Obama administration has decided to resume military aid to Bahrain, or more exactly to dispense with the limits on such aid that had been imposed after the 2011 crackdown there.

One can make a national security case for doing this. Given the security situation in the region, terrorism, the role of Iran, the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, and other factors, it is possible to argue that the United States does not have the luxury right now of considering internal matters in Bahrain–such as repression. In announcing the resumption, the State Department did say this: “Bahrain is an important and long-standing ally on regional security issues, working closely with us on the counter-ISIL campaign and providing logistical and operational support for countering terrorism and maintaining freedom of navigation.” Read more »

Obama on Iran and Syria: See No Evil

by Elliott Abrams Friday, June 26, 2015

The slaughter in Syria and the awful human rights violations in Iran cannot be denied by the Obama administration, but they sure can be downplayed and ignored.

On the Iran point, consider the release yesterday, four months late, of the State Department’s annual human rights reports. The reports were presented by Secretary of State Kerry and Assistant Secretary for human rights Tom Malinowski.  The Iran report is tough. Here’s an excerpt: Read more »

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 »