Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

Danin analyzes critical developments and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Middle East Matters This Week: Egypt’s Tumultuous Anniversary

by Robert M. Danin Friday, January 27, 2012
Demonstrators take part in a protest marking the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising at Tahrir square in Cairo on January 25, 2012 (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians returned to Tahrir Square on Friday chanting “down with military rule” in a day dubbed “The Friday of Pride and Dignity.” Friday’s protest came on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the revolution marked on Wednesday by thousands in Tahrir Square. Read more »

The President and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process in 2013

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, January 26, 2012
Barack Obama takes the oath given by U.S. supreme chief justice John Roberts, Jr. during the inauguration ceremony in Washington on January 20, 2009. (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the course of the Obama administration, Washington’s objectives for Israeli-Palestinian peace have shifted dramatically. President Obama took office seeking to resolve the conflict within two years. Deeming it a “national security objective” and one of his highest priorities, he immediately appointed Senator George Mitchell his special Middle East envoy. Three years later, Mitchell is no longer in the position, and the president is no longer seeking to resolve the conflict. Read more »

How to Help Syria without Intervening Militarily

by Robert M. Danin Monday, January 23, 2012
Secretary General Nabil al-Araby talks during a meeting of the Arab League states (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

The Arab League met yesterday to assess its observer mission to Syria so far and to consider further steps. Syria’s reprehensible behavior and the Arab League’s inability to stop it will doubtlessly lead to stepped-up calls for international military intervention. While such calls may be justified, any military intervention in Syria is still a long way off. Few countries are prepared to intervene militarily in Syria, nor are the goals of such military action entirely clear. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Failed Conciliation in Syria, Gaza, and Bahrain

by Robert M. Danin Friday, January 20, 2012
Islamic Jihad militants take part in the funeral of their comrades in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 30, 2011 (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. With scores of Syrians killed daily, the Arab League received its observer mission’s much awaited report on Thursday. Human Rights Watch urged the Arab League to “publicly release the mission’s final report and to specifically report on whether the Syrian government is complying with the protocol and whether and how the Syrian government is interfering with the work of the mission.” Read more »

Guest Post: Egypt Revisited

by Robert M. Danin Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The sun sets over the river Nile in Cairo on February 8, 2011 (Dylan Martinez/Courtesy Reuters).

Today’s post features a guest blog by Nervana Mahmoud, a British-Egyptian anesthesiologist and blogger known to many through her commentary on Twitter as @Nervana_1. She recently returned to Egypt and reports on what she found.

The Egypt I knew and grew up in was a laid-back country, almost resigned to its fate. Earlier this month, I came back to visit after some years abroad only to see a nation on the edge, anxious and confused. Egypt today is trying to come to terms with its past and present, and struggling to define its vision for the future. Rather than drawing a single unified conclusion about what Egypt is today, I left with a mélange of disparate impressions. Here are four: Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Monitor Meltdown

by Robert M. Danin Friday, January 13, 2012
This still image taken from video uploaded to a social media website on December 28, 2011 shows Arab League monitors speak to the camera after seeing the body of a dead boy claimed to have been killed by Syrian security forces in what is purportedly Homs (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. President Bashar al-Assad gave a rare and defiant speech on Tuesday in which he once again blamed foreign conspirators, lashed out against other Arab states, and vowed to keep fighting ‘terrorists.’ I analyze his speech in a previous blog post available here. Read more »

Syria’s Future and the Arab League

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, January 12, 2012
Syria's president Bashar al-Assad addresses his supporters during a surprise appearance at a rally in Umayyad Square in Damascus on January 11, 2012 (Wael Hmedan/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday I discussed the violence, instability, and political developments in Syria with’s Bernard Gwertzman, a former New York Times diplomatic correspondent and foreign editor. It’s currently the featured briefing on You can read the interview here. Read more »

Assad in His Own Words

by Robert M. Danin Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Syria’s president Assad today vowed to use an “iron fist” to weed out “terrorists” and foreign conspiracies plaguing his country. That is his basic world outlook and his take on what is happening in Syria. Today’s speech, the fourth such one he has given to explain his policies since the uprisings in Syria began, was vintage Bashar. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Bombs, More Bombs, and Peace Talks

by Robert M. Danin Friday, January 6, 2012
People gather around damaged cars at the site of an explosion in the Maidan district of Damascus on January 6, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. At least twenty-five people were killed, and dozens more injured, by a bomb attack in Damascus today. It was the second bombing to take place in Syria’s capital in two weeks. The attack came just over a week after a delegation of Arab League observers entered Syria. Read more »

Remembering the Eisenhower Doctrine

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, January 5, 2012

A portrait of U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served from 1953-1961 (Courtesy Reuters).

Today marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech enunciating what came to be known as the “Eisenhower Doctrine.” On January 5, 1957, Ike addressed a joint session of Congress and asked it to authorize $200 million for the United States to provide economic and military assistance to Middle East countries requesting aid against “overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by International Communism.” Read more »