Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria Plan Flounders, Iraq’s Kurds Worry

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 26, 2012
Members of the first UN monitoring team in Syria, together with members of the Syrian Free Army, visit Homs on April 21, 2012 (Khaled Telawi/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. The United Nations Security Council established the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria on Saturday, increasing the number of ceasefire monitors there from thirty to three hundred. UN special envoy Kofi Annan subsequently urged the Security Council on Tuesday to deploy the expanded unarmed military mission rapidly. However, the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, said it will take a month to deploy the first one hundred monitors. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Iran’s Negotiations, Syria’s Friends, and Egypt’s Elections

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 19, 2012
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili pose for media before their meeting in Istanbul on April 14, 2012 (Tolga Adanali/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Saturday authorizing the deployment of a thirty-person monitoring mission to oversee the Syrian ceasefire. By the time the first observers arrived in Syria on Monday, violence had flared up in recent flashpoint towns, including Homs and Hama. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria’s Cease-fire, Iran’s Negotiations, and Egypt’s New Presidential Candidate

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 12, 2012

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. An uneasy UN-brokered ceasefire went into effect at dawn in Syria this morning. Activists report relative quiet throughout the country though Syrian forces have not returned to barracks. UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said in a statement this morning that he was encouraged that “the cessation of hostilities appears to be holding.” Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi welcomed the development and urged Annan to send observers to Syria to monitor the ceasefire. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria’s Friends Meet, Kofi Announces a Deadline, and Egypt’s Brotherhood Fields a Candidate

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 5, 2012
Supporters of presidential candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party Khairat al-Shater, cheer while carrying banners bearing images of him, as he presents recommendation documents to the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) headquarters in Cairo on April 5, 2012 (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. The Friends of Syria group held its second ministerial conference on Sunday to discuss UN special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria. Meeting in Istanbul, representatives from more than eighty nations issued a declaration that recognized the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the opposition, much to the disappointment of SNC members who had hoped the opposition organization would be recognized as Syria’s sole legitimate representative and that lethal assistance would be pledged. Read more »

Guest Post: Jordan’s Reform Calculations

by Guest Blogger for Robert M. Danin Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Jordanian Islamic Front Action supporters shout slogans against Syria's president Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in Amman on March 9, 2012 (Muhammad Hamed/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is written by Kelley Calkins, a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. Here she offers her assessment of the Jordanian leadership’s calculations concerning domestic reform amidst the Arab uprisings. 

Protests last weekend that resulted in the arrest of twelve protesters in Jordan serve as a reminder that the Hashemite Kingdom continues to face domestic challenges inspired by the Arab uprisings. Indeed, since January 2011, Jordan has seen numerous protests and calls for economic and political reform. King Abdullah has responded to these demonstrations by promising political change and sacking two of his prime ministers. However, meaningful movement toward real reform has been minimal so far. Given the regional instability surrounding the Hashemite Kingdom during this period of great upheaval, it seems the Jordanian regime has calculated that too much reform is risky, dangerous, and perhaps unnecessary. Read more »