Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

Middle East Matters This Week: Israel Strikes Syria, Egypt Seeks Unity, and Iran Upgrades Enrichment

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, January 31, 2013
A protester opposing Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi holds a homemade gun during clashes with riot police, along Qasr Al Nil bridge in Cairo on January 27, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). A protester opposing Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi holds a homemade gun during clashes with riot police, along Qasr Al Nil bridge in Cairo on January 27, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Israel reportedly conducted an airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday for the first time since 2007, igniting protests from the Assad regime as well as Syria’s allies Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah. Conflicting reports have emerged about the target; U.S., Israeli, and Lebanese sources have been quoted claiming Israel struck a convoy carrying advanced SA-17 anti-aircraft weapons heading into Lebanon. Read more »

Voices From the Region: Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Israel

by Robert M. Danin Friday, January 25, 2013
A man shows his ink-stained finger after voting at a polling station in Amman on January 23, 2013 (Hammad/Courtesy Reuters). A man shows his ink-stained finger after voting at a polling station in Amman on January 23, 2013 (Hammad/Courtesy Reuters).

“We don’t want old faces. We tried that…We are worried…We can help Jordan not go the same way as Syria and Egypt.” –Khalid Hammad, 28, a lawyer who voted in Amman, in support of a friend, a fellow lawyer who was a first-time candidate Read more »

Israel’s 2013 Election: Lapid and the Perils of Third Parties

by Robert M. Danin Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, addresses supporters in Tel Aviv after his party exceeded expectations in Israel's national election on January 22, 2013 (Awad/Courtesy Reuters). Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, addresses supporters in Tel Aviv after his party exceeded expectations in Israel's national election on January 22, 2013 (Awad/Courtesy Reuters).

Israelis are still digesting the results of yesterday’s national elections, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who fared much worse than anticipated, still likely to be tapped to form the next government. The definitive tally, to be announced tomorrow, could bump a few parties up or down by one of the hundred and twenty total parliamentary seats up for grabs. Netanyahu, who will not wait for that final announcement, is already scrambling to forge a new coalition government comprised of at least a simple majority of 61. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Algeria’s Hostage Drama, Syrian Violence, and Elections in Israel and Jordan

by Robert M. Danin Friday, January 18, 2013
Riot police stand guard outside the French Embassy in Tunis on January 18, 2012, following the hostage-taking by Islamist militants in eastern Algeria (Mili/Courtesy Reuters). Riot police stand guard outside the French Embassy in Tunis on January 18, 2012, following the hostage-taking by Islamist militants in eastern Algeria (Mili/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Algeria. At least eighteen Algerian kidnappers and twelve hostages were killed in an Algerian military operation yesterday that freed six hundred and fifty hostages who had been captured when Islamist militants attacked a natural gas production complex in eastern Algeria, according to Algerian sources. Details remain sketchy, but American, European, and Japanese citizens were believed to have been amongst the hostages taken. Read more »

Voices From the Region: Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, UAE

by Robert M. Danin Monday, January 14, 2013
Syrian rebels talk as they carry their weapons before heading to the front line in Aleppo on January 9, 2013 (Karam/Courtesy Reuters). Syrian rebels talk as they carry their weapons before heading to the front line in Aleppo on January 9, 2013 (Karam/Courtesy Reuters).

“It’s a very big victory for the Islamic groups…They are the strongest in Syria now because the Western countries won’t help.” – The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights using the pseudonym Rami Abdulrahman, speaking about the rebel capture of a key military air base last week Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Assad Stalls, Palestinians Talk, and Iraq Explodes

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, January 10, 2013
Syria's president Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus on January 6, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Syria's president Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus on January 6, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad gave his first speech in nearly seven months on Sunday, outlining a “peace plan” that ruled out any negotiation with Syria’s armed rebels. UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called Assad’s speech “uncompromising” and said that the Syrian president could not be part of any transitional government-the closest Brahimi has come to calling for Assad’s resignation; Syria’s foreign ministry called Brahimi “flagrantly biased.” Russian and U.S. diplomats are scheduled to meet with Brahimi tomorrow in Geneva. Read more »

Voices From the Region: Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Yemen

by Robert M. Danin Friday, January 4, 2013
Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Sadr takes part in Friday prayers participated by Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim worshippers in a gesture of unity at the Abdul Qadir Gilani Mosque in Baghdad on January 4, 2012 (Al-Sudani/Courtesy Reuters). Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Sadr takes part in Friday prayers participated by Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim worshippers in a gesture of unity at the Abdul Qadir Gilani Mosque in Baghdad on January 4, 2012 (Al-Sudani/Courtesy Reuters).

“The Iraqi spring is coming.” – Moqtada al-Sadr, an Iraqi Shiite leader, expressed support for further demonstrations against Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki in a speech in Najaf on Tuesday

“The failure of the international community, in particular the Security Council, to take concrete actions to stop the blood-letting, shames us all…Collectively, we have fiddled at the edges while Syria burns.” – UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay Read more »

A Final Note From 2012

by Robert M. Danin Wednesday, January 2, 2013
The late Saudi crown prince Nayef at a news conference in Mecca (Awad/Courtesy Reuters). The late Saudi crown prince Nayef at a news conference in Mecca (Awad/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week I posted my take on the most significant Middle East developments of 2012. The ten developments that I identified, in chronological order, were:

  1. The cold war with Iran heats up
  2. The Muslim Brotherhood’s election in Egypt
  3. Syria’s descent into civil war
  4. The Innocence of Muslims anti-American riots
  5. The killing of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi
  6. Political unrest in Jordan
  7. The Israel-Hamas November conflict
  8. The United Nations recognition of Palestine as a non-member state
  9. International failure to stop Syria’s bloodshed
  10. The Muslim Brotherhood’s struggle to consolidate power in Egypt
  11. Read more »