Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

Middle East Matters This Week: Syrian Chemical Weapons, Iraqi Violence, and U.S. Regional Engagement

by Robert M. Danin Friday, April 26, 2013
Residents wear masks as they search for bodies in Aleppo (Salman/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Syrian officials today denied international allegations that Bashar al-Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in Syria. Yesterday, the White House sent a letter to Congressional leaders stating that U.S.  intelligence agencies assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that Assad’s government had used the chemical agent sarin on a small scale. Read more »

Jordanian King Abdullah at the White House: What a Difference a Month Makes

by Robert M. Danin Wednesday, April 24, 2013
King Abdullah listens to U.S. president Barack Obama after a private meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 17, 2011 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters)..

King Abdullah of Jordan is slated to meet President Obama at the White House on Friday. Though meetings between the two leaders are frequent and even commonplace, it is still noteworthy that the Hashemite leader is meeting the president just four weeks after hosting him in Jordan. World leaders don’t meet that frequently unless there is something urgent to discuss, and there is: Syria. Read more »

Regional Voices: Iran, Syria, Yemen, Israel, and Palestine

by Robert M. Danin Monday, April 22, 2013
Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks during a news conference at the end of his visit to Cairo, February 7, 2013 (Waguih/Courtesy Reuters)..

“We don’t need an atomic bomb. … And besides, it is not atomic bombs that threaten the world, but Western morals and culture declining in values.” –Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

“Look, I respect their prowess and their struggle…I respect their ideology, even if I strongly disagree with it, on one condition! They must remain one faction among many other factions of the revolution and one component of Syrian society which has many other components.” –Abu al-Hasan, an Aleppo activist speaking about Jubhat al-Nusra Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Palestine’s Political Shake-up, Syria’s Opposition Gains, and Mubarak’s Re-Trial

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 18, 2013
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stands beside Salam Fayyad (L) during a swearing-in ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 19,2009 (Arouri/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Palestine. Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad’s resignation was accepted over the weekend by President Mahmoud Abbas. Fayyad will reportedly remain in the post until Abbas names a replacement. Political tensions rose between the two Palestinian leaders in early March when Finance Minister Nabil Qassis announced he was quitting. Fayyad accepted the resignation, but was overruled by Abbas, in contravention of the Palestinian Basic Law–in effect challenging the prime minister’s authority to hire and fire cabinet ministers and sparking a constitutional crisis. Read more »

Regional Voices: Egypt, Syria, Israel, and Palestine

by Robert M. Danin Monday, April 15, 2013
Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark Cathedral (El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

“Enough already of formations, committees and groups and whatever else…We want action not words and, let me say this, there are many names and committees but there is no action on the ground.” -Coptic pope Tawadros II’s reaction to Egypt president Mohammed Morsi’s handling of the attack against Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Egypt, Syria, and Iran

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 11, 2013
Coptic Christians run inside the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas and Muslims throw rocks and firebombs April 7, 2013 (Waguih/Courtesy Reuters)..

Significant Developments

Egypt. An Egyptian Coptic Christian died today from injuries sustained during sectarian violence over the past week, bringing the total number of deaths to eight. Violence erupted outside Egypt’s main Coptic Christian Cathedral in Cairo on Sunday after street battles between Christians and Muslims in the town of Khosoos left five people dead on Saturday. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Lebanon, Iran, Syria, and Israel-Palestine

by Robert M. Danin Friday, April 5, 2013
Lebanese former minister Tammam Salam attends a meeting for pro-WMarch 14 political coalition in Beirut April 4, 2013 (Azakir/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Lebanon. Tamam Salam, a Lebanese member of Parliament and former minister of culture, has emerged as the consensus candidate to become Lebanon’s next prime minister. Lebanese president Michael Sleiman began two days of consultation today to nominate the successor to Najib Mikati, who resigned on March 22. Salam has already been endorsed by the Western-leaning March 14 coalition and Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze bloc. Read more »