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 Pre-Negotiations and Iranian Elections

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, May 23, 2013
A Syrian refugee girl walks inside the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp, 20 km (12.4 miles) east of the city of Zarqa April 29, 2013 (Hamed/Courtesy Reuters).. A Syrian refugee girl walks inside the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp, 20 km (12.4 miles) east of the city of Zarqa April 29, 2013 (Hamed/Courtesy Reuters)..

Significant Developments

Syria. Moaz al-Khatib, the outgoing leader of the Syrian National Coalition, announced an initiative on Facebook today, proposing a safe exit for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Khatib’s proposal would give Assad twenty days to accept a “peaceful transition of authority,” after which he would have a month to hand over power to either Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi or Vice President Faruq al-Shara’a to then rule Syria for a transitional period of one hundred days. Read more »

Syria by the Numbers IV

by Robert M. Danin Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Relatives of 55-year-old Kemal Baz, a victim of a car bomb attack, lower his coffin into a grave in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province near the Turkish-Syrian border May 15, 2013 (Bektas/Courtesy Reuters).. Relatives of 55-year-old Kemal Baz, a victim of a car bomb attack, lower his coffin into a grave in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province near the Turkish-Syrian border May 15, 2013 (Bektas/Courtesy Reuters)..

The total number of Syrians killed, exiled, or displaced by the brutal war there has increased dramatically in the nearly seven months since Middle East Matters bimonthly tracking of these statistics. Since then, the death toll has more than doubled and the number of Syrian refugees has more than quadrupled. To see just how dramatically the war has affected the Syrian people in the last half year, you can compare the figures below with the corresponding statistics for the months June 2012 here, August 2012 here, and October 2012 here. The overall figures from Syria’s conflict below really speak for themselves. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria at Center Stage as Iran Talks Drag On

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, May 16, 2013
A member of the Free Syrian Army holds his weapon as he sits on a sofa in the middle of a street in Deir al-Zor April 2, 2013 (Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters). A member of the Free Syrian Army holds his weapon as he sits on a sofa in the middle of a street in Deir al-Zor April 2, 2013 (Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Israel publicly warned Syrian president Bashar Assad to stop transferring advanced weapons to Hezbollah yesterday. In an unusual move, a senior Israeli official contacted the New York Times on Wednesday and was then quoted by the paper saying that “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” arguing that such a move would destabilize the region. Read more »

Regional Voices: Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, and Egypt

by Robert M. Danin Tuesday, May 14, 2013
A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his AK-47 rifle through a window in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighbourhood (Hretani/Courtesy Reuters). A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his AK-47 rifle through a window in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighbourhood (Hretani/Courtesy Reuters).

“I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog.” –Abu Sakkar, leader of the Syrian rebel Farouq Brigade from Homs, as he bit into the heart of a regime soldier

“What do I care if they destroy Tel Aviv and lose Beirut?” –Amin Hoteit, retired Lebanese colonel close to Hezbollah, on the possibility of escalating tensions between Hezbollah and Israel Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Israel Strikes Damascus, Egypt Reshuffles Government, and World Powers Scramble

by Robert M. Danin Friday, May 10, 2013
An explosion in Damascus (SANA/Courtesy Reuters). An explosion in Damascus (SANA/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Hassan Nasrallah announced yesterday that Syria would transfer strategic “game-changing” weapons to the Lebanese group Hezbollah. The televised speech was a response to Israel’s alleged airstrikes near Damascus last Friday and Sunday that reportedly targeted Fateh-110 missiles transiting to Hezbollah from Iran. Read more »