Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

Three Major Challenges for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

by Robert M. Danin Monday, July 29, 2013
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat at a 2008 press conference (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Israeli and Palestinian peace talks are poised to resume after a prolonged hiatus. Six Middle East trips, and tireless efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry made this resumption possible. The talks face three major challenges as a new chapter begins in the twenty year-long saga of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria at the UN, Egypt’s Demonstrations, and Israeli-Palestinian Talks

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, July 25, 2013
A member of the Free Syrian Army plays darts on a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Bab al-Nasr neighborhood of Aleppo June 28, 2013 (Khatib/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry met Ahmed al-Jarba, the Syrian National Coalition’s (SNC) newly elected leader, late this afternoon at the United Nations to discuss “political solutions” to the Syrian conflict. Al-Jarba met with French president Francois Hollande in Paris yesterday in an effort to push for military and humanitarian aid. United Nations disarmament chief Angela Kane and Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom left Damascus today after a two-day visit to discuss with Syrian officials the scope of the UN’s upcoming inquiry into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the war. Syrian officials seek to limit the panel’s investigation to the suspected March 19 use of sarin gas in Aleppo, while the UN and U.S. are seeking unrestricted access for the investigators. UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry told the Security Council on Tuesday that the international organization has received thirteen reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria. Read more »

Secretary Kerry’s Creative Ambiguity and Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

by Robert M. Danin Saturday, July 20, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital of Amman July 19, 2013 (Ngan/Courtesy Reuters).

At the conclusion of his sixth arduous Middle East shuttle Friday night, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the imminent resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington. Kerry’s circuitous announcement, that the parties had “reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations,” was short on details and ambiguous, even by diplomatic standards. Such imprecision at first blush suggests that the parties still have a ways to go before the United States’ chief diplomat can declare negotiations fully back on track. But it also reflects a highly creative use of diplomatic ambiguity as a means towards allowing each side to find a way back to the negotiating table. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Egypt’s Post-Coup Government and Other Regional Developments

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, July 18, 2013
Egypt's interim president Adli Mansour (R) speaks with U.S. deputy secretary of state William Burns at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, July 15, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Dalsh).

Significant Developments

Egypt. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met senior pro-Morsi figures during her visit to Cairo yesterday. Ashton’s meetings included former premier Hisham Qandil and representatives from the Freedom and Justice Party. Ashton also met with leaders of the new government as well as members of the Tamarod campaign. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Upheaval in Egypt and Syria

by Robert M. Danin Friday, July 12, 2013
Egypt's Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood vowed today to continue resisting the army’s July 3 ouster of President Mohammad Morsi. The Brotherhood issued its call one day after the military-appointed government ordered the arrest of several members of the Brotherhood’s senior leadership–including its spiritual guide Mohammed Badie–for allegedly inciting violent clashes with the military outside the Republican Guard headquarters on Monday. At least fifty-one protestors were killed and hundreds more wounded when Egyptian soldiers opened fire on Morsi supporters on Monday. Read more »

Voices From Egypt

by Robert M. Danin Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi take part in a protest demanding that Morsi resign at Tahrir Square in Cairo July 2, 2013 (El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). .

“It was more honorable for us to die than to have the people of Egypt terrorized or threatened.” –Gen. Abdul Fattah el-Sisi on a military-affiliated Facebook page early on Wednesday in a posting titled “Final hours.”

“No coup against legitimacy of any kind will pass except over our dead bodies.” –Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed el-Beltagy said at a rally in Egypt Read more »