Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

This Week: Syrian War Crimes, Iranian Talks, and Egyptian Acquitals

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, December 19, 2013
Residents react while calling for help as they hold an injured man that survived shelling after what activists said was an air strike from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Takeek Al-Bab area of Aleppo, December 17, 2013 (AboBrahim/Courtesy Reuters). Residents react while calling for help as they hold an injured man that survived shelling after what activists said was an air strike from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Takeek Al-Bab area of Aleppo, December 17, 2013 (AboBrahim/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. UN investigators reported today that the Assad regime has been conducting extensive and systemic abductions that constitute a war crime and “widespread campaign of terror against the civilian population.” Amnesty International released a separate report alleging widespread torture and executions and documenting secret prisons operated by the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) throughout rebel-held areas of Syria. Read more »

Voices From Syria

by Robert M. Danin Friday, December 13, 2013
Syrian refugees from the town of Qara gather around a fire to keep themselves warm in a Syrian refugee camp on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, in eastern Bekaa Valley December 12, 2013 (Haju/Courtesy Reuters). Syrian refugees from the town of Qara gather around a fire to keep themselves warm in a Syrian refugee camp on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, in eastern Bekaa Valley December 12, 2013 (Haju/Courtesy Reuters).

“We came here in the winter but it would have been better if we had stayed in Syria. At least if you die, you die in your own house.” –Ibrahim, 27, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon

“The fear of permanence is very embedded in the Lebanese political psyche…We had Palestinian refugees who were supposed to stay here for a month in 1948, and now they are a population of 500,000. And we went through a fifteen-year civil war where the Palestinians were a large player.” –Makram Malaeb, a manager in the Syrian refugee crisis unit at the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs Read more »

This Week: Egypt’s Constitution, Iran’s Diplomacy, and Syria’s War Crimes

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, December 5, 2013
Amr Moussa, head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution,speaks after they finished their vote at the Shura Council in Cairo December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Amr Moussa, head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution,speaks after they finished their vote at the Shura Council in Cairo December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Egypt’s Salafist Islamist party, al-Nour, announced its support today for the just completed draft constitution, despite an amendment that bans religiously based political parties. The draft constitution would remove most opposition to the current state of military rule, and has been condemned both by supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi as well as human rights activitists who fear that it unduly enshrines the military’s predominant position in Egyptian politics. Read more »