Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

This Week: Palestinian Unity, GCC-Qatar Comity, and Syrian Duplicity

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 24, 2014
Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council's countries attend a meeting in the Saudi port city of Jeddah September 10, 2013 (Al Qarni/Courtesy Reuters). Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council's countries attend a meeting in the Saudi port city of Jeddah September 10, 2013 (Al Qarni/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Palestinian Unity. The Israeli cabinet voted unanimously to suspend peace talks with the Palestinian Authority today because of the unity agreement announced yesterday between Fatah and Hamas. Rejecting the notion of negotiating with a government “backed by Hamas,” prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Whoever chooses the terrorism of Hamas does not want peace.” The deadline for the completion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations set nine months ago by Secretary of State Kerry expires on April 29. See my analysis of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement in my blog post from yesterday. Read more »

The Fatah-Hamas Gaza Palestinian Unity Agreement

by Robert M. Danin Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh shakes hands with President Mahmoud Abbas after handing him an agreed list of ministers for a new unity government, in Gaza March 15, 2007 in this picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO) (Abu Askar/Courtesy Reuters). Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh shakes hands with President Mahmoud Abbas after handing him an agreed list of ministers for a new unity government, in Gaza March 15, 2007 in this picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO) (Abu Askar/Courtesy Reuters).

Hamas and Fatah have once again reached an agreement to overcome their split, claiming they will form a unity government within five weeks and hold general elections by December. There is little reason to believe that the unity agreement reached today in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah is any more credible, or stands any better chance of implementation, than the previous failed unity agreements between the two parties penned in Cairo and Doha. The fundamental issues that divide them remain: Hamas is interested in an Islamist agenda while Fatah opposes it. Read more »

This Week: Syria’s Fighting and Spillover Into Lebanon and Jordan

by Robert M. Danin Thursday, April 17, 2014
Saudi Intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who stepped down this week (Bourg/Courtesy Reuters). Saudi Intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who stepped down this week (Bourg/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Regime fighters reportedly made significant progress against opposition forces in Homs this week, as Syrian military forces began entering rebel districts on Monday, stepping up one of the strongest bombardments in months. Homs is considered the last main opposition stronghold in central Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime and opposition representatives traded new accusations of using chemical weapons in an attack on the village of Kfar Zeita last Friday. Read more »

Voices From the Region: Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Algeria, and Lebanon

by Robert M. Danin Friday, April 11, 2014
People wave banners in a demonstration in Cairo April 10, 2014 (El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). People wave banners in a demonstration in Cairo April 10, 2014 (El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

“They call it aid, but I don’t consider it aid…I consider it buying time and giving people the illusion that there is aid when really there is not.” –Brigadier General Asaad al-Zoabi, a Syrian fighter pilot who defected and joined the opposition Read more »

Is the White House Pulling the Plug on Kerry’s Peace Mission?

by Robert M. Danin Wednesday, April 2, 2014
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry listens to U.S. president Barack Obama (Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. secretary of state John Kerry listens to U.S. president Barack Obama (Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry abruptly cancelled his Middle East shuttle diplomacy yesterday less than a month before his self-imposed deadline for concluding an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty. The New York Times leads today with a quote from a senior Obama administration official saying, “Mr. Kerry’s decision not to return to the region immediately reflected a growing impatience in the White House, which believes that his mediating efforts have reached their limit and that the two sides need to work their way out of the current impasse.” Read more »