Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

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Foreign Affairs: The Struggle For Israel

by Robert M. Danin
The front cover of the July/August 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs (Design by Stavros Pavlides). The front cover of the July/August 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs (Design by Stavros Pavlides).

The July/August print edition of Foreign Affairs, entitled “The Struggle for Israel,” is out. It includes interviews with several leading Israeli politicians and articles by veteran analysts Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, As’ad Ghanem, and Martin Kramer. Read more »

Diplomacy Disonnected from Real Israeli-Palestinian Developments

by Robert M. Danin
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend an international and interministerial conference in a bid to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in Paris, France, June 3, 2016 (Stephane de Sakutin/Reuters). French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend an international and interministerial conference in a bid to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in Paris, France, June 3, 2016 (Stephane de Sakutin/Reuters).

Foreign Ministers from over two dozen countries convened in Paris today to find a way to restart moribund Israeli and Palestinian negotiations. Nether Israeli nor Palestinian officials were present, however. That is but one of the many reasons that this latest French effort seems detached from the realities on the ground and in the politics of the Middle East today. I discuss the latest diplomatic efforts emanating from Paris, Cairo, and Riyadh, as well as the political upheavals taking place in Israeli and Palestinian politics today in an interview with CFR.org. You can read the full interview here.

The Middle East Is in for a Tumultuous 2016

by Robert M. Danin
Flames rise from Saudi Arabia's embassy during the January 2, 2016,  demonstration in Tehran (Mehdi Ghasemi/Reuters). Flames rise from Saudi Arabia's embassy during the January 2, 2016, demonstration in Tehran (Mehdi Ghasemi/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on Fortune.com on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Iran after authorities executed a popular Shiite cleric. Anyone watching this meltdown unfold has every reason to think of worse-case scenarios, as it will only deepen the Middle East’s widening sectarian divide, intensify the region’s multiple conflicts, and set back efforts to defeat the Islamic State and end the bloodshed in Syria. Read more »

Syria By the Numbers VIII

by Robert M. Danin
Men wash blood off a coffin along a street in Jabal al-Zawiya in the southern countryside of Idlib January 4, 2015. Picture taken January 4, 2015. Stringer/Reuters Men wash blood off a coffin along a street in Jabal al-Zawiya in the southern countryside of Idlib January 4, 2015. Picture taken January 4, 2015. Stringer/Reuters

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) recently announced that the death toll from Syria’s conflict now exceeds 230,000 people. In May 2014, SOHR had put the death toll at 160,000 people, indicating more than 70,000 people killed in Syria over the past year alone. Read more »

Four Strategic Challenges for Israel’s Next Government

by Robert M. Danin
An Israeli soldier picks his ballot at a polling station in a navy base in the southern city of Ashdod January 20, 2013 (Cohen/Courtesy Reuters). An Israeli soldier picks his ballot at a polling station in a navy base in the southern city of Ashdod January 20, 2013 (Cohen/Courtesy Reuters).

Israel’s next government will assume the mantle of a strong and prosperous country. While facing a range of security challenges and tremendous regional turmoil, Israel today enjoys a preponderance of power over any likely regional threat or adversarial coalition. Its national economy is robust, and the country’s national cohesion remains exceptionally strong. Read more »

Netanyahu hands bat to Obama critics

by Robert M. Danin
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here on CNN.com on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.

Despite the hype, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still managed to deliver a speech that was both magisterial and audacious. Pulling few punches, Netanyahu went to Washington’s epicenter and told assembled lawmakers that the United States’ president, Barak Obama, is negotiating a terrible deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Read more »

This Week: Mosul Offensive, Netanyahu’s Address, and Turkey’s Incursion

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

ISIS. Ashton Carter, wrapping up his first overseas trip as secretary of defense, met with top U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Kuwait on Monday to review the U.S.-led international coalition’s strategy against ISIS. Carter announced that the Obama administration had “the ingredients of the strategy” to defeat ISIS militarily in Iraq and Syria, but that further efforts were required to combat ISIS’ use of social media. Read more »

This Week: Egypt Seeks Nukes, ISIS Gets Escalation, and U.S.-Iran Shun Extensions

by Robert M. Danin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting in Cairo February 10, 2015 (Klimentyev/Courtesy Reuters). Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting in Cairo February 10, 2015 (Klimentyev/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced an agreement to jointly build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant on Tuesday during Putin’s first visit to Egypt in over ten years. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki stated that, “[the United States] support[s] peaceful nuclear power programs as long as obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Egypt is a signatory… are fully met.” Read more »

This Week: Jordan’s ISIS Battle and Egypt’s Crackdown

by Robert M. Danin
Al Jazeera journalists (L-R) Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed stand behind bars at a court in Cairo May 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). Al Jazeera journalists (L-R) Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed stand behind bars at a court in Cairo May 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Jordan-ISIS. King Abdullah returned to a warm welcome in Jordan today after cutting short his visit to Washington yesterday. Abdullah’s move followed the release by ISIS of a video yesterday depicting captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned to death in a cage. Crowds gathered to express support for the Jordanian king’s decision to swiftly execute Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber on death row, and Ziad al-Karbouli, a former top lieutenant of Al Qaeda in Iraq, in retaliation for al-Kasasbeh’s death. Read more »

Jordan’s ISIS Challenge

by Robert M. Danin
Relatives of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh hold pictures of him as they join students during a rally calling for his release, at Jordan University in Amman February 3, 2015 (Hamed/Courtesy Reuters). Relatives of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh hold pictures of him as they join students during a rally calling for his release, at Jordan University in Amman February 3, 2015 (Hamed/Courtesy Reuters).

Today’s news and images of ISIS burning Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh to death in a cage comes just days after the group decapitated a second Japanese hostage. Such horrific murders provoke, shock, and dismay, which is their goal. By combining medieval brutality with twenty-first century social media, ISIS seeks the largest possible amount of attention for itself and its distorted variant of religio-messianism. Read more »