Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

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

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Showing posts for "Arab League"

Middle East Matters This Week: A Syrian Peace Plan, An Arab Summit in Baghdad, and Iran Prepares for Nuclear Talks

by Robert M. Danin
Iraq's foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari meets with his Kuwaiti counterpart sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah upon his arrival for the Arab foreign ministers meeting as part of the Arab League Summit in Baghdad on March 28, 2012 (Mohammed Ameen/Courtesy Reuters). Iraq's foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari meets with his Kuwaiti counterpart sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah upon his arrival for the Arab foreign ministers meeting as part of the Arab League Summit in Baghdad on March 28, 2012 (Mohammed Ameen/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. A spokesman for UN special envoy Kofi Annan announced on Tuesday that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad accepted Annan’s six-point peace plan. Iran also announced its support for the plan. Western diplomats expressed doubts over Assad’s intention to implement it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “We will judge Assad’s sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says.” Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Modest Security Council Steps on Syria While Copts Mourn in Egypt

by Robert M. Danin
Egyptian Coptic priests and Christians carry the coffin of Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, upon its arrival for burial at St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al-Natrun, on March 20, 2012 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Egyptian Coptic priests and Christians carry the coffin of Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, upon its arrival for burial at St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al-Natrun, on March 20, 2012 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Egypt. Pope Shenouda III, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt for over forty years, died last Saturday. Thousands of mourners attended his Cairo funeral on Tuesday. Shenouda’s death comes at a time of deepening insecurity among Egypt’s ten million Copts and fears of increasing sectarian strife following a deadly Coptic church bombing in January 2011 that killed twenty-three people, the massacre of twenty-seven mostly Coptic protesters last October, and heightened anti-Christian rhetoric employed by newly empowered Salafists. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria’s Regime Advances, Israel and Gaza Clash

by Robert M. Danin
Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov talks during the Arab League foreign ministers meeting, next to Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, at the organization's headquarters in Cairo, on March 10, 2012 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters). Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov talks during the Arab League foreign ministers meeting, next to Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, at the organization's headquarters in Cairo, on March 10, 2012 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. As Syrians marked the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of protests in their country, Bashar al-Assad’s forces appeared to be gaining momentum. Over the course of the week, regime forces went on the offensive into Idlib and Dara’a. On Thursday, nearly one thousand Syrian refugees poured into Turkey. Ankara has announced plans to build a new refugee camp to house up to twenty thousand people. In addition to the estimated eight thousand Syrians who have died since the unrest began, around 1.4 million more are at risk of going hungry according to the UN World Food Program. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Israel and the U.S. Talk Iran

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. president Barack Obama meets with Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 5, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama meets with Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 5, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Israel. President Obama held three hours of talks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday. The two focused almost entirely on the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear development efforts. President Obama also met with visiting Israeli president Shimon Peres on the margins of the annual AIPAC convention. Read more »

To Resolve Syria, Send Annan to Moscow

by Robert M. Danin
Russian president Vladimir Putin invites UN secretary general Kofi Annan for talks in Moscow on April 5, 2004 (Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters). Russian president Vladimir Putin invites UN secretary general Kofi Annan for talks in Moscow on April 5, 2004 (Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters).

Kofi Annan, the newly appointed United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria, travels to the Middle East today to kick off his diplomatic efforts. He will stop first in Cairo, where he will meet Arab League representatives. On Saturday, Annan visits Damascus to see President Bashar al-Assad as part of a mission “to seek an urgent end to all violence and human rights violations, and to initiate the effort to promote a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.” Traveling to Egypt and Syria are surely necessary, but will soon prove to be insufficient.   Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Hamas, “Friends” Line up Against Syria’s Assad

by Robert M. Danin
Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu confers with United Arab Emirates' foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan during the “Friends of Syria” conference in Tunis on February 24, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu confers with United Arab Emirates' foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan during the “Friends of Syria” conference in Tunis on February 24, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Hamas. Hamas officials announced today a break with long-time ally Syrian president Assad. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told a crowd of thousands at Cairo’s al-Azhar Mosque: “I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy, and reform.” The announcement indicates a dramatic shift in alignment for the organization that until recently had been headquartered in Damascus. Read more »

The “Friends of Syria” Tunis Meeting

by Robert M. Danin
Foreign Ministers Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey pose for a group photo during the fourth ministerial meeting of Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Istanbul on January 28, 2012 (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters). Foreign Ministers Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey pose for a group photo during the fourth ministerial meeting of Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Istanbul on January 28, 2012 (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters).

A new chapter in the struggle for Syria opens on Friday with the meeting of some seventy foreign ministers and senior officials in Tunis. Having dabbled episodically with President Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless bloodshed against the Syrian people, the first meeting of the “Friends of Syria” signifies the solid placement of this issue at the top of the international agenda. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Renewed International Efforts on Iran and Syria

by Robert M. Danin
Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends an unveiling ceremony for new nuclear projects in Tehran on February 15, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters). Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends an unveiling ceremony for new nuclear projects in Tehran on February 15, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a new resolution Thursday calling for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to end the brutal attacks on the Syrian people. Initial vote counts indicate the resolution received 137 votes in favor, twelve against, and seventeen abstentions. The vote came as the Syrian military stepped up its assault against opposition strongholds, including severe bombardments of Homs, Hama, and Deraa. Read more »

The Arab League Doubles Down Against Bashar

by Robert M. Danin
An empty chair for Syria is seen during the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on February 12, 2012.Arab states will end an Arab observer mission to Syria and call on the UN Security Council to send an international peacekeeping force to end violence there (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters). An empty chair for Syria is seen during the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on February 12, 2012.Arab states will end an Arab observer mission to Syria and call on the UN Security Council to send an international peacekeeping force to end violence there (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters).

The Arab League’s moves against Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime yesterday are striking, coming on the heels of Russia and China’s veto of a Security Council resolution condemning Syria the week before. Rather than back down in light of the international community’s failure to condemn Syria, the Arab League called for even more robust action and backed it up with measures—some symbolic, some tangible—that will increase Syria’s regional isolation and ratchet up the diplomatic pressure on Damascus. Three elements of the Arab League’s call yesterday are noteworthy: Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Palestinian Unity and Syria’s Disunity

by Robert M. Danin
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal walk with Qatar's emir sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani as they arrive to sign an agreement in Doha on February 6, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters). Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal walk with Qatar's emir sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani as they arrive to sign an agreement in Doha on February 6, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. Russia and China vetoed an Arab and Western-backed resolution at the UN Security Council last Saturday following a flurry of negotiations. Russia succeeded in watering down the text of the resolution, only to then vote against it. (I offer a proposal for engaging the Russians in a ‘grand bargain’ as the international community considers more robust means to halt the bloodshed in Syria, which is available here.) Read more »