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 "Bahrain"

This Week: Egypt’s Likely New President, Arab League Paralysis, and Turkish-Syrian Fighting

by Robert M. Danin
Egypt's defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen during a news conference in Cairo (Courtesy Reuters). Egypt's defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen during a news conference in Cairo (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Field Marshal and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi yesterday resigned from the military and announced his candidacy for president. Ibrahim Munir, a member of the political bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood, declared in response to the announcement that al-Sisi is “a man who has killed daily since the coup” and that “there can be no stability or security under the shadow of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the presidency.” The move comes just days before nominations are scheduled to begin on Sunday. Thus far only one other candidate, Hamdeen Sabbahi who came in third in the 2012 presidential election, has declared his intention to enter the race. Read more »

This Week: Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum, Syria’s Peace Conference, and Iraq’s Unity Setback

by Robert M. Danin
Officials count ballots after polls closed in Cairo, January 15, 2014 (El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Officials count ballots after polls closed in Cairo, January 15, 2014 (El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Egyptian state media reported today that over 95 percent of those who participated in the two-day constitutional referendum voted in favor of the new charter. Estimated turnout rates fluctuate wildly, ranging from an Interior Ministry official’s report of more than 55 percent to state media reports of just over 36 percent. Read more »

This Week: Syrian Pre-Negotiations, Egyptian Convictions, and more U.S. Shuttle Diplomacy

by Robert M. Danin
Members of Syrian opposition groups stand after visiting the former mosque of Cordoba during a consultative meeting in Cordoba, southern Spain January 9, 2014 (del Pozo/Courtesy Reuters). Members of Syrian opposition groups stand after visiting the former mosque of Cordoba during a consultative meeting in Cordoba, southern Spain January 9, 2014 (del Pozo/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Representatives from various Syrian opposition groups– including some Islamist factions– met in Cordoba, Spain today to try to forge common ground before the scheduled peace talks with the Assad regime on January 22 in Switzerland. Secretary of State John Kerry floated the idea earlier this week that Iran could play a role from the sidelines, saying that, “Can their mission that is already in Geneva…be there in order to help the process? It may be that there are ways that could happen.” Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria’s Negotiations, Egypt’s Violence, and Turkey’s Politics

by Robert M. Danin
UN vehicles transporting a team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are pictured as they return to their hotel in Damascus October 3, 2013 (al-Hariri/Courtesy Reuters). UN vehicles transporting a team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are pictured as they return to their hotel in Damascus October 3, 2013 (al-Hariri/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. The Assad regime provided documents yesterday about its chemical weapons stockpile in the first day of Damascus meetings with the nineteen member advance team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The team called the Syrian government’s move “promising,” and said it hopes to begin onsite inspections and dismantling efforts next week. Initial timetables aim to destroy production equipment by November and eliminate stock piles in mid-2014. Read more »

This Week: Syria, Iran, and Israeli-Palestinian Diplomacy; Violence in Egypt

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks next to U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi (C) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after a meeting discussing the ongoing problems in Syria at the United Nations offices in Geneva September 13, 2013 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks next to U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi (C) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after a meeting discussing the ongoing problems in Syria at the United Nations offices in Geneva September 13, 2013 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Syria. Diplomats in New York appeared stymied in their efforts to craft a new United Nations Security resolution calling for the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. The Security Council began discussing a resolution on Tuesday to support last weekend’s U.S.-Russia deal that called for Syria to account for its chemical weapons within one week and for the destruction of its entire arsenal by mid-2014; members are divided over whether or not to include the threat of sanctions or force. Read more »

While Everyone Else Was Looking at Syria

by Robert M. Danin
Riot police guard the site of an explosion near the house of Egypt's interior minister at Cairo's Nasr City district September 5, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters)/ Riot police guard the site of an explosion near the house of Egypt's interior minister at Cairo's Nasr City district September 5, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters)/

Egypt.

Interim president Adly Mansour extended the month-long state of emergency for two more months yesterday. A presidential spokesman explained the extension was due to recent “terrorist activities.” Two car bombs hit an Egyptian military intelligence building in Rafah, Sinai on Wednesday, killing at least eleven people, including six soldiers. Read more »

Voices From the Region: Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Bahrain

by Robert M. Danin
A Free Syrian Army fighter watches U.S. President Barack Obama's speech with his family in Ghouta, Damascus August 31, 2013 (Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). A Free Syrian Army fighter watches U.S. President Barack Obama's speech with his family in Ghouta, Damascus August 31, 2013 (Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

“Obama will strike for the people…The regime also are fighting for the people, and the opposition is fighting for the people. And the people are damned.” –Abdelkader, a municipal employee from Raqqa

“Washington doesn’t understand the Middle East. [Obama’s] image here is of someone who is afraid of getting enmeshed in the machinations of the Middle East…There is no trust in Washington in the area because [people] think Obama is weak.” –Maher Abu-Teyr, a political columnist with Ad-Dustour, a semi-official Jordanian daily newspaper. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Egypt’s Brutal Crackdown, Syrian-Related Diplomacy, and Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate

by Robert M. Danin
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi carry a man who was wounded by rubber bullets and affected by tear gas during clashes with riot police on the Sixth of October Bridge over the Ramsis square area in central Cairo July 15, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi carry a man who was wounded by rubber bullets and affected by tear gas during clashes with riot police on the Sixth of October Bridge over the Ramsis square area in central Cairo July 15, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. President Barack Obama today strongly condemned the Egyptian military’s use of force and announced the cancellation of next month’s joint U.S.-Egyptian “Bright Star” military exercise. Obama was reacting to Egypt’s crackdown on supporters of deposed president Mohammad Morsi last night that left over five hundred people dead and thousands injured. The assault on the protest encampments prompted retaliatory attacks against government buildings.  Interim vice president Mohammad ElBaradei resigned last night over the continuing violence. Secretary of State John Kerry last night called the events “deplorable” and “counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion, and genuine democracy.” The Morsi supporters had been camped out since the Egyptian military removed President Morsi from power on July 3. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria at Center Stage as Iran Talks Drag On

by Robert M. Danin
A member of the Free Syrian Army holds his weapon as he sits on a sofa in the middle of a street in Deir al-Zor April 2, 2013 (Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters). A member of the Free Syrian Army holds his weapon as he sits on a sofa in the middle of a street in Deir al-Zor April 2, 2013 (Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Israel publicly warned Syrian president Bashar Assad to stop transferring advanced weapons to Hezbollah yesterday. In an unusual move, a senior Israeli official contacted the New York Times on Wednesday and was then quoted by the paper saying that “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” arguing that such a move would destabilize the region. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syrian Chemical Weapons, Iraqi Violence, and U.S. Regional Engagement

by Robert M. Danin
Residents wear masks as they search for bodies in Aleppo (Salman/Courtesy Reuters). Residents wear masks as they search for bodies in Aleppo (Salman/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Syrian officials today denied international allegations that Bashar al-Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in Syria. Yesterday, the White House sent a letter to Congressional leaders stating that U.S.  intelligence agencies assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that Assad’s government had used the chemical agent sarin on a small scale. Read more »