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 "Iran"

This Week: ISIS struck in Syria and Iraq as the Middle East takes center stage at the UN

by Robert M. Danin
A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of September 23, 2014 (Matthew Bruch/Courtesy Reuters). A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of September 23, 2014 (Matthew Bruch/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. The United States conducted its first ever military strikes against ISIS in Syria this week, targeting primarily oil refineries and infrastructure used for command and control in Raqqa. U. S. military and intelligence officials said on Tuesday that the airstrikes had also targeted an al-Qaeda affiliate called Khorasan. The group had reportedly been organizing an “imminent” attack from Syria against the United States or Europe. According to press reports, U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power informed her Syrian counterpart in advance of the airstrikes in Syria. Read more »

This Week: Hamas-Israel Fighting Escalates and Iraq’s New President

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo July 22, 2014 (Dharapak/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo July 22, 2014 (Dharapak/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Gaza-Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry has drafted a new cease-fire proposal which has been presented to Israel and Hamas. Kerry, due to leave Cairo on Friday for Washington, is reportedly waiting to hear Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal’s response to the proposal from the Qatari and Turkish foreign ministers. While Kerry and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon have been shuttling around the Middle East in search of a cease-fire, the prospects for an immediate halt to the fighting in Gaza do not appear imminent. Read more »

This Week: Israeli-Hamas Brinkmanship and Iraqi Political Progress

by Robert M. Danin
A car, which police said was damaged in an Israeli air strike that targeted the house of top Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar, is seen in Gaza City July 16, 2014 (Salem/Courtesy Reuters). A car, which police said was damaged in an Israeli air strike that targeted the house of top Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar, is seen in Gaza City July 16, 2014 (Salem/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments.

Israel-Gaza. Late on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered IDF troops to begin ground operations in Gaza. Israel and Hamas had intensified both their fighting and indirect negotiations earlier in the day following a temporary five-hour humanitarian cease-fire requested by the United Nations. Israeli officials, Hamas representatives, and PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas were all in Cairo for meetings with Egyptian mediators. Read more »

This Week: Israel and Hamas Fight while Baghdad and Kurdistan Argue

by Robert M. Danin
An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 8, 2014 (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters). An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 8, 2014 (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Israel-Palestine. Israel entered its third day of Operation Protective Edge today as rockets rained down on many parts of Israel. More than fifteen rockets were fired into Tel Aviv today in what is believed to be the largest bombardment there since the 1948 Israeli war of independence. However, the Iron Dome system has successfully intercepted most rockets fired at population centers to date. Read more »

This Week: Iraq and Syria’s Caliphate, Israel and Palestine’s Violence

by Robert M. Danin
A militant Islamist fighter in Ra’qqa province celebrates the declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria on June 30, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). A militant Islamist fighter in Ra’qqa province celebrates the declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria on June 30, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. Saudi state news agency SPA announced today the deployment of 30,000 Saudi Arabian troops to the country’s border with Iraq. The move followed the reported removal of Iraqi troops from their shared border; officials in Baghdad denied their troops had withdrawn. On Sunday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in their newly conquered territory.  Read more »

This Week: Iraq Flails, Egypt Punishes, and Israel Searches

by Robert M. Danin
Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani greets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the presidential palace in Irbil, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region, June 24, 2014. This is the first visit to the Kurdish region by a U.S. Secretary of State since 2006. (Smialowski/Courtesy Reuters). Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani greets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the presidential palace in Irbil, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region, June 24, 2014. This is the first visit to the Kurdish region by a U.S. Secretary of State since 2006. (Smialowski/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. State television network Iraqiya announced today that the Iraqi parliament will convene Monday to form a new government. Meanwhile, prominent Shia religious leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for an inclusive emergency unity government that would appeal to the demands of marginalized moderate Sunni citizens. Yesterday, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected international calls to form a unity government, which he called a “coup” against the constitution. Read more »

This Week: Iraq’s Morass, Iran’s Talks, and Egypt’s Trials

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (L) after their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, November 1, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (L) after their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, November 1, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. President Obama told reporters today that the United States will deploy up to 300 military advisors to Iraq to help the country’s security services “take the fight” to the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Obama reiterated his earlier pledge to not send combat troops to Iraq.  ISIL insurgents have captured several cities in northern Iraq and are holding on the outskirts of Baghdad. Obama called the current crisis “Maliki’s test,” but would not speak to the Iraqi prime minister’s competence as a unifier capable of creating an “inclusive agenda.” Read more »

This Week: Iraq’s Crisis, Syria’s Gloating, and Israeli-Palestinian Prayers

by Robert M. Danin
A burnt vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces is pictured at a checkpoint in east Mosul, one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). A burnt vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces is pictured at a checkpoint in east Mosul, one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki called on parliament today to impose a state of emergency in Iraq, but then failed to convene a quorum needed to approve it. Maliki’s move came as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) threatened to move on Baghdad today after a surprise offense against northern Iraq on Monday in which Isis fighters took Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, sending over half a million residents fleeing. Read more »

This Week: Egyptians Vote, Libyans Demonstrate, and the Pope Visits the Holy Land

by Robert M. Danin
Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank, on his way to celebrate a mass in Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 25, 2014 (Amareen/Courtesy Reuters). Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank, on his way to celebrate a mass in Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 25, 2014 (Amareen/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Security forces on Friday dispersed demonstrations across the country of Morsi supporters protesting General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s victory in this week’s presidential election. Sisi reportedly won nearly 95 percent of the vote. Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came in third in 2012, conceded defeat yesterday, calling the official voter turnout figures an “insult to Egyptians’ intelligence.” Read more »

This Week: Syria’s Friends, Libya’s Military, and Iran’s Negotiations

by Robert M. Danin
UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi pauses during a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva January 27, 2014 (Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters). UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi pauses during a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva January 27, 2014 (Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. The Friends of Syria group met in London yesterday and issued a communique that denounced Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s plan to hold elections on June 3 and agreed to increase support to the moderate opposition. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed frustration about the Syrian regime’s control over access to international humanitarian aid and said he had seen data indicating the Syrian government recent use of chlorine as a chemical weapon. Read more »