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 "Israel"

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

by Robert M. Danin
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. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, responded to reports of a chlorine gas attack on Sunday, saying, “So far it’s unsubstantiated…we will do everything in our power to establish what has happened and then consider possible steps in response.” Read more »

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

by Robert M. Danin
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
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 »

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: U.S.-Palestinian Summit, Piracy in Libya, Negotiations with Iran

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. president Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas at the White House in Washington March 17, 2014 (Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas at the White House in Washington March 17, 2014 (Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Israeli-Palestinian Peace.  President Barack Obama met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Monday. The two leaders discussed the April 29 deadline set by the United States for a framework agreement. Obama told reporters at the top of the meeting that risks would have to be taken if progress is to be made. In the meeting, Abbas reportedly requested the release of Marwan Barghouti, one of the most senior prisoners held by Israel, as one way to possibly extend the talks. Read more »

President Obama’s March Summit with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

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, May 18, 2009 (Downing/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, May 18, 2009 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

President Barack Obama hosts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Monday. The last time the two leaders met together—September 30, 2013, in the same Oval Office—Obama had big news for the Israeli leader: his administration had been engaged in secret high-level negotiations for the previous seven months with Israel’s most menacing adversary, Iran. Read more »

This Week: Syria’s Machinations, Egypt’s Presidency, and Iran’s Bravado

by Robert M. Danin
Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Ja'afari (R) talks with Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin before members of the United Nations Security Council take part in a vote on a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal during a Security Council meeting during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York September 27, 2013 (Bedford/Courtesy Reuters). Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Ja'afari (R) talks with Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin before members of the United Nations Security Council take part in a vote on a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal during a Security Council meeting during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York September 27, 2013 (Bedford/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Russia today presented a draft resolution on Syrian humanitarian aid access that includes a condemnation of “terrorism” to the UN Security Council. Yesterday, Russian deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov rejected a proposed resolution on humanitarian aid access drafted by Australia, Jordan, and Luxembourg that demanded “all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately end the sieges of the Old City of Homs.” Read more »

The Obama Administration’s Upcoming Arab Outreach

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. president Barack Obama (R) meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 29, 2010 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama (R) meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 29, 2010 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama meets King Abdullah of Jordan on Friday in California. The president will also travel to Saudi Arabia in March, just after Secretary of State John Kerry makes a special stop in the United Arab Emirates.

All three of these events are part of a larger whole: an attempt by the Obama administration to reassure key American Arab allies that the United States is not retreating from the Middle East or going soft on its leadership role in the world. This effort was exemplified by the extraordinary joint plea by Secretaries Hagel and Kerry recently at the Munich Security Conference to skeptical European partners. Read more »

This Week: Syria’s Fighting, Iran’s Windfall, and Iraq’s Violence

by Robert M. Danin
A member of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra mans a checkpoint on the border crossing between Syria and Jordan, which they claim to have taken control of, in Daraa December 26, 2013 (Khassawneh/Courtesy Reuters). A member of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra mans a checkpoint on the border crossing between Syria and Jordan, which they claim to have taken control of, in Daraa December 26, 2013 (Khassawneh/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. The United Nations and Syria agreed today to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged old city of Homs, and to allow women and children safe passage out. The agreement came just hours after Syrian rebels announced a new campaign in Aleppo against government forces which escalated its air assault earlier this week. Read more »

This Week: Syria’s Negotiations, Egypt’s Entrenchment, and Iran’s Inspections

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

Significant Developments

Syria. The first ever talks between the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime continue in Switzerland, with the Syrian government hinting yesterday it may be willing to accede to the 2012 Geneva I communique as a road map for the future. However, the Damascus government and the Syrian opposition fundamentally disagree over how to implement the document and its call for a political transition in Syria. Read more »