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 "Kuwait"

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 »

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: 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 Voices from the UN General Assembly

by Robert M. Danin
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2013 (Segar/Courtesy Reuters). Iranian president Hassan Rouhani addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2013 (Segar/Courtesy Reuters).

World leaders converged at the United Nations this week for the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly. The Middle East was well represented, with numerous heads of states and governments attending from across the region. Middle East Matters has excerpted remarks from Middle Eastern leaders who spoke from the General Assembly’s rostrum this week. The debate concludes next Tuesday. 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: Lebanon’s Sectarian Violence, Qatar’s New Emir, and Egypt’s President Ruminates

by Robert M. Danin
A Lebanese army soldier stands atop of an armoured personnel carrier as he patrols the area near the mosque complex where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters, in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon June 25, 2013 (Hashisho/Courtesy Reuters). A Lebanese army soldier stands atop of an armoured personnel carrier as he patrols the area near the mosque complex where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters, in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon June 25, 2013 (Hashisho/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Lebanon. The Lebanese army defeated the militant followers of radical Sunni cleric Sheik Ahmad al-Assir in Sidon on Tuesday after a violent two-day battle. The clashes ended with military forces storming al-Assir’s mosque complex, where they found a large stockpile of weapons, but were unable to apprehend al-Assir. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Iran’s President, Turkey’s Protests, Syria’s Opponents, and Palestine’s Prime Minister

by Robert M. Danin
Iranian president-elect Hassan Rohani gestures to the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Iranian president-elect Hassan Rohani gestures to the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iran. President Obama reacted cautiously to the election of former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani to become Iran’s new president. In an interview with Charlie Rose broadcast Monday night, Obama said, “Clearly, you have a hunger within Iran to engage with the international community in a more positive way…And so we’re going to have to continue to see how this develops and how this evolves over the next several weeks, months, years.” Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria’s Deaths, Turkey’s Protests, and Egypt’s Water

by Robert M. Danin
Women hold candles as they mourn at a funeral earlier this week in Raqqa province east of Syria May 16, 2013 (Kelze/Courtesy Reuters). Women hold candles as they mourn at a funeral earlier this week in Raqqa province east of Syria May 16, 2013 (Kelze/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. United Nations high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay said today that the Syrian death toll is approaching ninety-three thousand. Syrian rebels attacked the village of Hatlah yesterday, killing at least thirty Shiite villagers and burning homes while shouting sectarian slogans. The raid came one day after two suicide bombers detonated their explosives in central Damascus, killing fourteen people. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Palestine’s Political Shake-up, Syria’s Opposition Gains, and Mubarak’s Re-Trial

by Robert M. Danin
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stands beside Salam Fayyad (L) during a swearing-in ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 19,2009 (Arouri/Courtesy Reuters). Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stands beside Salam Fayyad (L) during a swearing-in ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 19,2009 (Arouri/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Palestine. Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad’s resignation was accepted over the weekend by President Mahmoud Abbas. Fayyad will reportedly remain in the post until Abbas names a replacement. Political tensions rose between the two Palestinian leaders in early March when Finance Minister Nabil Qassis announced he was quitting. Fayyad accepted the resignation, but was overruled by Abbas, in contravention of the Palestinian Basic Law–in effect challenging the prime minister’s authority to hire and fire cabinet ministers and sparking a constitutional crisis. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Israel, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Iraq

by Robert M. Danin
Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid party stands behind Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Shimon Peres at a reception following the swearing-in ceremony of the 19th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 5, 2013 (Zvulun/Courtesy Reuters).. Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid party stands behind Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Shimon Peres at a reception following the swearing-in ceremony of the 19th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 5, 2013 (Zvulun/Courtesy Reuters)..

Significant Developments

Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared poised to form a new government today with Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, and Naftali Bennett, leader of the Habayit Hayehudi party. The coalition agreement is expected to be signed tomorrow. Read more »