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 "Libya"

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: 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

This Week: Egypt’s Constitution, Iran’s Diplomacy, and Syria’s War Crimes

by Robert M. Danin
Amr Moussa, head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution,speaks after they finished their vote at the Shura Council in Cairo December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Amr Moussa, head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution,speaks after they finished their vote at the Shura Council in Cairo December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Egypt’s Salafist Islamist party, al-Nour, announced its support today for the just completed draft constitution, despite an amendment that bans religiously based political parties. The draft constitution would remove most opposition to the current state of military rule, and has been condemned both by supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi as well as human rights activitists who fear that it unduly enshrines the military’s predominant position in Egyptian politics. Read more »

This Week: Terror in Lebanon, Nuclear Talks with Iran, and Stockpile Plans for Syria

by Robert M. Danin
Civil Defence personnel extinguish a fire on cars at the site of the explosions near the Iranian embassy in Beirut November 19, 2013 (Yassine/Courtesy Reuters). Civil Defence personnel extinguish a fire on cars at the site of the explosions near the Iranian embassy in Beirut November 19, 2013 (Yassine/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Lebanon. Prime Minister Tamam Salam and speaker Nabih Berry both warned on Thursday of a return to violence in Lebanon if the country fails to resolve ongoing domestic political crises and control internal security. Their comments followed Tuesday’s suicide bombings of the Iranian embassy in Beirut that killed twenty-five people, including the Iranian cultural attaché, and wounded another one hundred and forty people. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni extremist group, took credit for the attack, which it claimed was in protest of Iran’s role in the ongoing civil war in Syria. 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 »