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 "Middle East Matters This Week"

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 »

This Week: Syrian Accord, Iranian Discord, and an End to Egyptian Emergency

by Robert M. Danin
Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour meets with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and defense minister Sergei Shoigu  Cairo, November 14, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour meets with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and defense minister Sergei Shoigu Cairo, November 14, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Syria. The Syrian Opposition Coalition voted to attend the upcoming peace conference in Geneva, though the decision was conditional on the Syrian government allowing aid shipments to rebel held areas and the release of prisoners by government forces. According to Russian news sources, the Syrian government will send a delegation to Moscow on Monday to prepare for the upcoming international peace conference in Geneva. Read more »

This Week: Iranian Negotiations, Syrian CW Dismantlement, and Israeli-Palestinian Squabbling

by Robert M. Danin
Iranian and international negotiators in Geneva November 7, 2013 (Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters). Iranian and international negotiators in Geneva November 7, 2013 (Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iran. Nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 countries and Iran began today in Geneva with participants voicing optimism that a deal could be reached within days. A senior U.S. official told journalists yesterday that the United States was looking for a “first step understanding” that stops Iran’s nuclear program from moving forward in exchange for “limited, targeted, and reversible sanctions relief.” Read more »

This Week: Syria Destroys CW Facilities, Egypt Continues Crackdown, and Washington Hosts Maliki

by Robert M. Danin
Workers dressed in protective clothes during a chemical weapons demonstration (Bimmer/Courtesy Reuters). Workers dressed in protective clothes during a chemical weapons demonstration (Bimmer/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced today that Syria had “completed rendering inoperable its chemical weapons production and assembly installations,” ahead of schedule. Late last night, a Syrian government airbase in Latakia was destroyed in a missile attack of unknown national origin launched from the Mediterranean. The airbase housed Russian surface to air missiles and a radar center. Read more »

This Week: Saudi Pique, Syrian Politics, and Egyptian Paralysis

by Robert M. Danin
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (C), joins with his brother Prince Salman (R) (Shadeed/Courtesy Reuters). Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (C), joins with his brother Prince Salman (R) (Shadeed/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Bandar Bin Sultan, said on Tuesday that the kingdom will be making a “major shift” away from its close relationship with the United States. Bandar reportedly accused the United States of failing to act effectively on Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of growing closer to Tehran, and of failing to back the crushing of Bahrain’s an anti-government revolt in 2011. Read more »

This Week: Iran Negotiations, Syria Pre-Negotiations, and Egypt Moots Legislation

by Robert M. Danin
Delegations from Iran, the United States, and other world powers sit before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013 (Coffrini/Courtesy Reuters). Delegations from Iran, the United States, and other world powers sit before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013 (Coffrini/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU negotiator Catherine Ashton issued a joint statement yesterday, following talks between the P5+1 countries and Iran, announcing that further talks would continue on November 7 in Geneva. 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 »

Middle East Matters This Week: Retaliatory Talk Against Syria, Egypt’s Crackdown Intensifies

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. president Barack Obama (Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama (Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. White House officials plan to brief members of Congress this evening on the situation in Syria after more than one hundred U.S. representatives signed a letter yesterday calling for President Obama to put the use of force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to a vote. Meanwhile, Britain and France called for a delay today in taking military action against the Syrian government until the UN inspectors currently on the ground finish their report. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Alleged Syrian Chemical Weapons Use, Mubarak Leaves Prison in Egypt

by Robert M. Danin
A man holds the body of a dead child among bodies of people activists say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013 (Khabieh/Courtesy Reuters). A man holds the body of a dead child among bodies of people activists say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013 (Khabieh/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius called today for a forceful international response  to reports that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons outside Damascus yesterday. However, Fabius added that “there is no question of sending troops on the ground.” Read more »