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 "Palestine"

Trump May Inadvertently Force Netanyahu’s Hand

by Robert M. Danin
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during their meeting in New York, September 25, 2016 (Reuters) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during their meeting in New York, September 25, 2016 (Reuters)

The election of Donald Trump has fueled an intense struggle within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over the future disposition of the West Bank that Israel has occupied for nearly fifty years.

At one end of the debate is coalition partner and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the pro-settler Jewish Home party. Bennett declared Israel effectively unshackled by American constraints on settlement activity the day after Trump’s victory, saying the “era of a Palestinian state is over.” Bennett has also called for Israel to take immediate steps to annex parts of the West Bank. On Sunday, Bennett reportedly met in New York with three members of President-Elect Trump’s team and urged the new administration to consider alternatives to the land-for-peace approach pursued by previous American presidents. Read more »

Foreign Affairs: The Struggle For Israel

by Robert M. Danin
The front cover of the July/August 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs (Design by Stavros Pavlides). The front cover of the July/August 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs (Design by Stavros Pavlides).

The July/August print edition of Foreign Affairs, entitled “The Struggle for Israel,” is out. It includes interviews with several leading Israeli politicians and articles by veteran analysts Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, As’ad Ghanem, and Martin Kramer. Read more »

Diplomacy Disonnected from Real Israeli-Palestinian Developments

by Robert M. Danin
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend an international and interministerial conference in a bid to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in Paris, France, June 3, 2016 (Stephane de Sakutin/Reuters). French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend an international and interministerial conference in a bid to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in Paris, France, June 3, 2016 (Stephane de Sakutin/Reuters).

Foreign Ministers from over two dozen countries convened in Paris today to find a way to restart moribund Israeli and Palestinian negotiations. Nether Israeli nor Palestinian officials were present, however. That is but one of the many reasons that this latest French effort seems detached from the realities on the ground and in the politics of the Middle East today. I discuss the latest diplomatic efforts emanating from Paris, Cairo, and Riyadh, as well as the political upheavals taking place in Israeli and Palestinian politics today in an interview with CFR.org. You can read the full interview here.

Four Strategic Challenges for Israel’s Next Government

by Robert M. Danin
An Israeli soldier picks his ballot at a polling station in a navy base in the southern city of Ashdod January 20, 2013 (Cohen/Courtesy Reuters). An Israeli soldier picks his ballot at a polling station in a navy base in the southern city of Ashdod January 20, 2013 (Cohen/Courtesy Reuters).

Israel’s next government will assume the mantle of a strong and prosperous country. While facing a range of security challenges and tremendous regional turmoil, Israel today enjoys a preponderance of power over any likely regional threat or adversarial coalition. Its national economy is robust, and the country’s national cohesion remains exceptionally strong. Read more »

This Week: Mosul Offensive, Netanyahu’s Address, and Turkey’s Incursion

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

ISIS. Ashton Carter, wrapping up his first overseas trip as secretary of defense, met with top U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Kuwait on Monday to review the U.S.-led international coalition’s strategy against ISIS. Carter announced that the Obama administration had “the ingredients of the strategy” to defeat ISIS militarily in Iraq and Syria, but that further efforts were required to combat ISIS’ use of social media. Read more »

This Week: Jordan’s ISIS Battle and Egypt’s Crackdown

by Robert M. Danin
Al Jazeera journalists (L-R) Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed stand behind bars at a court in Cairo May 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). Al Jazeera journalists (L-R) Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed stand behind bars at a court in Cairo May 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Jordan-ISIS. King Abdullah returned to a warm welcome in Jordan today after cutting short his visit to Washington yesterday. Abdullah’s move followed the release by ISIS of a video yesterday depicting captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned to death in a cage. Crowds gathered to express support for the Jordanian king’s decision to swiftly execute Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber on death row, and Ziad al-Karbouli, a former top lieutenant of Al Qaeda in Iraq, in retaliation for al-Kasasbeh’s death. Read more »

Hostile Middle East Reactions to Today’s Charlie Hebdo Cover

by Robert M. Danin
Satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux (R) and cartoonist Luz (L) show a copy of their next issue titled "Tout est pardonne" ("All is forgiven") showing a caricature of Prophet Mohammad during a news conference at the French newspaper Liberation offices in Paris, January 13, 2015 (Wojazer/Courtesy Reuters). Satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux (R) and cartoonist Luz (L) show a copy of their next issue titled "Tout est pardonne" ("All is forgiven") showing a caricature of Prophet Mohammad during a news conference at the French newspaper Liberation offices in Paris, January 13, 2015 (Wojazer/Courtesy Reuters).

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published its first issue today since gunmen stormed the magazine’s headquarters in Paris last Monday, killing twelve people. The new cover depicts the Prophet Muhammad cryingand holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign under the words: “Tout est pardonné” (“All is forgiven”). The surviving editors of the magazine held a press conference today claiming that the cartoon is an act of forgiveness. The cartoonist of today’s provocative cover, Renald Luzier, stated, “we have confidence in people’s intelligence and we have confidence in humor.” Immediately, the Charlie Hebdo cover precipitated widespread condemnation across the Middle East invoking accusations of blasphemy, though reactions varied. Read more »

This Week: Torture Report Reactions, Failed Yemen Rescue, and a Deadly Palestinian Protest

by Robert M. Danin
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (L) discusses a newly released Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics, in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, in this still image taken from video, on Capitol Hill in Washington December 9, 2014. (Senate TV/Courtesy Reuters) Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (L) discusses a newly released Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics, in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, in this still image taken from video, on Capitol Hill in Washington December 9, 2014. (Senate TV/Courtesy Reuters)

Significant Developments

CIA Torture Report. Official reaction in the Middle East to the release yesterday of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on torture has been muted so far, with protests concentrated primarily on social media. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday said that the report revealed the United States to be a “symbol of tyranny against humanity.” ISIS and al-Qaeda eagerly decreed that the report showed the United States’ hypocrisy, with Dutch jihadist Israfil Yilmaz writing: “They call us monsters? Slap yourself, read some of the @CIA torture reports and wake up.” Yemen’s legal advisor Nazeeh Alemad said the publication of the report “makes no difference” as “people here [in Yemen] are not looking for more proof of torture […] they deal with it as a fact.” Read more »

This Week: ISIS Beheading, Jerusalem Carnage, and Gulf Reconciliation

by Robert M. Danin
Paula (L) and Ed Kassig, parents of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig who was beheaded by Islamic State militants, read from a prepared statement while speaking to the press in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 17, 2014  (Smith/Courtesy Reuters). Paula (L) and Ed Kassig, parents of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig who was beheaded by Islamic State militants, read from a prepared statement while speaking to the press in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 17, 2014 (Smith/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

ISIS. ISIS released video footage on Sunday claiming responsibility for the beheading of American aid worker Peter Kassig. President Barack Obama confirmed the death of the American hostage and called the beheading “an act of pure evil.” A National Security Council spokesperson announced on Monday that Obama had ordered a comprehensive review over the summer of how the United States government addresses the issue of releasing hostages. Read more »

This Week: Iran Negotiations, Jordan-Israel Crisis Talks, and New Syria Truce Proposal

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), EU envoy Catherine Ashton (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in Muscat November 10, 2014 (Kamm/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), EU envoy Catherine Ashton (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in Muscat November 10, 2014 (Kamm/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iran. Negotiators from Iran and the P5+1 countries hinted at a possible extension of the November 24 deadline for a nuclear deal, after three days of talks in Oman failed to provide a breakthrough in the negotiations. However, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes stressed publicly that the United States was “not focused in discussions with Iran on extending [the deadline], [in order] to keep the focus on closing gaps.” Read more »