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 "Peace Process"

This Week: Israel and Hamas Fight while Baghdad and Kurdistan Argue

by Robert M. Danin
An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 8, 2014 (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters). An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 8, 2014 (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Israel-Palestine. Israel entered its third day of Operation Protective Edge today as rockets rained down on many parts of Israel. More than fifteen rockets were fired into Tel Aviv today in what is believed to be the largest bombardment there since the 1948 Israeli war of independence. However, the Iron Dome system has successfully intercepted most rockets fired at population centers to date. Read more »

This Week: Iraq’s Crisis, Syria’s Gloating, and Israeli-Palestinian Prayers

by Robert M. Danin
A burnt vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces is pictured at a checkpoint in east Mosul, one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). A burnt vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces is pictured at a checkpoint in east Mosul, one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki called on parliament today to impose a state of emergency in Iraq, but then failed to convene a quorum needed to approve it. Maliki’s move came as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) threatened to move on Baghdad today after a surprise offense against northern Iraq on Monday in which Isis fighters took Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, sending over half a million residents fleeing. Read more »

This Week: Israeli-Palestinian Escalation, Egyptian and Syrian Elections

by Robert M. Danin
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah (6th L) and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (5th L) pose for a group photo with Palestinian ministers during a swearing-in ceremony of the technocratic government, in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014 (Torokman/Courtesy Reuters). Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah (6th L) and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (5th L) pose for a group photo with Palestinian ministers during a swearing-in ceremony of the technocratic government, in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014 (Torokman/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Israel-Palestine.  Palestinian officials responded strongly to Israel’s announcement last night of plans for nearly 1,500 new housing units. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for president Mahmoud Abbas, warned that Palestine will “respond in an unprecedented way,” while PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi released a statement today threatening to go the UN. Read more »

This Week: Egyptians Vote, Libyans Demonstrate, and the Pope Visits the Holy Land

by Robert M. Danin
Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank, on his way to celebrate a mass in Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 25, 2014 (Amareen/Courtesy Reuters). Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank, on his way to celebrate a mass in Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 25, 2014 (Amareen/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Security forces on Friday dispersed demonstrations across the country of Morsi supporters protesting General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s victory in this week’s presidential election. Sisi reportedly won nearly 95 percent of the vote. Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came in third in 2012, conceded defeat yesterday, calling the official voter turnout figures an “insult to Egyptians’ intelligence.” Read more »

This Week: Syria’s Friends, Libya’s Military, and Iran’s Negotiations

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

Significant Developments

Syria. The Friends of Syria group met in London yesterday and issued a communique that denounced Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s plan to hold elections on June 3 and agreed to increase support to the moderate opposition. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed frustration about the Syrian regime’s control over access to international humanitarian aid and said he had seen data indicating the Syrian government recent use of chlorine as a chemical weapon. Read more »

This Week: Syria’s Latest Agreement and a New U.S. Ambassador for Egypt

by Robert M. Danin
Residents arrive on foot to inspect their homes in the al-Hamdeya neighborhood, after the cessation of fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, in Homs May 9, 2014 (al-Hariri/Courtesy Reuters). Residents arrive on foot to inspect their homes in the al-Hamdeya neighborhood, after the cessation of fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, in Homs May 9, 2014 (al-Hariri/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Regime forces took complete control of Homs today as part of a deal struck with armed rebels allowing for nearly 1,700 opposition fighters to evacuate the city with light weapons. Hundreds of Homs residents began to filter back into the battered city this morning to discover what remained of their homes. The regime-rebel pact, brokered by the Iranian and Russian ambassadors to Syria, exchanged safe passage for the release of forty Alawite women and children, an Iranian woman, and thirty-one Syrian soldiers, as well as the distribution of aid to two pro-regime villages in Aleppo province. Read more »

This Week: Palestinian Unity, GCC-Qatar Comity, and Syrian Duplicity

by Robert M. Danin
Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council's countries attend a meeting in the Saudi port city of Jeddah September 10, 2013 (Al Qarni/Courtesy Reuters). Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council's countries attend a meeting in the Saudi port city of Jeddah September 10, 2013 (Al Qarni/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Palestinian Unity. The Israeli cabinet voted unanimously to suspend peace talks with the Palestinian Authority today because of the unity agreement announced yesterday between Fatah and Hamas. Rejecting the notion of negotiating with a government “backed by Hamas,” prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Whoever chooses the terrorism of Hamas does not want peace.” The deadline for the completion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations set nine months ago by Secretary of State Kerry expires on April 29. See my analysis of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement in my blog post from yesterday. Read more »

The Fatah-Hamas Gaza Palestinian Unity Agreement

by Robert M. Danin
Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh shakes hands with President Mahmoud Abbas after handing him an agreed list of ministers for a new unity government, in Gaza March 15, 2007 in this picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO) (Abu Askar/Courtesy Reuters). Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh shakes hands with President Mahmoud Abbas after handing him an agreed list of ministers for a new unity government, in Gaza March 15, 2007 in this picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO) (Abu Askar/Courtesy Reuters).

Hamas and Fatah have once again reached an agreement to overcome their split, claiming they will form a unity government within five weeks and hold general elections by December. There is little reason to believe that the unity agreement reached today in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah is any more credible, or stands any better chance of implementation, than the previous failed unity agreements between the two parties penned in Cairo and Doha. The fundamental issues that divide them remain: Hamas is interested in an Islamist agenda while Fatah opposes it. Read more »

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. 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 »