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 "Syria"

This Week: Hezbollah Attack, ISIS Rollback, and Jordan Hostage Standoff

by Robert M. Danin
Safi Yousef (2nd R), father of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, speaks at a news conference where he asked for Islamic State to pardon and release his son, in Amman January 29, 2015 (Hamed/Courtesy Reuters). Safi Yousef (2nd R), father of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, speaks at a news conference where he asked for Islamic State to pardon and release his son, in Amman January 29, 2015 (Hamed/Courtesy Reuters).

Israel-Lebanon. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said today that Israel had received reports via the UN indicating Hezbollah does not plan further military strikes following its attack yesterday that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven others. The IDF struck Hezbollah operational positions in Lebanon in retaliation. Spain’s ambassador to the UN blamed Israel for the death of a Spanish soldier, on detail to UNIFIL, who was killed in the crossfire. 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: Mubarak’s Acquittal Challenged and Israel’s Government Dissolves

by Robert M. Danin
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters as he returns to Maadi military hospital in Cairo November 29, 2014 (Waguih/Courtesy Reuters). Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters as he returns to Maadi military hospital in Cairo November 29, 2014 (Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Egypt’s top prosecutor announced Tuesday that he plans to appeal an Egyptian court’s dismissal of all remaining charges against former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak, his security chief, and six high level police commanders were acquitted last week of killing protestors in the 2011 uprisings after the court ruled the case “inadmissible” on a technicality. 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 »

This Week: Violence in Jerusalem, Nusra gains in Syria, and U.S. Policy Shift on Isis

by Robert M. Danin
Israeli border police officers walks in front of the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City November 5, 2014 (Awad/Courtesy Reuters). Israeli border police officers walks in front of the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City November 5, 2014 (Awad/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Jordan-Israel-Palestine. The Jordanian Minister of Islamic Affairs, Hayel Dawood, accused Israel yesterday of attacking the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and of causing fire damage “tantamount to state terrorism” and “a violation of Jordan’s peace treaty.” Israeli special forces had stormed the mosque compound firing tear gas, and sparking fires that damaged the building. The accusations follow an earlier decision by Jordan to withdraw its ambassador to Israel for “consultations.”  Read more »

This Week: Islamist Defeat in Tunisia, Increased Violence in Jerusalem, and Counter-Offensive in Kobani

by Robert M. Danin
Supporters of the Nida Tounes (Call of Tunisia) secular party movement wave flags and shout slogans outside Nidaa Tounes headquarters in Tunis October 28, 2014 (Souissi/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of the Nida Tounes (Call of Tunisia) secular party movement wave flags and shout slogans outside Nidaa Tounes headquarters in Tunis October 28, 2014 (Souissi/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Tunisia. The Tunisian election commission confirmed the victory of the secular party Nidaa Tunis in the country’s parliamentary elections held Sunday. It was Tunisia’s second parliamentary vote since the region wide Arab uprisings first erupted in the country in 2011. Nidaa Tunis, which is composed of liberals and politicians from earlier Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali regime, won 85 of the 217 parliamentary seats. Ennahda, the ruling Islamist party, finished second, winning 69 seats in parliament. The head of the EU observer mission, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, deemed the Tunisia’s parliamentary election “ transparent and credible.” Read more »

This Week: Turkey’s Acquiescence and Iran Sanctions

by Robert M. Danin
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells (Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters). A Kurdish peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells (Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

ISIS-Turkey. Turkey announced on Monday that it would allow Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces to cross its border to come to Kobani’s defense, five weeks after the start of ISIS’s assault on the town. U.S. military planes airdropped ammunition, small arms, and medical supplies over Kobani on Sunday to resupply depleted Kurdish fighters. However, the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday that ISIS had posted a video online in which it claimed to have intercepted some of the munitions dropped by the United States. Read more »

This Week: Defeating ISIS, Iran Negotiations, and Rebuilding Gaza

by Robert M. Danin
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey speaks in a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, September 26, 2014 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters). Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey speaks in a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, September 26, 2014 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

ISIS. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey told CNN yesterday that the United States has a “winning strategy” to defeat ISIS. Dempsey’s comments came one day after President Barack Obama told reporters that the campaign will see “days of progress” and “periods of setback.” Obama’s remarks followed a meeting with the military chiefs of twenty-one coalition countries at Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday. Read more »