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 "Tunisia"

This Week: Iraq and Syria’s Caliphate, Israel and Palestine’s Violence

by Robert M. Danin
A militant Islamist fighter in Ra’qqa province celebrates the declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria on June 30, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). A militant Islamist fighter in Ra’qqa province celebrates the declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria on June 30, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. Saudi state news agency SPA announced today the deployment of 30,000 Saudi Arabian troops to the country’s border with Iraq. The move followed the reported removal of Iraqi troops from their shared border; officials in Baghdad denied their troops had withdrawn. On Sunday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in their newly conquered territory.  Read more »

This Week: Iraq Flails, Egypt Punishes, and Israel Searches

by Robert M. Danin
Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani greets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the presidential palace in Irbil, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region, June 24, 2014. This is the first visit to the Kurdish region by a U.S. Secretary of State since 2006. (Smialowski/Courtesy Reuters). Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani greets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the presidential palace in Irbil, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region, June 24, 2014. This is the first visit to the Kurdish region by a U.S. Secretary of State since 2006. (Smialowski/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. State television network Iraqiya announced today that the Iraqi parliament will convene Monday to form a new government. Meanwhile, prominent Shia religious leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for an inclusive emergency unity government that would appeal to the demands of marginalized moderate Sunni citizens. Yesterday, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected international calls to form a unity government, which he called a “coup” against the constitution. Read more »

This Week: Iraq’s Morass, Iran’s Talks, and Egypt’s Trials

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (L) after their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, November 1, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (L) after their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, November 1, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iraq. President Obama told reporters today that the United States will deploy up to 300 military advisors to Iraq to help the country’s security services “take the fight” to the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Obama reiterated his earlier pledge to not send combat troops to Iraq.  ISIL insurgents have captured several cities in northern Iraq and are holding on the outskirts of Baghdad. Obama called the current crisis “Maliki’s test,” but would not speak to the Iraqi prime minister’s competence as a unifier capable of creating an “inclusive agenda.” 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 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: 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: 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: 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 »

While Everyone Else Was Looking at Syria

by Robert M. Danin
Riot police guard the site of an explosion near the house of Egypt's interior minister at Cairo's Nasr City district September 5, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters)/ Riot police guard the site of an explosion near the house of Egypt's interior minister at Cairo's Nasr City district September 5, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters)/

Egypt.

Interim president Adly Mansour extended the month-long state of emergency for two more months yesterday. A presidential spokesman explained the extension was due to recent “terrorist activities.” Two car bombs hit an Egyptian military intelligence building in Rafah, Sinai on Wednesday, killing at least eleven people, including six soldiers. Read more »