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: 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 »

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 »

Middle East Matters This Week: Egypt’s Brutal Crackdown, Syrian-Related Diplomacy, and Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate

by Robert M. Danin
Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi carry a man who was wounded by rubber bullets and affected by tear gas during clashes with riot police on the Sixth of October Bridge over the Ramsis square area in central Cairo July 15, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi carry a man who was wounded by rubber bullets and affected by tear gas during clashes with riot police on the Sixth of October Bridge over the Ramsis square area in central Cairo July 15, 2013 (Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. President Barack Obama today strongly condemned the Egyptian military’s use of force and announced the cancellation of next month’s joint U.S.-Egyptian “Bright Star” military exercise. Obama was reacting to Egypt’s crackdown on supporters of deposed president Mohammad Morsi last night that left over five hundred people dead and thousands injured. The assault on the protest encampments prompted retaliatory attacks against government buildings.  Interim vice president Mohammad ElBaradei resigned last night over the continuing violence. Secretary of State John Kerry last night called the events “deplorable” and “counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion, and genuine democracy.” The Morsi supporters had been camped out since the Egyptian military removed President Morsi from power on July 3. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Damascene Violence, Israeli Settlements, Egyptian protests, and Iranian Talks About Talks

by Robert M. Danin
Syria's president Bashar al-Assad (C) chats with military personnel (SANA/Courtesy Reuters). Syria's president Bashar al-Assad (C) chats with military personnel (SANA/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Syrian officials denied rebel claims that they hit part of President Bashar al-Assad’s motorcade with artillery shells near his home in Damascus today. The president appeared on national television later in the day. If confirmed, today’s attack would be one of the most direct against Assad in two years of fighting. Read more »