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 "UAE"

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 Obama Administration’s Upcoming Arab Outreach

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. president Barack Obama (R) meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 29, 2010 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama (R) meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 29, 2010 (Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama meets King Abdullah of Jordan on Friday in California. The president will also travel to Saudi Arabia in March, just after Secretary of State John Kerry makes a special stop in the United Arab Emirates.

All three of these events are part of a larger whole: an attempt by the Obama administration to reassure key American Arab allies that the United States is not retreating from the Middle East or going soft on its leadership role in the world. This effort was exemplified by the extraordinary joint plea by Secretaries Hagel and Kerry recently at the Munich Security Conference to skeptical European partners. Read more »

This Week: Egypt’s Constitution, Iran’s Diplomacy, and Syria’s War Crimes

by Robert M. Danin
Amr Moussa, head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution,speaks after they finished their vote at the Shura Council in Cairo December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Amr Moussa, head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution,speaks after they finished their vote at the Shura Council in Cairo December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Egypt’s Salafist Islamist party, al-Nour, announced its support today for the just completed draft constitution, despite an amendment that bans religiously based political parties. The draft constitution would remove most opposition to the current state of military rule, and has been condemned both by supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi as well as human rights activitists who fear that it unduly enshrines the military’s predominant position in Egyptian politics. Read more »

This Week: Iran Negotiations, Syria Pre-Negotiations, and Egypt Moots Legislation

by Robert M. Danin
Delegations from Iran, the United States, and other world powers sit before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013 (Coffrini/Courtesy Reuters). Delegations from Iran, the United States, and other world powers sit before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013 (Coffrini/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU negotiator Catherine Ashton issued a joint statement yesterday, following talks between the P5+1 countries and Iran, announcing that further talks would continue on November 7 in Geneva. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Lebanon’s Sectarian Violence, Qatar’s New Emir, and Egypt’s President Ruminates

by Robert M. Danin
A Lebanese army soldier stands atop of an armoured personnel carrier as he patrols the area near the mosque complex where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters, in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon June 25, 2013 (Hashisho/Courtesy Reuters). A Lebanese army soldier stands atop of an armoured personnel carrier as he patrols the area near the mosque complex where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters, in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon June 25, 2013 (Hashisho/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Lebanon. The Lebanese army defeated the militant followers of radical Sunni cleric Sheik Ahmad al-Assir in Sidon on Tuesday after a violent two-day battle. The clashes ended with military forces storming al-Assir’s mosque complex, where they found a large stockpile of weapons, but were unable to apprehend al-Assir. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syrian Chemical Weapons, Iraqi Violence, and U.S. Regional Engagement

by Robert M. Danin
Residents wear masks as they search for bodies in Aleppo (Salman/Courtesy Reuters). Residents wear masks as they search for bodies in Aleppo (Salman/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. Syrian officials today denied international allegations that Bashar al-Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in Syria. Yesterday, the White House sent a letter to Congressional leaders stating that U.S.  intelligence agencies assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that Assad’s government had used the chemical agent sarin on a small scale. Read more »

Voices From the Region: Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, UAE

by Robert M. Danin
Syrian rebels talk as they carry their weapons before heading to the front line in Aleppo on January 9, 2013 (Karam/Courtesy Reuters). Syrian rebels talk as they carry their weapons before heading to the front line in Aleppo on January 9, 2013 (Karam/Courtesy Reuters).

“It’s a very big victory for the Islamic groups…They are the strongest in Syria now because the Western countries won’t help.” – The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights using the pseudonym Rami Abdulrahman, speaking about the rebel capture of a key military air base last week Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria’s Cease-fire Tatters, Former Israeli Security Officials Speak out on Iran

by Robert M. Danin
Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak sits across from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on April 29, 2012 (Ronen Zvulun/Courtesy Reuters). Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak sits across from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on April 29, 2012 (Ronen Zvulun/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. The United Nations announced today that the three-week old truce in Syria “is not holding.” Major General Robert Mood, chief of the UN Supervision Mission to Syria, told Britain’s Sky News that “This is not easy and we are seeing–by the action, by explosions, by firing–that the cease-fire is really a shaky one.” He went on to say that “what we are also seeing on the ground is that where we have observers present, they have a calming effect and we’re also seeing that those operating on the ground, they take advice from our observers.” Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria Plan Flounders, Iraq’s Kurds Worry

by Robert M. Danin
Members of the first UN monitoring team in Syria, together with members of the Syrian Free Army, visit Homs on April 21, 2012 (Khaled Telawi/Courtesy Reuters). Members of the first UN monitoring team in Syria, together with members of the Syrian Free Army, visit Homs on April 21, 2012 (Khaled Telawi/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. The United Nations Security Council established the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria on Saturday, increasing the number of ceasefire monitors there from thirty to three hundred. UN special envoy Kofi Annan subsequently urged the Security Council on Tuesday to deploy the expanded unarmed military mission rapidly. However, the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, said it will take a month to deploy the first one hundred monitors. Read more »

Middle East Matters This Week: Syria’s Friends Meet, Kofi Announces a Deadline, and Egypt’s Brotherhood Fields a Candidate

by Robert M. Danin
Supporters of presidential candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party Khairat al-Shater, cheer while carrying banners bearing images of him, as he presents recommendation documents to the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) headquarters in Cairo on April 5, 2012 (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters). Supporters of presidential candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party Khairat al-Shater, cheer while carrying banners bearing images of him, as he presents recommendation documents to the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) headquarters in Cairo on April 5, 2012 (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters).

Significant Middle East Developments

Syria. The Friends of Syria group held its second ministerial conference on Sunday to discuss UN special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria. Meeting in Istanbul, representatives from more than eighty nations issued a declaration that recognized the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the opposition, much to the disappointment of SNC members who had hoped the opposition organization would be recognized as Syria’s sole legitimate representative and that lethal assistance would be pledged. Read more »