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: 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.” He added, “what makes a difference is what happens here, not some report published over there.” Secretary of State John Kerry had urged Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to delay the publication of the report, Kerry warning that its release would have adverse foreign policy implications for the United States’ “ongoing efforts aginst ISIL and the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world.” 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: Turkey’s Dilemma and Egypt’s Beheadings

by Robert M. Danin
A Turkish Kurdish protester throws a tear gas canister back at Turkish soldiers near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province October 4, 2014 (Sezer/Courtesy Reuters). A Turkish Kurdish protester throws a tear gas canister back at Turkish soldiers near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province October 4, 2014 (Sezer/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Turkey-Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on the U.S.-led coalition to supply arms and training to opposition ground troops in Syria, arguing that “Kobani [was] about to fall” to ISIS. Erdogan nonetheless refused to commit Turkish ground forces. The Turkish leader’s decision to withhold ground troops, stemming primarily from a refusal to engage with affiliates of the PKK, sparked clashes between Kurdish protesters and security forces throughout Turkey. Read more »

Voices From the UN General Assembly

by Robert M. Danin
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2014 (Segar/Courtesy Reuters). Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2014 (Segar/Courtesy Reuters).

International efforts to combat ISIS dominated the recent debate in New York when world leaders converged for the UN General Assembly’s sixty-ninth session. Middle East Matters has excerpted passages from regional leaders, all of whom spoke about the ISIS challenge, though in markedly different ways. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and this summer’s fighting also featured heavily, with most speeches specifically calling for the Gaza strip to be rebuilt. Read more »

This Week: ISIS struck in Syria and Iraq as the Middle East takes center stage at the UN

by Robert M. Danin
A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of September 23, 2014 (Matthew Bruch/Courtesy Reuters). A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of September 23, 2014 (Matthew Bruch/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Syria. The United States conducted its first ever military strikes against ISIS in Syria this week, targeting primarily oil refineries and infrastructure used for command and control in Raqqa. U. S. military and intelligence officials said on Tuesday that the airstrikes had also targeted an al-Qaeda affiliate called Khorasan. The group had reportedly been organizing an “imminent” attack from Syria against the United States or Europe. According to press reports, U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power informed her Syrian counterpart in advance of the airstrikes in Syria. 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 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 »