Secretary of State John Kerry added to the already ample fanfare surrounding the launch of talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators by holding a press conference yesterday to introduce his new special envoy to the peace process, Martin Indyk.
For most of those who were so hopeful when the Great Arab Revolt downed the dictator Hosni Mubarak two years ago, the travails of Egypt’s fledgling democracy have been depressing. Many in the West expected the country’s hodgepodge of secularists—the young men and women who were the cutting edge of the demonstrations, first against Mubarak, then against his freely elected Muslim Brotherhood successor, Mohamed Morsi—to do better than they did at the ballot box, where Islamists so far have triumphed.
The momentum to restrict Iranian oil exports has stalled, and it is time for Congress to eschew a more gradualist approach and mandate zero oil exports with zero waivers. This, along with more concrete military pressure, could increase the otherwise slim chances for success in expected new talks with Iran. U.S. lawmakers and Obama Administration officials should not fear the impact on the oil market, which can manage a cutoff of Iranian oil revenue better than can Tehran.
This week the EU took a stance that it heralded as pro-peace, pro-"peace process," and anti-settlement. Henceforth, new guidelines require all 28 member nations to refuse any grants, scholarships, prizes, or funding to entities in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Or any part of Jerusalem that was not part of Israel prior to the 1967 war. Or the Golan Heights.
In assessing Egyptian defense minister Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi’s decision to remove President Mohamed Morsi from office July 3, there are two key points to keep in mind. The first concerns the army, and the second concerns what is now, given the escalation of violence over the last two weeks, its rival in the field, the Muslim Brotherhood.
The spirited debate over suspension of aid to Egypt has given rise to a good argument over how to encourage progress in Egypt toward stable, responsible, and democratic government. We know what we would, as Americans, like ideally to see there: respect for civil liberties such as freedom of speech and press, an independent judiciary, religious freedom, free elections, and so on. And we would like to see an end to violence, whether by the state or by political and religious factions. We would like to see a system based on law, rather than on mob action or military fiat.
Arab and non-Arab commentators alike perceived a definitive regionalization of the Syrian civil war last month, when Iranian regular troops and Tehran-backed Hezbollah forces helped the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad retake the strategic town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, from rebel fighters.
For the second time in two years, an Egyptian autocrat has been deposed. In Syria, another embattled tyrant – this one robustly supported by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia – looks like he might hang on. Across the Muslim world, the political future hangs in the balance.
President Obama called President Morsi of Egypt today to say that " the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group." Obama "stressed that democracy is about more than elections," according to a readout of the call provided by the White House.
In a letter just sent Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Obama notifies Congress that U.S. forces were "recently deployed to Jordan."
"Certain U.S. forces recently deployed to Jordan solely to participate in a training exercise. This exercise ended on June 20, 2013. At the request of the Government of Jordan, a combat-equipped detachment of approximately 700 of these forces remained in Jordan after the conclusion of the exercise to join other U.S. forces already in Jordan," Obama writes.