The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Released Jihadist theoritician-in-chief Makdissi re-arrested by Jordanian secret police

One wonders why in the world the Jordanians and likely the Americans thought it was a good idea a few months ago to release Abu Qatada and Makdissi at virtually the same time. Did they really think it would help the anti-ISIS cause?

A really ridiculous approach. But now, they’re going back on it. Of course this whole approach is a part and parcel of the larger Gulf-led approach, endorsed for quite some time by the US and others, which has actually bolstered the kinds of forces that are pushing the ISIS effect forward – whether knowingly or unknowingly (or sometimes both).

Translated from (demo via


On October 30, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by its Amman office Chief Bassam Bdareen: “The arrest and accusation of Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Makdissi in Amman heralded the beginning of the collapse of a theory, which presumed that avoiding the exertion of any pressures on the supporters of An-Nusra Front among the Jordanian Salafis could be beneficial when it comes to the sympathizers with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Al-Makdissi, who is the most prominent theoretician of the Salafi Jihadist movement in the Arab region, and not only on the Jordanian scene, was summoned by the security authorities last Monday, arrested and informed of a new charge, for which he will soon be prosecuted. The charge is related to the use of electronic channels to back up and support terrorism.

“The official action against Al-Makdissi was undertaken after he posted a strong statement, in which he insisted on describing the international coalition against ISIL as being a “crusade,” thus going directly and confrontationally against the official compass. Prior to that, Al-Makdissi had informed Al-Quds al-Arabi he was summoned by the security authorities and asked not to deliver any statements or fatwas, neither with nor against ISIL. Later, and while he was hosted by Sheikh Omar al-Othman, i.e. Abu Qatada, who had just exited prison, Al-Quds al-Arabi asked Al-Makdissi directly about the regional developments from a Jihadist point of view, to which he said he did not wish to talk at this stage. Clearly, when Al-Makdissi issued his last statement and posted it on his website “Al-Menbar” [The Platform], he knew in advance he will likely be arrested or was planning on exiting the silence he was pressured into.

“What many do not know is that the sympathizers with ISIL among the Jordanian Salafis were accusing Al-Makdissi of having sealed a deal with the Jordanian authorities, resulting in his release more than two months ago. Practically, Al-Makdissi’s presence in prison counters this accusations, especially since he clearly said to Al-Quds al-Arabi he differentiated between the “remarks” over the actions of the Islamic State organization on the religious and behavioral levels, and the crusader position against Islam and Muslims, assuring he could never support the coalition even if he had remarks over the behavior of the Jihadist forces… Through the arrest of Al-Makdissi, the official message to all the Salafi Jihadists is clear, saying that the authorities are prepared to face any Salafi activist that could use religious expressions in criticizing the international coalition, in which Jordan is considered an essential side on the regional level. [for more, request a demo via]

Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Gen. Allen acknowledges the most one can hope for in Syria is basically partition; Signals Assad gov can stay

The US head of the anti-ISIS coalition seems here to acknowledge that any “moderate” Syrian force will eventually be used to balance against Assad, mostly with the potential of force. In the end, this would mean the stabilization of some kind of partition plan. Of course he adds the throw away line that Assad should go in this scheme BUT this is only at the end of the piece and in clear contradiction to his first point about a political settlement between “the Assad government” and some rebels!

The essential point is that the US finally seems to realize that a concerted fight against ISIS is best matched by stabilizing borders and politics between Assad and his less extremist ( or “moderate”) opponents who will likely not allow for safe zones where Takfiris and anti-Western radicals can plot and prepare.

The general still has that last line about Assad going but they are preparing the way for a walk back from this position IF AND ONLY IF the Assad opponents and Assad can make the above actually work. If the answer is no on both ends, then no walk back. Hizbullah is certainly preparing for the possibility of partition and Assad’s continuation…. One wonders about the other side of this equation.


“…No. What we would like to see is for the FSA and the forces that we will ultimately generate, train and equip to become the credible force that the Assad government ultimately has to acknowledge and recognize…”

“….Allen said there was a need to build up the credibility of the moderate Syrian opposition at a political level, adding that it was normal for rebel forces to clash with the Syrian military as they seek to defend their territory and families.

“But the intent is not to create a field force to liberate Damascus — that is not the intent,” Allen, a retired U.S. general, told the newspaper.

“The intent is that in the political outcome, they must be a prominent – perhaps the preeminent voice – at the table to ultimately contribute to the political outcome that we seek,” he said at the start of a Middle East tour.

U.S. President Barack Obama said last month he wanted to train and equip Free Syrian Army rebels to “strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to the extremists” and to prevent U.S. troops from being dragged into another ground war.

“The outcome that we seek in Syria is akin to the (anti-Islamic State) strategy that fits into a much larger regional strategy and that outcome is a political outcome that does not include Assad,” Allen said.


Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 28, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Jordanian Salafist tells paper elite Jordanian troops actively fighting in N. Iraq

Translated from our today. To subscribe visit

“On October 27, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by Ra’ed Salha: “A Jordanian political activist close to the Salafi Jihadist movement revealed that an elite force of Jordanian soldiers was currently fighting the Islamic State organization around some areas of the Iraqi North. Activist Sheikh Muhammad Khalaf al-Hadid condemned what he described as being the dispatch of Jordanian troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, hoping they had been sent to liberate Al-Aqsa and fight the Zionist army….”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 27, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NYT casually mentions: The Chinese SAMs ISIS uses were originally provided by Saudi allies+Qatar

What even this NY Times article fails to mention – although this is far for them in stating what has already been widely documented – is the provision of advanced weapons to syria groups VERY early on circa fall/winter 2011, including to outright terrorist groups like the more warm and fuzzy Nusra front and the less warm and fuzzy ISIS. Still a nice little caveat finally acknowledged by the NYT at the BOTTOM of their story.

“…Since at least late 2013, however, the Islamic State’s forces in Iraq appear to have acquired more sophisticated antiaircraft missile systems, including the Chinese-made FN-6, originally provided by Qatar and possibly also Saudi Arabia to Syrian rebels.

In the images purporting to show the shooting down of the Iraqi attack helicopter, on Oct. 3 in Baiji, the militant, a scarf wrapped around his face, is wielding a Chinese-made FN-6 missile system — apparently the first documented use of the weapon by Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, analysts said….”


This, of course, is a result of what some of us were writing about in 2011 and 2012: I wrote in  May 2011 here in full: “…As a result of this idea vacuum, the Neo-LiberalCon tsunami grows by the day, publicly eschewing armed, Libyan-style intervention (although, given past statements, it is likely the neo-con wing privately hopes for this), and instead posits a policy by powerful external actors that would accelerate Syria’s internal contradictions and pressures to the breaking point.

One essential problem with this formulation is that the result, especially for the people of Syria, will likely be even worse than the kind of civil war that obtains to this day in Libya. As one Syrian activist who crossed into Lebanon casually told a Western reporter earlier this month, he could contemplate the need for sacrificing the lives of 2-3 million Syrians for freedom….”

Then later I wrote this here in the New York Times: “In Syria We Need To Bargain With The Devil”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 27, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hizbullah deputy head meets UN Syria Coordinator: Says “painfull concessions” needed by all sides…signaling eventual partition?

Naim Qassem’s public comments in meeting with his old contact De Mistura from the UN is significant. It signals that Hizbullah wants to prepare its constituency for a deal in Syria that cuts out Nusra and ISIS but perhaps, perhaps, leads to some kind of “transitional” partitioning with the other rebel forces. The reason why I would argue that route is that Hizbullah and Mistura well know that there is almost ZERO chance at this point of a kind of mixed government, transitional government where there is any modicum of power sharing. Syria ruled by the Assad family (primarily) is fundamentally different from the Lebanon of the 1980s that eventually could find a sectarian and communal power balance that had international backing from all sides. It is highly unlikely this formula could be found in the current civil war in Syria. That means one route: partition of some kind and a mutual opposition/fighting with those forces branded by almost all outside actors as “extremists.”

From jean aziz’s column in al-monitor:


The “painful concessions” refer to the regime’s acknowledgment of the opposition as a partner in governing and acknowledgement by the opposition and those supporting it that the current regime is their partner in Syria.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Fears growing about An-Nusra front reversing course, tilting towards ISIS

To be expected as the coalition strikes continue and also target Nusra directly. The real question is which US allies are still backing Nusra, which media continue to refer to them as somehow “moderate” and not as bad as ISIS…. and when an open alliance will be struck between ISSI and Nusra? More bad press for Turkey, Qatar and possibly Jordan?

Translated today by our (for a free trial email

From the original at

On October 24, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by its correspondent in Antakya Hazem Salah: “Numerous signs emerged recently at the level of An-Nusra Front’s practices in Syria, thus provoking fears among most of those following the Syrian revolution. Indeed, these practices pointed to the prevalence of the “brothers in the methodology” principle, which is brandished by the followers of Salafi Jihadist ideology around the world, over the interests, fate and future of the Syrian revolution. Hence, affiliation with Al-Qa’idah organization, which is not limited by any geographic borders that are not recognized to begin with, is nowadays casting its shadow over An-Nusra Front, after years of fighting the Syrian regime on Syrian soil and An-Nusra’s entering into the hearts of most of the Syrians.

“This [sympathy] is due to its high combat abilities and the fact that it acted as the spearhead in many decisive battles in the history of the Syrian revolution, in light of its organization that was not reached by most of the factions that stemmed from this revolution. An-Nusra Front, stood alongside the Syrian factions in the face of ISIL, and was the most deceived by it and subjected to mass murders committed by its elements in Eastern Syria… The confusion in An-Nusra’s policy towards ISIL is clear, knowing they are two factions from one school and that they share many references. In addition, many among An-Nusra’s elements sympathize with ISIL, a thing which cannot be denied and has led to the weakening of the central command of the organization, after each Emir started to adopt his own policy in dealing with ISIL and downplayed the central command and decision that characterized An-Nusra…

“Today, there is a fear of seeing An-Nusra tilting in favor of ISIL, especially after important posts in it were surrendered to individuals known for their extremist positions that converge with ISIL’s. This increased after the assassination of the moderate Syrian leaders in An-Nusra and their replacement with Jordanians for the most part. But the worst development was the launching of the international campaign against ISIL, which provoked wide sympathy in its favor and pushed many members of An-Nusra to call for joining ISIL, knowing that some already did that without waiting for the command. The truce initiative between the factions in Syria, which was launched by the Salafi Jihadist Ansaruddin Front – that does not belong to Al-Qa’idah according to its statements, although most of its fighters are non-Syrians… – featured ceasefire between ISIL and the Islamic factions, in light of the international campaign on the Jihadists’ positions in Iraq and Syria.

“Most of the theoreticians of international Jihad blessed and signed this truce, including Abu Muhammad al-Makdissi, Abu Qatada the Palestinian and Al-Muheissni among others, knowing that the majority of the signatories were not Syria. At this level, An-Nusra’s acceptance of this initiative, its recognition of the fact that ISIL is a Mujahid faction and that An-Nusra should stand alongside it, is a dangerous sign, which in addition to the previous signs, points to An-Nusra’s possible pledging of its allegiance to ISIL, a thing that would threaten the future of the Syrian revolution, especially in the Syrian South where An-Nusra enjoys a presence that is not to be taken lightly.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 24, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Get ready for the next Islamic State to be declared….In North Africa

We have been translating a number of pieces over the last few months that focus on the emerging debate by sunni jihadists in the Maghreb/North Africa about whether to declare and join ISIS or whether a separate caliphate should be declared.

The bottom line as this excellent Al-Akhbar article makes clear: 1) It is only a matter of time before there is such a declaration, 2) it will ONLY buttress the chaos, contingency and far-flung danger that was originally spawned by the disasterous decision by the Obama administration to allow our allies to militarize the Syria conflict in mid 2011 and, 3) Tunisia will likely come under sustained attack from three sides, west, east and south, 4) Algeria’s insurgency will grow and both Egypt and Morocco will likely feel increased pressure from the insurgency/New IS on the eastern and westn sides of this IS formation.

Very bad news in the offing seems likely for north africa, leading to a greater sense in the US especially that MORE intervention is necessary – which will only accelerate a wider collapse of the tenuous existing security architecture.

Time to partition Syria on de facto lines with the non-ISIS forces and thereby stabilize a deal with the murderous Bashar who gets to “stay” (in this formula, Turkey would stand to gain a number of objectives while losing the main one: Bashar out)…. force a KSA-Iran rapprochment (we do have leverage with KSA and can force/lubricate a deal, especially if yeman stabilization is a part of that carrot for KSA) and allow for a post US election, nuclear deal with Iran to come into effect one way or another – with or without the US senate as is possible to a great extent.

Once these high level sources of conflict are mitigated, then and ONLY then can ISIS be effectively countered.. now also possibly in North Africa as well!

Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 23, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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