The Mideastwire Blog

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

Kenner piece on Rosen Syria doc,HD misses critical ingredient:Costs of deepening failed strategy of 3.5 years

Dave has a thoughtful and helpful piece here on Nir’s recent report and the HD public comment etc. It’s great of course that – finally – these ideas are getting traction – far far too late for many, sadly.

The recent work is of course the culmination of ideas that some have been arguing since the beginning of the conflict in that critical and unfortunate summer of 2011 period when – incredibly – Obama, most EU states, many “conflict mitigation” groups and of course Neo-LiberalCon interventionists incorrectly declared that Assad was a walking dead man, in a “slow motion suicide” (ICG), that a “controlled collapse” was desirable (US Institute for Peace no less!) and probable and, differently, that Assad had crossed a “redline” – and that therefore the diplomatic area of negotiation and conflict mitigation was to be radically cut down to a narrow and exceedingly obtuse (and now one can say deeply irresponsible and immoral) window: transition out or die.

Always remember what one Syrian activist told Nicholas Blanford in May 2011 – maybe 2-3 million syrians might have to die for freedom. This should be front and center when we evaluate the syria catastrophe and the policies that were pursued at the highest levels.

Dave attempts some criticism of the ideas contained in the report(s) – which many who predicted the Assad collapse long ago or who would like to see such an outcome for deeply counter productive ideological reasons have attempted over the years.

But he asks a secondary question as his tour de force: “But can either Rosen’s or de Mistura’s plan actually bring peace to Syria?”

Dave leaves out a consideration of the current alternatives in evaluating this new/old option and therefore leaves the unknowing or knowing reader without critical context to actually properly judge the real merits of a fundamentally different approach.

He also leaves out any analysis of why and how we now can see how the original controlled collapse approach (or the more radical “fast and wide scale militerazation+US military role” approach) was so deeply flawed strategically and morally.

Without this framework, one cannot understand fully the need for what de Mistura and Nir and apparently HD are arguing and which should have been the course a long time ago: The conflict in syria between the regime and the opposition needs to be mitigated NOW, not accelerated further, and it must be done without the old pre-condition of Assad stepping down.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 18, 2014 at 11:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Syrian regime said to be building major bunker facilities in Tartous gov.

This is not necessarily the most reliable report of course from the Qatari owned, UK based daily. However, it reflects a growing assessment that seems likely: the Syrian regime, likely together with Hizbullah and Iran should be building new facilities and hardening old ones north of Lebanon, near the stable regions of Tartous and Latakia, so as to give a greater degree of strategic depth vis-a-vis Israel especially, and secondarily, the various anti-regime formations. The Israeli strike deep in the north of Lebanon earlier this year was an indication of how far the Resistance Axis needs to and is stretching the lines of attack for the Israeli Air Force, among other objectives.


On December 12, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by its correspondent in Rif Latakia Alimar Ladhakani: “Militants in the city of Baniyas, which is affiliated with the Tartous governorate on the Syrian coast, reported that a few months ago, the regime’s bulldozers started digging a ramified path in the woods on the road of a village located near the city, while one of the engineers supervising the project said that a Scientific Research delegation came to them with Iranian experts and spoke about strategic tunnels for ballistic weapons, dug ten meters deep into the ground. Ahmad, a militant from Baniyas, said in exclusive statements to Al-Quds al-Arabi that more than twenty bulldozers were digging non-stop [under the supervision of] a group of engineers and workers from the Military Housing Institution.

“He indicated that when the bus he was riding came close to the project, “we could not detect, based on our preliminary sightings, what the regime was planning to do at the heart of the Syrian coast.” He added that the news circulating among the population was that a military barrack was being built, but no one has any information about its mission or with whom it is affiliated. [He continued:] “What is puzzling is that the regime has many posts there and a lot of brigades affiliated with many army units and divisions. Most of them are almost vacant, after the majority of their elements were taken to the hot zones.” For his part, D. K., an engineer in the regime-affiliated Military Housing Unit who is supervising the project, stated: “At first, we thought like everyone else that the regime was indeed building a barrack for an Air Defense brigade in the region.”

“[He assured:] “As an engineer, I merely implement the plans I have in my hands, without being entitled to inquire about anything. But I was surprised by the extent of the support given by the regime to this project, as it never insisted on the completion of a project so fast.” He indicated that the area allocated for the project had started to expand and include large portions of the surrounding woods, with each part separated from the other and without any coordination between the supervisors over each lot. He assured at this level that there were recommendations to keep the nature of this project a secret, knowing that these recommendations could reach the point of threats. D. K. continued that after a Scientific Research delegation came to them with Iranian experts and briefly talked about the building of tunnels, he learned after a lot of inspection the nature of the project.

“He added it was a project to build strategic warehouses for ballistic weapons, which can be detected from the relative size of some tunnels, which the engineers have already started to build, and from the depth of the holes that reach up to ten meters. [He assured:] “With these tunnels, they can protect most of the weapons in the event of a military strike, considering that the ammunition needed by whichever military strike to destroy these warehouses could be enough for an entire war.””

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Saudi royal fam. owned daily says Houthis in Yeman now control SCUDs targeting Gulf states

Translated today by MIDEASTWIRE.COM (free demo via

On December 11, the Saudi-owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily newspaper carried the following report by its correspondent to Sanaa, Arafat Madabesh: “Asharq al-Awsat learned from well-informed Yemeni military sources that the missile systems belonging to the Yemeni army are now under the control of the Houthis, who are also controlling the Dulaimi strategic air base in Sanaa in addition to the international airport in the capital.

“A Yemeni military source said that the Houthis are now in control over more than two thirds of the army’s ground, air and marine forces and the most important military passageways. He added that “the majority of the military and political officials are quasi-besieged in their homes including President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, whose missions now merely revolve around fulfilling the protocol with no real important missions for the time being.”

“The Houthis are currently fully controlling the processes of appointment and sacking [of staff members] in the security and military institutions. The military source told Asharq al-Awsat that “the Houthis fired a large number of soldiers from the interior and defense ministries and replaced them with members from their militias that are currently controlling the capital Sanaa.”

“According to the pieces of information provided by the sources of the Yemeni armed forces to Asharq al-Awsat, 99% of the Yemeni weapons’ arsenal is Russian made. The sources added that the danger lies in the fact that the Houthis have seized the Scud missiles that are directed against specific targets in the region thus representing a major threat to the neighboring Gulf States…

“A Yemeni military source told Asharq al-Awsat that the Houthis are running all the military and security institutions; and recruiting thousands of their own members instead of the army and security members. Meanwhile, the Yemeni government and the presidential institution are in a situation resembling house arrest with no ability to control the country’s affairs. The Houthis are also closely searching all the cars in the streets and everyone going to the airport.

“The Houthis are also searching the airplanes in their civil attire and weapons in addition to the passengers’ luggage including diplomats’ luggage, knowing that this is an internationally banned action. Local sources indicated that military delegations with several different nationalities are accessing Sanaa without the knowledge of the Yemeni authorities, moving between a number of governorates under the supervision of the Houthis, then leaving Sanaa and the governorates the same way they entered…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Iraqi president said to survive another assassination attempt

Translated by (for a free trial email


On December 10, the independent Az-Zaman newspaper carried the following report by its correspondent in London Nidal al-Laythi: “Sources close to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi revealed that Al-Abadi was inclined to form a new national non-sectarian party if the disputes between him and Vice President Nouri al-Maliki continue to escalate. The sources continued in statements to Az-Zaman that the disputes were escalating inside the Daawa Party between Al-Abadi, who is a leader in the party, and its chairman Al-Maliki. They also added to Az-Zaman that Al-Abadi was truly targeted by an attempted assassination during his inauguration of the Baghdad International Exhibition, an attempt that was thwarted and provoked his replacement by his deputy Baha’ al-Aaraji during the event. The sources revealed talk about the side that planned to assassinate Al-Abadi.

“They assured nonetheless that the plan was uncovered on time and was dealt with quietly. For his part, Al-Abadi had said yesterday that the presence of “fadhaiyin” [i.e. space men, in reference to the ghost elements in the Iraqi security and military apparatuses] was a dual crime, as it featured the theft of public funds and a security violation… He continued: “We have launched are work at the Interior Ministry and are addressing warning to all those who are unduly receiving their salaries. We have also started to topple the big whales and will pursue them till the end, even if this costs me my life and regardless of the campaigns to which we will be subjected. This is due to the fact that corruption is as dangerous as terrorism.” Asked about Al-Abadi’s reception of death threats as revealed by these statements…, the sources close to the prime minister said to Az-Zaman there were many threats…

“They continued: “We must not forget that the eradication of corruption affected many senior officers and it is known that whoever comes close to the corruption centers in Iraq is risking his life,” adding: “During the press conference he held in Baghdad, he wanted to make his position clear towards the corruption that has spread in all the institutions.” The sources assured in their statements to Az-Zaman that Al-Abadi was receiving regular reports about the Iraqis’ relief and support of the measures he has adopted, especially those targeting corruption, insisting that he will not back down on this. They added that Al-Abadi was convinced there was a link between corruption inside Iraq, and corruption and terrorism outside of Iraq, stating that he also knew that the corruption front inside the state apparatuses was the one funding terrorism and since the term of the former prime minster…

“Asked about the dispute between Al-Abadi and Al-Maliki and its repercussions on the work of the state apparatuses and the Daawa Party, the sources revealed to Az-Zaman that this dispute was interacting and escalating, especially at the level of partisan work. They continued: “We do not exclude, even expect Al-Abadi’s formation of a new political party,” indicating: “Al-Abadi wants to include all the factions of Iraqi society in this party…””

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

The big ?: How much longer can deeply corrupt Gulf Monarchies last beset by ISIS, AQ, Gen Sulieman?

TRANSLATED today by our


On December 10, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following lead editorial: “The 35th Gulf summit that was held in Doha yesterday resembles a meeting between six shipmasters, trying to determine the direction the ship should take in a highly troubled sea… And as it was said by the Prince of Qatar during the inauguration of the summit: “In light of the challenges and threats surrounding us from all sides, we should not be preoccupied by sideline disputes over details.” The Gulf Cooperation Council states are facing three main challenges: The American-Iranian negotiations over the nuclear file and beyond it, which will have direct repercussions on the region and particularly on the Gulf States; the greater challenge represented by terrorism and the expansion of the threat of the Islamic State organization; and the crises sweeping the neighboring states, namely Yemen.

“But the main predicament facing the Arab Gulf leaders who met yesterday is probably the adoption of one compass and one approach to face these challenges, a thing which appeared to be very difficult following the eruption of the Arab revolutions that led to fierce polarization inside the Gulf house… Now, after the recent reconciliation, the return of the Gulf ambassadors to the Qatari capital and the fulfillment of the quorum during the Gulf summit, the question is: Can the Gulf Cooperation Council resolve the predicaments surrounding this polarization that has cast its shadows over the military and political decisions, especially those related to Egypt among other Arab countries? Hopefully, the crisis that erupted between Gulf States will take a more rational turn with the rise of the threat of the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria and the formation of an undeclared objective alliance between the American administration and Iran to face that threat.

“These two developments have fueled the risks facing the Gulf States from two directions. But in addition to the dual threat represented by Al-Qa’idah and the Islamic State – along with the various sides operating under their wing – there is the Iranian threat, which features – under the banners of General Qassem Soleimani – an expansion by the Houthis in Yemen, a direct command over the battles of the Revolutionary Guard and the militias loyal to Tehran in Iraq, violent participation in the known bloody fronts in Syria and the deterioration of the situation in Lebanon, Bahrain and the Eastern regions in Saudi Arabia. On the day the Gulf leaders met, reports emerged about an attack that led to the death of a Bahraini citizen in a Shi’i villages west of the capital Manama, preceded by news about the death of a Jordanian policemen. The security authorities said both operations were “terrorist ones.”

“Moreover, on that same day, an Emirati court sentenced to death fifteen men accused of belonging to An-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham (both of which are operating in Syria)…, while the authorities arrested a few days ago an Emirati woman who carried out two terrorist operations. This coincided with stringent judicial sentences issued in Saudi Arabia against 135 people on similar charges. All these facts show that the security solutions alone cannot constitute a real roadmap capable of overcoming the major challenges facing the Gulf. Without a real reassessment of the policies that led to this major breach in the Gulf boat, Gulf-Arab reconciliation will not be fruitful and the Gulf ship will not reach a safe port.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Arabic daily on how Hezbollah freed its lone hostage in Syr. over past 3 years

A sharp contrast with the way pretty much everyone else goes about hostage negotiations (save perhaps the Israelis):

Partial translation from (free trial via

On December 9, the independent Al-Rai al-Aam daily newspaper carried the following report: “Leading Hezbollah sources told Al-Rai that the party’s fighter Imad Ayyad who was taken hostage in Esal al-Ward in Rif Damascus “was released following negotiations with the kidnappers. These kidnappers had asked for the release of 300 prisoners from the Syrian prisons in addition to 5 million dollars.

“However, the party rejected this offer and ambushed officials from the Free Army. Thus, the kidnappers lowered their demands into swapping Ayyad with the Free Army officials but they insisted on their financial demand. The party responded by saying that it will kidnap additional officials and rejected the second offer. The response came three days later when [the Free Army] accepted the swap between Ayyad and the newly arrested Free Army officials without adding any more demands.”…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

In Syria, three years too late for many, the inexorable logic of compromise & stabilization with regime is growing

There was never any good option of excluding the murderous Assad regime from the Syria equation these last few years. Slowly but surely the contours of a dramatic lessening in the bloodshed are becoming apparent.. far far too late.

Translated from our (demo via

On December 4, the independent Az-Zaman newspaper carried the following report by its correspondent in Beirut: “Former head of the Syrian Coalition Moaz al-Khatib said he was willing to engage in talks with the regime to put an end to the bloody conflict, in which more than 200,000 people were killed as per the figures of the Syrian Human Rights Watch. Al-Khatib is an independent Syrian opposition figure, who had resigned from the Coalition’s command in protest against foreign interventions. For her part, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s advisor Butheina Shaaban, who was part of the official Syrian delegation that recently visited Moscow, said that the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was very positive, adding that Russia has taken it upon itself to seriously seek a political solution through dialogue with the opposition, with the Syrian government’s consent.

“According to a source close to the official Syrian delegation, no timetable was set for the talks with the opposition, adding that the Russians wanted to know whether or not “we approved the idea and we told them we had no objections.” He added: “The Russians told us they had contacts and that if we approved the idea, preparations will be undertaken to stage dialogue in Moscow.” For his part, Al-Khatib said in statements over the phone: “To serve the interests of the Syrian people, we will sit together and seek the best way to rid the people of their pain and suffering.” Asked about the insistence on the request to see Al-Assad’s departure from power, he said: “How long must he stay? A month, three months, five months or six months? Once the situation is clear and once there is a clear vision to be relayed to the Syrian people, an arrangement will be made.”

“[He continued:] “This person will definitely leave, provided that his term ends in a specific way, which is something acceptable.” Among the prominent opposition figures expected to participate in this likely dialogue are former Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil who is living in Moscow and Haitham Manah who is living in Paris. Al-Khatib and Manah, along with other opposition figures, had held a meeting sponsored by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, in the context of an Egyptian initiative to solve the Syrian crisis. This was accompanied by leaks about an upcoming dialogue between oppositionists and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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