The Mideastwire Blog

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

Applications Now Open — THE TWELFTH BEIRUT EXCHANGE — January 4-14, 2015

THE TWELFTH BEIRUT EXCHANGE January 4-14, 2015
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Application Deadline I November 15, 2014/Deadline II December 1, 2014
Limited spaces available/Rolling acceptance
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The Beirut Exchange program rests on two tracks:

Academic – Participants will attend a series of lectures and colloquia led by leading academics and public intellectuals in Lebanon. Topics will include: The Arab Uprisings; The Syrian conflict and its regional implications; The Islamic State; The Special Tribunal for Lebanon; The United Nations as peacekeeper and mediator; Engaging political Islam; Asymmetrical conflict: The July 2006 Lebanon War; Human Rights in Lebanon and the wider Middle East; Sectarianism and its deployment, as well as a range of other topics.

Dialogue with Leaders – Participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen and engage leading social, political and economic actors from across the spectrum in Lebanon – with a particular (though not exclusive) emphasis on exposure to Islamist and opposition currents.

NOTE: Due to the current security situation in Lebanon, the Twelfth Beirut Exchange will generally restrict its meetings in and around Beirut, although at least one trip to the North and one trip to the South is planned.

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Previous Speakers (partial list of non-party speakers only):

·Bilal Baroudi, As-Salam Mosque Tripoli
·Nicholas Blanford, Times of London
·Richard Chambers, International Foundation for Electoral Systems
·Alastair Crooke, Conflicts Forum
·Abdullah Dardari, Frm. Syrian Arab Republic
·Robert Fisk, The Independent
·Toufic Gaspard, Economist
·Hanin Ghaddar, NOW Lebanon
·Timur Goksel, American University of Beirut
·Judith Palmer Harik, Matn University
·Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch
·Farid El-Khazen, AUB
·Rami Khouri, Daily Star & AUB
·Eli Khoury, Quantum Communications
·Karim Makdisi, AUB
·Sayyid Mohammed Marandi, Tehran University
·Omar Nashabe, Al-Akhbar
·Nir Rosen, Journalist
·Osama Safa, Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
·Paul Salem, Carnegie Middle East Center
·Milos Struger, Frm. UNIFIL
·Fawwaz Traboulsi, AUB

View a previous full program for the Beirut Exchange at: http://www.thebeirutexchange.com/images/stories/products/1_-_ScheduleJan2012.pdf

Visit our Facebook page and ask alumni questions at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/10975175535/

All of our programs in the region, including in Tunisia, the Gulf and Turkey, can be viewed at: www.thebeirutexchange.com

View the CNN report on The Beirut Exchange at: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2009/01/21/perry.lebanon.meet.hamas.cnn?iref=videosearch

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Costs:

Tuition – $1200; Partial financial aid is available for those students and individuals that can demonstrate need.

Accommodation & Conference Location – Except for those students already residing in Lebanon, we recommend that all participants in the Exchange reside at the conference hotel during the duration of the ten day program. The hotel, located near Downtown Beirut, is priced at $80 per person/per night, including all taxes and breakfast, for a shared double room (we will arrange for sharing). Single rooms are available for $115 per night.

Airfare – $400, approximate from the European Union.

At the discretion of the student, tuition is 50% refundable up to two weeks before the program commences. (Airline tickets and accommodation should be purchased with travel insurance.)

REQUEST AN APPLICATION via info@mideastwire.com

Written by nickbiddlenoe

September 16, 2014 at 3:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

“Strange bedfellows” idea becoming more extreme by the day : Ted Cruz accused of Hezbollah sympathies by Likudist DC lobby

It is supremely rich the situation that is developing and every day giving new meaning to the hackneyed “strange bedfellows argument”: The Likudist lobby in DC which always loved the hard right republicans for the most part, is tonight angry at Sen Ted Cruz because he is sharing the stage with Aounists  and christians – who are alligned with hezbollah in many cases.

The Maronite Patriarch is especially singled out.

How can Cruz reconcile in his brain that the christians which he says he wants to protect in the mideast are largely in a politically symbiotic and in some cases direct alliance with hezbollah?

It is quite a pickle – but then again in Lebanon as I wrote for ECFR.EU, the US intel community is in a symbiotic relationship with Hezbollah itself for the first time ever…Here is the hit job:

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/cuz-headlines-conference-featuring-hezbollah-supporters/

Written by nickbiddlenoe

September 11, 2014 at 5:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Gone, too, are the days when there was at least a discussion about Hezbollah’s independent weaponry…

From my ECFR report: “…the distinct prospect exists that Lebanon could be a rare example of an Arab state, rankled by sectarian conflict and the metastasising threat of violent Sunni extremism, that can maintain relative stability and political compromise, even if it involves a symbiotic truce with actors long regarded by the US and some European states as both hostile and brutal. Either way, Hezbollah is now playing a lead role in the emerging regional containment strategy for IS, despite its terrorist labelling by some.

In fact, the bottom line that has emerged is a particularly frustrating one for Hezbollah’s longstanding opponents, large and small: whatever its actions were in the past, and even if one believes that Hezbollah is wholly at fault for attracting the spectre of violent Sunni extremism to bear on Lebanon through its direct support for the Assad regime, historical arguments have lost much of their rallying power on the ground. Gone, too, are the days when there was at least a discussion about Hezbollah’s independent weaponry or its alleged role in the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri. Instead, this has all been subsumed (for the moment) by a commonly held, greater threat hammered home by the Islamic State and its fellow travellers.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

September 10, 2014 at 12:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

UAE and Saudi Kingdoms are going to – like before – fund “moderate” syrian rebels, because they are “moderate” kingdoms

A real gem from the NYT: Obama administration officials are once again talking about how our “moderate allies” – which hillary confidentially described as being the countries where the MOST support for violent sunni extremists originated –  are going to arm syrian rebels.

“United States officials said they also expected Saudi Arabia to contribute to funding moderate Syrian rebel groups. In addition, Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, said in a statement this week that the Emirates stood ready to join the fight against ISIS. “No one has more at stake than the U.A.E. and other moderate countries in the region that have rejected the regressive Islamist creed and embraced a different, forward-looking path,” the ambassador said. Enlisting support from Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq is crucial, experts said, because airstrikes alone will not suffice…”

– Funny too, all this talk about Jordan – who just released some of the main leaders for salafi jihadis the world over (makdisi et al.)…. are these guys going to be the intellectual drivers for “moderate” sunni jihadists?

Written by nickbiddlenoe

September 6, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Uh-Oh: Saudi-French arms “deal” for Lebanese Army may have the old problem afterall…Israeli-US redlines

We will see of course whether the SAME thing happens to the LAF that has happened since 2005…. real weapons that can shift the qualitative military edge between the LAF and Hizbullah and sunni terror groups – but that also necessarily shifts the QME between the LAF and the IDF – are just NOT GOING TO BE FORTHCOMING… We will see.

http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/214889

Ambassador Hale needs to make a much stronger argument now than amb. Feltaman did in 2005-2008 period to the Israelis directly: the situation has changed, the israelis admit that, the LAF is the best bet….reduce the redlines.

This is in Israel and Lebanon and the US’s interests…. He needs to make that argument directly NOW.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

September 4, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

New Israeli Book Confirms (Again) Why Syria Track Collapsed in 2000: Clinton lied and Barak got cold feet over the few hundred yards around Lake Tiberius

We have of course long had solid Israeli scholarship – and others – that supports the key thesis: There should have been peace in March 2000 between Israel and Syria, but Bill Clinton wasn’t committed and famously “fudged it” with a dying hafez assad (actions perhaps related as well to Hillary’s senate bid in NY State at the time) and Barak just could not give up the last few hundred yards of the NE shore of lake Tiberius.

The result would be, I would argue, the primary disasters afflicting the Mideast to this day.

But for a few hundred yards of shoreline:

1) Camp David would have likely produced a deal with the Palestinians as the final surrounding arab army opponent – Syria – would have gone to peace, as had Jordan and Egypt.

2) Hezbollah would have been disarmed over time (outgunned by 40,000 syrian troops and intel folks in lebanon) and integrated into a heavily syrian controlled lebanese state.

3) Israel would not have had the disasterous withdrawal under fire from south lebanon in May 2000.

4) The post 9/11 regional context would have been much more friendly to the US and would have at least mitigated the arguments and impatience surrounding a massive intervention in Iraq later on.

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NEW BOOK BY AHRON BREGMAN from Avi:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/18/cursed-victory-history-israel-occupied-territories-ahron-bregman-review

“…He is at his best when dealing with the diplomacy surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially in 1999-2000 when Ehud Barak was prime minister. Barak was a former chief of staff, and his country’s most highly decorated soldier, but he was no diplomat. In a curious inversion of Clausewitz’s famous dictum, he regarded diplomacy as the pursuit of war by other means. For Barak, Syria was a major military threat to Israel whereas the Palestinians were not. By making peace with Syria, Barak hoped to change the entire strategic landscape of the region and to leave the Palestinian Authority so weak and isolated that it would have no alternative but to accept his paltry terms.

A peace deal with Syria was indeed possible but it carried a price tag: complete Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, which left the Syrians with access to the north-eastern shore of Lake Tiberias. A meeting between Barak and the Syrian foreign minister under American patronage at Shepherdstown, in January 2000, collapsed when Barak refused to pay that price. Despite this failure, Barak persuaded Clinton to do his bidding at a make-or-break summit with President Hafez al-Assad in Geneva two months later. It was a fool’s errand. Once again Barak got cold feet, fearing the electoral consequences of withdrawal from the Golan Heights. On the morning of the meeting, he gave Clinton a script that insisted on Israeli sovereignty over a 400-metre-wide strip of land between Syria and the lake. So the summit was doomed before it even started and themuch-vaunted breakthrough turned into a spectacular setback. Clinton discovered to his cost that there was no sweet-talking Hafez al-Assad.

Having implicated the US president in two entirely predictable failures on the Syrian track, Barak belatedly and grudgingly turned his attention to the Palestinian track, to “the other woman”. Once again, he prevailed on the US president to embark on a make-or-break summit, and once again the president tended to behave not as an honest broker but as Israel’s lawyer. Arafat warned Clinton that the positions of the two sides were too far apart, that more time was needed to prepare the ground, and that failure at the top would make matters worse. Clinton urged Arafat to come anyway and promised that, in the event of failure, there would be no finger-pointing…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 31, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Symbiotic Truce between Hezbollah, the EU and the US in Lebanon

From: http://www.ecfr.eu/content/entry/commentary_the_islamic_state_effect_lebanons_new_security_symbiosis302

“…The third ingredient in any effective reinforcement of the current arrangement must focus on improving the LAF’s capabilities and expanding its presence farther along the Lebanon-Syria border. Unfortunately, even though Saudi Arabia and the US have both announced substantial promises of unspecified aid, expectations are understandably extremely low in Beirut that anything meaningful will come of such announcements, save a few more Hellfire missiles that can be launched from the LAF’s hopelessly out-dated Cessna Aircraft. Although the LAF has made clear over the years exactly what it needs, longstanding US concerns over Israeli objections to any qualitative arming of an enemy state have repeatedly stood in the way of meaningful progress. In this regard, the US and Europe should finally recognise that, despite Hezbollah’s growing closeness to the army’s MI, the LAF remains the most formidable, neutral actor in Lebanon – one that can uniquely accomplish an array of security-related tasks beneficial to Lebanon’s stability and Israel’s security as well. The LAF is also the only actor that could reasonably contain Hezbollah’s power overtime by peacefully displacing its political argument that it is the only true defender of the country’s security.

If these paths are pursued, then the distinct prospect exists that Lebanon could be a rare example of an Arab state, rankled by sectarian conflict and the metastasising threat of violent Sunni extremism, that can maintain relative stability and political compromise, even if it involves a symbiotic truce with actors long regarded by the US and some European states as both hostile and brutal. Either way, Hezbollah is now playing a lead role in the emerging regional containment strategy for IS, despite its terrorist labelling by some.

In fact, the bottom line that has emerged is a particularly frustrating one for Hezbollah’s longstanding opponents, large and small: whatever its actions were in the past, and even if one believes that Hezbollah is wholly at fault for attracting the spectre of violent Sunni extremism to bear on Lebanon through its direct support for the Assad regime, historical arguments have lost much of their rallying power on the ground. Gone, too, are the days when there was at least a discussion about Hezbollah’s independent weaponry or its alleged role in the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri. Instead, this has all been subsumed (for the moment) by a commonly held, greater threat hammered home by the Islamic State and its fellow travellers.

Nicholas Noe is a visiting fellow with ECFR. He is the co-founder of the Beirut-based Mideastwire.com and the editor of Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 31, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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