The Mideastwire Blog

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

Wall Street Journal Story on Rise of ISIS Focuses ONLY on far less important Assad regime role; ZERO mention of the Gulf and Turkey roles which were the key

Very disappointed by Maria Abi-Habib’s long piece in the wall street journal Here:

She is an excellent reporter but to have such a long story with ZERO about what most analysts and government folks seem to agree on now: the part of the story involving Assad going easy and even facilitating ISIS is significantly less important to understanding ISIS’s rise than the massive support garnered from Turkey and from funds that originated in Gulf countries. Not to mention the joint decision early on – with tacit approval from the US – to lubricate a militarization of the Syrian uprising (key actors in the US believed, very wrongly, that Assad would fall quickly under ramped up military pressure – this proved as false). Having just been in Washington, this is certainly widely held now, finally… its obvious and THE key part of the story.

I have no idea how Maria could have left out this.

She claims: “This account of how the Islamic State benefited from the complex three-way civil war in Syria between the government, the largely secular, moderate rebels and the hard-core Islamist groups was pieced together from interviews with Syrian rebel commanders and opposition figures, Iraqi government officials and Western diplomats, as well as al Qaeda documents seized by the U.S. military in Iraq.”

This is maybe 10-20% of the story.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 23, 2014 at 12:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Groundswell of social media support for ISIS coming from…. Saudi Arabia

Its getting harder for folks to defend the kingdom, even from within.

See the full article here:!bFWAux

“…If Saudi Arabia does become the next ISIS target, it may be even easier than the group’s push into Iraq. A groundswell of ideological support combined with wide-reaching corruption could pave the way for ISIS’ penetration into the country. Saudi Arabia, unlike Iraq, is almost 90 percent Sunni. Iraq’s growing resistance to ISIS comes largely via the swelling ranks of a Shiite militia, the Mahdi army, with Shiite fighters returning from Syria to defend their country against the radical Sunni insurgency that is sweeping the nation.

Saudi is also a major source of support for ISIS. Since the latest offensive in Iraq, hashtags translating to #TheAgeOfTheISISConquest and #ABillionMuslimsForTheVictoryOfTheIsis have overwhelming been originating from Saudi Arabia. Almost 95 percent of all mentions of the latter hashtag emanated from Saudi Arabia over the last week, by far eclipsing those from Iraq and Syria, where the ISIS is actually operating at present. The geographic distribution of those mentions covers the entire Saudi Arabian territory…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 19, 2014 at 4:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Jihadist Leader, recently released in Jordan, openly coordinating fighting in Russia, Syria

Staunch US and European ally Jordan released this major jihadist leader and now apparently its cool to coordinate the international jihadist fronts, especially in Russia and Syria.

So its not surprising that matters are apparently heading quickly for a wide open blow back that many of us have been talking about for years – and the central role in creating all of this will be the militerazation of the arab spring that was first sponsored by NATO in Libya then by the West and its monarchy allies in the gulf in syria. These are the original fields for how the arab revolts turned into the spiral mess of violence, contradiction and wide open warfare that the region and, soon one thinks, beyond faces.


Jordanian jihadist cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has urged insurgents in Russia’s North Caucasus to support and obey their new leader Aliaskhab Kebekov (aka Abu Mukhammad).

“We call on our brothers in the Caucasus to gather around their new leader, help him, obey him and do not disobey him,” al-Maqdisi said in a video address posted on YouTube and embedded on North Caucasus jihadist websites Kavkaz-Tsentr and Islamdin on 4 August. (

Al-Maqdisi was speaking in Arabic with Russian subtitles. The seven-minute and 22-second video is entitled in Russian “Sheikh Al-Makdisiy’s address to the mojahedin of the Caucasus. Shaaban/1435 [June 2014]“.

“Indeed, we are now suffering due to discord in the fields of jihad and due to disobedience of mojahedin leaders caused by personal opinions, personal passions and faulty doubts. I call on mojahedin brothers in the Caucasus to unite around their leader, obey him, and shun disagreements and anything which leads to discord,” he said.

Al-Maqdisi thanked Aliaskhab Kebekov for sending his people to fight government forces in Syria.

“We were very glad that despite the weight of jihad and despite difficulties facing mojahedin in the Caucasus, he did not forget Muslim brothers in Syria and sent them some of the best mojahedin from the Caucasus. He sent people from his groups and they took part in jihad in the best possible way. They were a model of whole-hearted bravery and selflessness. They also were a model of moderate position and lack of extremes and excessiveness. We indeed need this in jihad, especially as disagreements emerged in the fields of jihad and voices of excessiveness started to appear… We thank our brother amir [Kebekov] for this and we thank all the Caucasus mojahedin for taking part in jihad in Sham [Syria],” Al-Maqdisi said.

He urged the Caucasus insurgents to be patient.

“We and the mojahedin in the Caucasus know that the road is long and difficult and that jihad in the Caucasus has its difficulties. Especially now when battlefields expanded and support to the Caucasus decreased and many are busy fighting in other battlefields. We know that the road is difficult, that the situation of the mojahedin in the Caucasus is one of the most difficult. Therefore, we urge them to be firm and patient, and unite around their leaders,” he said.

Al-Maqdisi also voiced his condolences over the death of Kebekov’s predecessor Dokka Umarov, whose death was officially confirmed by insurgents on 18 March 2014.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Israeli analyst suggests Hizbullah is worried about Hamas performance; Acknowledges wide targeting of MILITARY sites in 2006 and by Hamas NOW

This Israeli analyst, with the curiously or poorly named, tel-aviv based “levantine group,” attempts to make the claim that Hizbullah is disappointed or frustrated by Hamas’s performance.

I strongly disagree after two weeks of interviews here in Beirut with a wide range of officials from all sides including hizbullah. Indeed, why should the party by “disappointed?”

Hamas is trying to do the impossible by fighting on essentially a small beach of territory some few kilometers wide, with ZERO depth, with rockets that pale in comparison to both the AMOUNT and TYPE that hizbullah possesses (the swarm effect and the better tech is what Hizbullah is likely banking on for the next conflict , even if davids sling is introduced).

Bottom line: Hamas’s fight now is NOT being viewed as anything close to a test run of the next Hizbullah-Israel war.

One useful thing this analyst says however: he acknowledges something which is largely NEVER reported on but which is crucial to analysing the balance of power in the region. Hamas is mimicking Hizbullah’s approach to target MILITARY installations as a key aspect of their campaign. From al-monitor:


At the outset of the conflict, Hamas attempted a “shock and awe campaign,” including tunnel-borne kidnapping raids under the Israeli border, navel commando incursions and drone attacks meant to degrade Israeli morale. According to experts who spoke to Al-Monitor, this is the same strategy that Hezbollah would likely employ in the first days of a future conflict with Israel. Israel thwarted all of Hamas’ surprises, including the armed drone incursion.

Hamas’ rocket infrastructure, meanwhile, is now nearly identical to that of Hezbollah’s in Lebanon, apart from the smaller numbers and sophistication of projectiles. Unlike past conflicts, most of Hamas’ rocket launchers are concealed under the sands of Gaza or in sensitive civilian areas, with local cells using motorcycles to dart between firing positions. One can imagine that Hezbollah is watching how a frustrated Hamas repeatedly fails in its attempts to confuse and overwhelm Israel’s air-defense Iron Dome system with coordinated rocket barrages over large areas at a time. While the media is restricted from reporting such attacks, it has been widely claimed by Hamas that many of their rockets have been fired toward the vicinity of key air force bases of Tel Nof, Hatzor, Hatzerim and Nevatim in an attempt to hit runways and stifle Israeli air force bombing. During the 2006 conflict, Hezbollah focused much of its fire on hitting the Ramat David air base in northern Israel’s Jezreel Valley, hitting the runway in at least one instance.

Read more:

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 18, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Eliot Abrams left the middle east “largely at peace” in 2009…Obama is to blame

Eliot Abrams – the architect of so many of the disasterous Bush admin policies that paved the way for the current disintegration and death all around – has this incredible claim here: “The Middle East that Obama inherited in 2009 was largely at peace, for the surge in Iraq had beaten down the al Qaeda-linked groups… When Obama took office there was no such phenomenon; it is his creation…”

There are many ways to respond to this hilarious charge – but the importance is this is the attack line for the republicans and the neo-liberal cons.

Here is the list of ONLY terrorist incidents by wikipedia for 2009…. abrams definitely got this one right, as always.


January to March 2009

  • January 2: At least 23 people have been killed and 110 injured in a suicide bombing in Yusufiya, a town south of Baghdad.[1]
  • January 4: A female suicide bomber blows herself up among a crowd of pilgrims worshipping at the Imam Mousa al-Kazim shrine in northern Baghdad, killing 38 people and wounding 72.[2][3]
  • January 6: A suicide car bomber wounded five policemen and three civilians, striking their patrol in Mosul.[4]
  • January 24: A suicide car bomber killed five policemen and wounded 13 other people, including six police officers, at a checkpoint in Garma.[5]
  • February 5: A female suicide bomber killed 15 and wounded 13 in a suicide bombing in a restaurant in Baquba.[6]
  • February 9 : A suicide car bombing occurred in between 2 Iraqi checkpoints on the vehicle of a US Army battalion commander in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing 4 US soldiers and wounding 3 More.[7]
  • February 13: A female suicide bomber killed more than 30 Shia pilgrims and injured 35 in an attack on Shia pilgrims in a region north of Hillah.[8] The death toll, later rose to 35 with 76 being injured, including 28 children.[9]
  • March 8: Baghdad police recruitment centre bombing: suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up as he entered a crowd of people outside a police recruitment centre killing 28.[10]
  • March 10: Suicide car bomb went off outside a national reconciliation conference in Baghdad, killing at least 33 and wounding 46.[11]

April to June

  • April 6: A spate of bombings in the same day (of unknown coordination) kills 32 and injures another 124 more.[12]
  • April 10: 8 people, including 5 US soldiers were killed and 60 people were wounded when a suicide truck bomber breached the outer security barrier of Iraqi National Police headquarters in southern Mosul, and detonated his explosives.[13]
  • April 11: At least nine people were killed and another 23 wounded on Saturday when a suicide bomber struck the headquarters of a US-allied Sunni militia south of Baghdad.[14]
  • April 16: 26 people were injured after a suicide bomber in Iraq’s Anbar province attacked an army base.[15]
  • April 20: 8 US soldiers and 9 civilians were badly injured in a suicide bombing in Baquba, capital of the Diyala province. The suicide bomber was wearing a police uniform, According to the deputy mayor of the city the bomber mingled in with Iraqi and us soldiers before setting off his explosive vest .[16]
  • April 23: 57 people,[17] including 53 Iranian pilgrims were killed in a suicide bombing in a restaurant in Muqdadiya, in Diyala.[18] As many as 55 were injured[19] In another suicide bombing 28 people were killed and 52 wounded in a suicide attack on a police patrol in southeastern Baghdad.[20]
  • April 24: 30 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside the most important Shi’a shrine in Baghdad.[21] The death toll of this double bombing reached 60.[22] It included 25 Iranian pilgrims.[23] 125 people were injured.[24]
  • May 1: A suicide bombing near a coffee shop in Mosul killed 6 people.[25]
  • May 12: 5 policemen and 1 civilian were killed whereas 11 people were injured after a suicide bombing in Kirkuk.[26]
  • May 21: A suicide bombing in Kirkuk killed 5 awakening militia.[27] Separately, 15 people were killed including 3 US soldiers and also 30 were injured as well as 7 US Service man when a suicide bombing struck a US Army patrol in Southern Baghdad.[28]
  • June 1: A suicide bombing at a police checkpoint in Diyala killed a policeman and wounded 9.[29]
  • June 4: 1 civilian was killed and 6 were injured by a car-suicide bombing in Mosul.[30]
  • June 20: 15 people were killed and 150 were injured by a truck-suicide bombing at a Shi’a Mosque in Kirkuk.[31]
  • June 22: 7 policemen were killed and 13 people were injured by a suicide bombing in Abu Gharib.[32]

July to September

  • July 29: 7 people died during an explosion of a Sunni political party office near Baghdad.
  • August 13: At least 20 people were killed and 30 wounded in a double suicide bombing in northern Iraq, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. Two suicide bombers with explosive vests carried out the attack at a cafe in Sinjar, a town west of Mosul. In Sinjar, many townspeople are members of the Yazidi minority.[33]
  • August 19: 101 people are killed during simultaneous suicide truck and car bombings at the Iraq’s Foreign and Finance ministries.[34]
  • August 29: A suicide bomber detonates a van full of explosives outside a police base in Salahudin province, north of Baghdad, killing nine Iraqi police officers and wounding at least 14 others.
  • August 30: A suicide car bombing at a checkpoint in Baghdad’s Adhamiya neighborhood kills at least one person and injures 12 others.
  • September 17: Three civilians are killed and three police officers are wounded when a suicide truck bomber attacks a police checkpoint in Tal Afar, approximately 260 miiles northwest of Baghdad.

October to December

  • October 11: A series of apparently coordinated bombings aimed at a meeting for national reconciliation killed 23 people and wounded 65 others in western Iraq, but they did not injure the officials who were at the gathering. About one hour after the first two bombings, a man driving a car filled with explosives attempted to speed through a security checkpoint near the Ramadi General Hospital; he was shot by a police officer at the checkpoint but managed to explode the car, killing himself and wounding two others.[35]
  • October 25: Bomb blasts against governmental municipalities buildings kill at least 155 people and injure more than 700 others in central Baghdad, in the deadliest attack in Iraq since August 2007.[36]
  • December 8: Bomb blasts kill more than 100 people and injure more than 400 others in Baghdad.[37]

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NYTs reports on Assad’s 2011 release of violent jihadists but not the release NOW of perhaps more significant jihadist by US ally Jordan

The new york times recently had a piece alerting readers to Assad’s release in 2011 of a number of violent jihadists… trying to suggest that Bashar is partially to blame for ISIS’s sweep, which is not very helpful in understanding the wide trend that has been gathering steam and which can only minimally be related to the 2011  prison release (which of course was cynical, evil etc. when pressed as per the baath party logic). The Gulf angle which is obviously far more important and interesting is left out of course.

BUT more significantly, the NYT totally omits the release LAST WEEK – not three years ago – OF Makdassi – the most important theorists of violent jihadism the world over (arguably).

Read Al-Monitor on this. I have no analysis of WHY jordan chose the WORST time for such a release…. but the NYT’s glaring blind spots as always just make it clear how unuseful the NYT is for analysis purposes of events themselves.


Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 23, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

When a Saudi monarchy newspaper is sure Hizbullah is being depleted: I.e. a preview of the next WINEP report

Translated today from Asharq al-Awsat… truly brilliant. (a piece on the ICG lebanon report soon):

“…Photos of some Hezbollah leaders who were killed in Syria show that they were rather old, which indicates that most of them had fought against Israel. Observers believe that this represents an indication of the “draining of the party’s human cadres in the Syrian lands.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 5, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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