The Mideastwire Blog

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

TRANSLATED: Hezbollah is already spearheading coordination between Leb army and Syria army i.e. fact on the ground

These coming weeks and months look to be especially bad along the whole border line of Lebanon and syria… and quite possible also along the border with Israel if some sides have their way.

Translated today by Mideastwire.com – for a free trial email info@ideastwire.com

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On February 27, the independent Al-Rai al-Aam daily newspaper carried the following report: “The echo of the upcoming battle in Syrian Qalaoun and the adjacent Lebanese Ersal barren areas is being heard throughout North Bekaa. Logistical and military preparations are taking place in addition to major preparations by the Hezbollah public and environment to support the Party if need be. All signs indicate that a wide battle will be taking place for sure in the barren areas of Ersal, Kaa, and Ras Baalbek in addition to the barren areas of Qalamoun…

“The Bekaa is “boiling” on a high temperature unlike the cold weather there. All eyes are focused on the armed groups that are deployed within dispersed geographical regions occupying an area of more than fifty kilometers along the Syrian borders. These regions represent a major source of concern for the Lebanese army, Hezbollah and the people of North Bekaa who now feel a threat against their lives more than any time in the past. This comes in light of pieces of information indicating that these groups are planning a military operation against the Lebanese border towns in order to break the pressure created by the Syrian regime and Hezbollah…

“Numbers of Hezbollah fighters in the Bekaa villages and towns that are “administratively” and religiously affiliated to the Party were placed in the mood of the battle a short while ago. Pieces of news have been recently circulating indicating that the Party’s leadership issued a special circular addressing these fighters mainly in the area of Bekaa-Hermel asking them to brace for defending their villages. This came in light of pieces of information indicating that the Free Syrian Army, An-Nusra Front and ISIL are making massive military preparations to attack a number of areas affiliated to Party starting from the Ersal barren areas all the way to Ras Baalbek and Kaa.

“In addition, a large number of Bekaa youths were invited to join the Hezbollah training centers in order to prepare for the upcoming days. Although the people of these towns failed to either confirm or refute these pieces of information, they are in a constant state of alert and willing to take part in any battle that Hezbollah might ask them to fight.

“…But what about the borders and the preparations inside the Lebanese arena for this battle? And what will be the role of the Lebanese army? The available pieces of information indicate that the army is ready to respond to any attempt carried out by the fighters to infiltrate the Lebanese borders. The majority of the weapons received by the army recently including the canons and ammunition have been used to enhance the fronts where the army is deployed in the Bekaa…

“Concerning Nasrallah’s call for coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies in order to confront terrorism, intersecting pieces of information indicate that Hezbollah is running the field coordination most of the time between the Lebanese and Syrian armies via an operation room on the field run by the Party in coordination and cooperation between the two sides. The jets of the Syrian regime played a role in the last battle that occurred in the Ras Baalbek barren areas where the Lebanese army lost five troops. Indeed, the Syrian jets launched several raids against the armed groups thus killing large numbers and forcing others to pull out…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 27, 2015 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Future movement hawks (and our Beirut Exchange speakers), Alloush and Fatfat, outline core objections to Hezbollah talks

From today’s Daily Briefing (for a free trial email info@mideastwire.com):

On February 25, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily newspaper carried the following report by Ammar Nehmeh: “Is there an internal dispute within the Future movement on how to approach the relations with Hezbollah at this point…? There’s one certain thing about this: Some Future “hawks” oppose the rapprochement with Hezbollah in light of the party’s present course of action…

“MP Ahmad Fatfat has a lot to say in this regard. He “understands the circumstances that called for launching dialogue, which is beneficial in some instances.” He however told As-Safir that the relationship [between the Future movement and] the Party is not meant to become good especially since Fatfat suggests a difficult condition that the Party must abide by in order to restore this relationship to its former state: “[the party should] place its weapons in the framework of the Lebanese state.”

“Fatfat has a long list of reservations especially since the dialogue with Hezbollah doesn’t touch on the main controversial issues specifically the fact that the Party is fighting alongside the Syrian regime inside Syria. Former MP and the member of the Future movement’s politburo, Moustafa Alloush shares this view. He and Fatfat insist that there are no differences within the movement adding that there’s rather a margin for some members to have honest and “pragmatic” opinions.

“Alloush told As-Safir that “Nasrallah’s latest speech confirms the fact that there are no horizons for the dialogue.” Alloush rejected Nasrallah’s call to “go to Syria together” and indicated that Nasrallah has divided the region into two axes: an Iranian axis and an Israeli one. Locally, the Hezbollah leader fired the mercy bullet at the issue of the presidential elections by insisting on Micheal Aoun as the sole candidate according to Alloush who agrees with Fatfat that “the issue of the presidency is not decided by Hezbollah but rather by Iran.”

“…Fatfat and Alloush agree that, although the dialogue will not be touching on the major issues, there are some basic matters that the Party must accept. Fatfat indicated that the Future movement has made compromises without any return such as the example of the security plan in Tripoli. He also insisted that the Party must accept the Baabda declaration. Alloush insists that the Party must approve this declaration in order to achieve a main breakthrough at the dialogue. He then wonders: What about the international tribunal, which Hezbollah has already approved? Nasrallah had even announced during the 2006 dialogue hearing that he accepts this tribunal.

“In conclusion, Alloush believes that “Nasrallah considers Lebanon as a detail in its major battle outside Lebanon. Are we idiots to believe that Hezbollah has changed?” Fatfat shares this pessimism and says that “following 2006, Hezbollah turned from a Resistance movement into a militia. Then, following 2012, the Party changed into an occupation force in the region thus strongly violating the Lebanese laws…””

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 25, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Growing Russian involvement in Syria war driven partially now by major Russian-Chechen- Caucusian Jihadist involvement

An except in tonight’s Mideastwire.com briefing from Al-Rai al-Aam:

“…Well-informed sources told Al-Rai that “Russia is not only interested in fighting Al-Qa’idah in Syria but also in combating more than 1700 Russians present in Syria and fighting alongside An-Nusra front and ISIL as per the statement of Russian intelligence head, Alexander Bortnikov.” The sources added that “the presence of the Russian officers is part of an agreement to fight terrorism signed between Russia and Syria especially since the two have a common enemy and since Russia doesn’t want these Russian fighters to return alive to their mother country…”

http://www.alraimedia.com/Articles.aspx?id=566508

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Our upcoming Middle East politics conferences!

POSTERlowrevised

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 24, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The joy of watching a (much belated) turn in US policy in the region away from constant conflict with “Resistance Axis”

An article in Lebanon’s As-Safir, translated today by Mideastwire.com, hits on some of the main dynamics in regional thinking, one that now seems – like it or not – anchored on an impending US-Iran agreement.

For those of us who have been arguing for such a course for many years, it is – to use a hackneyed phrase – bittersweet in terms of all the lost time and ruined/destroyed lives spent in a conflict (and its subsidiary conflicts) that could and should have been mitigated or ended far earlier – not least after 17 Saudi hijackers attacked our country on 9/11, after Iranian-US cooperation in Afghanistan and Iraq, after the Cedar revolution in Lebanon etc etc.

For those of us on this side, there is a collective breath holding – will reactionary forces succeeded in doing something in these intervening weeks to destroy the chances of an agreement? The bitterness here in Beirut among traditional US allies (despite whatever harm they may have actually done on occasion to US interests and other interests) is worrying – although some key players have resigned themselves to the Obama administration’s “New Direction.”

We will see.I fear that this turn does not have enough political capital and too many enemies to be realized.

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On February 21, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily newspaper carried the following report by Elie Ferezli: “On Sunday, the American and Iranian foreign ministers will be meeting again. Yesterday, the preparatory meetings started on the level of the assistants to the foreign ministers between Iran and the six major countries. All external signs coming from Tehran and Washington speak of an imminent agreement. The Israeli effervescence also speaks of the same thing. The most indicative sign came from President Barack Obama who considered that the technical part of the agreement has been completed and only the political part remains…

“Iran’s visitors believe that Tehran will not be focusing on lifting the sanctions all at once or gradually. For Iran, the most important part is to reach a complete agreement and to leave no clause un-tackled. This condition is embarrassing Obama, who is in turn eager for reaching an agreement. There’s one major obstacle consisting of the Congress’ rejection to lift the sanction… Could the Congress slam the agreement? This is the most important question on which lies the fate of the talks. The American Administration has started to look for ways to prevent [the Congress’s] effect on its plans to open up to Tehran…

“The interesting part consists of the fact that, even prior to completing the agreement, its effects have started to emerge on several regional arenas knowing that the two sides keep stressing that the agreement will be confined to the Iranian program. One of the most prominent arenas was Yemen. As the Houthis expanded from the north to Sanaa, the American condemnation was less than weak. This was interpreted as providing a cover for this expansion and thus, for the Iranian role in Yemen. In the same context comes the American obvious dismay concerning the Israeli raid on Golan… As the Americans are now convinced that Iran is an unbreakable part of the war against the ISIL terrorism, it seems that Iran is working on imposing new equations (through the south and Aleppo battles) in Syria preceding the final agreement next June.

“All this implies that the agreement is now stronger than the wind facing it. Those who are working on hindering this agreement know that the American interests will not be minding anyone’s feelings. But there are some questions that must be answered: Will America accept Iran as a partner in the region? And how will the Gulf States and Israel accept the new situation? And is Iran ready to the USA’s partner…? Could Iran be possibly providing American with guarantees concerning the “disciplining” of Hezbollah’s military and political role…?

“The Stratfor Institute, which is known for its closeness to the CIA, quoted some sources as saying that an official agreement between the USA and Iran is now imminent adding that “the agreement will include, in an unofficial manner, the acceptance of Iran as a foreign force in control over Lebanon.” What does that mean and how will it be translated? Parties close to Tehran believe that, regardless of the institute’s information, the effects that have started to appear on the entire region cannot possibly leave Lebanon out…

“The first outcomes of the new phase will consist of approving Michel Aoun’s access to power” according to a wide sector of March 8 in addition to Al-Rabyeh of course. More importantly, some believe that there will be a Saudi cover for such a step first because it would have received the American blessing, second because the “ladder” of authority in Al-Riyadh is still being consolidated, third because Saudi Arabia won’t come out as a loser as long as the wide jurisdictions of the [Lebanese] prime minister will remain untouched, and fourth because the negotiations that the Future is conducting with Hezbollah and the re-launching of the communication with Aoun imply that Al-Riyadh has started to pave the way for the pre-nuclear agreement phase.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 23, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Unexpected blowback from Jordan S. Syria efforts – Hezbollah & Iran move closer!

Very interesting piece translated today by our mideastwire.com (trial via info@mideastwire.com). It seems a new blowback/unintended consequence: Jordan’s likely meddling with Nusrah and in Southern Syria is helping to create the reaction by Hezbollah-Syria-Iran and has awakened their more effective fighting forces, which means Iran and “the Shia” move ever closer to Jordan’s border.

Lets all remember the Seymour Hersh New Yorker article where Nasrallah said he believed Jordanian intel was a part and parcel of efforts to assassinate him (and Hezbollah apparently believes Jordan was involved in Mughniyeah’s assassination as well)…. From the anti-Hezbollah Al-Quds al-Arabi here.

“For their part, many Islamists, including Spokesman for the Islamic Action Front Sheikh Murad al-Adaylah, had tackled in statements to Al-Quds al-Arabi the most important Jordanian question at this stage: Does Jordan want to see Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard forces at the closest point to its northern border? Sheikh Nasrallah’s maneuvers are alarming the Jordanian institution, which welcomes the presence of the Syrian regime forces near Daraa, but not Iranian ones or ones affiliated with Hezbollah…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 18, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

WINEP’s Jeffrey White gets it right: Next Hezbollah-Israel war will be devastating on all sides; Still doesn’t understand Lebanese politics

After years of arguing with these types of people – folks who, in 2007-2012, laughed at the idea of Hezbollah having a substantial ability to inflict widely wrought, prolonged pain on Israel – over the last two years, these messengers and analysts have finally come around. Jeffrey White’s piece is indicative of this, and serves as a warning to all sides concerning the “climactic” final or next round of war between Hezbollah and Israel.

But – there is always a but with WINEP pieces that need to be understood usually more as polemics than as analysis – White lightly reproduces the classic Israeli-WINEP et al. error when discussing assumptions about Lebanese politics, Israeli-led violence and the position of Hezbollah. He writes:

“… [The wide Israeli assault would mean] substantially reducing the group’s military capabilities and damaging enough infrastructure to sully its reputation as defender of Lebanon, perhaps increasing public antagonism toward it in the process.”

— I am relieved that now these folks are using the word “perhaps.” That is a MAJOR change from the last 25 years of such analysis.

— The core idea, especially if Israel is seen (as it was mostly in the january events) as pre-empting, or launching hostilities, then widespread use of the IDF’s “Dahiye Doctrine” (which means intentionally targeting civilian populated areas and infrastructure and regarding civilians in those areas as legitimate targets if they stay or are caught for whatever reason in those areas) will NOT likely increase public antagonism against hezbollah.

— So White and the IDF are really back to square one – massive destruction in Lebanon will likely NOT help to undermine Hezbollah – politically or militarily (we can argue this latter point elsewhere).

Yet another reason why another conflict is a really stupid idea.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 18, 2015 at 11:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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