The Mideastwire Blog

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

A different way to gauge Arab reactions to Jerusalem move: Listening to Arab authors

As a counterpoint to the New York Times article yesterday, read (in translation or in the original) the hundreds of Arab and Palestinian authors (we are translating a small sample!) who are promulgating a variety of powerful and interesting reactions to the Trump move. This is but one piece in Monarchy Jordan, that perhaps, perhaps is but one trend emerging vis-a-vis Trump and Israeli policy. Translated by our (for a free trial email

“Welcome to the Quds Force”

On December 8, the independent Al-Ghad newspaper carried the following opinion piece by Jamil Nimri: “Since 1995, the American presidents, both Conservatives and Democrats, have been using their right to postpone Congress’ decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem every six months. And this is what Trump did the first time. But today, he has decided to go through with his known electoral promise and move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, but at the oddest time, seeing as how he is preparing for the so-called “Deal of the Century” to ensure peace… Trump’s brain is divided between separate rooms, all operating with irresponsible crudeness. This is what observers in the US believe, at a time when the Europeans are not concealing their disgust towards him and his presence at the head of the most powerful state in the world…

“Likewise, the media outlets are not showing him any mercy, and I do not see any reason why the Arabs should abstain from rejecting him and holding him responsible for that decision, which the Saudi statement said was irresponsible. Yes, it is an irresponsible decision, which requires an adequate reaction that will deeply affect the US’ status, role and plans in the region. For example, Saudi Arabia could annul the $450 billion dollar deal entirely. Does it fear Iran? So, let us take a full turn towards Iran during this stage, seeing as how fear from it is that the US has been capitalizing on, while using us in the face of the Russian-Iranian-Syrian axis… Let us seek peace and understanding with Iran, and deliver a slap to the face of the US-Israeli blackmail. Let us offer to Qassem Soleimani, who is yearning for a foothold on the Golan border, as well as to the Quds Force and Hezbollah the entire border with the Golan at a 20-kilometer depth, and see what the two parties on both sides of the border will do!

“I am not kidding. Let us turn the table for once in our lives…, because Trump deserves that, and the world will hold him responsible for it. We do not have the ability to go back to the military option. But Israel is also no longer able to issue threats and settle the situation militarily, as confirmed by its experience with Hezbollah. However, we do hold many cards which we can use today, if we free ourselves of our traditional calculations and fears. Yesterday, we saw violent popular and official reactions. And tomorrow, we will hear strong statements by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference meetings among others. But all of this will lead to the appeasement of the climate and the gradual dissipation of mobilization, knowing that the fate of whichever Palestinian uprising will not be different from that of the previous ones.

“In that sense, the reassessment of the relations with the United States, and of the management of the relations and alliances in the region, is the only way to ensure another kind of reassessment in the American and Israeli mind.”مرحبا-فيلق-القدس






Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 8, 2017 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

For The New York Times, Gauging “The Arab World’s” Reaction to Jerusalem Move Means a Focus on the 1%

This is a deeply problematic article by Anne, Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Walsh. One would have expected that Anne, especially, would have recognized the pitfalls of the approach she co-authors here. A few points, but one initially to keep front and center: we have been and are in the midst of a major series of transitions when it comes to the issue of Palestine. One key trend is towards an ultimate, military engagement or series of engagements as the military-technology matrix is changing and since the peace track has long been shown to be inoperative. Any article that draws much from very initial reactions are missing the larger, structural changes that are underway and that are leading to much more violence. That said:

1) Leading with a Lebanese blogger who has very little engagement with or impact on the issue at hand is simply confounding. Mustapha is a good blogger on Lebanese politics but he has zero impact and relation to the headline that suggests the “Arab World” has lost its voice and impact on Jerusalem.

2) The headline is misleading to the extreme. The Arab rulers and dictators are one thing. The headline suggests that Arabs writ large are at play in essentially not caring as they once did about the Jerusalem issue.

3) The error is magnified by the old device of saying “Many” are thinking this way: “…many across the Middle East wondered if so much had changed in recent years that the real Arab response would amount to little more than a whimper.” These three journalists have no way to credibly gauge if “Many” Arabs are thinking this way today. Polls are deeply problematic in security states, but such an assertion is made without any reference to polls or anything at all etc. A very simple correction is to moderate your claims, perhaps to “Some!”

4) I have no idea what “Real Arab Response” means. This of course is at the core of the article’s main blindspot: The three authors are blurring – on purpose or not, we don’t know – what a few unelected dictators and kings think and may or may not do, with “real” popular sentiment and popularly supported movements, parties and formations in general. To blur the real and deep with a narrow elite does a great disservice to the unknowing reader.

5) Incredibly, Hezbollah is the first and only specific example given of hypocrisy on the issue, of all the non-popularly supported dictators and kings which one could call out for hypocrisy over the decades. This, sadly, demonstrates a lack of depth in analysis that fails to account for major changes on the Palestine issue that have been happening since at least May 2000 — when Hezbollah pushed Israel out of Lebanon militarily and provided a new “model” for Arafat that arguably affected his calculations at Camp David that summer — and changes that have been gaining speed since the 2006 war and the Syria war. In this graf, the authors therefore fail to shed light for readers about how Nasrallah’s argument and actions – whether morally repugnant or not – actually carry important weight that managed to underline substantial support for its actions in syria, all of which played a key role in reversing Assad’s decline and in building up Hezbollah’s power to a point where Israel’s QME is under enough threat for Israel to reportedly be considering a “pre-emptive” attack. They write: “…When Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia and political party formed to fight Israel, sent fighters to help save President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, claimed in a speech that “the road to Jerusalem” went through a list of Syrian cities, including Aleppo. Critics posted maps on social media showing that that was only true if you took a particularly circuitous route.”

6) Here again the authors blur the difference between what an Arab people – overwhelmingly subjected to security regimes – and “leaders” or elites do or don’t do. Interestingly, the authors also leave out how some Arabs have indeed taken matters in their own hands and launched armed movements against Israel – whether morally repugnant or not. They write: “… And many [Palestinian Leaders] note that the Arab world has done little more than issue notes of protest as the Israeli government has extended its de facto control over the eastern part of Jerusalem since seizing it from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and annexing it in a move still not recognized by most of the world.” They also of course leave out the 1973 War here…

7) There is no Palestinian quoted in the piece (or is there a Palestinian buried somewhere there?).

8) Except for the two bloggers, the “Arab world” people quoted are all wholly within a very narrow elite, thus undermining the article’s headline and overall thrust.

9) Again and again, wide generalizations – all the way to claims of deep emotional understanding – are made with no evidence, links or much of anything to support the claims: “…but on Wednesday, the emotions were as much of sadness and resignation as of anger and threats. An explosion of violence could still come, but so far there is something more like an explosion of sighs.

10) My favorite part is the reference to March 14’s Nohad Machnouk – probably one of the last people one would list as an historical, significant supporter of the Palestinian cause. At least quote Alloush or Fatfat, who fought for Palestinian factions in Lebanon but who changed their views significantly. These voices might have some bit more marginal contribution to the piece and the attempt at another generalization: “Nohad Machnouk, the interior minister of Lebanon, tweeted a clip from a song by Fairouz, the Lebanese diva — “Our home is ours, Jerusalem is ours, and with our hands we will return it to its glory” — the words determined but the music wistful and nostalgic.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 7, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The First Libya Exchange Conference Concludes @ Africa Hotel in Tunis

The First Libya Exchange has ended! Many thanks to our 22 speakers who traveled to Tunis from Libya and beyond as well as the 24 research participants who engaged our speakers over the five days at The Africa Hotel in downtown Tunis. Also a special thanks to His Excellency Mustapha Ben Jafar, the former speaker of the Tunisian Parliament, and Professor George Joffé from Cambridge who joined our research participants during the Exchange and provided invaluable insight!

The next Exchange will be held in Beirut January 14-21. The final deadline is in the next two weeks so request a registration form as soon as possible via For more information, visit:


Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 6, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Qatari owned daily claims Turkish banks are seeing an inundation of Saudi cash as businessmen worry about MBS’s moves

Translated in part here. Yes a Qatari owned daily but still, of interest. For a free trial of our service email

On November 24, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report from Istanbul by its correspondent Ismail Jamal: “During the last few weeks, Turkey witnessed the arrival of many Saudi businessmen and Arab residents in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, attempting to transfer their money from the Kingdom that has been going through unprecedented political and economic transformations, which generated fear of the future among them. Hence, at the central immigration office in the Turkish city of Istanbul, which is in charge of giving residency papers to foreigners, one could detect a noticeable increase in the number of Saudi citizens and Arab residents in the Kingdom, seeking residency in Turkey as soon as possible. The same could also be detected in the Turkish banks located in central parts of Istanbul…

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 24, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

An important part of Hezbollah’s new power is effectively a Russian veto in UN Security Council

As happened earlier this Fall when US-Israel pressure tried to change 1701. Translated in part today:

“…For their part, diplomatic sources assured that dialogue will address the content of the French-Saudi understandings, i.e. the need to preserve stability and distance Lebanon from the regional problems and Iran’s interference in Arab affairs, handle the weapons outside the authority of the state, and end Hezbollah’s involvement in regional conflicts. And according to the sources, the latter points are the main headlines of the ministerial statement of the current government, but have been violated by Hezbollah on more than one occasion… The sources then pointed to wide regional transformations in regard to Hezbollah, ones which started with gradual steps that have now reached the point of seeking the Security Council’s help…, though European sources mentioned talk saying that Russia had promised the party that it would topple any draft resolution targeting it at the Security Council…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 24, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Libya Exchange Conference in Tunis: Registration Closing

Our First Libya Exchange still has two slots available (we will cap the group at 25). As such, we intend to keep the registration period open until Sunday, November 26. To request a registration form, email As it currently stands, we have an impressive group of leading researchers, diplomats and development professionals who will be listening to more than two dozen Libyan and international actors from across the political spectrum November 29-December 3 at the Africa Hotel. Join us in Tunis!
Additionally, the registration period for the 19th Beirut Exchange is still open. This January’s Exchange, of course, comes at a crucial moment for Lebanon and the region, so join us in Beirut as well!

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A major potential “flashpoint” which could rapidly escalate regional conflict: Awaiting Islamic Jihad’s response

Translated today by out, in part below:

On November 13, the electronic Rai al-Youm daily carried the following piece by Dr. Sofian Abou Zaydeh: “What is making the Israelis so tense and careful in addition to them sending direct threats to the Islamic Jihad and its leadership and warning them against carrying out any retaliation act in response to the martyrdom of twelve Palestinians due to the tunnel’s demolition around two weeks ago?

“Gen. Yoav Mordechai, aka Poli, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Palestinian Territories, through a video featuring him, warned, in Arabic, the Islamic Jihad, mainly the Jihad’s leadership in Damascus, Dr. Ramadan Shalah, and his deputy, Ziad al-Nakhaleh, in addition to holding them responsible for any action that the Jihad will be carrying out in Gaza or anywhere else.

“Yesterday, through his opening speech at the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, Netanyahu also directly threatened the Islamic Jihad and warned them against any action because the Israeli reaction will be a harsh one. He not only threatened the Jihad but also held Hamas responsible for any action that might take place considering that it is practically in control of Gaza. The Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, also left no occasion unseized to threaten and warn against the danger of carrying out any action against the Israeli targets in retaliation for the tunnel’s martyrs…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 15, 2017 at 12:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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