The Mideastwire Blog

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

Nicholas Noe on Al-Jazeera at 17:30 GMT for Inside Story: On the Tunisian Protests

An excellent debate today with Mohamed-Dhia Hammami and MP from Al-Nahdha, Oussama Sghaier. The show will broadcast Live, today, at 6:30pm Tunis time and 5:30 GMT here:
It will also be archived here shortly thereafter:
My main arguments are: 1) Tunisia will likely not be able to “muddle along” as a kind of corrupt, kind of democratic state. Indeed, a huge bill is coming due sooner rather than later primarily because of 2) a failure to implement aggressive, “hard stick” policies (necessarily supported by powerful external actors like the EU and the US) against the key national cancer which is, quite simply, the “golden triangle” of the cops+economic-monopolists+traditional mafias that operates against the lower and middle classes of Tunisian society (and sometimes against certain elites as well!).
If dramatic action is not taken in this specific regard – and the “easy” way out is sustained by raising prices on citizens – both the security and the economy of Tunisia will continue to be undermined, perhaps to a breaking point.
Of course, the US and the EU bought some much needed security for Tunisia, with their Tunisian partners, after 2015. But pumping more money into the main problem – i.e. the “golden triangle” identified above and which is anchored in a deeply problematic security sector – is only going to throw more young Tunisians into a broken “justice” system (thus creating the violent jihadist 2.0) and is only going to further undermine the real drivers of economic reform and growth.
Read ICG’s report, released yesterday, and Max Gallien and Mohamed-Dhia Hammami‘s criticism together:
As well as my previous pieces on Tunisia via:
And my main 2016 criticism of Carnegie:

Written by nickbiddlenoe

January 12, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Some criticisms of recent think tank work on Tunisia to consider and debate, in light of the current protests

A few grafs, below, from my piece last year criticizing the Carnegie report on Tunisia, with reference to criticism of ICG as well. Key points: 1) Tunisia will likely not be able to “muddle along” as a “kind of corrupt, kind of democratic state” and 2) a failure to implement aggressive, “hard stick” policies (vigorously supported by external actors) against the key cancer that is the cops+economic-elite mafias/corruption matrix as it operates against the lower and middle classes of Tunisian society, will – all together – progressively undermine both the security and economy of Tunisia, perhaps to a breaking point.
Read ICG’s report and Max Gallien and Mohamed-Dhia Hammami‘s criticism together, and keep in mind that I minimized the specific role that subsidy “reform”+price/inflation plays as a part and parcel of the cops-economic mafia matrix. Max and Mohamed and ICG have all done a far, far more extensive job of examining this side that is now at the head of the “new” Tunisia crisis. Also excellent on this aspect and more is @MullinCorinna and Monica Marks as well as Achraf at I-Watch and Sami Ben Gharbia
The rot will rise, sooner than later:
…Unfortunately, the anchors of that consensus may soon unravel. Despite the passage of a new Constitution, several free and fair elections and a Nobel Prize, Tunisia is desperately struggling to maintain its stability amid economic regression, widening social divisions and repeated ISIS and Al-Qaeda attacks.
As these pressures grow, a crucial blind spot of the past few years will likely emerge: Few outside advocates for the country have proposed specific policies for how the country might fundamentally re-wire itself in order to prevent its own collapse.
If you scratch down to that level – i.e. beyond the mechanics of holding elections and the drafting of new laws – among Tunisians there has long been a robust debate about the best way forward. This is especially true when it comes to the central problem of dealing with the deeply corrupt, anti-reformist “parallel state” that is simultaneously strangling the economy and hobbling the security sector.
One strongly suspects, and hopes, that these sorts of debates will finally bubble to the surface in European and North American capitals as the prospect of yet another failed state on the Mediterranean continues to grow.
For the time being, however, the soft rhetoric of institution and infrastructure-building, good governance and non-confrontational, de jure approaches to reform marches on, couched in the fading hope that it will be enough to hold the line…
Criticism of Carnegie approach:
…Perhaps with this in mind, the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently published several reports and op-eds that both sound the alarm and propose what amounts to a grand bargain to “save” Tunisia.
While this approach might be more palatable for some Tunisians, it actually suffers from the same problem that hobbles Carnegie’s “New Framework for Partnership”: The underlying, structural imbalance of weak democratic forces pitted against far stronger, parallel state networks is left largely unaddressed.
Pouring money into a system that has been, and is still, de facto controlled by an iron triangle of business oligarchs, security sector actors and traditional mafias (i.e. the approach preferred by many Nationalists and Leftists) would only inflate the wealth and leverage of those who have long been preponderant.
In fact, the cancer would metastasize at an even faster rate.
Conversely, waiting to provide international aid (Carnegie’s approach) until some Tunisian actors succeed in forcing a far stronger side to start reforming itself out of existence – via micro-decentralization programs, “public dialogues” or end-runs around the bureaucracy – is also doomed. After all, Tunisia’s parallel state is exceptionally well schooled in the art of co-option, subversion and re-direction, especially in a climate of terrorism and overriding European concerns about refugee flows…
Criticizing the ICG approach:
Strangely, despite these unique circumstances and the obvious urgency of the situation, the search for more robust approaches to stem Tunisia’s decline doesn’t seem to be particularly of the moment in New York, Washington, Brussels, or any Mediterranean capital.
Carnegie, for its part, prefers to stop just short, hoping that the dangling of carrots will be enough to encourage Tunisians to use whatever sticks they can muster up themselves in the reform fight.
The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) has also largely shied away from the task at hand, espousing a non-confrontational approach even as the situation deteriorates further.
Last summer, for example, it extensively outlined how “a dysfunctional internal security apparatus” in Tunisia was failing and had to be “thorough(ly) reformed”: “Without an Internal Security Force (ISF) reform that would allow for the formulation of a holistic security strategy, Tunisia will continue to stumble from crisis to crisis as its regional environment deteriorates and political and social tensions increase, at the risk of sinking into chaos or a return to dictatorship.”
Brushing aside the full implications of its own dire predictions, however, ICG then went on to propose more of the same remedies that might have made sense in the 2011-2013 period: The parallel state, and especially its manifestations in the security sector, needs to be brought into the democratic process since “a head-on fight between the ISF and the political class is a dead end.” Rather than “impos(ing) their vision on the Internal Security Forces,” the report asserted, Tunisia’s leaders needed to somehow “channel the ISF’s desire for independence,” cooperate with it and offer “encourage(ment).”
Doubling down on the approach, ICG released a report earlier this month that proposed several ways to rescue the embattled transitional justice effort.
“It would be better,” the report’s authors said, “for the government to support a law regularizing under certain conditions the status of Tunisians implicated in [past] corruption and tax evasion. Instead of entering into conciliation procedures that could create new opportunities for cronyism and blackmail, these Tunisians would have to entrust the inventory of their assets to certified public accountants, who would be held responsible for any false declarations, as a basis for a tax assessment and back payment.”
Although ideas like this, and other efforts to “find a middle ground,” may seem like a sensible way to head off the full-scale assault of the past two years against anti-corruption efforts and transitional justice as a whole, the problem is that the very idea of compromise for the upper echelons of graft is unworkable since any meaningful accounting would dangerously expose the parallel state as it currently operates, threatening their whole enterprise.
Given all of this, it is high time to recognize the situation as it. There may be a rare chance to build a robust, non-corrupt democracy in the Middle East. But a “head on fight” led by Tunisians that aims to dismantle their country’s de facto triangle of power—the police, their associated business elites, and the mafia—is the only credible way to move forward.
It also might be the only way left to prevent yet another disaster in a region that can’t bear much more…
There are “hard stick” approaches reasonably available. Let us look at the Guatemala Model:
…Addressing these questions in detail is vital for getting to the next step: Rapidly and responsibly dismantling Tunisia’s parallel state.
But here too, not much work has been done to sketch out options even though several approaches are available.
Perhaps, the most ambitious and comprehensive one would be the creation of a supra national, International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) that would function in a similar manner to the International Criminal Court (ICC). As one proponent has put it: “Like the ICC, an IACC would operate on the principle of complementarity, meaning that only officials from those countries unable or unwilling to prosecute grand corruption properly would be subject to prosecution. This would give many nations a significant incentive to strengthen and demonstrate their capacity to combat grand corruption.”
But cobbling together broad international support for an IACC would undoubtedly take time and face numerous obstacles.
A better alternative, then, for the vast majority of Tunisians who desperately want to see an end to the corruption of the parallel state, as well as for regional peace and security, may be an ad-hoc U.N. investigation, combined with the threat of a hybrid (Tunisian-UN) tribunal should Tunisia prove itself unable to prosecute the handful of top-level networks identified by the investigation.
Such an effort would send a powerful message to all Tunisians that the era of elite impunity is over. The culture of corruption/crony protectionism and the inefficiency and injustice it breeds has become an existential threat to Tunisia and to “frontline” states in the region…
As well as previous pieces on Tunisia via:
Read the above in full:

Written by nickbiddlenoe

January 10, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Politico/@JoshMeyerDC Supply Ammo To Warpath Trumpists, But Obscure Helpful Debate On Policies Towards Hezbollah And Iran

Politico’s Josh Meyer has produced two main pieces related to Hezbollah, Iran and the nuclear deal this past year: One in April about how the Obama administration allegedly “derailed” counter-proliferation efforts in order to massage the nuclear deal and the second this week on how Team Obama essentially did the same to counter-narcotics/money laundering efforts targeting Hezbollah in the main.

For serious researchers and policymakers – i.e. those who can pick out the gaps in both stories, the points where the journalist and/or the editors have apparently chosen to highlight the “sexiest,” most clickable claims, bury contradictions/counter-rationales or simply to leave out key facts and context – both pieces are more useful as polemical indications of how a “hawkish” approach is (re-) forming in DC vis-a-vis Iran and Hezbollah rather than as well-balanced, long format investigations for better understanding the costs and benefits of the previous administration’s approach, not to mention the best way forward.

This is particularly unfortunate since there is a genuine debate – as well as a specialist and public interest – when it comes to understanding the costs and benefits of the nuclear deal as well as related policies and practices that involve Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

[I should say here that some of the claims and intermittent cases over the years that point to Hezbollah’s involvement in money laundering, the drug trade, arms procurement and even operational planning for “homeland” attacks ring true. Using such involvement as a kind of moral indictment is not a particularly useful political-rhetorical tactic, however, not least because of  our (US) longstanding involvement with deeply morally problematic actions, including when it comes to the intelligence-narcotics nexus (think Latin America). What is useful, though, is putting these mostly alleged, “shadowy” activities (which are near impossible for the non-intelligence public and journalists to properly weigh) into a broader context of US interests. When one does that, a key result is that the Hezbollah-Iran military+terror threat to the US is radically different from that posed by ISIS-type groups (crudely put) and, most importantly because of these differences, is open to a range of policy choices which do not need to involve military action or interventions broadly construed (in fact, far better approaches have been available and are still available along these “non-kinetic” lines, perhaps even at various points in association with some “kinetic” approaches). This, for me, is the main framework that one needs to explicitly consider in order to adequately process the reportage produced by Meyer et al.]

As such, Meyer’s two pieces – and especially this week’s more overtly polemical article on the counter-narcotics dereliction of duty charge – can contribute to a sober and potentially productive policy process, but only if the reader 1) picks out and compares key points that the author chooses to omit or de-emphasize in each of the two articles and then also 2) brings in additional facts and context which necessarily softens the main implications (all of which will, of course, make the pieces far less clickable and sellable).

In this endeavor, however, one needs to be clear about the thrust of the pieces: Both are written and edited in the classic “hit piece” vein (see the points below), smelling strongly of a deep desire to prove – without actually addressing it directly – that Team Obama’s nuclear deal (which of course has overwhelming international support as well) was indeed a terrible deal a la Trump’s oft-repeated claim (Meyer and others must naturally consider if Trump is really the standard bearer and proof positive that a policymaker, government or even a polemicist wants for their prefered policy approach?). As but one indication of this crucial defect, the piece this week has seemingly shorn itself of the complications and push backs on facts and logic that April article’s had at least buried, but nevertheless presented to the reader.

Vanishing Structural Counter-Rationale. The April article makes clear that by 2014, the Obama Administration was pushing aggressively forward with a range of legal-oriented counter-proliferation operations against Iran, Hezbollah and the nuclear program. Both articles, however, diminish the fact that the US was also engaged in an aggressive, “kinetic” intelligence war on all three fronts just as key ally Israel was also doing the same with the full knowledge and in some cases, coordination with US efforts. Both articles therefore fail to mention the successive Hezbollah commanders and Iranian nuclear scientists assassinated during the run up to the nuclear deal, or the CIA agents rounded up in 2011 and 2015 by Hezbollah.) Still, the April article helpfully quotes one Obama administration official in a key, structural push back to the article’s overall thrust: Mainly, that tactical counter-proliferation operations have to be balanced within and sometimes against an overall strategic approach. The December ’17 Meyer apparently now wants to wholly avoid the (absolutely necessary) consideration of whether the nuclear deal is fact a net win for US interests – since such an exercise would reduce the force of his claim – but at least in the April Meyer piece he throws the reader some meat in order to better weigh the issues at hand:

  • “The senior Obama administration official acknowledged that the twin sets of negotiations influenced the overall U.S. counter-proliferation effort against Iran, especially the timing of individual investigations, prosecutions and international efforts to bring suspects to justice. Such competing equities are unavoidable when high-level matters of diplomacy and geopolitics are under consideration, the official said. At those times, the White House must be guided by broader policy objectives, in this case de-escalating conflict with Iran, curbing its nuclear weapons program and freeing at least four American prisoners. “The White House wouldn’t be getting involved in saying yea or nay to particular arrests or cases or the like” that are the purview of the Justice Department, the administration official said. “It was not uncommon, though, that before we were going to undertake a law enforcement action that we thought would have foreign policy implications, we would alert folks at the White House so that there could be appropriate notice given to a foreign government. That happens.” The former official also acknowledged the complaints by agents and prosecutors about cases being derailed but said they were unavoidable, and for the greater good.”

Buried Tactical Counter-Rationale, Absent of Supporting Facts. By the piece this week, however, the structural push-back is almost completely absent. Little consideration is therefore given to whether a counter-narcotics/money laundering should in fact have been made subservient to an overall policy approach to Iran and Hezbollah. Meyer therefore raises the common fight former enemies had against ISIS – which of course was already engaged in major attacks by 2014 and thereafter against the US, Europe and allied states – but provides almost no credence or support to such considerations for the reader to weigh. Was containing ISIS and AQ attacks against civilians in Europe, the US and Lebanon and their overall push for supremacy in Iraq and Syria enough to de-emphasize conflictual operations against Iran and Hezbollah who were also engaged in fights against the violent Sunni extremist groups? Would it really have been a good idea to destabilize Lebanon and have another failed state on the Med? Should we have listened to the DEA agent who Meyer quotes as wanting to roll into Beirut and arrest Hezbollah officials and extradite them? And then there is the larger question that Meyer prefers not to raise, much less answer now even though he at least saw fit to bury such problematics in the April piece: Was the nuclear deal important enough and within overriding US interests to de-emphasize other operations involving counter-narcotics and even counter-proliferation? One wonders: Why the omissions and the lack of complication now?

Meyers does raise one official, tactical objection to his narrative in this week’s story – one that is rich for further consideration and that was strangely left out of his april piece. Law enforcement figures cited in the story thought that only nuclear deal considerations were limiting their efforts, but there may have been serious tactical intelligence considerations as well:

  • “A former senior national security official of the Obama administration, who played a role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, suggested that Project Cassandra members were merely speculating that their cases were being blocked for political reasons. Other factors, including a lack of evidence or concerns about interfering with intelligence operations could have been in play. “What if the CIA or the Mossad had an intelligence operation ongoing inside Hezbollah and they were trying to pursue someone . . . against whom we had impeccable [intelligence] collection and the DEA is not going to know that?” the official said. “I get the feeling people who don’t know what’s going on in the broader universe are grasping at straws.” The official added: “The world is a lot more complicated than viewed through the narrow lens of drug trafficking. So you’re not going to let CIA rule the roost, but you’re also certainly not going to let DEA do it either. Your approach to anything as complicated as Hezbollah is going to have to involve the interagency [process], because the State Department has a piece of the pie, the intelligence community does, Treasury does, DOD does.”

Meyer, however, immediately undercuts the importance of this particular push-back and moves on saying: “Nonetheless, other sources independent of Project Cassandra confirmed many of the allegations in interviews with POLITICO, and in some cases, in public comments.” Of course, this doesn’t address the primary issue of a central reason why the law enforcement operations may have been curtailed. Most tellingly, Meyer’s does not raise (or was not aware of) the 2011 and 2015 announcements by Hezbollah of having captured CIA spies deep within its organization. Could these agents have been involved in the various proliferation and/or narcotics networks the Obama official was alluding too? This is a crucial line of inquiry so we can balance against the more limited claims of the law enforcement figures quoted, but Meyer doesn’t go down this path; just as by this week’s article he also chooses not to raise:

  1. The absolutely indispensable discussion about the overall costs and benefits of the nuclear deal;
  2. Legitimate fears of potential sabotage by forces within and outside the government opposed to the deal;
  3. The merits of Team Obama’s approach to Hezbollah and Lebanon;
  4. And the overall merits of balancing tactical operations with strategic concerns.

There are a variety of other criticisms to make when it comes to Meyer’s two pieces on factual grounds and also, crucially, when it comes to his unfortunate turn to only two Hezbollah experts for backup, both of whom have a long history on only one particular side of the debate (Levitt and Ranstorp – two of the leading neo-con voices who have long favored the “hawkish” approach… which has repeatedly failed when actually tired – remember the Bush-Israel 2006 Lebanon War and the Beirut May 2008 disasters for Eliot Abrams, Jeffrey Feltman, Condi Rice and Team Bush overall).

The primary problem remains, though, a disturbing lack of context and interrogation lines – especially along the lines of balancing tactical concerns with strategic ones – all of which would have cut the impact of the headlines and sub-headings, surely, and would have expanded the discussion to the nuclear deal merits itself, but that would have produced a more helpful, nuanced picture for all of us to consider on a crucial set of issues that, regrettably, appear consigned to a Trumpo-chaotic, military-only approach.


Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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

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