The Mideastwire Blog

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

TRANSLATED: US Ambassador to Yemen met Houthis at peace conference, mingled informally with delegation members

Translated in today’s Daily Briefing by our Mideastwire.com:

On December 13, the Saudi-owned London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper carried the following report from Stockholm by its correspondent Badr al-Qahtani: “US Ambassador in Yemen Matthew Tueller looked exhausted. But as soon as he took his seat in the lobby of a hotel in the heart of the Swedish capital Stockholm, his smile returned… On the fifth day of the consultations [between the Yemeni sides], Asharq al-Awsat took 25 minutes of the busy ambassador’s time to ask: … What do you think about the consultations? Are you optimistic? Tueller assured that “diplomacy has succeeded, as revealed by the fact that the UN envoy was able to gather both sides here, get them to meet and talk to each other, and engage in discussions… Yet, the tensions are persisting because there is mistrust between the parties…”

“Tueller concluded his answer by saying regarding the post-Sweden stage: “Are we about to reach an agreement that will be violated by one of the parties as soon as it is signed? When the consultations in Sweden are completed, all the sides will return to their positions and start implementing what was agreed on. We hope that both teams will come back after several weeks and achieve further progress.” He was then asked: “You have always wondered whether or not the Houthis have matured politically. What do you think?” He replied: “We will see the extent to which they will commit to the implementation of the agreements signed here. Political maturity is usually reflected by such commitments, which also feature opportunities.” Asharq al-Awsat then asked the ambassador about his meeting with the members of the Houthi group.

“He said: “We held an official meeting between the ambassadors and a group that included a member of the Houthi delegation.” But in regard to whether or not he held a direct meeting with the Houthis…, he replied: “In my own way, I held contacts with some members of the Houthi team… Any meeting I hold is an official one, because I am the American ambassador in Yemen 24/7,” adding: “In reality, I would like to commend the wonderful accommodation arrangements provided to both sides, which gave them an opportunity to mingle in an unofficial fashion, and far away from any pressures…””

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 14, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Yossi Beilin’s selective memory on the 1996 Grapes of Wrath War and April Understanding

Yossi Beilin gets a few facts wrong in his piece here in regards to the 1996 April Understanding, a crucial agreement that Nasrallah constantly refers to: 1) PM Perez was the one who “heated up” the North by deciding to go to what became a mini-war with Hezbollah after limited “retaliatory” action by both sides, and mistaken strikes acknowledged by Israel that killed civilians and one 14 year old boy in the occupation zone. There are strong arguments that Peres thought it would help his chances in the fast approaching election (which he then lost to Bibi after the war ended disastrously for Israel). As I wrote in my 2007 book of Nasrallah’s speeches and interviews: Although the sequence of causality and blame is difficult to reconstruct, US peace negotiator Dennis Ross, in his post mortem, The Missing Peace, acknowledges that Israeli fire into civilian areas of Lebanon served as the catalyst for the first Hezbollah rocket fire into Northern Israel.

2) Yossi doesn’t mention the secret side letter between the US and Israel that completely undermined the written, public agreement (see below)

3) Yossi knows that the 109 reports of the monitoring committee were indeed made public – in fact this was an important aspect and one reason why the ILMG worked in my view. It is an aspect that the current Tripartite Committee under UNSCR 1701 should take up. Strange that he makes the opposite point.

His piece: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/israel-lebanon-gaza-strip-hamas-hezbollah-benjamin-netanyahu.html?utm_campaign=20181106&utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%20Newsletter

Some more on the The April Understanding, April 30, 1996, from our “Voice of Hezbollah” book (Verso, 2007)

Buffered by a joint Israeli-Syrian willingness to finally negotiate, the verbal Understanding of 1993 generally held in Lebanon to the extent that the country did not again incur another massive attack by Israel. However, as Hezbollah operations against Israeli forces within the “security zone” intensified in March 1996, perhaps as a means of signifying Syrian President Hafez Assad’s dismay over the US-led Sharm El Sheik anti-terrorism conference of that month (which he was not invited to and which he had refused to attend), the always tenuous verbal terms of 1993 quickly began to unravel as Israel sought to retaliate widely both inside and outside of the “security zone.” Although the sequence of causality and blame is difficult to reconstruct in the absence of a written document, US peace negotiator Dennis Ross, in his post mortem, The Missing Peace, acknowledges that Israeli fire into civilian areas of Lebanon served as the catalyst for the first Hezbollah rocket fire into Northern Israel. He reiterates his particular understanding, however, that the terms of the 1993 agreement permitted such Israeli action and that Hezbollah, in any event, had begun to “show far less concern than previously about [actually] shooting [rather than merely staging attacks] from Lebanese civilian areas.”

Israel’s “Grapes of Wrath campaign that followed started on April 11, and ended 16 days later with 165 Lebanese civilians killed, 401 wounded and widespread damage to civilian infrastructure including highways, bridges and electrical stations. Although there were far fewer refugees than in 1993, the Israeli shelling – deliberate or not – of a UN compound at Qana on April 18 that killed 98 Lebanese villagers dealt a similarly powerful moral blow to Peres’s claim to be merely trying to end “Hezbollah terror.” More of a blow than Qana, however, was the fact that Peres and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) were forced to recognize that its enemy was simply not going to run out of Katyusha rockets, contrary to earlier, widely incorrect assessments. In other words, if the IDF campaign continued without a large-scale, sustained ground operation, the attacks within Israel might continue all the way up to the Israeli elections in late May.

Given all this, the US was forced to change its course from supporting Israel’s campaign to intervening in the hopes of achieving a cease-fire that might simultaneously end the carnage and bolster Peres’s increasingly precarious position well before voting actually started (a Labor victory was seen as vital by the Clinton administration for moving the peace process forward).

Apparently undeterred by its weakened bargaining position however, the initial US proposal sought to end attacks on civilians but also, according to Hala Jabber, “called for Hezbollah to be disarmed and for an end to its resistance against Israeli troops in the security zone. Provided no attacks took place for nine months, Israel would then commence discussions on a military withdrawal from Lebanon [emphasis added].”

The maximalist US proposal was roundly rejected by the Lebanese government, Hezbollah and Syria. Instead, the dynamics of the situation which had turned so strongly against the US and Israel shortly promulgated a far different, written agreement – “The April Understanding” – promoted by the French. Most significantly, the Understanding 1) affirmed the legitimacy of violent operations in Lebanon 2) greatly restricted attacks on Lebanese civilians by the Israelis, and 3) placed a modest prohibition on Hezbollah rocket attacks launched, though not staged, directly from civilian areas.

In a surprising turn, however US Secretary of State Warren Christopher immediately undermined the agreed upon language by sending a “side letter” to Peres which read: “The United States understands that the [latter] prohibition refers not only to the firing of weapons, but also to the use of these areas by armed groups as bases from which to carry out attacks.” Of course, a new debate over what constituted a “base” might have been joined, and Nasrallah was certainly well prepared for such a legalistic discussion, but the damage had already been done: Israel had language which the parties had not agreed upon that gave it a far freer hand in the future to again fire into civilian areas.

That said, the Understanding itself still stands as a remarkable document in the history of US foreign policy. Having designated Hezbollah by name as an enemy of the peace process by Executive Order in 1995, the Clinton administration now recognized, though not in name, the intrinsic right for Hezbollah to carry out attacks within Lebanon, irregardless of any preconditions or the immediate needs of the peace process.

For Hezbollah, as Nasrallah makes clear in the interview below with As Safir, this obviously represented a crucial victory. Equally important, as Jabber explains, “Prior to ‘Operation Accountability,’ the Lebanese government had disputed the merits of the Islamic resistance. The Lebanese public had also voiced criticisms of Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel’s northern border and the government had deployed the army in the South in an attempt to disarm and control the guerrillas. In the wake of ‘Operation Grapes of Wrath,’ Lebanon was prepared to defend Hezbollah’s right to exist before the world.”

Of course, the entire episode and even the Understanding itself also exposed a continuing vulnerability for the Party – mainly in terms of the pain which its operations were acknowledged as having wrought for many Lebanese and Lebanese Shiites exposed to Israel’s massive attacks. Hezbollah was therefore, in a sense, weaker after Grapes of Wrath since it now had to even more carefully calibrate its future operations according to the far clearer terms of a public document. Irresponsibly causing widespread dislocation would, in the future, be a far easier charge to level, all the more so since Israel would occasionally single out Christian and Druze infrastructure (like electricity plants) for attack as a means of dividing Lebanon against the Shiites.

Indeed, although the Party, supported, in part, by funding from Iran, made a point of rebuilding the homes destroyed by Israel, such efforts did not prevent then Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who at least one report said had been privately dismayed by Hezbollah’s willingness to wager the country’s reconstruction, from calling the parliamentary elections which followed in the fall of 1996 a battle between “moderation” and “extremism” – a dichotomy which Nasrallah goes to some length to reject.

https://mideastwire.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/did-nasrallah-just-end-the-1996-april-understanding-probably-not/

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 7, 2018 at 9:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Saudi Tweeter Mujtahid: MBS threatened Trump with disclosure over Trump Foundation donation “offers” pre & post-election

Excerpted from our Daily Briefing today (for a free Mideastwire.com trial, email info@mideastwire.com): “On October 19, 20, and 21, Saudi activist Mujtahid posted the following tweets on the developments of the Khashoggi case: “Contrary to his usual self, Bin Salman has left his yacht and spent the past few days at his palace in Al-Riyadh perhaps in fear of a potential family coup against him. He also intensified the surveillance on the rest of the princes especially those whom he believes might initiate an action or work with external sides. Contrary to what Reuters mentioned quoting a source, he is in full control of the situation and none of his powers have changed.

“Some princes had tried to meet with the king but Mohammad didn’t let them. They also did not manage to organize a large meeting between them in fear of arrest. They are thus meeting sporadically and in small numbers. Funny enough, these small meetings are taking place under heavy security measures and they are making every effort to remain concealed by driving around in old cars, without cell phones and wearing worn out clothes.

“Bin Salman is also living through a different fear represented by the Blackwater mercenaries turning against him or arresting him and handing him over to the family’s new leadership, which will be nominated by the western governments. His concern over the family conspiring against him, the western pressure and the Blackwater coup has caused him to become extremely tense and to double the dose [of substance] he is addicted to.

“On the other hand, the members of Bin Salman’s close entourage are living in fear as they realized that the man is willing to sacrifice the murderers who serve him for the sake of protecting himself and as they saw that he expressed his desire to liquidate some princes to prevent America and Europe from endorsing them especially Bin Nayef… It has been noticed that Saud al-Qahtani has not attended to his office since October 9 and that he stopped posting tweets. Someone else was appointed to tweet instead. His real role in what happened has not been elucidated yet. However, the certain part is that the man hated Khashoggi and that two of the killers were close to him. He also passed by Turkey as a regular traveller at the same time of the incident and using a different passport.

“Saud al-Qahtani clearly indicated, here through Twitter, that he only acts under the directions of Mohammad Bin Salman. If Bin Salman is pinning the responsibility of Khashoggi’s murder on him, he has to admit that he has appointed him to this task. Publish the following tweet [by Qahtani] in every language: “Do you think I act on my own without directions? I am an employee and a loyal implementer of my master’s orders, the king, and His Highness my master, the crown prince.”

“Now, finding the body is easy: As long as Bin Salman confessed that the eighteen [individuals] are responsible for Khashoggi’s slaying, they are supposed to confess immediately about the location of the body. The Turks first and the international media second must immediately ask the Saudi authorities to indicate the body’s location to them based on the eighteen individuals’ confession.

“What is being said about Trump’s objective in supporting Bin Salman’s story being to milk Saudi Arabia is not true. The objective is for Trump to save himself from a scandal that Bin Salman has threatened him with if he fails to rescue him from this predicament. The threat consists of leaking the details of what Bin Salman offered to the Trump foundation before and after the elections…

“The official statement on Khashoggi came following the request of the US Secretary of State, Pompeo, when he visited Saudi Arabia and met with Bin Salman alone. He thus explained to him the danger of a full denial [of the crime] and the need to make a partial confession while pinning the responsibility on a prominent officer of the intelligence services. The coordination between Trump and Bin Salman proceeded after that and Trump announced that he believes the story.

“As for the reason why Al-Assiri and Al-Qahtani’s have been specifically pinpointed, that’s because their names have been mentioned by the American press, the former in the context of the responsibility for the operation and the latter because it is impossible for Bin Salman to work without involving him. People close to Bin Salman say that he is planning on sacrificing Al-Assiri but he will not sacrifice Saud, his friend and someone he cannot do without.

“Now that Trump failed to promote this lie to the world or even to the American media following his failed attempt at supporting its credibility, he sent a message to Bin Salman asking him to cooperate in determining the body’s location and to reveal the names of other [implicated] people and details to push the suspicions away from him and before any Turkish information is released that will completely torpedo the Saudi statement.

“Referring the official statement on Khashoggi to the Attorney General, Al-Mo’jab, was a miserable and retarded attempt at bestowing a legal quality to it knowing that the Attorney General did not write a single letter since the statement was prepared by public relations experts. The Attorney General might have actually only seen the statement in the media. The same goes for anything that has ever been referred to the Attorney General in the past.

“The Attorney General Abdullah al-Mo’jab and his deputy, Shalaan al-Shalaan have been selected in light of their corrupt history and so that they may act like slaves to the orders of the House of Saud. The same goes for the officials at the justice, judiciary, the ministry of Islamic affairs, the Islamic World League, and the rest of religious and judiciary posts.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 22, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Missing Pieces In The Debate Over Eisenhower’s 1958 Invasion of Lebanon

This needs a lot more discussion, but leaving aside Riedel’s short piece on the 1958 Marine landing/invasion in Lebanon – which had few insights and several errors (tactical nuclear weapons were indeed brought into the area) – Anthony’s well-written piece deserves emphasis and debate. Key points to start:

— A missing, but crucial point to draw out is the belated discovery by the US that there was at least one enormous, longstanding division within the Christian community, specifically, in Lebanon which centered on its orientation, i.e. put crudely: balanced, accommodating and confident towards the Eastern/Arab/Islamic worlds or fully titled, in relative fear and loathing, towards a narrow conception of the West. Bechara El Khoury vs. Camille Chamoun. This is a key finding by US Envoy Robert Murphy that allowed the US to be comfortable with flexibility towards Nasserism in Lebanon i.e. it turned out there was a substantial and historically embedded “half” of the Christian community which would balance, live with and also temper radical Nasserism, emphasizing and therefore assisting so-called “moderate” Nasserism towards preponderance.

— Which leads to the main missing point: NSC 5820, here. For me, this is the high point of enlightened US thinking (such that is available) that would quickly U-Turn back to the default “our man in X country” alongside rigid anti communism/anti arab nationalism. It must be mentioned in any treatment of the 1958 invasion since it was the “lesson learned” document put out in October 1958 with Lebanon driving the thinking since Eisenhower’s envoy Murphy “discovered” that the US had been hoodwinked into invasion by a narrow slice of the Christian community – and that flexibility and institution building rather than tribal investments was not only possible but desirable. “Never again” became the mantra: There was a far better approach, detailed in the NSC document, than invasion and investment in narrow parties and personalities. Anthony seems to suggest that the US came in strong and then retreated in a counter productive way (I could be wrong here, but this is what I gathered). He writes: “But they did not secure, let alone sustain, their success by investing in American allies during and after the intervention. After the landings, American officials cut financial and military assistance, declined to provide multiyear support, and didn’t craft a post-conflict political plan to support pro-American leaders in Lebanon.”

— He is a correct in a narrow sense, but wrong overall. NSC 5820 laid out exactly why this was the right approach. Crucially though, it 1) did not mean “no post conflict plan”, 2) did not bring a reduction of support but instead a rational re-ordering that I wish would have been sustained in the decades after.

Here are the crucial findings that, I would argue, let us understand a moment in US policymaking where there was a real potential for a better approach to Lebanon and the Middle East. Sadly – and again in contrast to Anthony who argues “American officials ended up acting—and then getting out anyway.” – the US very much did “get in the way” quickly after Eisenhower in the 1960s with the same failed tools of pre-1958 i.e. supporting narrow parties and personalities rather than investing in multi-lateral institutions and processes. In the end, this approach, eschewing NSC 5820, steadily helped lay the crucial infrastructure for the Lebanese Civil War and other disasters in the Mideast:

************

4. It has become increasingly apparent that the prevention of further Soviet penetration of the Near East and progress in solving Near Eastern problems depends on the degree to which the United States is able to work more closely with Arab nationalism and associate itself more closely with such aims and aspirations of the Arab people as are not contrary to the basic interests of the United States.

8. Seek to demonstrate to the peoples and governments of the area that primary U.S. objectives are fundamentally compatible with the goals of Arab nationalism, whereas the objectives of international Communism are incompatible with the aims of true nationalism.

26. On the grounds that the United States has not been a major supplier of arms to Israel, continue limitations on shipments of arms to Israel except for the minimum numbers and types necessary for maintenance of internal law and order, and on a realistic basis for legitimate self-defense. Solicit the assistance of other nations in implementing this policy of limitation.

Lebanon

40. Support the continued independence and integrity of Lebanon, but avoid becoming too closely identified with individual factions in Lebanese politics and seek discreetly to disengage from relationships that may be disadvantageous to U.S. interests.

a.

Provide Lebanon with political support and with military assistance for internal security purposes, stressing our support for the country as a whole rather than for a specific regime or faction.

b.
Reduce grant economic assistance as feasible and emphasize Lebanon’s capacity to borrow from international lending institutions for purposes of economic development.
c.
Where appropriate seek to encourage the acceptance of Lebanon’s unique status by its Arab neighbors, and, if desired by and acceptable to the people concerned, be prepared to subscribe to a United Nations guarantee of the continued independence and integrity of Lebanon.

###

Written by nickbiddlenoe

September 20, 2018 at 11:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Nasrallah Meets with Houthi Leadership

Houthi-Nasrallah-Meeting-300x168.jpg

Sayyid Nasrallah recently met with two of our Yemen Exchange speakers, Abdul Malik Al Ajri and Ibrahim Al Daylami. A translated piece on the meeting repercussions via our Mideastwire.com below: “On August 21, the Lebanese Al-Jomhouriya daily newspaper carried the following report by Imad Marmal: “The meeting between the Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, and a delegation from the Yemeni Ansarullah movement has been subjected to political interpretations where the Party was accused of violating the rule of “self-distancing” and sending messages to Saudi Arabia and appointed PM Sa’d al-Hariri from the mailbox of the Beirut Southern Suburbs against the backdrop of the severe polarization regarding the new cabinet and the difficult problems delaying its formation.

“But how does the Party view these accusations? And in which context is it placing Nasrallah’s encounter with the Houthis at the heart of the Suburbs? Hezbollah feels no embarrassment whatsoever as a result of the public encounter. It rather places that encounter in the context of the legitimate solidarity with the Yemeni people in the face of the assault that these people are being subjected to. The Party is thus completely separating this encounter from the internal course of action and it is further indicating that anyone who links this encounter to the Party’s calculations regarding any local file is wrong.

“For the Party, the opposite is true and “those who purposefully exaggerated the image of the meeting and dashed in the direction of political exploiting of this image, aim at justifying the failure to form the cabinet and to cover for the real reasons of this failure by accusing Hezbollah of violating the self-distancing…exactly as has been the case in the past few days upon the fabrication of the crisis of the normalization with Syria and summoning the factor of the international tribunal with the aim being to pin the responsibility of the exaggerated delay in the cabinet formation on Hezbollah and thus…”

“While some have been blaming the Party for publishing the photo of the encounter between Nasrallah and the Houthis with the aim of provoking and challenging the others, parties who are informed about the details of this meeting indicate that the promotion falls in the context of the Party’s convictions and principles as the Party sees no reason for hiding this encounter as long as its political, media, and moral support for the Yemeni people is well known “and the meeting falls in the context of this support of which we are not ashamed…”

“The Party insisted that it is out of the question for Hezbollah, from the moral aspect before any other consideration, to turn a blind eye to the violations, blockade, massacres and diseases that the Yemenis are suffering from. The Party also insisted that it will not refrain from raising the voice that upsets Saudi Arabia and its allies, especially as “we are being asked to even stop talking in the face of the oppression.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 23, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ten Year Anniversary of The Exchange Marked by Opening of Third Yemen Exchange & Eleventh Tunis Exchange

 

An excellent opening to our Third Yemen Exchange conference with 34 participants from around the world representing diplomacy, aid agencies, the media and researchers engaged on Yemen. Congratulations as well to our partner the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies for marshaling more than two dozen Yemeni speakers in exceptionally difficult circumstances. Ten Years of the Exchange anniversary well spent!

Also, many thanks to our more than 35 Tunisian speakers who joined us for the Eleventh Tunis Exchange conference. Thankfully, we were finally able to get out of the capitol after a three year pause and listen to different perspectives in Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa and Sfax. Given recent events, our sessions with the leader of An-Nahdha Rachid Ghannouchi, the Resident Head of the IMF, the regional head of the UGTT in Sfax, MP Yassine Ayari, (our last meeting with) the Truth and Dignity Commissioners and the head of the anti-corruption authority Chawki Tabib were particularly engaging!

For announcements of our 2019 Exchanges in MENA (including… a USA Exchange), visit www.thebeirutexchange.com

###
COMPLETED SCHEDULE
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Sunday, June 17
7:00pm – Introductions, House Rules & Safety: Nicholas Noe & Monica Marks
8:00pm – Ouiem Chettaoui, USIP & Mohamed Dhia-Hammami, Weselyan University

Monday, June 18
9:30am – Monica Marks, Oxford University
11:30pm – Lunch
12:30pm – Tarek Kahlaoui, Al-Irada
2:00pm – Moncef Marzouki, Al-Irada
3:00pm – Amine Ghali, Al-Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center
4:00pm – Ahlem Belhaj, Tunisian Association of Democratic Women
5:00pm – Radwan Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy
6:30pm – Huda Mzioudet, Carnegie Endowment

Tuesday, June 19
9:30am – Stefan Buchmayer, Democratic Control of Armed Forces
11:00am – Nicolas Kaczorowski, International Foundation for Electoral Systems
12:30pm – Fadhel Ben Omrane, Nidaa Tounes
2:00pm – Lunch
3:00pm – Houda Slim, Machroua Tounes
4:30pm – Chawki Tabibi & Mohamed Ayadi, INLUCC
6:00pm – Mahmoud Mezoughi, Retired Military Officers Association

Wednesday, June 20
9:30am – Salwa Gantri, International Center for Transitional Justice
10:30am – Chaima Bouhlel, Barr al-Aman
12:00pm – Lunch with Yamina Thabet, Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities
1:00pm – Robert Blotevogel, International Monetary Fund
3:00pm – Yassine Brahim, Afek Tounes
6:00pm – Yassine Ayari, Independent MP

Thursday, June 21
11:00am – Mohamed Ben Salem & Adil al-Maize, The Truth and Dignity Commission
12:45pm – Lunch
2:00pm – Zied Boussen, Jamaity
3:00pm – Rached Ghannoucjhi, Mehrezia Laabidi, Ossama Sghir, Amal Soud
6:00pm – Mouheb Garoui, Co-founder I-Watch
8:00pm – Bus leaves for Sidi Bouzid

Friday, June 22
9:30am – Moncef Hamdouni, The Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fishing
11:00am – Souha Bouazizi, WeDo NGO
1:00pm – Lunch
3:00pm – Ikram Nsiri, Lingare NGO
5:00pm – Amel Dhafouli, Manich Sekta @ Popular Front HQ
7:00pm – Check in Gafsa

Saturday, June 23
10:00am – Rabeh Ben Othman, Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
1:00pm – Ayoub Edaoui, An-Nahdha Youth
3:00pm – Myriam Bribri, Activist
6:00pm – Ayman Bouhajeb, Machroua Tunis
8:30pm – Check in Sfax

Sunday, June 24
9:30am – Mekki Jaziri, Nidaa Tounes
11:00am – Abdul Hedi Ben Jemaa, UGTT
3:00pm – Tunis Airport/End Program

###

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 1, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

An early but “must read” by Ibrahim on Lebanon election results

Key points I would add to Ibrahim’s analysis linked below:

It is not technically or even politically accurate to say that Hezbollah has the majority (if numbers bear out), because, first, you must add the biggest Christian bloc, the FPM, to Hizbullah’s count as well as allied, but non-Hizbullah parties in order to make this (still early) claim. Second, the Israelis and others might want to say this (and they are), but the reality is that the ruling direction/consensus over core national issues (especially on stability, security and inter-party conflict) survived without direct blows and, it seems, with numbers that will likely lubricate some kind of extension of this formula. Indeed the previous status quo security consensus/power sharing formula that will likely survive was one buttressed by almost all the parties in the country. This seems largely intact at least numbers wise right now and, again, likely from a political view going forward (remember LF are a key part of the outgoing consensus government! They won big while Kateab was “opposition” and lost some, it seems, as did “hawks” like Rifi who do not support the security consensus nor the Sunni-Shiite power sharing arrangement borne of the terrorism of ’14).

Another key reason why it is analytically incorrect to say Hezbollah now has the majority: Gebran Bassil. The FPM leader has been steadily taking his party away from the 12 year alliance with Hezbollah. He is “gunning” for Berri and Amal movement, he took out “the Resistance” in the Golden Triangle the other night on tv (!) and he may be about to forge the “ancient” Sunni-Maronite alliance with his friend Saad Hariri, who needs him more than ever now. This would mean: The New/Old March 14 rises. In terms of numbers, this means do not count (yet) the FPM bloc as a whole along with Hezbollah and its more direct allies to get some numerical majority. Big shifts may be in the offing, quite apart from whether the Levant blows up in the coming period – a much more dangerous, “structural” dynamic than today’s politics of “small tribes.”

From Ibrahim via Preliminary analysis!

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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