The Mideastwire Blog

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

Voice of America talks to (yet another talkative, helpful) “Hezbollah commander” who spills the beans

The surreal, counter-productive aspect of the last few years of so much reporting on Hezbollah is, in part, illustrated in this “Voice of America” piece written (from who knows where) by Jamie Dettmer.

Dettmer naturally talks to a Hezbollah “special forces commander”… who naturally says something that is – in one reading – damaging for the Party. NOTE that he also goes the extra mile and pluralizes the word “commanders” then talks to… ONE commander (add this to the unlikely aspect of the encounter in the first place).

“…That practical experience could be of use in any subsequent conflict with Israel. Hezbollah commanders acknowledge the benefits.

“In some ways, Syria is a dress rehearsal for our next war with  Israel,” a special forces Hezbollah commander admitted to VOA recently.

Then we have Matt Levitt – who is a very smart analyst and former Bush official – but who, I believe, has NEVER visited Lebanon (On second thought, I think he may have told me he had one brief official visit more than a decade ago… a real in-and-out). Matt is sure from his far away vantage point that there was “a lot of backlash to Hezbollah” from its natural community, the Shia.

“…The Islamic State has been a saving grace for Hezbollah’s recruitment efforts,” says Levitt. Until the bombings and the rise of the Islamic State, “there was a lot of backlash to Hezbollah,” he adds. “Hezbollah is seen as the only one capable of defending Shi’ites from the onslaught of the radical Sunnis…”

— The point here is not to disagree with the conclusions – some of which I would of course criticize – but rather to point out how unhelpful these types of pieces are for actually understanding what is happening. Same old story.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 28, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Iranian pundit: Central Banker admits real problem is Iranian banks aren’t ready to hook into global financial system

Excerpt from our Daily Briefing:

On April 19, a commentary by Mehdi Mtahharnia in the reformist Arman-e Emruz said:

“…In the new round of criticism of the JCPOA, what some activists referred to as the “consequence of failure in the elections,” was given a new soul and entered a new phase, after Seyf’s famous quote.

“Assuming that by saying these words Seyf intended to remind the other sides – meaning the P5+1 and especially the United States – of the JCPOA to fulfil their very important commitments, is good. But this is only half of the whole sentence. Valiyollah Seyf, as the head of the Central Bank of Iran, in one of his trainings, told the managers of one of the biggest governmental organizations: “Basically, Iranian banks are not ready for the post-JCPOA period and will not be able to carry out transactions as well as expected in the post-JCPOA period.” This confession by Seyf has been reflected and heard in the written and unwritten media, and Seyf is aware of this point. This shows that the head of the Central Bank and the existing departments are not ready and lack suitable foresight for the financial future of Iran. Seyf must now be accountable, for if they have not fulfilled their commitments, how much have he and the banking system been able to pave the ground for the banks to use this condition?…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 26, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Saudi owned daily says major clashes continue between Hezbollah/Iranian forces and Peshmerga

An excerpt from our Daily Briefing today:

On April 26, the Saudi-owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily newspaper carried the following report: “Battles have re-erupted between the Peshmerga forces and the Shi’i Popular Mobilization Forces yesterday when the Shi’i militias tried to restore some of the areas from which they had pulled out during an earlier time, despite the ceasefire announcement between the two sides in the district of Tuz Khurmatu, in the governorate of Salahuddin.

“The militias of the so-called terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah as well as the forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Forces and the Popular Mobilization militias proceeded with torching and bombing many houses belonging to Kurdish citizens who had to desert their homes because of the ongoing battles in the city in the past two days.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 26, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

From the duo behind the May 2008 mini civil war over Hezbollah’s telecom network: Jumblat accuses Siniora of having mafia-like telcom net!

Jumblat of all people, calling out his longtime ally, US-beloved former PM Siniora, on corruption and “mafia” like activities in setting up an illegal internet network. The ultimate irony here: this same duo sparked the May 2008 mini civil war over Hezbollah’s illegal, secondary fiber optic network. Back then both claimed such a scheme violated the very idea of the state.

Now Jumblat is accusing Siniora – for pure profit motive – of a longstanding scheme doing just that! I need to read more on this but, the initial thought is that even these incredible un-maskings are not particularly surprising if you have followed the Ceder Revolution since 2004/2005.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Arrest in KSA of Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Tarifi after he criticized diminishment of Vice Squad

Brief excerpt from our briefing tonight:

“Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Tarifi is a well-known Islamic preacher who criticized the reduction of the committee’s powers under the pretext of organizing its work. The Saudi authorities arrested Al-Tarifi on Saturday… Famous Twitter user Mujtahid tweeted that Al-Tarifi’s arrest was not brought by a specific tweet of his but is rather a preemptive measure to counter any upcoming decisions that Mohammad Ben Salaman believes will be made by Al-Tarifi…

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 25, 2016 at 11:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Opinion piece in Saudi pro-monarchy daily: No fear of 9/11 lawsuit since US/CIA was main trainer of terrorists

From Okaz – translated in part here, and in full in our Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

“…If these files are opened, we would learn the reasons behind the CIA chief’s visit to Afghanistan with the famous $1 billion in cash, to create the Afghan Mujahedeen. We would also learn who trained and organized them, created what was later dubbed Al-Qa’idah, excluded and chased them and did not contain them once the mission was over, and how and where they retaliated against those who tricked them. Congress and its claims do not threaten the Kingdom. They rather create an opportunity to expose the involved Americans and their leaders’ lies one after the other, and expose the reality of their advisors’ presence in Afghanistan as trainers in the arts of terrorism.

“Yes, the Kingdom did send youth, but upon Washington’s request and under its direct supervision. What happened later on is a different thing, which ended with a terrorist attack on the Kingdom, pushing it to exert strenuous efforts to keep [terrorism] away from the Kingdom, Europe, and even America itself, as confirmed by the files of its domestic and external intelligence. What is noticeable at this level is that President Obama is the American president who visited the Kingdom the most, but also who harmed it the most. Strategies are not built with deceivers or goners, or even based on public relations. Therefore, let us leave Mr. Obama to drown in his reluctance between isolation and interaction, and wait for the newcomer to the White House, and more importantly the new Congress that will be produced by the elections…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 22, 2016 at 11:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Israel ups Dahiye Doctrine volume

Israel is upping these warnings in the last few months as Hezbollah’s overall position strengthens (after several years of mounting pressure) and as Russia continues to assert itself alongside Hezbollah. Reports that Russian and Israeli jets have had recent confrontations/engagements are probably also fueling the rhetoric uptick and Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow.

Remember, too, a key aspect of the IDF’s “Dahiye Doctrine” reiterated below: Supportive civilian populations, not just civilian infrastructure, will be regarded essentially as enemy combatants in the next war, with far greater civilian casualties than was seen even in the “restrained” conflict in 2006 that saw more than 1200 Lebanese civilians killed (121 Israeli soldiers were killed and 41 civilians in Israel and Occupied Territories as a result of Hezbollah actions).

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 22, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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