The Mideastwire Blog

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

An unprecedented, symbiotic security relationship between the Lebanese Army, Hizbullah and the CIA

An important piece translated today by our

I wrote about this in 2014 for the European Council on Foreign Relations:

European Council on Foreign Relations – On Lebanon’s New Security Symbiosis/September 2014

Today’s piece in El-Nashra:الثلاثية-الأمنية-تضرب-بقوة-الجيش-والمقاومة-CIA
“…Likewise, the Army Intelligence apparatus was able to arrest Bilal Ch. in Tripoli, a suicide bomber who also intended to detonate himself… At this level, the source revealed that cooperation between the Lebanese security bodies was an important factor in securing these accomplishments. But he pointed to another type of cooperation which deserved to be addressed, i.e. the CIA’s cooperation with Lebanese security. Indeed, he indicated that the current stage was witnessing an exceptional cooperation that had led to the paralysis of the terrorist activities, though he did not wish to tackle the nature and causes of this cooperation, especially since war on terrorism was ongoing. He assured nonetheless: “The CIA, Hezbollah security apparatus and the Army Intelligence constitute the main source of information in the face of terrorism…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

January 23, 2017 at 11:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

My comments in Robert Fisk’s column about losing Michigan

“Clinton’s supporters in Michigan knew they had a problem when Bernie Sanders pulled off the electoral primary and beat her by 17,000 votes in March 2016. More important still, Bernie won the Arab-American majority districts by two-to-one…”

Here you can see in just the City of Dearborn, Trump got almost the exact same votes Romney did in 2012, but our Democratic ticket got about 2000 less votes… a problem replicated across Arab American communities:

2016 results
2012 results

Written by nickbiddlenoe

January 19, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Applications Now Available: The 17th Beirut Exchange Politics Conference March 19-26, 2017

The Exchange is an effort by and its partners to promote understanding and academic enrichment through a variety of city-focused conferences in the Middle East and North Africa.

During their stay, typically lasting from one to two weeks, students and professionals from around the world engage directly with some of the leading intellectuals, academics and political leaders in the country – representing a variety of different viewpoints.

The First Exchange was launched in June 2008 in Beirut, Lebanon. Now, nine years on, more than 500 people from 51 different countries have participated, with many continuing on as diplomats in their home countries, as staff for  NGOs serving the region and as social entrepreneurs.

The next Exchange will be held in Beirut March 19-26, 2017.

To view previous Exchange programs in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Tunis and the Gulf, as well as media coverage of our efforts, visit

View the CNN report on The Beirut Exchange at:

Beirut Exchange Group on Facebook

Tunis Exchange Group on Facebook

REQUEST AN APPLICATION for any Exchange via

Note that tuition discounts, beyond standard financial aid allocations for those applicants with demonstrated need, are available for alumni of previous Exchange programs as well as students who wish to attend more than one Exchange. For more information, please email

MARCH 19-26, 2017
Application Deadline I February 10, 2017/Deadline II February 28, 2017
Limited spaces available/Rolling acceptance

The seven-day Beirut Exchange program rests on two tracks:

Academic – Participants will attend a series of lectures and colloquia led by leading academics and public intellectuals in Lebanon. Topics will include: Recent protest movements in Lebanon; The Arab Uprisings; The Syrian conflict and its regional implications; The Islamic State; The Special Tribunal for Lebanon; The United Nations role in Lebanon and the region; Engaging political Islam; Asymmetrical conflict: The July 2006 Lebanon War; Human Rights in Lebanon and the wider Middle East; Sectarianism and its deployment, as well as a range of other topics.

Dialogue with Leaders – Participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen and engage leading social, political and economic actors from across the spectrum in Lebanon.

NOTE: Due to the current security situation in Lebanon, the Seventeenth Beirut Exchange will generally restrict its meetings in and around Beirut, although at least one trip to the North and one trip to the South is planned.

(To view the January 2017 schedule – available after January 18 – email )

Monday, January 5
9am – Nicholas Noe,
1:30 – Ayman Mhanna, Samir Kassir Foundation
4pm – Omar Nashabe, Consultant for the Defense Counsel at the STL
7pm – Jihad Yazigi, The Syria Report

Tuesday, January 6
9:30am – Karim Makdisi, American University of Beirut
1:30pm – Discussion section
3:30pm – Bashir Saade, Edinburgh University
6pm – Anne Barnard, New York Times
8pm – Nicolas Pouillard, Institut Français du Proche-Orient

Wednesday, January 7
10am – Discussion section
12:30pm – Shadi Karam, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister
2:15pm – Nick Blanford, Times of London/Daily Star
4pm – Ibrahim Moussawi, Al-Manar TV
5:30 – Liz Sly, Washington Post

Thursday, January 8
9am – Alice Arrue, UNIFIL
10:30am – Angelina Eichhorst, EU Delegation to the Lebanese Republic
11:30am – Ahmed Fatfat, Future Movement
1:30pm – The Special Tribunal for Lebanon Staff
7pm – Abdullah Dardari, United Nations/Former VP of Syria

Friday, January 9
9am – Makram Rabah, Georgetown University
11:30pm – Zizette Darkazally, UNRWA
4:30pm – Sami Gemayel, Kataeb
7pm – Mohammad Obeid, Hizbullah

Saturday, January 10
10:30am – Vincent Battle, Former US Ambassador
12pm – Ali Hamdan, AMAL
4pm – Mustapha Alloush, Future Movement

Sunday, January 11
1:30pm– Trip to the South (“Resistance Museum at Mleeta,” weather permitting)
5pm – Walid Jumblatt, Progressive Socialist Party

Monday, January 12
10am – Rabih Shibley, AUB
1pm – Alain Aoun, Free Patriotic Movement
2pm – Antoine Zahra, Lebanese Forces
3:30pm – Eli Khoury, Saatchi & Saatchi/Quantum
5pm – Hanin Ghaddar, Now Lebanon
8:30 – Dinner @ Muzzienne Restaurant

Tuesday, January 13
9:30am – Ali Qanso, Lebanese Armed Forces General Directorate
11:30am – Mohammad Afif, Hizbullah
1pm – Nadim Houri, Human Rights Watch
2:30pm – May Akl, Free Patriotic Movement
4:30pm – Becharra Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Church
7pm – Nadim Gemayel, Kateab

Wednesday, January 14
10am – Ali Fayyad, Hizbullah
11:30am – Mohammad Qabbani, Former Sunni Mufti of Lebanon

Tuition – $900; Partial financial aid is available for those students and individuals that can demonstrate need.

Accommodation – $420; Except for those students already residing in Lebanon, we recommend that all participants in the Exchange reside at the conference hotel during the seven-day program (only accepted students will be notified of the hotel location). The hotel, located near downtown Beirut, is priced at $60 per person/per night, including all taxes and breakfast, for a shared double room (we will arrange for sharing). Single rooms are available for $100 per night. Note that we can also help arrange for less expensive, private housing near to the conference room which will be priced at approximately $40 per person, per night.

Airfare – $400, approximate from the European Union.

At the discretion of the student, tuition is 50% refundable up to three weeks before the program commences. (Airline tickets and accommodation should be purchased with travel insurance.)


Visit our Facebook page and ask alumni questions at:

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 31, 2016 at 12:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Israeli lobbying effort against Lebanese Army will probably bear fruit in 2017

For those of us who have watched this issue for more than a decade, it is clear what is going on with the Israeli 1) issuance of maps of Hezbollah positions in the South last week alongside 2) media/diplomatic attacks on the Lebanese Army this week as having allowed weapons to slip to Hezbollah.

I wrote about the issues here in 2007 and 2008:

Very simply, 2017 and the Trump admin will likely bring a sea change in (among other areas) relations between Lebanon and the US. The Israelis will push for what they have long wanted: a pull back of (already extremely limited in terms of quality) support for the Lebanese Army viewed as a mere auxiliary of Hezbollah (an inaccurate assessment that misses the point and actually misses a great opportunity for diminishing Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon, ironically enough). The Trump admin will likely back this (in the context of a likely collapse in US-Iranian cooperation towards confrontation).

This is a small part of the coming overall disintegration at home and abroad, but nevertheless is instructive as to how harsh the lines will be, how even more central Israel claims will be for US policy, how oblique approaches of dealing with enemies and competitors will be summarily discarded… and how a Trump alignment with Russia and authoritarian regional regimes will be systematically separated from, and set against, the Iranian-Hezbollah (and perhaps Saudi-Gulf) axes.

This seems to be the direction we are headed, but options still exist ahead of January 20, 2017.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 23, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Why I disagreed a year ago with Thanassis Cambanis on the FPM-LF alliance

The many stories like these, translated today by our, are why I strongly disagreed with Thanassis’s assessment, blogged below in January, about the FPM-LF rapprochement:

From January 2016:


Thanassis Cambanis & others mis-reading Aoun-Gaegae shift, just as Aoun-Nasrallah alliance was mis-read 10 years ago


(Just a note as Thanassis pointed out to me I mis read his point on the likelihood of a weak president now: he also believes this scenario is less likely than before. But this begs the point further-isn’t this development then a pretty important structural shift!?)

Thanassis Cambanis has a blog post below that argues (as several commentators very quick out the post are today): “it is not a game changer” in reference to the new christian alliance.

He says:
“In any event, even if the wider alliances fracture and regroup, there’s no reason to believe we’re witnessing anything more than a rearrangement of the supporting cast.”

I think he is wrong – my piece will be out in a few days as we need to have more time to soak in what is really going on.

My initial reading is that this is indeed a major event and does represent a new and powerful dynamic in Lebanon and possibly somewhat beyond.

I will just remind analysts that few realized 10 years ago (almost to the day!) that the Aooun-Nasrallah alliance (FPM and Hezbollah) was real and anchored on some structural shifts. Many mis-understood this as a flash in the pan, mere interests etc… ten years later we can see how wrong they were in the analysis.

Thanassis also argues:

“In other words, no polarizing zaim like Aoun, Geagea or Suleiman Franjieh. Pushed to bet on a name, I’d pick the current head of the military, Jean Kahwaji, a safe choice to preserve security without tipping the political balance or posing a threat to the hereditary majors.”

— I also think he is wrong here. That may be a safe bet, but it now looks increasingly unlikely as the ceiling of christian demands just got higher – there must be a strong christian president, something acknowledged by many of the politicians who were just visited during our research conference in Beirut!

Remember Future and M14 always said it was hezbollah and aoun blocking a president – now “the christians” agree… and the other side with Amal movement from M8 will be hard pressed to get a nice christian president that can be easily pushed around like many argued was the case with former president Sulieman. And they will be hard pressed to now be clearly the obstructionists.

He ends by saying, “Meanwhile, Lebanon’s demography marches onward, its Shia plurality bustling and its Sunni and Christian communities in decline (so long as Syrian refugees don’t enter the calculation).”
— Here he is wrong as well. The sunni part of the equation is decidedly NOT declining (not sure where this assertion came from).

What is missing in his analysis here is how the Christians and the Shia largely agree about a new electoral law that will likely be to the detriment of Future movement – not because of any declining sunni demographics (the opposite is actually happening) but because of Future’s structure and electoral map and their declining support.

Hashed out in my next piece monday/tuesday!

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 3, 2016 at 1:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

When leading analysts dismissed warnings about Assad and the Resistance Axis

Emile Hokayem and Steven Heydemann I remember in late 2011 and here in February 2012 when Emile brushed off my warnings in this New York Times Op-Ed. Turned out to not be particularly “cynical” after all or wrong about Assad not falling… not to mention right about the terrible moral and strategic consequences that would flow from an effort to collapse him and his allies.Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 2.32.58 PM.png

Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 1, 2016 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Note to Beltway: When you have a Middle East democracy awards benefit don’t invite architect of the Iraq war

When you choose to honor Arabs and others working to promote democracy in the Middle East – and we can have a separate discussion about your mission and it’s pitfalls – for sure don’t invite Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of so much unnecessary destruction in the Middle East and here at home. And when he swears at Senator Murphy from Connecticut who calls out the war economy and its pernicious influence on our country’s policies, well, the right thing to do is to ask him to leave. There is enough to be concerned about without dredging up these demons from our recent past to serve as unwelcome table company.
This is the senator to watch: thank goddess our party still has some


Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 1, 2016 at 4:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: