The Mideastwire Blog

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

Criticism of Russian stances on ceasefire in pro-regime Syrian daily

Translated in part below and in full today by our

On May 25, the pro-Syrian regime Al-Watan daily newspaper carried the following piece by Fares Riad al-Jiroudi: “The Russian-sponsored truce on the Syrian land in partnership with the USA constituted an occasion for launching a new wave of skepticism regarding the real objectives behind the Russian leadership’s military intervention in Syria and the extent of their matching with the Syrian objectives and the objectives of Syria’s allies at the resistance axis especially since the Russian keenness on preserving the truce coincided with decisive Iranian statements expressing a willingness to support the battle of the Syrian Arab army until the cleansing of Aleppo and its suburbs entirely.

“This wasn’t the first of its kind wave of skepticism in the Russian position from within the media circles affiliated to the Resistance axis. But it seems that this wave will subside just like previous waves as the Russian Defense Ministry declared that the unilateral response to the truce breaches will start on May 25 (today). However, this shows that an important number of the Resistance axis’ journalists have so far failed to assimilate the complications of this war that Syria and its allies are fighting against the takfiri groups and their supporters, mainly Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 26, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Nasrallah calls US bluff on creating an “Alternative Shiite” party in Lebanon

A very interesting argument vis-a-vis the constant American demands and desire for a “Shiite Alternative” to Hezbollah. Now Nasrallah is saying, that’s essentially what we will allow by going ahead with a proportional system. An interesting rhetorical move certainly that helps to undermine the US stance. In the end if the US actually supports a Shiite alternative to Hezbollah (and Amal), why are its allies on the ground rejecting a system that would have a decent chance of delivering on that, he asks?

Nasrallah accuses rivals of conspiring against Hezbollah in support of Israel

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 26, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Al-Akhbar daily, generally supportive of Russia/Hezbollah, publishes piece critical of leaked “Russian Amendments” to Syrian consitution

Translated in part below, and in full by our in today’s Briefing:
“A Russian constitution for Syria…”
On May 24, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report by Elie Hanna: “…Away from the Syrian field that is currently “restricted” by the internationally-imposed truce and the halted Geneva political course, a hidden war is taking place and ropes are being pulled between the allies over the Syrian constitution and its formula. The UN resolution number 2254 indicated that August will be seeing a new constitution. The clearest statement concerning this matter was the one made by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry from Moscow on March 25: “We agreed (with the Russian side) on a timeline to come up with a working framework for a political transition in addition to a draft constitution. We hope that both will be completed by August.”

“…In Moscow, where the decision-making circles are eager to push the wheel of the political settlement forward and to present themselves as an effective player in the political arena in addition to the major military influence that was recently revealed, a draft constitution for the Syrian Republic has been put in place. According to pieces of information obtained by Al-Akhbar, the draft constitution comprises some major amendments and new clauses different from the acting constitution since February 2012.

“The first clause of the “Russian constitution” includes the term “Syrian Republic” while the word “Arab” has been dropped. The Russian draft also dropped the third clause of the present constitution that goes: “The religion of the president of the republic is Islam” and “Islamic jurisprudence constitutes the main source of legislation.” A new clause also indicates that “the services and organizations of the Kurdish cultural self-administration use Arabic and Kurdish as two equal languages.” According to the law, each area also has the right to use, in addition to the official language, the language of the majority of the population if agreed upon through “a local referendum.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

UAE said to be supporting Southern push for “disengagement”

Translated by our today, in part here:

On May 20, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report: “The dream that the southerners had more than two decades ago is now on the verge of being realized through the efforts of some southern movement forces affiliated to the UAE. A time for announcing the disengagement has been set tomorrow all the while disregarding all the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing this step.

“The head of the Supreme Council of the revolutionary peaceful movement in South Yemen, Saleh Yehya Saiid, set tomorrow as the date for announcing the disengagement of the south. Saiid, who is affiliated to former President Ali Salem al-Beidh, said that the city of Aden will host a celebration on the 21st to announce the “disengagement” of the south and the “document of independence.” This announcement comes at an interesting timing following the campaigns launched by the Saudi-led alliance forces, mainly the Emirati forces, to expand the control over the southern governorates and to achieve a “victory” in the eyes of the international community by ousting Al-Qa’idah from its strategic strongholds like Al-Makla and other coastal cities, mainly Abyan, in addition to fully controlling the island of Socotra.

“But although the time seems right to achieve the old southern dream of breaking away from the unified state that was declared in 1991, several givens indicate that this step will be difficult to achieve. The first indicator to this difficulty consists of the dismantlement of the southern forces and the absence of their leaders from the arena. This was highlighted by the fact that this important announcement was made by a council that includes southern activists rather than the important political leaders… Furthermore, the forces that fought alongside the alliance forces in the south suffer from a clear weakness and fragility… “

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 20, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Security at Tunisia’s airport is terrible and was major source of concern ahead of #EgyptAir crash

Over more than a year – indeed for several years – security at Carthage Airport in Tunis has been a major source of concern for Western Countries (and increasingly for Tunisian security officials themselves).

Not a great source, and this is not to say that this will end up as the crash determination, but a good wrap up:

This could be a major blow for Tunisia if a bomb was smuggled on board in Tunis.

Remember that Tunisia is a major exporter of extremist fighters and has been a major focus of ISIS and AQ cells, especially in the last year. It now may literally be exporting bombs and attacks via aviation and not just Tunisian nationals.

Also, for those of us who regularly use the airport, security is evidently lax – with plainclothes people/possibly officials sometimes seen roaming the tarmac, the perimeter “fence”is laughable and checks for employees at various stages that the public can see are awful.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 19, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Columbia University’s David Phillips thinks some Lebanese factions didn’t used to ask for US intervention

The author here may not have spent much time in Lebanon before his recent excursion. David L. Phillips argues that, “In the past, the Lebanese people wanted the United States to stay out of their internal affairs. But during my meetings in Beirut, senior officials were imploring for more proactive U.S. engagement.”

He appears to have not been aware of the wikileaks cables on this matter, nor the more than 100 year old record of some sides of Lebanon’s conflict constantly imploring for more US and/or European involvement. How could a Columbia University scholar have missed this?

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 18, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Fred Hof: Imprecise on STL particulars

Unfortunately Fred Hof at the Atlantic Council is imprecise in his polemics and therefore serves up a fun column but not much for serious analysis. But one part where you can see how critical nuances escape him is here in one sentence:

“In the Hariri case, Badreddine and his confederates had left behind electronic fingerprints that made their indictments inevitable after an exhaustive investigation: one that the Hezbollah leadership cadre tried (and failed) to frustrate at every turn.”

— He briskly avoids any discussion of the problems that are well discussed when it comes to the telecom evidence in the indictment and presents it as a “slam dunk” case.
— In the same sentence he makes a crucial mistake in not acknowleding for the unknowing reader how Hezbollah cooperated with the tribunal over several years. An understanding of this dynamic is crucial to a solid understanding of how, where and why things seemed go so wrong for the STL – and the options that existed early on for accomplishing the “highest standards of international justice,” as the UN directed.


Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 18, 2016 at 12:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized


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