The Mideastwire Blog

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

“Those who think security situation in Ain el Helweh might calm down…are wrong”

Translated in part by our today (for a free trial email

On July 30, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily newspaper carried the following report by Mohammad Saleh: “Those who think that the security situation in Ain el Helweh might calm down or stabilize in the near future are wrong. The camp has turned into a place that is open to all possibilities in light of the deteriorating security status, the clashes, the assassinations and the killings between Fatah on one hand and the radical salafists on the other hand.

“Official Palestinian sources said that the situation in the largest diaspora camp resembles a ball of fire since the radical Islamists are working for a political project aimed at controlling the camp by gradually snatching it away through the use of weapons, assassinations and clashes thus paving the way for expelling Fatah, announcing a sort of a political platform and perhaps even reaching the stage of a princedom. The latest assassination of the commander of the “Chatila Martyrs faction,” Maj. Gen. Talal al-Urduni, in broad daylight and by four unmasked individuals who represent the active nerve of the “Salafist force” represents a direct message from the Islamists to the Fatah movement indicating: “The military command of the camp is now ours.”

“The Palestinian sources in Ain el Helweh indicated that Fatah received the message and understood its content very well. Fatah also responded and used a firm tone to inform all the Islamic and national factions in the camp that “the time for Fatah’s shying away, counting the dead, and biting fingers is now over. The movement will not organize any condolences before arresting the perpetrators and all the parties involved in Al-Urduni’s and a number of Fatah members’ assassination. There’s a long list topped by radical salafist, Bilal Badr, and four others.”

“The sources revealed that Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, told Al-Urduni’s wife when he called to pay his respects that he asked the Fatah leaders in the camp to arrest the four suspects and hand them over to the Lebanese judiciary. The sources also indicated that the Fatah movement has told everybody in the camp that it will no longer abide by any agreement, will not subject itself to any demands and will not have political relations with anyone unless the murderers are handed over to the Lebanese judiciary… The leaders of the Islamic and national factions were told that it [i.e. Fatah] considers any element of the Jund al-Sham as a wanted element and that these elements will be shot wherever they are unless they were to hand themselves over to the Lebanese judiciary “since we’re fed up and that’s it.” The sources stressed that the Al-Urduni’s assassination reduced the gap between Fatah – the Central Committee in Ain el Helweh and the Reform Movement led by Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid Issa, aka El-Lino…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 30, 2015 at 11:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Major political developments, unrest linked to austerity over falling oil prices, upsurge in “terrorist” activity all in the cards for Algeria, says Al-Akhbar….

Translated in part today by our

On July 28, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report by Adam al-Saberi: “The political arena in Algeria has started to witness rapid developments that might push the opposition to revive its criticism of the re-election of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a fourth term on April 2014. These changes might also revive the general attention concerning the events taking place in the Algerian authority’s pyramid in preparation for the upcoming phase.

“While two cabinet amendments took place within a short period of time (around 70 days knowing that the last amendment took place last week), and amidst the continued amendments in the governors’ body, last Friday saw changes consisting of sacking prominent military and security figures in the intelligence service as well as the presidential security service. The changes affected the commander of the internal security directorate (the anti-spyware service), Maj. Gen. Ali Ben Daoud who has been in office since September 2013 and has now been replaced by Col. Abd al-Aziz. In addition to replacing the man in charge of the presidential security directorate, Brig. Gen. Jamal Majzoub who has been in office for around ten years by Col. Nasser Habchi, in addition to replacing the commander of the Republican Guards, Maj. Gen. Ahmad Moulai Meliani who has been in office since 2010 by officer Ben Ali Ben Ali.

“A source told Al-Akhbar that the two colonels, Nasser Habchi and Abd al-Aziz, had accompanied Bouteflika on his treatment seeking trip at the Hopital Val-de-Grace in France on 2013… Yesterday, more military officers were ousted. Al-Akhbar learned from high ranking security sources that “four colonels have been ousted from the presidential team” in suspicious and secret circumstances. Moreover, the vice defence minister, Ahmed Kayed Saleh, appointed Officer Ben Ali Ben Ali as a new commander for the Republican Guards…

“The present changes are reminiscent of the September 2013 changes that took place in the framework of re-structuring the intelligence and security circles in the country. Currently however, the concerned parties have been radically divided between two positions. The local Al-Khabar newspaper quoted the head of the National Liberation Front parliamentary bloc (the ruling party), Mohammad Jumei’i who reportedly said that the changes were “normal…” However, opposition parties indicated that all these events indicate that “the wings’ clash” at the top of the authority pyramid has increased, which implies that the country could be stepping into a new phase amidst the growing fear from the return to the phase of the 1990s.

“Algerian opposition parties believe that the dismissals performed by President Bouteflika are caused by “the clash of the authority wings mainly between the office of the president led by the president’s brother, Al-Said Bouteflika, and the intelligence service led by Gen. Mohammad Medyen (Gen. Tawfik), over the preparations concerning the post Bouteflika phase.” A source said that the ongoing changes “indicate that the time of settlement has come especially with the return of the Director of the Office of the President, Ahmad Oweihi, to the political limelight amidst the increasing activities of the Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal. These two figures are expected to compete over the president’s post with the support of the conflicting wings.”

“On the other hand, a former military officer told Al-Akhbar that the changes “fall in the framework of keeping pace with the internal and external developments seen in the country especially with the strong comeback of the terrorist activities.” He further pointed to an important point: “the fears that the Authority has concerning the possibility of a Street uprising because of the economic austerity measures announced by the government as a result of the falling oil prices and the drop in the national currency.”

“The present changes also led to fears stemming from the fact that these services used to be affiliated to the Algerian intelligence services and then shifted by President Bouteflika in 2013 to the military Chiefs of Staff under the command of the vice minister of defense, Kayed Saleh. In addition, these changes were performed following a talk that emerged around the Al-Fitr holiday concerning skirmishes that occurred in front of the president’s headquarters…Some parties also said that these skirmishes represented a “coup attempt.” It is worthy to mention that, during the last Al-Fitr holiday, a shootout occurred near the headquarters of President Bouteflika… Opposition sources said that “fires were shot in the direction of the president’s brother.””

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 29, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Jean Aziz on the several Israeli drones brought down over Lebanon – specialized Hezbollah unit may be advancing

Excellent piece from Al-Monitor:

“According to the same source, the official Lebanese authorities possess information that suggests specialized Hezbollah agencies have been working on the development of the technological capabilities to face this type of aircraft.

The same source did not rule out that Hezbollah had achieved a major breakthrough in this area. Hezbollah, able to access Israeli imaging and broadcasting systems, was previously able to hack into photo libraries of Israeli surveillance aircraft and access them as soon as the aircraft sent them to bases inside Israel.

The military source said that the investigation into the crash of the Tripoli drone will either shed more light on the new phase of technological warfare between Israel and Hezbollah or show that it was possible for technical malfunctions to happen twice in an unexplained series of coincidences in 20 days…”

Read more:

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 26, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Israel’s YNet on Hezbollah 3.0 – littered with errors, thinks destroying Leb Army is a good idea a la Bremmer & fails to understand nearly EVERYONE is facing “most difficult moments in history”

Even for polemical pieces, basic sloppiness is embarrassing!,7340,L-4683471,00.html

“Wafik Safa, chief of Hezbollah’s foreign relations, conveyed filtered messages, most of which were only directed at the Lebanese public.”

— where did they come up with that title!

“This is only part of the picture. The journalists were not shown the many graves, scattered across southern Lebanon, of Hezbollah fighters killed in the battles in Syria. There was also no mention of the fact that the unrest against the organization is increasing in Lebanon, and in general, that Hezbollah is in one of the most difficult moments in its history.”

— This is the old failure of these many articles and analysis: lack of context… nearly everyone, and most of Hezbollah’s enemies are facing especially “difficult moments.” Hezbollah under the circumstances is managing exceptionally well one could argue (that is in terms of pure efficiency, not a moral claim of course).

“This price is beginning to evoke criticism within and around the organization. “Hezbollah is making a huge effort to silence authentic Shi’ite voices against the involvement in Syria,” says Shapira. The loudest speaker was Subhi al-Tufayli, the organization’s first secretary-general. Al-Tufayli announced that as far as he is concerned and according to his religious perception, whoever dies in battles in Syria is not a “shahid” (martyr), and will therefore not reach heaven. It’s difficult to underrate the power of this statement, which rocked the organization.

— Tufayli! If YNet considers him “authentic” shia voice… “within and around”… well… that’s embarrassing given Tufayli’s history!

Final point – at the end of the article the IDF makes it official more or less – the Lebanese Army is now CERTAINLY a main enemy combatant in the next Lebanon War.

Would Israel be this obtuse and take the main – Paul Bremmer like step – and destroy the LAF? And thus create another failing state on its borders!

Sadly, Israel’s involvement in Lebanon since 1969 has shown time and again that it ends up acting quite stupidly and creating worse monsters for it – and better fighters against it.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 26, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Al-Akhbar on Mutual accusations of betrayal btw Ahrar al-Sham, An-Nusra – Anger over op-ed approach

Translated in our Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

On July 24, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report: “…Once again, speculations are emerging on the future of the relationship between the Islamic Ahrar al-Sham movement and An-Nusra Front. Until recently, the two parties were “intellectually and dogmatically” connected to Al-Qa’idah organization each according to their own way. While An-Nusra pledge its allegiance and became the official Al-Qa’idah branch in the Levant, the Ahrar al-Sham’s allegiance remained secret.

“However, since the assassination of the founder of Ahrar al-Sham, Hassan Abboud along with most of the group’s “first rank leaders,” the relationship between the movement and An-Nusra was hanging by a thread. Many differences emerged between the two sides, some of which turned into clashes in some areas. However, the efforts at containing the problems have always been successful. Nevertheless, many An-Nusra cadres are still eying Al-Ahrar suspiciously. Today, the movement, which is considered the oldest Syrian Jihadist group, is accused of “throwing itself into the West’s lap” and bracing to “confront the entire jihadist movement.”

“Ahrar al-Sham had indeed carried out two attempts at “addressing the western public opinion” through two pieces written by the man in charge of the external relations, Labib al-Nahhas, the first of which was published in the American Washington Post on July 10 while the second was published a few days ago in the British Daily Telegraph. The reactions stirred by the first article merely consisted of some minor comments that praised this step while other comments criticized it through the pages of the “jihadists” on the social media.

“However, the second article stirred some heavy reactions especially when the famous “jihadist” theoretician, Abou Qatada al-Filistini (Omar Mahmoud Othman, a Palestinian Jordanian), one of the most prominent Al-Qa’idah theoreticians and one of the most influential individuals in the politics and actions of An-Nusra Front recently, stepped into the line [of the confrontation with Ahrar al-Sham]… Al-Filistini’s Twitter account carried an article attacking Al-Nahhas and indicating that his “is a failed speech and one that will not be able to achieve the objectives of Ahrar al-Sham…”

“Al-Filistini attacked Ahrar al-Sham and said that this is a “group with a weak mind” and one “that is ready to oppose us (i.e. the Al-Qa’idah movements) in order to please the West… The fastest response to Al-Filistini’s accusations was the one made by the member of Ahrar al-Sham’s Shura Council, Abou Azam al-Ansari who accused him, in a series of tweets, of “dealing with the Algerian intelligence services…” Al-Ansari also described Abou Qatada as being a liar…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 25, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

As-Safir reports that high-level Saudi and Turkish intel, military meetings progressing, some with Russian involvement

Translated in today’s Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

On July 23, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily carried the following report: “When Walid al-Muallem, Bouthaina Shaaban, and Faisal Mekdad went to meet Vladimir Putin last June 29, no one thought that the media outlets will be prevented from entering the meeting room. At the early minutes of the meeting, the journalists listened to the most exciting part of the meeting between the Russian president, the Syrian foreign minister, and the Syrian president’s advisor.

“Without any reservations, Putin exposed his new idea to the journalists: that of establishing a counter-terrorism alliance including Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan. The Syrians expressed their surprise later on over this unusual way of making a “revolutionary” suggestion, one that will flip the situation over in the Levant, if it was ever to see the light.

“Al-Muallem, an experienced diplomat and one who cannot be easily surprised, let go of his instinctive reservation and followed his gut feeling by announcing at a press conference that reaching an alliance with Saudi Arabia and the financers of terrorism “needs a miracle…” But despite the surprise and likening this request to a miracle, the Russians asked the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to provide an answer to the suggestion. They obtained an answer in the hours following the meeting and the answer was positive.

“According to well-informed Arab sources, the Russian president asked the Saudi and Syrian sides to dispatch two delegates with an official appointment from Al-Assad and King Salman Ben Abdul Aziz, in order to raise the negotiations to the highest possible level. In the past few weeks and under the Russian sponsorship, security channels were opened in order to explore the possibility of implementing Putin’s suggestion.

“Maj. Gen. Ali al-Mamlouk, the head of the National Security Office, was appointed to launch these meetings, the first of which was held in Moscow. Meanwhile, King Salman probably appointed a prominent Arab security officer to represent them in these meetings. The man is one of the Kingdom’s intelligence officers who worked in the past with Maj. Gen. Al-Mamlouk during the phase of the Saudi-Syrian détente in the past decade.

“A well-informed source said that, for weeks now, the prominent Syrian security official has been carrying out constant visits to coordinate with Moscow and to work on determining some confidence measures. One of the signs indicating that the work of the open channel of communication could be advancing consists of the truce in the use of terms by the Syrian information outlets and the Saudi-owned satellite channels.

“In the past weeks, the Turks started to focus on the Russian offer. They thus dispatched delegates to Moscow to try and learn the details of the process. A Syrian, well-informed source believes that the outcome of the first meetings indicates that the Saudis are willing to open a new slate with Syria and Yemen via Moscow. A trusted western source said that Damascus received a general from the Turkish army on July 3, a first since the launching of the war in Syria. This falls in the context of the communications that have started to evolve in order to explore the possibility of cooperation against ISIL and moving forward towards Putin’s suggestion.

“The meeting took place during the crisis that broke following the Kurds’ victory in Tal Abyad and the amassment of the Turkish military units along the Syrian borders and their threatening of entering the area of Jarables-Manbaj, which was controlled by ISIL, if the Kurds were to progress in the direction of this vital passageway… Clearly, the blood alliance that the Russians are betting on is moving at a much faster pace than the political alliance thus prompting the unification of the fronts against ISIL.

“The Russian suggestion gained further credibility in the past few days following the suicide bombing in the Turkish Suruc and the talk about sleeper ISIL cells including 3,000 Turks. Needless to say that as thousands of Saudis will be returning home from Syria and as thousands of Saudi nationals are being recruited for the upcoming operations, the time is coming for the transfer of the terrorist threat to the Saudi arena.

“The Russian offer seems to constitute an attempt at mending the Sunni axis in the region by ruling out the Iranian party especially since Ian – along with the USA in Iraq and Syria, and the Syrian army and the Kurds in Syria – represents one pole of the un-announced counter-terrorism and counter-ISIL alliance and no alliance will be able to operate efficiently against ISIL without Iran’s and Syria’s participation. This could be an attempt at reassuring the Saudis at the early phases pending the ripening of the right conditions for the Iranians to join this process…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 23, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Algeria sees tribal breakdown: “Nasser Djabi to Khabar: Regime failed to achieve cohesion…”

A disturbing spread of the breakdown in states, borders and social cohesion… in algeria… perhaps?

Translated tonight by our

On July 9, the independent El-Khabar newspaper carried the following interview with socio-political expert and researcher Dr. Nasser Djabi, by its correspondent in Algiers Khaled Boudiya:

“…Q: “How do you read into the deterioration of the situation in Ghardaia and the panic that accompanied the incidents?

A: “I read into it in the context of a scenario against which I had warned a long time ago. I had said in the past that the tragic situation was unfortunately going to deteriorate, as the regime has failed to manage the disputes and diversity, refused to recognize them and rejected them. Ghardaia is the best example of the failure to manage the transformations in Algeria… In the past years, the number of marriages between the Abadis and the Malikis retreated, unlike the case of the Chaouis and the tribes, in parallel to cohabitation. The lack of cohesion also started to be seen in the schools between the various components, which prompted the emergence of two educational systems. For its part, the state fell short of building new and large neighborhoods to encourage mixing.

Q: “Is the state imposing a cohesion in form on everyone or is it respecting the difference?

A: “The lack of cohesion means that the components do not have the same relationship with the state institutions, as the Mozabites believe that the state is working against them. Ghardaia used to be calm under other cultures and generations and in the past, the prevailing idea was that the Mozabites were rarely violent, i.e. sensible, and never responded to the attacks. But today, a shift was seen in the new generation, especially the young men, who are responding and refusing to remain silent. Hence, what used to be true in the case of the old generation is not so in the case of the new generation, which wishes to integrate the state and be heard.

Q: “Could the Ghardaia incidents move to other provinces?

A: “It is possible to see the Ghardaia incidents moving to other southern provinces, and preventing that requires the reassessment of the transformations in the region by the media and political elite. New ways must be proposed for the management of the situation, far away from the dignitaries who are no longer heard by the youth…””

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 9, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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