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

Archive for the ‘TRANSLATIONS’ Category

Why Thanassis Cambanis’s book is so reckless

This is precisely why I told Thanasis that I simply could not take the time to read his book – the title alone (plus the reviews, his writings on the book, and the excerpts) is founded on a key fallacy that I think is the height of recklessness for both a journalist and someone who cares about the fate of the people in the mideast: INSIDE HIZBULLAH’S ENDLESS WAR AGAINST ISRAEL.

This title ONLY reinforces the self-defeating, and wrong idea that hizbullah will always want to/be able to fight a violent war against Israel.

How could he not have at least tried to read a bit more widely and come across the translation of nasrallah’s March 2000 interview with al-hayat: here is the key excerpt which used in the National Interest last week here. Not so endless a war after all, huh?


  • There is a belief that peace is inevitable. It might be delayed by a year or two, but it is coming. How would you feel seeing the flag of Israel raised over an Israeli embassy in Beirut? What would you say to Hizbollah, its martyrs and their families?
  • I want to take issue with the first part of your question. A settlement might be achieved. When the Arabs sent their delegations to Madrid in 1991, we adopted a different position, dictated by our ideology, vis-a-vis the whole peace process. But even politically and on a national level — leaving ideology aside — what would Lebanon have done at Madrid? Lebanon didn’t have anything to negotiate. The Lebanese government only wanted the implementation of Security Council Resolution 425. When the Arabs went to Madrid, it was said that the matter would be over in three months, that everything was settled beforehand and the only thing left was to prepare public opinion to accept what was about to be signed. We are now in the year 2000. So you see, things aren’t always as simple as they are made out to be.It is true that the Americans want a settlement. We don’t underestimate the extent of America’s influence on events. But America is not God. It can’t just will things for them to happen. American policy has failed many times and in different parts of the world. That is why we don’t believe that matters are going the way the Americans want them to.The Israelis are not prepared to accept a settlement in which they have to make concessions. They want a settlement on their terms, and not all Arabs — especially Syria — are prepared to accept that.A short while ago, you mentioned the Palestinian issue, which is the root cause of the whole conflict in the Middle East. Even if a settlement was achieved with Syria and Lebanon, we can’t say the conflict has been settled so long as the Palestinian problem hasn’t been solved.I happen to be among those who believe that the Palestine Question can’t be settled in the way matters are being dealt with at the moment. Perhaps Arafat and others in the PLO really think that they can tell the Palestinian people one day that Jerusalem is gone forever and that’s it. We know the Palestinian people well. We know what Palestinian youth is made of. Such issues can’t just be swept under the carpet. It’s not that simple for Arafat to convince the Palestinian people that four million of their number should go on living in refugee camps and forget they ever had a homeland — especially at a time when Barak opens the doors for millions of Jews to come to Palestine. If they kept quiet, then we can safely assume that the Palestinian people is dead; that the Palestinians have lost their will, their honor, their faith, their chivalry, and their manhood. In other words, that the Palestinians have surrendered.
  • The struggle of the Palestinian people has been going on for more than 50 years. Fifty years is a long time; leaderships may grow tired. If so, they must stand aside. But only yesterday we saw on TV how the youths of Palestine were confronting the Israeli soldiers with stones. This is a generation that is prepared for sacrifice; a generation that has not been exhausted despite the difficult and harsh conditions it is living under.
  • I believe — and history will prove me right — that matters are not going the way the Israelis want them to. But even if they did, then we have to prepare ourselves for a battle not less important than armed struggle: the battle for normalization. How to confront normalization with our Israeli enemies.
  • A while back I read about a conference held in Kuwait to discuss ways to confront normalization. The conference formed committees in the Gulf states, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. These committees will do all they can to fight normalization. I believe that just as the armed resistance succeeded in aborting Israel’s schemes for military and geographic expansion, we can — by fighting normalization — limit the Greater Israel project, which is no less important.
  • What will I tell our fighters and the families of our martyrs?
  • First, that the martyrs achieved the liberation of the homeland. This is a source of pride to all those families who gave their sons to this cause. Of course, should the day come when the Lebanese state makes peace with Israel and an Israeli embassy is opened in Beirut, it would not be me who makes that peace. I would tell my fighters that the fight goes on. We succeeded in liberating our land and now we must continue the battle against normalization.
  • This concern is not mine alone: many parties, individuals, and organizations in the Arab world are prepared to join this fight. We are represented in the Lebanese parliament as well as in many other arenas. We will do our best to prevent any sort of normalization between Lebanon and Israel.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm


Khamene’i rejects the Mahdi-revealer crazies

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i gave a speech the other day that should stand as an important, though of course NOT definitive, inflection point for all those neo-liberalcons who like to think all non-green iranian are death seeking crazies. An important philosophical mark against Ahmadinezhad:


Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i, speaking about the belief in the mahdaviat (belief in the eventual reappearance of the 12th Imam, who, Shi’is believe, will return one day to establish the reign of justice on earth), has said: One of the big dangers on the subject of the mahdaviyat consists of doing crude, ignorant, unsubstantiated and delusory things which lay the grounds for false claimants and a distancing of the people from the real truth of waiting (for the return).

In an announcer-read report on Khamene’i’s speech on 9 July at a gathering of lecturers, experts, writers and graduates specializing on the idea of the mahdaviyat, he was quoted as having referred to “the claimants who, over the course of history, have spoken of a correspondence with themselves or others of portents relating to the reappearance” and added: “All these instances are erroneous and deviant, because some of the things that are said about the portents of the reappearance are unsubstantiated and weak, and a correspondence cannot easily be made using substantiated material.”

Khamene’i was also quoted as saying: “These kinds of erroneous and deviant claims lead to the main truth of the mahdaviyat and waiting [for the return] remaining hidden; hence, crude actions and rumours [in this respect] must seriously be avoided.”

(President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad and his close allies are said to believe in the imminence of the return of the 12th Shi’i Imam, who is also known as the Hidden Imam.)

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm


Win-Win Scenario Really? Whether the Syrian regime collapses or not…

From a June 11 Al-Jazeera interview with Ali Yunus, a US affairs political analyst, from Washington. Yunus said: “…So far, I think the US Administration is dealing with the regime and the situation in Syria according to two possibilities. The first possibility, according to this administration, is that if the Syrian people are successful in toppling the regime of the Al-Asad family, then the administration will give financial, political, and economic aid to the new regime, as was the case in Tunisia, Egypt, and as is currently the case in Libya. In the post-Bashar al-Asad era, the new US rhetoric will emerge supporting democracy, freedom, and pluralism in Syria. The second possibility for which the US Administration is preparing, and will benefit both ways, is that if Bashar al-Asad is successful in remaining in power and is victorious over the Syrian people, even though this will be at the expense of killing thousands of Syrian people, then this administration will also benefit as Bashar will emerge victorious from this battle but will also be an outcast i! n the international arena. He will appear a war criminal and will be weak. This weakness will motivate him to offer large concessions in order to remain in power, such as giving up pressure cards that he possesses, such as the Hezbollah or Hamas cards. He may also give up the alliance with Iran in order to remain in power. Moreover, he may be prepared to offer concessions to Israel and to engage in peace talks under Israeli terms. This happened in the case of Umar Hasan al-Bashir’s regime. In order to strike Sudan off the US sanctions list and prevent the International Criminal Court’s decisions from being activated, Al-Bashir agreed to the secession of Sudan and the separation of the south from the north.”

“…The US Administration will win, whether Bashar al-Asad remains in power or not. If he does, then he will be very weak and restrained. If he abandons his position with Iran, then this will weaken Iran’s negotiating position on its nuclear programme with the United States. Bashar al-Asad will be very submissive to the US Administration and will offer huge concessions that no one could have imagined…”

— This is wildly wrong for several reasons – and an enormously dangerous set of ideas to proffer. The central reason is that Syria is NOT Sudan – it can bring to bear (with relative ease) a tremendous amount of countervailing power. In other words, Syria has the capacity to be extremely disruptive.

— SECOND, this regime will NOT and does NOT bargain over existential matters from positions of weakness – If it is North Koreanized, it will likely churn out events to rejigger the balance of power THEN POSSIBLY negotiate.

— If the US really is thinking as this analyst suggests, we are in a for a rude awakening… and soon.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 13, 2011 at 11:16 am


On Sexism in Hizbullah’s Ideology

Translated from today’s Daily Brefing (For a free demo please email

On June 7, Raed Sharaf wrote the following opinion piece in the pro parliamentary majority daily Al-Akhbar: “Hezbollah’s Deputy of the Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem, stated on the past May 23, that the need for the mingling between the Muslims and the others cannot possibly call for implementing a law that contradicts God’s sharia and that he (i.e. Qassem) and his party will not “negotiate and let go of some personal statuses in our relationships with the others.” In a second part of his talk, he indicated that the Lebanese laws must not interfere with the details of marital life event if the latter includes violent sexual practices within the couple because this “deals a blow to marital life…”

“Qassem’s statements fall in the context of the politics of mobilization followed by Hezbollah…that work on containing a society that is politically affiliated to them and that mostly includes the people who were born as Shi’is. Thus, the party supports the social practices of the poor people who happen to be Shi’is. Those practices allow them to persist…in their poverty [ellipses as published]… Qassem’s sexist statements might be stemming from this social basis. Since he is socially close to the men of the lower steps of the economic ladder, he believes that the “civil” (non religious) suggestion to deal with the issue of the domestic violence embodies a “symbolic injustice” against these men…

“In addition, the “institution of marriage” is also one of the facets of the poor people’s resistance to their poverty as [marriage] creates spaces of emotional stability in light of a cruel and humiliating social system… Understanding this fact might explain the easiness with which Sheikh Qassem had mocked the problem of domestic violence against women…

“These analyses are mere hypotheses. And if they are true, then this is unfortunate but not surprising. But the sure thing is that the first part of Qassem’s statement transfers Hezbollah’s political behavior from the category of “unfortunate…” to that of “hypocrite.” Indeed, Qassem’s statement alluded to a very radical stand that “accepts no negotiations…” Sheikh Qassem objected to civil marriage because it contradicts God’s rules, and this is not surprising. He then said: “Personal status in Lebanon belongs to every sect, mainly the Islamic personal status…”

“Thus, Sheikh Qassem is justifying the entire Lebanese sectarian system as if its sectarian divisions are actually God’s will rather than being man made (as if they are not a heresy). Furthermore…he exposes sectarian marriage as being a right for the Muslims… What the party is saying in a very easy manner through the speech of Naim Qassem is actually [similar] to the current speech of the Lebanese regime. [It is saying that] the fate of the people with “Shi’i identity” is to be decided by them alone. And the fate that the party has selected for the “Shi’is” until further notice – and in cooperation with the “Harirism” and the controlling class – is poverty, and house arrest in the Dahiyeh area, and the marriages that obey God’s rule.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm


Quds Arabi on Nasrallah speech: Not nearly enough

Nasrallah did NOT take a risk last night on the Syria issue…. and he and Hizbullah will likely be dented for sometime by their reluctance – not as much as Hanin at Nowlebanon thinks, but the cut will be important in decreasing the safety zone of the domestic front.

From our Daily Briefing today, Quds Arabi editorial: “…We used to think, and still do, that Sayyed Nasrallah should have exploited his strong relations with the Syrian authorities and President Bashar al-Assad in particular to demand the discontinuation of the massacres being perpetrated every Friday and the engagement in a real national dialogue that would lead to the immediate and serious launching of the implementation of the reforms which Sayyed Nasrallah said the Syrian president and command were convinced they should be applied. We are well aware of the fact that Sayyed Nasrallah wants to protect Syria, its security and stability, and that he appreciates its role in facing the Israeli conspiracies. There is no arguing with him over that point. However, what is required is for him to understand the demands of the Syrian people and sympathize with them, as they are rebelling against the injustices they are enduring in light of oppressive security apparatuses dealing with them with an iron fist…

“At this critical point in time, the Syrian authorities need the advice of the friends and allies more than their open support, considering that this support might prompt them to adopt additional security solutions that would pave the way before Western colonial interferences that will carry catastrophic results on them and on all those who oppose such interferences, at the head of which is Hezbollah and all those who believe in the resistance path…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm


Al-Rai al-Aam: US source says looking at the military takeover scenario for Syria

From our Daily Briefing today:

“The reasons why Ford is still in Syria are summarized by sources at the White House as follows: “We are currently looking into the post-Al-Assad phase. And like we did in Egypt when we carried out communication calls with the prominent army commanders who secured a safe transfer [of power], we are currently looking into ways of securing a similar transfer in Syria.” The sources added that, in dealing with countries in general, the USA adopts four methods. “The first and most solid method is the army to army relationship where the American defense institution communicates and coordinates with the army of the other country such as our relations with Israel, Egypt, Iraq and other countries.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm


From Ad-Diyyar today: I guess Miqati believes in Wikileaks?

Circles close to PM-designate Najib Mikati asserted that the attacks led by the Free Patriotic Movement and its friends have taken a personal turn to which Mikati is opposed.

According to these circles, “If General Michel Aoun wants to launch personal attacks against Mikati, let him take a look at what is going on inside his own movement. In this respect, we call upon him to give WikiLeaks documents a close reading.”

These circles said that the PM-designate will not offer any concessions at all during the cabinet formation process, especially since one of the documents revealed how much Aoun loathes the Sunni community.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm


Rami Makhlouf’s daily blasts Turkey; Draws MB link

Oh what a difference a few weeks make! From the Makhlouf owned daily… translated in today’s Daily briefing from For a trial please email

On May 12, the state-controlled Al-Watan daily carried the following opinion piece by Nizar Salloum: “The “Turkish model” presents itself – as it is presented by those promoting it – as being a “secret recipe” for the Islamic world and especially the Arab world which seems to be rejecting the principles of the modern state governed by “secularism” on the legal and cultural levels. But at a time when this recipe-model was one of the reasons behind the cultural and political divide between Turkey and the Arab world states throughout the last eight decades, it is now presented as an element of rapprochement between the two sides, although it appears that the Turkish government is not completely interested in presenting its “secularism” as it truly is, and might reproduce new approaches that are far away from its philosophy in the context of its current dealings with the problems of the (Arab) Islamic world and its countries.

“Ever since the eruption of the events in Syria – over a month ago – the Turkish official performance seemed to be rash and improvised. Indeed, apart from the arrogant “reformatory preaching” of Recep Tayyip Erdogan on more than one platform and European stage, the engineer of “neo-Ottomanism” Ahmet Davutoglu seemed to be unable to come up with solutions for alleged problems in dealing with these incidents! With the exposure of the nature of some parties in the Syrian opposition, and especially the Muslim Brotherhood group whose leader Riad al-Shakfa appeared from Istanbul, but also the call to hold a conference for the Syrian opposition in Istanbul as well, the “Turkish model” appeared to be going through a test, whose outcome might determine its fate… Historically speaking, the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 was in one way a compensation for the absence and fall of the Ottoman Empire.

“Consequently, it came in response to Ataturk’s “secularism” since it offered a full religious detail in the face of the secular one… But this is the first time – in public at least – that the Turkish model appears to enjoy a relationship with it, maybe through its adoption of a political state that is completely opposed to it and its history. However, it is not certain whether this is due to Ottoman and pre-Ataturk awakenings, or to cooperation with the American strategy that is currently trying to reproduce Islamic “non-Jihadist” authorities that are “well-behaved” in the face of Israel and in the management of the Arab states system… Still, while Turkey’s current political and economic prosperity is due to its secular history and Davutoglu’s strategic corrections, its handling of the Syrian situation will push its model toward new positions that point toward the beginning of the recanting of its principles…

“If this were to happen, it will need secret recipes that are no longer present in an Islamic world that is far away from the climates of secularism and governed by the exhausting and obstructing MB details. Today, the Syrian events constitute the most important test to the Turkish model, as well as to its ability to remain truthful to itself and its history.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm


Hamas leader: this is a golden opportunity

Hamas leader Khalid Meshal on Jazeera the other day – key bits:

“Strategically, Egypt continues to be the enemy of Israel… even after the Camp David Agreement, the Egyptian army continued to believe that Israel is its enemy. Indeed Israel has never changed its view that Egypt is its enemy…Therefore, since Israel is an enemy of Egypt and Egypt is an enemy of Israel, and given the fact that Israel is occupying Palestinian and Arab territories, and that it is an enemy of the ummah, then it has to be the enemy of the biggest Arab state; namely Egypt. Based on this, and given Israel’s threat to the region and to Egypt, its people, and its regional role, interests, and national security, Egypt, in the new era, must think strategically how to muster its strength and how to draw up a new strategy in confronting Israeli threats and ambitions and lead an adequate Arab and Islamic policy to force Israel to withdraw.”

“…This does not mean that we are asking Egypt to launch an official war involving armies; we are talking about a strategy that implies self-respect and readiness to confront threats by the Zionist entity.”

“…We should not pressure Egypt. I think and I say with all fairness that Egypt has the right to take sufficient time to regain its vigour, choose its political system..

“…I am certain that Fatah will regain its spirit, especially because we have a helping factor; namely Netanyahu. He has closed all doors, is ignoring our right, and is embarrassing everyone, including even the Americans. This is a golden opportunity.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm


Interview with a founder of Tunisian Renaissance Party

From our Daily Briefing today.

for a free trial just email


On May 11, the independent El-Khabar newspaper carried the following interview with one of the founders of the Tunisian Hizb Ennahda [Renaissance Party], Abdelfattah Mourou:

“…Q: “There were conflicting reports saying you have joined a political party other than the Islamic Hizb Ennahda. How true are they?

A: “This did not happen. Currently, I am not part of Ennahda because it has leaders who are setting the foundations for the party all over again. This is their right. I was offered a political role outside the context of Ennahda, as well as the formation of a party or to carry out independent work. So far, I have not yet decided and I will see where my interest lies and act accordingly.

Q: “What blame do you address to the new command of the Ennahda founding committee?

A: “I have no blame. This founding committee chose to act this way and this is its right. If it forgot me or excluded me, this is its right and I do not blame anyone for it.

Q: “How do you perceive political action in Tunisia?

A: “New horizons were opened and more than 50 parties were formed. The people are now preparing to choose their deputies in the constitutional council that will draw up a new constitution. This is all positive, but will this course proceed the way it was announced? Or will there be obstacles in the way, preventing the Islamists from reaching the positions that go in line with their size? This is the issue that worries me the most.

Q: “Will you found a new political party?

A: “This is not what is missing from the arena since there are numerous parties. What is missing is the presence of wise leaders who can earn the citizens’ confidence. This should be provided whether inside or outside the context of a party. We need a national command that would get the people to support figures whom they trust and who will achieve the programs.

Q: “Do you think that the Islamic movement in Tunisia will follow in the footsteps of other Islamic movements in some Arab countries at the level of separating religious action from political action?

A: “This has already taken place in Tunisia a while ago, as the separation between religious and political actions was secured. Religious action is now being carried out inside the mosques, and the current issue at hand is the action on the political arena. At this level, we refuse to be called Islamists. Do not call us Islamists. We are patriotic people working for the best interest of the country. Our main cause is the country and the ways to save it…

Q: “It is said that the true governors of Tunisia under Ben Ali’s regime were America’s and France’s men. How do you perceive the relation with these states following the revolution?

A: “There is no arguing about the fact that our country is a third-world country that knew colonialism not too long ago, and that the international powers are fighting over us and seeking to exploit what is happening to serve their own interests. The issue revolves around whether or not we will allow them and around the ways to restore some of our decision-making powers. Our weak countries should be able – through their democratic practices – to let the West feel it cannot control our fate through the appointment of leaders working to serve the interests of foreign powers… We must deal with our neighbors, and Europe is important for our development, just as we are important for its security. The people are willing to deal with neighbors based on respect, and for our part we pledge to protect our neighbors from illicit immigration and terrorism. And once our regimes are democratic, terrorism will be nipped in the bud.

Q: “To what extent can the influence of the military institution be contained following the revolution?

A: “The tradition in our country is that the military has no political ambitions. Therefore, we are certain that the military men will not seize power…””

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm


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