The Mideastwire Blog

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

Algerian media in an uproar over US military bases said to be under construction/planned in Tabarka and South Tunisia

An interesting way to semi confirm what some of us have thought for the last two years.

Translated by our

“According to the same Algerian sources, this is about military bases or projects to establish such bases in the province of Medenine in the south, a province that is close to the Tunisian-Libyan-Algerian borders from the desert side in addition to the provinces of Al-Qasrayn and Jendouba in mid Tunisia and its north western part where confrontations have been ongoing for four years now between the terrorists and the Tunisian army and security forces…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 25, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Al-Akhbar: Comparing Saudi intel reports highlights their stupidity – intel agents can be easily discerned at their embassies

Not sure if I fully agree but….agreed with the emerging overall picture – how obtuse and wasteful a “modern” monarchy becomes. 6,000 princes!
“The most important part of the latest WikiLeaks documents does not consist of the scandals pertaining to the media people and politicians or all the information carried in the media. The most important part consists of the fact that almost all the Saudi intelligence team and its foreign agents and foreign operation service are now uncovered (along with their real names, their “professional” history, and former duty stations)…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 25, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Al-Akhbar suggests that coming “Saudi-leaks” will name March 14 Lebanese who “beg” for Saudi dollars

Translated today by our

On June 25, Ibrahim al-Amin wrote the following piece in Al-Akhbar daily: “Interestingly, the political, academic and media figures of the March 14 team initiated an attack against Al-Akhbar and the leakers of the Saudi foreign ministry documents. These figures are not expressing their solidarity with their “colleagues” but they rather believe that they are carrying out a “preventive attack” so that, in case some documents pertaining to them were to be leaked, they would proclaim that these documents are fabricated and that the publisher, i.e. Al-Akhbar, has no credibility. This is the main concern of very few individuals out of a large Lebanese, Arab and international group of people who were low enough to beg for money from the Saudi regime in return for their loyalty and their annexation [to the regime].

“However, the Saudi regime itself is launching a silent, preventive attack… In the two cases of the money giver and the beggar, one must make the following notes: First, the March 14 team is trying to deal with the documents’ scandals as if they were a political matter. This team believes that it can fool the public by saying: we all get bribes; we get bribes from Saudi Arabia and others get them from Iran! These people know that they are now being laughed at by their own public while they were originally condemned by their adversaries. The upcoming phase will reveal that this kind of politicians, media and security people are nothing more than beggars and that they are lower than all traitors.

“Second: These people are disregarding the fact that the pettiness and lack of patriotism that they expressed through the documents of the American State Department do not mean a thing when compared to their humiliation when knocking at the Sultans’ door looking for a handful of dollars. Do these people realize that, after today, it would be hard for them to question anyone unless they prove that their questions are unpaid for?!

“Third: The spokesperson for the Saudi foreign ministry said that his country is investigating the electronic breach. He also added that some highly classified documents were not breached and he threatened the leakers with legal prosecution all over the world. Is this spokesperson actually telling us that the leaked documents are not important and that the important things are actually under a special protection program…?

“Fourth: The Saudi regime knows very well that any attempt at blocking documents or preventing their publication is a very difficult, complicated matter, and highly costly matter with no guarantees of an effective outcome. The Saudi regime also knows that these Arabic documents are now available for everybody to read and that the largest electronic search engines in the world are now offering this service openly…

“Fifth: The Saudi regime is overlooking the conclusion reached by the Americans: this is not a scandal…This story is rather connected to the idea that the WikiLeaks are primarily based on confronting the authorities’ data monopolization and hiding the real facts from the public…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 25, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

.@BeirutCalling (still) doesn’t understand: His side’s cheerleading for Iraq War is a huge reason why Americans rejected intervention in Syria

Michael Young has it dead wrong in his latest National piece: He uses the word “glib” in order to mask a nasty argument that (he suggests obliquely) most American’s never supported his desire for a massive war in Syria and cascading US intervention because of… their racism.

He also castigates the moral depths of the Obama admin approach, Iran etc…. but, writing form the UAE/Abu Dhabi owned National, there is – as usual – no word on that regimes role in the rise of violent extremism in the region and beyond.

Michael still doesn’t understand that most Americans and many in the military simply did not believe (and rightfully so) the facile arguments that so many armchair warriors put forth for arming more rebels and US intervention in 2011, 12, 13, 14 and now.

My proposals are here in 2011 and 2012

He writes:

“…It’s difficult to understand what is behind this western attitude. One may fall back on the glib argument that it’s all about racism, that Syrians count little for Europeans or Americans. But such an explanation is unverifiable and doesn’t explain why Washington, which alone has the power to unite and spur western action on Syria, has so readily abandoned its stated aims…”

— Yes the Obama administration made grave errors and bears a heavy moral burden – but NOT because it avoided Michael’s massive war option – in fact, as I suggest in the two pieces above, quite the opposite approach was needed strategically and morally.

BUT THAT SAID: Michael can’t see that the great war in Syria which he always wanted (and war in Iran) was derailed precisely because of the Iraq War disaster that he and many others promoted so vigorously (and still to this day!)… The ol’ neo-con project burned way to hot and too obtusely – too evidently stupid to the average American, despite the Fow-esque spin room – such that the Greater project of a US led war against Iran and Syria (two nasty regimes mind you) became ever less likely, even for Republicans, when the possibility of intervention seemed to open up and everyone on the right was salivating.

One is left with the question that should be asked of all those commentators on the right pushing more wars in the region: What do you think of Nusra Front? Is it a legit part of the rebellion? Is it an “evil” that can be dealt with? And why, especially when one compares it to, say, Iranian and Hizbullah stances (a debate for sure)?

And then of course the obvious question – why not lament (while he is at it)/explore the human rights record of say the UAE and Abu Dhabi and the role they have played in the rise of violent extremism in the region?

Is this possible in the Abu Dhabi owned NATIONAL one wonders?

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 25, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Post revolt South Korea engaged in meaningful security sector reform/Tunisia needs to learn lesson: SSR ahead of economic giveaways

Now it has become fashionable to say that the US is helping the Tunisian army and security services BUT that it is not helping on the economic side… and that this is a looming disaster.

It is true that Tunisia faces severe financial and economic problems – but throwing more money at the problem will not work as long as the security sector and the legal framework of rights and doing business in the country – and the many ways in which the SS controls or limits the economy – is addressed.

This argument also holds true, in my mind, when it comes to effective counter-terrorism as well – a perhaps even more pressing concern.


By James M. Dorsey

The Economist recently highlighted the contrast between post-revolt Asian societies and Middle Eastern and North African societies in the woes of a pro-longed, messy and bloody transition that is pockmarked by revolt and counter-revolt, sectarianism, the redrawing of post-colonial borders, and the rise of retrograde groups as revolutionary forces.

Almost 30 years after they brutally crushed pro-democracy student protests, Korean police are projecting themselves as K-cops, the counterpart of K-pop, South Korea’s most popular cultural export and successful soft power tool. Korean police are largely today everything Middle Eastern and North African security forces are not.

Restructuring Korean police and ensuring that its legitimacy and credibility was publicly accepted was no mean task. Much like Middle Eastern and North African security forces, Korean police emerged from regime change as the distrusted and despised enforcer of repression that had brutally suppressed dissent, killed hundreds if not thousands, and tortured regime critics.

It took almost, a decade for the Korean police to launch deep-seated structural reform that gave substance to a public relations campaign designed to recast the force’s image and engender public trust. By contrast, transition in the Middle East and North Africa is in its infancy and given state and institutional resistance will likely take far longer than it did in Korea and Southeast Asia.

Even so, there are lessons to be learnt from the Asian experience in political transition that has progressed to the point where Korea is projecting its K-cops internationally as models of professionalism in crowd control and the management of protest. The Korean police force has ditched the use of tear gas in favour of the lipstick line, unarmed female officers deployed as a front line defense to defuse tensions with protesters. Big-eared cartoon mascots are ubiquitous on all the police’s insignia, including traffic signs.

The message underlying the approach to policing as well as the marketing campaign is as much driven by a desire to capitalize commercially on Korea’s success as it is by a desire to enhance the country’s prestige is the notion that policing in line with standards of freedom of expression, protest and dissent and adherence to human rights is more likely to ensure public order than brute force. Despite the fact that regimes in the Middle East and North Africa largely see heavy-handed repression of dissent as key to their survival, some like the United Arab Emirates and Oman, have engaged the Koreans’ advisory services in a bid to put a better face on what remain autocratic regimes.

The appeal to autocracies is that smarter policing reduces the risk of repression boomeranging with resentment of security forces becoming a driver of protest as it did for youth groups in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. By the same token, the risk for activists is that failure to reform security forces in the immediate aftermath of the toppling of an autocrat by a popular revolt, could create the circumstances conducive to a reversal of hard-won political change. Early stage security sector reform would also help enhance the credibility of a post-revolt government and confidence in its sincerity and willingness to initiate structural changes aimed at breaking with the autocratic past.

Failure to reform security forces in Egypt was at the heart of the reversal of the gains of anti-government protests in Egypt in 2011 that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. The police and security forces two years later played a major role in persuading the military to overthrow Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first and only democratically elected president, and introduce a dictatorship even more repressive than that of Mr. Mubarak.

Political scientist Terence Lee in his recently published study of military responses to popular protests in authoritarian Asia used the examples of the brutal repression of protest in Korea in 1987, Burma in 1998 and a year later on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to argue that the military is the ultimate arbiter of whether a popular revolt will succeeds. In doing so, Mr. Lee appears to assume that the role of the role of the military and security forces is interchangeable. That may be true for Asian countries like China and Myanmar where police, security forces and armed forces are effectively branches of the military.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 25, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Qatari owned Quds Arabi makes key point: Oren’s racist statements against Obama are widely held by Arab rulers/elite

Translated today in full in our Daily briefing:

“This is not a defense of Obama’s policies towards the Arabs and the Muslims, just as it does not justify the attack against these policies based on Oren’s Orientalist and racist approach. At the end of the day, the truth that must be told is that many Muslims share Oren’s simplistic vision of US policy and many Arab elite groups and rulers share this racist and Orientalist perception of Obama and their populations with the former Israeli ambassador.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 24, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

.@AcrossTheBay – Many years too late & the US is finally delivering real air capability+missles (in the future) to Lebanese Army

Tony Badran and others who hate the Lebanese Army as mere Hezbolah pawns will not be happy…. of course this type of arming should have happened years ago. Build a credible national defense in Lebanon and you go an important distance towards undermining Hezbollah’s ability and desire to exercise violence.

“The U.S. State Department recently approved two sales of military equipment to Lebanon. One involves six Super Tucano turboprop fighter planes and the other for 1,000 air-to-ground Hellfire II missiles. The Super Tucanos will be American-built versions of the plane designed and marketed by Brazil’s Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ). Hellfire missiles are built by Hellfire Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and Boeing Co. (NYSE BA)…”

Read more: US Government Approves Fighter Plane Sale to Lebanon – Embraer-Empresa Brasileira (NYSE:ERJ) – 24/7 Wall St.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 24, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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