The Mideastwire Blog

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

NYT refers to a Hezbollah advocate who is familiar with its military activities….one of the stranger twists in sourcing

We are all a bit jaded now when it comes to news sourcing…. but this latest iteration in the New York Times is one to remember. Forget that this article has literally been written hundreds of times over the last 40 plus years of the Lebanon-Israel conflict – though no context is provided, no history at all about the actual translation of these pre-emptive media campaigns by the IDF….no mention even of the Dahiye doctrine (if I remember correctly!) and NO context of the international law aspect of this etc….

The main gem we should remember ahead of the next conflict is the response is from a dude who likes hizbullah, who is somehow “familiar” with its military activities (what does familiar with mean!?) and then, the strangest moment in terms of journalistic devices, this guy then magnimoniously refuses to comment on the secret activities of his friends “for operational reasons”… THEN he goes on to be quoted like a spokesperson…. AND THEN he cannot be identified because of HIZBULLAH’s “security policy” – for whom he is… a friend.

Look – if this was Mohammed Afif, the head spokesmen for Hizbullah who has been very open of late but sometimes strangely refusing to be quoted, but talking at least – then this whole bit needs to be restructured, no matter his own preferences…. if it is not mohammad then, how does it pass muster really… and why not quote experts here or MP figures etc who will say the same thing but that the reader can better evaluate?


“…A Hezbollah sympathizer in Lebanon who is familiar with the organization’s military activities said that he would not comment on the movements of forces for operational reasons, but that the group asserted “a continuous right to proceed with any step that may reinforce our defenses for Lebanon and the Lebanese.” The man refused to be identified in accordance with Hezbollah’s security policy.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The reappearance of Future movement’s Okab Sakr

Translated tonight by our From the anti-Future movement Ad-Diyyar.

Interesting take on the forcefulness of Saad Hariri in the recent period, as seemingly “activated” by the Saudis.

The level of public hubris on all sides – including Hizbullah – is simply growing by the day.

“…The sources added that Al-Hariri is not the only one to be at work here since there is also the so-called “Future Shi’is” in an attempt at implying that the attack against Hezbollah is coming from the heart of its nurturing environment… This is perhaps the reason that explains why the “hidden” MP, Okab Sakr, has now re-emerged following a long absence…

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 11, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

.@NoahBonsey hopes “Resistance Axis”/Russia will negotiate away Bashar, also say bye to even a rump “Resistance Axis” state; but such “final” terms together likely to accelerate conflict

ICG’s Noah Bonsey writes for Reuters here that the analyses of rebel wins and a possible Bashar collapse are overblown and that “For any progress toward resolution in Syria, state backers need to get real.”

But there are two critical problems in his formulation, first that the negotiated solution/option he lays out is actually fairly unreal in the sense that it is essentially a complete collapse in Iran/Hizbullah’s (not to mention Russia’s) position. At the same time, the fact that this kind of a formula is so utterly unattractive to the “Resistance Axis” actors – and therefore is unlikely to even bring the sides to a real discussion table much less to compromise – means that it is also hard to see how an ever harder military push by the anti-regime forces does not become increasingly attractive to them and also increasingly likely to lead to a collapse – contrary to the thrust of his piece which suggests “no one” can “win” – as it gains more regional backing, funding and external support and as the old foes smell blood (we should remember as well that many of these actors care little for the medium and long term consequences of their actions since so much over the Syria conflict is seemingly driven by irrationality and, as always, amorality or immorality).

Noah’s great hope seems to be that just a bit more of US-supported and regionally-led military pressure could lead to a (relatively) nice negotiated solution which sees Bashar exit and Iran/Hizbullah/Russia agree to what would essentially be a major defeat and strategic loss borne well into the future. But it is entirely unclear whether any of the actors have the ability to actually finely calibrate such a difficult movement, much less that the Resistance Axis actors and Bashar would accept such a painful series of losses in position.

In the end, one can either hope that 1) Iran/Hizbullah and Russia have finally cultivated a trusted and efficient Syrian leadership structure that they could position to negotiate a solution – i.e.the Assad immediate circle exits and far more substantial benefits and territory accrue to Iran and Russia than in Noah’s minimalist formulation. In the end, this would mean that there still is a rump “Resistance Axis” state, a minimum it seems for any negotiated solution just as Bashar’s exit is as well; or 2) that a military push collapses the regime in a manner that is under-written by a strong US role to prevent genocide, reduce extremist influence, reduce the possibility of Resistance Axis opponents trying to further capitalize on the “win” (thereby inflaming matters more elsewhere) and which also refocuses the fight on ISIS and Nusra.

Sadly it seems that just as Noah’s hoped for negotiated solution is highly unlikely, so to are both of these options unlikely given that Iran and Hizbullah primarily see NO other way forward except with Bashar at the helm (and that there may not a more efficient Syrian network available anymore) and that the Obama administration is unlikely to play the kind of strong role that would be called for in the event of the collapse of Bashar.

Noah’s formulation is captured here:

As he sees it, “Washington should clearly signal willingness to negotiate a sustainable resolution ending Bashar Assad’s rule but including: preservation and reform of state institutions; hard security guarantees for all communities; decentralized security arrangements that would empower locals to play a lead role in their own protection; and delineation of responsibilities through constitutional provisions defining a newly pluralistic Syrian state. Given the extent of Iran’s influence on the ground, it would be included in such negotiations. For its part, Tehran will have to accept something less than what it has had — unrivalled influence over a Syrian state within its “resistance axis” — and negotiate to secure what its foreign policy agenda requires: a link to Hezbollah in Lebanon and a Syria not allied exclusively with Iran’s regional competitors.”

It is extremely difficult to imagine how the pro-Bashar sides preserve even the minimal benefits that Noah describes here (the use of the word “exclusively” signals Noah’s desire that Iran and Hizbullah must accept that any Syria or partitioned Syrias would be strongly linked to Iran’s competitors/enemies… a difficult proposition).

In my view the bottom line is that the only hope for a negotiated solution anymore (the ideal track as opposed to a rapid collapse of the regime which would likely engender even more problems and suffering in the absence of US action) lies in Iran/Hizbullah and Russia replacing Bashar’s circle with a new, trusted network of Syrians AND at the same time, the Anti-Assad external actors accepting that the other side of a partitioned Syria – at the very least – does stay within the Russian and Resistance Axis orbit.

This last part represents a key difference with Noah’s formulation which suggests that Russia and the Resistance Axis will eventually accept a lot less than that. I think both would probably fight to the bitter end if this is the offering and that their enemies would do the same.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 8, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Fourth assassination of Hizbullah-linked cadres in Palestinian camps: “Has the operation to liquidate Hezbollah in Ain el Helweh started?”

This article, translated in our Daily Briefing (for a free trial email, in regards to the killing of Mujahed Balous, with the provocative Naher headline: “Has the operation to liquidate Hezbollah in Ain el Helweh started?”åá-ÈÏÃÊ-ÚãáíÉ-ÊÕÝíÉ-æÌæÏ-ÍÒÈ-Çááå-Ýí-Úíä-ÇáÍáæÉ?id=234488

“…Beyond all the above considerations, there’s one single consideration that constitutes a source of apprehension for the parties concerned with the camp: the fear that some specific parties and sides could be working on annexing the Palestinian arena to the flared up Arab arenas based on the heated regional calculations. Thus, there’re fear that the repeated [assassinations] in Ain el Helweh could constitute an attempt at purposefully shoving the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon into the fire of the regional confrontation…

“These meetings are usually concluded with promises made by the Palestinian side to be firm and steady. However, the sad response comes through the news about yet another assassination followed by a new dash in the mazes of the investigation in search of the perpetrators and the inciters. A promise is a promise but the perpetrators remain at large although they are known to everyone. Moreover, their places of residence are even known.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

On reports in Israeli media that Nasrallah said the fall of Bashar means the fall of Hezbollah

In recent days I was struck by Israeli media reports which purported to say that Nasrallah had said the fall of Assad meant the fall of Hezbollah (at some point).

And indeed – this seems to be what Nicholas Nassif is reporting in Al-Akhbar.

An excerpt below from tonight’s daily briefing (for a free trial email


On May 5, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report by Nicolas Nassif: “The meeting between President Michel Aoun and Sayed Hassan Nasrallah reasserted what was already certain between the two of them: the fact that theirs is a solid alliance with no room for debate, doubts or suspicions. However, the meeting also sketched the limits of what’s allowed and what’s forbidden in their dealing with the internal arena.

“Last Thursday’s discussion between the head of the Change and Reform Bloc and Hezbollah’s Secretary General showed that they each have different concerns over different issues, which is the reason why the meeting took such a long time, i.e. 4.5 hours… Nasrallah told Aoun that Hezbollah is aware of the threats that it is facing; and that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime will not fall because his fall means the fall of the party itself and the fall of the rejectionist axis. He also indicated that the latest military actions in Syrian between the regime and its opponents are nothing but oscillating hour hands: at times they point to winning, and at other times they point to losing.

“This is what the war there has highlighted in the past six years. However, Al-Assad hasn’t fallen. His interlocutor also pointed to the – [probable] – impossibility of restoring control over Syria entirely. However, the most dangerous part consists of the idea of having territories in Syria like the case of Iraq. The only possible conclusion for the party is that there’s no choice but to proceed with the war in Syria without backing away. He said: the battle there is long and will not come to an end. He also reassured Aoun with respect to the Party’s will to fight. On the local files that have been a source of concern for the head of the Change and Reform bloc, the two men stressed on that the alliance and solidarity between them is not debatable.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 7, 2015 at 12:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Activst arrested for insulting King…. in Holland, but “country places high premium on free speech”

Hilarious example of double standards:

Television footage showed Jaberi using foul language in slogans referring to King Willem-Alexander and the rest of the royal family. He was then detained by police.

“He has to appear before an Amsterdam judge… for deliberately insulting the king according to Dutch law,” Loes Gerrits of the prosecutor’s office told AFP.

“He did receive a 500 euro ($568) fine, but he declined to pay. Therefore, he must now face court,” on May 27, she said.

It is a crime to deliberately insult the Dutch king or a member of the royal family, punishable with a fine of up to 20,000 euros ($22,700) or a five-year prison sentence.

But offenders are seldom prosecuted in the Netherlands, which puts a high premium on free speech.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 6, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Extremists increasingly assaulting old-timer extremists: ISIS fellow travelers take on HAMAS in unprecedented manner

From our Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

Translated from Al-Akhbar…. Imagine the days that are here where the old time “extremist groups” – hamas, IJ, hizbullah etc – are looking like reactionary, conservative and also pragmatic formations that need to be engaged and possibly even allied with (as is happening for better or worse in lebanon):

On May 4, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report by Hani Ibrahim: “It seems that the genie has left the bottle in Gaza. While hairdressers and CD shops used to constitute the Salafist Jihadists’ simple targets, the public confrontation with Hamas has now turned into the number one objective following a relative calm in light of the firm security grip. Yesterday at dawn, a strong explosion occurred in Gaza… A bomb had targeted a security point in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in the north western part of the city leaving some major damages there. For the first time ever, a statement was issued under the name of the “Islamic State Supporters in Bayt al-Muqaddas” with none of the grammatical mistakes that usually characterized the previous statements that were usually carried through the social communication networks.

“The statement read that the group is giving “Hamas and its affiliated security apparatuses 72 hours starting from the hour of the issuing of the statement to release all the Salafist prisoners. If they fail to abide, then all the options are open in order to respond to them.” The group added: “We call on our soldiers to work on the determined targets following the elapse of the deadline…”

“The statement is not believed to be true only because of the way it was written. Al-Akhbar learned that the Hamas affiliated security services are launching a wide campaign of arrests against cadres and members who are suspected of supporting ISIL… A security source said that A.K has been arrested from the Al-Shate’ Camp. He is the son of one faction leader who was martyred during the second intifada but is suspected in being implicated in the latest bombing.

“Two weeks ago, Gaza had seen a series of bombings around the house of the Authority’s Head, Mahmoud Abbas, which has recently turned into the headquarters of the Palestinian government; in the vicinity of the UNRWA’s headquarters; and around the Public Prosecutor’s bureau. All these are vital locations. According to the same security source, 35 individuals who support these groups have been arrested in the past two days… In the same context, the security services in Gaza recently shut down a mosque called Al-Mutahabboun, that was used by the ISIL supporters…

“Another security source that spoke to Al-Akhbar said that the campaign is targeting all the cities of the territory. He added that “an active member of the Salafist groups has been arrested in Rafah (in the South). The man had worked on planting a bomb in a security point and nearly killed five members of the field control unit, which is affiliated to the Al-Qassam Brigades” in the city. The source insisted that “a clear decision has been taken by the leadership of the security services to chase down all the suspicious elements on eh backdrop of their affiliation to the Salafist groups…””

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 5, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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