The Mideastwire Blog

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

Akhbar’s Ibrahim Amin on the Maghsal capture operation at Beirut airport – details are actually fairly clear

A critical piece we translated the other day – I don’t understand why analysts are still wondering about some details in the operation that seem pretty clear here in Beirut… especially when you hear Ibrahim say it from a pro-Hezbollah perspective.

The key section for me – if he is correct (and he seems outraged enough to believe his narrative) – is: “On August 8, 2015, Lebanese security elements who turned out to belong to the Information Branch at the Internal Security Forces, stormed into the Beirut International Airport and arrested a traveler who was coming to Lebanon from Iran. The man was quickly transferred to their headquarters. Less than 12 hours later, they drove him back to the airport where a Saudi private jet transferred him to Al-Riyadh…”

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On August 27, Ibrahim al-Amin wrote the following piece in Al-Akhbar daily: “The Kingdom of the Saud family has not modified its criminal ways. For long decades, it has worked on using criminal gangs covered with the name of some forces, parties, or even security services, in order to settle its scores with its opponents. Beirut has always played a part in this criminality. On December 17, 1979, a gang kidnapped Saudi oppositionist, Nasser al-Said, from Hamra Street in Beirut. The kidnappers were members of the Palestinian military security service headed by Maj. Gen. Atallah Atallah, a.k.a. Aboul Zaim. As for the coordinator and funder of the operation, this was the then Saudi Ambassador, Ali Shaer.

“There was talk about ten million dollars paid in return. Hours following the kidnapping, a coffin arrived from the Saudi embassy to the Beirut Airport to be shipped on board of a private jet headed to Al-Riyadh. The Saudi documents claimed that the coffin contained the body of the daughter of the Kingdom’s ambassador to Damascus, Abdul Mohsen al-Zayd, and that the body needs to be transferred back to KSA. Then, Nasser al-Said vanished.

“On August 8, 2015, Lebanese security elements who turned out to belong to the Information Branch at the Internal Security Forces, stormed into the Beirut International Airport and arrested a traveler who was coming to Lebanon from Iran. The man was quickly transferred to their headquarters. Less than 12 hours later, they drove him back to the airport where a Saudi private jet transferred him to Al-Riyadh. The man is Ahmad Ibrahim al-Maghsal, the Saudi oppositionists who has been on the run for twenty years since Al-Riyadh as well as the USA accused him of staging the famous Al-Khobar bombing.

“In this new case, there’s no need to ask about the operator or the sum that has been paid. The operator is of course Saudi and perhaps the present ambassador, Ali Awad al-Osseiri, the man with the security background. As for the money, this has been paid in advance through the unofficial funding received by the Information Branch from Saudi Arabia not because this is a Lebanese security service but rather because this is the security arm of Saudi Arabia and the March 14 forces in Lebanon.

“How can this be happening? In a country preoccupied with files pertaining to the people’s daily livelihoods, there’s no room for any kind of accountability. This is further the case when an official militia that enjoys a ministerial and judiciary official political cover carries out the kidnapping. This militia has never coordinated any of its “security services” with any other body in Lebanon… Tomorrow, Ahmad al-Maghsal will be executed and his family will not be allowed to bury him. Many will be punished for charges of collusion on hiding him. In Lebanon, silence will prevail unless the parties who must act do act in order to halt this chaos, which aims at turning us all into mere garbage with no one to collect it from the street!” – Al-Akhbar Lebanon, Lebanon

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 28, 2015 at 11:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Report says war, essentially, has started in Palestinian Refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon; And local control is but one aspect of coming push

On August 27, the pro-Hezbollah Ad-Diyyar daily newspaper carried the following report by Hesham Yehya: “…The events that took place in the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, Ain el Helweh, jumped to the political and diplomatic circle of interests in Beirut especially since pieces of information coming from the camp indicate that this is way more than a mere Palestinian decision to settle the battle against the radical Islamists in Ain el Helweh. The takfiri groups used mortars for the first time in the clashes in addition to all sorts of heavy weapons following the sudden and violent attack launched by the members of these groups against the Fatah posts sand locations at the Taware’ neighborhood.

“Thus, observers on the ground believe that the objective of the radical Islamic groups in Ain el Helweh does not merely consist of breaking the Fatah movement… Indeed, the Islamists’ action, their possession of the newest kinds of heavy and middle weapons in addition to the generous support that they are receiving from external parties that are well-known for supporting the terrorist takfiri groups all over the region mainly in Syria and Iraq: all these factors indicate, according to Fatah officials, that there are some hidden intentions and plans that go beyond the idea of imposing a military and security control over Ain el Helweh.

“Concerned circles indicated that the events in Ain el Helweh are not mere regular clashes like the earlier rounds of fighting. The events that are currently taking place at the camp actually constitute a massive, open war, the military and security dimensions of which exceed the borders of the camp and spill over the entire Saida area including the city and its surroundings. Indeed, the displacement of large number of people from the camp towards the city of Saida in addition to the rapid expansion of the clashes…indicate that the regional engine has given a green light to the takfiri forces at Ain el Helweh to snatch the camp as well as Saida away. This is part of a plan and a scenario aiming at declaring a takfiri princedom on the Lebanese land, i.e. transferring the project of an Islamic princedom that was planned to be established in the capital of the north, Tripoli, to the capital of the south…

“Diplomatic circles in Beirut said that all the political, security related, and military givens indicate that the massive clashes taking place in Ain el Helweh between the Fatah and Islamic elements represent a serious security development in the context of the attempts carried out by the takfiri terrorists and their regional operations to raise the tension and confusion on the already tense Lebanese arena… The circles added that the Ain el Helweh battles fall in the context of the regional response to the Iranian nuclear agreement and the subsequent important political and military Hezbollah victories at the Qalamoun and Ersal barren areas’ battles…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 27, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Atwan in Ra’y al-Yawm: first time in half century Palestinian resistance movement allowed to attack Israel from Syrian lands

Translated today by our from the website Ra’y al-Yawm.

Author: Editor Abd-al-Bari Atwan:

“…If Israeli accusations, through Binyamin Netanyahu himself, that the Islamic Jihad was behind the firing of those rockets are true, this would be a very important development. This is the first time in about half a century that a Palestinian resistance movement is allowed to carry out a military operation against Israeli targets from Syrian territory. It is also the first time since Ramadan [October] 1973 war that missiles fired from Syria land in the occupied Golan and the Galilee Panhandle…”

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 26, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Yossi Mekelberg: Israel sees events in Golan as additional leverage to cast doubts/derail, nuclear agreement

An interesting analysis that is emerging and which I think will have increasing currency as we reach the Iran vote deadline in the US next month. Essentially the idea is this: for BOTH (some in) Iran/Hezbollah AND (some in) Israel, the Golan “front” is actually a useful tool to 1) fight out the longstanding conflict and also let off some hardliner steam if you will and 2) a useful way to undermine support for the Iran deal.

The key reason pushing the Golan towards more confrontations and violence is that it does NOT have the same weight as the Lebanon theater itself where regularized violence can spin easily out of control and into The Massive War which so many of us believe is down the road at some point.

In other words, more fighting in the coming weeks in Golan, from this perspective, is a relatively safe and somewhat rational way to achieve several objections…. for SOME sides especially the “hardliners” on both sides described below.


“…Directly levelling accusations at Iran, also suggests that Israel sees events in the Golan Heights as additional leverage to cast doubts, if not derail, the nuclear agreement that was reached with Iran. Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon asserted that the corollary of the nuclear deal with Iran and the ensuing lifting of sanctions would inevitably lead to “the prelude to a richer and more murderous Iran.” If this is the working assumption of the Israeli military establishment, it might be interested in heating up, probably in a limited way, the border with Syria. In doing so, Israel would join forces, at least inadvertently, with those within the Iranian political system who for their own reasons would like to derail the nuclear agreement. This type of scenario could lead to Israel being dragged into the civil war in Syria with unknown and most likely dire consequences.

Yossi Mekelberg is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 26, 2015 at 2:59 pm

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Carnegie’s Joseph Bahout is totally sure: “Sunni Arab Extremists” in Lebanon are really trying to be nice… In Lebanon

A bizarre comment of course (how many car bombs have been claimed by such groups in the last years here… and lets not forget the be headed army guys, those still held etc!) but sadly a part and parcel of the analyst crowd mainly based outside of the region that tries to make violent Sunni extremists look cute and nice… since, after all we are told, they are fighting Hezbollah and Iran (which are seen as the real threats to Israeli security in the region and secondarily US interests, so anyone fighting them are ok prima facia).

There is of course the less dominant, but wrong-headed, approach to view any Shiite or Iranian or Hezbollah action/group as ok because… they are fighting violent Sunni jihadists.

Both approaches are analytically deficient.

“…Sunni Arab extremists “are not seeking to cause violence [in Lebanon] — they are mainly concerned about Hezbollah,” said Joseph Bahout, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “This has more to do with the ongoing battles in Syria. It’s more a Syrian issue than a Lebanese issue.”

“Were it not for Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria,” Itani said, “I don’t believe Lebanon would be a priority for these groups at all — at least not for now…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 22, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Important Jerusalem Post piece: ” historic alignment that has taken hold between Hezbollah and the Lebanese military”

A key piece today:
“..In recent weeks, analysts have noticed a historic alignment that has taken hold between Hezbollah and the Lebanese military.

For the first time ever, IDF Northern Command soldiers manning lookout posts have noticed that Hezbollah and Lebanese troops have been conducting joint patrols. Now Israeli military officials are wondering just how deep the cooperation between the two organizations extends.

Israel is disturbed by these developments, and it has communicated its concerns to world powers. In some cases, Israeli officials have made clear their redlines regarding the nature and quality of weaponry it will permit the Lebanese forces to possess.

An interesting dynamic has taken shape between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government, and Israel is not taking it lightly. Hezbollah today has members of parliament and enough government ministers that can tilt major decisions in its direction. Will the Lebanese military fight alongside Hezbollah in the next war? Israel does not rule this out, and as such is preparing for the eventuality.

Defense officials acknowledge that at the moment nobody on either side is interested in war. The chances of hostilities breaking out in the near future are low. At the same time, however, it is clear to all that the smallest incident could lead to a response that snowballs into the Third Lebanon War…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm

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Al-Akhbar says Nasrallah speech tomorrow will fiercely back Aoun

From tonight’s Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

On August 13, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report by Nicolas Nassif: “…In the speech that he will be making tomorrow, Friday, on the occasion of the victory in the July 2006 war, the Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, is expected to be addressing [former] President Michel Aoun in an unprecedented manner and tone so that all the others may hear him very well. He will probably go further than the former instances when he clang to the alliance between the two men and between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic movement. He will go further than the phrases “We will cut the hand that touches the movement,” “we will not allow for singling the movement out,” and “we are both one” to saying the phrase: “Aoun is our partner in victory.”

“In essence, all what he [i.e. Nasrallah] will be saying tomorrow will serve to refute all that has been recently said on Hezbollah having turned its back to its Christian ally in the confrontation that the latter have been engaged into concerning the military and security appointments, mainly the appointment of a new army commander. Of course, the Party has repeatedly voiced out its approach concerning the issue of stability and how it is clinging to it when it said that there will be no resignation from the Tammam Salam cabinet, there will be no boycotting and no taking to the street.

“This statement was interpreted as indicating a clear difference between the two allies, a difference that caused Aoun to stand alone in the battle of the military and security appointments thus losing the confrontation and allowing his adversaries to impose the postponement of the officers’ lay off. However, Nasrallah is expected to make an announcement tomorrow where he tells Aoun that their projects are common, that targeting one of them implies that they both are being targeted, and that their response will be a joint one…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

August 13, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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