The Mideastwire Blog

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

TRANSLATED: Velayati, Khamenei’s chief advisor, says opposition was only 200 meters from Bashar’s house

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

On November 19, the As-Safir daily newspaper carried the following interview with Ali Akbar Velayati, the advisor to Sayed Ali Khamenei:

“…Q. Has the regime in Syria been rescued?

“A. The position of President Bashar al-Assad is now stronger than any time in the past. This position is also improving. At one point in time, the armed opposition was progressing in Damascus and had reached a distance of 200 to 300 meters away from the office of the president. Where is this opposition now…?”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 19, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Beirut bombings said to help restore relations between Hamas & Hezbollah

Translated tonight in our Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

On November 18, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily carried the following report by Qassem Kassir: “Clearly, one of the main objectives of the two Borj al-Barajneh bombings consisted of stirring sedition between the people of the Southern Suburbs and the Palestinians mainly the people of the Borj al-Barajneh camp. The fact that ISIL rushed into publishing two fake Palestinian nationals’ names as part of the suicide bombers was part of the sedition-stirring plan. But contrary to ISIL’s plans, these two bombings restored the heat to all the communication lines between the Lebanese and Palestinian leaderships mainly the Hamas movement and Hezbollah knowing that the relationship between the two parties had gone through a phase of being frozen as per sources that are well-informed about the relationship between the two sides.

“The head of the Hamas politburo, Khaled Mashal and his deputy, Ismail Haniyeh, quickly contacted the Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, in order to offer their condolences for the martyrs of the two bombings. The Palestinian leaderships also revealed the real pieces of information concerning the names of the two Palestinians that ISIL claimed were involved in the two bombings. The Palestinian leaderships fully cooperated with the Lebanese security services in order to uncover all the information pertaining to the two bombings…

“The condolences telegram send by the leadership of the “Ezzeddine al-Qassam Factions” to Nasrallah constituted a strong message to highlight the good relationship between the two sides. The telegram indicated that the “last incident” constituted a “renewal of the declaration of stability on the road of the jihad project and loyalty to the Resistance on Martyr Day…”

“The informed sources about the relationship between Hezbollah and the Hamas movement indicated that this relationship had gone through a state of freeze and coldness since last Ramadan over some statements allegedly made by the member of the movement’s politburo, Dr. Moussa Abou Marzouq, who criticized the politics of Iran and Hezbollah over the Palestinian file and the regional situation.

“In the past two months, there were several attempts at dealing with the state of estrangement. However, it seems that the two bombings of Borj al-Barajneh helped to deal with the coldness through the extensive phone calls and meetings that occurred between the two sides over the past few days and also through the strong sympathy expressed by the Palestinian people on the one hand and the people of the Southern Suburbs and Hezbollah on the other hand. The sources indicated that the Borj al-Barajneh bombings have thus achieved a counter effect. Instead of leading to sedition between the Palestinians and the people of the Southern Suburbs, they actually restored the heat to the relationship between Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 19, 2015 at 2:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: $10 Billion just disappeared from the Iraqi Central Bank

Translated tonight in our Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

On November 18, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by its correspondent in Baghdad Mustafa al-Obeidi: “A new financial corruption scandal featuring the disappearance of $10 billion from the Iraqi Central Bank reserves earned wide attention among the Iraqis and media outlets. On Monday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the launching of an urgent investigation into the disappearance of $10 billion from the Central Bank reserves during the previous government’s term, and a source close to the Cabinet said to Al-Quds al-Arabi that the prime minister summoned the acting governor of the Iraqi Central Bank, Ali al-Allak, to inquire about the disappearance of that amount under Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which led to the drop of the reserves to $58 billion…

“The source continued on condition of anonymity that Al-Abadi also expressed dissatisfaction towards the Central Bank policy, by which it was selling foreign currency to civil banks, which were in turn illicitly transferring billions of dollars that did not have any positive impact on the Iraqi economy, and solely served the civil banks’ mafias. In this context, former deputy for Basra Judge Wa’el Abdul Latif said: “The former government headed by Nouri al-Maliki withdrew $29 billion out of $89 billion in the Central Bank reserves within 8 years,” wondering in a televised interview followed by Al-Quds al-Arabi about the fate of these billions, considering that the oil prices were high at the time and the government was not facing a financial crisis such as the one currently faced by Al-Abadi’s government. Consequently, he called on the latter government to investigate this serious issue…

“For their part, knowledgeable sources indicated that the acting governor of the Central Bank, Ali al-Allak, was the office director of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who appointed him as the Central Bank governor a few days before he surrendered power to Haider al-Abadi. This move came in the context of a series of measures he adopted, by which he gave his loyalists all the sensitive positions in the government to ensure his control over the new one. The sources continued that Al-Allak did not have sufficient financial experience to manage the Central Bank, which led to the collapse of the Iraqi economy and the pillaging of its hard currency by the banks and money changers mafia. And the latter is led by influential political parties, using the Central Bank policy to transfer billions of dollars abroad through fraud and the exploitation of the weak measures adopted by the Bank.

“Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had revealed in several interviews and statements there were forces trying to thwart the reformatory measures he was trying to implement, to salvage Iraq’s economy, fight the corruption whales and overcome the security and economic challenges in the country.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 19, 2015 at 2:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

As US/EU views change, is Israel shifting?: Does it still “prefer the Sunni chaos”?

A huge part of the reason why so many think tankers in DC and the US pose Iran, Hezbollah and Syria as the main threat coming out of the Middle East – and I have been at conferences where Al-Qaeda figures are literally portrayed as freedom fighters – is because they do indeed represent a clearer and more present danger to the state of Israel. The problem is that it has become clearer that this “Shiite Axis” represents far far less of a threat to the US and Europe than the radical Sunni actors. As this great article explains, the Israeli holdout view may – may – just be changing as well as radical Sunnis encircle it – although one Israeli official still has the mind boggling view that: “Israel prefers the Sunni chaos.”

Should the Israeli view change, I think we can expect most of the DC crowd  – who told us after 9/11 and during the Syria war and even now that the “Shiite Axis” is the worst problem in the world – to change their tune. We will see. From al-monitor:

“…The official [Israeli] position sides with the Sunnis, at least for now. Israel has been maintaining clandestine and intelligence collaborations with the pragmatic Sunni states, headed by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan. It has no reason to give up on them. After all, Israel also regards Iran’s domination of the region and the growing strength of the Tehran-Beirut axis as a significant existential threat.

“A few weeks ago, I spoke with a high-ranking Israeli defense official who explained in great detail why Israel prefers this particular alignment. He also provided a lengthy account of the strategic dangers posed by the Shiite axis. He saw renewed Russian involvement in the region as a very serious problem, noting that it could indicate the beginning of a Shiite victory, resulting in its domination of the strategic space. According to that same source, Israel prefers the Sunni chaos.”

“…When all of this is taken into consideration, the Shiite axis, based in Iran and including Damascus and Beirut, has for quite a while now not represented the problem, but the solution. Israel is well aware that the Europeans and Americans have long reached this conclusion. The nuclear deal with Iran confirmed that it is a major power. According to political sources in Israel, the deal effectively gave Iran a “license to kill.” Recent events create a situation in which this license actually offers a glimmer of hope to the free world. As of now, at least, the only ground forces fighting IS are made up of the Shiite axis: Iran, Hezbollah and what is left of the Syrian army, in collaboration with the Kurds.

Read more:

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 18, 2015 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Main Event: Will various sides succeed in (again) deflecting action vs. Saudi+Gulf sources of most virulent form of extremism that threatens West and the region?

Already in the last few days, think tankers and polemicists whose main target has long been Iran, Hezbollah, the Syrian regime and (lately) Russia are trying desperately to make the Paris attacks somehow about Nasrallah, Iran, Putin and the Syrian regime (the latter of which has, surely, exercised relentless cruelty and violence over the last five years and the last few decades, overwhelmingly against Syrians).

Will this attack finally turn the tide and overcome the counter-productive and mostly misleading argument that “Assad and his backers” are the main sustainers of ISIS etc?

The “bombing Assad and Iran and Russia will solve our problems” crowd has been losing this argument for at least the last year, so now, perhaps, a major change will come, recognizing “facts on the ground” and the main threat to the West, especially. That is: Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

EVEN IF THIS OCCURS, one seriously doubts that the main, well-known source of violent, religiously-driven extremism which clearly threatens the West will be countered – despite everything we know about 9.11 and beyond. That is, of course, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.

These next few days are critical – will Western countries go the distance and get ISIS at its source? I.e. some of our supposedly best allies?

The DC think tank crowd must be extremely frustrated right now one thinks.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 15, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Nicholas Noe in Newsweek – Trouble in Tunisia: Security Breaches, Economic Slump & Political Divisions

My latest article for Newsweek that delves into the very serious problems that Tunisia is facing; and how the main cancer afflicting the country lies less in the gathering threat of violent jihadists than in addressing the deep inefficiencies and injustices of the parallel state – the corrupt triangle of de factor power in the country made up of some of the police, some business elites and the local mafia.

Read the full article via:

“After suffering two mass casualty terrorist attacks claimed by the group Daesh earlier this year, Tunisians understandably rejoiced when four local civil society groups were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 9, in recognition of their work supporting Tunisia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Unfortunately, since then, things only seemed to have gotten worse for this country of 11 million people on the southern shores of the Mediterranean.
On October 12, two Tunisian soldiers were killed and four wounded in a clash with Al Qaeda linked fighters who have been active in the western Chaambi Mountain region for several years.
After claiming responsibility for the attack on the security forces, Katibat Uqba Ibn Nafi (KUIN) added in a communiqué that it had also executed one local shepherd and several other Tunisians from the nearby town of Gassrine, an economically deprived border town.
Of course, all of this adds up to what Daesh was probably hoping for when it sent its own Tunisian operatives-trained just across the eastern border in Libya-to attack the capital’s national museum in Bardo and the resort beaches of Sousse in March: Cascading attacks that further stress regional fault lines, done dirt cheap…”

Read on via:

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 13, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: Al-Akhbar report on growing rifts between UAE and Saudi Arabia in Yemen

Translated today in our Daily Briefing (for a free trial, email

On November 10, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report by Ali Jahez: “…The pull out of the “first batch” of Emirati forces from Yemen brought the Emirati-Saudi conflict in the southern areas back to the limelight. Since the four Aden attacks that targeted the Emirati presence and its affiliated parties at the Al-Qasr hotel some weeks ago, the differences had re-emerged. However, the growing complaints made by the Reform Party (the MB branch in Yemen) against the UAE’s position and performance in Yemen intensified the conflict between the two parties and raised questions concerning the operations targeting the UAE’s presence in Aden and other Yemeni regions.

“Local sources had indicated at an earlier time that the operations targeting the UAE forces in Aden as well as the headquarters of the Khaled Bahah cabinet were carried out by militias affiliated to ISIL, allied with the Reform Party, and supported by Saudi Arabia with the aim of forcing Bahah and his team to leave Aden and pulling the rug of the military control from under the UAE forces’ feet. Thus, the presence of the UAE will become weak along with the Sudanese forces that do not play a real role in the equation that Saudi Arabia wants there.

“In the past few days, the Reform Party’s media launched a campaign against the UAE and the parties supporting it mainly Bahah and figures affiliated to him. Differences erupted between the fleeing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is affiliated to Saudi Arabia, and Bahah, who is affiliated to the UAE to the extent that the former issued a decision to sack the latter (the decision was not officially voiced out). Meanwhile, the Reform Party’s media welcomed the decision. The newspapers described Bahah as “an agent who is secretly communicating with Ansarullah.” According to well-informed sources, the decision led to a severe clash between Bahah and Hadi, one that embodies the Saudi-Emirati conflict.

“This conflict revolves around the role of the Muslim Brothers and their power in the South and along the “resistance” fronts (the armed groups supporting the Alliance) in Ma’reb and Taez, in addition to the MB’s military presence in the South and their alliance with Hadi and his militias as well as the radical groups supported by Saudi Arabia in the face of some “Southern movement” factions and Khaled Bahah and his supporters who enjoy an Emirati support.

“The UAE pulled out its forces from Yemen late last week following the losses it suffered on several fronts, the last of which was in Ma’reb. The UAE dispatched new forces dubbed “the second batch;” but Al-Akhbar learned that these forces amount to half the number of the earlier batch and the same goes for their armament. Well-informed sources indicated that the new batch is actually formed by forces hired by the UAE from the Black Water company in order to bring foreign forces to Aden…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 10, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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