The Mideastwire Blog

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

Did Nasrallah just suggest that Hezbollah is only funded by Iran?

I did not see the speech and have not looked at the transcript. Nasrallah apparently said: “We do not have business projects or investment institutions that benefit from banks. We openly say that Hizbullah’s budget and funds come directly from the Islamic Republic of Iran and as long as Iran has money we will have money,” he declared…”

This is a new turn I think as Nasrallah is essentially implying that ALL of Hezbollah’s funds come from Iran [if this is the quote, MEMRI and others will rapidly translate to demonstrate that the party is WHOLLY owned by Iran].

One needs to look at the Arabic however since he has said many times in the past exactly what the US believes – Iran is a part of Hezbollah funding and that the party gets a lot of money through donations and enterprises and activities in Lebanon and around the world.

Is this an indication of his attempts to lessen the banking sanctions’ impact by exaggerating? Is that an indication of how hard it is hitting?

We should be careful here…. Thoughts?










Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 24, 2016 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

In the Fall of 2011, Ambassador Robert Ford predicted repeatedly that Syrian regime could be overthrown within a year, Assad’s days were numbered

There are more pieces of course than just the items below – from the Fall 2011 period – where Ambassador Ford did in fact predict the coming collapse of Bashar.

He therefore fudges it with Robin Wright the other day by saying “back in 2012” he and State believed the war would drag on (although Hillary Clinton as his principal predicted Assad’s demise in the summer of 2012 here:

“...Back in 2012, we in the State Department anticipated that the war was going to become nastier and ever more sectarian, but no one understood how far the Syrian government was willing to go to maintain its control in Damascus. No one foresaw that half the country would be displaced from their homes. No one foresaw that huge refugee flows would become issues for our European allies. We didn’t anticipate that the Al Qaeda organization would split and produce an even more virulent form—that a more extreme form would come to control the eastern portion of Syria going into Iraq…”

— In fact, Ford and others were saying during the critical Fall 2011 period that it would all be over in a year (see below) thus laying the foundations for the widespread belief that a controlled collapse could happen by racheting up military and non-military pressure (a policy that turned out to be wrong, based on an incorrect prediction). When Ford apparently realized in 2012 that the road ahead was much tougher he shifted to eventually supporting the “arm the rebels” approach which I and others argued at the time would also have been a disaster if it had been tried.

— Add to this: There is of course also the famous 2012 DIA memo predicting AQ gains as the course of the war went on which Ford knew about… and the well known analyses from before 2011 and after about exactly how the “Resistance Axis” viewed Syria as absolutely existential.

A nice one from Newsweek September 2011:

“…Ford doesn’t believe Assad will agree to reforms and thinks it’s only a matter of time before the regime falls. He sees “not fissures but perhaps cracks” opening in the ruling elite. Assad’s two regional allies, Turkey and Iran, are urging change; the international sanctions will further damage an economy that, Ford says, is already showing signs of collapse…”

And with Max Boot at about the same time:

“I spoke with Ford on Wednesday. During our conversation, he expressed his conviction that although the Assad regime is not in imminent danger of dissolution, its days are numbered: “Will the regime fall tomorrow? Probably not. Is it stable over the long term? Probably not.”

In support of his conviction that the regime could be overthrown within the year, he cited the willingness of the Syrian people to risk death by continuing to protest, and the growing international isolation of the regime…”


Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 21, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ford fudges the truth on Syria: They were indeed predicting fall of Assad, and, yes, some knew Resistance Axis would resist bitterly

Ambassador Ford is dead wrong here in an interview with Robin Wright: 1) He and others were predicting the imminent fall of Assad et al and 2) For people that often say they know the Middle East deeply, they should have known that the heart of the “Resistance Axis” – Syria – was not going to be a cakewalk…. and that Assad et al would defend to the end even if it meant a Samson option – as I wrote in May 2011 and February 2012. A major mess up by Ford, Hof and others.

…And as Anthony Shadid wrote in May 2011 in the NY Times!

“In Syria, We Need to Bargain with the Devil”/New York Times, February 2012

“A Third Way on Syria Is Possible”/Huffington Post, May 2011

FORD: “….Back in 2012, we in the State Department anticipated that the war was going to become nastier and ever more sectarian, but no one understood how far the Syrian government was willing to go to maintain its control in Damascus….”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 20, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Russian pressure on Assad to pull back re: Aleppo may be creating splits with Iran/Hezbollah

Needs a lot more confirmation. Partial translation today by our from Al-Modon.

This is exactly the kind of great power dynamics that could create a durable ceasefire and de facto partition of the country:

“The clash between Hezbollah and the regime forces was caused by the rapid pullout operations that the regime is carrying out around Aleppo. The “Desert Hawks” militia pulled out early Friday…followed by the pullout of the “Al-Arin forces…” The pullout of these forces caused a massive Iranian anger and even more anger on the part of the Hezbollah members… The pullouts of the regime’s militias were non-stop during this past week thus leaving Hezbollah alone in areas where the opposition strikes are increasing. Observers indicated that Hezbollah is now paying the price of the Russian-made settlements. It seems that the new truce recently announced by Russia in Aleppo came in response to the request of the regime’s allies who are now being subjected to a massive military pressure…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: “unprecedented revolution against the religious structure reigning over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”

Translated today, in part below… although from an anti-KSA monarchy website of course (for a free trial of our service, email!

On June 13, the electronic Rai al-Youm daily newspaper carried the following report: “There is an unprecedented revolution against the religious structure reigning over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is a revolution against “radicalism” and one that aims at removing the cloak of Wahhabism that covers the minds and ideas. Media is the basis for change and an essential influence. Everyone is either walking or being forced to walk in this revolutionary structure at the country of the Two Holy Mosques. The newspapers that are seen as liberal, other newspapers that are currently modifying their nature, the local and the foreign media are all working according to the directions of the new “young” leadership, which has decided to carry the banner of openness. However, the religious institution flag carriers do not want it [i.e. the openness] to replace them, reduce their authority, and eventually rip it off…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 14, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

US Banking sanctions are affecting Shiites as a group, a negative (and predictable) result that actually undercuts US purpose

In February, when I wrote this piece for Newsweek – , we were told by Central Bank officials and by Treasury officials that the law was not intended and would not affect Shiites as Shiites. As predicted, the law is now targeting the community as a whole (see Naharnet excerpt below).

I do believe that weaponzing global finance is an effective, non-violent tool to address US interests. My argument is that in the case of the recent Hezbollah/Financial sanctions law passed by Congress in December 2015, the purpose and the result has been targeting a whole community – and that we know historically when this happens it actually produces a tightening of community solidarity and anger. Over and over again, the Israelis tried this tactic and it fails – in Lebanon as a whole and when targeting specific ethnic or religious groups.

The tactic failed spectacularly during the Ceder Revolution when March 14 obtusely lumped all the shiites together, with US/Bush admin backing and effectively pushed the community closer together, sublimating important differences. I wrote about this for new America Foundation here in 2008/2009:

Had Marco Rubio and various pro-military intervention folks in DC wanted to, they could have more narrowly designed the legislation so that the problems we see today (and opportunities from Hezbollah’s vantage) would not have happened. It would have been less sweeping but ultimately more effective (especially if combined with other non-military policies).


The Association of Banks in Lebanon has meanwhile asked Salameh to “establish a direct channel of communication with Hizbullah” after bankers agreed during their meetings on Monday that “there can be no stability without offering guarantees to Shiites,” al-Akhbar said.

The daily also quoted sources close to Hizbullah as saying that the party will soon submit a paper to Salameh that is aimed at “clarifying any ambiguities regarding the implementation of the Central Bank’s memos.”

“Our priority is to keep Lebanon on the international financial map so we have taken a resolution that we will implement that U.S. law in Lebanon and we have put in place a structure to do it to satisfy the objectives of that law and at the same time preserve the rights of the Shiites to have access to the banks,” Salameh told CNBC on Wednesday, in remarks published on the TV network’s website.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 14, 2016 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TRANSLATED: “Algeria rejected proposal to establish a safe zone in Libya, as suggested by Western countries”

Translated by our (for a free trial, email

On June 9, the Algerian daily El-Khabar reported: “Western countries a year ago discussed with Algeria and Tunisia the idea of establishing a safe or a buffer zone 100 km inside Libyan territory. The proposal was an alternative to direct Western military intervention in Libya. However, the proposal was aborted at an early stage as was a proposal to establish a buffer zone in the farthest eastern Libya to be secured by Western air forces. The political and military leadership in Algeria in mid-2015, about a year ago, rejected a proposal for establishing a safe zone in Libya in cooperation with Algeria and Tunisia. A security source said that Western countries put the proposal to Tunisia and Algeria in June 2015 for establishing a safe zone in eastern Libya that would extend from the Mediterranean coast, west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, to the border with Niger. It was to be administered by the legitimate government in Libya and military forces of the Libyan government, but the proposal was rejected by Algeria and Tunisia at the time.

“The proposal included cooperation with Western air forces through the provision of facilities at Algerian Air Force bases and the participation of Algerian planes in protecting a 100-km deep safe zone in western Libya, that would extend from the Mediterranean coast to the border with Niger in the farthest southern Libya. Our source said that the proposal was discussed by six countries namely Tunisia, Algeria, France, Italy, Britain and the US and was suggested by Libyan political forces and representatives from some Libyan tribes to provide a humanitarian safe zone that could be protected by neighbouring countries’ air forces in a repeated scenario of the Western air intervention in Libya in 2011.

“The proposal included Tunisian cooperation by providing flight routes for Western military planes and Algerian cooperation by providing various military facilities for aircraft to monitor the safe zone, while the Libyan legitimate forces were to help with controlling the zone. According to our source, the proposal reached an advanced stage and included details such as the number of aircraft required to control the safe zone; it was suggested that 80 military aircraft and 60 helicopters were required. However, the political leadership in Algeria rejected the proposal on the basis of two principles; non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and commitment to the policy of keeping the national army within the land borders of Algeria and not to engage in any military operation outside the national border. Our source said that a proposal for the establishment of a military buffer zone in Libyan territory to prevent the infiltration of terrorists was supposed to be carried out by the Algerian Air force only.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 14, 2016 at 2:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized


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