The Mideastwire Blog

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

Security at Tunisia’s airport is terrible and was major source of concern ahead of #EgyptAir crash

Over more than a year – indeed for several years – security at Carthage Airport in Tunis has been a major source of concern for Western Countries (and increasingly for Tunisian security officials themselves).

Not a great source, and this is not to say that this will end up as the crash determination, but a good wrap up:

This could be a major blow for Tunisia if a bomb was smuggled on board in Tunis.

Remember that Tunisia is a major exporter of extremist fighters and has been a major focus of ISIS and AQ cells, especially in the last year. It now may literally be exporting bombs and attacks via aviation and not just Tunisian nationals.

Also, for those of us who regularly use the airport, security is evidently lax – with plainclothes people/possibly officials sometimes seen roaming the tarmac, the perimeter “fence”is laughable and checks for employees at various stages that the public can see are awful.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 19, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Columbia University’s David Phillips thinks some Lebanese factions didn’t used to ask for US intervention

The author here may not have spent much time in Lebanon before his recent excursion. David L. Phillips argues that, “In the past, the Lebanese people wanted the United States to stay out of their internal affairs. But during my meetings in Beirut, senior officials were imploring for more proactive U.S. engagement.”

He appears to have not been aware of the wikileaks cables on this matter, nor the more than 100 year old record of some sides of Lebanon’s conflict constantly imploring for more US and/or European involvement. How could a Columbia University scholar have missed this?

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 18, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Fred Hof: Imprecise on STL particulars

Unfortunately Fred Hof at the Atlantic Council is imprecise in his polemics and therefore serves up a fun column but not much for serious analysis. But one part where you can see how critical nuances escape him is here in one sentence:

“In the Hariri case, Badreddine and his confederates had left behind electronic fingerprints that made their indictments inevitable after an exhaustive investigation: one that the Hezbollah leadership cadre tried (and failed) to frustrate at every turn.”

— He briskly avoids any discussion of the problems that are well discussed when it comes to the telecom evidence in the indictment and presents it as a “slam dunk” case.
— In the same sentence he makes a crucial mistake in not acknowleding for the unknowing reader how Hezbollah cooperated with the tribunal over several years. An understanding of this dynamic is crucial to a solid understanding of how, where and why things seemed go so wrong for the STL – and the options that existed early on for accomplishing the “highest standards of international justice,” as the UN directed.


Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 18, 2016 at 12:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Ghannouchi and Nahda appear to break with Muslim Brotherhood

A major address…. would welcome comments… is this genuine?


Translated by our today:

On May 15, the pro-PA Al-Hayat al-Jadidah newspaper exclusively acquired the following message, which was addressed by leader of the Tunisian Ennahda Movement Rached al-Ghannouchi to the special meeting of the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood that was held in Istanbul in April: “There are no medical reasons or others that prevented me from attending. But day after day, I am seeing the moment of separation between us growing nearer. I am a Tunisian Muslim, and Tunisia is my country. And I believe that patriotism is important, essential and critical, and can never allow anyone to strip me of my Tunisian identity. I can never allow an attack on Tunisia, even by those carrying the same message. I am now proclaiming before you that my Tunisian identity is the greatest and most important element, and that I do not want Tunisia to turn into the nearby Libya or the distant Iraq.

“I want Tunisia to protect its children, regardless of their political inclinations, and say to you loud and clear that your erroneous path has inflicted calamities on the entire region. You have disregarded reality, built dreams and illusions, and completely neglected the people and their capabilities. I have warned you in Egypt, Syria and Yemen, but you did not listen. And today, I am a soldier in defense of the Tunisian territories, and will not allow terrorism to target my country under whichever headline, as the country’s collapse would mean my own. You must realize for once the seriousness of what is happening, and who is benefiting from it. You told us that Egypt was going to collapse and that you will regain power in it within weeks or months. But unfortunately, you lacked resourcefulness, and allied with terrorist organizations that are destroying your homelands. If your homelands are destroyed, what will you be left with?

“The chairs should not be the higher goal, rather the country. And we must reintroduce ourselves as Islamic patriots, and recognize and deal with patriotism, since we cannot build an Islamic nation without Islamic patriotism. This is the main point of dispute between us. What is Muslim terrorism, which has come from Pakistan, Mauritania or Saudi Arabia, doing in Tunisia? What does it want? Is it not to destroy and kill my people? By God, I urge you one last time to read well into reality, not to show obstinacy, and to look at your state and how the group has become divided into two or more groups, and how you have become isolated by the people in many countries, after you used to wager on your popular base… We in Tunisia are a clear message to you, as we assumed power and lost the elections. And who other than the Tunisian people made us lose?

“There was a wide discrepancy between what we presented and formulated, and what we practiced with the Tunisians. No foreign sides were involved in our toppling. It was due to our mistakes and decisions, not to the Russians, the Americans, or others. We made mistakes in our new experience in Tunisia, and the Tunisian people held us accountable. And we must draw the lessons from that if we are serious and truly carrying a message. Leave each country and homeland to its population, regardless of the result and even if you lose. You are acting like the current regimes, and resorting to violence whenever the people reject you. You have not changed anything, or delivered new messages to the people. Quite the contrary, they now perceive you as a replica of their reality, as their hopes for change have been thwarted. And you are responsible for that.

“Unfortunately, you have not yet studied, assessed or drawn lessons from the Egyptian experience. War has been raging in Syria for five years, and the entire world has read into, studied and heeded the lessons except you. Where are you heading? In conclusion, I would like to clearly inform you that we in Tunisia are suspending our attendance of such meetings that have become routine ones, even negative ones, which are causing more harm than good. And I call on the wise and realistic among you to seek new mechanisms and programs that unite and do not divide, and that attract and do not alienate. Now that this letter has been read, the Tunisian delegation will withdraw from the meeting and announce the suspension of our attendance of any others.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 17, 2016 at 1:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

As fires rage across Cairo, Egyptian daily slams Sisi: “You are responsible for all that, as well as for pursuit of perpetrators”

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

On May 14, the independent Al-Mesryoon newspaper carried the following opinion piece by Chief Editor Gamal Sultan: “I am astonished by President Abdul-Fattah es-Sisi’s disregarding of the consecutive fires currently sweeping Egypt, as though these fires, which are being tackled by the public and commented on by the various international media outlets, were taking place in another country, at a time when the president is busy meeting with Western figures, who could have been received by any ordinary minister, not even the prime minister, let alone the president of the republic. This could be said for example regarding his meeting today with the secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union, who should have met with the telecommunication minister at best. Almost 40 critical or large fires have consecutively erupted throughout Egypt within one week, around half of which in Cairo.

“Many of these fires carefully selected symbolic victims, from the famous El-Ataba markets where the flames continued to rage for 18 consecutive hours, to the historical Ghouria markets in the heart of the capital, going through the Cairo provincial building, the High Judicial Court building, and dozens of other facilities and factories. And this series is ongoing, knowing that the perpetrators or instigators of the fires were not caught, and that witnesses who said they saw unknown individuals igniting the fires in Ghouria were arrested instead, in a completely incomprehensible move. On the other hand, despite the horrific character of the fires and their victims, and the massive wealth being buried in them, we are noticing an odd coldness by the state apparatuses and institutions towards this phenomenon, while unable to detect any eagerness to confront them or look into their causes.

“We are even surprised by the warnings of the fire stations and some bodies, who are asking the citizens to be prepared and to make sure that their fire extinguishers are working properly, as though telling the people in advance that the fires will expand, or as though speaking about phenomena which we cannot do anything about, such as the weather for example! The country being burned is Egypt, the property is that of the Egyptians, and the institutions are those of the Egyptian state. So, why is Es-Sisi remaining silent towards this phenomenon, and pretending to be busy with meetings and marginal issues, which are much less dangerous and important than the catastrophe sweeping the country? You “fear nothing” and “nothing can shake you.” We know and have understood that. But tending to this threat and its victims and communicating with your people is required by your responsibility…

“Whether these fires are methodical acts of sabotage as some believe, are the doing of the Muslim Brotherhood and the supporters of former President Morsi as your supporters are claiming, are a conspiracy by the deep state, which thinks that a new class is now leading the country and disregarding its interests, or the doing of sides affiliated with the state for reasons we do not know, as it is being claimed by your oppositionist, you are responsible for all that, as well as for the pursuit of the perpetrators, the uncovering of the truce, the prosecution of those involved and the urgent reassurance of the people, while committing to the discontinuation of this masquerade.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 17, 2016 at 1:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Nicholas Noe on Al-Jazeera at 7pm EST to discuss death of Hezbollah commander

I will be appearing at 7pm tonight – Eastern Time – to discuss the Badreddine killing.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 14, 2016 at 1:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

ISIS using carrier pigeons to deliver messages

Ammonnews, 4 May: Jordanian border Commander Brigadier Sabir Mahayreh confirmed the seizure of a homing pigeon sent by Daesh in Syria.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Mahayreh announced that a pigeon carrying a letter with a phone number and instructions was intercepted on the way to a Jordanian resident. He also stated that border guards stopped a Daesh spy drone intended for Jordan.

General Mahayreh highlighted that there are spies in the Al-Raqban camp near the Jordanian border. While they have attempted cross-border communication, there efforts have been largely unsuccessful.

He also stated that the camp has around 59,000 Syrian refugees seeking entrance to Jordan and occupies a 21km area. Its population is increasing, but there is very little oversight and structure.

He drew special attention that the growing problem of “war merchants” in the camp. These men, funded by Daesh, take advantage of refugees’ needs a blackmail them. Some refugees from Raqqa and Palmyra have been coerced into providing intelligence to Daesh.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 5, 2016 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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