August 17-20 Mideast Arab language news intel summary By Barry Webb

LEBANON

On the 25 August 2019 edition of al-hakaya, on MBC-Egypt TV, popular talk show host ‘Amru Adeeb opined that the situation in Lebanon will escalate after Israel’s drone attack. He believed that Hizbollah will now attack Israel, and Israel will retaliate and on it will go. He added that this spat is part of the war of nerves between the U.S. and Iran, and that Israel was responding to actions by Hamas in Gaza which is allied to Iran, as is the Lebanese Hizbollah.

However, on 26 August, a guest on the Saudi-owned al-arabiyya TV channel believed that Hizbollah would not respond to Israel’s latest move because it is too bogged down in Syria and cannot afford a major confrontation with Israel at this time. He added that Israel is attacking Hizbollah positions and Iranian militia positions precisely because they know that Hizbollah can do nothing about it at this time and Israel is just trying to humiliate them.

The same day one of al-jazeera’s talking heads, an alleged expert on international affairs, said that Israel hit Lebanon because they really do want to start a war. As “proof” he cited Israel’s recent attacks on “four” Arab “countries”: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Gaza.

ISRAEL AND ARABS

Also on 26 August www.aljazeera.net reported that Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmad AAl Khalifa tweeted that Bahrain consider’s Israel’s attack against any Iranian position, or a position of any of its proxies in the region, to be an act of self defense, in accordance with paragraph 51 of the seventh chapter of the UN document.

The same al-jazeera article noted that last June, the Bahraini foreign minister had an interview with an Israeli TV channel in which he said that Israel’s position vis-à-vis Iran is very close to Bahrain’s position, and that Tehran is the chief threat to the stability and security of the region.

COMMENT: I have been watching Arab-Israeli “relations”/interactions for over half a century, and this is the first time I can recall an Arab head of state or Foreign Minister coming to Israel’s defense in a case like this. Usually, whenever Israel launches an attack all of the Arab states climb on board the “denigration of Israel” bandwagon–regardless of the entity being attacked and regardless of what the provocation was. So, it was very refreshing to see the Foreign Minister of an Arab state come out on Israel’s side this time.

And, this leads to a couple of other points:

As Iran has become increasingly belligerent in the region, the Gulf Arab states (with the exception of Qatar) have become increasingly close to Israel. Over the last couple of years we have seen increased intelligence sharing and military cooperation between Egypt and Israel, up to and including joint military exercises–and even requests by Egypt for Israel to attack terrorist positions in Egypt’s remote Sinai. We have seen the U.A.E. turn to the Israelis to help train their newly active military, as well as purchase equipment from Israel. We have heard the Israeli national anthem (ha-tikva) played in Abu Dhabi, and we have seen the Israeli Prime Minister visit the Sultanate of Oman. And, now the Bahraini F.M. defending Israel’s attack on an Iranian proxy in Lebanon in addition to interviewing on Israeli TV.

Currently, only two Arab states recognize Israel, its closest neighbors Egypt and Jordan. Don’t be surprised if some of these Gulf states don’t follow suit soon.

This could help to solidify Trump’s longed for “Arab NATO + U.S. and Israel” to confront Iran.

EGYPTIAN COMMENTS ON G-7

On the 26 August edition of MBC-Egypt’s al-hakaya show, ‘Amru Adeeb began the show with effusive, patriotic pride over Egypt’s President being at the G-7 and hobnobbing with the world leaders of the great powers. As an example of this he played the video clip of Trump’s meeting with as-Sisi where (after both presidents exchanged the usual pleasantries and promises of improved cooperation on a variety of issues, as-Sisi said that he would “help” Trump’s campaign, without specifying how. (I am sure the Democrats, who wrote the book on obtaining foreign help for their presidential candidates, will find a way to twist that to their advantage).

Adeeb had praise for Boris Johnson’s appearance at the summit saying that it is a sign that Great Britain is Great again and that their importance will be felt on the world stage in economics, finance, and political/military power balances.

Adeeb then went into a sarcastic mode over Trump’s alleged softening of attitude with Iran, the Zarif meeting, and Trump’s openness to meeting with Rouhani. “Will Trump go to Tehran?” He asked jokingly. “With Trump nothing is impossible. Trump is strange, strange, strange.”

Then he went on to say that Trump is a business man, that’s why he does things differently than other politicians and world leaders. Adeeb then got very animated going into a litany on how Trump can vilify Obama and in the same breath make peace with China, vilify Biden and make peace with Iran.

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Barry Webb has logged a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, has two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is currently a Senior Fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform www.intelreform.org. He is the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is www.barrywebbauthor.com

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