Q&A: @RamiAlLolah about funding of ISIS, Gaza and the new map of the Middle East

Who am I     RamiAllolahNo one knows who is behind the account in Twitter @RamiAlLolah. He often publishes important data from internal sources, by his words, on issues about Syria, Iraq, Israel, Iran. Media such as the BBC and CNN often use his information for their reportages.  He is the man who posted the information, according to an agreement the U.S. and Russia, that Assad will remain in power in Syria to 2016, which was later confirmed by a report of Al Arabiya. Also, Rami al Lolah is the man who days earlier reports of Israeli strikes to be carried off inside Syria. Reaffirmed days later by the headquarters of the Israeli army. (see map below)

About Rami you can not find information in Internet. We do not know who he is and what are his sources are. He rarely gives interviews. A few days ago he agreed to give an interview for Intidar.

In the following lines you can read his predictions on the development of the events in the Middle East.

Rami is your name or psedonim?

I apologize as I can not go through any questions that may reveal my real identity for security reasons. Please accept my deep apology.

Why you have only “About”page in your blog?

I wasn’t actually planning to create a blog; but I thought I need to keep record of significant stuff that I reported or scooped throught my journey in Twitter. A kind of a reference who may want to know more about what I reported and to make it easy for me to reference some of my success stories.

I`m sure many people are interesting by you – may be you want to stay hidden?

I am continuously receiving invitations to be interviewed live on BBC or CNN. I also received several invitations for interview with well respected newspapers such as Huffington Post or The Daily Beast. I couldn’t accept the invitations because I am unable to do any video/audio interview at this stage. For the sake of the safety of my sources and their families I wont be able to reveal who I am now.

Is this a way person to provide good information in our times?

If I understood your question correctly I think reporting news behind hidden identity does not seem working or trusty all the time. However; confidence-building with your audience wll be gradual and will be all about how reliable and legit your sources are and to put certain standards and measures to make sure the stuff you are posting is authentic and supported with evidences as much as you can.

Your Twitter timeline often is cited and follow by newsagencies & journalists. Your information is verified and reliable. Have your sources?

Yes, I do have sources and contacts around the region. I also have sophisticated tools and utilities that allow me to monitor certain topics or trends in Social Media and Internet in general giving me the opportunity to report news as it happens or nearly in real-time. I also have few extremely reliable sources that provided me with certain scoops and leaks that I later outlined in details in my ‘About me’ blog page.

What is your opinion how will look Iraq after 5 or 10 years? Will be separate to few countries?

I always take Lebanon as an example when I think whether a specific Arab country will be divided into smaller states or not. Civil war in Lebanon lasted ~15 years yet the country is still in one piece despite the flammable sectarian atmospheres all Lebanese people are living them. Iraq as any other Arab country has its own characteristics. Surrounded by many countries that have different political agendas I think Iraq will not be divided as many think. Take Kurdistan region as an example. As long as regional powers stand against their independence then it wont happen. Same applies to Shia and Sunnis. Not to mention the many other ethnicities in Iraq.

Will the popularity of the Caliphate will grow outside Mosul and territories under ISIS control? What do you expect?

ISIS plays the media game very well. They also have a systematic way of introducing themselves to newly captured societies. ISIS born among Iraqis and since day one of 2003 invasion; so Iraqis know ISIS very well. Anti Maliki tribes have common interests with ISIS and a prime objective and that is Maliki is out and Shia/Iran influence in Iraq to be less. Anti Maliki Iraqis do not adapt ISIS ideologies but they work on harmony with them in battle fields for the sake of achieving their prime goal. The announcement of Caliphate was not welcomed among Iraqis and that sounded as an early warning for what will happen at a later stage in Iraq. Unlike Syrians; Iraqis remained focused on their prime goal so they ignored but at the same time warned ISIS to remain focus on the main objective and to avoid actions that may put further distance between them. I am confident that the clash between anti Maliki Iraqis and ISIS will no doubt happen one day but not in the near future.

Before weeks one map was published by ABC News showing “5-years plan” of ISIS to attack parts of Europe – Spain and Balkans. Where is the line between reality, ideology and opportunities to achieve results outside Middle East?

I would say that this will be highly unlikely. In Syria it took from ISIS nearly 2 years to secure certain parts of Syria after a long fight and painful losses against less equipped fighters of al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army. Although their big battle against Assad (if he won the civil war) did not start yet. In Iraq; Before Mosul; ISIS was nearly isolated in areas close to Syria borders and in Anbar/Ramadi/Fallujah. I think the main goal of ISIS publishing this kind of material is for media propaganda purposes; as I said before they market and invest in their success stories very well.

From where ISIS funding are coming? Many people think that S.Arabia is the biggest sponsor of radicals and ISIS for example, but since days we are withness attack on Saudi borders with Yemen and Iraq. May be circles inside S. Arabia sponsored ISIS without permission of the government? What is your view about this.

There is no doubt that Gulf countries especially Saudi and Kuwait are the main sponsors. Also some financial fund for ISIS is coming from Jordan as well. Iraqis foreigners around the world are also collecting funds for both tribe fighters and ISIS. Fund is being collected unofficially and sometimes on individual basis. Funds arrive to Iraq through private channels from Jordan and Turkey. A great part of Gulf financial support goes to Sunni tribe leaders where a few later ends up in ISIS hands as well. To overcome the huge cost of ISIS being expanded over large parts in Syria and Iraq; ISIS has set a strategic objective and that is to be as much independent with their financial resources as possible. This explains why Oil fields are their prime target in their expansion road-map. I can say that ISIS within a short period of time will probably be 50-60% financially independent from relaying on fund from outsiders. As far as the attacks on north Saudi and borders with Yemen I am confident enough ISIS is not behind it. It is Iran proxies in Iraq and Houthies in Yemen. Saudis never say out loud publicly that Iran behind these. The attack near Yemen they blamed al-Qaeda which is not true. If you recall the similar attack on Saudi northern borders followed by attack on Iran embassy in Beirut. That was months before Mosul fall or ISIS approaching border crossings with Jordan. Saudi do not want to escalate because of they said it is Iran who is doing this then will be embarrassed for the lack of retaliation. Same applies on Iran behind Satellite jamming and Aramco cyber attack. Bottom line Iran (and those behind it) wants to drag Saudi into open confrontation in Iraq and Yemen. I do not think Saudis will be dragged that easy. For Yemen; I expect Saudi may invade certain parts of Yemen with the help of Egypt if Sanaa was about to fall in Houthies hands.

How recent events in Iraq will reflect on the ground in Syria?

A very good question indeed. It is quite significant not only for Syria but for the whole region as well. We can divide the impact into two parts; a positive and a negative. Positive: The more ISIS and Sunni tribes weaken Iran influence and proxies in Iraq the more Iran road-map in the region will be broken gradually. This will definitely impact negatively Assad and Hezbollah. Involvement of Iraqi Shia militias in Syria which was a key factor in letting Assad holds many positions around Damascus will no longer exist. Hezbollah of Lebanon may gave up its support to Assad also gradually to minimize cost. Unfortunately that positive impact will slam the Americans road-map for the region since 1991. Look how the Americans jumped all of a sudden in Iraq again after Sunnis threatened to demolish Maliki regime in Baghdad. Gulf countries will welcome this positive impact provided that ISIS is not the main player behind it. I see this scenario is highly unlikely. Negative: If ISIS was the main player behind the collapse of Iran existence in Iraq then many moderate Islamic armed groups in Syria will not welcome that. ISIS may boost their strength in Syria and try to expand again in Syrian rebels held areas with more confidence, moral and solid financial backbone. If this happened West may face two options: It is either they will cooperate with Syrian rebels and fight ISIS while Assad is still in power or cooperating with Assad against ISIS and maybe the rebels as well. It is not a coincidence West and Gulf countries freeze their political, financial and arms support to Syrian rebels few weeks after Syrian rebels refused Kerry’s offer to help Maliki government fighting ISIS in Iraq.

Map by Rami al Lolah showing the Israeli army strikes on the territory inside Syria.
Map by Rami al Lolah showing the Israeli army strikes on the territory inside Syria.

What we can expect in Israel/Palestinian conflict? Will we see IDF offensive against Gaza?

Israel offensive in Gaza will serve Iran interests. The war on Gaza will be endless. No one will be able to claim victory. Palestinians and Israelis have one way to go through and that is the peace way and the two state solution. Iran is distracting the world attention recently with side clashes in Gaza; Iraq; Yemen; Bahrain and maybe Kuwait. They are in need of every hour and second to complete another milestone in their nuclear program while they are also at the same time in the middle of a critical stage in the final nuclear negotiations. Whomever contribute and escalate the situation in the region is directly or indirectly serving Iran interests and buying it more time to finish what they want to finish. Israelis must not give a legitimacy to another ground invasion to Gaza when Iran and Hezbollah can not wait for it to happen. As far as Hezbollah in north Israel; I think Hezbollah will not get involved at this stage when it is still fighting in Syria and the lack of Iraqi Shia militias in Syria after Iraq developments.

Can we speak that the borders of Middle East will be changed in incoming years?

No one believed that south Sudan will separate from the north. We still sometimes and mistakenly draw Sudan map as if the south never separated. Sudan is a great example of what we may see in the region in few tens of years from now. However; the ME case is more sophisticated than Sudan. Breaking the ME will take a very long time. But; If you ask me; which part of the ME will be broken first; I would say the Arabian Peninsula. And Jordan will be the prime beneficiary out of this.