Thursday, January 29, 2015

US Says No To Iranian Diplomat

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Everyone who enters the United States needs a visa. That includes diplomats and even ambassadors to the United Nations. Even heads of state traveling to speak at the UN need visas.

The man appointed to be the ambassador to the UN for Iran was denied his visa. So Iran needed to appoint a new ambassador.

Hamid Aboutalebi was the original Iranian appointment. The United States said "no" to his entry, even on a restricted visa that would have permitted him the ability to travel a 25 mile radius from the epicenter the UN which would include all New York City airports. The US State Department denied entry to Aboutalebi because they believe that he was involved in the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran.

This is very important.

There was a time, in November of 1988, under President Reagan, when the United States would not grant a visa to Yasser Arafat because he "knows of, condones and lends support to acts of terror." As a result, Arafat could not address the United Nations in New York.

In that instance the United Nations picked up, packed up and moved the General Assembly to Europe, specifically to Geneva, Switzerland, and Arafat was able to deliver his address to the UN.

There is a lesson in all of this. I am glad that the United States, or at least the State Department, is using the law to take a stand on certain important issues. I wonder when the White House became aware of the decision. 

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Iran Threatens Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran sent a message to Israel via the United States.

The Islamic Republic News Agency, known as IRNA, reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdullian told the Americans to pass a message to Israel.

"We told the Americans that the leaders of the Zionist regime should await the consequences of their act."

He continued: "We tell them to await retaliation but we will decide about its timing, place and the

The death of an Iranian general at the hands of Israel while he was, literally, on the border of Israel in Lebanon together with a Hezbollah team was a painful blow to Iran.

And Iran needs to save face. Their operations in Lebanon and Syria most often go unreported and are unknown to the world. This Israeli intervention forced the spotlight on Iran's presence in those areas.

And it showed that Iran was plotting and planning and advising Hezbollah in ways to attack - and even try to destroy, Israel.

There are those who say that the Israeli action was a mistake. Iran could attack Jewish sites around the world in retaliation. This is true. And in the past they have done just that.

But it is also essential that Iran knows they cannot get that close to Israel without consequence. 

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BBC Wont' Use Terms Terror or Terrorist

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Some people are afraid to call them Muslim terrorists because it is a value judgment. And some media believes that if they refer to Islamic mass murderers as terrorists they will be accused of showing a bias.

Me, --- I have a bias for the innocent victims who are slain by the Muslim mass murders who openly profess their desire to intimidate us, convert us and if that does not happen to destroy us.

I was floored when I read the comments of the head of the Arabic section of the BBC. This is the BBC's largest foreign section. The name of the depatment head is Tarik Kafala.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Independent Kafala described how he approached coverage of the terror attacks in France.

Kafala said "We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist, or an act as being terrorist."
He continued, "What we try to do is to say that 'two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine'. That's enough, we know what that means and what it is."

Kafala tried to explain his editorial style by saying "We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them." "That's much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden."

How sad. And Kafala is just being a good BBC soldier. He is following the BBC guide book of style and usage which, he said, cautions that "the use of the words 'terrorist' or 'terrorist group' can create inconsistency in their use or, to audiences, raise doubts about our impartiality."

The BBC advises using words other than "terrorist", words such as "bomber", "attacker", "gunman", "kidnapper" or "militant".

The free press is supposed to promote freedom, not suppress freedom.

What a very sad state of affairs for the BBC.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Yemen is a Real Mess

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yemen is a real mess. The government resigned - and that is the least of their problems. Yemen is a country of 24 million people.

It is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East with an annual average income of about $1400.

Yemen is also the major base of al Qaeda in the Middle East. One of the al Qaeda groups working out of Yemen is al Qaeda of the Arab Peninsula. It is probably more potent, more powerful, more organized and has more members than any al Qaeda group anywhere in the world.

Another of the al Qaeda groups in Yemen goes by the name Houthi.

They have taken over Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, a city of nearly two and a half million people.
The United States has been trying to prevent al Qaeda from taking over Yemen. They have been training Yemeni military forces and using unmanned drones to strike al Qaeda and its leadership.

Unfortunately, the intelligence that the US has relied upon for their drones has been almost totally infiltrated by al Qaeda.

The military training and the use of drones simply falls shy of what is necessary to protect and save Yemen.

The day after the government resigned tens of thousands of people marched in the capital demanding a government and asking for order in an attempt to say "no" to al Qaeda. There was some violence.
The people of the capital city Sana'a do not want al Qaeda to take over. So what can be done?

Yemenis must create a group of loyal, dependable and trustworthy fighters who are capable of attacking al Qaeda directly. They need to seek out and strike at al Qaeda everywhere they live. These forces will need air support from the United States. They may also need to get support from their neighbor Saudi Arabia who abhors and detests al Qaeda.

The United States needs to immediately identify and support this group. They need to ply them with weapons and money and set them loose. This is the only way to stymie and defeat al Qaeda. Right now al Qaeda has the advantage of momentum. That energy must be reversed.

Time is of the essence. And right now time is not on the side of Yemen. 

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Iran To Enrich More

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Here is a peek into Iran's point of view on nuclear negotiations.

Yesterday the parliament in Iran began drafting legislation that would empower scientists to continue to enrich uranium in their new generation centrifuges.

There is a nuclear committee in the Iranian parliament and the spokesman, Hussein Naghavi Husseini, is quoted in the Iranian media
explaining the draft legislation.

He said: "This bill will allow the government to continue enrichment, using new generation centrifuges."
"The parliament's nuclear committee is working on the technical issues and details of this draft."
There is no doubt that the parliamentary committee is expressing the feeling of many Iranians and their leaders.

These politicians are not confident that an agreement with the West will benefit Iran. More than that -- they strongly believe that it is their inherent right to develop nuclear technology and the West has no place to limit that right.

For Iran it is an issue of pride and power. 

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Friday, January 23, 2015

US Ban Embassy Workers From Israeli Public Transport

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv has issued a travel warning to all employees.

US Embassy employees are not permitted to use public transport or to come within 1.5 miles of the borders of Syria, Jordan or Lebanon without permission.

The statement from the US Embassy reads "Because of concerns about security on Israel's northern borders, US government personnel are currently required to obtain advance approval if they wish to travel within 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) of the Lebanon border, or travel on or east of Route 98 in the Golan Heights."

Banning public transport is an exaggerated response.

No doubt terrorists have targeted public transportation, but public transport is a way of life in Israel. The suggestion that US embassy personnel are not safe while performing the most basic of Israeli daily activities is not just truly insulting to Israeli society, it is a total misunderstanding of the situation.

Barring personnel from approaching a hostile border makes sense. But shutting off employees from buses and the trains sends the wrong message. And it does not make them safer. 

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lone Wolf Terror in Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There was another lone wolf terror attack in Israel.

 The perpetrator is a young Arab man from Tulkharam. He boarded a Tel Aviv bus and started stabbing - attacking 13 people. He ran and was shot in the leg by police as he attempted to escape. He was arrested.

The terrorist explained that he perpetrated the terror because of Israeli actions in Gaza over the summer. He said that he was excited by the internet videos he saw and by internet discussions about seeking revenge.

There are certain givens about lone wolf attackers against Israelis.
The lone wolf in Israel is almost always:

A young Arab man in his 20's or 30's.

Angry over a family member who was wounded, killed or interrogated by Israel.

The attack is often an initiation rite or an attempt to prove something.

The attacker is almost always illegally in Israel.

Lone wolves attack public transport because that is where Israelis are stationary - waiting for a bus or train, sitting and traveling. The public transport system makes Israelis easy targets for the lone wolf.

At this stage it is pretty clear who the "lone wolf" is. Now Israel needs to put a stop to the terror. It will take intel and a strong security presence.

Israel needs to advance its intelligence on people who illegally infiltrate the country. They need to stop them and watch them.

It is not an easy task, but Israel needs to clamp down on these lone wolves. And they need to do it soon. 

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