Friday, February 12, 2016

Turkey Gives US an Ultimatum

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Turkey has thrown down the gauntlet with the US. Yes - with the United States of America!!!

Turkey has almost no allies anymore. The United States has been a strong friend of Turkey for the past 60 years. But Turkey has chosen to give the US an ultimatum - it is accept our ultimatum, or else.

The US must abandon the Kurdish fighters in Syria or lose Turkey as an ally.
The idea that Turkey would even think of saying this publicly, that they would call in the US ambassador to Turkey and issue the ultimatum is just mind boggling. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and even Iran have all deserted Turkey and are no longer their allies.

The United States used to refer to Turkey as their "most reliable ally in the region." No more.
The Kurds of Syria are the only true fighting force that has had any real success against ISIS. The raid at Tishrin, for example, was a joint operation that was successful only because of the Kurds who were the foundation of the raid.

But the Democratic Union, aka the PYD in Syria, is an outgrowth of the Kurdish Workers Party - the
PKK. And the PKK has been at war with Turkey since 1984.

Turkey has used the cover of ISIS to strike at the Kurds and the Kurds have hit back at Turkey.

The United States cannot abandon the Kurdish PYD. That would mean cutting off and abandoning their only reliable set of trained and vetted fighters on the ground in the region. These Kurds are great fighters. They are fighting for their land, for their families and for their lives. If they lose to ISIS they will lose everything - including their heads.

These Kurds will not run away like Iraqi soldiers or Syrian Sunnis did. They are motivated to fight. The United States needs them.

Turkey is over playing their hand. They have not even offered all that much in the first place. 

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Twitter Shuts Down Terrorists

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Twitter has stepped up and shut down 120,000 accounts that have supported terror. Bravo!

Since the summer of 2015 Twitter has increased the number of their teams that respond to complaints and have dedicated other teams to searching on their own to make certain that user rules are not abused.

This was their post: "We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter Rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service."

"As the nature of the terrorist threat has changed, so has our ongoing work in this area."

"We also look into other accounts similar to those reported and leverage proprietary spam-fighting tools to surface other potentially
violating accounts for review by our agents."

"We have already seen results, including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter."

Much of this material is in English. One in five people creating these types of accounts preferred English. And 75% preferred Arabic.

Twitter is starting to take this situation seriously. They are not the purveyors of this message - they are simply the tool. At first, all social media hosts claimed they even though they had no responsibility, they would examine and investigate and even remove those who preached hatred and death.

That is a passive approach. It responds only to complaints. Now
Twitter is actively going further and investigating on its own. This is a must do. All other social media providers should follow Twitter's lead. They must be proactive and seek out and investigate sites similar to those already removed. 

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Shocking Response By Arab MKs

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Three Arab members of the Israeli Knesset have been have been punished by the Ethics Committee for visiting the families of terrorists and broadcasting it on their social media sites.

This is not a significant story. One would expect that.

But when one of the Knesset members, Basel Ghattas explained the entire situation on Israel Army radio -- that is what should have caused a volcanic eruption and a public outcry. Yet surprisingly there was almost no coverage of his comments and no real response.

These were his words.

"If [Israel] wasn't occupying the West Bank, these children would not have to kill Jews." He synopsizes the entire issue and lays blame at the "occupation". He makes his inflammatory claim on Israeli army radio and it goes almost without response.

That is shocking. 

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Does Iran Support Hamas?

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has announced numerous times that they have not received any monetary support from Iran since 2009.

But the new spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, said that Iran does support Hamas, in principle because part of Iran's foreign policy is to support Hamas in its fight against Israel.

The messaging is unclear. Does "support" mean actual money, or doesn't it.

And certainly, since 2011 when the Syrian crisis began Iran was livid that Hamas supported ousting Assad while Iran was propping him up.

At this moment, even if Iran gave money to Hamas they might reject it, despite their massive need for funds. They might reject Iranian Shiite help because it might upset the Sunni leaders that have stepped in to fill the void in supporting Hamas and the Palestinians in Gaza.

Iran is interested in erecting another front in the region and they will want to bribe Hamas - but it looks like some of the people in the region are not interested in having Iranian/Shiite influence re-arrange their lives.

Talk about mixed messaging. 

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Hamas Executes Leader

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has executed one of their senior leaders. His name is Mahmoud Eshtewi and he was convicted of unnamed "moral and behavioral violations." A Hamas tweet said that Eshtewi confessed to spying for Israel since 2007.

They later said that he was executed for various crimes.

Mahmoud Eshtewi disappeared from his family last year. He was arrested and interrogated and confessed. He came from a very prominent family and the family protested outside the home of Ismail Haniyah, the head of Hamas in Gaza, to find out where Eshtewi was being held. Security services threatened the family and dispersed them.

Hamas has executed dozens of people for collaborating with Israel. In this case, Hamas believed that Eshtewi gave Israel the location of Mohammed Deif the Hamas strategic mastermind. Israel attempted to target Deif at least four times.

Hamas could not tolerate even the thought that one of their senior leaders gave Israel the most secret location of their most treasured symbolic military leader. He needed to be executed and everyone needs to know that. 

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Did Israel Destroy Gaza Tunnels

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Does Israel have a secret weapon that can make tunnels in Gaza collapse?

Over the past two weeks nine Palestinians, including at least two high level Hamas commanders, have been buried alive in two or three tunnel collapses.

There is no doubt that Hamas has been rebuilding their tunnel infrastructure and hopes, once again, to attack Israel using this secret underground weapon. And it has been reported that Israel is fast at work developing new technology to combat the tunnels.

So did Israel cause the collapse of the tunnels?
The best answer is - maybe.

Yes, Israel is developing and testing new weapons and yes, they may have done the deed. Israel will never take credit for the sabotage, but Israel did warn Gazans to stay far away from the tunnels.

Israelis may be playing into a conspiracy that Israel has these great powers but sometime the conspiracy theories are actually true. 

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Good News & Bad News w/ ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that the number of ISIS fighters has not increased over the past year. The bad news is that the number of ISIS fighters has not decreased over the past year.

That is the official report by the US military.

The United States puts the number of ISIS fighters at somewhere between 19,000 and 35,000. I would say that the number is between 30,000 and 40,000.

The worst news is that this handful of ISIS fighters is turning the region and the world upside down. Billions of dollars are being spent in order to confront this group and they still remain the same in numerical strength and in capabilities.

The region and the world have been dedicated fighting ISIS - and they have not yet been able to degrade their strength.

I can only hope that next year we will be able to say with conviction that ISIS numbers have been seriously reduced.

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