Saturday, April 18, 2015

Obama Invites Gulf Leaders to Lobby on Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

President Obama has invited leaders of critical Sunni Gulf states to Washington for a two day meeting. Day one, May 13, will convene at the White House. Day two, May 14, will be at Camp David.

The purpose of the invite to the White House and the coveted presidential mountain resort, Camp David, is to convince these leaders that an agreement with Iran is good for everyone. Especially for those in the region.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have all been invited.

Obama is going to have to be very convincing. These Gulf State countries do not trust Iran. And they think that in his dealings with Iran, President Obama is delusional. They are convinced that Iran will become a nuclear state almost immediately after the agreement is signed and they do not think the United States can stop that from happening.

And if in the end Iran does get a nuclear deal, they want the same deal.

On paper, this meeting is a great idea. Unfortunately though, I think that Barack Obama will be the one sitting in the student seat and be lectured to by those who live in the region and do not trust Iran.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Al Qaeda in Yemen Now on the Rise

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Shiite Houthi has nearly taken over Yemen. Saudi Arabia and their eleven nation Sunni Arab coalition has continued to bomb the Houthi in order to prevent them from taking control of Yemen's ports and control of vital assets and resources.

With all eyes on the Houthi over the past few weeks al Qaeda of Yemen, also known as al Qaeda of the Arabia Peninsula, has been left unchecked. Taking advantage of the situation, and al Qaeda has spent their time re-organizing and starting to take control of areas they consider to be strategic.

The Houthi and al Qaeda are arch enemies.

Yesterday, al Qaeda took over the airport of al Mukallah, the fifth largest city in Yemen. They also took over an oil export port and refinery in Dhabah which is on the Arabian Sea.

Al Qaeda of Yemen has scored a huge victory. They beat the Houthi, the Saudis, the Yemeni authority and whatever is left of the Yemeni army all at the same time. With these victories come money, power, prestige and recruits.

They did it all while everyone was ignoring them. The Middle East is not mono-dimensional. There are always multiple balls in the air and many factors in play.

The Houthi were able to gain momentum, at first, because the US was consumed by al Qaeda and paid them no mind. As soon as their attention was diverted towards the Houthi, al Qaeda was free to carry on, unhampered, with their dastardly deeds. They did it all while everyone was ignoring them.

The Middle East is not mono-dimensional. There are always multiple balls in the air and many factors at play. To think otherwise is not wise at all.

 Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hamas Building Tunnels & Making Rockets

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A report in the Times of Israel echoed a report in the British Telegraph. The reports should not surprise anyone who follows the happenings of the Middle East.

Hamas is rebuilding their labyrinth of tunnels. The report in the Times of Israel described Hamas using small bulldozers to speed the process and to access small areas.

The British Telegraph said that Iran has funneled $10's of millions in order to reconstruct the tunnels of Hamas.

The most interesting and unique element to come out of the article in the Times of Israel is that military experts and analysts in Israel are reporting that Hamas is building a slew of new rockets. All short range rockets.

The lesson learned by Hamas in their conflict with Israel this past summer was that short range rockets were both less likely to be shot down by the Iron Dome and were more effective at terrifying and terrorizing Israelis.

So now Hamas is dedicating much time and energy to producing new, smaller, short range rockets to fire at Israel in the near future.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Massive Cyber Hack on Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The results are in.

April 7th was to be the day for the annual, all out, cyber attack against Israel. It was a huge failure.

The attack is called #OPIsrael. There were to be hackivists from all over the Muslim world drumming up support and energy for a huge tidal wave of hacking against Israel. It was described as a cyber Holocaust against Israel. In fact, the date April 7th was selected because the first year the attack was planned, that date coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day.

This was the third year of the hack. It is coordinated by a hacker named AnonGhost. This particular hacker works out of Tunsia.

There was more hype leading up to the day than actual hacking on the day. A few hundred private websites were hacked and a few thousand email accounts and passwords were leaked - but most of those were recycled from last year's list.

The best analysis I saw was by SenseCY, a cyber security firm in Israel. They monitored the entire event. Most of the chatter was on social networks and not in the dangerous areas like the darknet, where real hackers hang and act.

Even in the social media world the hack against Israel barely got noticed. It peaked at 3000 tweets.
That is hardly an international movement.

On one message board people were bemoaning the small turnout and lack of impact relative to previous years. They suggested that people were simply bored and tired of repeating the same hack.

That is not good news for Israel. When amateur hackers get bored and try to work out new plans, the results are often diabolical. This year, Israel got lucky.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Russia to Send Missiles to Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Russia decided to loosen restrictions on missile sales to Iran. They will be delivering a shipment of S-300 missiles as soon as possible.

Israel was informed of the decision just before it was made public. Israel is most concerned - but expected it. After all, this is an outgrowth of the framework agreement with Iran.

Israel's main concern is that the S-300's will be shipped from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In 2007, Russia initiated an $800 million missile deal with Iran.
But because of the sanctions they never completed the deal. In 2011, Iran sued Russia for $4 billion in an international court for breach of contract and for losses. The case is still pending.

The White House expressed disappointment with Russia.

But really, what is the message the US is conveying? What do they expect?

Russia said they intend to ship the missiles quickly, as soon, that is, as the political leadership gives the go ahead.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Bush Calls out Obama on Castro & Bibi

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Candidates are starting to get serious about the 2016 US presidential election.
Hillary Clinton declared yesterday. Rand Paul declared a few days earlier.

Jeb Bush is still as of yet undeclared, but he is certainly testing the water. He has name recognition
and would be a formidable candidate.

Yesterday Jeb Bush tweeted a serious critique of President Obama. Obama met with Raul Castro, the leader of Cuba, a repressive anti democratic regime. We know that Obama has intentions regarding Cuba.

But Bush called him to task in a different way. He asked how can you meet with Castro and not with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu?!

"Obama meets with Castro but refused to meet w/ @netanyahu," Bush wrote on Twitter. "Why legitimize a cruel dictator of a repressive
regime?"

There is something profound about the statement.

The purpose behind the tweet was to present Jeb Bush as a defender of Israel. It was to get him front and center in the eyes of Jewish donors and lovers of Israel - a position he does not yet occupy.

This is a sure way of getting the important funding every politician needs and will certainly help boost his 2016 campaign.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Coalition Building in Israel

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Building a coalition to govern in Israel is a huge task.

Theoretically, the winner of the election has power, but practically, much of that power must be ceded much in order to lure other parties to join the coalition in order to govern.

The deadline for the coalition is April 22. It is ten days from now. The winner of the election then gets a total of 42 days to create a coalition. Likud and Netanyahu got 28 days plus a built in 14 day extension.

There are major obstacles blocking the formation of a coalition.
Parties and their leaders vie for more and more power for themselves and try to limit the power of other partners.

Everyone thinks that time is on their side. But it if they do not join the coalition when given the opportunity, and if Netanyahu does not form a coalition within the allotted time, the president will charge another party to form a coalition. And that could mean that these very parties negotiating for more and more will, in the end, lose any chance of having the power. And like most politicians they decisions they make will be dictated by power over principle.

Likud will convince them to join him. I predict a last minute deal.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

Read my latest book THUGS. It's easy. Just click. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=halpern%2C+micah
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