Saturday, April 30, 2011

US Policy in Syria is a Misplay

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
US foreign policy toward Syria is fraught with misplays and misunderstandings.
The United States actually improved ties with Syria last year hoping that the Syrians would become players in the effort to drive a wedge between their country and Iran.
After four years without an ambassador in Syria, the United States returned its ambassador in February of 2010. Once again, the US was hopeful that Syria would change and was rewarding the Syrians for anticipated good behavior.
How can "hope" and "optimism" be considered foreign policy?
By its very nature foreign policy is the art of realistic assessment and understanding. When the United States is unrealistic in its assessments the greatest power in the Western world makes mistakes -like it is doing in Syria and did in Egypt.
Sometimes, the United States gets lucky. Bringing Syria before the UN Human Rights Council turned into an important victory for the US and for the West. On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council voted on a resolution that narrowly condemned Syria. Of the 47 members, 26 voted to condemn, 9 voted against condemnation, 7 abstained and 5 refused to even attend.
The US could have lost the vote. And had they lost, it would have been a resounding loss for freedom against tyranny, oppression and thugs.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

PA-Hamas Deal Means No Declaration

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
Hamas and Fatah have agreed to unite.
That unity will be a nail both in the coffin of the Israeli peace talks and in the declaration of a Palestinian state.
Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas. And the US cannot condone Hamas's participation in a state.
So, too, the Western powers. Yesterday Germany announced that they cannot condone a Hamas government of any kind. Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist and Germany will not tolerate anything short of that. Even if they do not come out as publicly as the Germans, every other Western government feels the same way.
All the diplomatic progress achieved over the past four months by the Palestinian Authority has been destroyed over night.
There is no way that either the United States or any other Western state can recognize a new Palestinian state if Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Egypt Blows Up Pipeline

By Micah Halpern

The pipeline that delivers natural gas from Egypt to both Israel and Jordan has been blown up. Terrorists blew up the control station located just outside of the city El Arish.
When terrorists blow up a natural gas pipeline, heads should turn.
It is an act of destruction that has the ability to alter a region.

It is an act that should force regional countries - and the international community, to respond immediately and harshly. Inaction, passivity, sends out a message to the terrorists and spurs them on to commit other terrorist acts that could also endanger the already fragile power structure of the region.
The explosion was so effective that succeeded in not just damaging the line, but in putting it completely out of commission. Egyptian authorities are saying that it could take weeks before the fire is under control and the gas line can start flowing again. Pictures show flames as high as 65 feet tall.
This is not the first time the pipeline and this station has been the target of terrorists hoping to scuttle the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel. And it is not the second.
The first explosion took place of February 5th of this year. That attack was ineffective in terms of damage, but very effective in providing the terrorists with the information and know-how they now used to execute this third and very effective attack. Had it not been for the diligence of Egyptian authorities who thwarted the second attack, the pipeline would probably have been successfully blown up on March 27th.
Clearly, the Egyptian military know that this site is a target. The attack on the natural gas monitoring station took place at 3am, in the dark of night. The army should have had this location under very tight surveillance, this attack should never have happened - but it did. Finger wagging is permitted in cases of gross negligence.
Based on the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Israel received 40% of its natural gas from this pipeline. A part of this treaty even provides for a special relationship between Egypt and Israel concerning the price of the natural gas. The relationship is special - but not cheap. Israel still pays twice as much for the gas delivered to them by Egypt than the Syrians pay for the same natural gas.
There is no coincidence between the timing of these attacks -attempted and successful - and the activity taking place in Egypt. There should be no doubt that it is the rhetoric of politicians in the new Egypt that has set the ground for this terrorist action. Days before the explosion Egypt arrested their former energy minister, Sameh Fahmy, along with five other former bureaucrats from the ministry.
They were arrested because according to the 1979 peace treaty Egypt was supposed to guarantee Israel a set amount of natural gas at a set price. Now, under the new regime, under the current prosecution, according to many newly influential Egyptians politicians vying for popular support, that deal is tantamount to treachery. Too much gas for too little.
Actually, the deal is the backbone of the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel. But Israel saw what was happening in Egypt and as tensions rose, the Israelis reduced their dependency on Egypt for natural gas. Now Israel gets only about 29% of its natural gas from Egypt - down 11% from the original 40%. These saber rattling pronouncements, prosecutions and arrests are fueling an already tense and volatile environment within Egypt. A full blown anti - Western, anti-Israel front is overtaking the country.
We are looking at one prominent example of the new Egypt. The army running Egypt has done very little to clamp down on terror, in fact, it is almost as if the military wing is helping stimulate anti-Israel attitudes and subsequent actions. When you couple acts of terror against symbols of oppressive outsiders and perceived cultural colonialists with aggressive political rhetoric you are creating a dangerous environment. When terrorists search out and destroy the symbols cum targets the masses who may have been sitting on the fence become emboldened.
The only reason for putting out the fires - literally, not at all figuratively, is the fact that Jordan relies heavily on the natural gas they receive from the now destroyed pipeline. The same pipeline that supplies Israel with 29% of its natural gas, supplies Jordan with 80% of its natural gas. Jordan cannot survive for long without the Egyptian pipeline.
Maybe when Jordan cries out for help the international community will come out and, at least symbolically, pay attention to the acts of international destruction being perpetrated in Egypt. Maybe.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

By Micah D. Halpern

I'm Predicting:
Egypt has implemented policy erasing the name Hosni Mubarak from all official institutions, buildings, streets, parks and just about everything else.
It was only a matter of time before this decision was instituted and it will be only a matter of time before the entire history of Egypt during the reign of Mubarak is completely rewritten.

Hold on to your history books.
You will want to compare the old history texts to the new ones that come out in the next month or so. Do not expect to see the word "revised" on them. Mubarak will be demonized and everything he backed or supported will be condemned. There will be an entire rewriting of the relationship between the West and Egypt and between Israel and Egypt. We are already beginning to hear significant Egyptian leaders and pundits advocating the repudiation of the peace treaty with Israel or at least revisiting the terms of that treaty.
What is most fascinating to me is that Mubarak followed in the footsteps of Anwar Sadat. A direct line can be traced between Sadat and Mubarak in domestic and foreign policy and in attitude toward the Muslim Brotherhood.
And yet, while the Mubarak imprimatur is being wiped out, the history of Sadat has not being rewritten at all - in fact, Anwar Sadat is a considered an Egyptian hero.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

US - Israel Peace Plan

By Micah D. Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

There is no doubt that Obama and Netanyahu are feeling the pressure of the Palestinian diplomatic blitz.
Palestinians are gathering more and more support for their declaration of statehood and that is not something that neither the United States nor Israel want. Both the US and Israel want a negotiated settlement - not a declaration.
A negotiated settlement puts the issues on the table and offers the ability to resolve those issues to the satisfaction of both parties -a unilateral declaration removes that ability.

Each leader has a plan up their diplomatic sleeve and the plans will most likely be unveiled next month when Obama and Netanyahu meet in Washington, DC. Even if the two agree to fold their plans into one, it is highly unlikely that the Palestinians will accept the new plan.
The Palestinians do not want details resolved. That will hurt them in the eyes of their own constituents, in the eyes of Muslims around the world and in the eyes of their other supporter across the world.
Whatever plan the United States and Israel present will be based on compromise - and compromise, to the Palestinians means giving in and giving in weakness. Palestinian leadership does not want to be seen as weak.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

By Micah D. Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
On Friday French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. They had a very friendly and positive meeting.
Sources from inside the office of president Sarkozy said that the French are in favor of the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and it seems like France will come out in vociferous support of the declaration.
In response to questions following their meeting, Abbas said that it would be illogical for the United States not to support the Palestinian declaration. The Palestinian leader pointed out that, by now, most of the world is in clear support including the Western Europeans. Abbas said that the French president gave him clear and absolute support for the move to declare a Palestinian state.
In essence the only people on an international level who are not in favor of the intended Palestinian declaration of statehood, the only countries to actually reject the idea of a declaration, are the United State and Israel.
And pressure is really building on the US and Israel to buckle.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

McCain Visits Libya

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday US Senator John McCain made a surprise visit to Libya. He visited Benghazi and spoke to press, to local leaders and to leaders of the National Transition Council. The Council is the de-facto government of the opposition headquartered in Benghazi.

McCain has been an advocate for intervention in Libya from the very beginning. He wanted the no fly zone up immediately and was one of the loudest voices in Congress conveying that message.
In his speech in Benghazi McCain referred to the opposition fighters as rebel and as heroes.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

US - Israel Peace Plan

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
France's ambassador to the UN Security Council announced in a discussion on Thursday that France and several European colleagues are considering recognizing the Palestinian state.
They assert that this would be a great boost to the peace process.

Of course, this is also a blow to US peace efforts.
Now President Obama and the White House have begun their own new push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Secretary of State Clinton and the president are pressing for face to face meetings -hoping to get their plan, which has been shelved for so long, back on track.
In diplomacy, like in politics, there is often strength in numbers.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

The New Egypt

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
Yesterday Egypt arrested their former energy minister, Sameh Fahmy. F other former bureaucrats from the ministry were also arrested.
Why were they arrested? Because according to the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Egypt was supposed to guarantee a certain amount of natural gas at a certain price. According to the current prosecution, as well as to many politicians now vying for popular support - the deal is tantamount to treachery.
Actually, this deal is the backbone of the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel. Israel gets about 40% of its natural gas from Egypt.
These gross exaggerations, saber rattling pronouncements and prosecutions are creating a tense environment that is spinning out of control in Egypt. A full blown anti - Western, anti-Israel front fueling full scale attacks against Israel is overtaking Egypt.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

2 States Really Means 3 States

2 States Really Means 3 States

By Micah Halpern
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salim Fayyad is going public with his economic plan for Palestinian statehood. His goal is to declare Palestinian statehood by September 2011. His intention is to achieve that goal by way of a straight up vote in the United Nations General Assembly.
By all estimates, the decision to grant statehood to the Palestinians will fly through the United Nations. But that doesn't mean that the Palestinians don't have to first engage in some pretty fancy preliminary diplomatic tap dancing.
The Fayyad Plan, a very detailed three-year plan, has already been distributed to those donor nations scheduled to meet in June. The prime minister hopes to collect $5 billion to jump start the process of Palestinian statehood. He actually lists dollar amounts required to build, stimulate and create a stable economy that will become self sufficient over time.
The declaration of statehood and recognition by the world as put forth by Fayyad is pretty straight forward. The PA will ask that a Palestinian state be established in the post '67 West bank and Gaza areas - the terminology used by the Palestinian Authority is the post 1967 occupied territories.
There are two significant glitches to the plan. One glitch is that the United States does not want a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. Washington wants a negotiated agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. A unilateral declaration supported by the UN does not define borders, does not delineate defenses and does not detail the new state's orientation. A declaration almost certainly guarantees continued tensions that can escalate into war with Israel and even result in Israeli conquest which would set back Palestinian statehood indefinitely.
The second glitch in this plan is that Fayyad speaks in detail about Gaza - both in terms of economic growth and the bureaucratic role Gaza will play. But Gaza is not controlled by Fayyad, Gaza is not controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Hamas controls Gaza and in 2007, Hamas tossed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in a violent, bloody, coup.
The truth is that the Palestinian plan for statehood is not a two-state plan, it is a three-state plan, but the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge that harsh reality. The only way a workable Palestinian state can be declared is with three independent states living side-by-side. One Israeli state, one Palestinian state in the West Bank and one Palestinian Hamas state in Gaza.
Three, not two.
There is little doubt that most of the Western world, including a majority of Israelis and the United States are in favor of a two-state solution. But two states is not what they will get.
As far as Hamas is concerned, the plan put forth by Salim Fayyad holds no value. For Hamas, Fayyad is symbolic of the tensions and the enmity that exist between West Bank Palestinians and Gaza-s Palestinians. When Palestinian elections were held in 2006, Hamas won. Unhappy with the results, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ousted Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyah, and put in his place a trusted ally named Salim Fayyad.
Fayyad was never elected to office and he has no authority - other than being appointed to a position that someone else was elected to. There have been no Palestinian elections since and until this is resolved, Hamas will not honor any future elections.
In the meantime, donor nations will dig into their coffers and provide the Palestinian Authority with the $5 billion they are asking for their three-year plan. It is a very nice plan, but it is a plan that is destined to fail. It will fail because it is built on a fallacy. The Palestinians are not one people, they are two peoples. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority hate each other almost as much as they each hate Israel. That is not going to change by September 2011.
Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finding the Truth in Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
It is very difficult to know what is really happening in Syria.

Yes there are protests. And yes, oppression tactics are in use by the police and the army against the protesters.
The difficulty is in confirming reports.
Foreign journalists have been expelled. There has been a massive crackdown on all media outlets and all forms of media. Even the "new media" has been curtailed. That leaves us with only a series of messages and no real way of confirming them.
For instance, the other day Assad promised to end his emergency policy of government. He swapped his cabinet, promised reforms and pledged to liberalize his secret police and curtail their powers.
Yet, 300 people still came out to protest in Suewada about 80 miles south of Damascus.
Reports came out of Syria saying that the police brutally beat the protesters with batons. There is simply no way to confirm the story.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Terrorists Confess

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Israel arrested the two terrorists responsible for the brutal murders of the Fogel family.
These are the terrorists who murdered their victims on a Friday night as they slept - parents Udi and Ruth and three of their children, sons Yoav 11 and Eldad 4 and their 3 month old baby daughter named Hadas.
The terrorists, 18 and 19 years old, and were caught by the Israeli police, the Shin Bet and IDF investigators. They confessed and said that they had planned to martyr themselves in the act.
Both terrorists are from the Arab village of Awarta which neighbors Itamar. Awarta's chief, Kais Awad said: "I have major doubts over the Israeli findings and demand an international inquiry. They're children, it isn't possible that they committed this awful act."
Both terrorists admitted to being part of the PFLP, but said that they developed and implemented the plan on their own.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Muslims Protest Against Christians in Egypt

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
In Egypt, Islamic groups protested the appointment of a Christian as a regional governor. This is part of the problem in Egypt today.
The protesters rallied outside the government buildings in the Southern city of Qena blocking roads and obstructing railroad lines. They prevented trains from leaving Qena and Luxor, the famous City of the Pyramids.
All this happened as a result of the military council installing twenty new governors, people who had not served under and have no ties to Mubarak.
But none of that matters. A Christian is a Christian in the eyes of Egypt.

Shockingly, the Christian world is standing still and silent. The Pope is silent and there have been almost no Christian voices raised in horror and protest over this act of religious abuse.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Executing a Do-Gooder in Gaza

By Micah Halpern
Gaza is just one more place that the United States and the West do not understand.
The senseless execution of Victor Arrigoni, an Italian human rights activist, at the hands of Palestinian terrorists is a perfect example of just how little is known about how Gaza thinks and how totally out of their element Western thinkers when trying to make sense out of this Hamas stronghold.
In 2008 Victor came to Gaza in order to help, he was the proverbial aid giver. In 2011 he was hanged - because he was an outsider.
Victor Arrigoni was kidnapped. He was kidnapped by a terrorist group operating out of Gaza, but not Hamas. His kidnappers threatened to execute him if their leader and fellow terrorists were not released by Hamas. The deadline was quick and obviously not set up for negotiations, there was no desire for negotiations or even dialogue with Hamas. This led most analysts to conclude that Victor was executed very soon after he was kidnapped. The point of the kidnapping was to shine a spotlight on Hamas.
The Italians applied full-court press on Hamas to find and free Victor but that went nowhere. Embarrassed, Hamas made the effort to find the house where Victor was being held and stormed it, but by then, he had already been executed. They were way too late to save him. When they entered the House they found him hanging.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. The Palestinian
Authority was ousted in a bloody coup. Today's Gaza is not a monolith. Hamas is the ruling party, but not the only armed group attempting to intimidate Gazans and enforce their own rules. Gaza is splintered, filled will fractions and divisions, mostly defined by clans and family lines. While certain groups do share common objectives, their differences are far greater than the things that unite them. The kidnapping of Victor Arrigoni is but one example, a glaring example, but only one of many.
These smaller groups within Gaza are often unknown to Western diplomats. Sometimes a cell from a clan will simply make up a name for a particular operation and then after the operation, it will disappear. In real terms this means that there is almost no way to deal with the group. Understanding the workings of internal clans within Gaza is as crucial as it is difficult . In this case, in the kidnapping of Victor Arrigoni, a group called al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad initially claimed credit and responsibility for the action. They have now recanted.
Initially, Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad issued a statement saying that they had executed Victor, then claimed his death was the result of Hamas' leadership. They said" "Even though we have no connection to the kidnapping, we would like to stress that what happened is the natural conclusion to the Hamas government policy against other organizations within the Strip."
In Gaza, foreigners are pawns and they are always in extreme danger.

That includes diplomats. That includes aid workers. And that includes builders and doctors and all kinds of well-intentioned supporters. There is almost nothing that can be done to insure their safety. Journalist, diplomats and activists can have the support of Hamas and a safe passage guarantee, but a small splinter group can easily launch an operation. In Gaza, no foreigner is safe.
And unfortunately this is what happened with Victor. A well intentioned do-gooder who thought he was protected - but whose death illustrates how deluded that dream really is.
Hamas' lack of control, their inability to bring safety or unity to Gaza is the reason why almost all efforts to create lulls, ceasefires and any other forms of negotiation fail. Negotiations with the Palestinian Authority fail. Negotiations with the West fail. Negotiations with Egypt and with local, indigenous, warring, freedom fighting factions fail. Hamas cannot police their own. The Palestinian Authority attempted to police Gaza and they were ousted.

Gaza is a perfect example of organized anarchy.
Victor went to Gaza to help, he went to protect Gazans from the Israelis. Victor Arrigoni was consumed by the internal conflict which engulfs Gaza and baffles the Western world. Gaza's internal conflict may be a far less sexy topic to discuss, but it is far more critical to our understanding of the region and much more dangerous than the usual headline grabbing events.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Iron Dome Is Not the Answer

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
It seems that Hamas is dedicated to ruining the Passover holiday for Israelis - especially those Israelis who live in close proximity to or within missile range of Gaza.
Yesterday, two GRAD rockets were launched from Gaza and fell in Ashdod, Israel's second largest sea port. Numerous sensitive and dangerous import products arrive in Ashdod.
At this point Israel has chosen to take a defensive posture regarding the increase in rocket launches from Gaza. Israelis are embracing the Iron Dome Missile Defense system which is stopping about 1 in every 8 rockets. This is an important mental shift and much is being written about the success of the Iron Dome.
But the Iron Dome will not solve the problem.
An offensive approach would be to attack terrorist roots in order to control the problem as opposed to swatting away the rockets after they are shot - and assuming that the target will always be able to withstand the attack.
No doubt Iron Dome is important. But more important is to focus on the problem and to eradicate, isolate or at least limit the threat.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

PA US Tensions About Statehood

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Tensions between the Palestinian Authority and the United States have emerged over the past month. It all stems from the pressure and the outright demands the PA is placing on the US.
The Palestinian Authority wants to declare statehood in September.
They want a clear statement by the United States - especially the President or the Secretary of State, that the Palestinian state will lie within the 1967 borders.
The PA reached some very important international milestones this past week. The UN, the World Bank and the IMF all published reports stating that the Palestinian Authority has the requisite infrastructure to establish a state. In addition, the PA has distributed its 3-year plan which will require $5 billion in donations to spring board the state.
The Palestinian Authority wants America on board.
The United States wants a Palestinian state to emerge out of negotiations - not unilateral declarations.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

A 3 State Solution Not 2

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
PA Prime Minister Salim Fayyad has begun to make public his economic plan for Palestinian statehood.
Fayad has distributed his plan to donor nations scheduled to meet in June. He hopes to collect $5 billion in order to put his three-year plan into place. The plan is to present statehood to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September.
By all estimates the decision will fly through the United Nations.
The Fayyad plan is very detailed. He lists dollar amounts required to build, stimulate and create a stable economy that will become self sufficient over time. The declaration of statehood and recognition by the world is pretty straight forward. The PA will ask that a Palestinian state be established in the post '67 West bank and Gaza areas - the terminology used by the Palestinian Authority is the post 1967 occupied territories.
The major problem with the entire plan is that it speaks in detail about Gaza - both in terms of economic growth and the bureaucratic role it will play. But Gaza is not controlled by the PA. Hamas controls Gaza and they threw the Palestinian Authority out in a coup.
This plan would create a 3-state solution, not a 2-state solution. There would be one Israeli state, one Palestinian state in the West Bank and one Hamas state in Gaza.
Three, not two.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Iran Blames US & Israel

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
Yesterday the Iranian foreign ministry issued an official statement about the unrest in Syria. The Iranians are blaming Israel and the United States.
This should not surprise anyone.
Ramin Mehmanparast is the spokesman for the foreign ministry. He said : "What is happening in Syria is a mischievous act of Westerners, particularly Americans and Zionists."
The Iranians never call Israel by its name. They always say the "Zionists" or the "Zionist entity." Instead of saying Israel, the leaders of Iran insist on referring to the 19th century nationalism called Zionism - a European ideology and phenomenon, which has no place in the Middle East.
Iran refers to this external ideology in order to discredit Israel's ancestral, historical and biblical claim to exist.

There is a method behind every utterance and every action taken by Iran. We must always remember that.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Egypt Arrests Blogger

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
A blogger in Egypt was sentenced to 3 years in prison for blogging.

Yes this is the new Egypt - and its very much like the old Egypt.
Maikel Nabil Sanad, a 26 year old, wrote in his blog that the army has been brutal. He was not writing history.

Sanad was writing about daily abuses against Egyptians at the hands of the army. It was the same army that stood still during the revolution and that ousted Mubarak.
The army stood silently by because they were ordered to do so. The leaders of the army under Mubarak were disillusioned and wanted him out. But they continue to rule the country just like he did - with an iron fist.
On Sunday Sanad was sentenced without his lawyer. The only reason we know any of this is because the information was leaked to human rights groups who came out and blew the whistle.
Who ultimately rules? The internet rules, even in Egypt.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Goldstone and Danon Libel in the US

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
Israeli Knesset member Danny Danon had serious meetings with lawyer friends in the United States.
Danon and his friends are filing papers against Judge Richard Goldstone for libel against Israel. They think that they have a case because in his now famous recant in the Washington Post, Goldstone referred to the tremendous damage his report did to Israel's reputation.
This, the group asserts, is the definition of libel.
The problem is that according to US law, you cannot libel a country. Adding to the difficulty of this case is the knowledge that it is very difficult to win a case of libel when a politician is involved. The United States heard a case of libel where then Israel Defense Minister Ariel Sharon claimed that Time Magazine libeled him - that Time clearly knew the facts and nevertheless, printed the opposite.
Sharon won the case against Time but was awarded only $1 in damages. It was a pyrrhic victory. It proved the principle, but it also proved that despite overwhelming evidence, US courts do not sympathize with foreign political figures.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Glenn Beck

By Micah Halpern
I'm Predicting:
Wednesday's announcement that Glenn Beck will be stepping down from his 5pm cable news show on Fox is still being talked about, celebrated and bemoaned.
People on the left are gleeful. They despise Beck. They hate Beck more for his ideas than for his huge numbers and viewers.

But they are mistaken to celebrate.
Beck is not going away, he is going to new media. He will do Fox specials. And the new media he is involving himself with will reach many more people and many more young people than his 5pm show ever reached - even at his height. Beck will bring his audience to the new media and his ideas will be a much more serious force - way beyond that of the simple one dimensional flat TV screen.
Much of what Glenn Beck will be doing will be done through Fox's new media division in cahoots with his media company
This move is huge for Fox. Bringing a block buster into the new media will propel them into the next generation.
Glenn Beck and Roger Ailes are once again demonstrating their brilliance and keen understanding of media and human nature.
Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Abbas to Egypt

By Micah D. Halpern

I’ve Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas travelled to Egypt. It is his first visit to Egypt since the uprising. The purpose of this visit was manifold.

. to cement the relationship between the new military leadership and the Palestinian Authority

. to make certain that Egyptian and Palestinian leadership see eye to eye on Hamas

. to make certain that Hamas does not get a fair shake at any upcoming negotiations and unity talks

. to make certain that Egypt understands the role of the PA within the context of pressure by the United States to move ahead in a peace deal with Israel

This new government in Egypt is a wild card for everyone. They have not yet made their POV known or clearly defined a stance on any issue.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Hamas Attacks Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Izz a Din al Qassam took responsibility for the rocket that struck a school bus in Israel yesterday. This group is officially the military wing of Hamas.
Hamas terrorists targeted a school bus and then they sent 45 other rockets into Israel in a single day. Israel responded with a helicopter raid on 9 targets including 3 tunnels in Gaza.

Tensions are increasing between Israel and Hamas. The possible dangers are obvious to all.
Sources say that despite Israel's attacks on Gaza, they are not planning another Operation Cast Lead 2008-2009 which was a ground and air offensive into Gaza.
Sources say that immediately after the school bus attack Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak called the army and instructed them to hit Gaza's terror network. They did.
And after Hamas lobbed 45 rockets at Israel - they declared a cease fire.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ghadaffi's Letter to Obama

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
Libya's Muammar Ghadaffi sent a letter to President Obama on Monday April 5th. The rambling 3 page message containing Ghadaffi's demands was sent to the State Department. The letter was immediately forwarded to the White House.
The letter was not edited, Ghadaffi wrote it almost on his own with some help from his inner circle. At this point in the conflict Ghadaffi no longer controls a diplomatic corps to convey his message and finesse his style.
But some of the mistakes were intentional and totally missed by the commentators.
The letter refers to President Obama as "Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu oumama." The only mistake in this pun is that the O should be capitalized.
Baraka Hussein Abu Oumama is translated as The Blessed Hussein father of the people. The expression in Arabic, Ouma, refers to the Arabic people.
The letter refers to the US handing over the campaign to NATO "following the withdrawal of America from the crusader colonial alliance against Libya."
It may be laughable, but this is no joke.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Assassination From the Air

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Yesterday a car on its way to the Port of Sudan airport with two people inside was blown up.
Some kind of very quiet and very low flying airplane came in from the Red Sea, followed the car and then shot the missile that blew it up. The plane turned back toward the Red Sea and disappeared.

This was probably the act of Israel - Israelis have conducted such attacks in the past in Sudan. The Israelis have even taken out weapon convoys en route.

Of course it is not clear that Israel did it this. They have not commented on the attack and they never will. But Israel had no comment on the other attacks either.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Iran & Israel Cooperate in Japan

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
Yesterday the most amazing thing happened in Japan.

Israelis and Iranians were handing out aid - together.
This is the first time in the recent past that Iranians were able to work together with Israelis in any effort. Even international sporting events have been scuttled because the Iranians refused to even engage in athletics alongside Israelis.
The post tsunami situation in Japan is no place to engage in sectarian violence and everyone is showing restraint due to the enormity and gravity of the situation.
This is a very big story and the Iranians will be embarrassed by it.

When the story goes viral or when the Iranians realize that it has become public knowledge the Iranians will put the brakes on this cooperative effort.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Iraqi PM Says Attacks Unfair

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki was extremely critical of the

West's attacks on Libya and on Ghadaffi.
Maliki said that the intervention against Ghadaffi was totally out of proportion and that there are other places that are far worse than Libya. Maliki was saying that the international forces selectively chose Libya, while ignoring other leaders who abused peaceful protesters.
The back story here is that Maliki is a Shiite.
Maliki was referring to Bahrain where the Shiites are being persecuted by the Sunnis and the Saudis are aiding the Bahraini royal family while all the while the protesters are being persecuted.
Politics, religion and personal agenda all merge into one in the Middle East.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goldstone's Recant

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Richard Goldstone's recant in the Washington Post was "too little too late."
The damage perpetrated by his investigation, report, finding and the suggestions of Israel's human right abuses and crimes against humanity were so devastating that a mere mea culpa could never clean the slate or un-ring the bell.
In his opening paragraph Goldstone writes that "had he known then what he knows now" it would have been a very different report. Well.
Why didn't he know? I certainly did.
The original Goldstone Report will stand and it will continue to be used by anti-Israel activists and parties. His recant is not part of UN protocols, it was merely a public display in the Washington Post.

Even if a Goldstone apology makes it to the front pages of major newspapers around the world it will never counter the damage that was done over the weeks of front page coverage given the Report - coverage that included fabricated myths and stories of Israel directly targeting civilians.
I admire Goldstone's desire to come clean and finally tell the truth. Perhaps now he can sleep better at night, perhaps he is looking to re-write his own obituary, but the damage done to Israel by the Goldstone Report can never be repaired.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Proposed Cease Fire in Libya

By Micah Halpern

I'm Predicting:
The opposition in Libya, led by Moustafa Abdul Jalil, asked for a cease fire. They want to stop the fighting - under several conditions.

# 1: the United Nations monitors and controls the cease fire.

# 2: Ghadaffi draws from contested cities

# 3: protests and rallies are permitted
Ghadaffi will never accept these terms, for numerous reasons.

The most significant reason is that Ghadaffi will see this attempt at a cease fire as a sign of weakness by the opposition. He will interpret this gesture at reconciliation as a signal to wipe out or crush or symbolically destroy all those who confronted him.
We will start to see more aggressive moves by Ghadaffi - and that will threaten the coalition. The coalition and the UN Security Council will have to make a decision about what to do after Ghadaffi escalates.
This just may be a final turning of the tide for Libya, circa 2011.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Defections from Libya

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Much has been said about the defection of Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa. He is in an undisclosed safe house in London.
Some analysts are saying that this is a huge blow to Ghadaffi, others are saying that many more senior advisors and aides have defected.

Koussa was an appointee. Yes, he has some important intel but he ran in order to save his own skin. He left Libya while he was still able to leave and he was brought to London in order to trade his information. Koussa was Ghadaffi's intelligence chief for over two decades. He is responsible for numerous terror attacks against the West.
As for the reports of other defections ... Al Jazeera reported that many other close aides defected - but one of those who men who was reported to have defected is saying that he has not defected. The chairman of Libya's national oil corporation is saying here I am, I haven't gone anywhere.
This goes to a central question of reliable information coming out of Libya. Almost no info can be confirmed independently. No one knows what is really happening in Libya.
And then the Vatican came out yesterday with the claim that in Tripoli 40 civilians were killed in the air raids conducted by the West.
This cannot be confirmed either.
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