Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PA's New Plan For Statehood

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
The Palestinians are still going to try for UN recognition at the General Assembly. The new session begins on September 15.
But there is a new twist to their plan. The Palestinians have changed their strategy and now they want to embarrass the United States. They want to go to the Security Council and make certain that the US will use its veto.
Afterwards, the Palestinians will go to the General Assembly and ask for recognition without the Security Council. That recognition will have no legal authority, but it will be very well received.
The PA will have accomplished two goals. Their first success will be embarrassing the United States. The second will be achieving their political ends in the General Assembly where the vast majority of the member states will support the declaration.
As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in his cabinet briefing: The General Assembly could declare that the world is flat and there is nothing that we can do about it.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Spech V Speech

By Micah Halpern
Column
Barack Obama has made over nine hundred public presentations and speeches since assuming office. Every one of them has received media coverage. Obamacare aside, few have received the coverage given to his two most recent talks about the Middle East.
In the first of these speeches, a policy speech presented to the American public-at-large, the president spoke of Israelis and Palestinians returning to the borders of 1967 and thereby achieving a peaceful status quo. In the second speech, publicized yet delivered before the select group called AIPAC - the American Israel Public Action Committee, the president eloquently said that's not really what I meant. In plain English, the president flip-flopped.
The president of the United States is not supposed to flip-flop. He is supposed to gather information, weigh options and say what he means. The American people and the world need to be able to trust the president's instincts and rely on his decision making skills.
Officially, according to the administration, the first speech was a policy speech. The redefined speech before AIPAC was not. So why try to change what was said to the public when speaking to the Jewish group?
Because the Jewish world was livid with the president's original remarks and when the Jewish world is livid, their political contributions dry up.
When Obama referred to the '67 borders he spoke with the full understanding that the topic was a lightening rod for supporters of Israel - especially on Capitol Hill and especially within his Democratic donor base.
What he should have known is that while the '67 borders might be the foundation of the discussion about peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the desire of those requesting Palestinian statehood, those borders would ultimately be the end result of the negotiations and the ideal conclusion for the Palestinian side, not the starting point of negotiations. And even though the president did make mention of agreed upon land swaps, Jewish leaders were very upset by his choice to include the borders in public pronouncement and policy statements.
The conservative estimate is that Jewish contributions to the presidential election campaign fill one-third of the Democratic coffers. Other estimates put that number at fifty percent. Then there are Congressional donation dollars. That's a lot of money from a small minority of voters.

In 2008, Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote. But that's not what put him over the top. Almost one hundred percent of Jews come out to vote. And that still amounts to only about 2.2% of the population and 2.5% of the vote. Jewish contributions to the Democrats and to the presidential election campaign far exceed their numbers. That's what makes the difference. That's why this president and every other has courted Jewish voters.

In this era of soft money it is very hard to determine the exact figures, but the implication is very clear. Even a ten percent drop in satisfaction by the American Jewish community can result in a huge loss to the democrats. And fairly or not, everyone knows that the chances of winning an election are often based on the amount of money in the campaign fund.

Those running for election in November of 2012 have to find their money, too. And the Jewish donors who were outraged by the president's first speech and unsatisfied by his second speech, are going to ask 'where were you when the president was making statements about 67 borders?" Congress has to decide whether to follow the president or withhold funds to the newly minted unity government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

It is the pragmatic element that upsets Jewish donors more than any other single dimension of the president's policy as articulated in his speech. To urge Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority that has just partnered with Hamas, a terrorist group bent on Israel's destruction, suggests that deep under this president the White House does not fully understand the meaning of peace process.

The 1967 border between Israel and the Palestinians truly is indefensible. At its thinnest point it is only about seven miles across to the Mediterranean Sea. The late statesman Abba Eban, who served as Israel's foreign minister during the Six Day War, dubbed the pre-1967 border 'The Auschwitz Border.'

For Obama, it's about dollars. For Israel and the Jewish world, it's about security and defense. For everyone, it's about survival.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cracks in Iran's Leadership

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been grabbing even more power. And the Grand Ayatollah, also known as the Supreme Leader, is not happy.
The Supreme Leader has been sending Ahmadinejad both private and public messages expressing his displeasure. And Ahmadinejad has continued to ignore the Grand Ayatollah firing ministers and taking over their portfolios.
Most recently Ahmadinejad fired the oil minister and took over his responsibilities.
Why is this critical? It shows a blatant disrespect for the Supreme Leader. Last month there was a face off when Ahmadinejad fired the powerful minister of intelligence. When the Supreme Leader reappointed him immediately Ahmadinejad chose to boycott his own cabinet meetings. That situation was resolved only when Ahmadinejad capitulated.
These internal tensions show the cracks in the Iranian system. They prove that the Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad hold very different views on issues of power, control and world affairs.
The Supreme Leader is showing a lack of faith in Ahmadinejad. In Iran, the final word on all issues, including politics, belongs to the Grand Ayatollah.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Russia Defends Libya @ G-8

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The Group of Eight, aka the G-8, is meeting in Norway. G-8 is an organization composed of the 8 most economically advanced nations in the world.
G-8 member nation Russia has expressed serious doubts about how Libya is being handled. The Russians have said that after two months they still see no progress and that the airstrikes are counterproductive.
They say that the tactics used by NATO are really just a way of siding with the opposition against Ghadaffi.
President Sarkozy of France countered by explaining that Ghadaffi must leave and that getting him to leave is a principle of the operation.
Russia is expressing a growing discontent with the NATO operation in Libya, the operation which began as a no fly zone. Russia has actually invited Ghadaffi advisers to Moscow and briefed them on how to progress in their defense against the Nato attacks.
I will not be surprised if Russia brings this issue before the Security Council to investigate the status of the Libya operation and to find out whether the Nato air strikes are outside the bounds of the resolution.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Islamic Brotherhood Embraces Dictatorship

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The Muslim Brotherhood will boycott the massive rally being organized in Cairo where the plan is to once again take over Tahrir Square, rally for reform and push for democratic change.
The organizers are students and they are finally integrating democracy into their message. They realize now that the current regime is plain and simply a military dictatorship.
So why is Islamic Brotherhood boycotting the rally?

Because The Brotherhood prefers the dictatorships over democracy.
The Islamic Brotherhood knows that they have a chance to flourish under the new dictatorship. They know that under a democracy their entire world view is threatened. They hope that the dictatorship will continue and they plan to pressure the dictatorship into allowing them to pursue their continued public activities.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Iran & Egypt Reach Out

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The foreign ministers of Iran and Egypt met yesterday to begin thawing out their frozen diplomatic relations.
For the past 30 years Egypt and Iran have had no diplomatic interaction. Relations broke off after Anwar Sadat was assassinated by a Muslim extremist.
Iran immediately named a public square after the assassin. At that point the Egyptians broke off all diplomatic relations. Iran continued to show their true colors by celebrating the death of the iconic Egyptian leader and lauding his assassin.
Now the new Egypt is reaching out to the Persians.
It does not appear that the thaw will be instantaneous. It will be a slow, gradual process. Iran and Egypt are not exchanging ambassadors quite yet, but that will happen with time.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Response to Bibi Speech

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's 50 minute speech to the joint Houses of Congress was a great success. Even the White House was "content" with the speech.
It is interesting knowing who was not OK with the speech, who was upset.
Hamas was upset. After the speech Hamas announced that the PA should rip up all their agreements with Israel.
Spokespeople for the PA were very upset. They said that they have no partner for peace. They said that Netanyahu misrepresenting reality. They said that the Israeli prime minister declared a slew of preconditions for negotiations.
Let's talk about the Palestinian idea of "reality." Over the past week it has become clear that the Palestinians do not want to negotiate. They want to skip to the end and get the final prize not only without negotiations but also without giving anything to the Israeli and without re-educating their people about peace.
That simply cannot be done. Peace with Israel requires all of these things. It may take some time until the PA grasps that reality.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Documents Show Bin Laden Figurehead

Tuesday May 24, 2011

I've Been Thinking:

Here's a news flash: the trove of documents found in the bin Laden compound, the chache of material tying bin Laden to current terrorist operations - came up empty. Nada. Gornisht. Nothing in it. Nothing to it.
The White House tried to create mystique around bin Laden. They said the material was filled with links to his operational invovlement, they said that his grasp extended throughout the al Qaeda terrorist web.

That tale ran contrary to everything we know about bin Laden over these past few years - even before 9-11.

Osama bin Laden was a figure head, Osama bin Laden was not an operational leader.

That does not diminish the impact of his death, it just puts it into perspective. Bin Laden is dead, that is good. But terror and terrorists and terror networks live on.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Monday, May 23, 2011

US & The Middle East

By Micah Halpern
Column:
The United States simply does not understand the Middle East. It doesn't make a difference who holds the reins of power - the past few administrations have not understood the Middle East and neither does this administration. From the president to the West Wing, from the State Department to ambassadors on the ground -- the Middle East remains elusive and misunderstood.

As a result, US foreign policy in the Middle East has, for decades, been an abysmal failure. America's leaders have come up with one catch-all solution for almost every problem in the Middle East. Riots and uprisings - throw money. Tensions and terrorist attacks - throw money. Poverty and poor schooling and an undeveloped economy - throw money. Everyone in the Middle East wants and accepts US dollars, but no one wants to be the "front" to advance US interests.
So the United States throws out more and more money with little expectation of return on their dollar.
Meetings are arranged, leaders gather, agendas are set, requests are made Ă¢€“ and Middle East leaders shake their heads in agreement and smile through photo ops and then return home with filled coffers and unfulfilled commitments. And the United States, rather than castigating these countries, calls for another round of meetings and offers more money.
Money is leverage - or it could be if the United States chose to use it as such. The United States wants to bring about change in the Middle East but is fearful of using their clout to make demands on the monarchs and rulers and leaders of countries with belief systems vastly different from Western belief systems, thought and practice. Instead, the United States backs away from making real demands on Middle East countries and from following through on agreed upon commitments.
From all Middle East countries, that is, except Israel. When it comes to Israel, the only Western country in the Middle East, the United States exerts leverage and exacts promises. With Israel and no other.
From the point of view of the United States, Israel has the most to give and the least to lose. While Egypt and Pakistan and every other country in the region feel free to disregard not only requests put to them by the United States but also the commitments they have made to the United States, Israel is held responsible for every handshake and every nuanced nod of the head. Unlike her neighbors and her enemies, Israel receives from the United States and Israel gives in return.
Mahmoud Abbas - chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and president of the Palestinian Authority, the political head of the newly declared national unity government between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority - knows exactly where the United States stands on the issue of Hamas. And yet, Abbas forged ahead creating a formal, political and military alliance with Hamas with the expectation of continued revenues and financial aid from the United States. Abbas has no doubt that after only minimal and pro forma hesitation, the United States will continue to funnel through regular cash infusions.
The Palestinians cannot conceive of a situation where the United States will not support the Palestinians cause. And they may be correct. Unless Congress refuses to allow monies to go to the Palestinians as long as they remain united with Hamas, the money will come.
There is a hope that Congress will stop sending funds to the new Palestinian unity government, but the White House is doing its best to counter the argument. Congress understands better than anyone in Washington just how dangerous a nexus with Hamas can be. But Congress is also stuck in the mire of DC decision making. They understand the tradeoff - they know that change in the Middle East requires US aid and that change in the Middle East includes peace between Palestinian and Israelis and that peace is predicated on continued aid from the United States to a group partnered with Hamas.
The White House is propelled by politics. They set goals and go about accomplishing them. Congress concentrates on history and law. It is Congress that, in a similar situation, passed the law making transfers of US aid to Hamas illegal. It will take a lot of fancy foot work and arm twisting to change that point of view - even for the Palestinians.

The United States will make concessions, but sending money to an acknowledged terrorist organization is wrong. Even if sanctioned by the president it is morally, ethically and politically wrong - and it is illegal.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jewish Contributions to Obama

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
These are pivotal weeks for the President of the United States. The Middle East speech delivered by Obama on Thursday in which he called for a return to the '67 borders hit the American Jewish community like a tsunami.
There was nothing gained by the comments. A lot was lost. Including that one line about borders in his speech will cost the president in terms of support for his re-election bid.
The Jewish community does not have a voting voice strong enough to swing an election or topple an incumbent president , they amount to a tiny percentage of the vote, but their contribution to the campaign - especially in soft money, is enormous.
The numbers are staggering and hard to accurately count or confirm, but it is safe to say that at least 30% of the Democratic money comes from the Jewish community. The International Herald Tribune and the American Council for Judaism put the Jewish contributions to the Democrats at the 60% level.
A loss of even 10% of those donors is a huge hit for the president.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Not What but How

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
I re-read the new Obama foreign policy speech six times.

I was hoping that I missed some nuance or some detail ... I did not.
The problem with the speech is not what was said but that it was said.
Everything in the speech was known. The administration wants the framework of the Palestinian state to be based on the '67 borders. Land swaps would enable settlement blocks to remain in place.

The problem with the speech is that the president knew that it would be a public embarrassment for Israel.
The reaction from Netanyahu was predictable. Why create tensions?
The president of the United States must know that Israel is willing to give, but the White House has not yet even figured out how to handle the PA/Hamas unity government. How can Obama ask Israel to make concession when the PA is leaning further away from cooperative agreements by power sharing with Hamas?
The situation has not been advanced by this speech. To the contrary.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama Speech Re-Run

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
There was nothing really new in Obama's speech on the Middle East. What was touted as a major policy speech that would shape the region and cause people to rethink their conceptions of the Middle East was a simple re-run.
The president said nothing new. He blamed both Israel and the Palestinians and took Hamas to task for not recognizing Israel.
About the current stalemate he said to Israel: you are continuing with your settlement policy and that policy cannot continue if you want to pursue peace.
And to the Palestinians he said: you walked away from the table and isolating Israel in the United Nations or elsewhere will not create a Palestinian state.
As expected, Obama asserted that now more than ever is the time to come to an agreement.
The biggest problem with this so-called new policy speech is not what was said, it is that it was all a repeat of things that have already been said. Anyone who expected anything else from this speech does not understand this president. This is the speech that should have been expected, composed and delivered by a president who definitely does not understand the Middle East.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Iran & Kuwait Renew Relations

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Iran and Kuwait have exchanged ambassadors - again.

The exchange happened yesterday, closing a long and tense diplomatic chapter.
The unraveling of diplomatic relations began several years ago when Kuwait accused Iranian diplomats of spying. In April of this year, they expelled three diplomats. In response, Iran expelled three Kuwaiti diplomats.
And then both countries withdrew their ambassadors.
Now, a month later, diplomatic relations are renewed. Kuwait's press statements called Iran one of the best neighbors in the region.
This breakup and quick reconciliation is typical of the Middle East. Quick diplomatic rage subsides and everything returns to normal ... or at least to what appears to be normal.
Kuwait does not trust Iran on any level - especially on the diplomatic level. Iran does not like Kuwait one bit and neither country intends to forget their differences. But in public, they will both play nice.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mubarak to Make a Plea on TV

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
The Egyptian daily newspaper al Shorouk reported yesterday that former leader Hosni Mubarak is going to make a taped public apology which will air on Egyptian TV.
According to the report Mubarak will ask the Egyptian people to remember that he was a soldier who fought for Egypt and who defended Egypt. He will say that many of the mistakes he made were due to poor information.
Mubarak will ask for amnesty for himself, his wife and his two sons.

Mubarak is playing for popular support from the all important Egyptian street. Without that support the prosecution will have to move ahead and prosecute the whole family.

As of now it seems that popular opinion is sympathetic towards Mubarak and his wife Suzanne. Mubarak is 83 years old and many Egyptians believe that Mr. & Mrs. Mubarak should not be prosecuted if for no other reason than their age. It also seems clear that the street does not share the same symapthy for the two sons of the former dictator.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Iran Send Flotilla to Bahrain

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Iran launched a flotilla yesterday. Two ships and 120 people are headed for Bahrain.
The purpose of this flotilla is to lend support to Bahrain, the predominately Shiite island nation which is controlled by Sunnis.
Iran is trying to alter the facts on the ground in Bahrain.

Iran wants to empower the 80% Shiite population of Bahrain to continue their revolt against the 20% minority Sunni leadership.
Iran says of course they need to send a flotilla to Bahrain. They say the Saudis brought soldiers to support and prop up the leadership of Bahrain to make certain that the Sunnis stay in power.
Iran is on a mission to save Bahrain - and to sway the masses to continue a revolution that they both support and sponsor.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Hamas Doubts Palestinian State

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday one of the senior leaders of Hamas in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, predicted that the Palestinian state will not be declared in September.

Al Zahar expressed skepticism about the entire process, asking very practical questions about borders and refugees. In general, he concluded that those backing the proposal and supporting the proposal are simply placating the Palestinians.

One of the biggest issues for Hamas is who will lead the Palestinians. Declaring a Palestinian state is the pet project of Palestinian Authority PM Salam Fayad. But Hamas will never tolerate having Fayad remain as prime minister. So they are hammering away at the entire proposal.

The official PA media outlet, MANA, reported that Abbas will be both President and prime minister and that he will have two deputy prime ministers - Fayad from Fatah and Ismail Haniyah from Hamas.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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PA Assurances?

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The Prime Minister's Office of the Palestinian Authority announced that Israel will be transferring the tax money that had been held up ever since the unity agreement between Hamas and the PA was announced.
Originally the Israelis had said that they cannot pass money to a Hamas government, even if the money actually rightly belongs to them, if the money was going to go to be used for attacks against Israel. How could they?
The PA assured Israel that the money would not be used to attack Israel. They had received assurances, they said. What assurances? The PA has been incapable of reigning in Hamas since elections of 2006 when Hamas won the popular vote.

The problem is not just the direct use of money it is sponsoring an agency or a group that supports terror and that is now their partner.
Given the new agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority it is hard to believe that Hamas will toe the line. It is hard to believe that the PA will be able to divorce itself from Hamas actions and activities.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Revenge for Bin Laden Begins

Micah Halpern

Sunday May 15, 2011

I’ve Been Thinking:

Revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden has begun.

On Friday Pakistani Taliban perpetrated a suicide attack at a paramilitary target in Pakiestan killing 80 people and wounding hundreds.

"It's the first revenge for the martyrdom of ... bin Laden. There will be more," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said by telephone.

Taliban will attempt to continue to try to unleash massive attacks to prove their superiority and to frighten locals into submission and silence. They want to make certain that locals do not to cooperate with authorities and do not collaborate with the United States.

The Taliban who perpetrated this terrorist attack were only loosely connected to bin Laden but they affiliated seriously with his ideas and goals. Most importantly, they realized and understood that their fates were shared with his.

If bin Laden was safe they were safe. Clearly, the Taliban are doing whatever they can to make certain that the tide does not shift against them.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Interrogating Mrs Mubarak

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt has been interrogating Suzanne Mubarak, wife of ousted tyrant and ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

Suzanne is now hospitalized having suffered a heart attack.

Interrogators began speaking to her in the family home in Sharm el Sheik. She was then brought to Cairo where the interrogation continued. Then they decided to put her in prison for 16 days and continue the interrogation from there. That is when and where Mrs. Mubarak suffered her heart attack.

Egyptian interrogators are hoping to find out how much money was embezzled and when and where it was placed. The big question is what, if anything, she knows.

If interrogators press too hard they might actually kill both Mubarak and his wife. Then Egypt will be burying the secrets along with the bodies.

And this may be where they are right now.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Egypt Arrests Woman

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Abeer Fakhry is a Christian woman living in Egypt. Yesterday, Abeer Fakhry was arrested by the Egyptian military prosecutor .

What were her crimes? Why was she arrested?

The Egyptian army prosecutor arrested Fakhry for being the cause of all Christian/Muslim tensions in Egypt. This woman is the reason Christians are being slaughtered in Egypt. Or so he says.

Fakhry is the Christian woman who, supposedly, converted to Islam and was then, supposedly, kidnapped by the Christian Church and brainwashed back to Christianity.

The prosecutor is investigating the case.

Imagine: A country's military prosecutor actually asking someone what their religion is and toward which culture they genuflect.

Imagine: Egypt's Muslims can tolerate someone converting to Islam, but not converting out of Islam.

Abeer Fakhry never converted from Christianity to Islam and she never had to convert back.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Iran is Faking History

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is fabricating history. Iran is promoting the theory that the United States is using bin LadenĂ¢€™s death as a tool to raise their profile in the world of international diplomacy.

Iranian intellingence minister Heyder Moslehi announced that Iranian intelligence sources have confirmed that Osama bin Laden had been dead for years before the United States claims to have killed him in Pakistan. Moslehi asks why the White House would lie and why they buried bin Laden at sea.

The minister, so he says, has a file that confirms bin Laden's death years ago. This news from Iran will support the crackpots, conspiratorialists and even home grown American crazies.

The Iranians are feeding the world disinformation - and there is no shortage of people willing to eat it all up.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Syria Turns Up the Heat

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday the Syrian army and police went on house-to-house and door-to-door searches arresting people they claim to be leaders of the anti-government protests.

Hundreds of people all across Syria were arrested. The operation was particularly intense in the four cities which have been most active in anti-government demonstrations: Homs, Banias, Deraa and Damascus.

This new attack carried out by Bashar Assad and his henchmen is designed to accomplish several goals. They intend to get the leadership off the streets and away from their cell phones and computers. And they want to frighten anyone who might think of stepping into the newly vacated shoes of leadership.

It will take a few days to know how effective the action was and to know if Syria will continue with this policy of mass arrests.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Bahrain to Lift Emergency Law

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Bahrain announced yesterday that they will be lifting their state of emergency as of June 1.

Technically, that means that the highly restrictive rules preventing protests and enabling the army and police to arrest anyone for almost anything will be lifted.

What it really means is that the leadership of Bahrain, together with the leadership of Saudi Arabia, feel that the entire internal crisis will be calmed in the next 3 weeks.

The Saudis are the real power behind the Bahraini royal family. The tensions are actually sectarian. Sunni versus Shiite.

This tension between Sunnis and Shiites is centuries old. In today's world that tension pins the Saudis against the Iranians.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mass Murder of Christians in Egypt

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

More than 10 Christian were murdered in Egypt. 2 churches were burned in Cairo. That's just yesterday and today's count.

Muslim rioters attack Christians and the world remains silent. More Christians have died in Egypt these past few days than people in Syria or in Libya during the protests and riots. But the world is silent.

Muslims in Egypt are on the warpath - on the religious warpath.  This round of Christian murders began with a rumor that Christians kidnapped a Christian woman who had married a Muslim man. According to the rumor, the woman was being held in one of the churches where the Christians were brainwashing her back to Christianity.

Egyptian Muslims set out to find this woman and along the way, they murdered Christians and burnt Christian property including churches.

The rumors were not true. There was no such woman and no such kidnapping. But there are two burned churches and over ten murdered Christians.

Since Christmas the murder of Christians has become a near daily event in Egypt. I do not see an ending to these hate crimes.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Natural Gas Wars

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Arab media is hopping and bopping with a story about Qatar supplying Israel with below market price for natural gas. As much natural gas as Israel desires.

This media coverage is very important for Israel. Egypt has been threatening to abrogate their peace treaty and the Egyptians have already said that they will be doubling the cost of natural gas going to Israel.

Since the beginning of the revolutions in the Arab world, aka the Arab Spring, Israel has begun to draw down its dependency on Egyptian gas. What started with 40% dependency is now close to only 25% and would drop totally if this story with Qatar is true. After all, Qatar holds 15% of the world's natural gas supply and talks have been ongoing between Qatar and Israel on this very subject.

This might just be spin and the story may not prove true at all. Or it may be pay back by the many countries interested in leaking a false story in order to get even with Qatar.

Qatar owns al Jazeera. And al Jazeera has been fomenting the Arab Spring. What better way to hit Qatar than by casting them as friends of Israel.

We will wait and watch closely.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com
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Friday, May 6, 2011

The New Egypt

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday an Egyptian court sentenced al Adli, former Egyptian Minister of the Interior, to twelve years in prison.

He was found guilty on several corruption charges.

Adi was one of the most feared and despised people under Mubarak. The Minister of the Interior is in charge of the police and it was the police that were so hated during the revolution of January and February.

This case sheds important light on the new Egypt. The new leadership wants to put significant distance between itself and the past government. They are implementing a crackdown on corruption and they are punishing the old guard for past mistrust and misuse of power.

The problem is that the new guard is also left over from the old - and the division between the two will get very blurry if they prosecute more than just a handful of people.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Problems with PA Unity

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas signed a unity agreement with Fatah yesterday. That pact is a potential game changer for the entire region.

Things did not go easy. The signing was put off while the fighting took place.

First Abbas refused to have Khalled Mashal of Hamas sit next to him.

And Mashal originally thought that he was hosting and delivering the main speech. So Abbas made it clear that he was the one who would be explaining the deal and giving the long speech.

And finally there was a major dispute about whether Abbas was simply the head of Fatah or, as he wanted to be referred to, the President of the Palestinians. The conflicts were resolved.

Abbas won on every point. But it all goes to the essential point - this unity will not last for long.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Will The US Fund Hamas

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
US Secretary of State of Hillary Clinton told Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu that the United States will not suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority even if the unity government between them and Hamas goes through. That's right - will not suspend aid.
If Clinton is true to her word, it would be a major shift in US policy. Continuing to send aid to the Palestinians after the establishment of a unity agreement would mean that the US would be funding a terrorist group, Hamas.
It would be a breach of policy and it would be against US law. The law is very clear that terror groups and affiliates cannot receive funds.
Unity with Hamas is precisely why the first Palestinian unity government, after the first and only Palestinian election, lost its United States funding and other Western funding. No Western government can justify giving funds to any government connected to Hamas.
Congress will go ballistic if the White House continues to give aid to the Palestinians.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Who is Supporting Bin Laden

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
We have to evaluate responses to the US action against Osama bin Laden. Those who are upset with the United States need to be identified and their motives must be exposed.
There have been three significant voices speaking out against the killing of bin Laden. The most vociferous belongs to Hamas, next comes a very significant group of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and finally, Iran.
All three groups claim that the US overstepped its role and violated international law. They describe the action as a premeditated cold blooded murder. They call the attack on bin Laden an attack on all believing Muslims.
For Hamas and Islamists in East Jerusalem, this logic makes sense. Bin Laden was their hero. Bin Laden challenged the US and the West. Bin Laden fought for the Muslim cause.
But Iran was a target of bin Laden. Iran and Osama bin Laden were sworn enemies. Why is Iran upset by the demise of Osama bin Laden? Because the Machiavelli dictum is correct, because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
Like Osama bin Laden, Iran, Hamas and other Islamists are united in their hatred of the United States and the West. What unites them is stronger than what separates them.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Ahmadinejad Buckles Under Pressure

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Ahmadinejad has caved in to pressure from Iran's Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.
Last week Ahmadinejad boycotted two of his own cabinet meetings.
Yesterday, he capitulated. The history leading up to the conflict between Iran's # 1 and # 2 most powerful men was clear and the resolution was predictable.
Two weeks ago Ahmadinejad fired his Minister of Intelligence from an extremely powerful and integral position in the power structure of Iran today. Almost immediately afterward, The Supreme Leader reappointed him. In order to challenge the Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad refused to attend his own government planning meetings because the old/new intel chief was going to be there.
There is no way that Ahmadinejad was going to win this conflict. The Supreme Leader is in charge of political activity in Iran.
According to Iranian law Khamenei, The Supreme Leader, has the final say - in everything.
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Egypt to Try Mubarak

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
The Egyptian Weekly al-Ahram reported that Hosni Mubarak faces either execution or life imprisonment.
The new Egyptian Minister of Justice, Mohammed al - Gindi, was quoted as saying that if convicted of embezzlement and complicity to murder, as well as corruption, the former leader of Egypt could be executed.
From the substance of the interview as well as its tone, it seems clear that the current Egyptian leadership blames Mubarak for decades of corruption.
It Egyptian leadership determines that Mubarak ordered the police or the army to fire on protesters there is no doubt that Egypt's once great leader will be convicted and he will be sentenced.
The question begging to be asked is this: Will Mubarak be tried in a court of justice or has the outcome already been determined?
Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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