Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rouhani Does Not Want the Vote

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
As I wrote several days ago, Iranian leadership had decided to mimic the US and have a parliamentary debate and vote on the famous Nuclear Deal.

But the other day, President Hassan Rouhani announced that he opposes the vote. The Iranian president told a news conference that the agreement is not a treaty and does not need either a vote or a debate.

Rouhani said that it was an understanding between the parties. If it is voted upon in parliament, he said, that would mean that the agreement would have legal obligations in Iran and that would not be advantageous.

In other words - there would be internal legal issues if the Iranians violated the agreement.

Rouhani said that the deal says that Iran is not obligated by the agreement. He says that the deal very clearly states that Iran will implement the terms of the agreement voluntarily. If, on the other hand, it is voted upon by parliament it is no longer voluntary and instead becomes becomes legally binding in Iran and that is not to their benefit.

Democracy versus realpolitik. 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Swiss Ambassador Calls Iran "Pole of Stability"

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The Swiss ambassador to Iran addressed 500 Swiss business people and called on them to run back to Teheran and invest.

Ambassador Guilio Haas said that Iran was "a pole of stability" in the Middle East and now that the sanctions are over it is a perfect and safe place to invest. Haas urged those listening to his message to take advantage of a lucrative market that has been closed for years.

Haas was not just referring to the oil markets. He was referring to the entire Iranian market. And he was urging the heads of business to invest in Iran.

"Iran seems still for a lot of people to be bearded, elderly gentlemen with turbans. You see them, but you see not a lot of them, especially when you're dealing with business," Haas said.

This is the new modus operandi across Europe. European investors are excited about the possibilities that will emerge out of Iran. 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Iran Invites Israeli Conductor

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran is a society that loves culture, especially music.

So it was not a surprise for me to learn that Iran has been working out details so that the Berlin State Opera Orchestra can come to visit Teheran, Iran.

The Iranians love great music. And this is one of the greatest orchestras in the world. The only hitch is that the musical director/conductor is an Israeli named Daniel Barenbiom.

The word is that the orchestra will accompany Angela Merkel when she visits Teheran on an official visit -- the plans for that are also in the works.

The ministry of culture in Iran has confirmed that details are being worked out but would not comment on whether Barenboim will have a problem getting a visa. Barenboim has also conducted a Palestinian youth orchestra in Ramallah amidst protestors there. The original plan was to have a joint Israeli - Palestinian youth band but that failed.

Iran will probably make an exception for Barenboim. 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Saudi King To Visit DC

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It is not yet official, but it looks like King Salman, the new king of Saudi Arabia, will visit Washington DC on September 5th and 6th.

This will be his first trip to the United States as king. Salman ascended to the throne in January after the death of King Abdullah.

New heads of state usually rush to DC to meet the president of the United States. But Salman waited, he wanted to play it cool. He wanted to make his own evaluations of the players in Washington. And most importantly, he wanted everyone - especially the United States to know that he was not Abdullah, that he was his own man.

The word is also out that Salman will visit Egypt on his way back from the United States to Saudi Arabia. This, too, is important because the relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia has become strained of late, especially over the tension between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza. Saudi Arabia sides with the Muslim Brotherhood.

He is an interesting character this King Salman of Saudi Arabia. He bears watching. 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

BDS - A Chance to Beat Them

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The BDS (Boycott Divest & Sanction Israel) movement has taken off like wildfire in the United States and in Europe.

Lovers of Israel are stymied by the attraction and magnetism that the movement has generated. They are asking why is it that so many young people and critical thinkers are running to embrace a movement that condemns Israel and blames nearly all the problems of the world - certainly all the problems in the Middle East, on Israel's occupation of the Palestinians.

For the longest time I feared that the battle was lost. I feared that there was no possible chance of convincing BDS supporters that they were wrong. Pointing out that the facts did not support their movement was fruitless. Like Hamas and ISIS, BDS supporters held strong to their point of view and did not let facts get in the way of their beliefs. Quite simply, they hated Israel and that in their eyes the world would be vastly improved without Israel.

But recently, after the debacle in Spain during which world famous and obviously Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu refused to sign a declaration supporting a Palestinian state and was then removed not permitted to perform in a festival, I saw a glimmer of hope.

People, not lovers of Israel at all, just plain people and the publications that supported the BDS movement suddenly realized that the movement was not about mutually resolving an issue - but rather, it was about destroying Israel to make room for the Palestinians.

The government of Spain apologized for the embarrassing incident. They publicly and personally said that what happened was wrong and anti Semitic - and they re-invited Matisyahu to perform. National and local papers said more or less the same thing - that they support a Palestinians state but they do not support anti Semitism.

I am wary, yet hopeful that many followers of BDS fit into this category. I hope that they have seen the true hateful colors of the BDS movement. That BDS supporters now realize that rational people can disagree with Israel and support Palestinian statehood without advocating the destruction of Israel.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Iran's New Missile

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Iran has just unveiled their newest missile, it is called the Fateh 313.

I watched the videos of their celebration and the test launching complete with all the hype and all the propaganda one would expect at such an auspicious occasion.

The missile seems very effective. It has a range of 500 kilometers, which is 310 miles, and the claim is that it has pinpoint accuracy.

The celebration, the display, the announcement and all the accompanying bravado is essential to the Iranian strategy.

Despite the nuke deal, Iran is moving ahead on missile production. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that "We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that."

It might surprise you to know that weapons production is not in violation of The Deal signed between Iran and the P5 +1- - - but Iranian action and the building of these missiles is definitely in violation of countless other UN Security Council resolutions.

Another example of the game Iran is playing, and playing so very well. 

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Britain Opens Embassy in Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Things are looking good if you're an Iranian leader.
Change is happening vis a vis Iran and the rest of the world - especially the Western world.

Great Britain just reopened their embassy in Teheran, Iran. It was opened in a joyous, hopeful, optimistic, ceremony. The flag was raised by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Hammond is the first British foreign secretary to visit Iran since 2003. The British embassy has been shuttered closed since protesters stormed it in 2011.

Hammond's presence at the opening is no small gesture. It symbolizes a drastic and major move to advance diplomatic re-positioning where Iran is becoming a player.

This is a theme I have continuously repeated. Iran is more interested in high level, world power, diplomatic stature than they are over any nuclear technology. They want it because it improves world influence and impact as well as economic strength and power.

Europe is mistakenly unfurling and raising the Union Jack without first seeing if Iran is really complying with the agreements they are so readily signing.

In an unrelated item, also effecting the British: A new video of Jihadi John, ISIS' famous be-header was just posted to the internet. In it he says-- "I will go back to Britain... and will carry on cutting heads off".

Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihad John, is 26 years old and he is one of the world's most wanted men. The United States has put out a $10 million reward for his capture. 

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Friday, August 21, 2015

IDF Strikes Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

As I predicted last week, Israel's northern border with Syria has become very hot and rocket upon rocket has been launched into

Israel. In retaliation, Israel has launched air strikes into Syria.

Israel hit six target sites. Each site had multiple targets within it. Israel hit Hezbollah sites and al
Nusra sites as well as Syrian military bases.

The objective of Israel's air attack was to issue a warning to all the forces in Syria - including Iran - to not deliberately launch rocket attacks against them. It was clear that the night before the Israeli retaliation, rockets direct from Syria were aimed at and shot into Israel.

An IDF senior officer was quoted saying: "We hold the Syrian state responsible." "We attacked with tanks, artillery, and one target from the air... We attacked several kilometers into Syria, five or six sites with multiple targets within each site. Our attacks are much more severe this time around, in order to send a message and underscore the severity of this incident."

I predict that Iran will test the waters yet again and that Hezbollah and Syrian forces will again launch their rockets into Israel and Israel will, again, strike back. Only next time Israel will strike back more fiercely, wiping out even more of the military infrastructure.

Iran is testing Israel. Iran wants to see what kind of defenses Israel has in the north. It wants to see those defenses in play.

If Israel plays it smart they will stick to conventional methods of retaliation and not show too much of their hand to the enemy. To do otherwise is to play right into the hands of Iran. 

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Tunnel Technology for IDF

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

We know Hamas is digging new tunnels.

We know how dangerous the tunnels were last year and know that tunnels were the chief reason for Israel's defensive operation into Gaza.

Over the past year Israel has developed a series of anti-tunnel technologies to combat the tunnels that Hamas is using as a weapon against Israel.

Israel is testing and re-testing the technology. They do not want to claim that the six or seven technologies they have are all effective for two reasons. One reason is that Israel may still need to fine tune the technology and the second reason is that Israel wants to keep Hamas guessing.

I have seen pictures of the Israeli anti-tunnel equipment partially buried along the Gaza fence.. The IDF is also using tunnels - they are building their tunnels as testing grounds for the technologies.

These tunnels are on IDF bases. They are in the sand and replicate the terrain of Gaza.

Israel has devoted enormous funds to develop technologies to help defend against tunnel warfare, but just like with every other technology, nothing is 100% effective. 

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Abbas is Off To Teheran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran and the Palestinian Authority are repairing their relationship.

This is not good news. It is bad for Israel and really bad for the United States.

An announcement informing the world that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will soon be making a visit to Teheran, Iran was carried all over the Palestinian press.

An official invitation letter was sent to Abbas by the Iranian government and an advance team of Palestinians has been formed and will set off to work out the agenda and the details of the visit.

Palestinian emissary Ahmad Majdalani, has already returned from Teheran. His comments are essential in understanding the new relationship forming between the two countries. He said that the Iranian Palestinian relationship was: "an inevitable step if we [the Palestinians] want to confront the Israeli occupation."

The Palestinians want Iranian money and support. But there is tension and the main source of tension has to do with Syria. Iran supports Assad and his regime. Abbas has come out against the Assad regime and in favor of the revolt. But of late, the PA has tried to stay above the fray and not get involved in the Syrian situation.

Iran cannot countenance the PA not toeing the line on Syria. In order for Iran to support the PA, the Palestinian Authority must conform to certain world policy standards that Iran will set down.
We will watch and we will see if the PA veers from their original course and takes a stand in support of Assad. When that happens, it will be a clear sign that Iran is supporting the Palestinian Authority.

A clear sign - not a good sign. 

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Iran Leaders' Counter Move

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The guiding principle propelling the desire of the White house to go forward with the Iran nuclear deal is the conviction that, with the deal, the United States can exert influence over Iran. The argument the White house is supporting is that any deal, even a bad deal, allows for dialogue between the United States and Iran.

Here lies the problem: Iran already countered this argument when they said that they reject any economic or political influence or interference from the United States - and their Islamic leaders are issuing warnings and taking steps to prevent such influence.

On Monday Iran's Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted on his web site. The excerpt was taken from a conversation the Supreme Leader had with members of Iran's state radio and state television networks.

This is what he said:

"They thought this deal - and it is not clear if it will be passed in Iran or in America - will open up Iran to their influence."

"We blocked this path and will definitely block it in the future. We won't allow American political, economic or cultural influence in Iran."

Note that the Supreme Leader is not yet certain that the deal will or will not pass the debate in the Iranian parliament. But whether ir clears or not, he is, in no uncertain terms, countering the US move to exert influence over Iran.

Move. Counter move. Now it's up to the United States. How will the US counter now? 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

IDF Poised to Attack Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The IDF is running exercises on the Golan Heights. They have amassed significant troops and weapons there.

Rumors are spreading that Israel is preparing to strike inside Syria. The scuttlebutt is that Iran has armed and prepared a large numbers of Syrian fighters and outfitted them with sophisticated weapons.

There is tension between Hezbollah fighters sponsored by Iran and al Nusra fighters sponsored by al Qaeda.

The conflict itself, coupled with the proximity of the military camps is worrisome. The camps are located very close to Israel's border. .

Under normal circumstances one would hope that Hezbollah and al Qaeda and ISIS would just destroy each other. But the conflict is spilling over to Israel and there are many among those groups who want to attack Israel.

Recently, four Druze terrorists were killed as they planted bombs along the border with Israel. Their objective was to kill as many Israeli soldiers as they could.

Israel needs to make certain that their border stays safe. 

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Israeli-Arab Town Names SQ After Nasser

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Kfar Mond is an Arab village in the Galilee. It is in Israel. All of the residents of the village are Israeli citizens. They are not part of any revolt and they do not question their citizenship in Israel.

Last week the Town Council of Kfar Mond decided to name the newly built main square after Gamal Abdul Nasser the former dictator of Egypt. The proposal was put forth by the Hadash faction and the council approved. Hadash is one of the Arab-backed political parties in Israel.

There has been major blow back - but not it NY way one might expect.
Muslim parties in Kfar Mond are saying that Nasser arrested and murdered Islamic leaders. Nasser repressed religious political development, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, and they do not want to see his name glorified.

Hadash defended their proposal saying that Nasser was an Arab hero.

The entire idea is unusual, but such is democracy at work in Israel.

Nasser was an enemy of Israel, a man who never made peace with Israel. And yet, a town square in Israel is to be named after him.

And yet again, if the decision is made to change the decision, it will be based on the fact that Nasser persecuted the Muslim Brotherhood - not because of his animus towards Israel and Israelis.



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Friday, August 14, 2015

Israeli Tourism Bounced Back

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Last year at this time the FAA listed Israel as a dangerous location and United States carriers were not permitted to fly to Israel.
Israeli tourism took a huge hit.

July and August 2014 saw cancellation after cancellation.

Conferences, tourists, groups, individuals, one after the other they all cancelled out of fear. The conflict between Gaza and Israel was very costly. Part of the cost was the downturn in the tourism market and that decline impacted the greater Israeli economy.

It is now one year later and this August looks like it will break all tourism records as 2 million people enter Israel via Ben Gurion airport.

On Thursday August 13, 80,000 travelers arrived in Israel - a record for a single day. They traveled on 457 flights from all over the world. Of course some of those entering Ben Gurion were Israelis returning home from their time out of the country. Record breaking statistics aside - imagine the lines!

These are good markers for an exciting economy. Tourism and travel in general are important components of Israel's economy. And the summer months are one of the busiest times for travel.
The Israel travel industry has bounced back from the damage inflicted on it by Hamas last year. 

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why Israel Made it Public

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It is out of character for Israel to go public with news about the arrest and the interrogation of a Hamas leader as they did with Ibrahim Shear.

The details that were made public to the press, details that I wrote about yesterday, would normally be held as top secret intelligence to be used in helping save Israelis and defend Israel.

So why did the office of the prime minister go public with these details? That office determines the security needs of the nation on every level - so what was the point Israel and the prime minister were trying to make here?

Israel wants Hamas to know that they know what Hamas knows and Israel wants Hamas to know that their leader broke under the pressure of interrogation.

There are several reasons behind the decision by Israel to make this public.

#1 It tells Hamas that Israel knows a lot - and now Hamas has to ask what else Israel knows. That question can inhibit and prevent an attack.

# 2 The international community is now aware of what is happening in Gaza and that will give Israel diplomatic cover when they strike Gaza.

# 3 The knowledge that Iran is sponsoring the terror infrastructure of Hamas will help Netanyahu in his battle against Obama in Congress. The money that the United States has given to Iran will no doubt go to Hamas to attack Israel, and Congress and the White House need to know that.

# 4 Hamas is gaining friends and access to international bodies, they are wined and dined in capitals across the world. This will hopefully show some of those states what Hamas is doing now.

In the final analysis the Israeli prime minister's office believes that making this information available to the press and open to public discussion will make Israel safer.I think that he is correct.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hamas Ldr Confesses Iran's Role and New Tunnels

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel arrested and interrogated a high level Hamas terror leader.
His name is Ibrahim Shaer. The information that he gave will save Israeli lives.

That information has now been cleared for release.
According to Ibrahim Shaer, Hamas has built and rebuilt, dug and re-dug, new and old tunnels.

Shaer gave the locations of the tunnels and directions to get inside. In addition he explained that the new road that Hamas built along the border was to be used as part of an attack that would include vehicles. He said that the tunnels were attack tunnels and smuggling tunnels.

Shaer also confirmed that Iran was sponsoring the building, sending new weapons and training Hamas fighters.

Contrary to what was assumed, Iran is still heavily sponsoring Hamas. Iran is sending weapons, money and electronics. The electronics are jamming devices.

And of course, these materials are being stored among the civilian population.

Again, this information will save lives. 

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Iran & Russia

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif will travel to Moscow to meet Russian leaders next week sometime.

The visit was announced on Taas media which is an official media outlet of the Russians.
Interestingly, the outlet quoted the Iranian embassy in Moscow as its source, saying that "the exact day will be announced in the coming days."

It was a news source exactly like this one that announced, this past Friday, that Iranian General Sulamani visited Russia - despite his UN travel ban.

Sulamani is head of the Iranian al Quds force and is responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans. He is banned from international travel.

These two examples of Iranian leaders going to Moscow illustrate an essential point. Iran and Russia are positioning themselves as players on the world stage. Sending Sulamani to Russia and having the Russians not only receive him but also publicly announce the visit is an intentional move by both Iran and Russia aimed at flaunting international law and UN decisions.

Remember - this was all done after the Iranian deal was announced.

And now, sending Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to Moscow shows us again that Russia and Iran are plotting and planning to conduct serious negotiations. Ultimately, their mutual goal is to position themselves as world leaders who can propose solutions for the many problematic areas around the world. 

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Brazil Will Not Put Israel on Passport

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
It was the United States, Canada, France and now it is Brazil.

Brazil announced that they, too, will not add the word Israel on the passports of citizens born in Jerusalem.

This is the exact same issue that the US Supreme Court ruled on several months ago when it decided that it is the president who determines foreign policy. And so, for US citizens born in Jerusalem their passports do not say Israel.

Now Brazil has joined the ranks of the US, Canada and France. These are the countries that do not add Israel as the name of the country after Jerusalem, the name of the city on the passports of citizens born in the capital city of Israel.

The logic behind this should be clear. In the eyes of the leadership of these countries Jerusalem is in dispute. Not just part of Jerusalem, as in East Jerusalem or what some call Arab Jerusalem, but all of Jerusalem.

This is the same reason why countries do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and instead choose to locate their embassies in Tel Aviv.

This entire episode is indicative of the attitude of the world toward Israel - not just Israel after 1967, but Israel from its inception in 1948. Leaders and nations have always are still continue to question the very existence of the State of Israel. 

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Iran Against "The Deal"

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

In Iran today there is substantial and significant opposition to "The Deal."

The opposition comes not simply from hardliners in the Iranian Parliament, it also comes from the elite Revolutionary Guard. The Guard controls much of the industry in Iran and owns an interest in almost every walk of the Iranian economy - from oil and gas to real estate.

The head of the Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammed Ali Jaffari, has publicly renounced the agreement. He says that the agreement will weaken Iran's military power and put them at a strategic disadvantage.

It should be noted that there are also Iranian leaders who have embraced the agreement.
Iran has decided to mirror the United States. The Iranian Parliament will engage in debate and then vote to either accept or reject the agreement.

In the end, the debate will take place but the Supreme Leader will ultimately be the decision maker.

As of this moment it is not clear that he will accept the agreement.

Why might the Supreme Leader decide against the agreement? There are many possible reasons that can be given, but the one true answer is that Iran wants even more from the agreement.

I would call that chutzpah! 

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hamas Shoots Rockets into Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

On Thursday three rockets were shot from Gaza toward Israel. The rockets landed not in Israel, but instead, two landed inside Gaza and one landed just inside the fence. On Friday there were more rockets.

On the rocket front this summer has been very quiet. There have only been a handful of Gaza rockets into Israel. That said Israel cannot accept Hamas shooting rockets toward Israel - even if they miss.

So on Friday the Israeli air force bombed the sources of the rockets. Hamas needs to know that they must keep things quiet. If it stays quiet in Israel, it will be quiet in Gaza.

Hamas claims that they are not the one launching the rockets.

But that does not matter, certainly not for Israel. The essential point is that if Hamas is in charge they must be responsible for keeping Gaza quiet. 

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Hamas Plays PA in Soccer

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Yesterday, for the first time in many moons, the Palestinians engaged in a display of unity. It cannot last long, but Hamas and the PA engaged in a sense of communal and national solidarity.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas played soccer. Yes, a soccer game. The PA team dressed in green, Hamas dressed in red. The match was played in Gaza in front of 7,000 people. The game ended in goalless 0-0.

A second match will be played in the West Bank. That match is called the Palestinian Cup and the winner of the match will play in the

Asian Cup representing the Palestinians. Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian soccer federation, named the match.

It might look like a simple game, but this sporting event, this decision to play a soccer match, is a huge move. As much as they can say that there is no politics in sports and that sports is above politics - Palestinian sports is very politically charged.

Even letting Hamas compete against the PA with the possibility of their winning and then representing the Palestinians - in anything, no less the Asia cup, is a gargantuan gesture of unity.

Even if Hamas does not win, all of Gaza will have seen that that the Palestinian Authority attempted to extend their hand. 

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Iran Hosting Peace Summit

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is hosting Russia and Syria in a peace summit this week.

The results of the summit will be presented to the United Nations as a peace proposal for Syria.

Now, there is doubt that Syria has suffered horrific carnage over the past 4 years. But how can any country, let alone Iran, hope to compose a deal with only one side in attendance - and no one has invited the anti-Assad rebels to participate.

Iran has supported Assad of Syria from the very outset of the conflict. So has Russia. So whatever the agreed upon proposal is, it will certainly be biased towards Assad.

Most interesting than the outcome of the peace summit, - is the host of the peace summit and the participants.

Iran has turned itself into the peacemaker. Russia is the international team leader. Where is the United States?

From the point of view of this summit, the United States is on the outs, not necessary, to be ignored. 
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Iran Will Snap Back

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Iran is planning to take great advantage of The Deal and the lifting of sanctions.

Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said in a state radio interview on Sunday that, "We are already doing marketing, and within a day after the lifting of sanctions we will raise (production) by 500,000 barrels per day".

He also added that within a few months the Iranians will increase their oil production by 1million barrels per day.

This is one of the most important announcements made thus far.
Iran is saying that they have a significant plan in place that will catapult them into one of the largest oil exporters in the world.

And straight from the mouth of the Iranian oil minister we are being told that, when it comes to oil, Iran plans to morph into a behemoth practically overnight.

That sure scares me, what about you?. 

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Jordanian Planes Land in Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday a massive sand storm carpeted Amman, Jordan. For hours no flights could take off or land.

Sand storms happen in the Middle East. In Arabic there are many names for the winds and the sands that blow. Arabic probably has as many words to describe the winds and the sands as the Eskimos have for snow and the various storms and precipitation they live with regularly.

Royal Jordanian air flights were rerouted and landed in Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. That was a wise and safe solution to a problem. With sand storms you cannot predict how long they will last so rerouting is a very good idea.

In this case two Jordanian flights landed in Israel.

But what about the rest of the air traffic, what about flights from other countries, countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel and would never land there?

Those flights rerouted to Aquba, the tiny Jordanian airport on the Red Sea. The runway was short and it was not ideal, but everyone made it safely. 

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Stop Jewish Jihadis

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is whirling from the terrible violence Jews have been perpetrating in the name of religion.
The latest victim is16 year old Shira Banki, a high school student marching in the Gay Pride Parade that was held in Jerusalem. After having been savagely and brutally stabbed in public, in front of cameras and police, Shira succumbed to her wounds.

The murderer had been released from prison only the month before after serving 10 years of a 15 year sentence for attacking people at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem ten years ago.

This attack and many other attacks by Jews could - and should, have been prevented.
Israel needs to lower the evidence bar when it comes to cases of Jewish Jihad.

There must be administrative detention for Jews engaged in acts of terror or violence just as there is for Palestinians. This means that when there is not enough evidence to convict, police detain
suspects because of a greater risk.

Rabbis who incite and justify violence must be arrested, charged and tried for incitement. Curricula must be created to teach about differences and tolerance. And courts and leaders must give stringent penalties to Jewish Jihadis.

These are those who want to murder people because they are different and because they believe themselves to have the moral ground and to have Jewish arguments to prove their case.

There are not many Jewish Jihadis - perhaps several hundred,, but they must be publically condemned by both political and religious Jewish leadership in Israel and abroad. 

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Russia Out-Smarts US

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Russians announced that on Sunday August 2nd and Monday August 3rd, their foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, will meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al- Jubeir.

They will meet in Qatar.

The Russian announcement said that the topics for discussion are: how to move toward peace in Syria, Yemen and Libya, how to move forward in the fight against ISIS and the best ways of maintaining stability in the Persian Gulf.

Russia is positioning itself as a power broker. They want to be seen as the most significant force capable of assuring conflict resolutions. Russia has outmaneuvered the United States in the region for the past two years - this announcement is one more example.

What we have here is Russian leadership - and US participation. 

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Al Qaeda Captures CIA Trained Syrians

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Al Nusra Front, the al Qaeda group in Syria, announced that they have captured Syrian rebels that were trained by the CIA.

The message said that the group was captured after they crossed over the border.

As if it could not get worse or more pitiful or simply ludicrous - only 60 rebels have thus far been trained by the CIA since the program began a year ago. And now a significant number (any number is significant ! ) have been captured.

The captured rebels will be tortured and executed. Any important intel and information they might have to give over will be harvested by al Qaeda before they execute the CIA trained Syrians.

The US plan is not working very well, but this is how it goes: Train Syrians to fight Assad, Hezbollah, al Qaeda (al Nusra) and ISIS and then take over Syria.

The problem is that if the few who have been trained cannot even hole their own and defend themselves - how are they going to take over the country. 

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