Thursday, March 31, 2016

Russia Arrests 20 ISIS Recruiters

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Russia arrested twenty ISIS recruiters yesterday in Moscow. Russian news agency RIA broke the story. The arrests came as the result of a joint operation between the police and the FSB, the Federal Security Service.

Here is the quote. "During a joint operation of the FSB (Federal Security Service) and the police, around twenty people suspected of connections to ISIS (Islamic State) were arrested."

ISIS was recruiting young Moscovites. Many of those arrested for joining the terrorist organization originally came from Uzbekistan which is a former Soviet Republic.

There were many things that were confiscated in the operation. The ISIS recruiters had an entire collection of fake ids, especially fake Turkish driver's licenses. They were clearly forging materials to help the recruits make their way into Turkey and from there into Syria.

Russia knows that they are high on the ISIS target list. And the Russians are responding by increasing security and by doing everything they can to try and locate the ISIS organizers that might be planning attacks.

This is just one example of Russia's private war against ISIS in their country. 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Leave Turkey Now!!!

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

On Monday Israel issued a travel warning. Do not travel to Turkey and if you are in Turkey, leave immediately.

On Tuesday the United States issued an evacuation order for all families and non -essential personnel to immediately leave southern Turkey. The US order also said that those remaining in Turkey may not travel outside the compounds.

Southern Turkey is more than simply dangerous. It is where ISIS transfers people and goods - including produce and including oil.

This is where it would be easy for ISIS to attack. Even easier than when they attacked in downtown Istanbul a few weeks ago killing three Israelis.

ISIS knows the area and they can easily fit in. It is very hard to protect people when the enemy is so familiar and so conversant with the lay of the land.
The best response is to get out.

Israelis and Americans are easy targets. Turkey must begin to assert control over their southern regions and oust ISIS. They must begin the process now.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kuwait Deports 60 Hezbollah

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Kuwait is deporting 60 Hezbollah members. Their residency permits have been withdrawn because they are members of a terrorist organization.

Since last month's decision by the Arab League and the GCC (the Gulf Cooperation Council) to label Hezbollah a terrorist group, member countries have been stepping up their pressure on Hezbollah.

The decision by the Arab League and in the GCC was not due to a new vision of the world nor to a recognition of Western concepts of terror. The decision was made because Hezbollah, like Iran, is supporting and defending Assad in Syria. This decision was split straight down the Shiite Sunni rift.

Hezbollah is a Shiite group sponsored by Iran and Assad is part of the Allawites a break-off from Shiite tradition. They are pitted against the Sunnis.

The GCC is all Sunni and the Arab League is mostly Sunni. The only voices who voted against the declaration to label Hezbollah a terror organization were Lebanon and Iraq.

Once you get your bearings and figure out who is who, it all starts to makes sense. 
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Hamas Egypt Summit #2

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The Hamas delegation departed for Egypt on Sunday. A second round of Hamas / Egyptian talks will begin today.

Hamas has done their prep work for this second round of talks. They have consulted with Qatar about significant details that caused the breakdown of the first round of talks.

The major stumbling block during round one was Hamas' involvement in and admission of knowledge about the assassination of the national prosecutor of Egypt.

I expect that Hamas will come forward with the name of the group and people who were involved in the assassination. I also expect that those involved are, by now, long gone and far away.

I expect Egypt will demand that they be handed over. Hamas will not comply and the talks will break down again.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Russia Helps Syria Attack ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Remember that announcement Russia made about withdrawing from Syria? Remember that I called it a re-adjustment and not a withdrawal?

My point was proven yesterday...

Syrian forces are now retaking the city of Palmyra. ISIS took Palmyra last May and destroyed its centuries-old Roman archeological remains. The Syrians have control over three major neighborhoods and continue to wrestle the city from ISIS.

Syrian forces are not alone in this battle. The Russians are allowing the Syrians to fight ISIS and giving them air support.

Russia fighter jets flew 40 sorties and hit 150 targets killing over
100 ISIS fighters.

This is the new Russian status in Syria.

Russia has not and will not withdraw from Syria. Instead, they are moving into the position of helping the Syrians fight ISIS by giving Syrian forces the cover they need to force ISIS out of their positions.

Not what you'd call a withdrawal by any stretch of the imagination. 

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Friday, March 25, 2016

ISIS Takes Loses in Iraq

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iraqi forces are taking back the villages around ISIS controlled Mosul in northern Iraq.

The Iraqi forces are working together with the Peshmerga, also known as the Kurdish fighters, and are being aided by US and coalition air support. Progress in taking back these villages is slow.

Today is the second day of the offensive and they have successfully taken back three villages. They are preparing to move against several more.

The reason the offensive is going slowly is because ISIS has booby trapped the roads and many of the buildings. Clearing mines is a slow process.

The fighting is only sporadic. There do not seem to be a lot of ISIS fighters in these villages.

Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq with over two million people. The villages around Mosul are essentially suburbs. This the first stage in isolating and attacking Mosul.

I would expect the attacl against the big city of Mosul in the next few weeks. 

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Israeli Tech Firm Hacking iPhone for FBI

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
YNET news reports that an Israeli company named Cellebrite is the third party helping the FBI crack the encryption on the iPhone 5C that belonged to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, the phone that Apple is refusing to unlock even after federal judges demand their help.

There has been much discussion about how to break the codes on cell phones and chat forums are filled with ideas.

Cellebrite, which is headquartered in Petah Tikva, has been on contract to the FBI and the Justice department since 2013. One of services they provide is cracking encryption codes by means of software that they have developed.

Cellebrite has also been known to strong arm and break individual codes. Another part of their business is data backup and diagnostics. They can run retrieving programs on 15,000 different cell phone models.

The Israeli company provides their service to over 90 countries. Most of their subscribers are intelligence agencies, security agencies, armies and governments. The company has been able to help solve crimes perpetrated around the world by getting information off phones that have, supposedly, been wiped clean. 

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mistakes in Belgium

By Micah Halpern
Wednesday March 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The terror in Belgium is a terrible tragedy. It is a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided.

The United States had announced that they had information of an impending attack - but nothing specific. The Belgians had the same info. I had the same info. It was clear earlier in the week, after the Belgians and the French had captured the leader of the Paris attacks, that there were plans to attack Belgian and French sites.

Salah Abdeslam told his interrogators, just days ago, that he had several ISIS terror cells in place and poised to attack.

Knowing that info and not increasing security at Brussels' main train station and airport is irresponsible.

Ever since the 1970's, when Palestinian terrorists attacked Israeli tourists in Brussels and hijacked planes, Israel gave Belgium important tactical plans to beef up security.
Had those plans been in place it is unlikely that yesterday's attack would have been

The basic concept of security at these sites so beloved by terrorists is called the layered approach. A defense system is set up to catch unusual threats and what is not caught in the outermost layer is caught by a layer within. It is not good enough to simply have a security screening station for people with boarding passes as they go to their gates.

This was a huge failure by Belgian security and by those who determine threats to their nation. They should all resign.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

ISIS Attacks Secret US Base in Iraq

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Firebase Bell is a secret US special-forces base in northern Iraq.

The US base came under rocket fire attack by ISIS on Monday. Two days earlier another rocket attack killed a US Marine.

Staff Sergeant Louis Cardin is the marine killed by the ISIS rocket that struck the base. The number of injured during the attack has not been released. We do know, however, that the company at the base is composed of less than 200 soldiers.

ISIS discovered the US base and figured that they could hit it from a distance by launching rockets into the camp.

That maneuver was so successful that ISIS returned two days later and did it again. This is a major flaw in US security.

ISIS rocket launchers and shoulder launched multi-purpose assault weapons (SMAW) are easy to carry - but the United States needs to prevent ISIS from getting close enough to shoot at their base.

If the United States does not make this correction ISIS, will continue to shoot at them, day after day, damaging the base and putting the lives of the military stationed at Firebase Bell at risk. 

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Time Shamed into Correcting Story

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It happened in October. Two Palestinians terrorists murdered three
Israelis. One of the terrorists, Bahaa Allyan, was a graphic designer.

It took Time Magazine 5 months and much pressure and international shame before they finally corrected the dots in this story.

Originally, on October 15th, Time Magazine ran a story entitled "The Desperation Driving Young Palestinians to Violence," which simply referred to Bahaa Allyan as "a graphic designer" who "was killed by Israeli security forces after allegedly trying to carry out an attack in Jerusalem."

The piece totally ignored the fact that the graphic designer was a mass murderer and that he was killed after killing three Israelis and would have, if permitted, killed many more.

Allyan and his accomplice overtook a bus in Jerusalem. They stabbed and shot and continued to shoot and stab. The terrorist (aka graphic artist) locked the bus door not letting anyone escape and preventing defense teams from boarding.

The terrorist was killed when an Israeli anti-terror team shot him from outside the bus.

The important part is not that he was a graphic artist ... NO! He murdered three innocent people by taking over a public bus in Jerusalem.

Only now, 5 months later after being shamed into clarifying their original story Time Magazine finally made a correction - one that fell far short of an apology. In Time's words, they added a component to the website and the story "to give a fuller account of the attack."

Think about it - 5 months need to pass to get to the truth. 

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Why Sanders is Skipping AIPAC

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Bernie Sanders made a very big mistake. Deciding not to speak at the 18,000 strong AIPAC Conference on Monday in Washington DC shows that Sanders is not as pro-Israel as he says he is.

All the other candidates will be speaking on Monday. Hillary Clinton will present in the morning and the three republican candidates will take the stage and deliver their own messages in the evening.

Max Blumenthal, a rabidly anti-Israel writer, created a petition for Sanders not to attend the AIPAC Conference and 5,000 people signed it. Blumenthal is the son of Sidney Blumenthal who is one of Hillary Clinton's closest confidants.

Sanders said that he is too busy campaigning. Well - so are all the other candidates. He said that the will be on the west coast and cannot make it back to the east coast. Well - the conference is several days long.

Sanders asked to remotely speak, but AIPAC policy is no remotes except for the Prime Minister of Israel. Remotes just do not work well. Sanders suggested that the conference distribute the speech he would have given. He told AIPAC that the text of the speech should be ready by Monday.

Bernie Sanders has a problem. Many of his supporters are vehement critics of Israel and going to the AIPAC conference would alienate his base.

Israel might not be as important an agenda item to Sanders as he says it is. With Sanders, what you see is, very often, what you get. This is probably no exception. 

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Iran - Turkey Summit

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif is visiting Turkey today, Saturday.

This is a follow up visit.
 Earlier in March, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Iran.

Relations between Turkey and Iran are strained - and Turkey needs those relations to improve.
Turkey and Iran each back opposing sides in Syria, but they are united against the Kurds and Kurdish independence.

Iran and Turkey are not natural allies. There is so much that separates them. But at this point they are united against Western influences - specifically Russian and US influences in the region.

The Turkish-Russian conflict has become a big issue in the region and it is not going away.

It is possible that, with these visits, Iran might just be able to mollify the tension with Iran. We need to watch carefully and monitor what happens. 

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Friday, March 18, 2016

British Kids Join Terror Groups

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The British police have announced that over the past year they have arrested a record number of children under the age of 18 for terror. The number they have given is -16 !

They have also arrested 45 women for terror - another dramatic increase over the previous year.
All in all, there were 280 terrorism-related arrests in England last year.

The numbers are actually very small considering how many terror cells must be active in the entire country and how many kids are on the internet.

Many more than 16 kids under 18 have gone and joined ISIS by traveling to Turkey and crossing the border into Syria.

Something is wrong with these numbers.

There must be thousands of youth engaging in conspiracies that include planning and plotting terror attacks. Most are learning and reading and watching all the time. Some are actually buying plane tickets and joining terror groups.

Who knows how many have returned and are recruiting new, potential terrorists.

The British police are not sharing the real numbers. Why? 

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Iraq Forces Free Yazidi Women

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

On Wednesday Iraqi forces conducted a raid into ISIS controlled territory and freed Yazidi women.

During the summer of 2014 ISIS captured 5,000 Yazidi women and turned them into sex slaves for their forces. Over the past year about, 2,000 of the women have escaped.

The exact numbers that were freed was not made public in the announcement that was issued by the Iraqi defense ministry. The covert operation was extremely important.

ISIS considers Yazidis to be Satan worshipers because their religion is a combination of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.

Many in the region thought that there was no possibility of either freeing any of the captives or of striking deep in the heart of ISIS controlled areas. This is a massive shot in the arm for local Iraqi forces - it is a dramatic success for good against evil. 

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hamas - Egypt Summit Fails

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Hamas and Egypt held a summit in Cairo yesterday. Their agenda was to iron out differences and, hopefully, start working together.

The summit failed miserably.

Each side came with its own agenda and neither side would budge.

Egypt wanted Hamas to accept responsibility and help find the people who assassinated their Prosecutor General, Hisham Barakat.

It is clear to Egypt that the assassins were trained by Hamas and they want to bring the perpetrators to justice. Hamas offered small gestures but no real help.

Egypt also wants Hamas to protect the border.

Hamas, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with protecting the border and is accepting no responsibility for the assassination.

Hamas wants intelligence cooperation. They want to know what Egypt knows about terror groups and about goings-on in the region, especially what's going on with Israel.

Egypt is not interested in that kind of cooperation.

There is very little hope that the government of al Sisi in Egypt will ever, actually, make peace with Hamas. 

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Saudis Looking for a Loan!

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

We live in a strange world.

Word is that Saudi Arabia is applying for an $8 billion loan from international banks.

We all know that the price of oil has dropped over the past 18 months - dropped by 60% to 70%. But Saudi Arabia is still making money - a lot of money, just not the amount their economic forecasters had projected and budgeted for.

Consider that over the past decade the Saudis have amassed $600 billion in surplus. But last year they ran a $100 billion deficit.

Now they need to make up the deficit.

Saudi Arabia has already started selling domestic bonds, but that will not be enough. Once they get their $8 billion loan, they will start selling international bonds which will allow people to invest in their national energy (oil and gas) resources.

There are also rumors that Saudi Arabia may sell off Aramco, which is the Saudi Arabia oil company, or parts of Aramco. It is their greatest national asset. Perhaps they will sell off part of the company, perhaps they will sell bonds in the company. It is, however, more likely that the Saudis will take Aramco profits and invest them aggressively.

Oil is now hovering between $38 and $40 per barrel. The situation is far improved today than it was over end of January and the entire month of February. The price of oil is slowly creeping up. But Saudi Arabia needs the cash now.

This crisis has taken a big chunk out of Saudi power and Saudi influence. It is the wrong time for Saudi Arabia to feel the pinch of a reduced cash flow. A reduced cash flow will result in a reduced Saudi influence and imprint - not what the world needs right now as Iran and Russia are increasing their respective roles. 

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Israeli Arabs in ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
An Israeli Arab was killed by the United States in Syria. He was fighting for ISIS and was killed as part of a US aerial attack against ISIS.

According to Israeli sources about 50 Israeli Arabs have gone to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. It is hard to imagine why people from Minneapolis or London join ISIS. But why would they leave Israel and join ISIS -- Israel says that 7 of the 50 have been killed fighting.

Israel is prosecuting the family members still living in Israel who are supporting their siblings and/or children who left Israel and are in Syria and Iraq fighting for ISIS. On Sunday an Israeli court indicted the brother of an Israeli Arab who transferred $1500 to his brother now fighting alongside ISIS. According to the indictment the

Israeli Arab transferred three separate $500 gifts to his brother.

Israeli Arabs are mesmerized by the same videos that convince young people across the world to join ISIS. Many "experts" have claimed that these young people are brainwashed in mosques. A lot of brainwashing may be going on in mosques, but rest assured that mosques in Israel are not preaching and suggesting that people go and join ISIS.

The internet is the great equalizer in terms of ISIS recruitment. Internet sites suggest going to on Turkey and then crossing over the southern border into Syria.

Getting to Turkey is very easy for Israelis. Upon arrival, most of them are picked up by handlers and couriers at the airport and then shuttled to a safe house where plans are made to bring them across the border at the perfect and safest time. These times change by the moment.

Once inside Syria the new recruits head to their assigned positions.

There is always a training assessment and training period. Each volunteer comes with different skills. Each volunteer is evaluated and assigned a role which will best meet the needs of ISIS throughout their Islamic State.

It is a streamlined procedure. ISIS has their recruitment process down to a science. 

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Another Shift in Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

To best understand extended conflicts in the Middle East it is important that we look at momentum and at shifts in momentum.

Of late, it looked like ISIS and al Qaeda backed groups were being beaten back and that Russian, Iranian and US forces and air power have finally started to take a toll on them.

But there are always setbacks and these setbacks can cause the momentum to shift. Some shifts can have a huge impact on the overall conflict.

Last night, on Saturday March 12th, al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra attacked and captured several Free Syrian Army bases in the North East. Dozens of prisoners were taken.

These Free Syrian Army fighters were part of the 13th Division. Al Nusra said that they were responding to attacks against them by the 13th Division.

The Free Syrian Army fighters were US-trained and US-armed.

Yes, just as you guessed. Yet again, modern, advanced, US weapons were captured and are now in the hands of al Qaeda. Some of these weapons include sophisticated anti-tank missiles.

The momentum has shifted. This is not a good sign. 

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Abbas Rejects US Peace Deal

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
US Vice President Joe Biden met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday in Ramallah.

The US VP offered Abbas a bare bones deal to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together and create a peace deal. According to Palestinian sources the deal consisted of four simple points.

Abbas rejected the deal.

The meeting between Abbas and Biden lasted over two hours but Abbas thought that the deal would only result in a presidential letter or a UN Security Council resolution. Abbas thought that it would not change the situation on the ground.

Biden's four points were:
1- East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian State
2- Building in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem ends
3- Accept Israel as a Jewish State
4- Disavow the Palestinian right of return

Each side needed to compromise on two items. It would be the foundation of a long term agreement --- of a Palestinian state.

Once again, Abbas chose rejection over acceptance. The reason should be obvious - Mahmoud Abbas does not, cannot, will not, compromise. 

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Iran Launches Another 2 Missiles

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran launched two ballistic missiles at a target that was 870 miles (1400 kilometers) away.

Supposedly, on the rockets was a message written in Hebrew for Israel and the world to see. The words read "Israel must be wiped out."

The Iranian Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guard General Salami said that the launch was dedicated to the Palestinians, the Lebanese, the Syrians, the Iraqis and all oppressed Muslims around the world.

US Vice President Joe Biden who is on a visit to Israel right now said that the launch of these ballistic missiles is a violation of the agreements with Iran and it will be investigated.

Hillary Clinton said that this act was a serious violation and Iran needs to know that. She said: "Iran should face sanctions for these activities and the international community must demonstrate that Iran's threats toward Israel will not be tolerated."

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said that he expects more launches. He said that the US is dealing with the Iran and added: "We will continue to redouble our efforts with our allies and partners in the region to try to limit Iran's ability to continue to develop their missile program."

The most important point here is that the flight distance from Tehran to Tel Aviv is 988 miles. If these missiles are placed between Teheran and the border of Iran and Iraq, they could easily target any location within Israel. Tehran is only about 450 miles from the border with Iraq - the distances are much shorter than one would think and this medium range rocket can just make it.

It is a very dangerous scenario. The situation is getting worse. 

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Real Jew Hatred

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Anti-Semitism is becoming institutionalized.

One of the largest saving banks in all of Germany, Sparkesse Bank, refused to allow an Israeli to open an account in a Berlin branch.

After taking Yakir Avraham's Israeli passport to another room, the teller returned and said: "I'm very sorry, but we cannot open up a bank account for you here. We aren't allowed to open accounts for citizens of countries under embargo."

We can assume that the teller was not alone in the room, or that he spoke to someone on the phone, sent an email or checked via computer. It is unimaginable that the teller would make this decision alone and use the nomenclature "citizens of countries under embargo."

The Israeli contacted YNET, an Israeli media outlet connected to Yediot Ahronot. YNET called the bank. The bank conducted an investigation.

This is the statement issued by Sparkesse Bank: "It's clear that this isn't our business policy. This is an unfortunate mistake made by a young colleague who is still in training, and who didn't know how to deal with the situation properly. She deeply apologizes for the mistake. We hope that Mr. Avraham accepts our explanation and apology."

The apology is not relevant. Avraham can accept or reject it. Denying an Israeli a bank account is against the law in Germany just as it is against the law in the EU. And the language used by the teller explaining her actions is a racist act.

The bank, the teller, and any supervisor who approved the initial refusal to open an account for an Israeli passport holder must be charged and tried for racist anti-Semitic behavior. The German state prosecutor must be alerted. This act must be investigated and charges must be proffered.

This is no small act. This was not a small mistake. This is rabid anti-Semitism. 

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Expect More From ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Western intelligence is saying that we should expect ISIS to attempt to perpetrate large spectacular attacks against Western targets. The intel is talking about attacks like the Paris attack of last year that claimed the lives of 130 people.

In London, the Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley, is reporting that ISIS is broadening their threat. "You see a terrorist group that has big ambitions for enormous and spectacular attacks, not just the types that we've seen foiled to date."

At the same time the West, and especially the United States, is stepping up the intensity of their attack against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

A Kurdish media outlet reported that the United States has nearly completed construction on two airports with extensive airstrips for military and commercial planes. The airports are in Kurdish areas of Syria. These new airfields will allow the US better access to the region. Most importantly it will put US forces close by and they will be essential in securing the airstrips.

This is war. ISIS is entrenched. They will take prisoners, but they prefer deaths. 

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Hezbollah Lashes Out At Saudi Arabia

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said that the plans of the Saudis will fail. Saudi Arabia led the Arab League in declaring that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

On Sunday, Nasrallah lashed out at the Saudis. He said that the motivation behind the Saudi Arab / Arab League declaration was the normalization of relations with Israel.

In reality, the announcement was a result of the Sunni Shiite conflict taking place in Syria where the Saudis back the rebels and Hezbollah and Iran back Assad.

During the funeral of the Hezbollah commanders who were killed this week Nasrallah asserted that: "The reactions in the Arab world mostly support rejection and this is different than the position presented by some Arab regimes, mainly in the Gulf."

Nasrallah offered a psychological explanation for the Arab League announcement. Nasrallah said, "He who fails gets angry and the one who gets angry makes decisions that vent his rage and frustration and looks for scapegoats, and this time Hezbollah and Lebanon became the scapegoats."

We must not forget that there are some very serious problems facing Arabs and the Arab world is not at all united. When left to their own devices they are divisive, dismissive of each other and downright cantankerous.

And that makes it very hard for the region to move forward and achieve any of their stated goals. 

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Iran Suspends Arms Deal To Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Russia has cancelled the further delivery of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile to Iran.

This important news was reported in a Kuwaiti paper.

The reason given for the cancellation is that Russian President Putin says that Iran violated their agreement when he transferred high tech weapons to Hezbollah. The weapons he is referring to are SA - 22 surface-to-air missiles.

The intel was given to Putin by Israel. It was irrefutable proof that, on multiple occasions, Iran has transferred weapons to Hezbollah.

In addition, Russian pilots flying across Syria and Lebanon have reported that they detected highly sophisticated radar and missile systems operating on the ground.

Iran and Russia signed an $800 million arms deal in 2007 for the S-300 but the deal was suspended due to the UN sanctions. The deal was resumed when sanctions were lifted. Now Putin has, once again, suspended it.

Major components for four S-300 missiles have already been delivered to Iran. The radar system has almost totally been assembled in Iran. But there are still significant components that need to be delivered. Without those elements the S-300 is incomplete and not usable.

This is very good news. 

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Visiting Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

United States chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is visiting Israel. General Joseph Dunford is in
Israel meeting with his counterparts, sharing ideas and strategies and, most importantly, making certain that both the United States and Israel are on the same diplomatic page.

Israel and the US share important goals in the Middle East. Their most essential goals are defeating extremism and maintaining stability. To that end they are sharing info and intel.

These are never simple objectives - and they are made even more difficult given the current situation.

The United States has an added agenda item for this trip. Dunford is there to make certain Israel does not act rashly against Iran or against any other target.

Next week US Vice President Joseph Biden will visit Israel.

Biden's objective will be the same as Dunford's objective. The United States wants to make doubly certain that Israel realizes that they are united in their goals, that they are in this together. 

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Turks Want Drones From Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Turkey wants to resume diplomatic relations with Israel. The Turks are insisting that in order to move forward they get Israeli weapons - especially drones and spare parts.

According to a report in a Kuwaiti newspaper, a special envoy was dispatched to Israel to negotiate this deal.

Israel will not provide the weapons unless they get absolute confirmation that the drones and other materials will not be used against the Kurds.

Moshe Yaalon, Israel's defense minister, actually said that he is not hopeful that Israel and Turkey will come to an agreement because Turkey continues to fund ISIS.

He said "I am not sure if we can arrive to an agreement" if they continue funding these extremist organizations." Yaalon also said. "They must comply with the terms of our agreement so that we can overcome these obstacles."

Two weeks ago Yaalon made a public statement condemning Turkey for buying oil from ISIS.

There is no way that Israel can transfer weapons including drones if Turkey is supporting ISIS. 

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

ISIS Executes Other ISIS Members

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has executed eight of its own members.

The eight ISIS members were all Danish, they were executed by ISIS in Raqqa.

These eight Danes were part of a larger Danish ISIS group that came from the Netherlands. The Danish government says that over 200 of their countrymen have made their way to the Middle East in order to join ISIS. They claim that most of these recruits originally came from Morocco. They also report that of the 200, at least 50 are women.

We do not normally think of The Netherlands as a hotbed of extremism but it is now becoming one - much like France and Belgium. Europe has changed. Nothing in Europe is the same as it was only a few years ago when it comes to terror and Muslim extremism.

In this case ISIS claims that the eight Danes were trying to desert. According to reports there was conflict between the Danish ISIS recruits and ISIS intelligence forces from Iraq.

ISIS leadership sent an intermediary to resolve the problem.

The mediator was killed.

And so ISIS leadership ordered the arrest of these eight Dutch members. And then they were executed.

As this was happening, other Dutch members of ISIS in Raqqa arrested several non Dutch ISIS members and killed one of them. He was beaten to death during an interrogation. 

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Iranian Election Results

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The elections in Iran are over. Now we need to understand the results.

Simply put, moderates and reformers won big - and the hardliners lost. This is a huge success for President Rouhani.

In Teheran, the reformers and moderates won every single seat up for election. In the rural areas, the hardliners won more convincingly.

Some of the candidates who lost the election were the most publicly anti-reform and anti-Nuke Deal.
For instance, after the deal was signed, Mehdi Kochakzdeh called Iran's foreign minister and chief negotiator, Javad Zarif, a traitor. Rouhollah Hosseinian said that he would bury all the nuclear negotiators under cement because they had capitulated to the P-5 + 1.

Fifteen of the sixteen seats that were up for election in the powerful 88 seat Assembly of Experts went to reformers. Two extremely important hardliners were ousted - the chairman of the Assembly, Mohammad Yazdi, lost his seat.

Maybe even more significant is that Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, an arch-conservative who was widely seen as the spiritual mentor to conservative former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also lost his seat on the Assembly of Experts.

So far it looks like reformers got 30% of the vote, hardliners 40%, independents who can go both ways got 17% and 13% will be runoffs which will take place in April.

Considering that in the last election for Majlis reformers only had 10% of the parliament, this is a huge move toward progress in Iran. 

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