Sunday, October 22, 2017

No Israeli Emblems at Judi Match

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
 
Israel will participate in the Abu Dhabi International Grandslam Judo Championship later this week.

Israel will be sporting a team of 12 athletes in an Arab country.

Sounds like good news? Nope!

For the second time, the organizers of the competition have accepted
Abu Dhabi's demand that Israel not show her flag, emblem or anthem.

There can be no visual symbol that Israeli athletes are present or competing - and Allah forbid if they dare to win.

If the Israeli team does earn a medal, the International Judo Federation flag will be flown.
Israel has protested and continues to protest.

These sporting events are supposed to be above politics, not increase divisiveness, prejudice and hate.

Israeli bronze Olympian Ori Sasson will compete. Sagi Muki who is the European champion will attend as part of the team. Israel's team will also include three additional world bronze medalists. The chances of winning a medal and even taking a gold is very high.

Should that happen it will be an embarrassment not only for the Judo Federation and to Abu Dhabi, as well.

Let Israel compete like everyone else- let Israel compete using her own emblems.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Friday, October 20, 2017

HAMAS Will Not Disarm

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

The United States and Israel both clearly assert that Hamas must disarm and recognize Israel in this Palestinian unity agreement.

Hamas says, in essence, no way.

In an official statement Yichya Sinwar, head of Hamas, said: "No one in the universe can disarm us. On the contrary, we will continue to have the power to protect our citizens." Sinwar continued: "No one has the ability to extract from us recognition of the occupation."

Israel has put it simply - the Palestinians must choose peace or choose Hamas.
Hamas has stated their intention equally clearly.

I would call this an impasse.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Israel Will Feed The Birds

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Israel's Ministry of Agriculture recently said that they will feed pelicans migrating from Europe to Africa.

Israel will create a feeding zone for the great white pelican.

The reasons are clear.

If Israelis do not feed these birds, the pelicans will pilfer and destroy entire agricultural regions and fisheries. These birds come in and descend and feed on whatever is available.

Israel is on the migration path of the pelican. Pelicans need food. If Israel does not feed them, they will poach anything and everything else that is available.

Everyone is in favor of Israel providing the food. Environmentalist, agriculturalists, farmers and economists support this idea.

Birds feed when they are hungry ... exactly in the place where they fed when they were migrating in the other direction.

Hopefully, this will work.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Islamists Attack Church & Rob Bank in Egypt

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Egypt was hit by another Islamic attack yesterday.

A group of about a dozen Islamists attacked a church in the very center of El Arish. Rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired at the police and the Church. 7 people were killed.

The massive Church has been closed for a few months. The government felt that because of the increased attacks against Christians and churches, it was important to close the church and station police outside.

After the Islamists attacked the church they robbed a bank and cleaned it out. They escaped in a pickup truck and a motorcycle heading south.

The victims include 3 guards, 1 soldier and 3 civilians. Another 15 people were injured in the bank.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Syria Wants Turkey Out

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Syrian foreign ministry has made it clear that the presence of Turkish forces in north western Syria is an act of aggression.

Turkey's response is that they are in Syria because of a deal they made with Russia and Iran in order to help the Syrian rebels fighting ISIS and al Qaeda.

The official Syrian ministry statement said: "Syria condemns in the strongest terms the incursion of units of the Turkish army in Idlib province, which constitutes a flagrant aggression against the sovereignty and security of Syrian territory."

The Syrian statement continued by responding to Turkey's obvious counter to their claim. It read: "The Turkish aggression is not tied in any way with the understandings that were reached between the guarantor states in the Astana process, but constitutes a violation of these understandings."
It's not over. Let's see what happens over the next few days.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, October 16, 2017

ISIS Attacks Egyptian Targets

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Despite the agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, Egypt will not be opening its border with Gaza in both directions.

The opening was meant as a reward. The reason the Egyptians are changing their stance is that, on Sunday, ISIS simultaneously attacked six border crossings killing six soldiers and injured 37 other people.

The terrorists opened fire on the crossings with automatic weapons and mortars. Twenty-four of them were killed.

ISIS is picking up the velocity of their attacks against Egyptian targets. They plan is to stop the PA / Hamas / Egyptian deal. For ISIS the deal means a crackdown on their ability to move and to operate.

Egypt needs to shut down ISIS.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Russia's Def Minister to Visit Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Russia Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu will be visiting Israel this week.

Israel's obvious agenda for this meeting is to re-enforce their position that Iran cannot have a position of the Golan Heights - not in Syria and not in Lebanon.

Russia understands Israel's position. Israel will hammer the point home with on-site descriptions and details of the security threats Iran's poses for them.

The question is whether or not Israel will be convincing enough. In the end, will Russia will be convinced enough to assure Israel that Iran will not have a real presence in Syria.

Much is at stake.

If Iran establishes a forward position on Israel's border it would potentially create a situation in which every citizen of Israel would be in range of Iranian weapons 24 hours of every day.

That is a situation which Israel views as intolerable. If Russia does not come through for them, Israel will do it on their own and take direct steps to prevent Iran from endangering its citizens and security.

Those steps would also involve making certain that Hezbollah and Iran are not capable of retaliating against Israel.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Belgium Pulls Out of Palestinian Aid Projects

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Belgium government has pulled their support for two Palestinian projects totaling $3.9 million.

Belgium said that they cannot be party to anything connected to terror. The decision to pull back the funds came after the Palestinians renamed a school to honor the notorious female terrorist named Dahlal Mughrabi.

Mughrabi was part of the horrific 1982 terror attack in that resulted in the murder of 38 Israelis, including 13 children, by kidnapped a bus on the Coastal Road. The attack is known as the "Coastal Road Massacre" in English. In Hebrew it is called the "Bloody Bus Massacre."

Dahlal Mughrabi was killed in the attack. Immediately afterward, she became lionized as a great heroine of the Palestinians. Parks are named after her. Schools are named after her. Even sports competitions are named after her. Her biography is taught in elementary schools.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders called Mughrabi a Palestinian terrorist. He said "Belgium will not allow itself to be associated with the names of terrorists in any way."

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Iran Threatens US over Terror Designation

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The US is about to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

The Guard and their members are the elite of the elite of Iran. They own major industries and they control significant branches of Iranian society. They are the wealthiest and most successful segment within Iran and they wield more power than any group except the Ayatollah himself.

This designation will cut into the Guard's purse.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is threatening a crushing attack against the United States is they are classified as a terror group.

"We are hopeful that the United States does not make this strategic mistake," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said. "If they do, Iran's reaction would be firm, decisive and crushing."

The Guard will be hurt if they are designated a terror group. That's a given. The big question is - why has it taken so long for this to happen?!

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Hezbollah Says US Supporting ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said that US activity in Syria is helping ISIS.

Nasrallah made the statement during a TV presentation.

According to Hassan Nasrallah: "The American air force in some areas prevents the Syrian army and its allies from advancing in areas controlled by Islamic State" ... "The Americans are working to hinder the battle against Islamic State."

This is an exaggeration, it is also a mistake

The US is not helping ISIS. But the US is trying to prevent a massacre in Syria.

The only way to do that is to make certain that Syria does not have free reign to murder innocent civilians who are affiliated with ISIS or, more likely, innocents who live in areas that ISIS controls and are terrorized by ISIS.

That is what the US is doing. Nasrallah knows that. He was looking for a sensational headline - and he found it.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Turkey Cross into Syria to Clear Idlib

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Turkey has crossed into Syria. They are advancing into the province of Idlib.

The Turkish special-forces convoy, complete with weaponry, were met by pro-Turkish fighters at the border and escorted toward their destination - the city of Idlib.

And then Turkey began bombing Idlib.

Turkish forces are exchanging fire with Islamists groups--- with ISIS and al Qaeda and their affiliates.

The objective is for Turkey to carve out a no-conflict zone in the province of Idlib.
In order to accomplish that goal, the city of Idlib must be cleared of ISIS and be totally in the hands of Turkey.

According to Turkey's forces backed by rebels in Syria, "So far our forces have not entered Idlib."
But that is just a matter of time.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Iran Bans Woman for Hijab

By Micah Halpern
 




I've Been Thinking:

If you were hoping for a new Iran --- forget it.

Here is a perfect example. Dorsa Derakhshani, a female member of the Iranian national chess team was removed from the team for performing an unforgivable violation.

What did she do? In an international competition she refused to wear her hijab- in other words, she refused to wear her head covering during the match.

Since the revolution it is the law in Iran that all women must wear a hijab in public. That is especially the case in situations where the women are symbols of Iran --- in this case, an international chess match.

After being removed from the team Derakhshani left Iran and came to the United States. She has since joined the US women's chess team and is now competing for the US - without a hijab.

The most interesting part of this story is that it was covered in the ISNA, an official media arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Micah@MicahHalpern,com 

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Iran Squeezes Kurds

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Since the recent vote for Kurdish independence, Iran has begun to squeeze the Kurdish region in Iraq.

Almost immediately after the vote, Iran stopped flights to the Kurdish region and now the Iranians have issued an order to stop all trucks going to and from the Kurdish region. No Iranian drivers may deliver or ship or cross the border.

That means no Iranian diesel to the Kurdish area.

It is diesel that powers electric plants and the transportation industry.

The Kurds produce their own oil, but they do not refine it - they export it. Some of their oil was even exported to Iran-- but not any more.

Iraq is also squeezing the Kurds. So are the Turks who are not permitting Kurdish oil exports to pass over their border.

92% of the Kurdish region voted for independence. In other words, every single Kurd voted for independence. The other 8% were Shiite and Sunnis minorities that live in the area who were also permitted to also in the referendum.

The Kurds were aware of the ramifications this vote would have. They tried to mollify the vote by saying that their independence would not go into effect immediately - that the vote was simply symbolic.

The problem is that at this level of foreign affairs, symbols have significance.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

ISIS is on the March in Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

We have been hearing about the change in ISIS' momentum, about how ISIS is on the run in Syria and how Syria is taking back cities and towns and regions and ISIS is being pushed out.

Early Sunday ISIS took back a city named Al Qaryatayn which is located in the Homs region, 190 miles from Deir al Zor where the main conflict with ISIS in now taking place.

Al Qaryatayn was taken in a surprise attack.

What is important to note is that there are always back and forths - momentum shifts! Clearly the momentum is in the favor of Assad -- but ISIS is not giving up when it comes to Syria.
ISIS still has a lot of fight in them.

This should be a lesson for us. ISIS will not simply stop because they are defeated. ISIS needs to be completely and totally removed. ISIS needs to be wiped out.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Putin Visits Turkey - Agree on Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Putin visited Turkey where he had a series of face to face with Turkish President Erdogan.

The Russian and Turkish leaders agreed to create and to protect no conflict zones. They also confirmed that Russia will help build a gas pipeline in Turkey. Most important is that Russia agreed to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant

In a joint press conference Putin said "We reconfirm readiness to implement final agreements reached in mid-September in Astana about four de-escalation zones, including the biggest one -- in Idlib."

He continued, calling Erdogan "our friend" in Ankara and said "Despite difficulties we have achieved positive result. These agreements are our common extremely important success."

Turkey and Russia are working hard and working together to try to keep Syria safe. They also want to make certain that no new states emerge in the region.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Understanding Kim Jung and Trump

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un is an enigma to all of us. His character is uncharted, his actions are unpredictable. Both Western and Eastern analysts are mystified by his behavior and stymied by his rhetoric.

US President Donald Trump is also an enigma. His actions, too, cannot be predicted. North Koreans are simply stunned by Trump. They cannot figure him out. And that is why they have actually tried to hire republican insiders. They need people in the know to help translate Trump to Kim Jung Un.

The conflict between NoKo and the US is increasing. The risks are gargantuan. The rhetoric is ratcheting up and up. Both leaders are using words as weapons.

Rhetoric is never the basis for a truthful debate. By definition, rhetoric is exaggerated speech, it is most often non-creative and almost always repeats cliches.

Trump and Un are threatening attacks and moving closer and closer to action. North Korea continues to launch missile tests, and the US continues flying fighter jets and bombers near North Korea.

This kind of saber rattling can be misread. It can be overdone and when that happens, it causes dramatic and dangerous overreaction. That overreaction can lead to counter action which can lead to massive damage and deaths.

We can't tell Kim Jung Un what to do, but we can beseech President Trump. The United States needs to take a deep breath and step back.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

PA Calls Terrorist a Hero

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

When a Palestinian terrorist murders three people in Har Hadar, the natural response should be universal condemnation.

The three Israeli victims were murdered by a 37 year old Palestinian named Nimer Jamal.

Instead of condemnation, the official Palestinian Facebook Fatah page celebrated the murder and the murderer. The Facebook page called Nimer Jamal a hero. It read: "We mourn this heroic martyr."

One has to wonder how interested the Palestinians are in peace. They didn't have to condemn him. All they had to do was remain silent, that would have been sufficient. Instead, they went so far as to proclaim the terrorist a hero.

This is a public relations victory for the Palestinians. They murdered three Israelis and only lost one of their own,

In their eyes the terrorist - a wife beater whose wife escaped to Amman Jordan and sought refuge and safety abandoning her children, is seen as a hero by the Palestinian people.

This is a problem. It is not just a problem for peace --- it is a problem for justice and morality. If there is no agreement about the principles of right and wrong, how can there ever be the possibility of achieving peace.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Iran Increases Oil Exports

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran has pledged to continue to export oil. Actually, they promised to export even more oil and increase their current production numbers.

This Iranian declaration comes despite the threat US President Donald Trump made if Iran were to do just that during the speech he delivered at the United Nations GA.

Currently Iran exports 2.6 million barrels of oil a day - that is up from 900,000 daily barrels in 2015, before the sanctions were lifted. It is a three-fold increase.

President Trump explained that the deal with Iran was one of the worst deals in history and during the campaign he threatened to rip up the deal. He hinted at that again during his UN speech.

But Iran's oil exports are not a violation of the terms of the famous nuke deal. They are pushing the OPEC quotas. Actually, that is good for the rest of the world as it will force down the price of oil in the world market.

It seems that Iran is making more money, but less per barrel. It is a mistake to cap them. An unintended consequence of Iran continuing to increase their exports is that they may, at the same time, break OPEC's control of the price of oil in world markets.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Russian Defense Min To Visit Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Sergai Shoigu, Russia's Defense Minister, is going to visit Israel in October. The exact date of the trip has not been made public.

This is the first trip to Israel by a Russian defense minister in decades. One topic under discussion during this trip will most definitely be Syria. The Russian and Israeli defense ministers will discuss Iran's role in Syria and Hezbollah. At issue is how involved Iran will be in the future of Syria.

Heavy weapons will also be a very important topic.

Israel has stated their red lines very clearly to Russia. Israel will not permit a long term Iranian presence in Syria. Israel is asking Russia to make certain that Iran not remain there.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saudis at UN - No Excuse for Not Resolving Israeli PA Conflict

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The UN General Assembly is most often a tedious waiting game - waiting to listen to speaker after speaker rehash old ideas and make vague, never to be fulfilled threats or promises.

Saturday was different. That's the day Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir made a surprise pubic pronouncement during his speech at the UN.

Al Jubeir said that there is no reason for the Israeli / Palestinian conflict to continue. He did not lay blame. He just said it can and should be resolved.

The Saudi foreign minister said: "The Arab-Israeli conflict is still the longest conflict in the region in current times ... We don't see a justification for its continuation, particularly when there is international consensus about the solution based on two states."

Bottom line is that world pressure should be brought upon the parties to resolve the issue. World powers are already in agreement. Now the conflict must be resolved.

To make that happen, the United States must pressure Israel. Saudi Arabia will take care of pressuring the Palestinians.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Israel Downs Iranian Drone

By Micah Halpern
 
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israel launched a Patriot missile and shot down an Iranian-made drone.

The drone took off from Damascus airport and flew toward Israel. When the drone hit the buffer zone between Israel and Syria, Israel launched a Patriot and shot down the drone.

Drone parts were found scattered in the area of Qunetra.

IDF spokesman Brig General Ronen Maelis said the [t]he drone "took off from the Damascus Airport towards the Golan and operated in the buffer zone, without infiltrating Israel."

The IDF spokesman is clearly suggesting that the drone was sent by Hezbollah, made by Iran and sponsored by Syria.

Israel will always aggressively protect its borders and not permit any drone to collect intelligence along its borders.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

UN Head Against Kurd Vote

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Kurds of Iraq are going to vote for independence on September 25th.

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres just announced his displeasure with the referendum. He said that this vote, at this time, would detract from the immediate need to destroy ISIS.

Guterres' spokesman, Stephane DuJarric, explained that the Secretary General respects the "sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity," of Iraq. He further explained that any differences should be resolved through dialogue and compromise -- and through unilateral moves like a referendum of secession.

The Secretary suggests that the entire situation be approached with "patience and restraint."
Depending on the reaction to the September 25th referendum, there could be a massive genocide of the Kurds.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Snapchat Shuts Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Snapchat shuttered its portal to Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia.

On September 13th Saudi Arabia asked Snapchat to shut down Al Jazeera down and yesterday they did just that.

Al Jazeera is a media group located in Qatar and owned by a very rich businessman who is also a member of the royal family.

For months there has been a huge dispute between Qatar and the other Gulf States - especially Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have led the charge against Qatar mainly because Qatar has reached out to Iran and been brought under their umbrella.

Sunni Qatar did the unthinkable and went over to the Shiites. The Saudis are making them pay for their defection.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Turkey & ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Turkey arrested 74 people on charges of being ISIS members.

Interestingly the only 1 of the arrested was Turkish, all the others were foreigners. The 73 are being prepared for deportation. The report did not name the countries to where they will be deported and the countries from where they came.

The local Turk was being interrogated.

Turkey intersects with ISIS in 2 ways. Turkey is the easiest point of access for all those who want to join ISIS. From Turkey future ISIS fighters slip over the border into Syria.

ISIS is attacking Turkey within its own borders and has been organizing and perpetrating terror attacks to attempt to destabilize Turkey. Turkey knows that they need to confront ISIS. They must stop any and all ISIS activity.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Israeli PM & Mexico Agree to Help Central America

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday. This is the first time in the history of Israel that a sitting prime minister visited Mexico.

Netanyahu and Nieto agreed to update their 2000 free trade agreement. To quote Netanyahu: "We have agreed to establish and begin the ... negotiations to look over this agreement so that the commercial relationship between both nations intensifies and grows."

The most significant element of this agreement is that Israel agreed to help Mexico and the United States develop Central America.

This is a very important strategic move for Israel, they have much to contribute in this space. Over the years Israel has developed an expertise in helping African nations develop in the areas of agriculture, electricity, water, health and medicine.

Israel can do for South America what they do for Africa.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Iran & Turkey To Get Some of Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Ashraq al Awsat is an Arabic language newspaper headquartered in London. It is one of the most influential media outlets in Arabic.

Yesterday the paper covered a story about Iran and Turkey being very close to a coming to terms on a formal agreement pertaining to Syria. The agreement is under the auspices of Russia because Russia is actually the controlling force in Syria.

The main points of this agreement are frighteningly problematic.

Turkey will get a presence in north western Syria called the Idlib region. In exchange for that, Iran will get control over an area in southern Damascus. The area is heavily Shiite and includes a very important Shiite Mosque by the name of Sayyidah Zaynab. In addition, Iran will expand the mosque.

This agreement will guarantee Iran's involvement in Syria. It will be the basis for Iran's involvement on the ground in Syria and in the capital and will allow Iran influence and access to decisions in the Syrian capital.

And Russia will be pulling all the strings.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Saudis Bust ISIS Terror Cell

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia made an official announcement stating that they have busted a ring of ISIS terrorists.

During the arrest Saudi authorities seized numerous explosives, triggers, grenades and weapons. The group had the materials used to make explosive vests and had practiced using them.

Two of those arrested were Yemini's living in Saudi Arabia under assumed names.
Two native Saudis were also arrested.

ISIS has set its sights on the Saudis. They want to hit Saudi Arabia with terror attacks and they want to unseat the Saudi royal family that runs the government.

The plan that was uncovered during this arrest was a design to blow up the Saudi defense ministry.

If ISIS successfully targets Saudi government symbols and creates a sense of fear among Saudi residents they will successfully weaken the fabric of Saudi life.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Conference w Israel and Muslims Postponed

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Bad news was announced by Israel's Foreign Ministry. There has been a significant setback in Israel's effort at normalizing relations with Africa, including with many Muslim countries.

From October 23rd to 27th, in a city called Lome, the capital of Togo, there was supposed to be conference of 54 African countries. Israel was counting on participating. The conference has been postponed.

It was cancelled by the president of Togo. He succumbed to pressure and to the fear of violence in his streets if the conference were to go on as planned.

When Israel was informed of the cancellation of the conference, it was agreed that another conference, one between Israel and Togo, would be arranged. The official response was that their conference was moved "to a date to be agreed upon between the two countries."

The Lome conference was originally seen by Israel as a sign of the massive success of their outreach to Africa.

The cancellation did not come out of the blue. Many countries tried to derail the conference. South Africa, for example, was particularly vocal. The Palestinians were working hard to find a way to prevent Israel from participating and that included trying to cancel the conference.

For the Palestinians, their effort paid off. For everyone else, it's an unfortunate loss.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Russia and Saudi Agree to Safe Zones

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Abdel al Jubeir, and Russia, Sergei Lavrov, met and emphasized that the three de-escalation zones now in Syria are not a framework for dividing up Syria in the future. The de-escalation zones are supposed to be quiet areas that are in the regions where the ceasefires have been in effect and where air force flights are off limits.

There is, however, a plan to create a 4th zone soon.

Lavrov said: "The purpose of the de-escalation zones is to stop the violence." ... "It is not a permanent measure, and nobody who agree those zones has an intention of keeping them for good, thus in fact having long-term enclaves in the Syrian territory."

He continued: "The agreement is their term is six months, and it is clear already the result is evident,
the ceasefire is generally observed."It is important to realize that the de-escalation zones are supposed "to begin spreading across Syria the space, where ceasefire is observed, where peaceful life is developing."

People are expecting that this agreement might set the stage for a peaceful end to this conflict in Syria. But for now, we are only talking about baby steps.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

ISIS Has 11,000 Blank Passports

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported that ISIS may have as many as 11,000 official blank Syrian passports. That is stunning news.

These are not counterfeit passports, they are real McCoy. All the forger needs to do is insert the personal details and a picture.

Bild also reported that an addition 7,000 blank passports are in the hands of other nefarious groups.

The terrorists responsible for the simultaneous terror attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November of 2015 all had fake Syrian passports.

The Bild am Sonntag is the Sunday division of a daily paper. It is a broadsheet and it emphasizes scandals, but it is a serious newspaper and its material should be trusted.

Good work.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Saudis To Cut Oil Prudction

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Saudi Arabia announced that as of October, they will be cutting oil output. This Saudi decision is in line with the decision made by OPEC to reduce the amount of oil being sent to refineries.

Saudi Arabia will drop production to all their customers by 380,000 barrels per day. The largest consumer of oil in the world is the Asian market. Japan will most certainly be hurt by this reduction.

Europe normally gets 225,000 barrels per day from the Saudis. In October they will be cut to anywhere from 70,000 to 155,000 barrels. That is nearly a 30% reduction.

Even exports to the United States will be cut.

OPEC needs this to happen. They need to lift the price of oil. In January oil sold at $58 per barrel.
Now the price has dropped to $50, sometimes climbing only as high as $54.
OPEC is counting on this reduction in output - especially by the Saudis, to force the price of oil up.
They are hoping the price will level out at over $75 per barrel.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hitler Bell in Germany

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A small town in Germany still has a Hitler Bell.

What's a Hitler Bell? A Hitler Bell is a bell inscribed with a swastika and a quote from Hitler. This quote reads: "Everything for the Fatherland" - Adolph Hitler.

The small German town is called Herxheim am Berg. The bell is situated in a Protestant Church. It is causing quite a hoopla.

The mayor of the town defended the bell. He was so defensive that he even quoted a 95 year old resident who said that the Nazi period also had some "good things."

Obviously, most Hitler Bells and other Nazi and Hitler structures were destroyed immediately after World War II. No one can explain why this bell remained.

The best answer is that no one thought it necessary to remove it. That, in and of itself, is telling. And as for the mayor, he has since resigned.

MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Godiva Becomes Muslim

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

I just read an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz. It was about Godiva Chocolate and its current owner, the Turkish company Yildiz.

In April, Yildiz quietly ended all alcohol infused chocolate production. There are those who believe that the new Godiva has become heavily - maybe even overly, influenced by Islam.

The story of Lady Godiva is about as far from the tenets of Islam as one can get.

Godiva Chocolate was created in 1926 in Brussels. An image of Lady Godiva, after whom the company is quite obviously named, appears on every chocolate wrapper and chocolate and on the label of every box. She appears on horseback and nude, but covered up by her long hair. According to legend and lore, Lady Godiva rode nude through Coventry and the only person to peek at her was Peeping Tom looked.

In 1958 the first store opened in Paris, the chocolate company came to New York in the 1960's. Soon after, Godiva was bought up by the Campbell Soup company. And then, in 2008, It was bought by the Turkish company Yildiz.

The company has grown and few people even know of the Islamic connection. Islam never impacted on the product - until now.

Micah@MicahHalpern,com 

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

IDF War Games Send Message

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel's IDF is in the middle of its largest war exercises in the past 20 years. The war games, taking place from September 4 through September 14, are being played out in the north of Israel - on Israel's Lebanese border and their border with Syria.

Every year Israel conducts war games in that area. This year's games are different. These games are designed to send a very clear message to Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

Not much information has been released about the war games. But we can certainly assume that the IDF will utilize the multi-layered components of Israel's defense system.

There are three stages to these war games. First is an airstrike. Second is a ground strike. Third is a move to push invaders back over their borders.

Variations of this exercise have always beneficial to IDF forces and their commanders. This year, even more so. This year IDF's war games are doubling as a media message to the enemy.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, September 4, 2017

35,000 Radical Muslims in England

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator, gave his evaluation on the future of terror in Europe. Using England as an example, he said that the "The United Kingdom has identified 20,000 to 35,000 radicals."

Breaking down the radical groups even further, de Kerchove went on to explain that "3,000 are
worrying for MI5, and of those, 500 are under constant and special attention."

By comparison, de Kerchove said that "France has 17,000. Spain many less, but more than 5,000 I suppose. In Belgium almost 500 have been to Syria and there are around 2,000 radicals or more."

In short - Europe is infested with potential terrorists. De Kerchove said, "I wouldn't like to put a concrete figure on it, but (in Europe) tens of thousands, more than 50,000."

De Kerchove has a plan for dealing with these potential terrorists. "We must select those who are really worrying and the most dangerous, and they should be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

His conclusion is based on the principle that terrorists need not travel to the Middle East anymore. "The propaganda of the organization no longer requires people to go to the caliphate. They can attack in their places or origin, including on a small scale with home-made weapons."

This is a sobering and welcome evaluation. It means that Europe and European leadership is finally waking up to the threat of terror. Hopefully, this message will be received by those people who can benefit from the evaluation.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Putin Meets Xi about N Korea

By Micah Halpern
I've Been thinking:

Russia and China are worried about the latest North Korean nuclear test.

The two presidents, Putin and Xi Jinping, said that they are working together to "appropriately deal with" the North Korean nuclear saber rattling.

The two are meeting in the Southern Chinese city of Xiamen as part of the BRICS economic group. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They are a group of five fast growing emerging economies and they meet to compare notes and assist one another with their growth.

China and Russia are clearly untied in their objective to keep North Korea from advancing its nuclear capabilities. The best way to achieve that end is to coordinate their approach and next steps.

This meeting underscores for us just how closely aligned Russia and China are. They are on the same page and they are speaking at the highest of levels.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Friday, September 1, 2017

IAEA Says Iran Following Nuke Deal

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Looks like Iran is following the nuke deal.

Yesterday, the IAEA, the international agency that is the watchdog supervising Iran's nuclear development, delivered its 3rd report on Iran since January.

They concluded that Iranians are following both the spirit and the letter of the famous - or, as some consider it - the infamous, nuke deal of March 2015.

This is important news.

The White House has accused Iran of violating the deal. Congress has asserted that Iran is playing footloose and fancy free with the deal. But the only group qualified to actually determine whether Iran is cooperating is the International Atomic Energy Agency.

And they say that everything is A-OK.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

US Craters ISIS as they Retreat

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has been ousted from the Lebanese/Syrian border. They have moved east toward their stronghold on the Iraqi/Syrian border.

Making up the ISIS convoy were 308 fighters and 331 others. As the convoy moved, the United States blew up the road and the bridge that ISIS members needed to travel and reunite with their group.

The ISIS ceasefire was created between Hezbollah, the Lebanese army and ISIS. The entire objective was to oust ISIS - and they succeeded. The US, however, is not obligated to uphold that agreement and that is why they blasted the road.

Ryan Dillon, the US spokesman for the coalition, put it clearly and succinctly: "We did crater the road and destroyed a small bridge to prevent this convoy from moving further east ... We're not bound by these (ceasefire deal) agreements ... They're clearly fighters and they're moving to another location to fight yet again. In accordance with the law of armed conflict ... we will strike them if we are able to do so"

There is no rule of war that permits terrorists to relocate.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ISIS Ousted from Leb/Syria Border

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

After being subjected to a sustained pounding on both sides of the Syrian Lebanese border, ISIS agreed to a ceasefire.

The purpose of the cease fire was to get ISIS out of the region.

According to Hezbollah TV, ISIS really is on its way out. They reported that two dozen buses and eleven ambulances departed the region. No one can confirm how many people were in the vehicles.

ISIS was moving to Boukamal, a town in eastern Syria. Boukamal is on the border with Iraq, far away from the border of Lebanon and Syria.

This is a great success for Hezbollah and the Lebanese army. They ousted ISIS from their borders and moved them to the other side of Syria. Their region now appears to be safe and secure.

But not really. The void will most likely be filled by Iran.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saudis Sign $70B Deal w China

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

China and Saudi Arabia just signed a $70 billion deal in which the Saudis will be purchasing goods and services from China.

That is a huge deal. Not only will it be a tremendous boost to China's economy, it also means that the Chinese will now be less dependent on US markets.

The deal involves media, postal services, trade, energy and communications. It is a massive investment on the part of Saudi Arabia. They are investing in China to buoy their future.

This is such an important deal that it actually has its own name - it's called Looking to the Future 2030.

The most important thing to remember is that the Saudis are moving towards the Chinese. China has become a provider, it is no longer only self-oriented and internally focused.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Iran Imprison Leaders who Liberalize Islam

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran convicted a Shiite religious leader and sentenced him to death. He was convicted of blaspheme and creating a cult.

In reality, the Shiite leader created a New Age style of Shiite Islam. It is a form of liberalizing of Islam. His lawyer will appeal the decision.

There was a similar case in 2014. After appeal, the death penalty was reduced and the cleric remains in prison for life.

Iranians are looking to control the growth of Shiite Islam. They cannot tolerate and do not understand the growth of religious ideas in the modern world. Ultimately, Iran will not be able to restrict the natural evolution of new ideas that has always influenced Islam.

For centuries external forces improved Islam. Shutting out those forces is a recipe for failure for Iran.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

California Leads US in Anit-Semitism

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Anti-Semitism is up 30% in California in the first quarter of 2017.

California leads the country in anti Semitic incidents. California!!

How is that possible? The stories are hair-raising. Fourth graders are being told by their classmates that Hitler should have burned them all in the ovens. This happened in the context of young Jewish girls describing their trip to Memphis, TN and discussing the rise of the KKK and neo-Nazism.

Alameda, situated just outside of San Francisco and considered by Californians to be a liberal bastion, has been teaming with anti-Semitic attacks. One might think that in this uber liberal environment anti=Semitism would be unacceptable, but it is happening all over - especially in schools.

The numbers and the examples come from the ADL.

This does not bode well.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Middle East Might Expode on 9-25

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
On September 25th the entire Middle East might explode.

That is the day that the Kurds of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq will vote for independence.

5 million people will cast their votes and almost everyone will opt for independence.

The Shiites, who now govern Iraq, have said that they will not recognize an independent Kurdish state. But the truth is that the Iraqi army is preoccupied fighting ISIS and they are no match for the Kurds. In addition, the Kurds already control their border.

The Turks and the Iranians will be very upset with Kurdish independence. 75% of the Kurds are split between these two nations. And that is where war may emerge.

The Turks will do anything to prevent a Kurdish state. Iran does not want to cede any of its land, nor do they want their Kurds running to join the new Iraqi Kurdish state.

If battle breaks the conflict will be between Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Iran. There will be huge losses.
But in the end an independent state might emerge carved out of Turkey and Iran and Iraq.

The other possibility is a massacre in which of millions of Kurds will be murdered at the hands of Turks and Iranians.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Israel Revokes Citizenship of ISIS Terrorists

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A new law was activated in Israel this week: Citizens who engage in hostile acts against the state will have their citizenship revoked.

Aryeh Deri, Israel's minister of the interior, listed 20 people who will have their citizenship revoked.
The 20 were convicted of joining ISIS.

Aryeh Deri also mentioned that those who use their cars to murder and ram Israelis may also be put on the citizenship chopping block. I would guess that all convicted terrorists might fall into this category.

The hope is that this new legal power will influence terrorists to stop their actions. Israeli citizenship brings with it many benefits.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Iran Makes Nuke Counter Move

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran is striking back at the United States. Iranians are saying that it will only take them five days to ramp up their uranium production to 20% - enough make a nuclear bomb.

Official Iranian media quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's atomic agency, saying: "If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days."

As part of the deal agreed upon in 2015, Iran destroyed or exported almost all of its uranium that was enriched over 20%.

But there's more. Now they say that if the US does not hold up the agreement they will also violate the agreement and they can easily start enriching uranium.

This is Iran's counter move to Trump's assertion that the United States will stop the deal because Iran is violating it. Iran is saying, in essence, whatever you think is a violation will pale in comparison to what we will do if the United States breaks the agreement.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Russia Strikes ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

This will give you a sense of what Russia is doing in Syria.

The Russian ministry of defense announced on Monday that they successfully intercepted an ISIS convoy and destroyed it killing 200 ISIS fighters.

The Russian ministry of defense said that the Russian air force attacked and destroyed a large column of ISIS fighters.

The ISIS fighters were moving from Raqqa to the city of Deir al Zor. They were hoping to secure their move and created a large convoy in the hope of protecting themselves from attack.

But the larger the convoy, the easier it is to hit from the air. And that is exactly what the Russian air force did. In addition to killing the ISIS fighters, Russia emphasized that they also destroyed ISIS' weapons, hardware and equipment.

This was a very impressive strike and is a huge loss for ISIS. Kudos to Russia.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Israel Prefers Good Terms - Won't Critique Trump

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There has been critique of Israeli leadership for not criticizing Donald Trump's comments - or lack of comments, about white nationalists.

It should be abundantly clear that this was an obvious decision, not an oversight. Israel came to the conclusion that preserving their relationship with the Trump White House is more important than calling out anti-Semites.

President Trump is not, I believe, an anti-Semite - but he is giving them cover. When Trump failed to criticize white nationalists he empowered them.

Israel should have explained this to Trump. They should have gone public and clearly explained that these people are evil.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

ISIS Celebrates Barcelona Terror

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
ISIS is celebrating the attacks in Spain. The celebration is taking place not just on official ISIS websites, but also by supporters of ISIS in the Western world.

Amaq, the ISIS news agency, has an explanation for the deadly terror attack that has rocked Barcelona. This is what Amaq had to say: "The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states."

Twitter lit up after the Barcelona attacks. There was an entire group who supported ISIS and the attacks against innocent Spaniards and tourists. They said that this terror was coming to them for being part of the US coalition and intervening in the Middle East to fight ISIS.

"To all Spanish people, the time has now come to pay for everything that your government has done to innocent people in our countries."

Another twitter writer wrote to Christians around the wolrd: "The worshipers of the Cross no longer feel safe and secure in their homes, individual wolves are still watching and waiting for the right time to cover your heads and shed your blood."

The hashtag #thecrucifixionofthecrusaders collected much of these comments. The hashtag itself means "to kill Christians".

This is dangerous stuff.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Friday, August 18, 2017

ISIS Attacks Hamas in Gaza

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:
 
Early Thursday morning at Rafah, the crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Hamas security forces went to arrest two suspicious people.

As the two were being arrested they blew themselves up together with the Hamas border police.

ISIS along with their Salafi affiliates in Gaza took responsibility for the attack against Hamas. The announcement said the attack "was done in response to Hamas activity against Salafist jihadists ... which includes the destruction of mosques belonging to the organization, the arrest of its members, and their persecution."

The terrorists were probably wearing explosive suicide vests.

It should be noted that both ISIS and Hamas are terror groups. They are both on the same side in Syria both, trying to oust Assad. But in Gaza - in Gaza, Hamas and ISIS are arch enemies.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hamas Warns Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yahya Sinwar has been the leader of Hamas for the past 6 months. He has not been a very public - until yesterday when he held a press briefing.

Sinwar warned Israel not to escalate tensions or attack Gaza. He asserted that Hamas is much more powerful than they were during the last conflict with Israel.

Sinwar said: "Hamas is not seeking a confrontation, but if such a confrontation should arise, Hamas will pummel Israel."

Sinwar warned Israel against "taking stupid steps against the Gaza Strip" and claimed that "the Palestinian resistance has the ability to respond to that."

There is no doubt that tensions wax and wane between Israel and Hamas.

Tensions will certainly rise to a level that will require a response - and that response may very well lead to an all out conflict, something approaching war war.

Hamas is saying that, should it come to another conflict, they will respond and, in the end, Israel will be hurt.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Abbas Send Blessing to Kim Jong Un

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did it again - only this time with North Korea.

Abbas sent Kim Jong Un a telegram wishing him and the North Korean people congratulations on the celebration of Liberation Day, the day that celebrates their liberation from Japan.

Abbas thanked Kim Jong for his support of the Palestinian people and for North Korea's investment and trade as well as for their close friendship.

WAFA, the official Palestinian media, published a copy of the telegram.
Abbas wrote that Kim Jong Un "sacrificed the most precious sacrifices for its freedom and honor."

He wrote that he hopes that the "historical friendly relations between Palestine and North Korea and their two peoples will continue to develop and grow" and then he wished Kim "all health and happiness."

What is Abbas thinking? How many other countries wished North Korean well on this day? Reaching out to Kim Jong Un is a destructive move that will only further alienate Abbas and Palestinians from the West.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com 

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Convicted for Defrauding ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A German court convicted a Syrian of attempting to defraud several ISIS terrorists.

The Syrian is referred to only as "Hassan A.". He asked the ISIS members for 180,000 Euros which is equivalent to $212,400. In return for the money Hassan agreed to plan and perpetrate a terror attack in Germany.

In the end no money was transferred - but Hassan A. was sentenced to two years of prison for trying to defraud ISIS.

Hassan A., a 39 year old a hairdresser, was found not guilty of planning a terror attack. He never planned on creating an attack - he was just trying to steal money from ISIS.

One has to laugh at the entire story. Should ISIS be protected from fraud and a flimflam? I'm not certain ... Should an illegal enterprise be protected from fraud? What do you think?

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Monday, August 14, 2017

US Kills More ISIS Leaders

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has killed several major ISIS leaders in Afghanistan.

The US targeted the ISIS leaders in an airstrike on Thursday. The top leader killed in the strike is Abdul Rahman, ISIS leader in the Kunar Province. The ISIS group was called ISIS-K.

Three other ISIS leaders were also killed in the strike. US General John Nicholson, senior US commander in Afghanistan, confirmed that the strike and the successful targeting of the SIS leaders.

"The death of Abdul Rahman deals yet another blow to the senior leadership of ISIS-K."

ISIS is on the ropes in the Far East and in the Middle East. Pressure against ISIS is continuing to build. The final destruction of ISIS is in sight.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Iran May be Forced Out of World Cup

By Micah Halpern
Sunday August 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

International sports are supposed to be above politics. In fact, the rules of international sports competition dictates that no politics be a part of any decisions.

Some participants and organizers even harbor the hope  perhaps, the dream - that during competitions warring states will be seen as parties that can compete even when they disagree.

But hopes and dreams do not always come true. Two Iranian players for the Greek soccer club Panionios decided not to play in their away game against Israel, in Israel, even though they were pressured and fined by the club. When Israel traveled to Greece, however, to play Panionios at "home," some same two Iranian players for the Greek club played.

Playing in their  stadium was considered a huge act of defiance by Iran. Iranian political leadership saw the player's participation as a betrayal, even a crime.

In the end the two Iranians who played for the Greek team were dropped from the Iranian national soccer team. Social media in Iran overwhelmingly defended the athletes' decision to play. But in this case, politicians had the last word.

Now FIFA, the international soccer body that supervises the soccer worldwide, has stepped in and asked for clarification. FIFA bylaws say there can be no external/political influence in decision making. If it is determined that the political powers exerted any influence Iran would be removed from all international competition.

This would be very costly and painful for Iran. Not simply because they would not be permitted to compete in club games, but because Iran qualified for the World Cup which is a great national honor and they would not be permitted to participate.

This is an example of emotions getting the better of them. The Iranians did not think things through.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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