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Yemen & the Remaining Jews
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 28, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

Yemen is imploding. Shiite Houthi has run the Yemeni government and leadership out of their own country. Sana, the capital city, and most other cities, are in Houthi hands.

The Houthi are Islamic extremists.

And what about the Jewish community that still lives in Yemen? The community today numbers about 100 Jews. In 1959 there were 60,000 Jews living in Yemen.

Today about 76 of the Jews of Yemen live in the capital, Sana. The others are scattered in other cities around the country.

Over the years a relationship developed between the Jewish community and the Arab community of Yemen. Recently, especially since September when some very ugly acts were perpetrated by the Islamists, the Jewish community began to live in fear. They are in fear not only of the Houthi but also of their once friendly neighbors. The Jews of Yemen are worried about their safety and security.

Yemen once had a strong and very proud community of Jews - rich in tradition and heritage. Those Jews who chose to remain did so because they felt comfortable and at home. They stayed despite having opportunities to leave.

Now their safety is in the balance.

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US Ignored Yemen
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 27, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

How did the U.S. not see what was happening in Yemen? Why did the US not prevent Yemen from failing to the Houthi?

This was a huge regional blunder.

The answer is that the US made elementary mistakes.

The United States had all the intelligence and all the info. They just did not perceive of the Houthi as a power that could and would take over not just Sana, the capital, but the entire country.

The U.S. thought the Houthi were weak and disorganized. They saw them just like they saw ISIS.

The attention of the United States was focused on confronting al Qaeda of Yemen. The Houthi were, quite literally, left alone.

Another reason the US left the Houthi alone is because they are sponsored and supported by Iran. The U.S. did not want to disturb or irritate Iran and jeopardize their very sensitive nuclear talks.

Now Saudi Arabia has begun the task of confronting the Houthi. The Saudis cannot have an extremist Islamic group spilling over across their border.

The U.S. has dozens of drones flying and relaying Houthi movements to the Saudi Air Force. Also joining Saudi Arabia in their air strikes are the Jordanian Air Force and the Egyptian Air Force.

The United States did nothing as Yemen fell. Now they are providing only intelligence.

This is a colossal failure on the part of the United States. Even bigger than Libya.

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Saudi to Intervene in Yemen
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 26, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like Saudi Arabia is getting closer to intervening in Yemen.

The Houthi are taking over more and more of the country and anarchy is reigning. And so, the Saudis are amassing more and more troops on their border with Yemen.

On Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al- Faisal said that if the anarchy is not solved quickly and peacefully the Gulf States will take "necessary measures" to protect the region from the "aggression of the Houthi" and their allies --- who are the Iranian backed forces.
Yemen is in tatters. Violence and destruction is ravaging the country. There is no rule of law.

Saudi Arabia cannot let this violence spill over.

The violence is fueled by Islamic rejection of current leadership.

The Houthis reject both the monarchy and democracy. They reject all forms of government except for a caliphate, which is a government run by a religious authority. That authority is their version of Shariyah (Islamic) law.

Time is running out for Yemen.

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Did Israel Spy on the US???
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 25, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is being accused of spying on the secret nuclear talks that took place between Iran and the United States.

The White House says it discovered the spying. In their eyes, they say, that act was a major breach of trust. Friends don't spy on friends and then turn the material they illicitly received over to Capitol Hill for politicians to torpedo.

The report was published on Monday in the Wall Street Journal. An official described how the Americans were convinced that spying was taking place.

The official said: "The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks."
Did you read that correctly? I bet you did.

There was no spying at all. Actually, the source says that the US was spying on their dear friends the Israelis. The United States was "intercepting communications" from Israel.

And when the US saw what the Israelis were inter alia communicating about, they concluded that the only way that the Israelis could get that material was by spying on them.

This entire episode is about embarrassing the Israelis.

Israel has denied the accusation from top to bottom. The Israeli minister of defense said that if there was a spy charge, there would have been an official complaint. That is the normal protocol. He checked and rechecked and found no complaint.

There are many ways to get information. The US gives Israel a lot of information - including information on their dealings with Iran. So do other members of the P5+1. And then there are the Iranians.

Israel has assets and spy apparatus set up in Iran.

Since the Pollard affair in the 1980s, Israel has agreed not to spy on the US and not to operate agents in the US.

Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, known for his undiplomatic and brash responses, made it very clear. He said that Israel does not spy on the US. "There are enough participants in these negotiations, including Iranians," he said. "We got our intelligence from other sources, not from the United States. The instruction has been clear for decades now: you don't spy on the United States, directly or indirectly."

It cannot get clearer than that.
Israel received the information - but not by spying on the talks between the United States and Iran.
There is, ahem, one important point that fell through the cracks in this discussion. It seems perfectly fine for the US to spy on Israel... but it is forbidden for Israel to even gain info, even from other sources, about a risk that directly touches them, their security, the future of their country.

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PA PM to Visit Gaza Tomorrow
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 24, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

We need to watch internal moves and machinations within the Arab world. We need to see how and if situations change, to know if progress is made and to understand in what directions the Arab world is moving.

When I discovered that Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will not only visit the Gaza Strip on Wednesday but that he will also spend several days there, I was very interested in knowing the why and how of this visit.

This is the second trip of Hamdallah to Gaza.
Gaza is controlled by Hamas and there is great tension between the Palestinian Authority and Gazans.

It looks like they are now trying to mend fences. I would probably guess that the fence mending has to do with resources - especially electricity and the donor funds that are supposed to pour into Gaza.

I would also guess that in Gaza, Hamas and the PA will also be talking about Iran, about ISIS and about Israel under Bibi.

The biggest question they have, their biggest conundrum, will be how to engage with the United States and either meet or divert the expectations that the West has set for the Palestinian of Gaza and the PA.

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Enough Bickering from the White House
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 23, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

Enough -- I have heard enough about Bibi Netanyahu saying that he now rejects the two state solution. And enough about how the United States now needs to re-evaluate their relationship with Israel.

The statement made by the prime minister of Israel was not a rejection of the two state solution. It was simply a continuation of statements the prime minister has always been making. There does not seem to be a partner for peace on the Palestinian side of the negotiating table. And until there is a partner, there will be no peace.

Netanyahu has been saying this for three years.

The White House has now become afflicted with selective hearing. When they only hear what they want to hear, entire scenarios become skewed.

There is no convincing way to explain what is happening in the White House and its relationship with Israel. The only person who can adequately explain what is happening is the president himself.

The White House is really not very interested in what was said and why. They are only interested in exacting a penalty - a tax on Israel for not toeing the line. This behavior is called "disciplining" in Washington speak. The White house is using discipline in an effort to control Israel and rein in Netanyahu.

This is not an isolated incident. The White House will continue to discipline Israel. Get used to it.

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