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Hamas- PA Deal
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 24, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement yesterday.
The overall winner is Hamas. They get almost everything. Abbas and the PA get to rub the faces of the United States and Israel in the mud.

The reality is that all the conditions as agreed upon in this current agreement were already signed onto in two previous agreements - one in Doha and the other in Cairo. The only difference is the timetable.

There are very few details about any sharing of power in any of the three agreements.

So why did Hamas once again agree to this? The real problem for Hamas is that Gaza needs money. They have been bled dry. There is an almost total barricade of funds entering Gaza. Most Arab countries, with only one exception, have long ago withdrawn their support of Hamas. Even Iran, the lone holdout, no longer supports Hamas in Gaza because they are on opposite sides in Syria.

It is the hope of monetary aid that helps drive Hamas' acceptance of the deal.

As for the PA, they have now entered into an agreement and joined forces with a registered and universally accepted terror organization.

United States law, as well as almost all of European law, prohibits supporting a terror organization. That means that the monetary aid, the raison d'etre of Hamas for joining with the PA, will stop.
There is no way the White House can justify sending funds to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

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Europe Sees The Jihad Threat
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 23, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Both the French and Dutch governments issued reports today that hundreds of their citizens have been involved in jihadist activists. Many of them have been trained, fought and died in Syria.

In the case of Amsterdam, one Dutch citizen was even a suicide bomber.

The reports underscore the urgent need for Europe to respond to the changing and wide spread landscape of terror. These governments, as well as the rest of Europe, are trying to create responses which will protect their homes and home turf from the extremism that these jihadists will bring back with them from Syria.

The jihadists return home with battle and weapons experience and training. They are battle hardened and they are even more dedicated to the jihadist cause than they were before joining the fight in Syria.

France says that 700 of their citizens were involved in jihadist activities in 2013. The actual number is probably three times that.

Until now the only tools governments had been using involved intelligence collection. Now the French Ministry of the Interior has announced that they are working on a plan to stem this movement. And Amsterdam has announced that they are cooperating with other governments to try to create a response.

The best response to hate is education. But that is a long term solution.

In the short term Europe needs to breakup jihadist groups, arrest members of jihadists groups and clamp down on individual jihadists.

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Next Iran Talks to Be in NYC
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 21, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

The official Iranian student news service reported on Sunday that the next set of nuclear talks will take place in New York City.

The news agency, called ISNA, quoted a senior negotiator saying that in May the Iranians will continue their discussions with Western powers on the sidelines of the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty talks.

This is the first time since the talks began that negotiations will take place in New York City. It is a significant signal.
It means that all the parties to the negotiations have enough of a comfort level to agree to have the United States both host and to be a part of the talks.

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Al Qaeda & the PA
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 20, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Ayman Zawahiri, head of al Qaeda, posted a general update of al Qaeda on Saturday. Part of the update dealt with the Abbas and the Palestinians.

Zawahiri refers to Palestinian leadership as traitors and cowards.
He says that they have given up on the land and on their people and want only to conform to US and Zionist demands.

The PA responded by posting a statement on their website asking since when has al Qaeda even cared about the Palestinians.

Ahmad Assaf, the Fatah spokesmen, took the PA response several steps further saying: "confirm the level of his and his organization's involvement in the Zionist project. Since when has this hypocrite and his gang been interested in the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian people? They see the whole world an open arena for their activities, but we didn't see even one activity against the Israeli occupation."

Did you catch the last line?

The Fatah spokesman is asking why there has been not even a single terror al Qaeda attack against Israel. He is saying, in essence, if you cared about the Palestinians then you would be attacking Israel and killing Israelis.

This is one of the most honest statements by Palestinian leadership that I have heard in a very long time. Palestinian leadership traditionally attempts to create the illusion of a desire for coexistence and a condemnation of terror. Here we see the opposite. The spokesman is saying --- If you really loved us, you would be killing Israelis.

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Al Qaeda vs Al Qaeda
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 19, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

It is clear that Bashar Assad is there to stay, at least for the short term. It is also clear that the real battle now being waged in Syria is between al Qaeda and al Qaeda breakaway groups.

The most recent spat is being waged on the audio waves of the internet. Abu Mohammed al Adnani, spokesperson for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the largest breakaway from al Qaeda posted a very angry and antagonistic internet audio message attacking the current leader of al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri.

Al Adnani let loose an ad hominem rant about how Zawahiri is betraying the cause of Islam and jihad and how he has deviated from the proper path.

In November of 2013, Zawahiri was so frustrated with this group that he officially disbanded them. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant responded by breaking away from al Qaeda claiming that they were the true jihadist group and declaring war on all others groups - especially al Nusra, now the official al Qaeda representative in Syria.

The battle about how best to conduct jihad continues. And the killing goes on.

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Turkey to Ask Russia for a Favor
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 18, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

In foreign affairs and diplomacy nothing happens in isolation. A country's foreign affairs are, in many ways, akin to the game Settlers of Catan.

So as the situation begins to unravel with Russia, many other countries are stepping up, taking sides and taking advantage.

Imagine how interested I was to see that the deputy of the Russian natural gas company Gazprom was schedule to visit Turkey. And during the visit, Turkey intends on asking the Russians for a price reduction.

Russia/Gazprom is the major provider of natural gas for Turkey - and Turkey is dependent on imports for almost all of their energy.
Given today's political climate, Russia might be willing to reduce the price of gas in exchange for support in the international arena. If not support, at least silence.

For Turkey, it would seem to be a very small price to pay for cheaper natural gas.

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Horrific - Jews Must Register in Russian Ukraine!
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 17, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Horrific!! Just Horrific!!

The Jews living in a province located in a section of Ukraine that is being contested by the Russians have been asked to register at the regional citizenship office. If they do not follow directions their citizenship will be revoked, they will be forced to leave Ukraine and all their property will be confiscated. They must also pay a $50 registration fee.

The province, or, Obalst in Ukranian, is called Donetsk. It is home to the largest industrial area in Ukraine and lies in the eastern part of the country, close to Russia. Donetsk has a population of 4.3 million which is about 10% of the total population of Ukraine.
Many ethnic Russians live in the province. And there are 17,000 Jews living in Donetsk.

On Passover armed masked men delivered leaflets demanding that the Jews register.

The leaflet read:

"Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,
Due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine, because you supported Bendery Junta, and oppose the pro-Slavic People's Republic of Donetsk, (An historical allusion to WWII) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic's territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.

ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles.

Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property."

Who would have imagined that this would happen in the year 2014.

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