The Micah Report Columns Thoughts Predictions About Micah Archives Contact
The Micah Report

« March 2009 | Main | May 2009 »

Gates Says Sanction Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 1, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who also served under Bush, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee that a military strike will not solve the nuclear issue in Iran.
Gates explained that a strike will push the Iranian program even deeper underground and will solidify Iran's desire to have a nuclear program.

For several years now I have been saying that the best the West and Israel can effectively and safely deliver is a knock down punch to Iran.
I have been saying that if a knock out punch is impossible, which it appears to be, then we must develop alternatives.

Gates is advising to hit Iran with more sanctions because the Iranians hate sanctions and hate knowing that they are despised by the world at large.
Gates is saying that the only real way to deal with Iran is through tough diplomacy - not through a military strike.

A one-two punch, a combination of diplomacy and the serious threat of attack, is probably the best method of influencing Iran's nuclear policy.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

It's Not Easy Being 61
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 30, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday was Israel's 61st birthday.
US President Obama called and gave his blessing to Israel, emphasizing how his vision supports Israel and the peace process.

President Mubarak of Egypt also called. He congratulated President Shimon Peres and expressed the wish that this year the peace process will get back on track.

Interestingly, on Monday Venezuela chose to initiate a diplomatic agreement and the Palestinians opened an embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.
During this past winter's operation against Hamas, Chavez expelled the Israeli ambassador. Yesterday the Palestinian Foreign minister called Hugo Chavez the most popular leader in the Arab world.

Chavez is so popular because he challenges the priorities of the West.
Chavez is the voice of the many people that are afraid to challenge the United States and US hegemony and the US orientation in the world.

Chavez is what they call a very bad boy.
And very bad boys tend to become very popular n the Middle East.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

New Election in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The election in Iran takes place on June 12th.
Ahmadinejad is running and hopes to retain his position.
Other candidates who have thrown their names into the ring are also in favor of reforming Iran's backward economy.

Two of the most prominent candidates for reform are Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi. These reformers would have a better chance at success if they joined forces. As a united front they would be able to present The Ayatollah, The Supreme Leader and the only vote that really counts in this election, with a serious alternative to Ahmadinejad.

Karoubi went on the record, on Iranian national news, yesterday.
He made his points clearly and pointedly:
"Reducing tension with the West surely is my priority."
"The president's speeches have harmed Iran's interests."
"Holocaust is of no concern to Iran whether it existed or not ... Such remarks provoke other countries to take measures against Iran."

Karoubi expressed sentiments that resonate with the people of Iran.
The only question is whether they will sway The Supreme Leader.
Expect more of these statements over the next 6 weeks.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 28, 2009


Change, the central theme of the Obama campaign, is now insinuating itself into Middle East policy.

The LA Times recently reported that the Obama administration has asked Capitol Hill to change the law on Hamas. If the president was asking for only slight alterations, even a few cosmetic modifications to the way the United States handles Hamas, Congress might let it slide. But no, this is true change, big change.

As it now stands, it is against the law in the United States to send money that in any way will benefit Hamas either directly or even indirectly. US funds may not support the terrorist organization Hamas or the terrorists of Hamas. Congress has been very clear on this matter. So clear on this matter that Congress came to their decision without the prodding of the "Israel Lobby" or any other "pro" Israel group.

The change President Barack Obama is requesting would alter bedrock assumptions about Hamas and terror. It would permit Hamas' people to be part of a Palestinian unity government if the individuals themselves were not terrorists, just leaders of a terrorist organization.

For the United States Congress, this distinction will not be about political expedience. It will not be about prevailing winds. For Congress it is not a test of friendship between the United States and Israel. Should the Obama change be implemented that friendship will change quickly and completely, perhaps irrevocably.

The men and women on The Hill view dealings with Hamas, the avowed and acknowledged terrorist organization, as an issue of right and wrong. Israel is right and Hamas is wrong. Congress was not planning on altering its stance vis a vis Hamas until Hamas altered its stances on what Congress considers four essential givens. Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, must renounce terror, must actively try to prevent terror, must agree to abide by and honor previous agreements. If change of any sort was expected, it was expected to come from Hamas, not from the United States.

Congress is not alone. These four stipulations were laid down by the Quartet the last time an opportunity arose for Hams to join a Palestinian Unity government. The Quartet, a group composed of Russia, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations, is not what anyone could call an overly demanding group when it comes to making demands on Hamas. But even then Hamas was unwilling to meet the demands.

So why does this administration want to bring about this change? The Obama administration likes to look at things, even tried and true, iron clad, basic rules of diplomacy, differently. The Obama administration wants to challenge "what has always been done" and transform it into "what we are now doing."

In some ways challenging basic issues and ideas is refreshing. But it can also be dangerous. And the people who will be paying the price for this particular change in policy towards Hamas don't live in Washington D.C. they live in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Sderot. It is Israelis who will be paying the price for Barack Obamas' creative zeal. The new kids on Pennsylvania Avenue will be sitting back, watching their experiment play out from a safe and comfortable distance.

The White House's argument is that they are doing this out of their love and commitment for Israel. They will say that this is not an anti Israel stance, that it is an incentive package for Hamas.

Hamas will not change because Hamas does not want to change. Hamas will neither stop terror nor renounce terror. Hamas may pretend to be a political organization, but terror is their trade. Hamas will not accept Israel. That is clear. And now, in the midst of this era of new ideas, it is becoming clearer and clearer that neither will the present day ruling faction within the Palestinian Authority.

Just a few weeks ago Mohamed Dahlan, probably the second most publicly recognized person in Fatah and second only to Mahmoud Abbas, clearly stated that just because the government had to accept Israel, it does not automatically follow that Fatah, the ruling party in the PA, must accept Israel. The government needs to recognize Israel because of world politics, but that fact does not reflect a change in the policy of Fatah.

And now Abbas is even challenging the principle of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as a sine qua non for movement in the peace process. Abbas came out and said "no" it is not. He said "they can call themselves what they want but I do not have to accept it. I do not accept it and I say it publicly."

The White House, the Palestinian Authority and Israel are about to go head to head to head. It will all come to a head in May when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu makes his first visit to Washington. The real battle will be waged on Capitol Hill. If the White House successfully convinces the Hill to adopt this new approach towards Hamas it will lead to a revolutionary period in United States diplomacy and the attitude of the United States toward Israel.

If Congress does not stand strong, Israel will truly be all alone. All those ideas of peace and two states will be gone, off the table until some day in the distant future. If Congress does not stand strong hope of containing Hamas inspired terror will be gone. Hamas will emerge stronger and empowered. But true to its mandate, the Obama administration will have brought about change.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Israeli Oranges in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 27, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

On Saturday Iran launched an inquiry.

The Iranians are investigating how Israeli oranges were imported into Iran despite a law that clearly forbids promoting Israeli products.

The Israeli oranges are very tasty and seem to be in big demand.
And they entered Iran in crates marked in Chinese.
The crates seem to have arrived from Dubai.
Officials are saying that the oranges must have come in through unofficial channels.

The reality of today's markets is that things are often repackaged to make them look one way rather than another.

And in the case of many items from Israel the original packaging leaves off the words "product of Israel."

My guess is that is probably what happened here.

Another example of how Iran is trying to shut out Israel.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

The Ayatoallah Says it Was the US & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 26, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Supreme Leader of Iran is The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
On Saturday he announced that the horrific suicide attacks that shook Iraq were perpetrated by the United States and Israel.

"The American and Israeli intelligence apparatuses are the number-one
accused ... for the spread of the poisonous seeds of terrorism in Iraq."

"Those evil brains and sinful hands that established this blind, unbridled terrorism in Iraq should know that this fire will end up burning them."

Some of the victims were Iranians on a pilgrimage to Iraq, in fact, many of the victims were on a religious pilgrimage. It is hard to imagine, but Muslims murdered other Muslims who were involved in a religious pilgrimage. Muslims murdered Muslims as an act of Islam – and then threw the blame onto others.

If these Muslims do not even respect religious observance, what do they respect? This is the enemy we must defeat.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

We Must Say What is Right
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 25, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

President Barack Obama marked the day commemorating the Armenian Genocide without even mentioning the word "genocide."

The day is set aside to honor the memories of 1.5 million civilians killed by the Ottomans in 1915. The subject is a difficult one for Armenians and Turks to discuss. Conversations become heated and are laced with passion. Only now are the two sides at the cusp of resolving the conflict and recognizing the historical reality that took place at the beginning of the previous century.

In not mentioning the word "genocide" the president was breaking an election promise. He was also cow-towing to the Turks. Turkey is certainly a friend of the United States, but the Turks must know where we stand on this issue. The Turks know what truly happened and they know that it is best for everyone to come to an understanding of that period in history and to remember it for what it was.

Obama called it "one of the great atrocities of the 20th century."
He said: "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed" ... "My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts."
He continued: "The best way to advance that goal right now," ... "is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward."
President Obama was tap dancing around this issue. What the Turks did was atrocious. One need not harp on it, but neither can it be ignored or avoided.

The word "genocide" was created in order to describe, as Obama called it, "one of the great atrocities of the 20th century."
History cannot be rewritten to better fit our political alliances.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Egypt Is Angry
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 24, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

On Thursday Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak issued a stern warning to Iran and to Hezbollah.

He told them. Do not attempt to destabilize Egypt!

This is not the first time Mubarak has issued this warning.
This is not the first time Mubarak has spoken to Iran and to Hezbollah.
The warning began when it was discovered that there was a terror ring operating in Egypt, sponsored by Hezbollah and Iran, with the expressed purpose of attacking Egyptian tourists and the Suez Cannel.

This is what Mubarak had to say:
"They are trying to enforce their agenda on our Arab world. They see the division in the Arab and Palestinian worlds and they're pushing their agents to the region to threaten Egypt's national security and undermine its stability. We will not allow them to bring the region to the brink of an abyss."

He continued: "We are aware of your plans."
"We will uncover all of your plots and we will respond to your ploys. Stop using the Palestinian issue and beware the wrath of Egypt."

Egypt is angry.
Egypt is rallying other Arab countries to channel their anger toward Iran and Hezbollah

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iran Rachets the Tension
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 23, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is ratcheting up the tensions.
Iran is trying to create an "us versus them" situation.
"Us" is Iran, "them" is the whole rest of the world.

Creating that tension was one of the intentions behind the keynote speech delivered by Ahmadinejad in Geneva at Durban II.

Perpetuating that tension was the job of Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament and a trusted closed adviser of Ahmadinejad, who said on national Iranian TV yesterday that if attacked "Iran will respond in a way so that they will not be able to sleep easy anymore."

That statement was a direct counter threat addressed to Israel.
In that statement, "they" was Israel.

At the same time Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, was quoted as saying that Israel is not planning an attack on Iran.

In truth, Shimon Peres does not have the faintest idea what Israel is planning because the president of Israel is a non-policy, largely ceremonial, post.

The point is that Peres is trying to dial down the tensions.

In an ironic twist, Peres is the father of Israel's nuclear program.
It was his brainchild and his initiative, dating back to the early years of Israel.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 21, 2009


On Sunday April 19th, on the day that was Adolf Hitler's birthday, Hans Rudolf-Merz, the president of Switzerland, met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran.

On Monday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an avowed Holocaust denier, addressed the forum at the UN sponsored Durban II conference held in Geneva.

On Monday members of Western delegations, in attendance at the conference, walked out of the hall as an unfazed, unflustered, uncaring Ahmadinejad spouted his rhetoric, lambasting Israel and the United States of America.

On Monday night, Jews world over began marking Holocaust Memorial Day.

What were they thinking? What were the planners of the conference and what were the handlers of the Swiss president thinking?

The Iranian leader was invited to give the keynote address at the conference and took every advantage of the opportunity to spew terrible hatred and bald faced lies - his mainstay rhetoric and public pronouncements. Representatives from 24 Western nations walked out on Ahmadinejad.

The European Union, in attendance only as observers, walked out.

Jordan, repulsed by what was being said, walked out.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, host of the event, stayed seated but released a statement. The secretary general condemned the Iranian leader's speech and pointed out that, in advance of the address, he had spoken to Ahmadinejad and made it clear that the United Nations has officially repealed the Zionism is racism pronouncement and has affirmed the historical reality of the Holocaust.

In the end, the keynote speaker was the only head of state remaining in the room. And you want to know what Ahmadinejad was thinking? He was pleased. He had made his point. And Ahmadinejad continued on, regurgitating the same hate filled lies.

The Western world and even some members of the Arab world, made a point of walking out on Ahmadinejad and the president of Switzerland made a point of welcoming him into his country.

Hans Rudolf-Merz justified his meeting with the Holocaust denier and rabid anti-Semite Ahmadinejad by repeating the by now overused and incorrect cliche that Switzerland is a neutral country, that as a neutral country Switzerland embraces the idea of maintaining open channels and talking to everyone in order to properly facilitate negotiations between battling parties.

It is the same empty cliche that the Swiss used during World War II to avoid saving Jews, the cliche they used to cover up collaboration with the Nazis.

Neutrality does not mean spineless. Neutrality does not mean an incapacity to differentiate between right and wrong. Neutrality does not mean the inability to condemn evil and wrongdoing.

Neutrality means taking no sides, but it also means adopting a set of values that embraces moral and ethical principles.

Switzerland should have joined countries of conscience and condemned Ahmadinejad, condemned the words he used and the ideas he espoused. Instead, by paying him a courtesy call, the Swiss leader showed that he is not at all repulsed by the ideas Ahmadinejad holds dear. The Swiss president followed the lead of his predecessors and remained silent in the face of evil.

Excuses aside, Switzerland did not host the event. Durban II was hosted by the United Nations and held on United Nations territory. Switzerland was as much the host of Ahmadinejad at Durban II as the United States was when he came to New York to address the UN General Assembly in September.

There was no diplomatic need, no protocol for the head of Switzerland to go out his way and have a special dinner with the head of Iran. And because of that meeting Israel has called its ambassador to Switzerland back to Jerusalem for consultation and has called the Swiss ambassador to Israel in for a serious tongue lashing and is demanding an explanation.

Israel is making symbolic gestures, the president of Switzerland was not acting symbolically. Israel was pointing out that Switzerland has not learned their lessons. Nothing has changed in Switzerland. The Swiss witnessed Jews being murdered and did worse than nothing, they sent them back to Germany.

And today, a man preaches the murder of Jews and the Swiss plead neutrality and dine with the preacher.

Shame on Switzerland. Shame on the United Nations. Shame, shame.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

US Banks Apply to Open in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 20, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

An article in the Bahraini Gulf Daily News sent me running to the Iranian press to verify an amazing and apparently correct report.
Four US banks have applied to Iran for licenses to operate in Iran.
Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are the biggest of the banks to have applied.

The process is not easy.
If the banks do get permission, it will be limited permission.
The US banks will only be permitted to function in a free trade zone.
But if they adhere to Iranian law, they will be permitted to open branches in all the major Iranian cities.

I see two huge problems.
Problem # 1 is the 3 sets of sanctions that the United States was instrumental in passing against Iran. The US applies pressure to isolate and stop trade with Iran even if people are within the realm on non-sanctioned goods.

Problem # 2 is that Iranian banks must operate according to Islamic law.
That law forbids interest - it forbids earning interest or charging interest. The way the Islamic banks get around the law is that the Islamic banks pay "provincial rates." The provincial rate is the amount based on profits and losses in the bank.

More and more often, reality is more surreal than fiction.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Spy Rings Everywhere
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 19, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Saturday's Al Hayat, the Arab language newspaper published in London, reported that a spy ring infiltrated the high ranks of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

According to the report the spy ring was originally said to be made up of Israelis, but now it seems that it was actually an internal Lebanese spy ring.
The paper reports that three people were arrested and one of them was a high ranking Lebanese military official.

Combine this with the information that Egypt reported about a terrorist cell that they broke that had a mission to overthrow the Egyptian government.
That cell was sponsored by Iran, Syria, Qatar Hezbollah and Hamas.
Egypt also reported that Al Jazeera, the television network, was also involved because some the meetings of the conspirators took place in the Al Jazeera bureau office in Cairo and that they were in cahoots with the Islamic Brotherhood which is dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian government.

There has always been lot of cloak and dagger in the Muslim world.
Now we are seeing much bolder and very public moves.
Now we are seeing external sponsorship of destabilizing forces and plots.
The stakes are getting higher for control of the Arab world.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Al Bashir Has Chutzpah
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 18, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Omar al Bashir has more than a little chutzpah.
Al Bashir was indicted in March for crimes against humanity and for the murder of 100,000 people in Darfur.
The indictment also charges that he was responsible for displacing 2.5 million refugees.

President Obama has dispatched a special envoy, Scott Gration, to meet with al Bashir.
In a recent speech he displayed a hopeful attitude about the new attitude of the US toward the Arab world.
He said, "our hands are held out to those who call for peace and justice in accordance with the standards of fairness and dignity." Omar al Bashir almost sounded like Barack Obama.

Al Bashir also explained why he expelled 13 different aid agencies. Not aid workers - aid agencies. These were groups working to make life bearable in the midst of the terror he has created.

What is going on? When a mass murderer, a butcher, a tyrant is feeling downright good about the attitude of the United states, the greatest democracy in the world, toward his country - something is terribly wrong.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Hezbollah & Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 17, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The story of the Hezbollah cell that was uncovered and dismembered in Egypt is becoming more and more interesting.

The most recent information emerging from the interrogation of arrested cell members is that two of them were actually Fatah members planning to infiltrate Israel and perpetrate attacks in Tel Aviv.

The two terrorists were caught and transferred to the authorities in Gaza who let them go. They then returned to Egypt to complete their training and eventually make their way into Israel.

The recruitment techniques and the effectiveness of this cell is impressive.
They recruited Sunni Fatah members and manipulated them so that they would adopt the Hezbollah Shiite perspective.
They wanted to hurt Egypt.

This entire episode is an example of the way in which Hezbollah overstepped their boundaries.
Hezbollah should never have ventured to plan an attack in another Arab country and never should have admitted to it even if they had.
Hezbollah is getting too big for their britches.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Durban II
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 16, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Durban II which is scheduled to take place April 20-24, 2009 in Geneva.
Ahmadinejad has announced through the national Iranian media that he will be attending.

Durban II is the follow up to a UN sponsored international conference that took place in Durban, South Africa in 2001. On paper, Durban was to be a conference dedicated to human rights. In fact, it turned into a hatefest against Israel.

The official title of this conference is the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance.
As the finishing touches are being put on the conference, countries are looking over their shoulders to see who will and who will not be in attendance.

Clearly, Iran is in favor of the stated agenda for Durban II.
Canada has announced that they will not attend, Italy did the same. They said the agenda seems to be totally dedicated to bashing Israel.
The United States has sent out mixed messages and is now "considering not attending." Their early decision wasa to make no decision.

I have read the two draft positions of the organizing committee for the upcoming conference. The first draft was a near duplicate of Durban 2001. The second draft was a slightly improved version. It is telling that while many Western countries are expressing concern about the nature of the Durban II conference, Ahmadinejad has declared his desire to attend.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Arabs Prefer Lieberman
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 15, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Syrian Ambassador Imad Mustafa recently appeared on CNN.
In his interview Mustafa exhibited a rarely seen element of Arab diplomacy.
Mustafa spoke bluntly, he was downright direct and clear.

Mustafa spoke about two important items.

He said that the new administration in Israel seems to be very similar to the previous administration when it comes to peace and the process of peace.

He said that he prefers the new Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman to the previous foreign minister, Tzippi Livni.
Mustafa explained that the reason for his preference is simple. He prefers Lieberman because Lieberman speaks his mind.

This was not the personal evaluation of the ambassador, remember, he is the Syrian ambassador. Mustafa was giving voice to Syria's and the greater Arab world's perspective on the Netanyahu administration.
The Arab world is not happy about the Bibi/Lieberman team.
Actually, the Arab world has very serious reservations about Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman.

The corridors of power in the Arab does, however, recognize that one positive aspect of the new Israeli administration is the direct approach of Lieberman.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Abdullah & Obama to Meet in April in DC
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 14, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

King Abdullah of Jordan will visit Washington DC and meet with President Barrack Obama on April 21, 2009.

The objective of the meeting is simple and clear.
Jordan wants the US to take a much more active role in the Middle East.
Jordan wants the US to pressure Israel to make concessions.
Most importantly, Jordan wants the United States to urge Israel to accept the Saudi plan.

Without a doubt, the meeting will be enormously positive and each party will be more than pleased with the results of their mini-summit.
Both the US and Jordan will agree that the biggest obstacle to the entire peace plan is Israel.
Both the US and Jordan will agree that the US is better able to apply the pressure necessary to change Israel's stance than any other third party in the world.

The problem with this conclusion is two fold.
The first problem is that Obama will not be totally honest with King Abdullah. Obama will say what Jordan and the rest of the Arab world wants to hear, but not necessarily what reflects reality.

The second and a very significant problem is that Israel knows what the end result will be even in advance of the meeting. Israel will know that the US and especially Obama has begun a duplicitous negotiation. Israel will understand that Obama's objectives are not necessarily in sync with Israel's interests on the matter of peace.

It is not good enough to pressure Israel or to buy into the regional Middle East plan.
Netanyahu and his new administration will rightly insist that any progress must be predicated on real Palestinian change regarding fighting terror and on the Palestinians changing their vehement anti-Israel teachings.

Bottom line: this meeting between Barack and Abdullah will be an abysmal failure for US diplomacy.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Monday April 13, 2009


Israel and the United States are on a collision course.

The issue they are colliding over is world terror.

When it comes to terror, either you are against it, or you are a terrorist. The disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington is not over the definition of terror, it is over the parameters of terrorism.

Barack Obama and Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu, both newly elected, are out to strut their stuff - in front of their respective countrymen and in front of the world. This collision course is premeditated, it is about perspective. Given the personalities and public flair of these two men, the clash between their administrations was predictable.

Obama and Netanyahu need to collide in order to clearly define the red lines of each of their new administrations. The purpose of this deliberate sparring match is for each leader to discover how far the other will go in order to pursue his country's new Middle East policy.

Fear not, this collision will not shake the foundation of the strong, vibrant and important relationship between the two countries. That relationship is built on a mutuality of interests and in the end the friends will, as the children's song goes, shake hands and make amends. But it will be heated and it will impact on the relationship not of the countries, but personally, on the relationship of the two men.

The new Obama-led administration wants to insist on enforcing the principles laid down in Annapolis almost two years ago during the previous administration. The United States wants to make certain that the Palestinians uphold the stipulations of the Road Map developed by the Bush Administration.

That plan includes a two state solution.

The even newer Netanyahu-led administration refuses to embrace Annapolis. Israel has asked for new ideas to solve the current logger jam. Israel has carefully and delicately done a diplomatic tiptoe around the famed two state solution.

The collision is being played out in the press and on the Hill.

Obama's team has already begun to brief Congress about their new plan and the need to hold Israel to the Road Map. The Obama team is promising continued support for Israel and is emphasizing the need to continue to defend Israel. But they also want the Palestinian track to be put on high speed.

Netanyahu's team knows how to use Congress, as well. Their plan will be to set up numerous face-to-face meetings with Congressional leaders with the intention of sabotaging Obama's objectives.

Obama has tried to outsmart Netanyahu by being the first to approach Congress. Netanyahu will be making his first trip to Washington as new Israeli prime minister next month. Bibi will be forced to play catch up, but Bibi is no newcomer at this game. Unlike Obama, Netanyahu is on his second go round in office.

The Israelis will come calling on Capitol Hill with three cards in their pocket, three critical cards that will be difficult for the Obama people to refute.

Card #1 - The Palestinians have never been able to deliver on any significant agreement that included reigning in terror and confronting Hamas.

Card #2 - The plan that the Obama administration is presenting is a replica of the Bush plan with only a few minor revisions. It is a plan that has failed and will fail again.

Card #3 - Iran is spinning out of control. The Obama plan lacks real substance and is Pollyanna-ish at best and extremely dangerous at worse when it comes to Iran. It is one thing to play roulette with Israel's security vis a vis Iran, but the new president is also playing with the security of the United States.

Israel's messages will resonate loud and clear with the leaders on the Hill. Obama's bonafides are in serious question and Bibi Netanyahu can be very convincing and very compelling when he speaks about threats to Israel's very existence,

Even, especially, as the United States is stretching out both arms to Iran, Iran has become more and more involved in political acts that are destabilizing Arab world friends of the United States.

Egypt recently arrested almost one hundred terrorists connected to Hezbollah who, most importantly, are connected through Iran. The Egyptians have blamed Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah for the new terror infrastructure that they have uncovered.

A Kuwaiti newspaper called al Jarida recently wrote that the Egyptians have arrested Sami Shahib an Egyptian trained in Iran by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. From Iran he was sent to Egypt to organize a Shiite underground terrorist organization which would destabilize Egypt.

An Egyptian newspaper called al Ghoumhouria wrote the following about Nasrallah in an editorial: "We do not allow you, monkey sheikh, to mock our judiciary, for you are a bandit and veteran criminal who killed your countrymen, but we will not allow you to threaten the security and safety of Egypt ... and if you threaten its sovereignty, you will burn!"

Egypt is taking this very seriously.

Netanyahu will make certain that Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill take it seriously as well. He will let it be known full well that by supporting President Obama's new policy they are, albeit inadvertently but certainly definitely, destabilizing both United States interests and United States control in the world.

There will be a collision. Don't expect a big bang, but be ready for some fireworks.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Arrow II Is a Message to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 12, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Just to make sure, Israel has re-tested their Arrow II surface-to-air anti-missile rocket.

This was the 16th time the anti-missile rocket was tested.
The rockets have proven to have 90% accuracy and success.

Why did Israel make this information public?

To let Iran know that Israel is getting better and better at hitting incoming rockets. To let Iran know that Israel will be almost completely shielded from any possible Iranian attack.

Just to let Iran know, that's why.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Syria's Take on Obama
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 11, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

One of the best ways to read the teas leaves in the Arab world is to watch the Arab world's response to other people's speeches and actions.

Syria's Foreign Minister Wallid Moullem was quoted in a Saudi Arabian newspaper.
Commenting on US President Barack Obama's speech in Turkey, Moullem said that the words were nice, then asked how they coincide with the new Israeli government.

With that comment Syria laid bare their lack of understanding of the relationship between the United States and Israel.
Syria assumes that there is a disconnect in policy and practice, as if the United States and Israel are two sides of the same unit.

But they are not.
Israel and the US will have to work out their differences.
And the rest of the world will wait and will watch.

The Israeli perspective is that two states will work only when there is a viable Palestinian Authority, only when there is a PA that can govern.
The United States is hoping that there already is a PA that can govern.
The United States will be disappointed.

The US still needs to be educated in the ways of the Middle East.
As that happens the US could be reaching out and helping both Israel and the Palestinians to build institutions of freedom and security and justice.
The best place to start is in the schools.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

George Mitchell Again
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 10, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, will be visiting Jerusalem next week.
This will be his third trip to the region since assuming this position.

Mitchell is making the trip in order to introduce the Obama administration's Middle East plans - which are no big secret.
While in Jerusalem he will, of course, hear from the new Israeli administration about their plans for the Middle East in general and the Palestinian issue in particular.

Netanyahu and Lieberman, the new Israeli foreign minister, will undoubtedly have all the time in the world to plead their case with Mitchell. Mitchell's style is to let people talk and talk and talk. Then Mitchell distills the discourse into several essential issues and takes that back to his boss.

This visit signals the beginning of a detailed interaction between the United States and Israel.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

A Very Crafty Assad
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 9, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Once again, veiled in secrecy, members of Congress visited Bashar Assad, the president of Syria.

If I did not read the Syrian and Lebanese press, I would never have known that Stephen Lynch, Democrat from MA and Robert Inglis, Republican from SC had a face-to-face with the tyrant of Damascus.

Assad was pleased.
He said that he was hopeful because of the new status Syria has been accorded by the West.
He said that he was hopeful because Syria was now engaged in indirect talks with Israel.
He said that he wanted the United States to play a more active role in the Middle East.

That's what Assad said, now I will translate and tell you what Assad means.
Of course Assad is happy with Syria's new role.
The West has brought Syria out of the cold and all Syria had to do was, well, nothing. Syria did not change a thing, not attitudinally, not militarily, not politically. It is a classic Ghadaffi move.
As for Assad's desire to have the United States play a more active role in the Middle East, that is Arab speak for saying that the wants the US to exert more influence on Israel to make concessions.

The young Assad has truly become his father's son.
Bashar is now playing a shrewd even crafty and dexterous game of foreign policy.
Bashar Assad has become adept at playing one side off the other and at not committing to anything all the while receiving promises of more and more incentives.

His father would be proud.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Muslims Persecute Christians
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 8, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Christians are often persecuted by Muslims in the Middle East.
In fact, there is a long history of Muslims persecutions of Christians.

Nowadays, most of these incidents go unnoticed and uncovered by mainstream press. In many cases, they are not even covered in the Christian press.

This past weekend in the port city of Alexandria, Egypt there was a massive riot against the Christians.
News spread quickly through the city that Christians had stabbed a Muslim.
In response, the Muslim community gathered near a mosque and from there went on a riotous rampage throughout the city breaking the windows of Christian shops and destroying Christian property.

The Egyptian police arrested only five rioters.
They had already arrested the three Christian brothers responsible for the stabbing. The stabbing was the result of a landlord tenant dispute that turned into a scuffle and from there into the stabbing.

10% of the 79 million people in Egypt are Christians.
Egypt's Christians live in constant fear of these hateful, violent riots and acts of rage.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 7, 2009


In Iran, The Supreme Leader wields supreme power.

And on June 12th the world will bear witness to that power. On June 12th the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, The Supreme Leader, will choose the next president of the Islamic Republic.

Certainly, the people of Iran will be the ones in the voting booths. Realistically, there is only one vote that counts in Iran.

The decision facing the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei is not an easy one. He must tap the candidate who will best move the country in the direction the Grand Ayatollah wants it to take and move it along with, not in defiance of, the Iranian people. At stake in this election are the hearts and minds of the Iranian people. At stake in this election is religious adherence. At stake in this election is a move towards the Ayatollah Khamenei's brand of Shiite Islam.

The Supreme Leader will decide which one of two men will best realize his, the Supreme Leader's, vision for the future of Iran. He will choose between the current leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man whom the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has supported and of whom he was once very fond and between Houssein Mousavi.

The major conflict on the streets of Iran today revolves around support for the policies embraced by Ahmadinejad and the policies of the reformist movement which, in the last Iranian parliamentary election, wrested thirty percent of the parliament away from Ahmadinejad. The head of the reformist movement is Houssein Mousavi.

The reformists are not liberals. But like liberals, the reformists of Iran want accountability and economic change. Mousavi, the leading candidate has successfully combined the forces of all the reformers into one strong, nearly united, voice. That feat will impact on the decision making process of the Grand Ayatollah. Mousavi succeeded in uniting political factions against the current leadership and he did it without using negative tactics and tricks and without resorting to anti-Muslim platforms.

In addition to having created a formidable political power base for himself, the current leader of the reformists has an impressive personal power base. Houssein Mousavi is well known in Iran and he combines his power with the still lingering power of the previous President and the power of another albeit less powerful Ayatollah, the Ayatollah Mohammed Khatami.

In a recent press conference Mousavi laid two very important issues at the feet of the people of Iran. The issues allowed the people to immediately and easily distinguish between the established leadership and the reformers.

In an absolute break with Ahmadinejad who has publicly denied the Holocaust, Mousavi said that he condemned the murder of the Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust. And Mousavi welcomed talks with the United States provided that the cost of those talks was not too high for Iran which he defined as having to give up the Iranian nuclear program.

The Iranian reformer was pushing two very hot buttons, not just hot button issues in Iran but hot button issues elsewhere in the world. There is no doubt that Ahmadinejad knows that the Nazis perpetrated a Holocaust, but he uses the issue as a fulcrum to unite Muslims against Israel. And in many ways Mousavi's perspective on nuclear development is exactly the same as Ahmadinejad's perspective. Mousavi just phrased it differently.

The Grand Ayatollah has been very pleased with Ahmadinejad until now. But he has expressed frustration with the fact that Iran's strategy has not been very successful in luring more of the undecided, neutral countries out of the sphere of US influence. That miscalculation by Ahmadinejad has cost Iran dearly in economic terms and in political terms. There have even been Muslim nations which have moved closer to the United States and that new political reconfiguration of the map sharply stings Iran. Iran counted on Muslim loyalty above everything else and has been deeply shocked that the Sunni Muslim world has not rallied around them.

As he makes his decision, as he chooses the man to lead Iran, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei will be thinking about the cost of further isolation. He will be thinking about whether a change in leader will bring about a change in Iran's economy and in Iran's standing in the world. On June 12th we will all be a lot smarter.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Saudi Leader Disses Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

It should be clear to everyone that Iranian/Saudi tensions are deep and becoming more and more tense with each passing day.

On Saturday Saudi Prince al Faisal Turki, the former head of Saudi intelligence, addressed a closed door meeting in Jordan at the University of Jordan's Strategic Studies Center.
The Saudi prince explained that the Iranians are committed to taking the lead on all Islamic issues.

He also said that that the Iranian regime is fragile and that Iran is pursuing "expansionist aspirations at the expense of Arab interests."
He continued, "Arab differences represent a main reason for the increased Iranian role in the region that comes at the expense of crucial Arab interests and issues."
Turki described the Shiite regime by saying "Iran is a paper tiger with claws of steel."

This is a damning critique of Iran from a member of the Saudi royal family.
Al Faisal Turki holds no position in the current government, but he is still an extremely influential member of the Saudi elite.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Al Qaeda & Binghamton
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 5, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The head of al Qaeda in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the massive killings in Binghamton, NY.

Baitullah Meshud, who just last week claimed that he was unleashing a great act against the White House, has a $5 million reward posted on his head by the US State Department.
On Saturday Mehsud announced to Reuters that his al Qaeda group was responsible for Binghamton.
He said: "I accept responsibility. They were my men. I gave them orders in reaction to U.S. drone attacks."

Meshud was lying, he saw an opportunity and jumped on it.
The killer was not linked to al Qaeda, he was certainly a lone wolf.
There should, however, be no doubt that Mehsud has tried to activate his sleepers in the US.
And there should be no doubt that Mehsud does have sleepers in the United States even if they have not - yet - had the opportunity and means to pull off a terror attack.

We must keep our guard up.
We must stay aware.
We must do everything we can to prevent another attack from falling into place.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Lone Wolf in Binghamton
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 4, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The shooting spree in Binghamton, NY that took so may lives was an unfortunate reality of today America's.
This shooting spree was an act of terror.

Islamic terror is the form we have become most familiar with but terror comes in many forms. This was not Islamic terror, but it was certainly real terror.
This was the type of personal, touching, terror most likely to strike cities like Binghamton, NY.

It is what we call "lone wolf" terror.
The gunman struck out at a visible symbol, a symbol that touched him personally, the gunman had been employeed and was recently let go.

It is almost impossible to anticipate the actions of a lone wolf.
That does not mean that we cannot protect ourselves.
Despite their anger, the lone wolf is easily discourage by security and will quickly choose another target.

We protect ourselves by better protecting our schools, places of worship, agencies and businesses.
Protection wards off the lone wolf forcing the attacker to be find another target.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Israel US Tensions Emerge
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 3, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Much, probably too much, has been said about the emerging tensions between the new Israeli government and the new Obama administration.

Whatever does or does not happen, it is important to realize that all issues of mutual interest between the United States and Israel are now and will remain secure. Mutual interests between the countries have been grounded in a very powerful and unshakeable foundation.

Even under the best of situations, tensions emerge. Tensions existed between the Olmert/Bush government, between the Sharon/Bush government, between the Barak/Clinton government and even between the Netanyahu/Clinton government.
Tensions between governments rarely significantly impact on important issues. Think of them as blips on the diplomatic radar.

The reality is that the very reservations that the Netanyahu government is articulating have already been articulated back in DC by members of Congress.
The reality is that Obama's advisers know full well the limitations of the parties in Israeli/Palestinian negotiations.

Washington can wish for it, but until there is a sincere Palestinian leadership, a leadership with power and backbone, there cannot be a viable Palestinian government.
Wishing will not make it happen.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 2, 2009


In the year 1532, when Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince he could never have dreamed that his ideas would ring true even until today. He could never have dreamed that arch enemies, The United States and Iran, would bond over a relatively insignificant country called Afghanistan.

The United States is at diplomatic war with Afghanistan. Iran is at diplomatic war with Afghanistan. The United States and Iran are united in their different wars with Afghanistan. Confused? That's foreign policy for you.

A cardinal rule in foreign policy is that there are no best friends. There are best interests. And foreign affairs work best when there are mutual best interests between countries.

So, yes, diplomatically speaking, the enemy of my enemy is my friend - but my best interests come first. And that explains how the unlikeliest of buddies, the United States and Iran, sat down together to discuss the problem called Afghanistan.

The United States experiences no greater global tension than in its dealing with and about Iran. And yet, in a desire to control the threats emanating from a third country these two countries, diametrically opposed on every other issue, sat down together at a United Nations sponsored summit held this week in The Hague dedicated to discussing, dissecting and neutralizing Afghanistan.

The idea belonged to United State Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iran jumped on board immediately. Iran had two reasons for agreeing to the secretary of state's suggestion. Firstly, Afghanistan is a true problem for the international community and Iran recognizes how important it is to solve the problem and solve it effectively. Secondly, Iran wants to show the Arab world that it can work side-by-side with the United States to solve some issues.

Don't get too carried away, now. The Summit pitted the United States and Iran against Afghanistan but that is where the mutuality ended. The summit also pitted the United States and Afghanistan against one another in terms of each country's style of operation, specific complaints and endgame solutions.

Iran wants no outside forces in Afghanistan. By outside forces Iran means no non-Muslim forces in Afghanistan. Right now, the United States is not only a force in Afghanistan, it is a significant force in Afghanistan and getting ready to increase their presence there. Looking at the situation from Iran's point of view, Iran borders Afghanistan and having US soldiers in Afghanistan makes it all the easier for those soldiers to saunter on over and enter Iran. Iran also borders Iraq. That puts Iran in the middle of two countries playing host, invited or uninvited it makes no difference, to US forces. In other words, Iran is surrounded on the north by way of Afghanistan and in the south by way of Iraq.

Despite Iran's desire to rid the region of the United States the deputy Foreign minister of Iran, Mehdi Akhundzadeh, agreed to an understated albeit significant meeting with Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's personal troubleshooter for Afghanistan. The meeting was brief. The outcome was a decision to keep in touch. This kind of discussion, on this diplomatic level, is less important for what happened at the moment than for what might happen in the future. A door has been opened and when and if the need arises, and we know it will, these two men can walk through that door again.

The honest truth is that there has been no serious change in United States policy toward Iran. In diplomacy you need backdoors in order to deal with substantive issues on the ground. And there has been no serious change in Iranian policy toward the United States. The final outcome aside, Iran had its own objective in agreeing to this meeting.

Iran was poking fun at the United States in front of other Muslim countries and the almost one hundred countries in attendance at the summit. Iran was using this opportunity to show the rest of the Muslim world how they can and will boldly make their Muslim agendas known to the United States. Iran was standing up for Muslim hegemony. Iran was saying that the major obstacle to real solutions in the region is the aggressive meddling of the United States and Iran was saying it to their face. Iran is making a regional play, hoping that resentment toward US interventionism will sway countries back in their direction.

Iran and the United States have had a modicum of success in the past when they joined forces in collaboration in the war against drugs. And at this summit the United States and Iran again agreed to start working together to curb the drug trade that empowers many of the Afghani warlords.

Two steps backward, one step forward. At least there’s a step in the right direction.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Powered by Movable Type     Site design by Sekimori