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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 1, 2009


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does not make empty threats.

Last week the president of Iran threatened the president of Azerbaijan. Using his foreign minister as a mouthpiece, Ahmadinejad threatened to severely punish Azerbaijan if the official visit of Israeli President Shimon Peres was not cancelled.

The official visit went on as planned. And this week the Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan was called home.

Shimon Peres, undaunted by the diplomatic curve he had been thrown Azerbaijan, continued on to the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is a burgeoning country. It has a blossoming economy and its influence in the Muslim world is substantial and growing more substantial. Kazakhstan is a country in the right place, with the right natural resources, at the right time in history.

Kazakhstan is the 2nd largest producer of uranium in the world and has, by far, the largest uranium reserves in Eurasia. The only country that has more uranium than Kazakhstan is Australia, but Australia can never wield the influence over the Muslim world that Kazakhstan can wield. Nuclear energy speaks volumes in today's world.

Shimon Peres had multiple agendas in going to Kazakhstan. One of those reasons was expanding relations between Israel and a significant Muslim country. Another reason had to do with nuclear energy. Peres wanted assurances that Kazakhstan would not be supplying nuclear fuel to Iran. The promises were received, but promises from Kazakhstan are not completely reliable.

Last year I wrote about a train that departed from Kyrgyzstan, crossed into Kazakhstan and then crossed the border into Uzbekistan where it was intercepted and stopped. The train was making its way to Iran. The train was filled with uranium. It had already traveled through and crossed over the entire Kazakh before it was stopped on the Uzebeki side of the border.

The Uzebeki border guards were shocked to find the uranium. They sent it back and alerted the Kazakh government. In retrospect, that was probably not the wisest move. According to most people in the know, including International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed el Baradei, Kazakhstan is one of the most nuclear-trafficked states in the world.

Uranium is for Kazakhstan what oil is for Saudi Arabia. Every country will want it, many countries will need it and Kazakhstan will be one of the only countries that has it. Estimates for the revenue Kazakhstan will reap exporting their natural resource are coming in high, as high as $15 - $20 billion a year for this sleepy little Asian Muslim country.

Central Asia is the future battlefield for the conflict between East and West. It is where Islam retains a strong moderate tradition, it is also where the Fundamentalist population is growing. Kazakhstan realizes that it is coming of age and that it will very soon be in control of the world's supply of nuclear fuel much the same way OPEC is in control of the world's oil production and supply.

We must keep a very close eye on Kazakhstan. We must nurture the Kazakhs and help them grow responsibly. We must cultivate a deep and trusting relationship with Kazakhstan. We must make every effort to lure Kazakhstan away from Iranian influences. If Kazakhstan falls under the influence of Iran the results will be cataclysmal for the Western world.

That is why Iran's president saw fit to make threats. It is why Israel's president thought it wise to pay a visit.

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

Iran's Power Structure
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 30, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Guardian Council in Iran confirmed yesterday that the June 12th elections will stand and that the partial recount and the investigations into all the irregularities did not change the outcome of the election.
None of this should have come as a surprise.

The Guardian Council is one of the two most important councils in Iran. It is composed of 12 people - 6 are appointed by the Supreme Leader, 6 are chosen by the parliament.
Members presented to parliament are nominated by the head of the Judicial, who is also appointed by The Supreme Leader.

The Assembly of Experts is the second most powerful council in Iran.
The Assembly of Experts is a group of 86 people required to meet at least twice a year for at least two days.
The Assembly of Experts appoints The Supreme Leader. In theory, they could also remove The Supreme Leader.

According to Iranian law, in order to be a member of either the Guardian Council or the Assembly of Experts, one must be a religious expert.
Several of the reformists running for position in this past election called for a reformation of the Guardian Council and the Assembly of Experts as part of their political platform.

It was an unacceptable stance.
One of the leaders of the reform is The Ayatollah Rafsanjani and he is the head of one of the councils.
Rafsanjani certainly does not want any limits put on his power.
Rafsanjani is also the leader of another council, the Expediency Council, which makes him the only significant check to both The Supreme Leader and president Ahmadinejad.

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

Powder Keg in Beirut
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

There was a shootout between Sunnis and Shiites in West Beirut, Lebanon, yesterday.

The conflict was between groups aligned with the future prime minister and groups aligned with the speaker of the parliament.

In the election that took place in Lebanon last month Sunni supporters defeated Shiite supporters.

Now tensions are on the rise.

Shiites and Sunnis are staking out their turfs.
A 30 year old woman was killed and 3 others were injured in the shootout.

One of the injured was actually one of the shooters.
Reports said that only small arms fire was used in the shootout.

When we read small arms, we think pistols.
In Lebanon, small arms include automatic rifles aka machine guns, mortars and rockets.

Beirut is a powder keg.

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

Syria is Dirt Poor
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 28, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Syrian newspaper Al Watan reports that 20% of Syrian families have no income.
That 3.5 million people in Syria are starving.
That 160 villages have been abandoned and the villagers have come to the cities to seek help.
That the abandoned villages are farming villages and nothing grows in Syria because of a drought.

Syria is suffering from horrific economic conditions, even without the consequences of the drought.
The cost of energy and food is hurting Syrians terribly.
The average monthly salary per Syrian household is $250, that's $3000 per year.

Syria is an autocratic dictatorship ruled by an Alowite minority that controls its citizens through a ruthless security police. President Assad stays in power by virtue of the power of his army.

It is very difficult to predict the actions and behaviors of a country so severely, economically, stressed.
It is precisely because Syria is under such pressure that the Syrians are so carefully watching what happens in Iran and playing games of cat and mouse with the United States and Israel over peace talks.

Syria wants the benefits granted to more open societies and governments.
Syria does not want to give up the strong arm tactics and control that closed nations wield.

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

FIFA Is Upset with Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 27, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

FIFA is up in arms with Iran.
FIFA is the Federation Internationale de Football Association.

Fact is, more Iranians watch soccer than go to mosque.
And evidently, the four Iranian soccer players who wore green wristbands in support of the protestors have been removed from the Iranian national team.

That game was broadcast across the world and everyone saw the Iranian team defeat South Korea in the qualifying rounds for the World Cup.
Unfortunately, Iran was later bounced out of the running because Saudi Arabia drew against North Korea.

FIFA received a letter informing them that Iran had punished the players.
FIFA asked for clarification.
The Iranian Football Association responded by saying no one was punished.
Of course, it is difficult to challenge the Iranians assertion - we all know that there are transparent democratic agencies in Iran.

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

Michael Jackson Tops Arab Headlines
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 26, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, two icons, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, died.
And a United States governor, Mark Sanford, grabbed headlines because he admitted, publicly, to a lurid extramarital affair.

Yesterday, also, former United States president Jimmy Carter announced that Hamas should be removed from the terror list.
And unofficial reports from Iran declared that seven people were killed by police and Mousavi was put under house arrest.

What made headline news in the Arab world?
The deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

In the Middle East, pop culture trumps local events.
That is something worth thinking about.

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

The Arab World & Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 25, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

As the tensions in Iran rise and fall, so goes the rest of the Middle East.

The countries of the Middle East had no illusion as to what Iran was and what Iran stood for, it was just more expedient, safer, to ignore it.
Now that Iran is changing before their eyes, they are openly expressing shock.
Shock because Iran was the voice challenging the West.
Shock because Iran was the voice challenging the US and Israel.
Shock because Iran was so haughty and so sanctimonious.

All along, the verbal critique hurled by Iran at the rest of the world was a political and religious maneuver.
Iran's voice was a lie.
Iran was simply painting the West as an evil anti-Muslim monster in order to give itself gravitas. Those verbal attacks lent Iran leadership power despite the fact that the Iranians are neither Arabs nor Sunni, merely Persians and Shiites.
Now, even those in the Middle East who sang the praises of Iranian leadership are massively disappointed.

The irony of it all is that no Arab Middle East state would have exercised the relative restrain that Iran is using. There could have been bloodbaths on the streets of Teheran but there aren't. There would have been bloodbaths on the streets of Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The Arab world is beginning to speak out about Iran.
We must listen and monitor what they continue to say.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 24, 2009


Think of a word that expresses the ideal for which the Western world strives.
That word would be "democracy."

Think of a concept that epitomizes a dream for all Westerners.
That concept would be "freedom."

Think of a game that emblemizes the way Westerners chase after that ideal and live out that dream.
That game is "follow the leader."

As independent as we think we are, we in the West look to leaders to rally us forward and define our purpose. For Westerners, especially in the United States, every movement needs a face.

Good movements or bad movements, ideological movements or religious movements, self help movements or mass demonstration movements - every movement needs a leader, every movement needs a face.

Americans join the army because Uncle Sam asks us to. Americans slim down because Tommy Lasorda, Valerie Bertinelli or Oprah ask us to. Our leaders shape our world by shaping our ideas.

We cannot understand Islamic terror, so we focus on Osama bin Laden. We cannot understand the complex tribal balance between Arab groups, so we focus on Saddam Hussein. We cannot understand Hezbollah, so we focus on Nasrallah. We cannot understand the thirst for freedom, so we focus on twenty-six year old Neda Agha-Soltan lying dead in the street. We cannot understand a government so willing to strip away the freedoms of its citizens, so we focus on Mir Hussein Mousavi.

We cannot understand, even our supreme leader, our president, does not completely understand, but we should try.

The power of the events now unfolding in Iran has revealed the true Iran. The curtain has been lifted and we must allow the reality of life and governance and religious control in Iran to take hold in our minds and in the minds of our leaders, our decision makers, the faces we look up to and follow.

The execution of Neda, shot through the heart by Iranian secret security sniper fire has outraged the world. Neda's death is proof positive that the leadership of Iran is not about to either reform or to liberalize. And as that reality sinks in we must also realize that no matter who the elected face of government in Iran belongs to, nothing will change.

Mir Hussein Mousavi's greatest contribution to the movement that we think he leads is that he is not Mohammad Ahmadinejad. The biggest difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad is that Mousavi wears nicely cut pinstripe suits and Ahmadinejad wears polyester leisure suits.

The people of Iran had their cause, they had their movement. They were not looking for a leader - they were looking to express themselves in a peaceful manner. They went out to vote, not riot. And then they went out to peacefully demonstrate, not violently revolt.

But the West could not understand what was happening. So the Western media chose a face for the people of Iran, and that faced belonged to Mousavi. The media chose Mousavi not for Iranians - they knew all along that all the candidates were one and the same, they chose him so that the West would have a face and therefore be able to understand the movement taking place in Iran.

Iranians are upset not because Ahmadinejad was declared winner in this election and Mousavi was not, they are upset because Ahmadinejad was proclaimed to have won a landslide victory. And that means that their votes were not even counted. Ahmadinejad might have honestly won the election, but not by that large a margin.

The Supreme Leader miscalculated, and he knows it. And that is why Iran has exhibited so much patience in dealing with this internal crisis. That is why so few protesters have died so far. Hundreds of graves, rectangles dug into the earth, have been prepared for the violence. The family of one victim was told that they
could not receive their loved one's body for burial unless they paid for the cost of the bullets used to kill him. The sum they were given was equivalent to $3000. Thankfully, most other graves remain open and unused.

Other countries in the region would not have behaved with such restraint. Egypt and Jordan, friends of the West, would never have permitted these protests to continue. By now, Syria would have massacred thousands of protesters making it clear from the outset that protests are not permitted.

And if Mousavi were in office, he would do the same. As prime minister of Iran Mousavi was responsible for 7,000 deaths by execution of Iranians who challenged the authority. Under Mousavi the fatwah, the religious edict calling for the death of Salman Rushdie was issued. Mousavi, the face the West has chosen to represent freedom from Iranian persecution, called upon all Iranians to kill the author on sight.

In the West we need leaders to propel our movements. In non-Western countries leaders inhibit movement.

Syria Calls For Quiet in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 23, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Syria has called on Iranians to stop protesting and accept the results of their June 12th election.

Of course Syria is in favor of accepting the Iranian election.
Syria, like Iran, has a long history of rigging elections.
Syria wants to make certain that there are no surprises from Iran and the way to insure that is to make certain that the right person is chosen.
Syria is Iran's closest ally in the world and it is in Syria's best interests that the unrest in Iran stops immediately.

The people of Syria and the people of Iran have similar complaints about their leadership.
Syria would never have hesitated in cracking down on the protesters and would have crushed within hours, regardless of the international fallout.

When it comes to Iran, Syria has its own bias.

Mossad Continues with Same Leadership
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 22, 2009,

I've Been Thinking:

Meir Dagan has been the head of the Mossad since 2002.
He has just been asked to continue to serve for another year.

This is a very important move on Israel's part.
Israel does not want to switch intelligence chiefs at this critical time.
The Mossad relies heavily on a combination of human intel and the creative interception and disruption of enemy activity.
The future of Israel, literally, depends on the decisions made by and the actions taken by the Mossad.

Dagan's main charge is to find a solution or two or three for the inevitable. To proactively respond to Iran's nuclear threat to wipe Israel off the map.
Of course there are plans in the work.

Dagan has been a very effective leader.
During his tenure the agency has doubled in size.
He successfully destroyed the Syrian nuclear power plant that was built by North Korea.
He coordinated the assassinations of major terrorists and attacks upon weapons convoys far from Israel's borders.

One of Dagan's main charges is to find a solution to the Iranian nuclear problem.
Israel must proactively respond to Israel's threat to wipe them off the earth.
Israel's response is in the works.

Religious Conflict in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 21, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

When you look below the surface of the elections in Iran, you see the huge tension that exists between the two leading clerics.
The Supreme Leader, The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is pitted against the former president if Iran, The Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

They are political rivals and have been political rivals for some time.
They are both proteges of the founder of the Revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Religiously they are cut of the same cloth.
What differentiates them is that Rafsanjani has taken a more pragmatic approach to the Islamic revolution while Khamenei has taken a more strict approach.
Parenthetically, Rafsanjani has been taken down a notch in this internal religious conflict. He is referred to as the "shark" a name he got because in politics he is positively ruthless.

Rafsanjani has sided with Mousavi and it is that combo of dynamic personalities that resonated on the streets of Iran as an anti-Ahmadinejad vote.
But it never had a chance.
Why? Because despite the fact the Rafsanjani is the head of two very important religious councils in Iran - he is not The Supreme Leader.

Therein lie the strength, the power and the end game.
Iran cannot and will not over throw Ahmadinejad because really, he is only a slight variation on the leadership theme of Mousavi.
In the end, all the players pay homage to the same vision and allegiance to the same principles.

A Tradition of Rigged Elections
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 20, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Election irregularities in Iran have captured the hearts and imaginations of people around the world.
Some people demanding a recount are even expecting to get results from the investigations.
What these good hearted, well intentioned people don't understand is the problems involved in investigating rigged elections in dictatorships, especially religious dictatorships.

The theocratic leadership in Iran has promised to look into the over 600 irregularities and formal complaints that have been registered as a result of last week's election.
And odds are that there will be some superficial misconducts uncovered by the investigating committee.
But the real violations that are uncovered during this investigation will be errors and misconduct on the part of the reformers.

One example has already emerged. An email document announcing Mousavi's victory was found to be a fraud. It was sent on the Minister of the Interior's stationary.
Two people have been arrested.

Life in a religious dictatorship is life on a double edged sword.

Fake Elections Are Common
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 19, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Fake elections are commonplace in the Middle East.

Most of the time thug regimes falsify results in order to better secure their positions.

Most of the time they are protecting themselves from religious fanatics who want to take over from the dictators.

Irony of ironies is that in the case of Iran, the exact opposite is taking place.

Religious extremists are using elections in the exact same way that their opponents do almost everywhere else in the Middle East.

Religious extremists are rigging the elections – just rigging them the other way.

In reality, it means nothing.
Elections are simply tools to prop up leadership.

In Iran today the rigging is clear and the results were clear from the start.

The problem is that even in dictatorships and theocracies the people sometimes want to feel that there is a slim chance for success.

The thugs running Iran miscalculated this time around.

They underestimated the need that people have ti feel that their voices matter - even in a theocratic dictatorship.

Israel-US Tensions Over Settlements
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 18, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Avigdor Liberman, Israel's foreign minister, met with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Their meeting typifies the new relationship between the United States and Israel.

Major tension emerged on the issue of settlements.
Clinton said that the Obama administration wants a total stop to settlements. Liberman said that it was an unrealistic demand. He said that people live and die in the settlements and that they cannot just freeze their lives.
Lieberman explained that Israel had come to a very clear understanding on this issue with the Bush administration.
Clinton said there is a possibility of working things out with Special Envoy George Mitchell.

There was agreement and there was disagreement on Iran.
The United States and Israel agreed that Iran is a threat. They disagree about approaching Iran and luring the Iranians into the civilized nations of the world.

Relations between Israel and the US are far from smooth.
Despite the tensions, hints are being dropped that there may be wiggle room and the possibility of compromise in the issue of settlements.
If that does happen, it will not happen anytime soon.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 17, 2009


The light has finally gone on in American foreign policy vis a vis Iran. The token has finally fallen into place. The president is finally speaking about Iran in terms that prove that he, Barack Obama, really, finally, understands Iran.

In remarks that were on target and accurate, soundbites that reflect good advice and sound judgment about the crisis in Iran. President Obama said: "It's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, in terms of their actual policies, may not be as great as has been advertised..."

He said: "Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons."

And in discussing the real differences between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir Hussein Mousavi he said that those differences: "[M]ay not be as great as has been advertised." That is an understatement of the highest order, but at least the truth has finally been spoken by the American president.

Obama is acknowledging, explaining to the people of the United States of America, that when it comes to the big issues, to the issues that mist directly affect the United States - to nuclear development and to religion, that there is little to no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Both candidates are insiders. Both candidates were vetted by the religious council of Iran and chosen as four out of four hundred other wannabe candidates to be the mouthpiece of the real leader of Iran, The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. And why? Because both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi represent the mullahs of Iran and both Mousavi and Ahmadinejad respect the religious establishment that is Iran.

So, one might rightfully ask, if Ahmadinejad and Mousavi are so similar, why is there such a public row in the street of Teheran? If they are both the same, what difference does it make who wears the mantle?

The answer is actually very simple. The one great difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi is that Mousavi is not Ahmadinejad. Iranians are tired of Ahamdinejad. The sheer fact that Mousavi is not Ahmadinejad was enough to motivate Iranians to vote for the one and against the other. Anyone would have beat out Ahmadinejad if this were a real election. But a real election it was not.

The vote against Ahmadinejad was a rejection of the religious leadership of Iran. That holds true despite the fact the Mousavi represents the same religious leadership. The vote against Ahmadinejad was a rejection of the role played by the political leadership within Iran. That holds true despite the fact that Mousavi has also held political office, serving as prime minister under the founder of the Revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

As they were casting their votes every Iranian knew that the only vote that would count would be the one cast by The Supreme Leader. They knew it as well as Mousavi knew it.
They knew that the only way Mousavi would win the election would be if The Supreme Leader was convinced that Mousavi would be an even more willing and convincing messenger than Ahmadinejad had been.

The people tried to convince The Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader was not swayed. Their message was not convincing enough. The people tried hard and they have not given up trying. They are paying with their freedom and with their lives.

Here again, finally, President Obama is showing knowledge heretofore unseen. "I do believe that something has happened in Iran," he said. "There is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures towards the international community that have taken place in the past and that there are people who want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy."

And Obama is beginning to understand The Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei and the real monopoly he holds over the lives of the Iranian people. He hinted that the Ayatollah might actually have insight and influence when he said that the Supreme Leader "indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election."

There are a few things I will never understand. Why the president chose a midday show on CNBC as the platform from which to broadcast the most important and profound statements he has made about Iran since the days leading up to and following the election, is beyond me. CNBC is watched, depending on the day of the week and the time of day, by between 20,000 and 300,000 people. More people watch the local evening news in Akron, Ohio than watch daytime CNBC.

And why it took until Tuesday, five days after the Iranian election, for the president to show us that he has finally been briefed by someone who really knows what is happening is another unsolvable.

As they say, better later than never.

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

The Wrong Perception About Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 16, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Today, in response to the first question asked asfter a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Burlisconi, President Obama talked about Iran.Once again, the president of the United States of America spoke as if Iran were a democracy.
Iran is not a democracy. Iran is not a democracy. Iran is not a democracy.
The record must be cleared.
White House advisors have got this all wrong. Iran is a theocracy. Iran is run by The Supreme Leader the Grand Ayatollah.
Obama sounds like he is referring to a Western European country when he discusses the democratic process in Iran. I quote: "And I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be; that we respect Iranian sovereignty..."
There's more: "I think that the democratic process -- free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected."
There is a synapse here.
Iranians went out to vote knowing all along that the Grand Ayatollah, not they, would be choosing the leader of Iran. Iranians are frustrated and fed up, but they are not fooled.
Why is Washington fooled?

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

The Speech is Over, Now its Your Turn
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 15, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The much anticipated speech was given.
The responses came as expected.
Netanyahu spoke, everyone else responded.

The United States is hopeful.
Hamas rejects it.
The Palestinian Authority is offended.
Israelis are split.
The list goes on.

The most important part of the speech was the fact that Netanyahu gave the speech. He is now on record. The game is altered, a new set of rules is in play.

The Obama Administration applied significant pressure on Netanyahu and the Israeli PM caved on some big issues - the biggest is the Two State Solution. This was the issue that kept Kadima out of the Netanyahu coalition and forced him to sign on and embrace the more inflexible right wing parties.

By bowing to US pressure, Netanyahu earned some important credibility points. Now he waits, hoping that in turn, pressure will be brought upon the Palestinians.

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

Only 1 Person's Vote Counts in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 14, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

I shouted it as loud as I could, but it still wasn't loud enough.
Iran is not a democracy even though it is using the language of democracy.
Iran is not a democracy even though there were polling stations and people voted.
Iran is not a democracy.

On Saturday, The Supreme Leader the Grand Ayatollah made his decision.
On national television the Grand Ayatollah said that Iranians should throw their support behind Ahmadinejad.
He also called for calm.
He described the results as "divinely produced."
He was telling Iranians that the decision could not be challenged.

Yes, there is a risk of more civil unrest and violence in Iran especially as it becomes clear to gullible and naive voters that the fix was on from the beginning. But the statement of the Grand Ayatollah went a long way in reducing the tension among all but the most highly motivated, angered and frustrated dissenters. Those who persist in their opposition to the decision made by the Grand Ayatollah are taking their lives and the lives of their loved ones in their hands.

Why and how people actually believed that this could ever be a democratic election still befuddles me.

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

Iran is not a Democracy!
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 13, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi are claiming victory in Iran.

But what they say has as little import as the over 70% of the 46 million registered Iranians who came out to voter.
In Iran, only the Supreme Leader's vote counts.
The declaration naming the actual winner will take place sometime on Saturday.

This election was a huge growth experience for Iran.
It lent passion to politics.
It allowed the masses to give expression to their feelings and frustrations.
It allowed the people to voice their ideas about how Iran should behave internally and externally.

Iran is run by its religious council.
As observers we cannot and should not make the mistake of thinking that Iran is a democracy.
The language of democracy is being used in Iran today - words like voting and polls and opinion - but words alone are the trappings of democracy, not its essence.
In order to even receive permission run for office, the four candidates had to be vetted by the committee of The Supreme Leader. Hundreds were rejected.
The four candidates are all extremists and the only significant difference between them is the level of aggressiveness they use in discussing Israel and the West.

Everything in Iran is controlled by the religious council and The Supreme Leader controls and chairs the council.
They have the first say and the last say on everything that happens in Iran.
The role of the president is to serve as the mouthpiece of the religious council.

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

Elections in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 12,2009

I've Been Thinking:

We are witness to a watershed in Iranian electoral politics.

It is no secret that Iran is not a true democracy, no matter what ruling Iranians call it.
But the fact remains that the winner of this election must - for the first time in Iranian history, consider the voice and the interests of the people.

There are no reliable polls in Iran.
Even if there were it would not matter - the president of Iran is truly chosen, not elected, by The Supreme Leader.

Western media is pulling for the reformers and sounding an optimistic note in the hope that The Supreme Leader will by swayed by their coverage.
The very fact that so many real people have gotten involved, gone to rallies and watched the debates, is a new and welcome phenomenon in Iran.

Whatever the final outcome of this election, Iran has taken a step toward democracy.

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

DC Terror: Lone Wolf
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 11, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The attack that took place at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. is what I call "the act of a lone wolf."

A lone wolf is a person acting on his/her own.
A lone wolf may be marginally connected to a larger group, but perpetrates the act alone.
A lone wolf is nearly impossible to predict.
A lone wolf is nearly impossible to stop - the best defense is proper security at the site of the attack.

As a result of proper security and planning the only people at risk during this shooting in Washington were the guards.

That is what the way it is supposed to be during an attack.

We have experienced lone wolves before and we will become their targets again.

The lone wolf will attack specific high profile targets.

The primary threats are:
religious institutions - Jewish, Christian and Muslim
government agencies
school busses
public cultural and sporting events

We cannot stop these acts of terror, we can only minimize the death count and the destruction wreaked by the lone wolf.

On-site good security and on-site alertness are key.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 10, 2009


Strategy. Tactics. Move and countermove. Sometimes it's called chess, sometimes it's called diplomacy.

Foreign policy and international relations aside, United States President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu are now engaged in a game of chess. And no, the pawns in this game are not the Palestinian people or Palestinian nationhood. The pawn in this game is a relationship forged long ago between two countries with many significant shared values and principles.

Obama and Netanyahu each have their own philosophy of fair play. Right now, they are trying to psyche each other out. And as in any game of chess, sacrifices will be made. In this game, sacrifices are being made in order to gain better position and advantage and at times, even to give an impression of changing style and attitude and strategy.

The game is being played over the idea of a Two State Solution, an idea that Obama is pushing hard and Netanyahu cannot accept.

The Israeli prime minister has repeatedly rejected the term Two State Solution while the American president speaks of it as a sine qua non. So where do they go from here?

The president made an important speech on June 4th in Cairo. The prime minister will be making his own important speech, a counter speech,on Sunday at Bar Ilan University. In his speech, Netanyahu will speak about Palestinian self rule. He will stress the importance of Palestinian self rule. He will speak of the necessity of building an infrastructure for a state. He will say that it is a time to build, not to destroy. He will be playing tactical semantics.

For Netanyahu, Palestinian self rule is synonymous with Two State Solution. Palestinian self rule is a term he can live with, Two State solution is a term he cannot bring home to his ruling coalition.

Netanyahu has a difficult needle to thread. The Israeli leader knows how important the issue of Palestinian nationhood is for the United States and for the president of the United States. He also knows that he is the prime minister of a parliamentary government which is very different from the republic of the United States. And he knows full well that his coalition is in place in large part because he chose to include two parties who will not - under any circumstances, support a Two State Solution. These two parties represent only a sliver of Israeli society, but a very vocal and now important of Israeli society. The overwhelming majority of Israel, 78% of Israel, supports the Two State Solution.

But even that 78% has a caveat. Their support is conditional upon their own security and survival.

So Netanyahu will finesse the term. If he pushes his coalition too hard, he will fall and no longer be prime minister. If he does not pursue the matter he will fall from the good graces of the United States and jeopardize US support for Israel, especially US military support. The Obama Two State Solution plan has already been proposed and drafts have been given to Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians. The Egyptians have invited all Arab foreign ministers to a meeting on June 17th to discuss the plan and to make certain that they are all on board.

Here we have it. Netanyahu will be able to finesse his way through the Two State Solution and the Arab world will back the Two State Solution and the United States will be thrilled with the Two State Solution - so wherein lies the problem?

The biggest problem is that there is no real infrastructure within the Palestinian Authority and without infrastructure there is no way to create a state. The Palestinians do not have their bureaucracies in place not for justice, or police, or education, health or self governance. The Palestinians have not yet erected the building blocks of a state.

The next biggest problem is Hamas. If a Palestinian state were to be declared in the West Bank tomorrow or in two months or two years from tomorrow, there is little doubt that as Gaza went, so will the West Bank go. Within six months Hamas will take over, ousting Fatah in a coup and asserting their role as Muslim extremists and establishing a terror state.

The same 78 % of Israel that supports the idea of a Two State Solution knows full well that until the Palestinian Authority can control Hamas it will be impossible to avoid the Hamas state. And that they reject - and so to does the rest of the Arab world. Neither Arab leaders nor the Arab street want Hamas to take control. The only player unconcerned by the lack of Palestinian infrastructure and the rise of Hamas is the United States. It is a part of the greater game plan that the United States considers to be neither likely nor serious.

Netanyahu will do what it takes to protect his people and pacify his friends. But he will not allow his country to be checkmated.

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For Hezbollah the Loss is a Win
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 9, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

I have been analyzing the world of Hezbollah post Sunday's election in Lebanon.
For Hezbollah this election was actually a win - win situation.

If the Hezbollah block would have won the election, they would impose their issues on Lebanon top down. But they would have been uncomfortable. Hezbollah does not lead from the mainstream and cannot govern from the middle. Of course, no one would oppose their authority.

Now Hezbollah is in a very comfortable position. Because they are in the opposition they can attack the army. They can resist being disarmed and use any attempts against them as a battle cry for the loyal opposition. Hezbollah can instigate civil strife and incite near civil war. And even as a minority, Hezbollah still has total veto power over the government. That is what they did to the last government in Lebanon.

The up side in losing for Hezbollah is that they have the power to control, act, respond and sound off without any of the responsibility of government leadership.

The down side in losing for Hezbollah is that they intended to turn Lebanon into an Islamic state, like Iran.

The unfortunate reality is that the newly elected ruling party in Lebanon will not exert control over Hezbollah which means that, de facto, Hezbollah will have carte blanche to do whatever Hezbollah wants to do.

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West Defeats Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 8, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

It appears as a bullet has been dodged in Lebanon.
Shiite Hezbollah and the pro-Syrian, pro-Iran coalition lost to the
pro-Western, Sunni coalition in yesterday's election.

The exact results are not in as of this writing, but Hezbollah has already conceded.
Certainly, Hezbollah can wreak havoc in the opposition.
Certainly, Hezbollah can attack the Lebanese army and government institutions and spurn government agreements.
But now the pro-Western Sunni/Christian alliance will be able to deal serious blows to Hezbollah whenever they violate the law and flaunt their rejection of Lebanon's international responsibilities.

One of the only responsibilities of a democracy is to self perpetuate.
In Lebanon, democracy has not learned that lesson.
The Lebanese people know how to vote, but the representatives they elect have always cringed for fear of civil war. That is how and why Hezbollah and its anti-democratic methods have been able to prevail in many parts of Lebanon.

Yesterday Hezbollah and by extension Iran and Syria were put in their proper place.
The people have spoken.
Lebanon must squash all anti-democratic violence and tolerate no intimidation.

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Lebanon Elections Today
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 7, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Lebanon goes to the polling booths today.
What happens over the next four years is to be determined today.

These are not just any ballots being cast, this is an electoral ballot pitting Western influences against Iranian influences.
This battle is between Islam and non-Islamic cultures.
This battle is between Hezbollah and everyone else.
It is a battle for the 128 seats in the Lebanese parliament.

In the outgoing Lebanese parliament the division was 70-58 in favor of the Western alliance. And even with that margin the Western coalition was relatively powerless to exert true control and ineffective in clamping down on Hezbollah's intimidation and terrorist acts within Lebanon.

Advanced election polling makes this vote too close to call.
There is little chance that better than 70-58 will emerge from this election.
There is a strong chance that Hezbollah will emerge with a plurality and create the ruling coalition. If that happens it will be a significant step forward for Iran and its influence in the region and the world. If that happens we will see a massive exodus of Christians and Druze from Lebanon. If that happens the future of Lebanon will be altered for more than the four years because the liberal elements will leave never to return.

Of course, Jimmy Carter is in place to make certain things go well.

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Obama Is Driving A Wedge Btw Jews
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

President's Obama visited Buchenwald, the German concentration camp.
The president was accompanied by Elie Weisel, one of the most famous Holocaust survivors and the person largely responsible for keeping the memory alive by educating the world to the universal lessons and horror of the Holocaust.

There was method to Obama's visit to Buchenwald with Weisel, just as there was method to his Cairo speech.
Buchenwald served as an intimate connection to the president's visit in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Obama was only several miles from Israel when he visited Cairo - yet he chose not to visit. He was very critical of Israel calling the state an occupier and brutal oppressor. The very next day he goes to a German concentration camp and continues his thesis saying that those who forget the Holocaust are ignorant.
The criticism of Israel and shunning of Israel was counterbalanced by a visit with Weisel to Buchenwald.

Obama is attempting to drive a wedge between Israel and the Diaspora.
He embraced a basic universally accepted concept of the Holocaust - and rejected the deniers.
He used the Holocaust as a unifying concept - at the same time seriously criticizing Israel.
He is trying to show his respect for one holy cow - while desecrating the other.
He is driving a wedge between the Jews and the lovers of Israel - and critics of Israel.

Nothing Obama does is without purpose.
Everything Obama does is perfectly scripted.

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The Three Muslim Responses to Obama
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 5, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Obama speech was brilliantly crafted and exceptionally delivered.
The reception the speech received was the reception I expected it to receive.

The Muslim world was and still is divided into three unequal levels.
Level # 1 was excited by and about the speech.
They are also the smallest group.

Level # 2 couldn't care less.
No president of the United States can ever redeem the infidel and change America in their eyes.
They are the mid size group.

Level # 3 recognized that there was a change in tone in this speech, but tone is irrelevant to them. It is the "narrative" that is essential and this narrative cannot be changed by this or any other speech. This narrative is part of their mother's milk, it is their history, it is their collective memory.
They are the largest group, composed of the vast masses of the Islamic world.

Even if most of the Arab and Islamic world found the speech interesting, even if the speech was delivered by the first black president of the United States, it did not and cannot change anything. It is, after all, a speech. Words changed, but the "narrative" remains the same.

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Obama Selling His Soul
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 4, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Today President Obama stands in Cairo, addressing the Muslim world from an Arab capital.
The president of the United States of America will speak to his audience about misunderstandings and misapprehensions.

There is a certain irony to this scene.
Obama cannot push real democratic ideals from this spot. The soapbox he has chosen is one of the most notorious police states in the Arab world, it is a country that has no interest in liberalizing. And before arriving in Cairo, Obama visited Saudi Arabia, a monarchy that has shown almost no interest in democratic reforms.

Obama thinks he needs the Arab leaders. By embracing them and by embracing them on their playing field, he is accepting their terms -and their terms include the abuse of human rights.
The Bush administration had to sell its soul to the Arab leaders, too. But the previous administration received important counter terror intelligence in exchange. And even then the Americans were "asked" to butt out of internal Arab politics.

The Obama administration wants more than some info and intel. They want to transform the image of the United States in these areas and that means remaining mum on the thuggery inherent in the dictatorships and monarchies of the Middle East.

It is a mighty high price for a leading Western democracy to pay. And it is an even mightier disappointment for the many people of the region who are begging for and hoping that the United States under Obama will release them from their oppressive regimes and bring a ray of freedom and light.

What a shame, an all around shame.

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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 3, 2009


Let it be known that, first and foremost, the Obama Doctrine for the Middle East is a doctrine for and about the United States. It is the personal wish list of this president of the United States.

President Barack Obama and his team of advisors, envoys and mediators are acting in the best interest of the United States and of the United States only. The people who conceived of and the people implementing the Obama Doctrine do not have a mutual interest - or even a partial interest - in what benefits Israel.

True, they would be saddened should something catastrophic happen to Israel but the ultimate security of Israel is not primary in their minds. Israel's safety and Israel's security is purely in the hands of Israel. Right now, the United States will not move a dingy, a toy soldier, or a paper airplane to assist an Israel in crisis.

The intent of this new doctrine is to resurrect the status of the United States, to reshape the power base of the United States and to reposition the influence of the United States in the Arab and Muslim worlds. The Obama Doctrine for the Middle East is a classic replay of geo-politics.

Barack Obama wants to even out the playing field. And in making things even the special relationship between Israel and the United States is automatically diminished. Significantly diminished. And the Obama Doctrine is already in play.

The historic foray into the Middle East embarked upon by the Obama entourage visits four Middle East countries - and Israel is not one of them. The trip to Israel would have been an easy sashay over the Egyptian border, the most significant stop on the trip. Instead, Israel is being snubbed, ignored, diplomatically reprimanded.

The rationale is that a broader US coalition in the Middle East will make for a safer Israel and that a safer region is a safer Israel. The logic is that if, in the long run, Israel will be safer, who can argue with the means through which this happens. Stating his thesis even more pointedly, Obama asserts that only good friends can be so brutally honest with one another. His objective is to apply pressure on the Israeli populace to force their prime minister to buckle under US pressure and to accommodate this new doctrine. Obama is dangling the special Israel/US relationship in the faces of Israelis assuming that they will care so passionately about the relationship that it will override the traditional skepticism that has been so ingrained in the Israeli psyche and that has kept their nation alive until now.

The fact is that there are more Muslims and more Arabs than there are Israelis and Jews in this world. In the end, the Obama camp will cast aside shared values, issues of mutual benefit and past special relationships for the sake of the massive numbers represented by the Muslim and Arab states. It is a quotient somewhat familiar to those students of history and diplomacy who watched the United States cast off a relationship with Hong Kong in favor of a new relationship with Mainland China.

When the inevitable danger befalls Israel in the near term, Israel will be prepared. But Israeli military superiority cannot last long because the qualitative edge that Israel holds is often due to the weapons received from the United States. Will it happen before or after the fall of the Obama Doctrine, I cannot say.

But the Obama Doctrine for the Middle East will, inevitable, fail.

It will fail because Hamas will overpower Fatah and take charge of both the West Bank and Gaza.

It will fail because Israelis will not support Obama over Bibi if only because of the Holocaust mentality and Masada complex which is part and parcel of the Israeli nation.

It will fail because, despite Obama, the Arab world will not trust the United States.

It will fail because Arab leaders cannot believe the naivete of Barack Obama regarding Iran and they cannot believe that the president of the United States will move ahead and try to befriend Iran over the Arabs.

No matter how charming and how powerful his speeches are, no matter how powerful or poetic his rhetoric, the Obama Doctrine in the Middle East will fail. I just hope it doesn't take too many casualties along the way.

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US Pressures Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 2, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Rumors and speculation are darting back and forth across the Atlantic.

It seems that the Obama administration is beginning to apply pressure on Israel.
The assumption on Pennsylvania Avenue is that threatening to withdraw unconditional support for Israel will frighten Israelis and force the Israeli PM to capitulate and accept US demands.
It is a bold and untested thesis.

Here's the problem: what happens if the plan fails, what happens if it backfires?
The assumption is that a good relationship with the United States is more important than issues that threaten Israel's very existence.

Banking on that assumption is taking a very big gamble.
It is an assumption I would be wary to make.

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