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Ecuador Offer WikiLeaks a Home
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 1, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Deputy Foreign Minister of Ecuador, Kintto Lucas, has offered asylum to Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks.

Lucas announced to the local media that they were searching for Assange and praised Assange for his investigative skills.

Ecuador may want Assange to come to Ecuador, to live in Ecuador and to speak about Wikileaks but there is almost no chance that Assange will take them up on the offer.

Ecuador is making an important anti-US point. Ecuador thinks that leaking the documents hurt the United States and in their eyes, that is behavior worth rewarding.

Ecuador is part of the left wing block of South American countries. That group includes Venezuela and Bolivia. The United States has no friends in that group.

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Wiki Leaks No Big Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesdday November 30, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

About the WikiLeaks

I don't find the fact that this information has been leaked unsettling.

Why? Everyone realizes that these things happen.

What I do find disturbing is that so much of the so-called "intel" is opinion, not fact.

That is truly troubling.

We should not be up in arms about the leaks.

Much of information could have been deduced by closely following each story. There were real-time leaks and rumors about many of the issues covered in regional and international press.

The unprofessional documents, writings and irresponsible requests should be brought to our - the public's - attention and to the attention of watchdog groups.

There is no place for ad hominem attack in diplomacy and intelligence.

Sadly, it appears that so much US foreign policy intel which was gathered and interpreted abroad is nothing more than opinion and personal feelings.

It is not intel and it is not analysis. It is not even raw information

These leaks allow tens of thousands more people - journalists, analysts and John Q. Public - to pour over the material.

The NYTimes was correct and showed responsible judgment in redacting confidential sources and the names of people who may be put in danger.

All this info is most probably available due to new hacking techniques.

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Terror in Portland
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 29, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

About: the Foiled Portland Terror Plot
aka a non-event turned into a successful publicity stunt for the Feds

The whole story highlights and is emblematic of some of the biggest problems with counter terror:
Was it important that they found, caught and arrested this 19 year old potential terrorist?
But ...
Like in so many cases, the "terrorist" had the bomb because the feds provided him with a bomb.
Yes ...
He had the will to murder masses, but had no ability and no technical skills to garner the money or the means to perpetrate an attack on his own.

I am not suggesting that he was entrapped.
But ...
If I was his lawyer, that would be my strategy - there would not have been any potential terror planned, had the Feds not provided the "terrorist" with all the necessary accoutrements to plan an attack.

The most important part of any terror bust is to find the connections to bigger fish and future cells - to get leads to controllers and operators outside the country and their links and organizations here at home.

This bust shows the dangers of the lone wolf and the intelligence limitations of the lone wolf. We have gained nothing other taking a would be killer off the streets on an attempted mass murder charge.

Plastering the story on the front pages does help raise awareness.
In other words, this was a non-event and a successful publicity stunt for the feds.

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Elections Today in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 28, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Parliamentary elections are being held in Egypt today.

Official Egyptian government sources say that all is fair and that everything is in order - but international observers are up in arms.

Only 10% of those observers who requested permission have been permitted to observe anything in the polling stations.

Not only have opposition candidates complained of harassment - but those observers who did receive permission have also experienced pressure and intimidation.

There is little doubt about the role of democracy in Egypt. The world is watching and the Western world wants Egypt to liberalize - but that is highly unlikely.

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Jew in Bahrain's Upper Chamber
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 27, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Bahrain gets it.

Bahrain understands the dynamic and complexity of tradition in the modern world.

Yesterday King Khalifa appointed four women to serve on the Upper Chamber of the Shura, the equivalent of the consulting wing of Bahrain's parliament.

Of the four women: two were Muslim, one was Christian and one was Jewish.

The Shura itself is composed of 40 members - 30 members were invited to return and 10 were replaced.

The recent elections for Bahrain's Lower Chamber were also significant. The Lower Chamber is balanced by the Upper Chamber and, all in all, they serve to lend voice to and advise Malik al Bahrain, the King.

Despite their openness on certain issues, despite their understanding on blending modern and traditional values - moves for which they should be recognized and applauded, Bahrain is still a monarchy.

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Canada Says No to Durban III
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 26, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The UN has decided to create a Durban III Conference to be held next September 21, 2011.

Durban was created to fight racism and turned into an anti- Israel and anti-Semitic festival.

Canada has already declared that they will not participate in Durban III. Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney declared that they have lost faith in the Durban process.
"Canada is clearly committed to the fight against racism, but the Durban process commemorates an agenda that actually promotes racism rather than combats it."

Durban III is worth watching. Watching who participates and watching how countries respond will be useful in understanding racism.

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PA Says Jewish History at Wall
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 25, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Here are a few comments from the newly released five page official report of the Palestinian Authority about the Jewish connection to the Western Wall.

The author of the study is Al-Mutawakil Taha, deputy minister of information. The study itself, which is published on the official website of the Palestinian Authority, totally rejects any connection of Jewish history to the Wall or anywhere on the Temple Mount. It suggests that all of the history of the area is Muslim and Arab.

"This wall has never been a part of what is called the Jewish Temple."
Explaining why Muslims permitted Jews to pray at the Wall the paper asserts:
"it was Islamic tolerance which allowed the Jews to stand before it and cry over its loss."

No serious historian or archeologist promotes this thesis. And yet, it is the official point of view of the Palestinian Authority.

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Praying For Rain
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 24, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

There has been a drought in the Middle East. Rainfall is down 30%. And in Israel, Jews, Christians and Muslims are gathering to pray for rain.

The situation is so dire that the Chief Rabbinate has proclaimed a fast day. And yesterday 30 Jewish, Christian and Muslim women participated in a silent walk during which they visited important sites and at each stop, they prayed for rain.

There is a direct link between rain water and comfort and life in the Middle East.
Wells and reservoirs are filled by rainwater.
Irrigation and agriculture are dependant on rain.
Underground aquifers filter rain water and fill up water sources that provide drinking water for the region.
Rain water flows into and fills up lakes and rivers.

Today, even atheists in the Middle East are praying for rain.

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Iran Shuts Down Centrifuges
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 23, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Iranians have shut down thousands of their uranium centrifuges.
Iranian nuclear enrichment has ground to a halt.
Iranian diplomats told AP about this nuclear crisis.

The Stuxnet computer worm has begun to take its toll. The objective of the worm was to knock out only the Iranian nuclear program - without hurting anything else. The great part of the worm is that it cannot be scanned, searched or quarantined.

The worm lies dormant until you turn on the nuclear program and then it disappears again after it has done its disruptive duty.

The Stuxnet may actually be the silver bullet, the bullet that everyone said never existed.

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Ahmadinejad Wants 16 Year Olds to Marry
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 22, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

It's important to listen to the statements made by world leaders. By listening we can learn a lot about a people, a country, a society.

Yesterday Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced in the official press that girls should marry at age 16 and 17.

He was quoted as saying, "we should take the age of marriage for boys to 20 and for girls to about 16 and 17."

Ahmadinejad was responding to the new reality in Iran.

The average age of marriage in Iran is now 24to 26 years old. For Ahmadinejad an increase in the average age at which Iranian citizens marry is a sign of the religious degeneration of Iran. It is a symbol of the West's victory over the Islamic Republic.

Ahmadinejad has to respond. Ahmadinejad is calling on Iranians to return to their traditional ways.

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PA Study Is Distrubing
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 21. 2010

I've Been Thinking:

A recent study of the Palestinian public had very disturbing results.

58% of Palestinians felt the need to support armed struggle.
Armed struggle is a synonym for terror.

30% favored a two state solution.
60% chose an intermediate answer which says: "the real goal should be to start with two states but then move it to all being one Palestinian state."

Only 36% believe that direct talks are the only way to achieve a real solution.

This is deeply troubling.
It suggests that the Palestinian people are not primed for peace.
It suggests that Palestinian leadership has failed to set the groundwork for negotiations and for a peaceful mutual settlement.
It does not bode well for peace.

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US Will Put it In Writing
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 20, 2010

I'm Predicting:

P.J. Crowley, the US State Department Spokesman, said on Friday that: "We continue our discussions with the Israelis. If there is a need to put certain understandings in writing, we will be prepared to do that."

Israel has said that they will not agree to temporarily suspend settlement activity until and unless the agreement and the promises given them by the United States are received in writing. It seems that the US is now willing to put pen to paper and put those commitments in written form.

BUT ... I predict that this written agreement will follow a similar letter of commitment from the Bush White House to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Under Bush the agreement was written and sent in the form of a letter and printed on White House stationary.

BUT ... the letter was not signed.

I would guess that this letter will not be signed either.

Signed or not, neither a White House letter nor even a presidential letter can be enforced as law.

BUT ... it can be used to publicly shame and embarrass the administration if they break their word.
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Egypt is Insulted by the US
By Micah Halpern


Friday November 19, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry released a statement yesterday saying that the country was "dismayed" by the US call to send international monitors to observe their upcoming elections.

The statement implied that the United States was interfering in Egyptian domestic affairs. The US has neither rights nor any role in policing the inner workings of Egypt.

Egypt is suggesting that the US is not treating them like a friend but like a banana republic. They are suggesting that the United States is disrespecting Egypt - the society the leaders and the people. This type of disrespect unites a society against the West and helps to nurture anti-American sentiment.

If Egyptian leadership is stoking this narrative, it means they are posturing in order to create serious anti-America feeling. It means they are trying to sway the anti-Western vote away from the Muslim Brotherhood by demonstrating that they are even more anti-Western than the Brotherhood.

The Hajj is Here
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 17, 2010


The Hajj is here. The Hajj has begun.

The Hajj, a central component of Islam, leaves many in the West befuddled.

Simply stated, Hajj means Islamic religious pilgrimage. But it is much more than the simple translation. Understanding the Hajj can help us better understand Islam.

Hajj is one of the Five Pillars, the five most essential tenets, of Islam. These tenets are enormously important for followers of Islam. According to this pillar, or tenet, Muslims are obligated to make the journey to important Islamic sites. That means that at some point before they die, Muslims must make pilgrimage to Mecca - one of those holy sites.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Hajj is neither grounded in nor revolves around Mohammed. The Hajj revolves around Abraham, known in Islam as Ibrahim, and around his son Ishmael.

Even the name proves this. The word "Hajj" comes from the shared Biblical and Koranic story of Ishmael. In the biblical version, Ishmael's mother was named Hagar. In Arabic Hagar is Hajjar.

Interestingly (but not importantly), Hajjar is never actually mentioned in the Koran. Nothing too much should be read into that because neither is Sarah mentioned in the Koran. Actually, in the Koran, very few women are mentioned.

The Koran refers simply to "Ishmael's mother." The name of Ishmael's mother, Hajjar, only enters Islamic tradition through the Hadith, the sayings and teachings of Mohammed as handed down and recorded after the Koran.

In both the Hadith and the Koran we see the combined story of Hajjar and Ishmael - and that story is a central component of Islam. Hajjar and Ishmael are abandoned by Ibrahim in the desert and eventually, while searching for water, they find a well. According to the most commonly accepted story, the well sprung forth when the angel Jibral tapped his heal. According to other versions, the angel Jibral tapped his wing. Still other versions of the Hadith tell of the child Ishmael crying and explain that the child pounded his foot on the ground in frustration and from there spouted a spring of water. That spring, in all versions, is called Zamzam

The spring symbolizes life. The spring symbolizes salvation. Because of the spring, Ishamel and Hajjar will live. Hajjar then walks back and forth and back and forth between the mountains seven times. She circles the well seven times. And that is the origin of another important Islamic tradition called the Tawaf ceremony - the circling of the Kaabah, the site located right next to the Zamzam well, seven times.

As the Hajji, the Muslim who has made the pilgrimage to Hajj encircles the Kaaba, he (it is always a "he", no women are counted in the Hajj) says: "In the name of God, God is Great, God is Great, God is Great and Praise be to God" In Arabic: "Bism Allah Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lil Lahi Alhamd."

And on the following day the Hajji goes to Mount Arafat.

It is no coincidence. The first and foremost leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat, chose his name from this part of the Hajj. To not successfully fulfill this segment of the Hajj is to invalidate the entire Hajj.

Mount Arafat is also called Jabal al Rahmah, the mountain of forgiveness. Arafat means mountain of contemplation. It is at this spot that the Hajji must spend an entire afternoon until sunset reading from the Koran and praying privately. According to Islamic tradition Mount Arafat was the site of the Garden of Eden.

When The Hajji finishes his prayer, he is instructed to ceremonially stone the devil named Ramy al Jamaray. This is the devil who tried to challenge Ibrahim the father as he was taking his son Ishmael to sacrifice. The Biblical and Koranic stories of the sacrifice differ in names only.

When all the steps involved in performing the Hajj have been successfully completed, the festival of Id al Adah begins. Id al Adah reenacts the saving of Ishmael when a ram was found and offered as the sacrifice in place of the son. For Muslims, Id al Adah symbolizes Allah's mercy in having saved Ishmael. This festival, during which Muslims slaughter rams and partake of festive meals, is celebrated around the world.

Religiously, historically and ideologically, the Hajj is of central import to followers of Islam. It behooves us to understand what matters to Muslims. It weakens us when we do not.

White House Won't Put it in Writing
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 17, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The White House and most of the Western press were excited about Israel's decision to halt settlement activity in the West Bank for 90 days - but the celebration may be premature.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu convinced his cabinet to support the proposal with several conditions - but he did it with only a slim majority.

Israel wants the proposal in writing from the White House.

Israel is saying that they need the terms that Netanyahu and Secretary of State Clinton ironed out in NYC last Thursday during their 7.5 hour long meeting on paper.

Israel will not make the decision to stop building unless the agreement is put in a letter signed either by the President or someone else of import in the White House.

The White House is reluctant to put this agreement in writing.

The White House finds the part about not ever again asking Israel to freeze settlement activity particularly problematic.

So now we wait.

Peace Deal is Doubtful
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 16, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The US is very happy about Israel's decision to halt settlement construction for 90 days.

But there are some real obstacles - on both sides.

The Arab League made a public statement that they do not believe that a 90 day moratorium would be well received either by Palestinian leadership or by Arab leadership or by the Arab League.

Arab leadership is signaling that stopping settlement building for 90 days is not going to have a real positive impact on real the peace process.

In Israel it will be very difficult to enforce the government's narrowly supported decision to stop building. Actually, if it was hard for Israel to police the building during the previous moratorium, this time it will be nearly impossible. There are not enough inspectors and there will be numerous protests preventing army forces from supporting the inspectors.

And you know what? The United States is oblivious to it all.

Iran to Begin War Games
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 15, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Iran announced that they will conduct 5 days of war games beginning this Tuesday. They promised to unveil new, home made missiles proving that the Iranians do not need the Russia S-300.

We will be watching these maneuvers.

Iran will strut like a peacock. Even if there are misfires and failures, the Iranians will proclaim these games a great success.

Iran is constantly engaging in these war games. Last November they conducted similar tests. In September, they conducted war games in the Caspian Sea. In October, they joined Turkey and China in a set of war games that should have sent the Western world for a double loop.

The West is not investing enough time, energy or thought into the back story of Iran. These maneuvers are very much an integral part of that story.

US Israel Proposal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 14, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

There are serious murmurings about a 90 day Israeli building moratorium. So serious, that the story has been reported by most of news organizations.

It looks like a deal is being hammered out between Israel and the United States.

Israel will cease building for 90 days and the United States:
will veto all anti-Israel proposals in the UN
will deliver Israel 20 of the most sophisticated F-35 fighter jets valued at $3 billion
will not ask for another settlement stop

It is a good deal for Israel.
It is a terrible deal for the United States.
It is a horrific deal for the Palestinian Authority.

The PA will never be able to agree to anything - no less a peace treaty in the 90 days: they failed during the 10 month moratorium that ended in September
they have not even set the stage with their people acclimating them to the idea that a treaty with Israel is possible
they have no real sense of comprise on any issue.
their stance is all or nothing - or we go straight to the Security Council

The United States, which is supporting both the PA and Israel will lose all leverage with both sides after the 90 days. The PA wants a perpetual stoppage of all building with no exceptions. The US can only get a short term solution to that. There is no possible way to bring the sides together and in agreement in such a short time.

The entire suggestion is ludicrous and dangerous. Once again, the United States is displaying extreme myopia in predicting, anticipating, and understanding what might happen next. This kind of a deal is almost 100% sure to fail. The United States has not thought this through.

It is a win - win for Israel.
Israel gets everything and gives only a 3 month moratorium.

Kuwait Freezes Iran's Assets
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 13, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Kuwait has frozen all of Iran's assets.

This is a huge boon for those trying to impose sanctions on Iran. Getting Kuwait to join that group will empower other, less secure countries, to join the move to implement sanctions against Iran and to freeze Iran's accounts.

Kuwait may be a tiny little country, but the policies of Kuwait pack a punch.

Iran has always relied on the anti-Western feelings that permeate the Middle East. Combining that reliance with the intrinsic Middle East nature of not rocking the boat had Iran believing that her neighbors will not seriously join the sanctions.

Kuwait has changed that dynamic.

In this case, Iran overplayed its hand. Iran is now more and more isolated, not just from the West, but also from Middle East neighbors.

Iran Vows to Help Nigeria
By Micah Halpern

November 12, 2010

I've Been Thinking:
The Foreign Minister of Iran, Manouchehr Mottaki, met with Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia in Nigeria yesterday.

Iran promised to help Nigeria investigate the weapon shipment that was discovered in Lagos 2 weeks ago. The shipment was sent from Iran en route to Hamas in Gaza. There were rockets grenades and much more.

The 13 containers did not have the proper paperwork. The company that packaged them said everything was in order. The paperwork was in English. Nigeria asked Iran for its help and that requests packs a wallop.

Nigeria is a major player in OPEC. Nigerian security police understands Iran. The Nigerians have both a distrustful and useful relationship with Iran. Iran is also acutely aware of the need to deal with Nigeria with respect. A missed step could jeopardize Iran's standing and further alienate her in the Arab world.

This is a very important interaction to monitor.

US Pledges $150 Million to the PA
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 11, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just promised the Palestinians another $150 million dollars.

On Wednesday Clinton had a video conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayed. In the conversation Fayed explained how the Palestinians are expanding services and making preparations for statehood.

She then promised to help out and give them $150 million.

The US is deeply involved in resurrecting face to face direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Both Obama and Clinton have expressed disappointment in Israel for announcing that 1300 new apartments will be built in Jerusalem.

The United States wants the moratorium on building to become the new status quo because that's the way the Palestinians want it, the Palestinians want to stop all building.

A new status quo should be the objective of the negotiations, not the pre-condition.

Obama Critiques Israel from Abroad
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 10, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

From far away in the Far East President Obama articulated a serious critique of Israel's decision to build in Jerusalem. And yet from that same place, the president was silent on Iran.

Obama and his administration have been critical and even over critical of Israel ever since assuming office.

They have acquiesced to Iran and have been neither as strident nor as aggressive as they should have been against Iran.

It is a lopsided and unfair standard. It works because Israel is flexible and the rest of the Middle East is intransigent. Iran will not give in. The US knows that.
The Palestinians will not budge. The US knows that.

The United States pressures Israel because the US knows that Israel will give in --- and that fact is what best epitomizes the relationship between Israel and the US vis a vis the peace discussions.

Iran Will Meet in Turkey
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 9, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Abdullah Gul has announced that he expects that the international nuclear meeting will take place soon and it will take place in Turkey.

That's news because the meeting is supposed to take place in November and take place somewhere in Europe. Participating in the meeting will be Iran and the P5+1, the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.

So why inTurkey? Because Iran has said that they will meet in Turkey and nowhere else.

Originally, Iran had said that they would not be participating in the Conference at all. But over the weekend Iran's Foreign Minister announced a change of heart and said that they will talk with the West - in Turkey. Iran shifted the venue to get some home court advantage.

Again, so why in Turkey? Because Turkey voted for Iran in the Security Council and rejected the newest sanctions against Iran.

UN Secretary General Ban announced on Monday that the UN cannot say that Iran's nuclear technology is peaceful.

Iran was insulted and now they want to make certain that Iranian advances in nuclear material are not ceased.

Mubarak's November Elections
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 8, 2010


For the past decade United States foreign policy wonks, those so called advisers within several Administrations, have failed to understand and correctly predict events in the Middle East. They have failed miserably.

The most recent and glaring example of US ignorance in Middle East maneuverings and politics can be seen in Egypt. The United States has been caught completely off guard by the announcement that there will be elections in Egypt in November. Yes, this November, November 2010.

If the United States ever hopes to get a handle on the Middle East, Washington must expand its pool of knowledge and broaden its circle of advisers.

For the past decade the United States has been focusing on the transition of power in Egypt. Washington has been pushing Egypt to liberalize, to open up, to become more and more democratic. Washington has been pushing political Egypt to become more Western. Washington has refused to even consider what Egyptian leadership knows for a fact - that liberalizing Egypt is synonymous with a big win for religious extremists in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of al Qaeda.

The US has paid no attention to the potential price Egypt would have to pay in the name of democratization. Egypt could easily go the way of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. The United States is not even remembering how when, in the name of democracy, Hamas was permitted to stand for election and then promptly and very successfully routed Fatah from office and then ousted the PA from Gaza.

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt may be called President but it is just another way of saying all - powerful dictator. And although there are periodic elections in Egypt, they have no significant impact on what happens in Egypt - because in Egypt, Mubarak is in charge.

All these years US advisers and wonks were convinced that things were changing in Egypt. Why? Because DC thought that it was time for change in Cairo. Because DC thought that Cairo understood that it was the perfect time to transition. After all, the thinking in Washington went, President Mubarak's health has been in question, he is eighty three years old and has ben in power since Anwar Sadat's October 1981 assassination at the hand of Muslim extremists. It's time for a change.

And that thinking explains why Washington went reeling when they discovered that not only will there be elections in November, but that Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt, has put himself up for election yet once again. There is no time for challengers to prepare their strategy and there is no chance of their winning even if they did.

Washington has assumed that Mubarak's successor would be his son. And for the past two years analysts said that the true test of Egypt's move toward democracy would be seen in how open the next Egyptian elections were. And they assumed that the winner of the next election would be Gamal, son of Hosni.

The foreign policy people in Washington had no idea that Hosni Mubarak had another plan in mind. That's because Washington has no understanding of the politics and practices of the Middle East.

Of course Mubarak is going to run for office again. Mubarak can't retire and no transition in Egypt will happen through the electoral process. A change in Egyptian leadership will occur only through an official handing off of the baton. Hosni Mubarak must articulate the transfer of the mantle of leadership publicly and while he is in good health. This must happen so when Mubarak's time does come there will be no questions. The Egyptian people do not decide, the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak decides.

If the mantle does go to Mubarak junior there will be no chance of failure and no question as to who controls the font of Egypt's power, politics and military. Mubarak might talk about liberalizing his country but he cannot in fact actually liberalize Egypt. In the eyes of Mubarak transitioning power and liberalizing are impossible while maintaining stability.

You see, Mubarak understands the Middle East. Not to see this coming was downright irresponsible.

Al Qaeda Threatens Christians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 7, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Al Qaeda threatens much more than the West. Al Qaeda threatens world leaders and other populations of the Middle East.

Al Qaeda is now threatening to attack the Christian Copts of Egypt. Al Qadea is seeking to avenge the honor of women that they claim to have been kidnapped by the Copts after converted to Islam.

There are 8 million Christian Copts in Egypt out of a total population of 79 million. President Mubarak has promised to protect the Copts from al Qaeda. Of course, that is a ridiculous promise because Al Qaeda is also constantly threatening Egypt. In fact, Egypt is already on high alert against al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda wants to oust Mubarak from power, al Qaeda wants to attack any and all leaders who do not embrace the al Qaeda version of Islam.

England Israel in A Potenital Fight
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 6, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

There are changes taking place in the very important strategic summit scheduled to be held between Israel and the United Kingdom.

First, the summit was postponed. Now the location has been changed. The summit was supposed to take place in England and it will now take place in Israel.

The reason is that British law has incorporated the "universal jurisdiction law" that permits British courts to arrest, charge and place on trial human rights violatorswho can then be tried in England.

Most recently, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor was forced to change plans regarding a trip to England after being warned that once there, he was going to be arrested. Earlier in the year, Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak scoffed at the threats and made his official trip anyway.

There have been cases when retired Israeli generals were advised to remain on their ELAL plane because arrest warrants were in the hands of British police waiting in the airport them to disembark.

England has promised to rescind this law in parliament ... but they have not. If the law is not rescinded and rescinded soon diplomatic tensions will boil over. The diplomatic pot is bubbling.

Saudis Say Iran is Explosive
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 5, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Saudis have declared that Iran's quest towards enriching uranium and their pursuit of nuclear technology is heading down an "explosive" path.

The term "explosive" is a quote from the former Saudi Ambassador to Great Britain and the United States, Prince Turki al Faisal.

Prince Turki is currently the Commissioner of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. He is also the former head of Saudi intelligence. He is a son of the previous king, a nephew of the current king and the brother of the current foreign minister.

Turki's comments are not tangential. They should be understood to be the official policy of the King of Saudi Arabia even if the King's name is not mentioned in the statement.

An important element in understanding the workings of a monarchy is determining which voices hold weight and which voices do not hold weight.

On issues of nuclear development, especially Iran's nuclear development, Prince Turki al Faisal is the voice that is heard inside the Saudi palace and the voice that should, therefore, be listened to outside the palace.

Yemen Gets Help From the US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 4, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The US is now obsessed with threats from Yemen.
The US has just given Yemen $150 million to organize and fight terror.

It is a total waste of money for more reasons than you can imagine.

Yemen is one of the most disorganized, corrupt, bureaucratic societies in the Middle East. That says something because the Middle East is the Mecca of corruption.

See for yourself.

Google the online pictures of the Customs Mail Hold in Yemen. They actually show you rooms with packages and envelopes scattered all over the floor and heaped in piles without any hope of organization.

Despite this - it is still essential that we keep all channels with Yemen open and hospitable and that we at least try to make certain that the leaders of Yemen keep trying to fight terror any which way they can.

The United States needs Yemen - Yemen has info and Yemen has access.

Terror on the Rise
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 3, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Explosions and threats and false alarms are spreading like a plague in Europe.

Five embassies in Greece were targeted with real bombs.

A bomb in front of the Swiss Embassy blew up, no one was injured.

A bomb attack on German Chancellor Angela Merkel which was disarmed by sappers tops the list as the most high profile and most dangerous of all the attacks.

There's more: a Lufthansa flight from Germany en route to Tel Aviv landed in Greece because no one claimed a plastic bottle of iced tea. In the end it was simply iced tea.

Two more cargo packages were discovered in the Athens airport.
18 bombs exploded in Iraq.

The terrorist are working overtime.

Cancelling Flights from Yemen
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 2, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Countries are starting to respond to the ink cartridge bomb threats.

The most drastic response came from Germany. Germany has stopped all commercial flights from Yemen. That includes tourist and cargo aircraft.

Yesterday Canada banned all cargo flights originating from Yemen.

The thinking behind the Canadian decision is that Yemen cannot and does not check the packages that are sent - and that makes the risk too high. The risk is higher still because the reality is that most cargo is sent not on cargo planes, but on commercial, passenger-filled, planes.

Canada and Germany are correct. Unless packages, like passengers, are rigorously checked they should not be permitted aboard planes.

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