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Iran Says Mistake to Trust the US
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Anyone who thinks that Iran will negotiate with the United States as a tactic to relieve the pressure of upcoming sanctions against them doesn't understand Iran.

Iran's leader, the Grand Ayatollah Khameinei, has said that it would be an obvious mistake to negotiate with the United States because the US is totally untrustworthy and unreliable.

In a meeting with his foreign ministry, the Supreme Leader said: "The word and even the signature of the Americans cannot be relied upon, so negotiations with America are of no avail."

He further explained that It seems clear that negotiations with the US would be an "obvious mistake."

There have been rumors that Iran wants to resume dialogue with the US and even that the United States is actually reaching out to Teheran.

Those rumors seem unfounded given the public messages we are receiving.

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Arab Glides into Syria to Join ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

An Israeli Arab is now under arrest and being tried for joining ISIS.

Nidal Salah, along with his friend, used gliders and flew into Syria in October 2015. As he was landing he was shot at - but not shot down. And then, after landing, he was arrested by ISIS and brutally tortured. Finally, Salah convinced ISIS that he wanted to join them. He then fought for ISIS.

Some time later Salah escaped and hired a smuggler to cross the Syrian border into Turkey. There he met family members. He eventually flew back to Israel where he was arrested and now charged.

The gag order was lifted yesterday, after his indictment.

As shocking as it is that an Israeli would join ISIS, it is even more shocking that he would return to Israel. When he was still in Turkey Salah's family brought over an Israel lawyer - he knew he was going to be arrested.

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China Invests in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

China is going to overtake the United States in foreign investments in Israel.

This is very big news.

In the year 2016 alone, China's investments in Israel tripled to $16billion dollars - all in one year alone.

China is set on investing in Israel to get their hands on new technology. Israel is the center of that new tech. China knows that in order to be part of that technology, they need to be close to Israel.

They Chinese can't invent the tech, but they can invest in it. They invest in the ideas and then own part of the tech.

This will put the Chinese in competition with the United States which does the exact same thing.

Of course there are dangers in accepting Chinese investments, but the dangers pale in comparison to the benefits.

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Iran Takes US to World Court
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It's pure Chutzpah - there is no other word for it.

Iran is taking the United States to the World Court, officially known as the United Nations International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Iran is suing the United States over the new sanctions being imposed on them. Their filing asserts that the US is in violation of a 1955 bilateral trade treaty between the two nations.

Sanctions or disrupting the free trade between the two countries is a breach of that treaty.

Iran is actually asking for a provisional ruling so as to lift the sanctions in the meantime and to then set a court date for complete arguments to be heard.

The United States will argue that the World Court does not have jurisdiction.

In fact, the World Court both does and does not have jurisdiction.

They are the go to address for countries when there is a treaty violation. But the 1955 treaty was with a different Iran and the sanctions the United States is instituting are part of a foreign policy of a sovereign nation - and that does not fall within the jurisdiction of the World Court.

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Hamas is Failing in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


Hamas is claiming that Israel wants to de-stabilize Gaza in the hope of making the situation so intolerable for Gazans, that they will rise up against Hamas leadership.

Hamas leadership is asserting that that is why Israel shut the Kerem Shalom crossing to all goods except for food and medicine, and even those exceptions must receive prearranged permission to cross the border.

Hamas issued a statement saying: "Israeli sanctions demonstrate its desire to increase the siege of Gaza and commit more crimes against its people. The world must end its silence in the face of Israel's crimes against humanity."
Hamas is not entirely wrong.

Israel is using the border closure as a vehicle to try to influence the masses who live in Gaza.

Israel is tightening the screws in order to force Gazans to rise up, to wrest control from their leadership and to act to defend themselves.

Israel wants life to be better for Gazans.

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Iran Must Decide about Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is facing a real dilemma. They must decide what to do in Syria.

The civil war in Syria, is drawing to an end. Bashar Assad is clearly in power and Iran's role in Syria is going to have to change.

Russia does not want the Iranians in Syria, mostly because Iran complicates their role own in Syria. Russia wants every power out of Syria except for Hezbollah and Russia.

Iran needs to calculate whether there is a positive role for them to play in Syria. Most analysts would say Iran is no longer helpful in Syria, so they should leave. But Iran has no interest in giving up any power or influence.

Iran has asserted that the only way they would even consider leaving Syria is if Assad asked them to leave. That would happen only if Russia demands that Assad make the request and make it both publicly and privately.

If Iran retreats from Syria it will draw down tensions and make for a safer region.

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China Wants to Help in the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

China has decided to up its game in the Middle East.

President Xi of China has announced that the Chinese will increase their role in the Palestinian/Israeli peace process and in the rest of the Middle East.

It begins with China's pledge of 100 million yuan to the Palestinians. 100 million yuan is equivalent to only $15 million. For China, that's chump change.

China has also committed to partnering with the Arab League to advance peace.

In the end, this is simply a gesture.
China is not really serious about playing a central role in the Middle East.

If they were serious they would give at least $150 million, ten times their current pledge, to the Palestinians.

The ultimate goal of China is to try to oust the United States from any role in the Middle East. In that, China will fail.

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Bibi Meets Putin in Moscow Before World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin just before the World Cup semi-final which was played in Moscow.

Putin invited many world leaders to the July 15th World Cup finals. Netanyahu countered and asked to meet and watch the semi-finals instead.

It was a perfect maneuver. It gave Netanyahu and Putin time alone without pressure.

The most crucial part of the meeting was Israel telling Russia that they will not tolerate any violation of the Golan Heights buffer zone that separates Israel and Syria.

Israel will attack any force that approaches the area - no matter if they hail from Iran, Syria or Lebanon.

The message was transmitted and it was received.

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Iran Emptying Accounts for Cash
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is emptying accounts in Germany. They are trying to bring back as many dollars and Euros as possible before the US sanctions kick in.

At least 300 million Euros, which is equivalent to $350 million, have been transferred from Germany to Iran over the past few weeks.

On the one hand, Iran is doing everything they can to insulate themselves against US sanctions that kick in August and then in November.

On the other hand, Iran is counting on President Trump to keep on tweeting.
The more the US president tweets, the higher the price of oil soars.

Iran is a nuclear leader. The idea is to try to tamp them down. It's not going so well.

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China Blocking US Oil
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

In an act of defiance, an independent Chinese oil refinery has suspended all US oil imports and replaced them with Iranian oil.

The company, Dongming Petro-Chemical Company, is just one company in what appears to be a pre-emptive Chinese strike against the United States.

The Chinese are also planning to charge a 25% tariff on US oil imports into China.

China currently imports 400,000 barrels of US crude oil per day. The additional tariff coupled with the suspension of importing US crude oil will have a huge impact on the price of US oil and gasoline.

Analysts speculate that China will drop almost all US oil supplies. China will make up the loss in their oil supply by importing from West Africa and the Middle East.

Never forget that China is the largest consumer of oil in the world. The Chinese are the most important oil market in the world. If the United States is frozen out of that market it will have a catastrophic impact on the oil market.

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Israel Strikes Syrian Airbase
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel struck a Syrian airbase named T- 4 yesterday, Sunday. They hit this very same base several months ago.

This airstrike took place two days after Israel attacked a Syrian artillery base from which missiles were launched toward Israel. The missiles, which landed in no man's land, were tracked from that base.

Israel struck the Syrian T- 4 base after discovering that Iran had outfitted the base with a modern, sophisticated, anti-aircraft battery.

Israel has been threatening to make certain that Iran not change the status quo in Syria. They want to stop the buildup of weapons Iran is willing to provide to help their enemy.

These attacks are perfect examples of how Israel is actively preventing a change of balance of military power in Syria.

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World's Largest Shipper Pulls out of Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

One of the world's largest cargo shippers, a French company called CMA CGM, has decided to cease all business involvement with Iran effective ASAP.

This is a massive blow to Iran.

Iran is attempting to rally interested parties to resist US sanctions by appealing to their independent side. They are making the claim that the United States should not and cannot dictate world economic policy. Iran is arguing that each country should be able to make its own decision as to whether they choose to support Iran.

"European countries have the political will to maintain economic ties with Iran based on the JCPOA (the nuclear deal), but they need to take practical measures within the time limit," Rouhani wrote on Saturday on his official website.

That may be true, but it is also true that everyone needs to do business with the United States if they want to expand their markets. And US President Trump seems to be following through with his threats.

Countries realize that they must tread lightly in dealing with the United States - their entire economies are in the balance.

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Iran Doesn't Like the Deal
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Hassan Rouhani was working his magic in Europe this week.

It's all about the Iranian version of the "art the deal." The "deal" is the version of the nuclear package, now that the United States has pulled out.

Today, foreign ministers are meeting to discuss the newly proposed deal. In advance of the meeting Rouhani read the proposal. And then he reached out and called the French and German leaders.

Rouhani told French President Emanuel Macron that "[t]he package proposed by Europe ... does not meet all our demands."

He told German Chancellor Angela Merkel "[u]nfortunately the proposed package lacked an action plan or a clear roadmap for continuation of cooperation. It only included some general promises like previous EU statements."

These quotes come to us from Iranian news coverage. They are very revealing, which is very uncharacteristic of Iranian leadership. They tell us Iran did not get everything they asked for.

That is the nature of negotiation. It remains to be seen if Iran will simply walk away or if they will continue to try to reach a deal.

We will have our answer soon.

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Iran Threatens US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has threatened to shut all Iranian oil exports and is demanding that all Iranian oil become "toxic" after November 4th.

Iranian President Rouhani posted on his website and then reiterated in a press conference he gave in Bern, Switzerland, that the United States is making a mistake. He said that the United States has not thought through the ramifications of this decision.

In essence, Rouhani said that it will not be possible to have a situation in which Iran is the only country in the region which does not export oil - and mark his words, Iran will make certain of that.

The post on Rouhani's website reads: "The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran's oil exports. They don't understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region's oil is exported."

At the press conference in Bern when he was asked whether those comments constituted a threat to interfere with the shipping of neighboring countries, Rouhani replied: "Assuming that Iran could become the only oil producer unable to export its oil is a wrong assumption ... The United States will never be able to cut Iran's oil revenues."

Rouhani is flat out saying that, if pushed by the United States, Iran will shut the Straits of Hormuz and no one's oil will be shipped. If the Straits are shut it will eliminate 1/3 of the world's oil.

Rouhani is also saying that with the reduction of Iranian oil plus the stoppage of the Straits of Hormuz, the price of oil and all its products including gas will skyrocket.

The United States cannot afford to let that happen.

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Putin Using the World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Putin, as I've said before, is using the World Cup to his advantage. He is using soccer to advance his role as world class mover and shaker. He is playing his own game of Maneuver and Manipulate as the consummate pro.

We already know that Putin invited a long list of world leaders to be his guests at the finals on July 15th. We know, too, that Palestinian President Abbas accepted his invite. The question was whether Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who got the same invite, would attend.

We have our answer. Israel countered and asked if Bibi could, rather than attend the finals, attend the semi-finals in Moscow on Wednesday July 11th.

As of now, that date has been penciled in by both Putin and Netanyahu.
Before the semi-finals these two leaders will sit down and hash out some important issues.

Putin and Netanyahu last met about seven weeks ago. They spoke on the phone last week.

The two leaders meet and speak regularly. It is to the best advantage of both Russia and Israel to make sure that they are both on the same page on a long list of international issues.

This counter move by Bibi assures him a great seat at the World Cup semi-finals, which could be a better match than the finals, and a private meeting with Putin. Bibi will have achieved the dream diplomatic play of so many other world leaders.

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Iran Claims Israel is Stealing their Clouds
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

I'm reminded of Chicken Little shouting "the sky is falling."
Iranian leadership is shouting that Israel is stealing Iranian rain and snow clouds.

Cloud theft, according to Iran, is the result of Western oppression of Iran.
In a press conference Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization, said: "The changing climate in Iran is suspect."

Jalali is quoted as saying: "Foreign interference is suspected to have played a role in climate change," and is insisting that results from an Iranian scientific study "confirm" the claim.eHe said: "Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain."

Jalali continued: "On top of that, we are facing the issue of cloud and snow theft," citing a survey showing that above 2,200 meters all mountainous areas between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean are covered in snow, except Iran.

Iran's meteorological service expert disagrees. The head of Iran's meteorological service, Ahad Vazife, was quoted on ISNA, an official Iranian news service. He said that General Jalali "probably has documents of which I am not aware, but on the basis of meteorological knowledge, it is not possible for a country to steal snow or clouds."

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Syrian Refugees Love Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

As crisis builds in Syria, local Syrians are running toward Israel and toward Jordan.

200,000 Syrians are fleeing to escaping the most awful experience of life in Syria today.

At the Jordanian border Syrian refugees just stood there. And waited. And waited. They got nothing.

On the Israeli border medical teams came to treat the wounded. They brought tents and clothing and food along with medical supplies.

Ynet news interviewed the refugees. Here is one of their comments. "We saw a very noble stance by the Israeli side, both by the aid that it sent and in its treating of the wounded."

In essence, refugees are running away from Syria and gaining safety and medical treatment in Israel. It breaks all the stereotypes.

Israel cares more about Syrian refugees than their Arab neighbors do.

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Water Crisis in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

This is a crisis you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy - and yet, here we are.

Iran is in the midst of a serious water crisis.

According to some predictions, as many as 97% of Iranians will be hit by the crisis. Others put the number at 66% of Iranians who will be seriously affected.

The protests we are seeing in Iran are as much about economics and freedom as they are about poor planning and the massive water shortage.

Just days ago Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke directly to the people of Iran saying that Israel can help with their water crisis. He said that Israel cares about the people of Iran. He said that Israel cares more about Iranian citizens than their own leadership cares about them.

The water crisis touches every aspect of society - food and health as well as defense. Everything is affected by the water crisis.

The situation can be resolved.

It requires using a few methods. The fastest resolution is to import water from Turkey - it's expensive and a short fix. Then comes borrowing technology from Israel - the world leader in water crisis aversion and conservation.

But Iran will not take the help. And Iranians are suffering.

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