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« September 2019 | Main

Arabs Warn Against Trips to Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have issued travel warning against visiting Lebanon.
The warning also urged those in Lebanon to stay inside or even leave.

Over the past few days protests have enveloped Lebanon. Thousands have rushed to the streets and caused traffic jams. The military has cracked down. The protests continue.

It is all about economic reforms and the changes people are demanding from
Lebanese the government. Prime Minister Saad Hariri has promised reforms.
And Hezbollah, the powerful terror group that controls southern Lebanon, is the de facto king maker in the country and has thrown their support behind Hariri.

Until recently, Lebanon, especially the capital city Beirut, was returning to its old cultural self - a city of cafes and international appeal with a vibrant night life.

These protests are unique. Never before has here been such civil engagement in Lebanon about policy.

For decades the conflict and the protests were always about Christian/Muslim and Shiite/Sunni divisions. Now the protesters are demanding that the government, especially the cabinet, work together to solve the economic crisis and free up $11 billion to go towards infrastructure.

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China Buying Iran's Oil
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

China is the by far the country importing more Iranian oil than any other country in the world. The Chinese are doing so in direct opposition to US President Trump’s demand that they sanction Iran.

The Chinese have been turning off their GPS transponders making it impossible to know the exact location of their ships. That means that Chinese ships are not trackable when they go to Iranian ports. Then, after picking up their oil load, they turn their GPS back on and go on their way.

US sanctions have been successful. Before Trump imposed these sanctions Iran was exporting 2.5 million barrels of oil each day. Now their oil output has been cut to 400,000 barrels a day.

The White House is not happy with this situation. They are contacting Chinese shipping companies and warning them not to play games when it comes to sanctions.

It does not appear that China is taking the White House’s message to heart.

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UAE Luring Israeli Techies
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

DarkMatter is a cyber company headquartered in Cyprus. In reality, DarkMatter is actually a company that is run and controlled by the United Arab Emirates.

What makes this interesting fact even more interesting is DarkMatter is recruiting ex Israeli intel officers. They are luring them with annual salaries of nearly $1 million.

The Israelis were part of 8200, an elite cyber command unit that is responsible for the defense of Israel as well as creating offensive strategies to attack Israel’s enemies.

DarkMatter’s official goal is supposed to limit their work to defense but that is highly unlikely. They have already been accused of threatening and attacking activists and journalists.

Israeli leadership is concerned. Is Israeli know-how being used to attack innocent people? Is it helping an Arab dictatorship?

There is little doubt that people act in their best interest and $1 million is a huge incentive.

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Tensions Btw Israel and PA
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian leadership is preventing Palestinians from buying Israeli sheep and calves.

This is now a serious bone of contention.

Israel responded that if Palestinians continue with this policy, Israel will no longer buy Palestinian agricultural products.

Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Kamil Abu Rukun, said: “Israel will not allow boycotts of any kind against Israeli produce." He continued: “Because of the Palestinian Authority's unilateral decision, which is hurting the economies of both sides, and after several inquiries to resolve the issue on various levels, I have warned that if the situation does not return to normal, we will not allow much of the Palestinian agricultural produce to enter Israel."

Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem responded that Palestinians have the right to diversity in the items in its markets, including replacing Israeli products with Arab products.

This kind of economic gaming will hurt and even destroy the local economies. There is no doubt that it is much more efficient to trade locally.

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Shuls Must Lock their Doors
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Yom Kippur terror attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany was horrific.

The terrorist filmed himself and was broadcasting live as he attempted to attack the Jewish house of worship and murder as many Jews as possible on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. This was so horrific that even Hamas condemned the attack.

The terrorist was arrested. He murdered 2 people. The 2 victims were outsiders... they were bystanders... they were not members of the Jewish community and not in the synagogue.

The Synagogue did not have a guard. But it was well protected. It had high thick walls and its door was locked.

The terrorist actually threw a bomb over the wall but it did nothing. He could not get into the synagogue because the doors were locked. He was walking around outside. No strangers were permitted entry.

My suggestion to all synagogues.

Lock your synagogue doors and have police or guards protecting the door. If you cannot afford a guard have members man the door. Only let people enter who are vetted and whom you know.

If the terrorist cannot get in --- lives are saved.

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Gaza Arrests ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Can you imagine a situation where one terrorist group arrests a group of terrorists?

The leadership of Gaza arrested four ISIS members. They were planning attacks against Hamas leadership. All this was reported in the daily paper Al Akhbar a daily newspaper publishing in Beirut. The paper also said that these same four assassins were also involved in launching rockets against Israel.

This is where the story gets interesting. Hamas in Gaza has handed down a directive to stop firing rockets into Israel. The reason for this policy is purely practical. They want to stop Israel from countering or even invading. The cost is too high.

ISIS on the other hand is livid that Hamas is not attacking Israel at every possible moment. So, they have recruited Gazans to join their terrorist cause to not just attack Israel but to attack Hamas too.

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Putin Does it Again
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is always finding ways to step up their game on the international stage. They are constantly pushing the buttons of the United States.

Vladimir Putin is a master of strategy. Russia's president never misses an opportunity to stick it to the US. He does that most effectively by challenging the authority and power of the United States and its role as leader of the free world.

At a conference held recently on the topic of International Politics held in the famous Russian resort city of Sochi, Putin announced that Russians are helping China build a warning system against missiles. That's big news. Until now, only the United States and Russia have had this exclusive kind of advanced technology.

Putin acknowledged the magnitude of this endeavor when he said: "This is a serious thing that will drastically increase the defense capabilities of the People's Republic of China.”

By helping China build this defense system Russia masterfully both advanced their own position and aided China - all of which further diminishes the position of the United States.

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Iran's Oil Exports
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday Iran's oil ministry website posted a statement by Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. The Iranian oil minister said that Iran will go to any length to export its oil and that it is their right do so.

Zanganeh said: "We will use every possible way to export our oil and we will not succumb to America's pressure because exporting oil is Iran's legitimate right."

He is correct on both counts.

Iran is going to great lengths to export their oil. And exporting their oil is their legitimate right.

US sanctions are on buying Iranian oil - not on Iran exporting their most significant natural resource, which happens to be oil.

Iran is not violating either international law or US sanctions by finding ways to export oil. Rather, it is the purchasers of that oil and the middle-men facilitating the purchases who are violating sanctions.

The most powerful and influential countries helping Iran are China and Russia. India is also getting oil from Iran -- but far less than China and Russia.

To get the oil, ships are turning off the tracking devices on their oil tankers and using pipelines to avoid being monitored by the United States. The problem with turning off transponders is that pirates have not lowered their profile since these tensions with Iran have surfaced and the tankers are making their job of boarding and taking over ships easier.

Turning off tracking devices can be extremely dangerous.

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Ships Waiting in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

20 ships with over 10,000 tons of grain are just sitting outside Iranian ports.
They are waiting to be off loaded.

The ships just sit and sit and wait.
The grain is badly needed by the people of Iran.
The grain has not been brought into port for several reasons.

Most significantly, Iran does not have the money to pay.

US sanctions have made it nearly impossible for Iran to purchase basic
necessities. But it's not just the cash crunch. Ships want to make certain that their delivery will not be seen by the watchful eyes of the United States.
Ship owners fear US economic retaliation. And rightfully so.

The United States is utilizing all forms of intelligence, satellites, drones, computers and human intel to monitor the situation. The US can find out whatever it needs to know.

Nonetheless, despite the pressure and the intel, two ships managed to unload their cargo over the past two weeks. But that is almost nothing relative to the tremendous needs of Iran.

US sanctions against Iran are having a significant effect, that seems obvious.

What seems equally as obvious is that the sanctions are, quite literally, starving Iranians.

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Russia: No Proof Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


The situation emerging in the oil and energy world is anything but simple.
Russia has proclaimed that Iran is not responsible for the bombing of Saudi oil infrastructure fields and refineries. Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani personally assured him that Iran had nothing to do with the bombing.

This interaction took place at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan, Armenia on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

Putin said: "We condemn these (attacks) but we are against shifting the blame to Iran because there is no proof of that.” He went on to says that the US has provided not proof that it was Iran who launched the missiles and the drones.

This creates a sticky issue for the US and Saudi Arabia. How can they retaliate when Russia strongly and publicly asserts that Iran was not responsible?

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