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New COVID Variant
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

A new and powerful COVID variant has been detected. This variant is called B.1.1.529.

22 people in South Africa have become sick and scientists say that even 3 shots will not protect us from this new variant.

Israel, along with several other nations, has coded South Africa “red” and travel to that country is prohibited.

Israelis who want to return to Israel from South Africa must now isolate for 10 days even if they have been given 3 doses of COVID vaccine. They will also have to test negative after their isolation.

In addition to South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia are also part of the travel ban.

Only a few weeks ago, in the beginning of November, Israel lifted all restrictions and said that if you have had 3 doses of the vaccine you can travel anywhere. This new variant has modified that optimistic plan.

An official statement from the PM’s office reads: "The prime minister instructed officials to immediately stop all flights to destinations in Africa."

Medical professionals explain that the B.1.1.529 variant has a "very unusual combination" of mutations which raise concerns that it might be more transmissible and more capable of evading the body's immune response than the variants we have seen until now.

Scientists are quickly trying to complete the genetic sequencing of the variant to best understand how to combat this new COVID threat before it spreads out of control.

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Iran UAE mend Fences
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Events in the Middle East are changing quickly. Long held assumptions are no longer givens. The foundations are shifting.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, who also doubles as the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator just visited the UAE. In Dubai, he met with several UAE leaders.

UAE Presidential Adviser Anwar Gargash reported that the meetings went well.
In a tweet on the eve of Iran’s nuclear negotiations in Vienna with the P5+1 Kani announced his visit to the UAE. After the meeting he tweeted that “We agreed to open a new chapter” and that the meetings were “friendly and cordial.”

These two countries have been on opposite sides regarding Syria and Yemen and of course, Israel.

Iran is not the only country sending emissaries to the UAE. Recent high level visitors have included US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley and representatives from Israel, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. They all came to discuss the upcoming seventh round of nuclear talks.

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Travels of Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

There is much to be learned from the travel itineraries of world leaders.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting took place in the resort town of Sochi. The discussion centered on diplomatic and regional issues. Most importantly, on Iran’s role in supporting radical groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Israeli Defense Minister Gantz travelled to Morocco for a 2-day trip, jump starting relations between the countries. Morocco is jumping on the Peace Train with Israel, aka the Abraham Accords.

The Prince of Abu Dhabi, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE's de facto ruler, travelled to Turkey. He was there to mend a very fraught diplomatic relationship brought on by Turkey’s courting of Russia and Iran.

By keeping track of who goes where and when they go there, we are better able to predict, plan for and plot future world events

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Iran Smuggling Bombs w Drones
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 23, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz delivered a speech during which he publicly announced that Iran had attempted to smuggle explosives into the West bank for Hamas’ use.

The Iranians were flying in the bomb-making materials by using a Shaded 141 drone. The drone took off from T-4 airbase in Syria which was filled with TNT.
The drone was shot down by Israel near Beit Shean, not far from its West Bank destination.

All this happened in 2018. It was only now cleared for publication.

Gantz chose to discuss this drone and TNT incident as a way of illustrating how Iran is expanding its influence. Iran wants to control the entire region. Iran wants to support any and all potential minions and proxies in the region.

Israel is working hard not to let this happen.

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Preparin for the 4th Vaccine
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 22, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is preparing for a 4th shot to fight COVID.
Nachman Ash, director general of the ministry of health in Israel, held a press conference and laid out the probability of another jab.

Prof Ash told a press briefing: "It's probably a matter of time, and the question is how long. If [vaccine protection] lasts for a year, we'd be delighted... In any case, it probably will not last many years, even the booster shot, and we will have to keep getting vaccinated from time to time. I hope it will be a year or more."

This is important information. It means that periodic boosters may be part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

Interestingly, Merriam Webster changed their definition of vaccine. Vaccine used to mean a single shot which protected you for life.
The COVID “vaccine” changed all that.

According to the new definition, the COVID shot is a “drug” which will need to be improved and will help protect you for 6 months to a year.

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Protests in Iran Against Regime
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 21, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I watched a video of 10’s of thousands of young Iranians at a protest in Isfahan, Iran.

The protestors booed the Grand Ayatollah and they changed street signs that read “Martyrs of Gaza” to signs that read “Martyrs of November 2019”.

The protest was held in commemoration of the 2nd anniversary of Iranian leadership’s brutal crackdown against protests from November 2019.

It was held in the Zayande Rud, the dried up river bed of the great Red River which was once the life blood of the region. Participants said that Iranian farmers were protesting the awful water shortages devastating Iran.

The protestors, who looked to be between 18 and 30 years old, could be heard shouting: “By cannon, by tank, the clerics must go” and "Let Isfahan breathe again, revive Zayande Rud" and "Our children want water to provide food for your children."

The anger, the excitement and the frustration of the protestors was palpable throughout the video.

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Jew Hatred in Poland
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 20, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Last week there was a 4 hour long anti-Semitic rally in Kalisz, Poland.
Important fact # 1: The rally was officially called to honor Polish independence.
Important fact # 2: Rally participants shouted “kill the Jews” and “death to the Jews”.

The city of Kalisz is located in the southern part of Poland. This location is telling and is hugely important for a rally celebrating Polish independence combined with Jew hatred.

In 1264, Boleslav I, known as Boleslav the Pious, issued the first charter officially welcoming Jews to the region. One hundred years later that charter was expanded by Casimir the Great.

On the eve of the Holocaust, during the interwar period, Jews constituted 30% of the city of Kalisz. There were over 20,000 Jews residing in the city. After the war, roughly 500 Jews survived and returned to Kalisz.

In July of 1946 a letter of ultimatum was sent to the Jews of Kalisz to leave the city or suffer worse consequences than the Jews of Kielce.

What happened in Kielce? On July 4, 1946 - after the war - a pogrom took place in Kielce murdering 46 Jews and injuring 40 others. These Jews survived the horrors of Hitler and came home to Kielce, only to be murdered.

Kalisz threatened their Jews and told them that the same fated awaited them as the Jews of Kielce. Almost every Jew left Kalisz.

The organizers of the rally to honor Polish independence selected the city of Kalisz as the site of this rally to make a point. It was a move to challenge the legacy of Boleslav and of Casimir and to remind Poles of the plan to get rid of the Jews of Poland.

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UK Bans Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 19, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


The United Kingdom has banned all forms of Hamas.

England’s Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, delivered a clear and unambiguous statement.

"Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.”

“The organization will be banned under the Terrorism Act and that anyone expressing support for Hamas, flying its flag or arranging meetings for the organization would be in breach of the law.”

Throughout the years Hamas has tried to create a fiction between their military wing, Izz A- din al Qassam, and their political wing, Hamas.

From this point on the United Kingdom’s definition of Hamas is in line with that of the United States and with the European Union.

Hamas was founded in 1987. Officially called the Islamic Resistance Movement, the organization is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. This Palestinian terror organization is headquartered in Gaza. Hamas opposes all interaction with Israel - especially peace talks and that is the most significant point of conflict between
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority which is run by Fatah.

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Welcome Home Oknins
By Micah Halpern


Thursday November 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Mordy and Natali Oknin are free and have returned to Israel after spending more than a week in a Turkish prison. Israelis are celebrating.

The husband and wife arrested for espionage – they were taking pictures looking out from an observation tower. I ask you – isn’t that what tourists do on top of an observation tower?!

Even Turkish media called this international debacle an embarrassment for Turkey. How, the media asked, do our leaders expect tourist to come to our country if they cannot take pictures from a café atop an observation tower.

Mordy and Natali were not spies. That was apparent. But it required intense diplomatic discussions to bring about their release.

Upon her return, Natali Oknin delivered a message of thanks for her government:

"Mr. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, we want to tell you from the bottom of our hearts, we're not taking what you did for granted. You were by our side. I heard that [Lapid] spoke to my family every day, and also the prime minister. You spoke to my family, you spoke to my sisters, my brother, my daughter Shiraz, everyone. I heard that the whole government rallied behind us … We are grateful. We are strong thanks to you."

It is hard to imagine that leaders of a country would so involved and so caring and attuned to the personal lives of citizens in distress. But that is Israel.

What did Turkey gain? Israel claims that they gave nothing in return. That is not quite accurate. While Turkey received noting tangible from Israel, they received a major diplomatic boost.

Prime Minister Bennett spoke to President Erdogan. It was the first conversation between an Israeli prime minister and the leader of Turkey in 9 years - since 2013.

That’s significant.

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Shin Bet & the PA
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 17, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Ronen Bar is the new head of Israel’s Shin Bet.

Shin Bet stands for Sheirut Bitachon, or security service, it is the first letter of each word. The Shin Bet is Israel’s FBI.

Ronen Bar secretly met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This was an important meeting.

Bar and the Shin Bet are responsible for the internal safety of Israel.
One way to do that is to constantly monitor what happens in the Palestinian Authority which is where many threats against Israel emanate.

But that is not all the Shin Bet learns. One of the obvious additional gains from the intel they glean from within the PA is threats against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his PA.

This is essential information.

Ronen Bar met with Abbas because Israel is integrally involved in keeping the Palestinian Authority, under Abbas, in power.

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Changes in the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 16, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I am watching serious changes take place in the Middle East.
Syria had been ostracized for the past decade, but slowly, slowly, we are seeing the Syrians re-enter the regional community. And they are doing it by rejecting Iran.

The heads of intelligence from Syria and Saudi Arabia recently met in Egypt. It is important to understand that intel chiefs from these countries are part of the highest level of leaders in each country.

Egyptian media reported that Husam Muhammad Louka, head of the Syrian Intelligence Directorate, met with Khalid al Humaidan, the head of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a conference of Arab intelligence leaders at the Arab Intelligence Forum. Meetings like this are always the first steps in the process normalization.

It’s still early in the process. Many things can go wrong. But this is definitely progress and it is moving in the right direction.

The big question now is whether other issues will move the partners closer - or keep them apart.

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Israel & US Join to Fight Cyber-War
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 15, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel and the United States have agreed to work together to combat ransomware. They will work together and share material on cybersecurity and especially, on fintech.

Ransomware is a cyber-hack. In most cases of ransomware, the hacker blocks your system until you pay a ransom that unlock your computer. Another form of ransomware occurs when an attacker takes private details and threatens to publish them unless a ransom is paid.

These are serious security risks for companies, corporations, institutions and for agencies. If you recall, not too long ago the largest oil pipeline in the United States was hacked and as a result, oil delivery in the US was halted for several days.

Fintech, a compound word combining financial and technology fields, is one of the most dangerous of all cybersecurity platforms.

Fintech needs bolstering and constant protection. If a financial market is hit through a cyberattack, it could cripple the country’s economy. Both Israel and the United States are aware of the magnitude of the problem and will work together to make sure it does not happen to them.

Joining forces is critically important in the effort to protect all of us from the growing dangers of cyberattacks.

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Israel at Dubai Air Show
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Dubai Air Show was the perfect place for Israel to further advance the Abraham Accords.

Individuals and companies and - most importantly, countries from all over the world come to the air show to check out what’s available and to buy military equipment. Israel is on the cutting edge of many of these products and so Israeli representatives were involved in numerous conversations, meetings and exhibitions.

The Israeli companies present in Dubai for the air show were national defense companies. In other words, companies that are a branch of the government, often the defense ministry or the science ministry. The Israeli delegation was led by Brig. Gen. (res.) Yair Kulas, head of Sibat, the defense ministry’s weapons exports department.

Speaking of his attendance at the show, Kulas said: “Opening a national Israeli booth in Dubai represents a new and historic element in the strengthening of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. We are pleased with the opportunity to take part in this important exhibition and to present Israeli defense contractors’ advanced technological capabilities … During the exhibition, we plan to hold many meetings and discuss advancing new partnerships.”

In all, seven Israeli contractors went to Dubai. They are Elbit Systems, the Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael, Astronautics, Nir-Or, UVision and Tomer, which manufactures rockets.

This is a huge step forward for all the parties involved. It is initiative that will, hopefully, lure more regional players to join the Abraham Accords.

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Scorpions Swarm in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Scorpions are swarming in Egypt. Blame it on excessive rain.

When scorpions leave their nests, they seek new homes and along the way, people get stung.

Massive rains continue to fall in the south of Egypt, in the area of Aswan. The rains flood the scorpion’s nests. The rains also displace snakes, and they, too, are looking for new homes.

A scorpion sting is usually painful and an inconvenience. But these displaced scorpions are “fat-tailed scorpions.” And they are probably the most dangerous scorpions in the world.

Three people have already died in Egypt and over 400 have been hospitalized.
Doctors have been reassigned from hospital COVID wards and are now dealing deal with patients who have been bitten by these deadly scorpions.

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Joint Naval Drill Confronting Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel, along with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the United States is involved in a 5-day naval drill in the Red Sea.

By way of this drill, the nations are sending a direct message to Iran. They are telling Iran that, as a group, they are increasing their coordination, their interactive communication and their ability to streamline information, movement and strikes.

Iran received the message, and they have responded. Iran has said that Israel may start the conflict with Iran, but Iran will certainly end it.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander of Aerospace General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told official Iranian media Tasnim that: “Any mistake by Israel in dealing with Tehran will accelerate its destruction.”

An Israeli briefing about this joint naval drill indicated it was not just a message directed to Iran, it was also a tool to reduce the exaggerated and unbalanced projection of power that Iran has, over these last few months, been presenting.

This is as much about perception as it is about tactics and strategy.

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Syria Expels Iran - WOW
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Tension between Syria and Iran is boiling over.
Syria’s president has expelled the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Syria, General Javad Ghaffari.

The decision to expel the leader of the Iranian troops was simple.

Iranians have engaged in a smuggling operation in Syria and created a market for black market products. The network has literally threatened the Syria economy.

The report on this, which appeared on Al-Arabiya, emphasized that Iran was running an economy within the Syria economy that was undercutting Syrian trade networks and avoiding taxes.

Iran had thought that, in Syria, they could do whatever they wanted and do it with impunity. So much so, that over the past few weeks Iran has also been involved in direct attacks against US bases in Syria.

Iran’s actions in Syria have been causing Syria damage. And Syria finally said “enough”.

This is a huge blow to Iran’s goal which is to bring together the region, under Iranian leadership.

In the end, Iran needs Syria. So expect Iran to come to Syrian President Bashar Assad with a bowed head and a plan to smooth things over.

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Libyan Leader Lands in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

This is one of the many ways that international diplomacy is brokered.

The son of a Libyan warlord, the man expected to win the upcoming national presidential elections scheduled for December, landed in Israel for secret meetings.
Saddam Haftar is the son of Khalifa Haftar. His father is, effectively, the most powerful leader in a fractured Libya. The election will, if all goes according to plan, help unite the country.

According to reports, Saddam’s plane landed at Ben Gurion airport. It remained on the tarmac for 90 minutes. No one got off the plane. But several Israeli leaders did board the plane and spoke to Haftar. It is not clear who exactly came to the meetings.

The son was delivering a message from his father. The message was that Libya is interested in normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for Israeli help in the diplomatic sphere, the technical sphere and the computer sphere. Libya seems to want to join with Israel in the style of the Abraham accords, in line with UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.

And then the plane took off and headed home.

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Israel Says No To US Consulate
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States wants to open a consulate in Jerusalem that will service the Palestinians.

Israel opposes this move from wall to wall. They have made their feelings public, official and on the record. Almost every party leader has explained how it would be a terrible decision on the part of the United States to open a consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett answered a direct question from CNN about the consulate. Bennett was standing next to Yair Lapid, his partner and foreign minister, and next to Avigdor Liberman, his finance minister when he made the following statement to CNN:

"There is no room for another American consulate in Jerusalem. We always present our position quietly without drama and we expect it to be understood. Jerusalem is the capital of one state and that's the state of Israel. I'm sure our American friends and us will continue to collaborate on a long list of big things."

A few days earlier Bennett had suggested that if the United States is so dead set about opening a consulate for Palestinians, they should open it in Ramallah near the government headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.

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IDF Drills in North
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is engaged in a 2-day, all out, military drill on their northern border using reservists of the 36th division aka - Gaash.

Included in this grill are non-combative elements – like the speed of call up and the agility required to move into formation and to move into defense or attack mode.

The drill begins with either a text message or a phone call to the cell phone to each member of the division. They are told where to go and they are given their first instructions.

The goal of the drill is to test readiness. To make certain that reserve soldiers can be efficiently called up and place into position.

The drill is, obviously, also a message to Iran to Hezbollah and to Syria.

Israel is sending a message to their enemies. Reservists, professional and mature veterans of the IDF, are at the ready and fully prepared for any and all future conflicts.

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Iran is Enriching Uranium
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran announced that they have successfully enriched 77pound of uranium to 60% purity.

There is no reason to question the veracity of the announcement. Although Iran often lies and exaggerates, in this case, the announcement reflects a reality that is more than plausible.

The announcement comes on the eve of renewed talks, to take place in Vienna, between Iran and the P5+1. The West, especially the United States, hopes that this round of talks will result in a return to the famous Iranian nuke deal that President Trump pulled out of in 2018.

Here is the problem, and it is the very reason that Iran’s uranium announcement is probably truthful: It is very hard to walk back scientific technology.

Iran has the capability to enrich uranium to 60%. They will not go back to the 3.65% which is stipulated in the original agreement.

This is the exact quote from Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran: "So far we have produced 25 kilograms of 60% uranium, which, except for countries with nuclear weapons, no other country is able to produce.”

I would say that the P5+1 are walking straight into an Iranian diplomatic trap.

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42 Yrs Ago Iran Stormed US Embassy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


On November 4, 1979 Iran stormed the United States embassy in Teheran.
The kidnapping and “hostage crisis,” as it was dubbed by the media, lasted 444 days.

That was 42 years ago.

Rallies took place in over 800 Iranian cities to celebrate this strike against the enemy – their nemesis, the United States of America.

These rallies are traditional in Iran. The establishment embraces attacks against the West. Especially attacks against the United States. So, in each of these coordinated and choreographed rallies, huge US flags were laid on the ground and participants marched over them. They were, in essence, trampling on the United States. But that was not enough. US flags were also set on fire and left to burn along parade routes.

These rallies and parade have become an annual event in Iran. It is a celebratory event. Last year the celebrations were cancelled because of COVID, this year they are back.

This is just another example of how consumed Iranian leadership is with their battle against the United States.

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Iran Chief Rabbi Visits US
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yaakov Gerami, paid a visit to the United States.
Rabbi Gerami was received with mixed emotions and mixed greetings.

While many Persian Jews living in Brooklyn and in LA were livid and extremely upset that Gerami was visiting their Jewish communities, other invited him in and received him like a hero.

The Chabad conference of “shluchim” (Chabad emissaries from communities around the US and around the world) danced around him. He was invited into their schools and met with their students.

But there was significant dissent from the general Jewish community.

Gerami is a frequent Israel-basher in both the international press and in the Iranian media. Even worse, was his condolence visit to the family of Qasem Soleimani after Soleimani was assassinated by the United States in January 2020.
To jog your memory, Soleimani was commander of the al Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard. He was the mastermind behind almost every significant attack perpetrated on Western targets outside Iran.

Gerami has to make, what I call, choiceless choices. His home and his rabbinate are in Iran. He needs to bow to Iranian Shiite leadership to protect himself and his community. He needs to say and do things that are totally against what we would think to be correct. We, who do not live under that oppression, cannot possibly imagine what that is like.

The closest historical parallel to Gerami’s predicament is the Judenrate, Jewish leaders who ran the ghettoes during the Holocaust.

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Saudi Prince Tells Of US Errors
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I was surprised to hear the former intel minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Turki al-Faisal, publicly critique the United States and US policy in the Middle East.

The prince’s critique was not a private, off-the-record, critique intended for insiders. His remarks were made at an event sponsored by the Atlantic Council.
Prince Turki al-Faisal said that United States influence in the Middle East was stuck in “strategic confusion.”

He said: "The United States was the dominant power for the last seven decades.
Therefore, doubts about its role and commitments to preserve regional security are accumulating and resulting in a continued strategic regional confusion, which leads to more conflicts and crises …No region in the world fears the danger of this strategic confusion more than the Middle East region."

I fear that the prince is correct.

The confusion displayed by the United States in their foreign affairs decisions is causing tremendous global uncertainty – particularly in the Middle East. That uncertainty will translate into empowering the dark forces of the Middle East, forces that, for decades, had been held at bay by the United States.

But no more.

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Glasgow Conf Makes Big Mistakes
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

25,000 leaders from around the world descended on Glasgow, Scotland to fight for the future of the earth. The gathered to combat climate change. The conference is officially called COP26.

There are some really serious issues that the organizers should have foreseen – and did not.

There has been significant blowback, for example, because many of the participants flew in, on private aircraft. The organizers should have called on everyone to fly on commercial airlines, they should have been encouraged to save energy – even if only as a symbol.

Even if people disregarded the directive and flew their own Learjet, the conference would have been on the record.

Conference organizers could also have asked major players to charter large aircrafts and invite other participants to join them. Again, this is a symbol, it is a gesture, an important one.

This next example is inexcusable in the year 2021 at a conference claiming to save the world.

The conference center was not accessible to the disabled. Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure and Water Karine Elharrar, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, has a very special wheelchair. This minister in the government of Israel spent two hours trying to find a way enter the conference center. She went to three different entrances. And then she called for a shuttle to pick her up – and to add insult to injury, that, too, was not accessible.

She tweeted: “I went to the international climate conference to promote the joint struggle in the climate crisis through meetings with my counterparts around the world. “Unfortunately, that was not possible because of accessibility problems that have no justification in the year 2021.”

Actions speak louder than words.

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