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US Hits ISIS w Serious Blow
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 9, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

I cannot confirm this, but I think I have very good news to report for the United States and for the West and for democracy.

One of the US led airstrikes on Saturday hit an ISIS convoy. Rumor is that Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was in the convoy and was seriously wounded. Other ISIS leaders were also in the convoy - some were killed and some were badly wounded.

The strike took place in Anbar province. The people of Anbar are the source of most of the info.

This could be the critical blow to ISIS. ISIS needs charismatic leaders and they will have a very difficult time reorganizing if these rumors are true.

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Hamas Kills 3 Yr Old
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 25, 2014

I'm Predicting:

When a three year old baby girl dies it can only be called a tragedy.

Yesterday Hamas launched four rockets at Israel from Gaza. One of the rockets never made it out of Gaza. It landed on a Palestinians house killing the three year old baby and wounding four other member of her family.

The family lived in Beit Lahia which is in the Northern part of Gaza.
Israel responded to the four rockets by striking at the launching source. They hit an arms factory and five rocket launchers.

There will be no justice for the dead three year old Palestinian girl. There will be no cries to arrest those Palestinians who shot the rocket. There will be no investigation in Gaza. No one will be held accountable for her death.

Actually, it would not surprise me if, over the next few days, we hear Hamas blaming Israel for the death, claiming that Israel was responsible for the girl's death. I will not be surprised if Hamas claims that, because the rockets were being launched to defend against Israel, the real culprit is Israel.

If Hamas can claim that Israel murdered this little girl, and if they make that claim stick, they will be absolved of any responsibility and the child will have died a martyr for the cause.

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Hamas - PA Agreement Nears
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 20, 2014

I'm Predicting:

It is looking like Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are getting closer and closer to actually coming to an agreement.

The PA and Hamas have never been so close to a deal in the past.
There have already been two other signed agreements prior to this one, but they both broke down when it came to the details of the governing.

I still cannot see these two entities coexisting. It seems obvious to me that Hamas will very quickly increase their power - and in doing so a mini civil war will erupt and the entire Palestinian infrastructure will implode. And when the dust settles the only real power and stability will be found in local Palestinian leadership.

When the ink dries on the agreement between Hamas and the
Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United States will be stuck not knowing how to approach the situation. The US will try to create a balance as they always do, but they will probably continue to deal with the PA rather than Hamas. Israel will try to cut off support to the Palestinians because of the role Hamas will be playing and they too will, inevitably, still conduct their dealing with the PA, not Hamas.

The problem is that the PA will be hemorrhaging – power, status, influence, funds. Hamas will break down and destroy the entire
Palestinian Authority foundation of government now in place. They will institute shariyah law and enormously curtail freedoms especially women's rights and freedom of expression.

Hamas will intimidate all Palestinians and force compliance. And the Palestinian Authority as we know it will disappear within weeks of a final agreement.

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Abbas to DC to Meet Obama
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 16, 2014

I'm Predicting:

On Monday US President Obama will meet with Palestinian President Abbas.

The agenda is clear. Obama wants to inject a sense of hope into a negotiation process that has ground to a halt and seems totally hopeless.

Obama has charisma and charm and he can certainly make Abbas feel good about himself which is part of the White House's objective.
But Abbas is not happy with the peace plan as it now stands - the stakes are too high and his legacy is at stake.

A few days ago, in Ramallah, Abbas said:: "I am 79 years old and am not ready to end my life with treason." He sees the US suggested agreement as exactly that - a form of treason.

Now, we have not seen the agreement. And actually, on Friday, Abbas said that he has not seen an agreement either. I can only guess what is in the agreement - and that is not where the problem lies.

The problem is recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Abbas is so upset by the process conducted by the US that he is being pressured by his advisers and others to just declare independence. He feels he would get UN support and his advisers are shouting at him not to extend the negotiation deadline beyond April.

That explains why the leader of the Palestinian Authority went to Russia at the end of January. He admitted his frustration to Moscow and they are probably coming up with an alternative plan.

I would predict that when Abbas walks out of the Oval Office he will be more hopeful than when he walks in. Obama will succeed in persuading Abbas to give the peace talks more of a chance. Obama will ask for another year, Abbas will probably concede to three to six more months of negotiations.

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Predicting Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 17, 2013

I'm Predicting:

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a week of demonstrations.
That really means nonstop take-to-the-streets violent demonstrations.
Over six hundred Egyptians have been killed. Yesterday alone the number tallied sixty.

Violence is rampant throughout Egypt. Pro-Morsi protesters have torched twelve churches in three days of rioting and attacked twenty more.

Through careful observation over these next few days we will be able to determine if the momentum is subsiding or building. We will get a sense of the direction the country is taking. A greater crackdown by the military can either force more protests or frighten the protestors sending them back to their homes.

Most Western companies have shut down their facilities and told their employees to stay at home. GM, Electrolux, BP oil and Royal Shell oil all sent their workers home citing their own safety. Electrolux, for example, employees 7000 people in Egypt and runs seven factories.

By early next week I predict that the situation in Egypt will be calmer.

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US &Israel Say Syria Conflict Will Continue
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 24, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Over the past few weeks both US and Israeli defense agencies have concluded that the civil war in Syria may not end quickly. This analysis is an important recognition that the conflict is much deeper than expected.

At the beginning the United States felt that anyone who opposed Assad was good and hence, they would be victorious. The US has now concluded that both sides are bad.

The pendulum has swung back and forth several times already and both the US and Israel think that the momentum might swing back and forth several more times.

I see the situation differently.

Day after day I see the Assad regime striking and attacking and retaking and gaining. While there have been several isolated rebel victories, for the past ten weeks there has been an overwhelming amount of success on the side of the regime.

There is an unevenness in Western reportage. Rebel successes are touted and the wins by the Assad regime are not at all well reported to the West.

But when ones follows local press in Syria and Lebanon it becomes clear that the regime is inflicting serious losses on the rebels.
And when you read chat boards of the Muslim movements they announce huge numbers of deaths in Syria and advertise for fighters to come to Syria to help oust the regime.

Contrary to Israeli and Unites States opinion, I predict that by the end of the summer it will all be over in Syria.

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White House Says Tide Shifts in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 19, 2013

I'm Predicting:

The tide of the conflict in Syria is changing.

Yesterday, during the White House briefing, Jay Carney said this:

"And while there are ups and downs on the battlefield and changes in momentum, the fact is Bashar al-Assad will never again rule Syria in the way that he did before and the Syrian people demand, rightfully, new leadership and a new government."

"And we are focusing our efforts to help bring about the day when a transition can take place that will help Syria turn the corner towards a cessation of violence and reconciliation, and the possibility of a government that respects the rights of all of Syria's people."

The real meaning of it all is this:
Assad is now winning and when Assad resumes total control he will not rule the way he once did.

I would speculate that once Assad takes back control, he will brutally destroy his enemies - like even he has never done before. Then, he might begin some liberalizing measures.

Liberalizing Syria will only come after all those who rose up against the president are dead or exiled.

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Army in Egypt Must Enforce Law & Order
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 8, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Newspapers in Egypt have been filled with coverage of their revolutionary events. The United States does not fare well in those reports. The US is presented as totally out of touch with what is happening in Egypt.

The Egyptians cannot believe that the United States really believes that the ousting of Morsi was a coup. For them it is clear as day that it was a social revolution and that Morsi could have, and should have, simply stepped down.

Amidst all the coverage on the revolution was an important and almost overlooked account about bringing law back to the Sinai.

The Egyptians found and blew up 40 terrorist tunnels coming from Gaza. These tunnels transport arms that provide ammunition to terrorists who attack Egyptians. And indeed, just today, an Egyptian border crossing was attacked by terrorists.

Egypt has a long way to go. But for now, expect the Egyptian army to bring back law and order throughout the country.

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Egypt: Do or Die Weekend
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 28, 2013

I'm Predicting:

A leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was shot dead in an execution yesterday. It was an attack on the Muslim Brotherhood office. There was no mistake or misunderstanding.

The Muslim Brotherhood blames those who supported Mubarak.

The timing of the attack was no accident either.

This weekend begins a slew of anti-government, anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests. The date mark exactly one year since Morsi ascended to power.

The secular masses have organized huge demonstrations. The Brotherhood has pledged to defend the honor of Morsi and to defend their values against the secularists.

I predict that, coupled with the protests, will be counter protests. And I predict that there will be violence between the groups and with the police and the army.

This weekend will tell us whether there will be a coup in Egypt and whether the Egyptian army will step in. It all depends on how violent it all gets.

The calculus is simple --- the more violence, the more likely the coup.

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Crisis in Egypt - - - Soon
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 22, 2013

I'm Predicting:

The situation is now at the point of near crisis in Egypt. Morsi is barely holding on to his regime and secular masses are starting to organize.

The secularists are pinning their hopes on a political climax set for June 30th at an enormous rally they have planned.

Thus far 15 million people have signed a petition to oust Morsi and hold new elections. The letter only began circulating 3 weeks ago and has caught on like wildfire.

The number 15 million is important.
The organizers wanted to exceed 13.2 million and they have done so with ease. 13.2 was their goal number because it is the number of votes that Morsi received in the presidential election.

Everything related to the rally is high energy.
There is a new Android app that makes fun of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. It shows the followers of Morsi as sheep, blindly following the leader. A campaign worker is seen walking the streets collecting signatures. In the background is music and speeches of Morsi that point out the contradictions and gaffs and political mistakes he has made. The campaign worker runs over as many sheep as possible.

The Muslim Brotherhood has also organized a rally. But there has been little real response to their effort.

I do not envision an all out civil war in Egypt like there is in Syria. But I do expect to see serious violence in the streets and I definitely anticipate that the demonstrations will get out of hand.

There is plenty of pent up frustration. As the political and emotional heat rises, so do tempers and violence.

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Iran's Election
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 15, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday 50 million Iranians went to vote for president. Ahmadinejad's term has come to an end.

Six candidates ran in this primary election. In a week, the top two contenders will face off in a runoff.

Do not mistake appearance for reality. Yes, there is a popular vote in Iran, but the only vote that actually counts is that of the Grand Ayatollah.

Think of the popular election as a variable that the grand Ayatollah uses to consider when making his decision. On the eve of the election yesterday the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei said: "What is important is that everyone takes part" He was speaking live, on state television, as he cast his ballot in the capital, Tehran.
He continued: "Our dear nation should come (to vote) with excitement and liveliness, and know that the destiny of the country is in their hands and the happiness of the country depends on them."

Of the 6 candidates, only 3 have a chance. One is the mayor of Teheran, Ghalibaf, former head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their preferred candidate. Another is the protege of Ahmadinejad, a candidate named Meshai. And the last one with any chance is an independent conservative named Jalili.

I predict that Jalili will be the next president of Iran. I choose him because he is both conservative and independent. The Grand Ayatollah can shape him and form him and direct him without outside political influences. He is the Ayatollah's type of man.

In the cases of the others there is far too much external baggage that comes with the candidates. We will see what happens in just a few days.

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Assad Near Victory
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 9, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Bashar Assad, with the help of Hezbollah, is taking back Syria.

I am repeating the prediction I have made several times already. By the end of summer, the Syrian regime will be back in place - and exacting revenge on all those who challenged the president these past two years.

As you read this the Assad forces and Hezbollah are launching an operation to retake Aleppo.

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria with just over 2 million people. It is 180 miles north of Damascus. Aleppo is located in the northwestern part of the country.

Damascus, the Syrian capital, only has about 1.7 million residents and it is situated in the south of Syria.

Most of Damascus is in the hands of Assad. There are only two or three communities still holding out and under rebel control. The Syrian regime has begun a series of operations to take back those communities, also.

I would say that by next Sunday, a week from today, Aleppo and all of Damascus will be back in the hands of Assad. The rest of the country will be brought back under his control within the next few weeks.

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Abbas is in A Cliche
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 30, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas is really caught up in cliche. He is up the tree without a ladder. He is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is up the river without a paddle. I could go on.

The US is really putting pressure on Abbas to join the Israelis and sit down at the negotiating table. But Abbas has promised his people over and over that there will be no negotiations while there is still settlement building of any kind, to any degree, by Israel.

If Abbas comes to the table he appears weak to his people and to the rest of the Arab world. If he stays away he alienates both the United States and Israel.

Here is what he must do. Abbas must allow himself to be publicly dragged and heavily enticed to come to the table. Public reluctance will be the bone he throws to Palestinians and all other Arabs and coming to the table will be the present he delivers to the United States.

Abbas must ask for, even demand, a high price to sit at the table. He must make his demands public so that the mighty US and powerful Israel succumb to his Palestinian demands.

Then and only then can Mahmoud Abbas come to the table.
All that having been said, I do not think Abbas capable of taking the next step and actually cobbling out an agreement - but as I said, that is the next step.

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Russia: Why They Supply Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 17, 2013

I've Been Thinking:

Moscow is asking why they are being publically challenged about supplying weapons to Syria.

"I do not understand why the media is trying to create a sensation out of this," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is quoted by AFP as saying. "We have not hidden that we supply weapons to Syria under signed contracts, without violating any international agreements or our own legislation."

He is correct. Russia is not hiding anything and they are not violating any international laws. They are trying to protect their investment in Syria. They have invested in hardware and in infrastructure. And they have invested in human capital in the form of Bashar Assad himself.

Here's the rub: While Russia is not violating international laws there is no doubt that Syria is violating their contracts with Russia. The contracts say that the weapons will be used in defense and that they will not be transferred or resold. That they will not be given to terrorist organizations.

Russia asserts that there is nothing else they can do other than insist that the contacts be held up.
Unfortunately, that is not enough.

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Syrian Brutality - Eating Hearts
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 15, 2013

I'm Predicting:

It is as gruesome as it was extremely effective. Abu Sakkar, the head of the Syrian rebel unit called Farouk Brigade, is on video cutting open the chest of an Assad fighter.

Abu Sakkar slashes the rib bone and skin and then cuts out the heart, lifts it in the air, and says I will "eat your hearts." Then Abu Sakkar takes a bite.

This is a particularly brutal unit of fighters. And they are not thought to be Islamist, Marxist or secularist. They are just known to be extremely brutal.

The message is very clear. Everyone in the field knows what is at stake - and outsider should not misread the field. Both sides in this battle for Syria are grotesquely brutal.

I expect that this video will be countered with other, even more brutal, butchery carried out by the Assad camp.

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Gaza Shoots Rocket into Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 8, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday a rocket was shot from Gaza into Israel. It landed in Shaar HaNegev.

No one was hurt during the attack.

There are two essential points to rocket strike against Israel.

First just this past Tuesday the Israeli air force launched a strike against 2 targets in Gaza. The targets were shooting and preparing rocket attacks against Israel.

The second point is that the Palestinians successfully shot a rocket into Israel on the eve of Holocaust Day.

For modern Israelis, no day represents the need to make certain that they not sit passively, become victims and not respond to threats the way Holocaust Day does. The Palestinians in Gaza knew this, and yet, they deliberately shot their rockets.

If there are any more shots, be certain that Israel will respond.

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The New Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 30, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Al Jazeera is reporting that 5 simultaneous bombs exploded in Iraq killing 18 and wounding well over 100 people. All the bombs were placed near Shiite mosques and the plan was to murder as many Shiites as possible en route to Friday prayers.

The increase of violence in Iraq has been virtually unreported in the West. There is almost no interest in what happens there anymore. The main reason for this is the famous cliche "out of sight out of mind."

The fact that the United States is no longer in Iraq means that Americans have no real interest in covering this fast emerging anarchy.

One would have hoped that Iraq would have learned a lesson in peaceful coexistence after so much US money, training, weapons, aid, military manpower and so many professional agencies spent so much effort that internal tribal and inter-religious conflicts would subside and that Iraqis would work together in order to rebuild their country and live together rather than reverting to the primal desire for one group to murder another.

But that just is not the case.

Imagine - if this is happening in Iraq, what is going to happen in Libya and Egypt and in Syria and Tunisia.

I am not hopeful about a new Arab Middle East. Not hopeful at all.
I foresee much more death and internal killings before these countries and their citizens settle down and build non-confrontational, non-threatening, quality lives for themselves.

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More Problems in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 9, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Things in Egypt have just gotten even more complicated.

There have been riots over the past few weeks, expressions of discontent with the system and with the government. In addition there have been acts of violence and crackdowns against the protesters. Scores of Egyptians have been killed.

Now the police have begun to walk away from their jobs and to strike. They are fed up with being blamed for the crackdowns and the violence.

The security services have tried to move in to act as police and the Muslim Brotherhood has said that they themselves will step in and become the police.

If Brotherhood people act as police the problems will worsen exponentially. Giving the Brotherhood power and weapons will permit them carte blanche to crush any form of descent and any religious or cultural entity of their choosing.

My prediction --- Expect even more problems, more violence and more extremism to emerge out of Egypt.

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Israel Not Right Wing
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 24, 2013

I'm Predicting:

For months now commentators and analysts have been talking about the radicalization of Israeli politics and bemoaning the fact that mainstream Israel was leaning more and more to the right.

They were wrong.

These trained observers of Israeli politics swallowed hook, line and sinker the Palestinian line. That line is simply anti-Israel.

Anything that is not decisively pro-Palestinian is seen by commentators as rabidly right wing and as an extremist point of view.
By now the picture of true Israeli society should be perfectly clear.

The Atid party, a centrist party, gained 19 of the 120 Knesset seats and is now the 2nd largest party in the Knesset only after Netanyahu's Likud. Both these parties seem to want to join forces.
To do that, each party will have to compromise, or give in, on certain essential platforms.

Most important is the universal draft - a requirement that every Israeli serve in the army.

Interestingly, the other new and newly huge party in the Knesset, Habayit HaYehudi or The Jewish Home, believes in the same principle. They all also believe in similar social issues with Atid, like the breakdown of the power of the ultra orthodox rabbinate.

These two new parties, both led by young new political leaders, compose 30 Knesset seats. That is exactly 25% of the Israeli parliament. They are not extremist, they are a real reflection of the new Israel. On social issues they are more similar than one might be led to believe.

With Netanyahu and his 31 seats, Lapid with his 19 seats and Bennett with his 11 seats these parties combined have 61 seats, a perfect number. Just over half of the 120 seats needed to form a government.

My bet is that these three parties will form the coalition Netanyahu needs to govern.

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Iran Elections June 14
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 14, 2013

I'm Predicting:

Elections for president of Iran will take place exactly five months from now, on June 14th.

The new president will replace Ahmadinejad who has served the maximum two terms in office.

A series of messages have been sent out to all candidates. The messages are saying: Do not criticize the system.

The 2009 elections saw a revolution that almost toppled the Islamic regime. Most of the leaders of that revolution are still under house arrest. Many of the followers and much of the infrastructure has since been dismantled.

This time around the candidates will be vetted. The real victor will be a party player.

So far the candidates are Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, a prominent lawmaker named Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf and ex-Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei.

My money right now is on Larijani - but things can always change.

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Israel Elections
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 6, 2013

I'm Predicting:

There is little doubt who the next prime minister of Israel will be. Barring some freak historical crisis Benjamin Netanyahu will be Israel's next prime minister after the January 22nd election.

The only real question is which parties will become part of his coalition.

Do not be deceived because Netanyahu and his party are right of center. The current coalition took in Labor from the left as well as the Lieberman-led right wing party called Yisrael Beitaynu, Israel is Our Home, which has now become a partner with Likud.

The best possible option for Netanyahu would be to take either the left or the right - not a mix. Other parties are intoxicated by the possibility of getting a ministry, so almost any party is a potential coalition partner - but not necessarily in the best interest of the prime minister.

On the left Lapid is pushing to be part of the government joined with other centre-left parties like Kadima and even Labor.

Right wing parties are also hoping to lock up the coalition. Habayit Ha'yehudi leader Naftali Bennet could easily join a Netanyahu coalition if he takes 15 seats, which is a distinct possibility, and Netanyahu takes 35. That would leave only 10 seats open for other parties to negotiate over.

And if Shas, the Sephardic party gets 11 seats it is an easy right-of-center coalition. This would be ideal for Netanyahu. The fewer parties in the coalition the fewer headaches and the more stable it is.

Only time will tell. A coalition with the left is, once again, certainly a strong possibility. But in this time around I would bet on a Likud / Shas / Habayit Ha'yehudi coalition.

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Syria's Economy
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 23, 2012

I'm Predicting:

Predicting what will happen in Syria is almost impossible to do. But there are some indicators.

Like Russia: Right now, it seems as if the pendulum is swinging toward the rebels and that Russia is hinting that Assad's time may be coming to an end. But that pendulum can just as easily swing in the other direction any day now.

Like the money flow: I have been following the flow of money in Syria with great interest. Assad tapped into his Central Bank which 22 months ago had $18 billion in reserves, by now it is depleted by half.

Like the economy: Normally, civil wars are terrible for an economy. Before this conflict Syrian currency was 48 pounds to one US dollar. At one point it went to 105 pounds per US dollar. The currency is now coming down and hovers in the range of 90 plus Syrian pounds per one US dollar. That is s huge injection into the local economy - but not as it should be from the Syrian Central Bank.

The rebels are getting huge foreign currency injections. That is how they pay for the war. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, the US and even some European countries must be pouring dollars into Syria. They are giving it to the rebels, paying them to fight. Money changers across Syria report rebel commanders selling dollars.

This is all counter-intuitive. In times of crisis people buy dollars to be safe and protect themselves against uncertainty. In this case they are selling dollars - large amounts of dollars. The foreign money is almost all US dollars and those dollars are keeping the pound stable.

Despite the analysis and the expertise and past experience, nobody knows what will happen next in Syria.

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More Terror To Come
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 11, 2012

I'm Predicting:

The NYPD has announced that New York City is facing a major threat from Iranian agents. The NYPD is working hard to combat that threat.

The intel I am reading suggests that in addition to Iran, al Qaeda is setting its crosshairs on New York City and on other US targets outside the continent.

Under new leader Ayman Zawahiri, al Qaeda wants to continue the momentum of the Benghazi attack of 9/11. Zawahiri wants the entire world to know that al Qaeda is alive and active. He especially wants to hit the United States during election season and show how US policy strengthens al Qaeda, not weakens al Qaeda.

There is no doubt that teams have been dispatched throughout the globe to strike at US targets. Even after the US shores up sites there will be easy pickings - much like the Benghazi consulate.

The reality is that foreign diplomatic and business presences are not safe unless the locals step in to help. Neither the US marines nor special security can adequately protect the people or the compounds alone. Al Qaeda is counting on it.

Count on more attacks over the next five weeks leading up to the November 6th US presidential elections.

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Travel Schedules Tell All
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 8 , 2012

I'm Predicting:

I try to monitor the movements of world leaders, their actions provide a key to predicting future decisions and events. Knowing the travel schedules of world leaders allows me to see trends and shifting alliances between nations.

President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt will be travelling to Saudi Arabia this week. The trip was announced by the Saudi ambassador to Cairo and came as no surprise. This will be Morsi's first foreign visit as president and it portends well.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be visiting Iran at the end of August. That visit does not portend well.

Abbas accepted an invitation by Iran to attend the Non-Aligned Pact Conference. This is important. Palestinian leadership has expressed serious doubt about the current direction world powers are taking. The Palestinians are not happy with their their status in the hierarchy and they are not happy with priorities set by the United States.

US Secretary of State Clinton met with Abbas in Paris this past Friday and will meet with him again next week in Ramallah. But that is not enough access for the Palestinians because it is not bearing fruit.

The Non-Aligned Pact meets just before the UN General Assembly convenes in September. I guarantee that at the Non-Aligned Pact Conference the Palestinians will set the stage for another massive public act aimed at embarrassing the United States at the General Assembly.

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Iran Will Hit Back
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 1, 2012

I'm Predicting:

The massive sanctions imposed by the European Union on Iran began today.

And, quite characteristically, Iran countered with two very important moves.

# 1: The head of the Iranian international bank announced that Iran will not sit still and just take this, he said that Iran will retaliate against those countries that are attacking them economically.

# 2: Iran announced that they are beginning a 3 day program of missile testing in the center of the country. Official Iranian news is reporting that short, medium and long range missiles will be part of the exercise.

Iran has other moves up their sleeve.

The Iranians have had months to prepare for this moment, the moment when these long-threatened sanctions were to go into effect. Expect that Iran will come up with a real economic shocker - a counter attack that will almost certainly set the EU on its heels. Expect it in another few days.

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More Church Bombings
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 18, 2012

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday three churches were bombed in Nigeria and 19 people were killed in car bombings. Dozens were wounded in the explosions.

This violence has been continuous for months now.

Thirteen churches have been bombed in the past few months. Gunmen enter and spray the worshipers with their bullets.

After the bombings yesterday Christian youth went on a rampage pulling Muslims from their cars, beating them and even killing some of them.

In Nigeria today there are terrible Muslim / Christian tensions and the authorities are not cracking down on the violence. There has been no major attempt to reduce the tensions to accept each other.

I predict that the killing will continue.

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Another Virus Attack on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 29, 2012

I'm Predicting:

Iran was hit by another cyber virus. This one is even more devastating than the last three.

This new virus is called Flame. The virus just called for an evaluation of all the computers connected to the nuclear program.

The extent of this program is so great that it can turn computers on and off, take pictures, turn on microphones - it can literally act on its own and transmit all its own information.

Kaspersky antivirus is the source of information, because they detected the virus. Kaspersky is headquartered out of Moscow and I assume that they are the consultants working for Iran to try to isolate and contain this virus.

It seems that this virus, Flame, is very similar to the other viruses, Stuxnet that struck Iran in 2010, DUQU that hit Iran in 2011 and Viper that took over their computer systems in early 2012.

Kaspersky says that Flame can only be the product of a country dedicated to cyber warfare. They assert that this is not a bored teenager but 5,000 programmers at work. Interestingly, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have also been hit. Kaspersky says that they have found Flame there also.

I predicted that this would happen and I am absolutely certain that Iran will be attacked again within six months by another computer virus.

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Israel & China
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 21, 2012

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday, Benny Gantz, Israel's Military Chief of Staff, took off on a spontaneous visit to China.

Gantz and had accepted an invite from China's Vice President Xi Jinping. According to almost everyone, within the next few months Xi Jinping will become the next premier of China.

Gantz and Israel have important contacts that need cementing in China.

There will certainly be talk about Iran. No doubt Gantz and Xi Jinping will also speak about oil and of course, nuclear proliferation.

China wants to know if Israel intends to strike Iran. If yes, when?
Israel wants to know how much control China can exert on Iran. They want to know how effective that control can be and whether China can, with certainty, say that Iran is not interested in nuclear weapons -not in selling them and not in launching them.

I await the reports from this very important visit.

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Amadinejad to the Olympics
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 19, 2012

I'm Predicting:

The President of Iran has announced that he wants to attend this year's summer Olympics hosted in London.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that he wants to accompany his young athletes and show them support. The statement was covered in great detail by the Iranian news media, explaining just how much pride the Iranian team brings to the Islamic Republic.

Great Britain, however, is not very pleased with the Iranian leaders desire to attend. It is not yet clear if an official request has been submitted by the Iranians.

Given the nature of the Olympics and the important message of the Games which is that the Olympics is above politics and symbolizes the ability of nations to compete in the sports arena and not fight battles that threaten and endanger human lives - it would be highly unlikely for England to deny this request.

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Israel Decides to Act
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 2, 2011

I'm Predicting:

Over the past few days I have been predicting that if the rockets from Gaza do not stop and if Hamas does not act to try to prevent the launching of rockets, Israel will be forced to respond.

Israel will hold Hamas responsible for all the rockets shot from Gaza - even if they were launched by Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli Government voted to approve any and all military action to stop the rockets.

In lay terms, that means the Israeli cabinet has approved attacks on Hamas from land, from sea and from the air.

Expect strike forces on the ground, expect drone attacks, expect helicopter attacks striking at the heart of Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructures.

Expect different and creative reprisal attacks from Israel.

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More Rocket Attacks
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 31, 2011

I'm Predicting:

There is a serious escalation in the tension between Gaza and Israel.
Tens of rockets have rained down on Israel from Gaza. And now Israel is responding.

Israel has begun intercepting rocket launch crews as they launch their rockets. They hit the Islamic Jihad cell that has claimed responsibility for the rocket launches.

Egypt introduced a cease fire that was supposed to start at 3AM - but it only lasted 8 hours.

These attacks were aimed at the big cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Expect a much stronger response from Israel.

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US Talking to Muslim Brotherhood
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 2, 2011

I'm Predicting:

The United States has conducted formal diplomatic contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. This is the same Brotherhood that was banned by both Hosni Mubarak and Anwar Sadat. The same Brotherhood that was responsible for the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the inspiration for al Qaeda and Hamas and Hezbollah and a host of other Islamic terror movements around the world.

Direct talks with the Brotherhood shows a radical shift in US policy.
The United States is trying to move the Muslim Brotherhood into the mainstream of politics and not just in popularity - they are already popular with about 20% support. The US wants them to liberalize their political persona - to emphasize the social and communal aspects of who they are. The US wants to help them be contributors to Egyptian society.

Despite the wishes and wants of the United States, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt has threatened to boycott the recently announced November elections in Egypt. The boycott is based on the predetermined stacking of the election.
It is confusing.

I predict that there will be no elections in November and if the elections do take place as planned they will be neither free nor democratic

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Future in Libya
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 23, 2011

I'm Predicting:

Ghadaffi was, is and always will be a tyrant, a despot, a thug. Libyans are celebrating now that he is no longer in control of their country. But is Libya any closer to stability today than it was under the rule of Colonel Muammar Ghadaffi?

The NTC, the National Transition Council, the interim government chaired by Mustafa Abdul Jalil and now running the country, has created the beginnings of an infrastructure. But it is only the start.

Libya is a tribal country - a collection of 140 tribes that do not get along.

Jalil successfully brought together a few of the tribes to fight and oust Ghadaffi. Now he must bring more tribes into the group and begin the arduous task of re-building their country.

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Israel Will Strike Soon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 21, 2011

I'm Predicting:

These past few days have been fraught with tensions in Israel, Gaza and Egypt.

Terror escalated. Then came attacks and counter attacks. Now there are demands for justice and demands for apologies.
It seems clear that the tension will dissipate over the next few days.

It is in the interest of everyone for calm to be re-introduced.
But that calm will require Israel to apologize to Egypt.

Israel has already expressed regret, but that is not enough. This is not a redo of Turkey. Israel wants to use the apology as a way to help move Israeli - Egyptian relations forward, but the objective of Egypt's request is to quell national angst. Turkey's motivation for demanding an apology from Israel was entirely different, Turkey's aim was to humiliate Israel.

Hamas will reign in the rocket launchers from Gaza because they do not want another ground offensive or any offensive similar to operation Caste Lead. But Israel will certainly strike back hard at the terror cells in Gaza.

Expect this all to happen over the next 48 hours. And then, it will be over.

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Elections in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 21, 2011

I'm Predicting:

Once again, yesterday, Egypt announced that they will not condone international monitors and observers during their September elections.

That is a very bad sign and signals a very poor future for transparency.

At this point, with less than two months until elections, I predict that elections in Egypt will be postponed. If they are not postponed, the elections will not be real and the results will not be honest.

Egypt has yet to organize for the vote. Egyptians still need to register, train, district, educate. They need to actually lay out what people are voting for. They need to figure out a process and a procedure to collect ballots and tally votes.

None of this has been done.

Over 80% of Egypt has said they would like to vote. This is eight times the number that has come out to vote in the past. The organization is going to be total bedlam and anarchy.

Because so much is required in order to carry out fair and democratic elections and because so little preparation has been done we are left with one of two alternatives - the elections will either be postponed or they will be fixed.

This does not bode well for the future of democracy in Egypt.

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Glenn Beck
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 10, 2011

I'm Predicting:

Wednesday's announcement that Glenn Beck will be stepping down from his 5pm cable news show on Fox is still being talked about, celebrated and bemoaned.

People on the left are gleeful. They despise Beck. They hate Beck more for his ideas than for his huge numbers and viewers.
But they are mistaken to celebrate.

Beck is not going away, he is going to new media. He will do Fox specials. And the new media he is involving himself with will reach many more people and many more young people than his 5pm show ever reached - even at his height. Beck will bring his audience to the new media and his ideas will be a much more serious force - way beyond that of the simple one dimensional flat TV screen.

Much of what Glenn Beck will be doing will be done through Fox's new media division in cahoots with his media company

This move is huge for Fox. Bringing a block buster into the new media will propel them into the next generation.

Glenn Beck and Roger Ailes are once again demonstrating their brilliance and keen understanding of media and human nature.

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Proposed Cease Fire in Libya
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 2, 2011

I'm Predicting:

The opposition in Libya, led by Moustafa Abdul Jalil, asked for a cease fire. They want to stop the fighting - under several conditions.
# 1: the United Nations monitors and controls the cease fire.
# 2: Ghadaffi draws from contested cities
# 3: protests and rallies are permitted

Ghadaffi will never accept these terms, for numerous reasons.
The most significant reason is that Ghadaffi will see this attempt at a cease fire as a sign of weakness by the opposition. He will interpret this gesture at reconciliation as a signal to wipe out or crush or symbolically destroy all those who confronted him.

We will start to see more aggressive moves by Ghadaffi - and that will threaten the coalition. The coalition and the UN Security Council will have to make a decision about what to do after Ghadaffi escalates.

This just may be a final turning of the tide for Libya, circa 2011.

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Next In Libya
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 21, 2011

I'm Predicting:

The UN and their forces instituted and applied the No Fly Zone over Libya. They approved strikes against Libyan targets that support the air force. And the international force has already struck Libya.
What will happen next?

Ghadaffi is far from out of the picture - actually, this maneuver by the UN played right into his hands. Ghadaffi used the international bombing to cover his own bombing of Benghazi.

The more deranged the West believes Ghadaffi to be, the more mistaken they are and the more easy it becomes for the Libyan thug to carry out his plans. Ghadaffi is unstable and ludicrous. He is also very sharp and critical. He possesses the ability to understand threats and to respond. Ghadaffi evaluates his own strength and finds the weakness of his enemies.

Most of all, Muammar Ghadaffi is enormously charismatic. The charisma is what speaks to the Libyan masses.

It is almost impossible to tell how many Libyans are on each side in this upheaval, but it should be made perfectly clear that there are serious numbers on Ghadaffi's side ... some say far more than half.

The opposition can tell us that only mercenaries side with Ghadaffi, but that seems not to be the truth and only serves to advance their motives and actions.

This story is much bigger than what we are seeing and it is much more complicated with many more ramifications than we assume it to be.
And it is much more dangerous.

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Saudi Arabia is not Falling
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 14, 2011

I've Been Thinking:

People are worried about what will happen if Saudi Arabia falls. There is the fear that oil will hit $300 per barrel. The truth is that people are monitoring the wrong variables and watching the wrong network.

Al Jazeera is asking the question, and Al Jazeera is stoking the flames of unrest. Al Jazeera wants unrest in Saudi Arabia just like they wanted unrest in Egypt and Libya. When you look carefully at Saudi Arabia directly, you see a different situation.

Look carefully at Friday March 11th. That is the day that was supposed to be a major day of protest, the day that Facebook pages proclaimed to be the day that Saudis would come out and protest en masse. And you know what - Friday was a fizzle.

Maybe two hundred people came out in the Eastern town of Hofhof where much of the oil drilling infrastructure is set up. Maybe, two hundred.

And then yesterday, on Sunday, there was a twelve person protest outside the Ministry of Interior. The police just watched and did nothing. But if you watched Al Jazeera it was touted as a major protest. The Saudi royal family, however, succeeded in letting people know that only a dozen people came and that the protest was peaceful.

We do not have to like the Saudi royal family but we do have an obligation to tell the truth, not to exaggerate or make up stories. It is untruths that swayed the situations and fomented the masses and helped oust those other MidEast dictators.

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Israel's New Peace Proposal
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 5, 2011

I'm Predicting:

It is not a secret that the White House has been frustrated, even disappointed, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

When it comes to peace with the Palestinians, the White House believes that Netanyahu is dragging his feet and even sabotaging the process. When you speak to the White House they suggest that the Israelis are letting the process fail.

Now Netanyahu has another chance. The prime minister is developing another peace proposal/ initiative. Honestly, the White House is not holding its collective breath.
This time the Israelis will avoid the politically precarious issues of Jerusalem and refugees.

I think that this initiative will probably be one dimensional. It will focus on borders, an item that the White House knows and loves to hear about, especially the 1967 borders. Netanyahu will probably suggest broad strokes and outline a two-state solution rooted in the '67 borders.

This is a big risk for Israel. Even saying the words "'67 borders" can have serious ramifications. The irony is that at this point in Middle East history, this risky move might very well be Israel's safest move.

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2 Iranian Warships Pass Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 17, 2011

I'm Predicting:

Two Iranian warships are going thru the Suez Canal on their way to Syria.

Once thru the canal the warships pass right by Israel as they sail on to Syria.

I have no doubt that these ships are equipped with sophisticated technology for scanning and listening. The Iranians have never been this close to Israel with such high tech machinery.
Israel is wary and sees this pass by two Iranian warships as an act of provocation.

I expect that Iran will attempt to brush up against Israel's territorial border in order to provoke Israel into creating an international incident. Hopefully, Israel will not be goaded into a response.

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Mubarak Did Not Resign
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 11, 2011

I'm Predicting:

Mubarak did not step down from office last night.

Instead, while he remains in place he will begin the process of making transitions and instituting changes.

Mubarak believes that the military is behind him. There was a real question as to whether the army really was behind him, but from last night's speech it appears clear that he has their backing - and he knows it.

There will be riots and food shortages and fuel shortages and many, many, deaths. The army will come in and clamp down.

The military will have to take charge. Omar Suleiman is an army person - as is Mubarak.

Expect mayhem.

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Turkish Israeli Diplomacy
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 10, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Since "the flotilla" in May, relations between Turkey and Israel have been frigid. And then last week, during the worst natural disaster in Israel's history, Turkey sent teams to assist.

In the interim back channel diplomatic and military relations continued between the two countries. When push comes to shove - diplomacy needs to progress. Right now - that is what is happening.

Turkey is demanding an apology over "the flotilla" and Israel wants to give Turkey its regrets. Turkey wants Israel to bend and beg. Israel wants to remain upright.

Apology or regrets, which shall it be?

A Solomonic response is in order. The tension will probably be resolved through the use of language - different languages . Each country will say what they want and both countries will hear what they want.

That's another form of diplomacy.

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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 & Iran Start Direct Flights
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 5, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday Egypt and Iran signed an agreement to resume direct, daily flights. The agreement stipulates that 28 flights per week will go from Egypt to Iran and back.

Since the 1979 Egyptian Peace Accords with Israel relations between Egypt and Iran can only be described as ugly. Then, in 1980 official relations were severed because of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Any hope for resurrecting a relationship between the countries was lost in 1981 and the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Iran went so far as to praise the assassin and name a major intersection after him.

These two nations have many and serious differences of opinion - especially regarding the United States and Israel.
Hosam Zaki, spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, explained that this deal strengthens existing economic ties between Iran and Egypt, then added that political ties were a different matter.

He said: "It is a development in the relations between Egypt and Iran."
He said: "Both countries have economic interests that have not stopped regardless of the political situation."
He said: "But political developments require certain conditions Egypt has voiced in the past."

If Egypt and Iran are able to smooth things over there is the potential for a shift in Middle East balance. This is more than 28 flights per week. This is a very significant move.

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The US is Pushing for Talks
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 27, 2010

I'm Predicting:

It does not surprise me. Israel has resumed building in the West Bank. The United States has continued to push the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. And the PA is saying that talks will not continue while there is settlement activity.

The US is pushing the Israelis and the Palestinians very hard. The US is lobbying members of the Arab League to support Abbas in continued talks. The Arab League will meet next week to discuss how to handle the direct talks and whether or not to advise Abbas to go ahead and continue talking.

The United States is telling the Arab League and Palestinians that they must compromise and accept realistic Israeli building. The United States is also begging Israel to control the building.

While this compromise would work well for all sides, it is very unlikely that the parties will accept any compromise - especially a compromise that involves settlements.

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Egyptian Search for Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 19, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Egypt is combing through the northern Sinai Desert in search of Palestinian terrorists dispatched to launch rocket from into Israel.

That is the news report from MAAN news service, an official Palestinian news company. What is not clear from the report is whether the terrorists have already snuck themselves and the rockets into Sinai, or if they are trying to get in.

That explains the warning issued by the US Embassy/ State Department to stay clear of Eilat in Israel and Aqaba in Jordan

The Red Sea area is so small that a rocket shot from the Sinai and intended for Israel can easily miss and hit Aqaba, Jordan. That is exactly what happened last month when two of four rockets launched from Sinai into Eilat instead landed in Aqaba killing a Jordanian guard.

Egypt knows the danger of permitting rocket launches. Not just that it is an act of war and Israel may retaliate, but if Palestinians launch rockets without Egyptian permission from within Egypt it is also a message of Egyptian weakness and impotence - a message that is transmitted throughout the Arab world.

This public humiliation will not be tolerated by Egypt. Egypt will strike back hard.

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Bahrain: Internal Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 7, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Bahrain has been cracking down on their Shiite population.

The tiny archipelago country of 32 islands may be ruled by Sunnis, but Bahrain has a Shiite majority. The ruling leadership has even made it illegal for any media to cover Bahrain's Shiite power play.

The Shiites are doing their best to try to slowly gain momentum and possibly, oust the current leadership. But if they push too hard -the Sunni leadership will crush the Shiite opposition.

Sunni leadership in Bahrain has very close relations with the US and the West. The Shiites want to expand relations with Iran.

I do not see a serious uprising on the horizon. But I do see the Shiites of Bahrain gaining more and more popularity.

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Saudi Arabia and Lebanon Upset Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 17, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Iran is very possessive when it comes to friends. Iranians have been known to poach other peoples' allies and they aggressively act to protect and preserve their own friendships.

Iran is very unhappy with the friendship that has emerging over the last few months between Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Iran has been cultivating and investing in Syria for years and assumed that the Syrians were a reliable ally. Saudi Arabia on the other hand is a sworn enemy of Iran. And while Syria and Saudi Arabia had never been close, over the past few months they have transformed their relationship in an effort to achieve mutually important goals.

The most common and important goal to bring Syria and Saudi Arabia together is Lebanon.

Iran wants to control what happens in Lebanon. And it looks like Saudi Arabia is muscling in not only on Syria but also on Lebanon. I see serious regional tensions on the horizon.

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PA Complains About World Pressure
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 10, 2010

I'm Predicting:

For the past few months Palestinian President Abbas has been complaining of the international pressure on him to resume direct talks with Israel.

Abbas has been saying over and over that Arab, Muslim and Western countries have put enormous pressure on the Palestinians. Almost every world leader has been pressuring him to drop his preconditions and just begin the talks. And Abbas has not hidden the fact that, of all the world's leaders on his back, the Obama administration has been especially aggressive.

Abbas thought he had Israel over the barrel - but he over played his hand, once again.

When the Vice President of the United States was embarrassed during his visit to Israel, Abbas took advantage of the situation and orchestrated a scenario that brought the public tension to its peak. He created a list of pre-conditions. He convinced the Palestinian people that the preconditions were important. And the masses believed him.

According to a poll taken in the Palestinian Authority, beginning direct talks would be a very unpopular decision - a decision from which Abbas may not be able to recover. But I think he has come up with a survival plan. Abbas will hold out, avoiding direct talks as long as he can, and then - he will blame his capitulation on Obama.

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Bibi to Meet Obama in July
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 21, 2010

I've Been Thinking:
The White House announced yesterday that on July 6 President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This meet will be a follow up to the meeting that was cancelled several weeks when the "humanitarian aid" flotilla attempted to break the Israeli blockade and enter Gaza.

The White House was so grateful that the earlier meeting with Israel was cancelled that Obama gave Netanyahu an open invitation to come back at any time. At that particular time, it would have been a very difficult spin for Obama meeting with the Israeli prime minister.

Israel needs to get the United States back on their page. It helps that the White House is confused about the Palestinians. The facts on the ground in the Palestinian Authority do not correspond with the image the White House is projecting. That is a problem Netanyahu can use to Israel's advantage.

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Abbas Says: Don't Lift Blockade
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 13, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

When Palestinian Authority President Abbas and US President Obama met in the White House last Wednesday one major topic on their agenda was Israel's blockade of Gaza.

The conversation did not progress exactly the way the president of the United States expected it would. To the surprise of Obama, Abbas is not in favor of lifting the Gaza blockade. Abbas said lifting the blockade would strengthen Hamas. He said the time was not right for lifting the blockade.

This information comes from European leaders who were briefed by the White House on the Abbas-Obama talks.

The Europeans reported back to the Israelis who in turn leaked it to the press. Israel's daily Haaretz published the story more as a Ripley's Believe it or Not headline than a news item.

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UN Sanctions Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 4, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs announced that the United States expects that the sanctions on Iran will be presented for a vote by the UN Security Council next week.

I seriously doubt that the timetable will be adhered to.

Here's why: By next week the Flotilla Crisis will not be over. And China and Russia will not yet be convinced to follow the lead of the United States because they will still have serious questions with the way the US handled Israel.

The question is: Why should China and Russia support the US over Iran when the US cannot control Israel. China and Russia assert that controlling Israel is a very important part of the counter Iranian game plan.

When the Security Council meets next week they will discuss the sanctions.

I hope that they apply the sanctions but I do not think that it will happen by next week.

International diplomacy will necessitate a delay in implementation of the sanctions.

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Nuke Free Middle East?
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 23, 2010

I'm Predicting:

The United States and Egypt are working very hard to create a plan that will result in a nuclear free Middle East.

The idea is that Arab and Muslim countries will sign on to this plan because it will, ultimately, force the Israelis to give up their nuclear arsenal. The United States is convinced that their plan can go into action even without peace in the Middle East and Egypt has bought into that objective.

The truth is that it is all a pie dream and nothing more than a pipe dream.
It is a pipe dream because the Egyptians have begun work on their own nuclear program. It is a pipe dream because the Jordanians are researching their own nuclear program and it is a pipe dream because the Saudis have begun work on their own nuclear program.

Each of these countries began their own nuclear program not because of Israel, but because of Iran. Putting Israel into the mix is a serious mistake.

At this point I do not foresee any situation that will compel Israel to even entertain the idea of giving up on its own nuclear technology.

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Will There Be A New Status Quo?
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 11, 2010

I'm Predicting:

The discussion about Iran's potential nuclear weapons has generated concern that Israel's secret nuclear program will be drawn into the cross hairs of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA.

Iran argues that fairness requires that Israel must be put under the microscope.
The US administration has announced its own vision for a nuclear free Middle East.
Experts are frightened.

The concern is that this new US vision will change the status quo of the Middle East. If the status quo changes, the safety of Israel and of the entire Middle East may be in the balance.

The concern looks to be unfounded. It seems to me that despite the announcements and the pronouncements, the IAEA is not re evaluating their understanding of Israel's nuclear program.

For the sake of the region and for the sake of the world I hope that the IAEA keeps away from Israel.

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Iraq Is Not Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 28, 2010

I'm Predicting:

The biggest winners in the Iraqi election are the secular parties and secular communities in Iraq.
The biggest losers are the Sunni and Shiite Muslim extremists - that means al Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian supported groups.

Very few people in the Western world understand Iraq.
Even Iraqi Shiite religious leadership does not want to transform the country into a theocracy similar to Iran.

Iraq's religious leadership sees the draw backs of an extremist theocracy. At the same time they are losing their hold on the voters. One of the ways they think they can get supporters back, is to spout extremism.

But so far, this plan has failed in Iraq and it will continue to fail.
Iraq is not Iran.

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Iran Threatens Europe
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 1, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Iran is beginning to rattle sabers and threaten Europe.
Iran intends to intimidate Western European leaders.
Iran wants to make certain that Europe knows there will be consequences to supporting increased sanctions against them.

What can Iran do?
Iran can turn off the oil supply to Europe.
Iran can even launch a missile strike that targets Europe.

Hussen Salami, deputy head of The Iranian Revolutionary Guard put it plainly: "Iran is standing on 50% of the world's energy and should it so decide, Europe will have to spend the winter in the cold."

Fars, an Iranian national news agency, reported that Salami also said:
"Our missiles are now able to target any spot the conspirators are in."

Iran will probably not carry out their threats.
That doesn't mean that the threats should not be taken seriously.
Europe is starting to quake - and that's just what Iran wants.

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Attack in Jordan
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 16, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Al Qaeda has attacked Jordan, their target was an Israeli convoy en route from Amman to the border crossing.
No one was hurt - but only because there was a delay in the explosion.
The attack took place on a windy, downhill, mountain pass. The area is isolated and perfect for just such an attack.

Al Qaeda is growing in strength in Jordan.
At a press conference in Jordan officials called this attack a warning signal.
That is an understatement.
Al Qaeda was announcing that they are there, they are in Jordan, they are active in Jordan and they have no fear.

Jordan has always acted very aggressively against al Qaeda. The Jordanian consider al Qaeda to be a serious threat to their monarchy and to their way of life. One of al Qaeda's professed goals is ousting the Monarchy of Jordan.

So a failed attack directed at Israel inside the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a serious matter. Jordan will respond ruthlessly. The conflict with al Qaeda is a battle for their very survival. If al Qaeda is able to move freely, organize, train, fundraise and perpetrate attacks in Jordan it is just a matter of time before they use their infrastructure to attack and oust the monarchy.

Expect a serious crackdown.
Expect an aggressive series of arrests.

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Iran Wants Money
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 10, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Ahmadinejad just announced the creation of a committee that will put a cash number on the damages inflicted on Iran during WWII.

That's not a mistake.
Ahmadinejad wants war reparations from the United States and Russia.

There is an element of truth to this claim.
In August of 1941 the English and the USSR invaded Iran and took control of the oil fields. The objective was to make certain that the oil went to the Allies and that trade routes through the region were reserved for the Soviets as they squeezed out the Germans.

Iran is claiming that the invasion cost the Iranians a significant chunk - that inflation skyrocketed and the cost of essentials went through the roof.
He said: "You inflicted lots of damages to the Iranian nation, put your weight on the shoulders (of the Iranian people) and became victors in the World War II. You didn't even share the war profits with Iran."

Iranians see the world differently than everyone else.
They will persist with their demand.
I would guess that this is only Iran.s opening salvo.

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Unrest in Iran - Again
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 28, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Unrest in Iran, again.

The government of Iran is doing a very good job at cracking down on reportage in all media in all languages, so it is hard to get a real feel for what is happening, but ...

The people of Iran have a new reason to protest, to march and to revolt.
The people of Iran have a new cause and a new leader, he is the Ayatollah Montazeri.

Unlike last summer's elections, mobilizing for Montazeri is perfect.
The Ayatollah is dead, he is immune from persecution - but he has left behind a written legacy that touches on almost every aspect of Iranian political and religious life.

The next few days will be critical.
If the groundswell around Montazeri's death, mystique and isolation at the hands of the current regime continues to grow ...
If the number of marches and marchers on Montazeri's posthumous behalf continue to grow day by day ...
We may have a revolution afoot in Iran.

Now, we sit back, we watch, we wait.

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No Change From OPEC
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 15, 2009

I'm Predicting:

On December 22nd OPEC ministers will once again meet.
This year the meeting will take place in Angola.

Assessing the comments OPEC oil ministers have made to date, it seems pretty certain that oil production will not change - there will be no scaling down and no new limits placed on oil production.

Iran very much wants to jack up the price of oil and is lobbying for a reduction of quotas - but OPEC oil ministers are not easily swayed.
Contrary to popular perception, the ministers in OPEC are extremely conservative and right now they are extremely happy with the price per barrel.
OPEC ministers do not like volatility in the market.
OPEC ministers do not plot the oil addiction of the West and they are not in charge of the price.

The bottom line is that OPEC knows they cannot play with supply and demand right now.
It could all boomerang and that boomerang would either cause a huge spike or huge drop in price - either way, they would suffer.

The West is addicted to oil and OPEC is the willing supplier.

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Iran's Nuke Games
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 31, 2009

I'm Predicting:

On Thursday Iran gave a message to the IAEA in Geneva.
The message was Iran's response to the proposal presented them by the Security Council and Germany and the IAEA about nuclear development.

On Thursday the Iranian press touted the response as a subtle counter proposal showcasing how Iran is in the driver's seat during these negotiations.
On Friday disdainful reactions to Iran's counter proposal were sent out.
The IAEA was hopeful, yet disappointed.
Western leadership made it known that Iran had neither appropriately nor adequately answered the original proposal.

So on Friday Iran released another counter response to counter their original counter proposal. Iran said that their message to the IAEA was just that - a message, not an official response.
France then demanded an official response.
Iran said they would deliver one.

The Iranian news is filled with the drama.
From the Iranian point of view, Iran is leading the world around by the nose.

I predict that this exchange will go on and on and in the end, Iran will get almost everything they want and originally requested.

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New PA Elections
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 24, 2009

I'm Predicting:

There is conflict on the Palestinian horizon.

Yesterday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah, called for new Palestinian elections.
The elections will be for president and for the parliament.
They will take place exactly 3 months from the date of the announcement, on January 24, 2010.

The last time Palestinian elections were held was in January of 2006, four years earlier, almost to the date. Hamas won the parliamentary majority with 76 out of 132 seats and was able to take the prime ministry. In the end Abbas, rejected Hamas because they would not accept the 3 basic rules laid out by the Quartet.
Hamas and Fatah are still and again fighting and the fighting will intensify and Hamas is calling the upcoming elections illegal.

Abbas is in a lose-lose situation.
His popularity and the party's popularity are dropping quickly. He has given himself three months to get back in everyone's good graces.
Hamas may boycott the elections.
They will boycott to demonstrate that Abbas is the leader of only part of the Palestinians Authority.

Hamas just might win the election again.
And this time, they may even win the presidency.

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Germany Helping Iran Smuggle Ammo
By Micah Halpern

I'm Predicting:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

US soldiers, on patrol in the Persian Gulf, conducted a random search of a vessel owned, registered and operated by Germans - and discovered that the ship was carrying weapons.
The ship has been brought to Malta where it was unloaded and where the weapons are now stored.

The weapons came from Iran.
The weapons were en route to Syria.
The weapons would have been delivered to both Syria and to Hezbollah.

This is a clear violation of UN agreements that prohibit Iran from importing or exporting weapons.
It is also a violation of UN agreements that prohibit arming Hezbollah.

The vessel was packed with 7.62 mm bullets.
These bullets can only be used with Kalashnikov machine guns.
Kalashnikov machine guns are the weapon of choice for Hezbollah.

The entire event was a huge embarrassment for Germany.
Extraordinary reportage in Der Speigel brought the story to light.
Knowing German law and knowing the German government, I am confident that all those connected to this vessel will be held accountable for doing business with the enemy.

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Iran is Setting a Trap
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 29, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Iran is setting a trap.
They are testing missiles only days before the supposed meeting with the 6 countries on the topic of the Iran's nuclear status.

Iran's actions are calculated and totally predictable.
Israel is getting nervous.
Other Western countries are uncertain about how to proceed.

After yesterday's test launch Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi put it all into perspective.
He said: "If this [Israeli attack] happens, which of course we do not foresee, its ultimate result would be that it expedites the Zionist regime's last breath."

Iran will walk away from the meeting with their head held high.
Iran will portray the entire gathering as an anti-Muslim witch hunt.
Iran will claim that they are entitled to develop nuclear technology.

Iran is setting a trap and the world will walk right in.

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France & Syria Conflict On Wheat
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 4, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Syria and France are in serious conflict.
This conflict is almost as serious as the rift that was only recently repaired, the rift that began on February 14, 2005 with the assassination of Rafik Hariri of Lebanon.

This time it is all about wheat.
About 21 tons of wheat from France that is sitting in the port of Tartus in Syria.

The French have a 150,000 ton wheat deal with Syria.
These 21 tons of wheat left France on June 4th after being inspected not once but twice by Syrian grain experts.
Four days later on June 8th when it arrived in Syria, the Department of Agriculture said that the bundle contains a dangerous fungus and they will not unload it.

The result of that decision is a significant international crisis.
President Sarkozy of France has just written a letter to President Assad of Syria saying that if the grain is not unloaded it "will likely damage future trade."

What is happening here?
I think that the Syrians want to default on or break their wheat contract with France. Instead of simply breaking the contract, they are suggesting that the product is defective.

France was the first Western country to extend a diplomatic hand to Syria and, in essence, to let them out of the doghouse.
Syria needs wheat, they were hit hard by the drought and will produce almost nothing this season, so imports are essential.
But Syria also has little to no GNP and no cash to buy the imports -that's why the Syrians are playing games with France.

This situation does not portend well.
I'm expecting the situation to backfire.

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Tensions in Southern Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 21, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Tensions are so thick in Southern Lebanon, they are palpable.
The division between those who support Hezbollah - and everyone else, is enormous.

There have been clashes between villagers and the UN.
An arms depot filled with Hezbollah's weapons exploded last week.
UN headquarters was shot at.
And a group of 15 civilians crossed into Israel carrying Hezbollah flags.

Every night Israel flies over Southern Lebanon.
They fly over in order to gather intel and to make sure that every single crack and crevice is reachable by the Israeli air force.
The Israeli army is taking the situation in Southern Lebanon very seriously.
The UN has called for a serious reduction in tensions and saber rattling.

I do not foresee a war within the next two weeks.
I think that there will probably be cross border skirmishes and perhaps even a low level strike into Israel or a few rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon.

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Friday In Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 17, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Friday is the day of rest for Islam. It is the day on which a special set of prayers is recited in mosques around the world.
Friday is the day that the Imam, the Muslim preacher, sermonizes.

Iranians are looking forward to this Friday's sermon.
This is the first Friday since the election that Hussein Mir Mousavi will come to prayers.
On this Friday the sermon will be delivered by Rafsanjani, at Teheran University and broadcast live on TV and radio throughout Iran and the Shiite world.

Expectations are high ... but I am not expecting anything too earth shattering. Students who protested the election results have demanded that Rafsanjani "break his silence by defending the values of the revolution and clearing up the speculation surrounding him."
Students often shout in support and against the sermon and I certainly expect to hear those voices today.
These students and their public demand is particularly telling.

Western coverage had us believe that Rafsanjani was a supporter of the protesters - but he was not. His daughters publicly supported Mousavi, but Rafsanjani was a fence sitter and that is a far cry from a supporter.

Rafsanjani is a bitter rival of Ahmadinejad and has a very tense relationship with the Supreme Leader Khamenei.
In his sermon Rafsanjani must ask Muslims to remain calm, he must praise the power of Islamic law.
Rafsanjani does not have the political clout to oust The Supreme Leader, he should not attempt to use this pulpit to attain greater political aims.

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Iran Egypt Relations Thawing
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 16, 2009

I'm Predicting:

In a very unusual diplomatic move for the Middle East, the foreign ministers of Iran and Egypt met three times this week.
I call that a serious thawing of diplomatic relations.

The Egyptian ambassador to Iran was withdrawn when, following the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the Iranians renamed a central square memorializing the assassin.
Since then relations have been, at best, rocky.

Egypt believes that Iran sponsors the unrest that Hezbollah plans to unleash on Egypt.
But when foreign ministers continue to meet and meet for three days in a single week it means that they are dangerously close to resolving something.

I predict that there will be an Iranian announcement about newly emerging diplomatic and economic relations between Egypt and Iran.
I predict that within a few weeks, Egypt and Iran will be working together.

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Abbas Is Over Playing His Hand
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 13, 2009

I'm Predicitng:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced yesterday that there could be no discussions with Israel without a complete end to all settlement activity.

Abbas is not speaking figuratively.
He means not even a single nail or a single nursery school - nada, nothing.
This is a big issue for Abbas, it is something he is insistent upon, something he has articulated to the Obama administration and that the administration bought into.

The wrinkle in Abbas' proclamation is that the White House has come to realize that not adding a single nail is not a very reasonable rationale. This new realization by the US probably comes as a result of the Israeli PM's acceptance of a two state solution.
The US administration is frustrated that the Arab world is not joining the team and recognizing Israel.

Abbas knows his demand is impossible.
He holds on to it as a precondition to even begin a dialogue.
He is hoping that mounting international pressure will force the US and Israel to recognize a Palestinian State.

My prediction: Abbas has overplayed his hand, watch for some fancy footwork by the PA leader.

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PR Stunt or Stonewalling Peace
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 12, 2009

I'm Predicting:

It is no surprise that the Israeli Prime Minister's invite to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas was declared a PR stunt by Palestinian advisers.
While it is true that Netanyahu is an unlikely candidate to pursue peace, history has shown that only the Israeli right has the mandate and political power to achieve peace.

Maybe Netanyahu is playing a PR game of his own.
But why should that disturb Palestinian leadership?
Netanyahu has already declared his support for two states.

It disturbs Palestinians because for the first time in a long time, they have been outmaneuvered.
Now the Palestinians are actually lobbying Arab world leadership not to accept the US request to begin normalizing relations with Israel.
Palestinian leadership wants more concession from Israel and more pressure brought on Israel without giving up anything on their side.

If Palestinians were really interested in peace they would be reacting differently.
We will see more of this bobbing and weaving from the PA.

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Lebanon Elections Today
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 7, 2009

I'm Predicting:

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

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

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

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

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

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Obama & Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 17, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Tomorrow Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu will meet President Obama in the White House.
Fireworks are expected.
The real fireworks will be on Capitol Hill.
Congress is where each leader has staked a claim and intends to argue his case.

Tensions may emerge during the White House meeting, but for the most part, it will probably be a pleasant experience.
Neither side wants to make a scene. Neither side wants an explosion. Neither leader will loose his temper.
There will probably be some group time and some private face to face time before the obligatory press conference.

The leaders will express their concerns.
Obama wants a Palestinians state and he wants it soon, he wants immediate results and thinks this Israeli can deliver.
Netanyahu wants a serious policy on Iran.

This meeting will conclude without any real results.
The leaders will have to check with Capitol Hill to determine how to proceed next time around.

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Inner Palestinian Troubles
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 10, 2009

I'm Predicting:

It is going to get uglier before it before it gets better for the Palestinians.

Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas, issued a stern warning to PA President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday.
The warning was: Do not charge your prime minister, Salim Fayyed, with creating a narrow government.

For months, using Egypt as a back door conduit, Hamas and Abbas have tried to create a unity government.
According to rumor, Abbas is now throwing up his hands and saying enough and Hamas is issuing threats of destabilization.

These threats come only days after a rosy sweet interview Mashaal gave to the NYTimes during which he said that his movement was in favor of a cease fire with Israel and that Hamas wants to be part of the solution.
Mashaal told the NYTimes: "I promise the American administration and the international community that we will be part of the solution, period."

Which is the real Hamas?
Hamas that threatens Abbas or Hamas that paints a rosy picture for the world to see and read?
I predict it is the first.

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Bin Laden's Plan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 15, 2009

I'm Predicting:

On Saturday Al Jazzera aired another Osama bin Laden audio tape.
This tape was actually found on several websites and then it was broadcast.
Bin Laden's comments were, for the most part, predictable.
In this case, the message is less important than the medium.

Osama bin Laden had two important themes to disseminate to his masses.
# 1: He blasted established Arab leaders who, he says, are plotting together with the United States and the West against Arab interests.
# 2: He explained that Arab leaders are responsible for the deaths of the Palestinians who died in what he called a Holocaust in January.
Bin Laden also railed against the Arab leaders who were silent when Hamas was fighting the Zionist occupation.

Bin Laden has something up his sleeve.
For 18 months, until January 16th when he broke his silence, we did not hear a word from the leader of al Qaeda.
Perhaps, for a while, he had a safer method of sharing information.
Now, he wants to communicate with his followers, it is for them that these messages are intended, we in the West are merely eavesdropping.

This renewed frequency in releasing audio messages is a very large change in the bin Laden MO.
It is telling us something.
It could mean a significant build up in al Qaeda activity and terror.
Beware.

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A Centrist Coalition in Israel? Maybe
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 14, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Interesting, exciting and now no longer secret meeting have been taking place in Israel.

Likud has been in dialogue with Y'Israel Beitenu, Lieberman's party, and with right wing parties hoping to form a government. The parties have been making serious demands on the Netanyahu coalition.

Several media outlets have reported that there have also been meetings over the past two days between Likud and Kadima - but those meetings were conducted in secret. When Labor heard about the secret Kadima meetings they thought it time to jump on the band wagon and said that they will not be able to say "no" to joining that kind of coalition - a centrist coalition.

Netanyahu has received very bad feedback from the mainstream of his party about the rightwing negotiations. Now it seems that the Likud party leader is interested in moving toward the center in a three party coalition: Likud, Kadima and Labor.

The talk is that there will be an uneven rotation.
Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for 3 years and Livni will get 1+ years.
It may be a very good compromise.
It may also require that President Shimon Peres allow for an extension in the time period allotted for negotiations.
The word is that Peres was kept in the loop on these secret meetings from the very beginning.

A right wing government will not hold.
By its very nature the only way to stabilize a government is to create a moderate centrist coalition with parties slightly to the left and parties slightly to the right working together.
I think that Netanyahu has finally, through patience and perseverance and good party politics, come up with a workable plan for governing Israel.

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Of Course Hamas Said No
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 1, 2009

I'm Predicting:

People will continue to misunderstand Hamas even though Hamas honestly tells us who they really are and what they are about.

On Saturday, after weeks of preparation, Mahmoud Abbas the leader of the Palestinian Authority finally met with Hamas leaders to discuss a Palestinian unity government.
Hamas rejected the idea of a unity government.
Hamas will not tolerate the idea of a two-state solution.
Hamas, in case anyone forgot, rejects Israel's very right to exist.

Hamas does not spin on Israel.
Hamas does not fabricate or lie about Israel.
Hamas will lie and fabricate about many things; the numbers of casualties, how little or how much aid has arrived into Gaza, they will steal confiscated weapons and aid packages designated for the poor from UN relief agencies.
About Israel there is no subterfuge, about Israel Hamas is absolutely honest.

Still, people are hopeful that Hamas will see the light.
That condition is called myopia.
Myopia is very dangerous when the condition is found in powerful politicians in the United States and Israel.

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The Next Israeli Coalition
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 12, 2009

I'm Predicting:

After an election the president of Israel has one task:
To interview the parties and charge a party with the responsibility of building a coalition consisting of over 60 members for the purpose of creating a government.

The job of the president is mostly ceremonial, but this one responsibility is enormous:
It is up to the president to decide which party leader has the best chance of success at cobbling together a group that can govern.

Following this election there are only two possibilities:
Likud under Netanyahu or Kadima under Livni.
Everyone already knows that the right block will have more Knesset seats than the left, but despite that fact, right now, the jury is still out.

Here is the dilemma:
How many parties on the right are actually center leaning and willing to move over and how many parties on the right are actually right and want to stay there.

Shas is not a right party, they are a social party interested in social services for their constituency. They have several issues that put them to the right but others that have them on the left. Shas can go both ways.

Lieberman, of Yisrael Beitaynu, has already shown that he can be in a coalition with Kadima, he has done it not once but twice. The flip side is that Lieberman and Netanyahu despise one another, even though Lieberman came of political age under Netanyahu's tutelage.

Netanyahu and Likud have much to gain by trying to set up the coalition, but Netanyahu is as disliked by as many members of his own party as he is by members of other parties and a lot of coalition cobbling boils down to personalities.

The president will take this all under consideration.
Sometime soon President Peres will make his decision.
Until the final moment, much like the election, everything will remain up in the air.

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Israeli Elections
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 8, 2009

I'm Predicting:

On Tuesday elections will be held in Israel.
These elections are way too close to call.

The last polls to be made public before the elections, released on Friday, put Likud 2 seats ahead of Kadima with a degree of error of over 3 points.
Over the past few weeks the Likud lead has shrunk.
Tracking movement, especially slow shrinkage and the gradual closing of gaps, is important in predicting election results, it reflects trends.

According to every published poll there is a 2 seat difference between Likud and Kadima.
The polls are also all showing that the party led by Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beitaynu, is growing fast to 18 seats.
The other parties are petrified that Lieberman might steal their votes.
On Saturday night the Rabbi of Shas considered to be one of the leading religious thinker among Jews from North African communities said voting for Lieberman is voting for the devil. The word he used was Satan.

The election is in a few days.
A few days is a lifetime in Israeli politics.

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Hamas Will Steal From The Needy
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 7, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Hamas will continue to steal the international aid intended for the Palestinians of Gaza.
It is what Hamas does.

Over the past week Hamas has stolen from the people more than once.
In one event Hamas stole 200 tons of food supplies.
In another act of grand theft Hamas commandeered ten truckloads at gun point, taking 5000 blankets and 400 food parcels.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon issued a statement saying that the United Nations is suspending all aid to Gaza because Hamas stole aid destined for innocent civilians.
Secretary Ban says that the UN will not resume aid to Gaza until the materials are returned and real assurances are given that this will not happen again.

Once again, the money pouring in to help rebuild, replenish, revitalize and feed Gaza is going straight into the coffers of Hamas.

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Cease Fire Prediction
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 18, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Israel declared a unilateral cease fire as of 2 AM.
Hamas views the announcement as symbolic and takes it for a gesture of weakness.

Hamas has announced that they have no intention of ceasing fire.
Hamas says that "the resistance will continue."
Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, Osama Hamadan, called the announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "Failure Speech # 2."
Hamadan was referring to the speech Olmert gave ending the operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon two years ago.

What we have here is a conflict that juxtaposes Western thinking with Middle Eastern mentality.
As Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak was briefing reporters on the ceasefire Hamas rockets were raining down on Israel.

I'm predicting that Hamas will continue to launch rockets into Israel throughout Sunday and even on Monday.
I'm predicting that Israel will gather the intel and strike back hard.

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Cease Fire
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 15, 2009

I'm Predicting:

There have been positive signals about a cease fire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, but we cannot read much into even those signals.

Here's why:
To paraphrase Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement he made after meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Maratinos:
Theses signs are simply that, they are signs.

To paraphrase a Hamas spokesman:
Hamas has not accepted the Egyptian proposal and neither have they rejected it.
Hamas has given their reservations and if their reservations are not addressed, they will reject the proposal.

To quote him directly, in translation:
"The talk of progress exists only in the media."
"Hamas is unwilling to agree on a permanent ceasefire because the significance of this would be to halt the resistance."

Of course the list of Hamas reservations cannot be accepted.
Hamas hasn't put together a list of reservations.
Hamas put together a wish list that Egypt has already totally rejected.

Let's get real.
Talks should and will continue.
And so will the fighting.
This situation is not about to end.

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Gaza Operation: The End in Sight
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 8, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Now, well into the second week of the Israeli operation into Gaza, the head of emergency services in Gaza says the death toll has reached 700 and injuries 3,100.
It looks as if the end is in sight.

Here are some indicators:
Israel is delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza everyday.
Israel has created a humanitarian corridor and a quiet period lasting several hours during mid-day allowing Gazans to replenish their supplies in the corridor.
The co-sponsored Egyptian/French ceasefire initiative has Israel's support and Hamas is listening.

The details will take several days to work out.
In the meantime Hamas will continue to launch rockets and Israel will continue to try to find the stockpiles of weapons hidden in Gaza.
As the weekend winds down the Gaza operation and the process of intermediary dialogue will be happening simultaneously.
Egypt and France will be dealing with Hamas and Israel.

A new status with a severally weakened Hamas is close.
That means that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority will join the discussions.
The final result may not be ideal.
In the end, Abbas and Hamas may join and create a power sharing deal.

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Israel & Hamas: The End Game
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 5, 2009

I'm Predicting:

The clear objectives of Israel's land operation are exactly the objectives of the aerial operation.
The success of the operation depends, in part, on the willingness of Hamas to say "uncle."

Israel's prime objective is to secure a stable, sustainable quiet.
For that to happen Hamas must agree to either international or local mediation.
Israel needs to eliminate Hamas' ability to launch 20-60 rockets daily.
So far, even under the pressure of Israeli fire, rockets are still being launched into Israel, so Israel's ground offensive is targeting the rockets, their factories and the commanders and, of course, the people who dispatch the weaponry.
Hamas, on the other hand, wants the world to know that despite the great fire power of the Israeli air force they continue to successfully launch Qassams.

I would predict that even after an agreement or a cease fire or a "lull" there will be a series of Hamas launchings into Israel just to prove that Israel did not totally destroy Hamas' caches of rockets.
Hamas will want to prove that an agreement to cease fire came out of strategic interests not as result of being crushed by Israel.

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Hamas Will Hit Back
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 2, 2009

I'm Predicting:

We are coming up on one week since Israel began their operation against Hamas.
Hamas has threatened to increase their attacks into Israel.
Hamas continues to hit despite being badly pummeled by Israel.

Hamas has been shooting back at Israel.
Israel anticipated that Hamas would hit back much harder.
Either Israel has successfully struck at Hamas weapons hordes , or Hamas is waiting for a more opportune moment to strike.

Today is the Muslim Sabbath.
Many Muslims in the region will go to Mosque and hear sermons aimed at motivating them and psyching them up even more.
So I would expect today, Friday, to be a day when Hamas unleashes even more rockets and even several suicide bombers on Israel.

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Israel Will Strike Gaza Soon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 21, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Israel will take action against Gaza.

The two questions that need answering are:
against whom?
how significant will the strike be?

It's almost impossible to track of the number of rockets that have been launched into Israel from Gaza since the "lull" between Hamas and Israel expired last week.
Of course Hamas is responsible, but responsibility does not belong to Hamas alone.
The Al Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, has claimed responsibility for most of the rocket attacks.
The Al Quds Brigades is claiming that the rocket attacks are a result of Israel's "continued aggression" and "crimes of the occupation."

Israel will take action soon.

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Terror in India
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 27, 2008

I'm Predicting:

For an idea of what future terrorist attacks will look like, look no further than last night's horrific terror attack in India.

Islamic terrorists like multiple, simultaneous, coordinated, attacks against Western targets especially when target is civilian.

All of the sites of yesterday's attacks are civilian sites.
The terrorists and their handlers were trying to kill as many Westerners as possible.
The terrorists actually shouted out that they were looking for UK and America passport holders only.

Traveling abroad and having assets abroad comes with a huge responsibility. Learning to act safely so as to protect ourselves and our property when we travel is imperative.
Make no mistake about it: US citizens and US interests abroad are terrorist targets.

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Hamas is Making Its Move
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 15, 2008

I'm Predicting:

On December 16th the cease fire between Hamas and Israel ends.
It looks like Hamas is not interested in an extension of the pact.

What makes me say that? Hamas has resumed daily rounds of rocket launchings into Israel over the past week.

There are several issues at stake.
This is election season in Israel.
Hamas seems unaware of the innate affinity that Israelis have for leaders who defend rather than endanger their lives. That means that by their action, Hamas might be forcing the hand of Defense Minister Ehud Barak to retaliate.

Hamas may be playing their own game.
Hamas may want to increase tensions in order to get a better cease fire deal. They have been talking out of both sides of their mouths, broadly proclaiming the need for a longer term cease fire within the '67 borders while at the same time permitting Islamic Jihad to fire rockets at will into Israel.

If Hamas continues launching rockets into Israel the response may well be an Israeli land and air strike against Hamas in the next two weeks.

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Iran's Economy
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 11, 2008

I'm Predicting:

I just saw a Saudi report declaring that Iran's economy was on the verge of collapse.
If it's true, it's important.

There is little doubt that Iran's economy is in bad shape.
Iran is suffering from very high inflation.
Iran does not make market decisions, Iran makes religious decisions.

Saudi Arabia is watching Iran very closely. Nothing would please Saudi Arabia more than to see the demise of the Iranian religious theocratic state. But Saudi Arabia can do nothing to hasten Iran's demise. The Saudis cannot stimulate a war with Iran.

All eyes are on Iran economically.
The only people not paying attention to the Iranian economy are the Iranians.
Iran imports their gas because they cannot refine their oil.
Iran subsidizes their gas to keep it plentiful and easily accessible.
These two examples alone are enough to show just how bizarre Iranian economic planning is.

Look for the Iranian economy to soon move from very high inflation to a position of hyper-inflation.

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Four More for Ahmadinejad
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 21, 2008

I'm Predicting:

On Friday the Ayatollah Khamenei told Iranian politicians to stop their bickering and infighting and to support the current government.

That makes it the second time in two weeks that the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, has come out with a public statement that seems to confirm that Ahmadinejad will again be elected the president of Iran.

There still continues to be a hope that reformers will win over the heart and mind of the Ayatollah and wrestle his support from Ahmadinejad.
But as every announcement is proclaimed and as every day passes that hope seems farther and farther away.

We might as well get used to it.
We are facing another four years of Ahmadinejad.

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Iran is Getting Worse
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 7, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Today Iran announced that they will hold elections on June 12, 2009.
I predict that Ahmadinejad will have a hands down victory.

Also today, The Sunday Times of London printed a very disturbing report about how Russia is intensifying its nuclear assistance to Iran. The report says that nuclear materials and know how is on its way to Iran and Russia will be inviting Iranian scientists to Moscow for instruction and training.

This is a strong prediction.
An Ahmadinejad victory and Russian support for Iran are disturbing, but not surprising or new news.
The new news is that these events area being reported in the Iranian press and The Sunday Times.

Russia wants to turn the screws on the US and the best way to do that is by intensifying their nuclear aid to Iran.
The future is looking less and less good.

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Russia Selling to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 31, 2008

I'm Predicting:

For months I have been predicting a missile deal between Russia and Iran.
A deal that would seriously inhibit a defensive strike against Iranian nuclear posts by Israel, by the United States or by any other Western power.

My info says that the delivery of the S-300 missiles will take place in late September.
It will take the Iranians six months to a year to assemble and train on the new weapon system.

The light bulb has finally gone off for the Americans.
The US has finally wised up to what the Russians and Iranians are doing.
Until now the United States has repeatedly said that they have no intelligence supporting such a deal and do not expect it to happen.
Iranians say they have a deal with Russia.
Russians have no comment.

And the Russians have a plan to put the screws to the US for their involvement in Russia's world.
It is payback for supporting Georgia and Ukraine and Poland, for encroaching on the Russian sphere of influence.

Russia is saying to the US you mess with us we mess with you.
Navigating through this new mine field will be a gargantuan test for the new US president.

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About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 31, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Americans aren't the only people caught up in convention fever.
The election of a new United States president is of interest around the world.

The Russian leadership team of Putin and Medvedev is plotting new challenges and trials for the new US president.
Russia is telling the US to butt out of their sphere of influence.
Russia is telling the US to get out of Eastern Europe.
Russia is telling the US to pay attention to their threats - or they, Russia, will upset the apple cart with Iran.

Iran and Russia have a very close relationship.
Iran counts on Russia for support in so many ways including in the UN Security Council.

We are looking at a potential redo of the Kruschev-Kennedy story, a conflict that nearly brought the two strongest powers in the world to war.

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Will The US Stand With Israel?
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 24, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Will the United States be there for us in the event of a crisis?
That is the big question. It is the question that Israeli strategists are asking in lieu of the Russian invasion into Georgia and the subsequent response by the United States and other Western governments.

Israel is not alone, other US allies are asking the same question.
The issue goes to the stability of small countries that are US allies.
If these countries are as powerless as Georgia was, then the concept of Western alliances and friendships are all called into question.

After studying the US response in Georgia and analyzing the thinking behind the National Intelligence Estimate that suggests that Iran is not a significant threat Israel has been able to draw significant conclusions:
The United States really is powerless when it comes to helping and defending her interests internationally. The United States can have only one of two responses: either invade the enemy country or supply the allied country.

Expect Israel to maximize the supply side of their relationship with the United States.

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No Sanctions For Iran Yet
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 7, 2008

I'm Predicting:

A fourth round of sanctions against Iran will happen, but it will take some time.
Contrary to news reports, it is not on the horizon for the next few weeks.

The best evidence for my prediction comes from statements made by the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin.
Chyrkin said: "We haven't set any deadlines ourselves for their response and there is ongoing dialogue."
Churkin made it very clear that the issue of further sanctions against Iran has not even been raised yet in the Security Council.
Churkin said: "There have been no firm agreements or understandings or any kind of concerted work in this regard."
Churkin explained his statement by saying that it is unclear if the six critical countries even see eye to eye on the deadline for an Iranian response.

Churkin is suggesting that Iran has quite a bit of wiggle room.
France has said that the Iranian answer is incomplete.
The United States has said that the Iranian answer is unsatisfactory.

Put it all together and this is what you get:
Russia is holding out to give Iran more time.

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About Politics
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 7, 2008

I'm Predicting:

The main issue guiding the US election right now is the price of gas.
Call it energy policy if you prefer fancy wording - but bottom line, everything else pales in comparison.

Americans are visceral people. We are highly emotional and we have knee jerk reactions for our immediate needs and wants. And right now, Americans are ticked off at the pump. The candidates are trying to put together policy but they won't succeed because neither McCain nor Obama understands the real issue.

It is very simple:
Gas is to expensive.
Prices went way too high.
Now people are cutting back, there is a surplus and prices are coming down. And prices will continue to come down even more.
Add that to the increased supply that OPEC just agreed upon and the price will drop even more.

The price of gas will not drop to what it was a year ago, but it will drop to about $100 a barrel and level off to about $100 - $110 per barrel.
That should bring the pump price down to $3.10 - $3.20 a gallon.

I know the candidates went to the best schools we have in the country, but it would have helped had they paid attention in Economics 101.

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Gazans Kill Gazans
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 26, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday there was a massive explosion in Gaza.
Five people were killed, fifteen were injured.
Among the dead were senior leaders of Hamas and a young girl who happened to be in the area.

Some have said the explosion was the result of a work accident.
But immediately after the explosion Hamas suggested that Fatah was responsible.
Tensions are mounting in Gaza and this time the tensions are internal not external.

Hamas and Fatah will continue to attack each other.
They will attack each other verbally.
They will attack each other physically.
They will take every opportunity to swipe at each other.
In this war, the end is not near.

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Sarkozy's Dream Fails
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 12, 2008

I'm Predicting:

I had high hopes for The Barcelona Process: the Union for the Mediterranean,the conference that Sarkozy of France is organizing.
That changed when details of the conference started to emerge.

The name of the conference is itself enough to make politicians and diplomats dizzy, but the idea sounded good.
Gathering the leaders of 27 members of the European Union, plus 10 Arab leaders, plus Israel sounded good.
Potential problems - like seating, were easily resolved, that sounded good.
OK, so no one wanted to sit next to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, so they sat everyone in alphabetical order by country with Israel in between Ireland and Italy, that sounded good.

But then the Arabs said they will not pose for the group picture, that is not good.
The organizers proposed to put Olmert on one end and all the Arabs on the other end so that Olmert could be cropped out or photo shopped out without it being obvious, that is not good enough.

The resolution is no group pictures, only individual photos.
For me, that is a true indicator.
Nothing will come about from these sessions.
Sarkozy, you tried.

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Olmert May Live Another Day
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 25, 2008

I'm Predicting:

A "no confidence" vote is scheduled in the Israeli Knesset.
The vote has been touted as a no brainer. A slam dunk, the end of Olmert.

I am not so certain.
Out of the 120 seats in Knesset, 61 must vote in favor of "no confidence."
Last week it seemed that the no confidence group had the majority.
But in Israel, things are never simple.

Here is the issue: If Olmert goes there must be new elections and some of those parties choosing to oust Olmert now might very well end up with fewer parliamentary seats in the new government in the next Knesset.

Kadima, Olmert's party, will shrink.
Labor and Likud, the other large parties, will probably gain.
But Shas and Meretz will probably shrink, too - actually, they might even shrivel.

So, acting out of the need for self-preservation, Shas and Meretz just might be able to keep a 61 majority in place and defeat the "no confidence" vote.
Olmert would remain in place.
The Olmert government would lose several Knesset seats in his majority after firing Labor ministers now in his government who voted against him.

Olmert will probably survive to fight another day.

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Conflict Brewing in the Harmuz
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 28, 2008

I'm Predicting:

There is a serious dispute brewing in the Straits of Harmuz.
Exactly half way between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are three Islands - the largest is called Abu Musa, next is Greater Tunbs and the smallest island is Lesser Tunbs.
Both Iran and the UAE claim sovereignty over these three islands.

Why are these islands so in demand?
Resources - the islands have enormous oil reserves.
Location - the islands sit smack in the middle of the Straits which means control over the entire Persian Gulf.

The Arab world is up in arms that the Persians might take control. Historically, the British controlled the islands and gave them to the precursor of the UAE. The Shah of Iran claimed the islands immediately and struck a deal with the UAE whereby the islands would be under UAE control and Iranian protection. But the deal broke down.

The Iranians issued a statement yesterday claiming: "Misunderstanding between the countries, it will be resolved through bilateral talks."

The status of these 3 tiny islands which, by the way, claim nearly no residents, is of huge import in the Arab world.
The conflict may soon turn into an explosion.

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Syrian- Israel Peace?
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 25, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Iran is perturbed by the prospect of talks between Jerusalem and Damascus.

Ahmadinejad was just quoted in a London Arabic newspaper saying that anyone who joins with the enemy will be seen as the enemy and in the end will be punished.
This is the same response he had only last month when the rumors began spreading about Turkey running messages between Israel and Syria.

The reality is that Iran has nothing to worry about.
Syria is not interested in peace.
Syria is only interested in the Golan Heights.
Syria is saying yes to Turkey to make it clear that they lay claim to the Golan.
This is exactly what the Syrian ambassador said on Al Manar, Hezbollah TV.

So why is Iran so worried?
Iran needs to make certain that Syria is not cut lose and becomes a free agent. Iran has too much to loose if that happens.

Expect 3 things:
# 1: Increased pressure on Syria
# 2: Increased anti-Israel rhetoric from Syria and Iran
# 3: No peace process with Syria
So, what else is new?

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Russia & China vs the US
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 24, 2008

I'm Predicting:

There is a new and quite popular form of diplomacy emerging.
I call it Back To The Future Diplomacy.

Here's an example:
China and Russia are uniting for mutual benefit - and to attack the United States.
They have joined forces to condemn the US missile defense system saying that it is detrimental to the world effort to stop nuclear weapons development.

Medveved, the new President of Russia, and Jintao, the Prime Minister of China, released this joint statement: "the creation of global missile defense systems and their deployment in some regions of the world ... does not help to maintain strategic balance and stability and hampers international efforts in arms control and nuclear nonproliferation."

They issued the statement after signing a billion dollar deal.
The deal is for Russia to build a uranium enrichment factory for China.
Russia is to also supply low enriched uranium for the already existing Chinese nuclear program.
Double standard, wouldn't you say.

In his first diplomatic move as president, Russia chose to join China against the United States.
Expect to see many more such diplomatic moves and maneuvers.

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If The Qassams Don't Stop
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 13, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Another day, another Qassam rocket lands in Israel.
Islamic Jihad in Gaza has claimed responsibility for a Qassam that killed a 70 year old woman as she visited her sister who had come to visit from abroad.

The clock is ticking.
Olmert and Barak both met with General Omar Sulieman, head of Egyptian intelligence, on Monday, in a last ditch effort to avert a serious military assault on Gaza - an assault that will put a short term stop to the unending barrage of Qassam rockets into Israel and cause serious damage to Hamas.

Hamas knows an Israeli assault is coming.
Hamas is preparing.
Israel is preparing to make certain not to fall into the same trap as Southern Lebanon did two summers ago.

Israel is sending a warning.
Two Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets in the past three days.
If the Qassams do not stop, Israel will respond and respond with power.

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Arab League to Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 12, 2008

I'm Predicting:

The Arab League has condemned Hezbollah.
In a meeting held in Cairo the foreign ministers of 22 Arab countries declared that Hezbollah is wrong to violently conduct attacks in Lebanon against the Lebanese government and government supporters.

The Secretary General of the Arab League and the Foreign Minister of Qatar are being dispatched to Lebanon to deliver the message and try to instill some sense of order in Lebanon.

Actually, Hezbollah violated their own agreement, the 1989 Taif Accords, that officially ended the civil war in Lebanon.
The Accords said that Hezbollah would only fight in defense from the occupation (Israel) and not turn weapons on other Lebanese within Lebanon.
Certainly, the Arab League will formally remind Hezbollah of the content of the Taif Accords, but Hezbollah knows exactly what Hezbollah is doing.

The question is:
Does the Arab league have any desire to exercise power and influence, will the Arab League force Hezbollah to back down?
The answer is:
I doubt it, but at least they are sending a delegation.

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The Hezbollah Plan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 11, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Two obvious predictions about Lebanon:
It will get worse before it gets better.
Hezbollah will not step aside on its own.

Hezbollah has successfully been working their militia battles and defeating the supporters of the ruling union across Lebanon.
And the army has not gotten involved.
The Head of the army, Michel Sulieman, is the presumptive next leader of Lebanon in a compromise.

Sulieman has secured his position exactly because he has seen to it that the army did not come in to save the Sunnis and Druze coalition.
It was Hezbollah that did not want Sulieman to intervene and now he strategically forged a bond by not stepping in to save the democratically elected government.

The Hezbollah coup is nearly complete.
All Hezbollah needs now is an election and they will seal their total control of the Lebanese Parliament.
And Sulieman will have passed the test as their potential new President.

And that was the objective of Hezbollah all along.

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Iran Bans Billiards
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 21, 2008

I'm Predicting:

King Louis XIV, Mary Queen of Scots, FDR, and even George Washington all loved to play it.
They all loved to play pool, billiards, snooker.
The northern region of Iran just imposed a fatwa - a religious edict- banning the game.

Iran has a long list of banned behaviors.
Immodest dress for women, exposed hair and face when outside the home, has been banned and rock music has been banned.
In the 19th century Western tobacco companies were taking over the market and the product and so a fatwa was issued resulting in the total elimination of smoking in Iran at that time.
The effects of these bans have been mixed over the years.

The Iranians are trying to legislate behavior and morality.
They are trying to stop all outside influences by using the religious police.
In today's world, however, society is not influenced by pool tables or tobacco - in today's world society is influenced by music, movies and culture transmitted by way of satellite internet.

So Iran is trying to block the internet by having people who use internet cafes register with the religious police.
The Iranians will discover that it is almost impossible to stop the internet and separate the young people of Iran from their music.

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The Pope's Speech at Ground Zero
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 15, 2008

I'm Predicting:

I caught an advance peak at some of the Pope's US speeches.

The speech that most interested me is the Papal address slated to be delivered Sunday at Ground Zero. The Pope will pray for the terrorist murderers, he will ask that they see the light, embrace peace and convert to Christianity.

All of the Pope's presentations are written out and read.
Everything is scripted.
Nothing is left open to interpretation or, more specifically, misinterpretation.

Here are the exact words as written in the speech:
"Turn to Your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred ... God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek Your light and guidance."

Expect that these comments coming on the heels of the public conversion to Catholicism by Madgi Allam - one of the most famous Muslims in Europe - will ignite Muslim wrath and indignation.

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Hamas Is Using Puppets Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 1, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Hamas, the people who preached murder and hatred and the total destruction of the Western World to the children of the Palestinian Authority through TV and puppets and a Mickey Mouse look-a-like are at it again.
This time Hamas has created a George Bush look-a-like puppet.

In this latest installment on Hamas educational TV a Palestinian boy meets US President George Bush.
The boy is crying. He berates Bush for killing father in Iraq, his mother in Lebanon and his brothers and sisters in Gaza with the help of the Israelis, of course.
The child tells Bush: "You are a criminal. You took everything away from me."

The boy shouts: "I have to take revenge with this sword of Islam."
Bush begs, saying: "I repent. Don't kill me."
Bush says come to the White House. The boy says the White House is now a mosque, and "impure Bush" is forbidden to even enter.
The scene ends as the boy stabs Bush to death.

This scenario will continue to be replayed - new shows will be broadcast.
Hamas will continue to manipulate the children of the Palestinian Authority under the guise of entertainment.
No one and nothing is stopping Hamas.

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Hamas - Fatah: No Agreement
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 25, 2008

I'm Predicting:

The meeting being hailed as the start of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is a farce.
The document that was signed during that meeting was signed by mistake.

As Chief Palestinian Negotiator Ahmed Qureia tells it, former Deputy Palestinian Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed mistakenly, even absent-mindedly, agreed to put his signature on the Fatah side of the Yemeni accord.
Yup, it was all a mix-up.
Apparently al-Ahmed tried calling the office of his boss, Abbas, for help and a decision. But just when al-Ahmed needed him most, Abbas was in a meeting with US Vice President Cheney. So Azzam al-Ahmed signed the agreement.

There is no way that Fatah and Hamas can or will share power.
Fatah needs to control Gaza and Hamas will never give up the reins.
Fatah cannot risk sharing power once again - it would mean turning their back on the Palestinian Authority once again, it would mean reliving last June when Fatah was thrown out of Gaza by Hamas.

An agreement between Fatah and Hamas will not in any way advance the Palestinian cause.
The only thing Hamas can bring to the table is a more Islamic Palestinian Authority.
That is not the way to go.
This agreement will be nullified - either by deed or by action.

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Bin Ladin's New Message
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 21, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Osama Bin Laden's latest audio tape is very telling.
A message from bin Laden in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion was to be expected - and we got it.
As usual of late, the real purpose behind these transmissions from bin Laden is to garner support for his cause using tried and true anti-Western and pro-Palestinian slogans.

He said: "My speech is about the Gaza siege and the way to retrieve it and the rest of Palestine from the hands of the Zionist enemy." He continued: "Our enemies [Israel] did not take it [Palestine] by negotiations and dialogue but with fire and iron. And this is the way to get it back."

Bin Laden is threatening war with everyone including Arab leaders and the Pope.

If I were predicting I would say there will certainly be upcoming attacks in the Arab world - especially in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. There will also be attacks in Europe, in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and England.

Simply put, this is the world we live in right now.

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Ahmadinejad's Trip To Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 5, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Ahmadinejad wrapped up a 36 hour trip to neighboring Iraq on Monday.
This was the first trip any Iranian president has made to Iraq since the conclusion of the 8 Year War and that was in the 80's.
Western press paid little attention to this trip and that's a shame.

From the Iranian standpoint this trip was a huge success.
Ahmadinejad held 6 press conferences and signed 7 memoranda of understanding with Iraq.
Ahmadinejad kept hammering away with his demand that the "foreigner" go home, asserting that all conflict will subside when the "foreigner" leaves.

If the conflict in Iraq should subside it will not be because Ahmadinejad was correct about the "foreigner." It will happen only because Iran stepped in and sponsored Shiite control in Iraq. If that happens it also means a wholesale massacre of Iraq's Kurds and Sunnis.

To this day Iran blames the Sunnis of Iraq for the thousands of deaths resulting from the 8 Year War with Iraq. Many of those deaths were innocent farmers who were poisoned by the low flying planes Saddam Hussein used to dust Iranians with poisonous gas.

Do not be misled - this was not just a long overdue social call.

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Simply Put: They Lie
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 2, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Human interest stories make front page news.
Corrections are relegated to the back pages.

Last week, as tensions escalated between Hamas and Israel, casualties were sustained by both sides.
In one counter attack Israel hit the empty residence of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
The Palestinian press reported that an innocent, one year old infant was killed in the rocket attack.

This week the Palestinians changed their story.
Now they are saying oops, the infant was killed not by Israel, but by Palestinians who were constructing an explosive device that exploded.

We can expect that, as this conflict intensifies, the Palestinian press will fill pages with heart wrenching stories of Palestinian babies and Palestinian mothers.
It is all part of a concerted, methodical effort by the Palestinians to control the Arab mass media and to influence media across the world.

Most of the time the Palestinians will not be successful and their mostly fabricated gut wrenching stories will not make it to media around the world.
But sometimes, they will succeed.
That's where we come in, that's when we must all play the role of fact checker.

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Israel Will Invade Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 12, 2008

I'm Predicting:

The planets are coming into alignment.
Something big is about to happen.

The intensity of the Qassam attacks on the Israeli city Sderot is increasing. IDF leadership has begun to speak of plans to embark on a wider, prolonged Gaza campaign. Israeli military leadership is saying that Israel can and must defend the homeland and the people.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in Germany trying to get support for such an operation. The United States has already given quasi approval.

I'm predicting that an Israeli military operation into Gaza is in the wings, just waiting for the right excuse to be executed.
The excuse can be a terror attack with a large impact on Israel.
The excuse can be a barrage of even more Qassam rockets shot in one day.
The excuse may be that Israeli citizens have just had enough already.

And then by land, air and sea Israel will go in and root out the terrorists.
The result will be costly in terms of Israeli soldier's lives.
But it is the only way to bring quiet back to Israel's southern border.

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Bahai in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 30, 2008

I'm Predicting:

On Tuesday the Islamic regime in Iran convicted and sentenced 54 Bahai.
Their crime? Distributing materials that were deemed "against the state."

A little background on the Bahai:
In the 19th century the Bahai split off from Shiite Islam in Persia, today's Iran. They have been brutally persecuted by the Shiites in Iran ever since.
I mean that literally - there have been public executions of Bahai in Iran.
And they have magnificent gardens in Haifa, Israel.

The response to Tuesday's arrest is an indicator of just how much the world is moved by the persecution of the Bahai under Iran's Islamic regime.
It would be inspiring if people, publications and leaders in Western countries and yes, even in Muslim countries, stood up against such oppression.

My guess is that this will be one of the only written expressions of concern.
Iran abuses the Bahai and the world is quiet.
What a shame.

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Egypt is Nuclear Now
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 28, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Egypt has announced that they will start taking bids on a new nuclear reactor.

The announcement came on Saturday, bids will be taken in February.

The expected cost of the nuclear reactor is between $1.5.-$1.8 billion US.

Abdel Mohsen Morsi Metwalli the director of nuclear engineering at Alexandria University said "the offer is open to all countries."

That means that France, Russia and Iran will bid to build the Egyptian reactor.

The big question now is who will control the future of the region.
If the answer is Iran expect an explosion of nuclear development in the next year or two.

The glass ceiling is about to be broken in the Middle East.

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Hamas & The PA
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 14, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Hamas has set conditions in order to renew relations with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas is demanding an "end to all security coordination and cooperation with the Occupation Forces."
Hamas never refers to Israel by name.

Setting conditions for a resumption of talks is nothing new for Abbas.
Abbas has always set conditions - his terms are that Hamas publicly apologize for the June takeover of Gaza.
Hamas has never yet set conditions - they want recognition and credibility and the best way to achieve those goals is through dialogue.

Abbas is once again in a bind.
If he wants help from the West he must reject Hamas.
If he extends his hand to Hamas he is embracing his own destruction.
But Hamas continues to increase in strength, and they must be dealt with.
And that is why it is difficult to predict what Abbas will do.

At this point, however, I do not foresee rapprochement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

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Bush's Trip to Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 11, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The business side of the Bush trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority is over. Today the president will spend private time at holy sites and then move on to the rest of his Mid East trip.
What have we learned?

Vis a Vis Israel:
Bush demonstrated that he is very comfortable, very at ease with Israel. He accepts the Israeli point of view on almost every issue and really, only asks Israel to exhibit restraint.
Vis a Vis the Palestinian Authority:
Bush will be called to task by the Arab world for his friendship with Israel and for his allegiance to Israel which are interpreted as snubs to the PA and by extension to the entire Arab world.
Vis a Vis Bush's personal odyssey:
Bush broke from protocol and chose not to visit the tomb of Yasser Arafat a spot which all foreign dignitaries visit when they come to Ramallah. Understandably, the Palestinians were upset, displeased, distraught over this decision.

My analysis:
Bravo Mr. Bush.
No American or Western president can justify a visit to the Arafat tomb.
But this action will have a ripple effect throughout the Arab world.
I expect very tense exchanges between George Bush and the Arab leaders he is scheduled to meet as he continues on this journey through the Middle East.

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Iran & Bush's Trip
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 6, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Iran's Foreign Ministry made a statement today about the upcoming trip of President Bush to the Middle East.
Iran is calling the Bush trip an attempt to salvage a failed Middle East policy.

Truly, the Iranians are not that far off.
The Bush visit to Israel, the West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt is certainly going to be an attempt to convince those countries to help lead a coalition against Islamic extremism.
And in the eyes of the United States Islamic extremism is code for Iran.

The Iranians have already begun to counter the Bush trip.
And despite the fears Regional leaders have of Iran, Iran has the upper hand in the region.
The US will have an uphill battle, they are facing two huge stumbling blocks:
The United States has made some major mistakes in the Region
The United States lacks knowledge and true understanding of the Region

The US will have to prove that they really know what is happening.
The US will have to prove that they really know what they are doing.
I do not think it possible.

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Mark My Words
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 3, 2008

I'm Predicting:

The Al Aqsa Brigades of Abbas' Fatah Party wants to "take it up a notch."

The Brigades claims to have fired a rocket, a Bashaar 1 rocket, towards an Israeli settlement called Shaked, situated in the West Bank.
Correct - not Gaza but the West Bank.
They say they will continue to build and launch these rockets.
The implications are ginormous.

It means that the main areas of Israel will all be within range of Palestinian rocket launchers.
It means that the Brigades have learned from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
It means that the Al Aqsa Brigades could cripple Israel if they are not stopped.

If the Al Aqsa Brigades really did launch a rocket at Israel and if they shoot any more rockets at Israel from the West Bank - Israel will retaliate with tremendous force.
Do not be confused, there is no parallel with this situation and with Gaza where rockets land only on a small southern isolated town called Sderot.
Mark my words.

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Iran is Tendering 19 Nuke Plants
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 24, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Iran has just sent out a tender - the Iranians want to build 19 new nuclear reactors.
I know that, in principle, Russia has already agreed to help build 5 reactors, but the deal has not yet been finalized.

Russia has said that the Iranian plant in Busher will not be ready until winter of 2008. But Iran has just said that they will be ready enough to produce 500 megawatts of energy by March of 2008.

What is Iran up to?
Iran is flaunting their nuclear vindication and their success in the aftermath of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).
Iran is playing up this American miscalculation to the hilt in the Muslim and European worlds.
Iran wants to make it clear to everyone that they are moving ahead with their nuclear program and now nothing can stop them.

Iran will soon put their own brand of nuclear technology on the market, selling to any group or country with enough interest and enough money.

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Israel's Response to Terror
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 19, 2007

I'm Predicting:

How should a country respond to the daily rocket bombardment of cities, towns and farms?
It is a question Israel asks daily.

Yesterday, Israel found a response.
In two separate strikes, Israel successfully targeted 5 Islamic Jihad terrorist leaders.

Of course, Israel could beg the Palestinians to stop launching rockets into their midst, but PA leader Abbas is powerless and has no control over his terrorists.
Of course, Israel could ask Hamas leaders to stop launching rockets from Gaza, but Hamas leaders are sponsoring those rockets.

Israel tracks and pursues terrorist leaders and cell commanders.
Israel targets them, Israel kills them.
Seek and destroy, that is the Israeli response.

Until there is peace between Israelis and Palestinians, until there is Palestinian justice, until Palestinian police prevent those missiles from flying into Israel, Israel will continue will continue to search out those terrorists and, one by one, to destroy them.

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Casualties of Mistakes: The Worst
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 8, 2007

I'm Predicting:

There will be casualties resulting from the Intelligence Estimate of Iran's nuclear program.

The biggest casualties will probably not be suffered by Israel or Germany or France, even though they have all gone on record as disagreeing with the new assessment.

They will survive.

The biggest casualties will probably be in the Arab world.
The Arab world came to Annapolis in order to support the United States, to put their collective shoulder behind the United States effort to confront Iran.

The Arab world supported the United States because standing alone, they do not have the fortitude to buck Iran.

Uniting with a non-Muslim country against a Muslim country was an unprecedented step in the Arab world.

Now the United States is sending out a mixed message.

Is Iran a nuclear threat?
Is Iran not a nuclear threat?

Did the Arab world make a mistake by supporting the United States against Iran?

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IAEA: A Fiasco
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 16, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the UN's nuclear watchdog.
The IAEA is headed by Muhammad el Baradei.
Yesterday the IAEA released a long awaited report detailing Iran's nuclear activity.

The report leads to much confusion.
The IAEA report both complements the Iranians for their transparency and declares that Iran needs to be more transparent. The headline screams one story but the details that follow and that few people will ever read tell a different story. Hidden within the body of the report is the admission that the UN cannot ascertain whether or not Iran has a nuclear military program because there are still many sites that investigators were not permitted to visit.

True to his style, Ahmadinejad has already grabbed on to the IAEA report.
Ahmadinejad is proclaiming that the UN has cleared him and that Iran really is cooperating and that this is clear evidence of how the United States and Israel stick their noses where they do not belong and so, therefore, this report justifies the harsh stance taken by Iran against US sponsored sanctions.

Given this IAEA report it is unlikely that the Security Council will make any headway censoring Iran. Both China and Russia will cite the report and sing the glories of Iranian compliance.

The United States and Israel will not let this report just slide by pretending that all is well with Iran.
The United States and Israel will now seek out those tiny details incriminating Iran and disproving the glaringly inaccurate IAEA headlines.
The United States and Israel will use their finding to motivate countries who do not trust Iran.
What a fiasco, what an embarrassment, what a shandah

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Iran May Backfire
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 3, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Israel and the United States are applying tremendous pressure against Iran.
The result might not be what Israel and the US had in mind.
The result seems to be the convergence of a New World anti-American block.

This newly emerging anti-American block appears to mimic the old cold war split: Russia and China on one side
The United States and the West on the other side

Until now it has been made clear by the United States that nukes in Iranian hands will very likely destabilize the world and threaten the Western interests.
This split can have deleterious effects on US foreign policy, specifically policy dealing with nuclear proliferation in Iran and in other Muslim countries.

There are two avenues for the US to pursue if a New World split emerges:
The US will continue pressuring Iran
The US will try to stop this world division

Both paths are dangerous, neither is out of the realm of possibility.

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Iran's New Nuke Guy
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 23, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Now that Iran's nuclear negotiator has resigned, Iran will become even more hard-line.
Ali Larijani resigned because of an internal conflict with Ahmadinejad.
Larijani was a hawk, a member of the extremist camp.

Larijani was an officer in the Iranian National Guard.
Larijani was the head of Iranian national radio and is credited with discrediting all the liberal forces in Iran.
Larijani and Ahmadinejad had their differences.

Those differences were revealed earlier this year when Larijani expressed dissatisfaction after the president contradicted him about attending a nuclear summit. Larijani was not in favor of attending. Ahmadinejad was.

Despite his hawkishness, Larijani actually prefers negotiations. Ahmadineajd does not.

So when Larijani submitted his resignation Ahmadinejad was quick to accept it. Now a relative unknown named Saleed Jalili, former deputy foreign minister for European and American Affairs will take over as nuclear negotiator.

Jalili will do exactly what Ahmadinejad tells him to do.
The hard-line just got even harder, if that is at all possible.

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Olmert Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 4, 2007

I'm Predicting:

On Wednesday Olmert and Abbas met for what turned out to be a realistic and very productive meeting.
It was one of the most realistic meetings in recent Middle East history.

The Palestinian leader and the Israeli leader concluded that the United States sponsored conference to be held next month is not a goal, it is a step.
Coming to that conclusion and formally verbalizing it is in and of itself a big step.

Now there are rumors that the mid-November conference will be pushed off to late November.
That is not bad news, it is a sign that the sides are working together.
More specific groundwork and homework needs to be done.
Israel and the Palestinians must agree on a one page document of principles to present at the Conference.
Small group negotiations are kicking in and that is where the nitty gritty takes place.

The hard part happens before the Conference even begins.

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Ahmadinejad and the NYPD
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 21, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Let the Iranian Mission to the United Nations say what they wish.
There is no way the NYC Police Department will permit Ahmadinejad to visit ground zero, let alone lay a wreath.

Let me explain why:
For the NYPD and the Secret Service this is not a political issue.
For the NYPD and the Secret Service this is an explosive issue.
Not because of the colleagues they lost on 9-11, but because they are doing their jobs and because this visit is a matter of personal safety.
They are worried about the safety of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

If Ahmadinejad were to drop by and get out of his car there would be a full fledged riot. Ground Zero is in the middle of downtown. The leader of Iran cannot go and leave without being seen by thousands of people who would be viscerally appalled by his very presence and repulsed by his visit.

Ahmadinejad could not care less about New Yorkers or about Americans.
Ahmadinejad is playing to the people at home and to the Muslim world-at-large. Ahmadinejad is playacting the role of a historic Muslim leader who reaches out and appeals to the citizens of the enemy.

Ahmadinejad is a brilliant media manipulator.
Thankfully, the NYPD are doing their job.

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Olmert & Abbas Meet
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 10, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The meeting is taking place in central Jerusalem at the prime minister's official residence.

The main agenda item during the meeting will be a discussion surrounding the possibility of a United States sponsored peace conference, a conference both men want. A secondary agenda item will be ways to keep the calm between Israelis and Palestinians.

Specifically, Abbas wants fewer roadblocks and a stop to Israel's bombing into Gaza.
Specifically, Olmert wants continued progress on the security front.

There was a positive sign several weeks ago when Palestinian security forces prevented the lynching of an Israeli officer who got lost and wandered into an Arab city. But Abbas has yet to prove that he is in control and that he can control security forces on the West Bank.

If Abbas can take control there is a chance for the US conference.
If Abbas is not in control everything reverts to the hands of the extremists - Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran.
If that happens there will be no conference.

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Syria and Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 9, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Syria is very upset that Israeli aircraft flew over their air space.
Why was Israel there? Israel was testing access routes to Iran and the best routes pass through Syria and Turkey.
Without leaking a military secret it is safe to say that Israel somewhat regularly flies over Syria trying out different routes and tinkering with passageways.

I suspect that Syria knows exactly what Israel was doing.
But this time, Syria went public. Why?
Syria took advantage of the moment in order to embarrass Israel, garner international support and - most importantly - mobilize Muslim antipathy towards Israel on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The big question now is: How will Syria respond?
Syria has to save face.
Syria is calling up reserves - but I do not believe that they will launch a war.
Syria will probably call up even more reserves and move armor and tank corps into position, they may even run their planes over the Mediterranean Sea.
Syria will do all this to show the Arab world that they are responding.

Syria will not use the chemical and biological weapons that they have already outfitted on their scud missiles.
Syria is showing off, they will not cause an escalation in hostilities.
Not now.

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The Ayatollah Understands the US
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 25, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The Supreme leader of Iran, The Ayatollah Khanenei, announced that he now understands United States policy vis a vis his country.

The Ayatollah said that what the United States fears most is Muslim unity. He said that all US policy is predicated upon driving a wedge between Muslims.

He is wrong. Driving a wedge is a "tool" to confront a reckless irresponsible theocracy, not a goal. The goal of the US is to prevent Iran from terrorizing the region and terrorizing the world with nuclear weapons.

The Ayatollah is really trying to convince other Muslims to take his side so that Iran does no have to confront the United States alone. Most regional leaders understand what The Ayatollah is doing, but the people do not.

The people actually believe the conspiracy allegations. The people are always looking for a reason to lash out at the United States and fuel their hatred. The Ayatollah understands that. He has found a very sensitive chord and I believe he will continue to sound that chord.

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Civil War in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 9, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Warning bells are ringing fast and furious in the Middle East.
Syria is expecting a civil war to erupt in Lebanon.

Question # 1: How soon?
As early as next week.

Question # 2: What's happening?
The Syrian government is removing all Syrian citizens from Lebanon.

Question # 3: What is the stimulus for a Lebanese civil war?
Hezbollah. Iran and Syria are trying to oust the UN from Lebanon. On June 15th the UN will decide whether or not to plug the holes in the border between Lebanon and Syria. Hezbollah wants to force the UN's hand and take charge. Hezbollah wants to keep the border open and control the rest of Lebanon.

Question # 4: What is Hezbollah's agenda for Lebanon?
Hezbollah wants to take total charge of Lebanon. They are Shiites and so is about 40% of Lebanon. The remainder of Lebanon is a mix of Sunnis and Christians and they will fight a Shiite coup.

Question # 5: Will the Sunnis and Christians be successful?
They have a good chance because the rest of the Arab world - which is primarily a Sunni world - will side with the Sunnis of Lebanon against Hezbollah and Iran.

No matter the outcome, if there is a civil war, much of Lebanon will be destroyed.

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Egypt Finds Explosives
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 7, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Islamic radicalism and terror is beginning to frighten Egypt.
Egypt may be so frightened that they will close their border with the Palestinians and start collecting weapons belonging to terrorists.

On Thursday the Egyptians discovered 2650 pounds of explosives hidden in 27 plastic sacks buried in the Sinai dessert.
The explosives had one of two purposes:
either to be detonated in Gaza against Israeli soldiers
or to be detonated in the Sinai against Westerners and Israeli tourists

Munitions smuggling has been a major problem for Israel.
Now it is also a problem for Egypt.
If Hamas gets stronger and has more weapons they will threaten Egypt. There has been long standing tension between the Egyptian government and Islamic radical parties, especially the Islamic Brotherhood which spawned Hamas.

Hopefully, Egypt's fear and worry will translate into real action eliminating the ability of contraband to get through - either above or below ground.

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Blair Can't Do It
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 29, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Tony Blair is the new peace envoy for the Middle East.
He will fail.

Why will Tony Blair fail?
Reason # 1: Because he simply does not understand the region.
Reason # 2: Because the involved parties are not really capable of making the compromises necessary for peace.

The sides are handicapped.
Handicap # 1: Both parties "want" peace, but they are far, far from a situation where they can have either a normal or a normalized relationship.
Handicap # 2: The West has expectation way too stratospheric to even realize when movement exists between the parties.

What can be done?
The most important thing is to get some sense of safety and stability on the Palestinian side, after that happens they can enforce their own agreements.

The situation is pretty grave right now.
So grave that in a survey made public yesterday nearly 20% of Palestinians want Israel to reoccupy and take over the Palestinians in order to improve their lives.
Tony Blair has a steep learning curve looming ahead. I do not think he is up to it.

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Hamas will Torpedo Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 26, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The latest Sharm el Sheikh Summit is over.
Olmert has indicated that Israel will take significant steps in order to help Abbas regain control over and stature among the Palestinians.

There are only two paths for Abbas to take in order to regain respect
# 1: attack Hamas
# 2: improve the situation on the ground by getting world support - and that can be accomplished only by embracing Israel.

Hamas will try to destroy Abbas no matter which path he takes.
Hamas will try to torpedo all overtures to Israel and crank up the tensions.
Hamas will sponsor terror attack and pick up the intensity of Qassam rocket attacks on Sderot.

Hamas knows that Abbas knows they are out to intimidate and destroy him.
Now push has come to shove.
Abbas will either destroy Hamas or be destroyed by Hamas.

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Arabs To Yank Hamas Support
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 20, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Arab and Muslim countries are going to begin to yank their support from Hamas.

Yesterday Egypt announced that they are closing their embassy in Gaza and moving it to the West Bank city of Ramallah. Egyptian diplomats left Gaza weeks ago and their ambassador will arrive in Ramallah in the next few days.
The move is significant.
It says that Hamas does not represent the Palestinians.
It says that Gaza is not the seat of the leadership.

Foreigners left Gaza long ago.
Now they are announcing their diplomatic presence in the West Bank.
They are announcing that they are one with the new PA and without Hamas.

The Muslim and Arab world is discounting Hamas.
They are rejecting the election that took place 18 months ago.
Syria and Iran will be the only exceptions.

This is very good news.
Isolation of the extremists has begun.

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Style Over Substance in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 3, 2007

I'm Predicting:

A flurry of diplomatic activity surrounds Iran - good, positive activity.
These diplomatic vibes have been brought on by the belief that Iran is finally about to adhere to the international standard and allow for nuclear inspections.

If the world is reading Iran correctly, confrontations between Iran and the United States and Iran and Israel would be averted.
If the world is reading Iran correctly, Western diplomats could pat themselves on the back because diplomacy triumphs even in Iran.

But the world may not be reading Iran correctly.
Iran is smart and Iran understands the game.
Iran knows that by opening talks and allowing for discussions with the United States they are buying good will and more importantly, they are buying time.

Iran is changing style - not substance.
The West sees the change in style and hopes for a change in content and policy.
Iran has no intention of making a change in either nuclear policy or attitude.

There has been no shift in the national policy of Iran since the process began.
Iran will not, cannot, does not want to change.
Change is not in the Iranian lexicon.



Jewish Al Qaeda Californian
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 31, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Once upon a time there was a nice Jewish boy named Adam Pearlman.
Never heard of him, maybe you have heard of him as Adam Gadahn.
Adam Pearlman/Gadahn is the Jewish al Qaeda member.

Adam's first 15 minutes of notoriety began yesterday when he appeared on a new video posted on an al Qaeda website making a series of threats and announcing a long list of demands.
The video was really addressed to President Bush.

The demands were ludicrous, hilarious and threatening - all totally unrealistic.
This is one special demand that struck my fancy:
The US must immediately cease the support of Israel.
The exact quote is: 'the moral, military, economic or otherwise to the bastard state of Israel and ban your citizens ... from traveling to occupied Palestine or settling there."

This new spokesman for al Qaeda is wanted by the FBI.
This is the first time, since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, that a US citizen is to be charged with treason.

We will be hearing more from this turban clad, bearded, Jewish son of California.
Adam Gadahn is the perfect vehicle for al Qaeda.
Adam Gahdahn will be used to broadcast the al Qaeda message to the West and to the Muslim world.
Stay tuned.



PA Unity Break Up
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 16, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The Palestinian Authority unity government is bound to collapse.
Given the recent upsurge of violence in the PA there is no alternative.
Even Mubarak of Egypt said that Fatah and Hamas have crossed the red line.

The Mecca Accord was predicated on the idea of an independent third party interior minister responsible for the policing and safety of the Authority.
And now the new minister of the interior has resigned because of the violence, the rampant murder and the injuries inflicted upon bystanders.

He was a compromise appointment in the first place.
He was put in place to create the unity government.
He had no experience.
He created a plan, never-the-less.
He attempted to bring law and order to the streets of Gaza.
He failed.
Why?
Because Hamas bolstered their units increasing their numbers on the streets.
Because Hamas wanted him to fail.

And yet, all this week as the PA violence continues, the United States and Jordan have been pushing Israel to talk to the Palestinians.
Seriously now, with whom should Israel be talking?



Will Olmert Resign
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 2, 2007

I'm Predicting:

A scathing report pointing the finger of blame at the prime minister of Israel for improper decision making during the summer war with Lebanon has been released and is all any Israeli can talk or think about.
But despite the speculation, despite the outcry and the outrage, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not about to step down.

Only a synopsis of the Winograd Report has been released.
So even if the Winograd Commission did recommend that Olmert resign it will take months before the conclusion of the Report is made public.

Why? Because that is not the way democracies work.
Why? Because the Commission members were appointed, not elected.
Why? Because Ehud Olmert was democratically elected by the people of Israel.
Why? Because regardless of his approval rating at the moment there are only two ways that Olmert can be removed. A vote of "no confidence" or if he resigns.

No leader relies on ratings unless it is the eve of an election.
Leaders do not obsess on whether they are liked or not liked.
Leaders respond to public critique and that is what Olmert will do.
Olmert will embark on a mission to resuscitate his name and improve his standing but he will not be out in the near future.

If there is change - it will not happen before the summer and elections will only be held in the fall, after the high holidays. That is how the system works in Israel.



Revolt in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 27, 2007

I'm Predicting:

There will be a revolution in Iran.
Maybe not 6 days from now, maybe not 6 weeks or months from now, but certainly, there will be a revolution in Iran within 6 years.

Iran today is speeding along on dual tracks.
On Track # 1: the liberal movements are growing
On Track # 2: the extremist regime is ratcheting up the intensity with which it enforces oppressive measures

Iranians leadership realizes what is happening.
That is precisely why the theological police is cracking down harder and harder on Western dress and Western culture.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr explained the threatening US influence in Iran in an interview with IRNA the official Iranian News Agency.
He said: "A soft threat is the main plan of the US due to its incapability to launch a military operation (against Iran)."

I do not know precisely how involved the United States now is in Iran, I do know that previous attempts to infiltrate into politics and culture failed.
But there is definitely Western support for those underground movements intent on overthrowing the theocracy that rules Iran.



Prisoner Exchange
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 12, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The Israelis have been presented with a list of people Hamas wants in exchange for the return of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas at the Gaza border.
The Israelis have rejected many people on the Hamas wish list.
The negotiations are being brokered by a third party - Egypt.

This is the way the negotiations go:
Israel says that those with blood on their hands will not be set free.
Hamas responds by saying that the entire deal is doomed because Israel has not accepted their terms.

This is what will probably happen:
Elderly prisoners and those who have served nearly their entire sentence will be let out.
Those who have served 20 years or close to 20 years will be part of the deal. And as a bonus, to sweeten the deal, Israeli will throw in one very famous person.

In the end, both sides will be unhappy.
In the end, both sides will be satisfied.
In the end, that is how negotiations work when you want it badly enough.
But it will still take some time to get there.



Unity Is Falling Apart
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 22, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Another palpable, visible breakdown in the "unity" of the Palestinian Unity Government.
It happened yesterday.

Hamad al Sousi, a professor at the Islamic University in Gaza, was kidnapped.
He was nabbed leaving a mosque after evening prayers.
He was grabbed at gunpoint.

Hamad al Sousi is affiliated with Hamas.
No group has claimed responsibility.
Hamas is pointing fingers at Fatah.

Tensions between Fatah and Hamas are only going to increase day by day.
This unity government is destined to fail.



Will Israel Shun the US Too?
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 21, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Israel has officially shunned the new Palestinian Government.
Israel has also publicly declared that any diplomat/public official who meets with members of the Hamas-led government cannot officially/diplomatically meet with Israel.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway Raymond Johansen just wrapped up a visit with several ministers of the new Palestinian Government.
And his meetings with Israelis were cancelled.

United States Consul General and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem Jacob Walles just met with the new Palestinian Minister of Finance, Salim Fayad.
United States Secretary of State Condi Rice is scheduled to come to the region over the weekend and she, too, is scheduled to meet with Salim Fayad.

Will Israel shun Condi Rice and the United States Consul General?
I think that the answer will be yes.
This is a matter of principle for Israel.
Israel will not bend.



PA Unity Government
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 18, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The Palestinian unity government is bound to fail.
And there will be several important byproducts of the failed government.

Interesting byproduct # 1:
The Arab world has already convinced, to their chagrin, that the Palestinians have accepted the conditions of the Quartet. Now it remains to be seen if the Palestinians can convince the West.

Interesting byproduct # 2:
By joining the unity government Fatah has withdrawn its role as the alternative, opposition voice. Fatah has now been co-opted, it will be very difficult for them to regain their identity and standing among the masses.

Abbas/Fatah believed that if they joined the unity government their status would raise the status of Hamas and the Palestinians. The opposite happened. Hamas has tainted.

The unity government was a serious tactical error on Abbas' part.



Lantos Says No To Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 7, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The House Foreign Affairs Committee under the chairmanship of Tom Lantos (D-CA) has made it very clear to Secretary of State Condi Rice that funding Fatah cannot result in funding Hamas.

Lantos along with Congress want to make certain that the new attempt to form a Palestinian unity government without recognizing Israel will not be rewarded.
US funding to Hamas is illegal. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by both the White House and the State Department and Lantos is saying that the $86 million in aid the White House promised Abbas and his Fatah party should not and cannot be delivered if it in any way goes to Hamas.

Lantos is taking it a step further.
Lantos is also saying that maybe no aid at all should go to Abbas because he decided to join with Hamas while not insisting on the recognition of Israel.

Months ago I predicted this would happen.
Will Congress stop the money from going to Hamas?
I think they will.



Iran Understands
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 26, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Iran has a far better understanding of the United States and of the West than the United States and the West have of Iran.
I have been saying this for over a year. Here is another example.

Referring to the blustering of the US Vice President and other sources in the administration about US plans and options regarding Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki recently said:
"We do not see America in a position to impose another crisis on its taxpayers inside America by starting another war in the region."

The Iranian foreign minister is flat out saying that internal issues and politics within the United States will dictate the foreign policy of the lame duck president.
Now he may very well be right.

The United States will probably not invade Iran.
However, the foreign minister is totally misreading the situation if he thinks that the US will not launch air attacks striking strategic targets in Iran.
The US will attack targets near the Iraqi border used to aid Iraqi terror groups and/or nuclear sites that are close to the point of no return in building Iran's bomb.



China Speaks-Iran Listens
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 24, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Xinhu, the official Chinese news agency, reported on Friday that Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has placed a call to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Motteki.

The report emphasized that China wants to resolve the nuclear issue "peacefully."

For over a year I have been hammering away on just this issue.
The solution to Iran is China. The solution to Iran is China. The solution...
And now I am glad to say that it appears as if China is moving on this issue.

Iran respects China. Iran needs China in the international community.
Iran needs to maintain good relations with China, their biggest energy customer.
China is the only real political power that can check the United States.
China does not ask how high when the US says jump.

China is beginning to let Iran know that they do not want a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
China does not want the price of energy to spiral up.
When China makes a suggestion, Iran pays attention.



Nasrallah Is Angry
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 17, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Hezbollah's Sheik Nasrallah is still angry with Lebanon.
This week he has taken that hostility and raised it a notch.

To recap:
Last week the Lebanese army confiscated a cache of weapons belonging to Hezbollah and Nasrallah immediately demanded that his weapons be returned.
The weapons have still not been returned.
From the time the weapons were sized until today skirmishes have left 8 Lebanese dead.

Both the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a Sunni, and Nasrallah, a Shiite, have said that their red line is civil war.
Events on the ground show that they are out to defeat each other using intimidation and military threats and force - stopping just short of civil war.

This is a first.
This is the first time that the Lebanese government has taken a stand in order to take back Lebanon. For years Hezbollah and the Shiites have ruled Lebanon even though they are only 1/3 of the population, a vocal and violent minority.

The Lebanese need to be applauded for their actions and strength.
They need emotional support and backing.
Taking control of their own destiny is not in character for the Lebanese.



Syria Convicts 9-11 Friend
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 16, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Several months ago I predicted that Syria would convict Mohammad Haydar Zammer, a dual citizen of Germany and Syria.

Haydar Zammer knew and associated with Mohammad Atta while in Germany. The Germans arrested him, but did not have enough evidence to try him.
After 9-11 while traveling in Morocco he was picked up and sent to Syria to stand trial. The arrest was probably done at the urging of the United States.

Haydar Zammer received a lenient sentence, he got 12 years.
He admitted to being a member of The Muslim Brotherhood, a crime which is punishable by execution in Syria, because The Brotherhood wants to oust Assad.

Syria has a strong hatred for the US and Israel.
Despite that they must protect the regime especially from Sunni religious extremists and terrorists like Al Qaeda and The Muslim Brotherhood.

As Machiavelli said: "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
If only for a split second.



Hamas Abbas Deal
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 9, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The ceasefire just signed between Abbas i.e. Fatah and Hamas will not last.

Reason # 1: Hamas is not capable of recognizing Israel
Reason # 2: Too many Palestinians are angered by the violence and those hateful feelings will not easily disappear

The specifics of the treaty itself will only briefly appear in the press, most of the coverage will deal with the implications of the deal, not with the details.
The agreement is all of 9 sentences long.
It contains very few details - but it does allow for a restructuring of the government with 9 Hamas representatives and 6 Fatah representatives. It also allows for several very important independent ministers - most importantly the Foreign Minister, Finance Minister and Interior Minister which includes security.
The agreement was hammered out because Abbas and Hamas both want the embargo against them lifted and Saudi Arabia has pledged $1 billion if they actually fulfill the agreement.

I do not see them reaching the bar and fulfilling the 3 essential points the Quartet required: Recognizing Israel - Accepting previous treaties - Fighting terror.
Hamas may let Abbas do his own thing, but they will not let him change the Hamas point of view.
The Quartet and others, however, might just lower their bar.



Iran in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 2, 2007

I'm Predicting:

For 18 months I have been maintaining that Iran is trying to infiltrate Palestinian culture and religious life.

Most analysts disagreed with my thinking. After all, how could Shiite Iran infiltrate the Sunni Palestinian Authority? Hamas might take Iranian money and share Iran's point of view on the United States and Israel, but that was where it stopped.

Well, yesterday seven Iranians were arrested in Gaza. They were student organizers at the Islamic University, a Hamas haven. One of the seven even committed suicide during the course of arrest. One was an Iranian general.

Why were the Iranians at the Islamic University? To guide and to train Hamas:
Against Fatah - Hamas needs to fight better and be more highly motivated.
Against Israel - Hamas needs better guerilla tactics and long term strategies like kidnapping soldiers.
Against Egypt - Hamas is being pressured by Egypt and needs to know that Iran is behind them.

Iran is a much bigger player than we give them credit for.
Iran's influence is everywhere.



A Middle East Nuclear Arms Race
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 20, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Jordan just announced that they are planning to develop nuclear energy.

For the past two years I have predicting this.
I have been saying that if Iran was not stopped there would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

No self-respecting Sunni leader can sit back and watch Iran, a Shiite Persian country, get something so powerful that it would alter the balance in the region.
No self-respecting Sunni leader can sit back and watch Shiite Iran change the history of Islam.

90% of Muslims are Sunnis - only 10% are Shiites.
For a thousand years Sunnis have dictated and set the tone.
If Shiites are allowed to get the upper hand terrible tensions will be created within Islam.

There will be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
And the price of oil will skyrocket.



Mubarak Warns Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 13, 2007

I'm Predicting:

For months now I have been saying that Iran is not loved in the region.
I have been saying that if Iran goes nuclear, Saudi Arabia and Egypt will step in and create a nuclear race in the region.

Mubarak has fired his opening salvo.
In this weekend's Egyptian paper Al-Oboa the president of Egypt gives a stern warning to Iran.
He said: We will not "sit idly by while the nuclear armament race in the region goes on."

Mubarak also chastised Iran saying that the region will not let Iraq fall prey to Iran's religious extremism.
And then he warned Iran.
He said: "Iran is trying to gain support in Iraq and in the region and I say to all: don't touch Iraq."

To quote from the prophet Amos "I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet" but just watch.
Mubarak is just the first - other nations in the region will begin to raise their voices, warning, chastising, condemning Iran.



A Muslim Holiday
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 30, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Every now and then I use this space to explain something not found in the news, but essential in understanding Islam and the Middle East.

Around the world for the next four days Islam will celebrate the festival of Eid al Adha, literally translated it means the Feast of the Sacrifice.
The holiday is also known as Eid al Khurban, the Festival of the Sacrifice.

The holiday takes place the 10th -13th of the Islamic month of Hajji.
Hajj means pilgrimage and this feast marks the end of the pilgrimage.

The essence of the holiday is the story of Abraham - known in the Koran as Ibrahim, and Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to Allah.
It is an exact mirror of Genesis 22 with Ishmael replacing Isaac.

During these 4 days Muslims are encouraged to sacrifice an animal and share the meat with fellow Muslims. Family members and friends are visited. No Muslim, especially the poor, is to go without sacrificial meat during this holiday.
While sacrificing the animal Allah's name and a supplication are recited.

Eid al Adha symbolizes the great faith Ibrahim had in Allah and the covenant that Allah made with Ibrahim and Ishmael.
The story resonates.



UN Sanctions Iran, Good Luck
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 24, 2006

I'm Predicting:

It was unanimous.
All 15 members of the UN Security Council voted to apply sanctions against Iran. And in reality, it will have little impact on Iran's nuclear development.

The key section of Resolution 1737 reads:
"to prevent the supply, sale or transfer ... of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran's enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems."

The key reason that Resolution 1737 will have no real impact:
Russia voted in favor of sanctions against Iran and yet Russia will continue to build the Iranian nuclear plant in Busher.

The Resolution also requires an evaluation in 60 days.
The Resolution also stipulates that peaceful and non-forceful strategies be applied to resolve the situation.
The Resolution reads well in theory, but in practice it is almost impossible to enforce. Good Luck.



Iraq & Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 19, 2006

I'm Predicting:

If the United States were to pull out of Iraq now, Saudi Arabia would step in and supporting the Sunnis of Iraq.

That's not great insight - it's a fact.

The Saudis cannot countenance Iran supporting the Shiites in Iraq especially when the Shiites are killing the Sunnis.

The Sunnis need a sugar daddy to help them kill Shiites and the Saudis are the sweetest deal they could have.

There is no love lost between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis have actually said, point blank, that this is their intention.

The Saudis will not allow a trouncing in Iraq.

So what's my point?

This cannot fall into the category of the law of unforeseeable consequences.



Hamas Alert
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 16, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Alert
Palestinian masses have had enough of Hamas.
Palestinian masses are ready and set to rise up in revolt against Hamas.

Not only because of the drive-by massacre of 3 young siblings
Not only because of the stubbornness of Hamas in not recognizing Israel
Not only because of the excessive poverty
Not only because of the lawlessness
Not only because of the hopelessness
Not only because of the tribal rule and clan in-fighting

Because Hamas has out-used its usefulness.
Because Hamas is a Palestinian liability.
Because Hamas has destroyed all hope in the Palestinian future.



Targeting Kids In Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 13, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Osama was only 10 years old. Ahmed was only 6. Salah was 3.
These three children were murdered in a barrage of 60 bullets.
These three children were murdered in Gaza by Hamas gunmen.
They were the children of Baha Baloushah, a high level Fatah security official.

The kids were on their way to school in a car driven by a bodyguard.
It was a day just like every day - until they were brutally murdered.
This was not a case of mistaken identity.
The children were the target, not their father.

This is not about Israel.
This is about power and control and money, about Hamas versus Fatah.
This violence and the culture of violence are stimulated by revenge, honor and a need for retribution.
Hamas will not act to bring these murderers to justice - it would violate a Hamas principle of honor and affiliation.

It may sound more like South America or Iraq but it is Gaza.
It is another horrific example of Arabs murdering Arabs.
There will be many more murders like this, tensions are escalating.
Targeting children is for bottom feeders - it defines this conflict.
This is just the beginning of mass murders in Gaza.



The Flavor of the Month
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 8, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The long neglected Palestinians are about to become the flavor of the month in the Muslim world.

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the PA, is on a four-day trip to Iran.
Iran has actually, finally, begun to come through with some of the money that they have been pledging to the Palestinians.

Haniyeh's agenda is to make sure that more money keeps flowing his way.
Forget the fact that the United States is stifling all movement of monies to Hamas, these guys are resourceful, they will find a way.
Iran has another agenda.
Iran wants Shiite inroads in a traditionally non-Shiite region.

The Palestinians are playing with fire.
They are about to create a huge rift with the other Sunnis. To minimize the impact of their actions, the Palestinians are teasing and taunting other Arab countries saying: Iran is giving money where is your donation and support?
The Palestinian plan seems to be working. Qatar now pledged $40 million a month to pay the salaries of Palestinian teachers and health care workers.

The infighting is going to get complicated and ugly.



Doomed Rapprochement
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 28, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Despite the intense United States pressure, the new movement towards rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians is doomed to fail.

The Palestinians cannot give Israel what it wants - security.
They cannot control the terror.

The Israelis will not give the Palestinians what they want - a state.
They will not grant a Palestinian State until there is at least some semblance of quiet and accountable leadership.

So what will happen?
Here's a clue:
Both the leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees and Hamas have publicly said that a ceasefire will allow time to recuperate, re-arm and re-organize.

As a rule, cease fires only helps the terrorists.



Take Lebanon Back
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 24, 2006

I'm predicting:

"We are hostages of Iran Syria and Israel."
"The powers of Hell will not win."
These are the words spoken by mourners at the funeral of Pierre Gemayel.
The people of Lebanon are very upset.

But are they upset enough to reclaim Lebanon?
But are they upset enough to take back their own country?
That is the question.

Traditionally and historically the Lebanese are a passive people.
That explains why Hezbollah and Syria have been able to run roughshod over the Lebanese for so many years. But there comes a time when enough is just too much. There are rumblings. We might just be witnessing a civil awakening in Lebanon and the first steps toward a public rejection of Syria and Hezbollah.

The situation calls for more than speeches and rhetoric.
It calls for an organized physical ousting of the intruders from the land and the politics of Lebanon.
The powers of Hell have kidnapped the good people of Lebanon.
And they want out.



Grim Future in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The assassination in Lebanon of Pierre Gemayel was predictable.
Unfortunately, it portends for a grim future.
It resonates with symbolism.

The facts:
Gemayel was a Christian
Gemayel opposed Syrian involvement in Lebanon
Hezbollah supports Syrian involvement in Lebanon

The symbolism:
Gemayel was the perfect target.
He was young, and he was a minister in a weak government.
He was the son of Amin, a former president of Lebanon.
He was named after his grandfather, Bashir, a former Lebanese president who was assassinated the day he took office.
He was assassinated the day before Lebanon's Independence Day.

The future:
Tensions between pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian camps will now boil over.
Lebanon is always on the brink of civil war.
Incidents like this one bring that brink just a little bit closer.



Olmert - Rice - Bush
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 13, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in town.

He is having a handful of 1-on-1's and some 2-on-1's.
There will be a Rice - Olmert meeting and a Bush -Rice - Olmert meeting.

Several of the agenda items are important, but no-brainers.
Iran- both sides agree.
Lebanon and Hezbollah - both sides agree.
Captured Israeli soldiers - both sides agree.
Hamas - well, that's a sticky point.

About Hamas:
The US wants Israel to calm down and act more diplomatically concerning the Hamas-led government. They want a little less stick and a little more talk. Rice already said it is better to have Hamas in the government than on the streets.

The problem is Hamas. Hamas does not want to talk to or recognize Israel, not the opposite.
So what is the US really asking of Israel? Not to make a difficult situation harder for US policy. That is their bottom line.

Do not think for a moment that this is about Israel's issues or best interests.
The United States is interested only in the best interests of the United States.
When the content of these meetings is leaked to the press there are going to be some very disappointed people - on both sides of the Atlantic.



Condi And Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 7, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Condi Rice surprised me. In a pro-democracy forum she responded to a question about spreading U.S. style democracy when the results are antithetical to US interests.

She said of Hamas: "I am not so sure that it is better to have these groups running the streets, masked with guns rather than having them have to face voters and having to deliver."

Here is the problem. Those roaming the streets are not in office.
And those in office are not stopping the violence on the streets.
When armed and masked men are on the streets, they should be arrested for illegal activities.
But now the armed men are the police - and now they have the protection of the government, they are the government.
That makes all the difference in the world.

What a silly and unrealistic comment about Hamas.
Where was she before the election, where was she when she had the opportunity to stop them from running?
Once the barn door is open, it's too late, Condi.



North Korea's Rhetoric
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 5, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Be prepared - North Korean rhetoric is going to get even more and more radicalized.

Here is what the North Koreans called the United States:
"fanatic warmongers who destroy peace and security on the Korean Peninsula."
Here is what the North Koreans called the Japanese:
"political imbeciles."
Put in the proper context, the Japanese do feel a serious threat from North Korea and they are powerless to confront it.

The United States has only one real secret weapon against the North Koreans: the threat of military force.

North Korea has learned an important lesson from the standoff with Iran.
North Korea is calling everyone's bluff.



Missiles From the West Bank
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 2, 1006

I'm Predicting:

A communique was sent out yesterday, 4pm Israel time.

It was sent by the Salah a Din Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees.
It announced that the group had launched a Nassar -1 missile from Nablus into the Jewish settlement of Migdalim in the West Bank.
The Israeli army confirmed the missile strike.

Why is this significant? Because it is a first.
The first time missiles of this sort have been shot into the northern part of the West Bank aka Samaria.
The first time that Palestinians have applied the lessons they learned from Hezbollah in ways of fighting Israel.

The official statement read: "This is a present to martyrs and their souls, to the injured and the prisoners, and it is the first step towards exterminating the Zionists through the missiles of the Palestinian resistance."

The Palestinians take this very seriously. So should we.
It is only the beginning, a trend is emerging, just as I predicted 6 months ago.



A New Trend
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 27, 2006

I'm Predicting:

A new trend is emerging.
A Spanish photo journalist was kidnapped and released that same day in Gaza.
The kidnappers asked for a ransom of $250,000 US.
This kidnapping came not too long after the kidnapping of two Fox journalists.

Gaza is becoming like Baghdad and South America.
Roving gangs, hoodlums, no-goodniks, dangerous but unaffiliated with any group, movement or organization are using kidnappings as a source of easy money.

Many kidnappings are still politically motivated and organized by terrorist groups trying to achieve a political goal - but not all. More and more we will see kidnappings perpetrated by gangs and clans interested in making a quick buck.

Most of these new perpetrators/kidnappers were once part of the security system.
Kidnappers are now just common criminals with automatic weapons, terrorist training and even police knowledge because they were once on that side of the law.

Talk about being disillusioned.



A New Islamic State in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 16, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq has just issued a video tape declaration.
They have decided to create a new Muslim state in Iraq.

What is the Mujahideen Shura Council?
The Mujahideen Shura Council represents many of the Sunni groups in Iraq that are attacking Shiites and Western forces.
The Mujahideen Shura Council represents Al Qaeda in Iraq.

What does the Council hope to achieve by this declaration?
Most importantly, they are transmitting the message that the Sunnis are players and nothing can happen without their approval or cooperation.
Next, they want to let it be known that Sunni tradition will not be subjugated to a Shiite majority or Shiite tradition.
The Sunnis are speaking out, they are speaking their mind.

Does this mean that a Sunni state in Iraq will emerge?
It means that the Sunnis, as represented by the Mujahideen Shura Council, wants to be heard on the subject.



Israel Is Out Of Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 1, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Israel has now totally withdrawn from Lebanon.
Hezbollah is not satisfied with the withdrawal because Hezbollah still thinks Israel is occupying the area known as Sheba Farms and Hezbollah wants even more.

Israel has been moving out of Lebanon gradually, over the past two weeks there have only been a handful of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon.
There has also been a serious diplomatic flurry of activity over the issue of when and how Israel can respond to provocations by Hezbollah - officially termed "ironing out the rules of engagement."

The truth is:
Hezbollah will not be satisfied no matter what diplomatic decisions are made.
Israel will not tolerate another Hezbollah arms build up.
UNIFIL will not have enough qualified personnel and they will be confused, not knowing how to respond to either Hezbollah or Israel rendering them totally ineffective and able to do nothing.

Expect further Israeli air-strikes and land incursions.



Zawahiri Plays The Media Game
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 30, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Zawahiri, al Qaeda's number two released another video on Friday.
The video, released on the internet, was picked up by al Jazeera.

Zawahiri was responding to President Bush.
Zawahiri called Bush a liar and a loser.
Zawahiri is playing a game of rhetoric.

Zawahiri is using the media in order to manipulate the Muslim world. His objective is to convince the Muslim masses all over the world that al Qaeda is alive and strong.
Zawahiri is following a long standing Islamic tradition of belittling the opponent in order to build up Islam.

It works likes this:
The leader of the opposition i.e. George Bush is portrayed as a weakling, as someone without belief or with the wrong belief.
The opponent is linked to another person or group who was shown up by and lost to Islam, in this case Bush is compared to the Crusaders.

As the battle against Muslim terror intensifies we will see many more of these depictions of evil Bush - the symbol of Western leadership.



Palestinian Unity: No Way
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 23, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The Palestinian Authority is painting itself into a corner.
The Palestinian Unity Government is predicated on the very principle that Palestinians can live side by side with Israelis.
But Hamas cannot and will not recognize Israel. Even more, Israeli is antithetical to Hamas' raison d'etre.

One of two things will happen:
Either
The Unity Government will go into existence fuzzing and blurring that essential principle and Hamas will accept a 5 - 10 year "Hudna," a temporary truce on Israel - provided there is no insistence on a declaration of Israel's existence.
Or
The idea of Palestinian Unity Government will go right into the garbage.

I would not put too much stock in the idea of Palestinian Unity.



Palestinian Unity
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 14, 2006

I'm Predicting:

It looks like the Palestinians, Hamas and Fatah may actually be putting together a unity government.

Russia and several European states are even talking about lifting their boycotts.
And there is talk about putting significant pressure on the US to lift their boycott.

But the biggest impediment will be 3 demands that Hamas will not accept.
The world will be asking Hamas to:
Accept Israel
Fight terror and denounce terror
Honor agreements made earlier

On the issue of accepting Israel - Hamas will let Abbas do that negotiating
On the issue of fighting and denouncing terror - Hamas may honor a ceasefire
On the issue of earlier agreements - Hamas says only those in the their interest

There has been zero change in Hamas.
And yet, some countries are willing to be fooled. Again.



Ahmadinejad Will Fail
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 6, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Ahmadinejad is at it again.
His latest mission, typical of almost everything else in his regime, is neither innovative nor unique.
Ahmadinejad wants to purge the Iranian universities of any trace of liberal thinkers and moderate professors.

He calls it a "cultural revolution undoing 150 years of secularism."
Actually, he is recycling the tactics used in 1979, in the first Iranian Revolution. That was when the Ayatollah Khomeini and Iranian masses overthrew the Shah and his secret police.

But times have changed, the situation has changed.
In 1979 when the Islamic revolution ousted the Shah they attacked a local and powerful symbol - a symbol that was easy to identify and to target.
Today Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs of Iran are trying to oust a symbol that is external and amorphous. Their target is a culture, a set of values that cannot be destroyed - their revolt is focused on the West.

Ahmadinejad's revolt will fail.
Why? Because the vast majority of Iranians hate Ahmadinejad and the secret police of the Mullahs.
Cracking down on the universities is a mistake.
Why? Because it will fuel an anti-Mullah revolt. Because most revolts begin in the universities.



The Good Graces of China
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 31, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The only way to neutralize the Iranian nuclear crisis is to go through the good graces of China. China, that's right, China.

Early yesterday Li Zhaoxing the Chinese foreign minister released a statement announcing a meeting between himself and Abbas Araghchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister.
The subject under discussion was - no surprise, the nuclear crisis.
Now see if you find the official Chinese announcement summing up the meeting surprising.
"Both sides exchanged views on developments in the Iran nuclear issue and stressed that it should be appropriately resolved through diplomatic negotiations."

Once again, the Chinese are telling us that there will be no sanctions taken against Iran in the UN Security Council.
Once again, the Chinese are telling us that they will use their automatic veto if sanctions are suggested.
This time, are we listening?



Kidnap Count
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 27, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Let's go over the Kidnap Count:
3 Israeli soldiers and 2 Fox News journalists kidnapped by terrorists.
3 are being held in Gaza and 2 are being held in Lebanon.
3 are held by Palestinians and 2 by Hezbollah.

Several things should be made very clear:
1- the best way to get the captives is to discover where they are and launch a raid to free them
2- the controlling power - the people who pull the strings, are often far away and always more powerful than the local captors
3- the flood gates could be opening to far more kidnappings

Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas have reason to diffuse the situation. Actually, they think that the taking of the captives works on their behalf.
That is a serious miscalculation.
As things get worse on "the street" in Gaza and in Southern Lebanon, local Arabs will blame Hezbollah and Hamas and point to the kidnappings as the cause of their worsening situations.
Hezbollah and Hamas will lose their advantage on "the street."

The pendulum has begun to swing.
There is unrest in Gaza, there will soon be unrest in Southern Lebanon.
The hostages need to be retrieved before Hezbollah and Hamas lose control.



No Way UN Sanctions Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 25, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The United Nations Security Council will not apply serious sanctions on Iran.
No way.

Maybe they will censure Iran.
Maybe they will limit Iran's sports and cultural exchanges.
Maybe, possibly, perhaps they will apply travel restrictions on their diplomats. Maybe, but even that is highly unlikely.

The Security Council is split.
One part views this Iranian counter proposal as a sign that Iran is open to diplomacy. The other part wants sanctions now. The split is between the East and West, between China and the United States.

Russia is under great pressure from the US to vote for sanctions, but it is doubtful that Russia will vote against Iran.
China will never vote for sanctions against Iran. China is the largest consumer of energy in the world. China is Iran's biggest client.

The clincher: Both Russia and China have automatic Security Council vetoes.
Think of another solution, sanctions in the Security Council will not succeed.



They Will Not Disarm
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 18, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The Lebanese Army will soon be taking up positions in Southern Lebanon.
Supposedly, officially, they will be there to keep Hezbollah from re-arming and to take away any weapons that Hezbollah might already have.

Here is the problem:
The Lebanese army has already gotten their orders and those orders have nothing to do with policing Hezbollah.
Lebanese leaders have instructed the army to defend their nation, i.e., they are to fight Israel.
Nasrallah has publicly instructed the army not to take any weapons from anyone and not to even touch any caches of weapons they might find.
And the Lebanese cabinet has said: "There will be no confrontation with our brothers."

What does that mean:
It means that in the near future, inevitably, there will be a series of clashes.
It means that there will be clashes between UN forces, the Lebanese army, Hezbollah and even Israel.
It means that the United Nations will be forced to take their role seriously.
It means that the Lebanese army will be stuck in the middle - they are weak and, once again, Hezbollah will be exploiting them.

Welcome back to square one.



Israel's Bold Move
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 10, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday, the Israeli Cabinet decided to extend their mandate in Southern Lebanon.
The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is moving further on in.

Why? It looks like a bad decision. It is a given that this move further into Lebanon will mean the lives of more Israeli soldiers.
Why? Because Israel is looking at the big picture. Israel is weighing the long term against the short term.
Why? Because the international community has been dragging, hesitant to step in and fill the power gap in Lebanon, so Israel is filling that gap.

Fewer Israeli citizens will die in the future because Israeli soldiers will be dying now in the fight for Israel's security and freedom from future Hezbollah attacks.
It is a bold political calculation on Israel's part.

Israel could have finalized their operation in the next few days. But now they are taking the opportunity to further clean up Hezbollah terrorist cells and find and destroy even more weapons.

How long will this Israeli initiative go on?
It's easier to fight a war during summer. Cities. Municipalities, communities must be back on track by September 1st, that's when the school semester begins.
I give it until the end of August.



What Hezbollah Has
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 17, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Hezbollah has a few surprises for Israel.

One surprise is that they have the ability to hit Tel Aviv with weapons that have significant explosive heads.
It's no surprise that Hezbollah wants to hit Tel Aviv, they have already hit Afula and the Jezreel Valley which are only a stone - or a rocket throw away.

Another "surprise" is that they have is a variety of guided weapons even better than the one used to attack the Israeli Navy vessel.
Hezbollah probably has weapons that will neither free-fly nor free-fall like katyushas, but are guided missiles that can identify and seek out a target.

The definitional distinction between a rocket and a missile is that
a rocket free-falls
a missile has a guidance system

Nasrallah and Hezbollah want to hold on to some of their surprises in order to maximize their effect later on in the conflict.
Hopefully, Israel's air force will find Hezbollah's weapons cache before the weapons catch-up to Israel.



A 3 Front War
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 13, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Israel is now at war on two fronts.

In the south, Gaza, Israel is fighting Hamas.
The agenda is three-fold: finding their kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, stopping the missiles being fired into Israel on a daily basis, breaking Hamas.

In the north, Israel is fighting Hezbollah.
The agenda is two-fold: retrieving the two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a border operation that also left 8 Israel soldiers dead, strike a serious blow to Hezbollah.

Here's what is happening:
Hezbollah has stolen the thunder from Hamas.
Hezbollah will now force their agenda.
Hamas will most likely take advantage of the second, northern, front war and turn the situation into a three-front war.
Hamas will start launching attacks into Israel from the West Bank, the middle of the country. In fact, Abbas met with King Abdullah of Jordan who informed him that missiles are aimed at Israel from Jenin and specific other locations and said, go stop them. But Abbas is powerless, even when confronted with accurate intel.

A two-front war is difficult to co-ordinate and control. A third front is harder still.



New War in The Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 12, 2006 #2

I'm Predicting:

Hezbollah has been threatening to take i.e. kidnap Israeli soldiers for years.
Hezbollah succeeded three years ago, the boys were returned dead.
Hezbollah succeeded again today taking two Israeli soldiers into Southern Lebanon.

This was not terror it was an act of war.
Israel is now forced into a two-front battle: in Gaza and in Lebanon.
Israel will respond very harshly on both fronts.
Israel has no choice, the longer they wait the less chance the soldiers will remain alive.

Hezbollah is much more experienced than Hamas.
Hezbollah has experience in fighting in hiding and in executing missions. Hezbollah is a modern organized army in Southern Lebanon.

Kidnapping is the weapon of the future. And this might lead to another war in the Middle East



Iran: Big Talkers
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 9, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Months ago Iran promised 50 million US dollars to help the Hamas government in their time of need.
I predicted the money would be slow in coming - if it came at all.

Today, in Teheran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki proved me right.
During a press conference Mottaki confirmed that not only has the money not been sent to the Hamas government but that it was still in the decision stages.

Iran provides funding for terror attacks, that's where they put their money.
$50,000,000 to the Palestinian government is not chump change and is not, in Iran's estimation, money-well-spent. When a recent survey of Iranians asked if Iran should support the Palestinians the vast majority rejected the idea.

Iran is a country of bravado - talk big, move slowly.
The PA may yet get some money, but slowly and only a little.

P.S. Also today, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that the Zionist entity must be removed. We'll see ...



Depose Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 5, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Israel's coastal city of Ashkelon was hit by a rocket/missile yesterday.
The rocket/missile was a message from Hamas, they claimed responsibility.
This was the longest range rocket Hamas has ever shot.
It was not a direct hit, it hit a school parking lot, but even that is way too close.

Israel has one option: Israel must respond.
The situation has escalated, now it is not only about a kidnapped soldier.
Now it is about major cities being threatened, deliberately threatened, by Hamas. Hamas shot the missile to prove that they can and will continue to attack Israel even as the Israeli Air-Force is hitting Gaza.
This plays very big in the Arab media.

Israel must advance on ground efforts in Gaza.
Israel must destabilize and eliminate Hamas.
Hamas must be removed from the political scene.
If Hamas is not removed from power more Israelis will be kidnapped, more missiles will be launched into Israeli cities, there will be more terror attacks against Israel.



Syria Helping The PA
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 16, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Syria is calling on Hamas to recognize Israel.
That is odd.
Syria does not recognize Israel.

Syria does have credibility with Hamas and it is on the basis of that credibility that the request to recognize Israel is being made. Taking it a step further, Syria even wants Hamas to accept the Saudi Peace Plan.
The thinking is that if Hamas accepts the Plan a lot of the pressure being brought upon the entire Arab world, Syria included, will be relieved.

Syria is trying to instruct Hamas in the Lessons of Leadership.
There is a distinction between ideas and reality, a difference between ideology and statehood.
The practical reality of management requires adopting ideas and adapting visions to best meet new conditions of power and leadership.

These ideas are truly awesome.
Too bad, but Hamas will ever be ready to hear them. Never, not ever.



The Prisoner's Document
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 7, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Last week I predicted that the Palestinian Referendum would be postponed and voila, Prime Minister Abbas has pushed the referendum off 'til the week-end.

The Referendum is officially named the National Reconciliation Document but because it was composed by five Palestinians imprisoned in Israel's Hadari prison, the Palestinian press has dubbed it the Prisoner's Document.
The most senior of the prisoners is Marwan Bargouti, secretary general of Fatah. Another contributor is Abdel Halek Natshe, a leader of Hamas.

The document has 18 points.
It recognizes Israel within the '67 borders and is unbending on that issue.
It rejects attacks on Israelis within those borders and welcomes attacks on settlers over the border.
The document is overwhelming supported by the Palestinian masses.
The document will win a significant victory when it goes to referendum.

For the Palestinians it will be the beginning of the end of Hamas in power.
For the Israelis it will mean a shift in pressure to offer serious concessions.
Good news for the Palestinians, bad news for the Israelis - essentially because the language in the document concerning the '67 borders is so very, very strong.



Palestinian Civil War
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 5, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Hamas is losing it's lead - politically, militarily, economically, socially.

Student government elections in several Gaza colleges, divisions of al Quds University, gave Fatah 70% of their vote. Last year that same 70% went to Hamas. Student elections in West Bank universities gave Fatah the same lead.

Shootouts between Hamas and Fatah are routine, daily occurrences. Innocents, like a pregnant woman in one of the latest clashes, are being killed in the cross fire. Fatah is putting its military on alert. Hamas is appointing new police.

Tuesday's referendum deadline is almost here. There might be a chance for an extension, but little to no chance of a compromise.
Hamas has said "no" to accepting Israel and "no" to a referendum. They have actually consulted international and legal experts who concluded that there can be no referendum on Palestinian land. And their religious consultants maintain that the Koran rejects the concept of referendum.

The internal Palestinian situation is looking bad for Hamas.
Hamas is faltering.
It is just a matter of time before Hamas collapses.

The worse it gets for Hamas, the closer the Palestinian Authority gets to civil war.
Each passing day brings civil war one step closer.



A Civil War By Any Other Name
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 1, 2006

I'm Predicting:

"There will never be a civil war because the term doesn't exist in our lexicon, the lexicon of Jihad."

That's a quote from an interview that Palestinian Foreign Minister Ismail Haniyeh gave to the Iranian News Agency (IRNA).
He also said that the United States is an "enemy of Islam and Muslims."

Well I have a linguistic and historical surprise for Haniyah.
The word for civil war is Fitna and it is a concept well known to Muslims.
The classic historical example of Fitna occurred in 656-661 when the Caliph Uthman ibn Affan was assassinated while reading the Koran. This entire period is called the end of unity of the Islamic Ummah (the Islamic nation).

And just look at contemporary history. From 1991 and 2002 100,000 Algerians were killed in a Muslim civil war. Iraqis killed Iranians. The list goes on.

Hamas and Fatah are killing one another on a daily basis and the numbers will just continue to rise. Too much is at stake. Compromise is not in the cards.
Say what you want, Palestinians are on the verge of a civil war.



Palestinians Can't Unite
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 29, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The talks taking place between Hamas and Fatah Palestinian factions will probably end with a short term agreement - but in the end that agreement will not hold.

Why will the agreement never hold?
Simple, because Hamas and Fatah have such dramatically contradictory perspectives of the world and of their respective roles in the world. That they can never unite.

For example: As Abbas is arranging for Hamas to sit down with him in an intense ten-day negotiation marathon, fighting still continues in Gaza between the factions.

Even better: Palestinian Foreign Minister and Hamas-member-in-good standing Mahmoud al Zahar just cancelled his participation in a Muslim conference in Malaysia.
Why did he cancel?
Because he discovered that Fatah was sending their own representative to the conference, Farouk Kadoumi.

Hamas cannot recognize any option other than their own.
Even fellow Palestinian Fatah is considered by Hamas to be pariahs and collaborators.

Hamas trusts no one, nobody, nothing - other than Hamas



China Is Getting Involved
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 24, 2006

I'm Predicting:

For a year now I have been shouting that China is key.

I have been shouting that the situation in Iran will be controlled only when China decides to get involved.
Well, it looks like China has decided to start getting involved.

Why do I say that?
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel visited China and met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo.
After the meeting the German Chancellor said:
"We talked about Iran and both agreed Iran should not have the capability to make nuclear weapons and should not proliferate weapons of mass destruction."

China knows what to do.
China must make it clear to Iran what they, the Iranians, have to do.
China is not quite there yet, but China is certainly on the way.



US Unable to Influence Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 23, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The United States will not be able to influence the new democracy in Iraq.

The signs are all there and flashing.
Here is the most recent sign:
The Arab Leagues Boycott Committee (of Israel) just gathered to discuss the status of the Israeli boycott.
Guess which nation was among the 14 nations in attendance?
You got it! Iraq!
Also in attendance were several other US friends and allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Morocco.

The official US response to Iraq's joining the Israel boycott was:
"We are disappointed by the decision of the Iraqi government."
Talk about understatement.
The Israeli boycott is the antithesis of all that the US and democracy value.

This past year Israel had a 40% increase in trade with Iraq which translates to an increase of about $300,000. But trade with Iraq could be much more significant.
The United States has failed at conveying to Iraq the true value of freedom.



Near Civil War in PA
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 21, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The Palestinians are closing in on a civil war.

Pressure is building. Stakes are rising. Tensions are escalating.
Gaza gun battles between Hamas and Fatah are an everyday occurrence.

Over the past week there have been two intercepted attempts on the life of Palestinian President Abbas.
Just yesterday, the head of Palestinian Intelligence in Gaza, Tariq Abu Rajab, was seriously wounded in a Palestinian assassination attempt.

This was not the first attempt on the life of Abu Rajab.
Abu Rajab was blamed by Islamic Jihad for collaborating with Israel when one of Jihad's leaders, Abu Youssef al Quqa, was assassinated several weeks ago.
This was payback.

Palestinians assassinating Palestinians.
The situation is going from awful to worse.



Putin & Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 14, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Next week Russian President Vldamir Putin will host Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

The main topic on their agenda is aid to the Palestinians.
The Russian already forked over $10 million USD to the PA last week.
Abbas wants Russia to convince the US to lift the international pressure that is stopping the transfer of funds to the Hamas-led PA.

This mission will fail.
The entire Palestinian financial crisis is problematic.

The Palestinians have their own resources but have chosen not to dip in yet and help themselves out. They have $1.3 billion in accounts and could easily draw several hundred million in interest without touching the principle.
They also have hard assets. They own hundreds of millions of properties and businesses around the world. Those could be liquidated to relieve the pressure.

Palestinians take - they do not give.



Hamas Might Win
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 11, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The international campaign to isolate Hamas is about to collapse.

Pressure is being placed on Israel to take responsibility for the dire situation in the Palestinian Authority. The international community is warning Israel that if they do not intercede on behalf of the Palestinian people they will be held accountable for the devastation.
It's perverse, it's immoral - but it is happening.

Israel is crumbling under the pressure. Plans are underway to send medical aid. The proposal is being formulated by Amir Peretz, the new defense minister and head of the Labor party. The plan is to quickly transfer $11 million to the Palestinians. The cabinet will vote on the proposal on Sunday.

If Israel determines that there is a real need that need should be met "in kind."
Set up MASH units on the border and treat the sick in secure zones.
Deliver real goods and real services not cash, do not transfer money.

If Israel collapses, so will the rest of the world.
If the world caves in, the entire isolation exercise will be for naught.
If the exercise was for naught, Hamas will have won.



The End of Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May, 6, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The outcome of student elections often predicts the results of national elections.
There were two recent elections for student government in the Palestinian Authority, one at Al Quds University and one at Bethlehem University.

In both cases Fatah won.
In Bethlehem Fatah won 16 seats and Hamas won only 8 seats.

The pendulum might actually be swinging back toward the middle in the Palestinian Authority. It looks as if Hamas is beginning to lose luster in the eyes of the Palestinian people.
Only time will tell, but if the monies dry up and if international diplomacy continues to lock Hamas out, then Hamas may be ousted from office by the same people who brought them in.

I am predicting that Hamas will have an ugly end in politics.



Egypt: The Power in The Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 21, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Egypt is a country to be reckoned with in the Middle East.
Often, Egypt is an accurate barometer calibrating the mood of the region.

Right now, however Egypt is embarking on two futile attempts to reconcile Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Right now Egypt's efforts are doomed to fail.

Egypt is trying to get Israel to meet with Abbas.
But Abbas is irrelevant and meeting with him means nothing.
So Israel has nothing to gain - they will not meet.

Egypt is trying to get Hamas to accept the 2002 Arab League Peace Plan that recognizes Israel within the pre-1967 borders.
But Hamas will not accept Israel under any circumstances.
So it does not matter who composed the plan - Arab league or European Union.

Right now, Egypt's agenda is to exert enormous amounts of pressure on Hamas to get them to change.
Over time, the Egyptian plan might even work or maybe even force Hamas out of power.
But not now.



Hamas Can't Spin
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 18, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Hamas called it a "legitimate act of self defense."
Hamas said that "Israel was responsible" for the terrorist bombing in downtown Tel Aviv that murdered 9 people.

These Hamas statements do not surprise me.
But they do damage, real damage, to Hamas' bigger agenda.

Hamas knows that they must not be seen as a terrorist government if they want to receive the financial assistance that the Palestinian Authority so crucially needs.
Hamas knows that many countries have taken a clear stand on financing terror and they will not give to a state that so blatantly embraces terror. Even Saudi Arabia and Qatar will have difficulty justifying their gifts.
Hamas knows that they need to put their best foot forward - but they simply can not, Hamas lacks all social graces.

Hamas will not change, they will dig themselves deeper and deeper into the abyss - financially, politically, diplomatically.



Hamas is Not Mohamed
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 12, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Six members of the new Palestinian Parliament are in Iran right now.

They are trying to get Iran and then the entire Muslim world all fired up about negative world reaction to Hamas and the resulting plight of the Palestinians.
They want the same Muslim energy expended on the Palestinians as was expended on the war against the caricatures of Mohamed.

It's not going to happen.
It won't happen because Iran promises big but delivers little for the Palestinians.
It won't happen because, quite frankly, Hamas is not Mohamed.

But they will settle for less.
They want Iran to pick up the slack economically where the West has stopped. They want to ask other Muslim countries to help economically.
They want to activate Muslim countries to start a series of protests on their behalf.

If Hamas can shape the entire package as an anti-West campaign, if they can present the West as out to destroy Islam, the mission to Iran may have some success.
But I doubt they can do it.
In the end, expect no more than a protest or two on Hamas' behalf.



The Music Returns to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 11, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Israel is returning to normalcy, or as they call it, status quo.
Life is not just getting back-to-normal, it is even better than it once was - at least when it comes to culture, music, youth.

Look at the musical tours scheduled to hit Israel over the summer.
Black Eyed Peas and Ziggy Marley both announced yesterday that they will be performing in Israel this summer.
Black Eyed Peas on June 3rd .
Ziggy Marley on July 27th & 28th.

For those not in the know - this is huge.
Black Eyed Peas is the hottest, Emmy winning, Hip Hop cross-genre group.
Ziggy IS reggae, bigger than his father Bob Marley the founder of reggae ever was.

Why is this even important? It demonstrates that world class entertainers believe that Israel has returned to normalcy. It means that the long hot days and nights of the Israeli summer will be filled, once again, not with fear and tragedy but with laughter, culture and great music.

That's the real Israel, great culture, great life, great creativity, and savoir faire. Israel is about life and not about death.
Book early, seats fill up quickly.



Hamas vs Fatah
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 7, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Tension is high in the ranks of Palestinian leadership.
Who will control the security forces - police, civil defense and preventive security?
That is the big question.

Mahmoud Abbas, president and leader of the PLO, just appointed his loyal ally Rashid Abu Shbak, as head of security forces.
Ismail Haniyeh, the new Hamas prime minister, says he is going appoint Hamas people to head the security forces.

Abbas is isolated. He has very little power but is issuing presidential laws and acting on them. He wants to create a counter balance to the Hamas-led parliament which falls under the jurisdiction of Haniyeh.

Does Abbas have a chance at succeeding? He has a small and viable chance. Members of the security forces hold allegiance to Abbas and Fatah and would have difficulty following Hamas orders. If Hamas attempts to use force in order to take over, all three security forces may strike back.

Expect violence and gun fights on Palestinian streets as this is worked out.
It is the stronger man, not the better man, who will emerge triumphant.



Terror Tactics
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 1, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Thursday's suicide bombing in Israel was planned and perpetrated by Fatah's al Aksa's Brigade.
More attacks are sure to come.

The terrorist dressed up as an ultra orthodox Jew who was hitch-hiking. The driver thinking someone needed help, did not think twice about lending a hand.

This was not the first time terrorists disguised themselves as ultra religious Jews. The difference is that this time the terrorist got very close - so close that he was in the car with his "enemies" and waited about ten minutes before detonating himself and killing everyone in the vehicle.

We know this tactic. Terrorists use disguises.
Terrorists will dress up as funky Israeli clubbers to get close to young people in clubs. Terrorists will dress like religious Jews to kill true religious Jews. They will dress like settlers and soldiers.

The better the disguise, the more successful the attack.
And the terrorists are getting better and better at disguise.



The Real Winners
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 29, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The big winners and losers in Israel's election are obvious.
Kadima - winner. Likud - loser. Labor - in the middle.
But the biggest winners are Avigdor Lieberman's party Yisrael Beitaynu (Israel Is Our Home) and Rafael Eitan's party Gimlayim (The Elderly/Retired).

Why is Avigdor Lieberman such a big winner?
This immigrant from the Former Soviet Union, this former guard at the Prime Minister's office is now the leader of the right, he is the opposition leader. He is the man.

Why is Rafael Eitan such a big leader?
The Gimlayim, with a platform based on social issues and aid to the elderly pulled in 8 seats and that makes them the swing for the coalition. Eitan is a former Mossad spy cum master handler. He was responsible for the capture of the Adolph Eichman, the Nazi who coordinated the plan that took the Jews to their death during the Holocaust. Eitan is also the spy who directed, and bungled, the Jonathan Pollard operation.

More than Olmert, more than Peretz, a retired spy and a former security guard will be setting the agenda for Israel's future.

Keep your eye on these two - they are wily.



Israeli Polls Are Lie
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 25, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The polls for the Israeli elections on Tuesday will be off - really off.
Don't count on exit polls being correct either.
It's not that polls lie, it's the people who lie.

Here's why:

There will be a very low (only about 60%) voter turnout.

A large portion of people who responded to polls will not go to the voting booth even if they say they will.

Kadima, the leading party, is brand new.
People cannot "go home" to their original party.

All party numbers have been seesawing these past few weeks.
Up one day and down the next translates into no perceptible movement in any direction.

20% of Israelis are still undecided.

They will not swing the winner's place, but they will affect the number of parliamentary seats.

Without polls we know one thing for sure - Kadima will win.
But how big a win? 33seats? 43?



China Pres Will Meet Bush
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 23, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Big news. Hot off the press.
The President of China, Hu Jintao, will visit the White House on April 20.

This is not an official state visit.
President Hu will visit Yale ... and Seattle ... and ... well, by the way ... he will also have an informal meeting with President Bush in the White House.

The US agenda for this little tete a tete is: terror, Iran and North Korea, and human rights.
On each of these issues China wields huge influence.

The Chinese agenda is one single issue: more export to the United States.
China is really only interested in expanding their trade, and that is a serious irritant to US manufactures and US politicians, including George W. Bush.
Last year the US trade deficit with China hit a new record at $202 billion.
The United States is a Chinese cash cow.

China is the only country that the United States still sees as a serious threat. China is impervious to US pressure.
Oh to be a fly on the wall at that meeting.



Hamas' Goal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 19, 2006

I'm Predicting:

"We and the Zionists have a date with destiny."

That was the comment of Khalad Mashal, the chief of Hamas' politburo.

Mashal is the most senior political leader within Hamas.

"Being in power is only a means to an end for Hamas."

"Power is not our ultimate goal."

"If it becomes one, let power go to hell. It will not hold us back from our targets which we hold dear."
So what is the ultimate goal of Hamas? The destruction of Israel.

It is their raison d'etre. To think otherwise is to be deceived.
But some countries don't seem to care. Over the next week many countries are going to begin giving humanitarian aid to Hamas.

And it will all start with Japan.



Iran & the Security Council
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 9, 2005

I'm Predicting:

The United States is talking about presenting Iran before the UN Security Council for discussion, pressure, censure.
Bad Idea.
At best, the plan will fail - and Iran will just ignore the Security Council.
At worst, the plan will backfire - and Iran will forge ahead paying no heed even to those countries who have begun to make some headway.

Yesterday, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns testified before Congress saying that the by next week the Security Council will deal with Iran. The United States may want to turn up the pressure, but the United States has never been good at reading or understanding Iran.
Russia can read the Iranians.
Also yesterday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that putting pressure on Iran will not work.

In that Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council they have veto power. If Russia doesn't want something to happen, it's not about to happen.
Wake up America, you are not running this show.



Iranian Syrian Nexus
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 8, 2006

I'm Predicting:

A recently issued press release from the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)touted a series of projects to be jointly run by Iran and Syria.

The projects included joint oil and gas pipelines and a link-up of electricity lines and railway lines.
The press release also had Iran expressing interest in co-operation in technical and scientific areas.
According to some sources, the transfer of weapons was also discussed.

Why is this interesting?
Because both these countries are being isolated by the rest of the world and now they are looking to hook-up and join forces. Because this union provides both countries with strength, security and cover under fire that neither one has alone. Because, most importantly, this union provides each country with alternative energy in the event of an American or Western strike.

This is a brilliant tactical response.
Anticipate future vulnerabilities and attacks and be pre-emptive, be prepared.

Iran and Syria are perfect partners against the West.
Be on the look out for more Iran/Syria links.



Showdown in DC on Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 3, 2006

I'm Predicting:

There is going to be a showdown in Washington.
The subject: Hamas.

The United States has already declared that it will be "NO DEAL" with Hamas. They have demanded the return of $50 million that was improperly allocated. $30 million has already been returned. $20 million more is on the way.

And yet, official US spokespeople and political appointees are talking about granting aid to the Hamas-led PA in the form of humanitarian gifts.
And the US has so far pledged $150 million in development aid plus $84 million in aid projects through the United Nations to the Palestinians for this year alone.

Secretary of State Condi Rice proclaims that US money cannot go to the Hamas-led PA and then slides right into a statement about a Palestinian aid project that must be supported - like immunizations.

Members of The International Relations Committee of the House were livid at the responses they got when they heard State Department testimony describing the status of funding for Hamas.

The US cannot have it both ways.
Get ready for serious fireworks.



No More Money for Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 20, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Last month, Israel turned over $43 million to the Hamas led Palestinians.
This month, the Israeli cabinet voted not to deliver the money.
The United Nations had registered a protest over Israel's decision, saying that Israel is violating the Road Map.

Israel has also begun a campaign to isolate Hamas. This campaign is neither covert nor subtle. Israel has a very good set of reasons to isolate Hamas.

Reality has set in, not just for Israel but for other Western nations.
On Friday, for example, the United States asked the PA to ante up $50 million saying the monies were not properly used.
The US statement is clear, but not trend setting.

Significant Western nations, including the US, will not be so quick to sever all financial ties with Hamas i.e. the Palestinians.
Why? Because the only influence and clout the West has over the Palestinians is the ability to provide financial aid. If the West pulls that aid, they will have little to no influence. And that important vacuum is sure to be filled by Iran.

Ever here the phrase: Put your money where your mouth is.



Hamas Gets Blessings
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 11, 2006

I'm Predicting:

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has reassured English Parliament, the Palestinian people and Palestinian leadership that: "none of us have any interest whatever in, as it were, punishing the Palestinian people for giving the wrong answer in the elections ..."

Thank you, Jack Straw, for putting your cards on the table.
In other words, Britain is promising to aid to the newly elected Hamas Palestinian Authority.
The unmentioned, silent, caveat is that monetary aid will be cut off to the Palestinians if it is used to fund terrorist activities.

I am predicting that most of the European Union will follow suit.
As opposed to first having the newly-elected Palestinian Authority prove itself and then offer support, support will be forthcoming until such time as the PA proves itself unworthy of support.
The old Palestinian leadership used its money to sponsor terror to such an extreme extent that the United States Congress passed a law preventing US dollars being sent to the PA until they changed their ways and proved worthy.

Congress is still waiting.



Hamas Will Declare A State
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 2, 2006

I'm Predicting:

People have a total misunderstanding of the Palestinians Authority.
Post-Hamas victory I have been hearing about democracy, I am hearing that the people have spoken. Horse hockey, that's what I say.

The United States was the most influential party in Palestinian politics pre-Hamas victory. The reason there is no State of Palestine today is because the US said it would not recognize the state unless several conditions were met - like clamping down on terror and working with Israel to find some rapprochement.

Now Bush says it is up to Hamas. He still maintains that the US will not recognize the PA if Hamas does not put down its arms, change its charter and recognize Israel. Bush said: "I have made it clear that so long as that's their policy, that we will not support a Palestinian government made up of Hamas."

But what if the Palestinian Authority does not change ... then what?
Hamas may soon declare themselves a State of Palestine. Unilaterally.
Hamas may want to take the risk and snub the US. If they do, the new Palestinian State will be a pariah, without US support they will never break into the Western world ... but does Hamas really care?

Hamas probably does not want to be part of any club that includes the US of A. Thinking otherwise is another in the growing list of big Western miscalculations.



Palestinian Civil War
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 28, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Tensions will rise in the Palestinian Authority.
Tensions will rise to the point where a near civil war is a distinct possibility.

The tables will be turned.
Just as Hamas refused to disarm when Fatah ruled, the lawless, armed gangs of Fatah followers will refuse to disarm when Hamas rules.
First there will be skirmishes.
Next there will be firefight.
After that comes civil war.

Had Abbas disarmed Hamas they would never have won the elections. Hamas only had a few thousand men with arms in Gaza and just over a thousand in the West Bank.
Abbas could have done it easily, but he did not want violence and feared the prospect of civil war on his watch.
But it will happen anyway.
And Abbas will go down in history as the most irrelevant piece in the entire Palestinian puzzle.



Hamas: No Hope, No Future
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 27, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Hamas just trounced Fatah in the PA elections. No surprise.

Get ready for a new Palestinian Authority under Hamas.
There will be less corruption.
There will be more public services.
Women's right will be severely curtailed.
Life in the Palestinian Authority will mimic life in Iran.

There is no going back.
This was the first Palestinian election in ten years and there will not be another election unless there is a revolt.
And revolt, or civil war, is a likely scenario, indeed.
There will be a huge anti-Hamas backlash when policies are implemented and religious police begin surveillance.

For the West it is a huge step backward - there were high hopes for this election. For Israel there is a clear read on the desires and beliefs of their neighbors.
The only upside of this entire election for anyone other than Hamas is that Israel will be better able to defend Israelis. But at what cost to the world?!



Cheney Visit to Mid East
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 16, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Vice President Cheney is on a trip to visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The United States is putting its own interests ahead of regional issues.
The vice president's trip is doomed to fail.

Here's why:
The United States wants-
Moderates to be elected in the upcoming Palestinian elections --- NO chance
More pressure on Syria to cooperate in the Harriri assassination ---NO chance
Lower cost oil and higher daily output from Saudi Arabia --- NO chance
More pressure on Iran in order to curtail nuclear development --- NO chance
Liberalizing regional governments and improving human rights --- NO chance

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have already been enormously cooperative on the issue of terror intelligence and information and they have already pressured Syria.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia will not stick their neck out on these other issues until they get more of what they want from the United States.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia want the United States to stop pushing liberalization.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia will argue that almost everything is out of their hands and not in their control.

Good luck.



The PA Will Cancel Elections
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 12, 2006

I'm Predicting:

There is almost no doubt in my mind that the Palestinian Authority will postpone their upcoming parliamentary elections. I have been saying this for 6 months.

Why? Most important is that Fatah, the established Palestinian leadership, is having a hard time getting votes and it looks very doubtfully that they can win a significant plurality over Hamas.
According to the latest polls Hamas will gain by 31% to Fatah's 35% - almost a dead heat.
The same polling, a short while ago, had Fatah gaining 36.7% and Hamas gaining only 21.6%.
Poll increases in the final stretch of an election are significant signs of great gains.

Fatah does not want Hamas to win.
Neither does the United States, Israel, Europe and even the Muslim world.
A Hamas victory will mean a more radical Palestine.

Current PA leadership is paralyzed. They need the time to gain support by promising a safer future, by providing social services and by providing jobs.
If not, we will see another cancelled election.
If not, we will see Hamas in power.



After Sharon
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 6, 2006

I'm Predicting:

One of the beauties of a stable democracy is a non-threatening process of succession. Neither the society nor the foundations upon which it is built are at risk of collapse.

The fact that most observers and many pundits do not know who the players are and are therefore making bizarre pronouncements concerning possible successors to Ariel Sharon is to be blamed on the fact that they cannot see past their own superficial perceptions and analysis.
Democracies always have a plethora of good people. Not as good, perhaps, but good.

Sharon will be missed.
But there will be no power vacuum.

The March elections guarantee that. A look at the polls underscores my point.
Last week, after Sharon's minor stroke, Kadima would garner 42 seats.
In today's polls, under Olmert, they would get 40 seats.
Under Shimon Peres they would get 42 seats.
Under Tzipi Livni, they would get 38.
Not bad, especially because Likud drops down one seat to 13 and Labor drops a seat putting it at 18.

The realistic centrist movement that Sharon created will not evaporate.
It struck a strong cord in Israeli society.
Kadima will, as its name implies, continues to move forward --- just slower.



Sharon's Health
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 4 2006 #2

I'm Predicting:

The health - or ill health - of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon must be measured in gargantuan terms.
Ariel Sharon's physical presence has ramifications not only for Israel, not only for his newly created Kadima party, but for the entire Middle East.

Ariel Sharon's character makes him a leader's leader ... because of his charisma, because of his past, because of his ability to get out of Gaza.
Ariel Sharon can do things that no other Israeli leader would dare and that no one else could succeed at doing.
Ariel Sharon radiates an attitude that says "don't mess with me."

If poor health forces Sharon out of politics, the entire Middle East will spin.
No one on the political horizon in Israel commands the respect and political strength of Sharon in Israel.
No one on the political horizon in Israel commands the respect and political strength of Sharon in the Arab world.



Indian Terror Threat
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 31, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India.
It is home to 1500 software companies.
Its growth is impressive by any standard.

Bangalore is under a huge terror threat.
A letter written in English and signed by Moin a Din of the unknown "Jihadi" group threatened simultaneous suicide bombings, the largest attacks the area has seen. The letter read: "It will be the most coordinated attack the country has ever seen."

India suffers from two terror threats.
One threat comes from Kashmir separatists, the other from a Muslim extremist movement.
India is confronting the Kashmiri terrorists head on.
Now they must confront the Muslim terrorists the same way.

High tech and computer software will not help them fight terror.



Abbas & Hamas Land
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 25, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Rumors abound about Abu Mazen, the head of the Palestinian Authority.
The most significant rumor has it that he will be resigning from politics.

Abu Mazen has hit an all time low.
His popularity and power have reached new depths.
During Arafat's era Abu Mazen would threaten to resign in order to get Arafat to move on an issue. But now he is in charge and he is paralyzed. Abu Mazen cannot move anything. He makes policies, makes agreements and nothing is fulfilled. There is no trickle down. No one listens to him.

Internal Palestinian sources describe intense frustration. They describe how Abu Mazen avoids difficult issues.
Right now, for example, Abu Mazen is avoiding the issue of missiles being fired at Israel from Gaza. He says, let Israel deal it. He says it is not his problem.
Israeli military intelligence says that Abu Mazen is barely hanging on and that he is on the verge of leaving politics all together.

What happens if Abu Mazen does leave his position and politics?
It would cause terrible disorder and the void would be filled by Hamas.
A Hamas run Palestine would be a Palestine with no mixed messages.
That is for sure.



Sharon's Stroke
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 19, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Ariel Sharon had a mild stroke. How does it play out?

It changes everything
It changes nothing.

It changes everything if it is serious and sidelines him.
He is the one and only leader on the Israeli horizon - right, left, center.
He is the only leader with vision.
He is the only person that unites the masses in the middle of the Israeli political spectrum.
He has the maturity and the uncanny ability to out-maneuver everyone else in Israeli politics.
He has a plan and no one else does.
He is a one man band.

It changes nothing because he will probably recover totally.
Israel is a democracy and huge pendulum swings do not happen quickly.
The ball that he has already set in motion holds the promise of security for the people of Israel and the people are ready and willing to take bold steps to insure their security.

As for Arab countries in the region they have yet to make sense of this new Sharon, now they are all the more confused.



PA Wants To Delay Elections
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 17, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Palestinian Authority leadership is going to want to delay the Parliamentary elections that are scheduled for January 25, 2006.

The PA has suffered some serious popularity setbacks.
Over the last weeks local elections have resulted in overwhelming support for Hamas. That should not have surprised anyone. For example: in Nablus, the largest West Bank city, Hamas received 73% of the municipal election.

This is a huge blow to the success of Fatah, the military arm of the PA, and to the PA itself.

Internal struggles are also compromising the strength of Fatah and the PA.
The Fatah Young Guard, led by Marwan Barghouti, is running as an independent party. This young guard will split the Fatah vote and will help Hamas gain an even larger voice in the Legislature.

The PA will try to push off the elections so that they can buy more votes by stepping up their social services and gain in popularity.
The PA will try to fight Hamas at its own game.

Hamas and the Fatah Young Guard have already organized rallies against a delay in elections. Some Fatah Young Guard members, weapons in hand, took over a Fatah headquarters to protest any delay.

The situation is tense. Tensions will continue to escalate.



Palestinians Sue Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 11, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Avi Dichter, the former head of the "Shin Bet," Israel's Secret Intelligence Agency, has been served with papers in a civil suit in the United States.

The plaintiffs are the families of 14 Palestinians who claim that Dichter, in his role as director of the Shin Bet, was responsible for the death of their loved ones. Specifically, a one ton bomb dropped by the Israeli Air Force in July of 2002 that hit its mark, a building that housed Salah Shehedah, a senior Hamas leader.

The case is based on international law under the Torture Victims Act and the US Alien Tort Claims Act to apply jurisdiction in the US.
This is the very legal procedure used by Holocaust survivors to pursue their Nazi guards.
The papers were served while Dichter was in NY, attending a charity benefit.

Here is the problem:
Dichter was head of an intelligence agency. His job was to gather intel to protect Israel. Hamas is a sworn enemy of Israel. Sheheda was responsible for planning numerous attacks against Israeli civilians and he sought sanctuary around innocent Palestinians.

This will not hold up in court. No way.



Oman May Open To Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 24, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Oman will be making a change in diplomatic policy.
Oman hinted, just today, that they may thaw their relations with Israel.

When it happens, Oman will be the latest in a slew of Gulf nations to re-evaluate their diplomatic status with Israel, once their sworn enemy.

Jordan, Egypt and Mauritania are the "Exclusive 3" as of today.
I predict that over the next twelve months Israel will formalize and exchange ambassadors with at least two more Muslim nations.

Bahrain, Qatar and Dubai have already begun to warm up their relations.
Pakistan is the biggest, most surprising, nation on the list to melt the ice.
This is a huge step for Pakistan, the second largest of all Muslim states.

I predict a big thaw this winter season.
The world is changing.



PA Elections--Postponed
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 20, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Elections within the Palestinian Authority, scheduled for January 25, 2006, will almost certainly be postponed.

Why will they be postponed?
There's the excuse, and there's the real reason.

The excuse is that Israel is interfering with the election process.
Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas has begun laying the foundations for blame. When elections are brought up, he couches his comments with phrases like: they will take place as planned IF Israel will allow for free movement.

The real reason is that postponing the Palestinian Authority legislative elections is actually better in the long run, postponing the elections will help bolster the PA.
It will show that the government is standing up to Israel.
It will allow the leadership more time to convince the people that with time they will provide a better, wealthier Palestine.

If handled properly, it will give Palestinian leadership the opportunity to convince the people that they have a future - and the future need not include terror.



New Elections-Sharon Will Win
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 19, 2005

I'm Predicting:

There will be early elections in Israel - late February early March.
November 2006, a complete year from now, is the officially scheduled date.

Why? Because Amir Peretz, the new head of the Labor party, has forced the process. So this week the Knesset will vote to dissolve itself.

Honestly, this is a no-brainer.
Sharon will, once again, win hands down.
Sharon will win even if he splits from the Likud party. I doubt that the prime minister will leave the party, but it does not matter because whatever happens, he will be the absolute winner.
The only question is how many votes will separate Sharon and his party from the #2 and #3 parties, all of which translates into Knesset seats.

There is no personality on the stage of Israeli politics capable of competing with Sharon.
The presence and politics of Amir Peretz will backfire for Labor.
He will move Labor toward the left and Sharon will steal the middle of the Israeli electorate.

Sharon will win the swing vote and, in Israel, the swing vote determines the election.



Osama's Hit List
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 10, 2005

I'm Predicting:

This will not be the last terror attack in Jordan.
Jordan is a symbol - it is a state of Muslims but it is NOT a Muslim state.
Jordan is a country run by a monarch who has very close ties to the West especially to the United States.

Osama bin Laden recently released his hit list, prioritizing al Qaeda targets. Topping the list was removing the US and other infidels from Muslim lands.
Next was attacking the countries and toppling the leaders of countries ripe to be Muslim states. That list includes Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt.

Jordan is seen as a collaborator.
The terrorists want this attack to be the first domino to fall on the monarchy.
The terrorists want to activate and empower their supporters to make a challenge for control in Jordan.
The terrorists want to frighten the masses and then, through fear, force adherence to extremist Muslim practice.

The attacks in Jordan come straight out of the Terrorist Handbook.



Hamas' New Home
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 8, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad might actually be expelled from Syria.

The once unthinkable might actually happen.
Syria thinks that by closing the offices of these terror organizations pressure from the United States, France and other Western countries will be relieved.

So where will the terrorists go?
Hamas is asking Egypt and Jordan to allow them to open their doors and permit organizational HQs to function from within their borders.
That's not as preposterous as it sounds.
Egypt has very good relations with these organizations and is the chief intermediary between them and the Palestinian Authority.
But neither Egypt nor Jordan can risk ticking off the US by allowing terrorists to set up shop.

So they will go elsewhere. Where?
Probably to a Gulf State, maybe Saudi Arabia, maybe Qatar.



Hit Gaza Hard
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 28, 2005

I Am Predicting:

Israel will continue to hit Gaza very hard after terrorist attacks - even when the attacks against Israel are not directly fired out of Gaza.

Why?
Because it is clear to Israel that Gaza is the headquarters, central command, for so much terrorist activity, even activity launched from the West Bank.

Because the terrorist attack in Hadera has been clearly tied to Islamic Jihad and the command centers of Islamic Jihad are located in Gaza and in Damascus.

Because now that Israelis are no longer in Gaza, Israel has no fear of reprisals against her own citizens and so will continue to bomb from the air in order to try and teach Islamic Jihad a lesson.

As a result of Israel's persistent response to terrorist activity, pressure will mount urging Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas to act against terror.
Prime Minister Sharon is saying no talks until Abbas cracks down on terror, Secretary of State Rice is saying the same thing in a different tone, calling for Abbas to reign in terror.
As long as Abbas procrastinates, Israel will retaliate - in Gaza.



US OK'S Hamas - Blunder
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 21, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

The long anticipated meeting is over. The tension is over.
Palestinians are breathing easier.
Why?

Because Muhamad Abbas walked out of the meeting with George Bush smiling.
Because the Palestinians came way with the distinct impression that the United States will not insist that Hamas be denied participation in the upcoming Palestinian elections.

Have George Bush and his foreign policy team lost their vision?
Not only is this a complete turnabout, it is a rejection of US policy concerning terrorists and terrorism. What happened to "just say NO to terrorists"?

I'll tell you what happened. The United States believes that the anti-Hamas stance is Israel's platform. The US believes that it must show flexibility and not be seen as rubberstamping Israel's perspective on Hamas and on internal Palestinian politics. Better to sell out than to rubberstamp.

The United States is wrong.
Keeping Hamas out of politics is authentic US policy.
Altering the US tone on Hamas is scary, it is a very dangerous and inconsistent message to send to the Palestinians.
Mark my words.



PA Will Pospone Elections Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 11, 2005

I'm Predicting:

Palestinian Authority Parliament elections scheduled for January will probably be postponed - again.
They were originally scheduled to happen in July.
The last PA Parliament elections were 10 years ago.

Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas were supposed to meet today. They did not. No Surprise there.
Jordan's King Abdullah leaked that they would meet and actually called Sharon and told him the meeting was set up.
The United States wants them to meet.
Egypt wants them to meet.
Sweden wants them to meet.
Iceland probably wants them to meet, too.
Abbas never wanted them to meet. Sharon could care less.

Abbas cannot meet. He has nothing to offer, he only has demands. If Abbas leaves the meeting with nothing he is a failure. Sharon is not going to give much more until there is Palestinian quiet and that requires time and energy and organized attacks against Hamas. Not likely.

Abbas cannot bring himself to crack down other than some token gestures. He hopes that the momentum will naturally shift in his direction. Palestinian police are out but not in force and even incapable of protecting themselves.
Sharon would like to let things fester.



PA Will Crack Down
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 8, 2005

I'm Predicting:

The Palestinian Authority is about to crack down on Hamas. A little.
Just a little.

Why? And why just a little?
It's a strategic move, a ploy, play acting.
It's because Palestinian President Abbas is on his way to Washington.

Abbas has learned well from Arafat his predecessor. He knows that the best way to advance his standing in Washington and to relieve diplomatic pressure while there is to offer the US a token action. This superficial attempt to crack down on Hamas is just what the United States and Israel have been begging him to do. He'll arrive in Washington with what looks like a plan, he'll be lauded and applauded and patted on the back. Then he'll return home and everything will go back to normal.

The plan worked for Arafat, time and time again.
Abbas has learned his lessons from Arafat, I hope the United States has learned, too. I hope that the United States sees that this is a ploy, not a change in policy.

In order to truly advance the diplomatic process Palestinians must disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Not a little. A lot.





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