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Russia's New Iron Curtain
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 2, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Russia is once again lowering the “Iron Curtain.” They are creating a massive wall between them and the West.

Speaking at a press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained the separation between Russia and the West this way: "It's practically already coming into place. Let them just behave carefully.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, Russia has been a pariah state.
Moscow has been isolated by the rest of the world. In response, Russia is proactively responding to the distancing by creating a distance on their own.

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Biden Tweets Congrats to New Israeli PM
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 30, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

US President Joe Biden congratulated Yair Lapid as he assumed his new position as the new prime minister of Israel.

The blessing came in the form of a tweet in which President Biden spoke of the strong the relationship between the countries . 

The new Israeli prime minister responded with a tweet of his own.  In his tweet, Lapid wrote: "Thank you, Mr. President. The ties between Israel and the United States are unbreakable. They are based on deep foundations of shared values and a common vision for the future.”

"I look forward to welcoming you to Israel and strengthening the unique alliance between the U.S. and Israel."

Times have certainly changed.  Heads of state tweeting congratulations to each other is not what I would have imagined – especially in this case. 

Biden and Lapid are not strangers to each other, they have actually developed a bond.  I would have expected that the president would have picked up the phone and called the prime minister, not merely send a tweet.  

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Israel Meets w Arab Army Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 29, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

A report has just been leaked about a secret meeting between senior Arab military leaders and Israel’s IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi who all met in Sharm el Sheik in March. 

It was convened to discuss countering regional threats posed by Iran.

Details of the meeting, which was sponsored by the United States, were reported by The Wall Street Journal.   

Then-head of Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, brought together the top military commanders from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan.  Included in the group was Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili.

Two important notes are that while the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also sent officers to the meeting, they did NOT send their military chiefs.  And Kuwait and Oman did NOT participate at all.

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Qatar to Host Iran Nuke Talks
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 28, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Iran announced that Qatar will host indirect talks between Iran and the United States.  Their topic will be the revival of Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The announcement was made by Mohammad Marandi, a media adviser to the Iranian nuclear team. Speaking to the semi-official ISNA news agency, Marandi said: "Iran chose Qatar to host because it is our friend.”

This is a major step forward in the negotiations over revitalizing the stalled talks around the Nuke Deal.

It is also important to note that this move places Qatar in a pivotal role not just in this one case, but as a serious player in the entire Middle East.

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Israel Unites Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 27, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that all arms of the defense establishment were working in tandem to oppose the threat of a nuclear Iran,

Gantz made his point in response to reports that have begun to surface about disagreements between the military and intelligence agencies.  

Benny Gantz said: "The defense establishment is dealing with the Iranian threat day and night as the most important and urgent strategic issue currently for Israel's security. This is done in coordination between all the security arms and with freedom of opinion while the political echelon makes the decision."

This is important given that the European Union announced that world powers and Iran have decided to restart the long-stalled talks on the revival of Tehran's nuclear program.

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Kyiv to drop free-visa w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 26, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Ukriane is extremely unhappy with Israel.

So much so, that Kyiv is considering suspending its visa-free agreement with Israel.  They are peeved about Israel's policy on Ukrainian refugees.

Ukrainian ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk told Israeli Russian-language news Detaly that Israel is not playing fair.  This is what he said:

"Russian citizens enter Israel without restrictions, Belarusian citizens as well, and Ukrainian citizens have invented electronic visas. "Neither I nor my management can help but take it painfully."

"We are now considering whether to suspend the visa-free regime for Israelis in response. It will be imperceptible now, but before Rosh Hashanah, the Israeli government will feel it."

The ambassador was referring to the pilgrimage of religious Jews who flock to Uman during the High Holy Days.

All the way back in March Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Chief-of-Staff Andriy Yermak made the same threat.  He called the electronic permit system "an unfriendly step for the citizens of Ukraine."

Korniychuk also expressed disappointment with Israel's stance on the Russian invasion, saying Ukraine "expects [any form of] help from our partners... but do not sit on the shore waiting for someone to start winning."

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