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Israel Bolsters Northern Border
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 1, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is worried that ISIS and Hezbollah are building fronts from which to strike and attack their northern border.

So the Israelis are implementing a strategy that is reminiscent of Lebanon in the 1980's and 90's. Israel has created and is now expanding a 'liaison unit' for their northern border.

The job of the liaison unit is to reach out and create positive and essential relations with villagers and leaders in Syria. So far, it has been a very effective plan. Locals have informed upon and even convinced ISIS, al Qaeda and Hezbollah not to attack Israel.

Since the conflict in Syria began, thousands of wounded Syrians have been picked up by the IDF inside Syria and brought to Israeli hospitals. The wounded are treated, healed and sent back. These people have become important liaisons, too.

When Israel carried out this plan in Southern Lebanon, it began with humanitarian aid and health care and then moved to helping the locals fight for themselves. Eventually the Southern Lebanese Militia was actually under the authority of the head of Israel's Northern Command.

That situation created a safer Israel - until it all collapsed.

I hope that Israel will learn from its mistakes.

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Iran India Agreement
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 31, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Several days ago India and Iran signed a groundbreaking set of agreements. 12 sets of agreements in all.

They agreed to fight terror, radicalism, drug trafficking, cyber terror and other societal ills. They agreed to share intelligence and to work together.

The agreements were signed in Teheran by Iranian Prime Minister Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Modi.

The jewel in the crown of the agreements was that India and Iran will mutually develop Chabahar port. Chabahar is located in the south of Iran outside the Persian Gulf. It is to the West of India and it is very important for them. The Indians are investing $500 million in the port - and it will be a significant conduit for them in the region.

India hopes that this will be the start of "bi" and "tri" level transit. If it all works out, the third party to this part of the agreement will be Afghanistan.

This new deal shows just how eager countries are to get Iran back up and moving forward. This deal with India illustrates how Iran can easily become a major player not just in the region, but also in Asia.

And that is a significant part of Iran's long term goal.

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Oil Nearly $50/ Barrel
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The price of oil is almost $50 a barrel. The price has continued to creep up even thought Canadian Suncor Energy oil-sands project is about to hit the market.

In addition OPEC will be meeting on Thursday and they will certainly be discussing the issue of supply.

The price of oil continues to slowly climb and that has important ramifications - and not just for our pocketbooks. If oil continues to climb beyond $50 and goes to $70 or $75, it will empower Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran and Saudi Arabia both suffered when oil prices dropped. Saudi Arabia lost power and influence. Iran nearly went bankrupt.

The tide is turning once again - and that is not good news for the West. Oil is the tool that greases the wheels of power and influence in large parts of the world.


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Turkey Livid with US
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 29, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Erdogan is livid with the United States. He is angry after viewing pictures of US Special forces wearing Kurdish insignias while training YPG and PYD Kurdish groups in Syria.

Erdogan said that this was a violation of the agreements that the US and Turkey had made.

The US Defense department acknowledge that it was a mistake and the issue is now being corrected and dealt with. The official word was that the forces on the ground should not have been wearing the insignias.

Obviously there is a tightrope here. The Turks want to destroy the Kurds. And the Turks will do anything and everything to prevent the Kurds from getting an independent territory. They have used the ISIS conflict to inflict serious damage on he Kurds - killing about 5,000 of them,

But the US needs real fighters on the ground - reliable and dedicated fighters to fight ISIS. The only group that meets those qualifications is the Kurds. So the US will continue support the Kurds and that upsets Turkey.

Kurds will not risk their lives and families simply to fight for either Iraq or Syria. The Kurds need to know that they are working toward their goal of territorial independence.

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Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Christian population in Egypt constitutes a large minority, numbering about 10 million people which puts them at 10% of the entire population. And yet, Egypt's Christians live in fear.

Christians living in Egypt are Coptic Christians.

In a village south of Cairo, seven Christian homes were recently burned and an elderly, 70 year of Christian mother, was stripped, beaten and dragged through the streets.

The woman's son, a Christian, was the real target of the attack. The son managed to escape as the mob shot thousands of bullets into the air. The attackers were so angry at not being able to find the son, that they grabbed the mother and attacked her. They also burned and looted neighboring homes.

Police arrived two hours after the attack. They arrested six people and are looking for twelve others. According to witnesses the angry crowd was as large as 300 people all shouting in unison "Death to the Infidel." President el-Sisi has condemned the act of violence.

Rumors had spread that the son was involved with a Muslim woman - a practice that is shunned in Egypt. And the son actually called the police the day before the attack issuing a complaint about threats that he was receiving.

The Christian community feels threatened. This is just one of many examples.

It should be noted that had it been a Muslim man and a Christian woman - there would have been no reaction from the Muslims.

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Hacking Middle East Banks
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Middle East banks are now the targets of a massive hack. This hack is happening only one month after the largest bank in the Middle East - the Qatar National Bank (QNB), was hacker and 1.4GB of data was stolen.

That hack was traced to a Turkish hacker group which eventually did take responsibility for the hack on YouTube.

This new set of hacks is different from previous hacks. Those responsible are not taking anything, they are just searching for things. The new hack is not for exploitation, it is just for reconnaissance. And that leaves analysts asking a lot of questions.

In this latest hack emails were sent to people in the banks as if they were from co-workers. When the emails were opened, downloaded and forwarded the infection went with them.

It is not clear how many banks have been hacked... but it is safe to say that many more than a handful fell victim to this new cyber attack. More than one and less than 50.

The looming question is, who stands to gain from the knowledge that was gained. I have a few ideas.

Read my latest book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.
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