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Commentary: Micah Halpern’s Latest From the Middle East

Middle Eastern Analyst Micah Halpern

(Micah Halpern is a long time friend of tThe Morning Zone Program. You can hear his daily audio blogs live at 6:33 and 9:35 AM MDT Monday through Friday on AM650 KGAB and www.kgab.com)

Hamas & Fatah at Odds Over Egyptian Pres
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 25, 2012

As soon as it was announced that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi won the presidential election in Egypt the calls of congratulations came pouring in.

The United States, England and Turkey are among the many nations that offered standard, diplomatically imbued, blessings.
The interesting messages are those delivered by the so-called “friends” of Egypt.

Hamas: the win is “a historic moment and a new era in the history of Egypt.” It is a “defeat for the program of normalization and security cooperation with the enemy (Israel).”

Fatah: “We congratulate Doctor Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, on his win in the Egyptian presidential elections, and his election as president of Egypt.”

You don’t even have to read between the lines, it is all spelled out clearly in word and in tone: Hamas sees eye to eye with the Muslim Brotherhood and Fatah would have preferred the secular candidate.

Ahmadinejad in Venezuela

By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 24, 2012

An official Venezuelan newspaper ran a story, timed for this visit of the Iranian leader, recalling that during his visit to Venezuela in 2006, the Venezuelans gave Iran an F-16 fighter jet.
The jet came from a batch of twenty-three F-16 jests that the United States had sold to Venezuela in 1983. According to the report the F-16 was disassembled and loaded on to an air force 707 and flown to Iran where it was reassembled.

The obvious purpose in giving the plane was to allow Iran to calibrate their air defense systems. The United States and the Israelis use F-16s.

The US and Israel are aware of this transfer and know that more than half of the original F-16s have been sold to other countries – all for the same reason.

The upside it that the F-16 of 1983 barely resembles current F-16s and that Israel has gussied up their versions with their own electronics.

If Iran is basing their air defense system on the level of 1983 F-16s, they have to make serous estimates about the current capabilities of the F-16. That is serious guesswork.

Clinton Finally Gets Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 22, 2012

I was very impressed when I read the transcript of the conversation between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State James Baker, moderated by Charlie Rose.

Four years later, on the issue of Iran, Clinton showed a real understanding of the nuanced and complicated nature of the country and of how decisions are made there. Four years later, she almost gets it.

She explained that there is serious debate inside high levels of leadership within Iran.

She explained that there is a significant part of Iranian leadership that actually wants to be attacked because of the benefits that would emerge after a Western or Israeli attack.

She explained that there are those who know that the Iranian economy could be galloping ahead if only the Iranians backed down – and that backing down is not that big a step considering the benefits that would be reaped.

About all this, Secretary of State Clinton is correct.
Missing from her analysis is the machismo and ego aspect of the equation.

Granted, backing down is simple for some – but for Iran it is nearly impossible. Because the issue and the conflict have become so public, backing down would be tantamount to public humiliation.

The United States may not care much about that part of the equation, but for Iran, it is a really big deal – or in this case, a really big deal breaker.

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