The following are the latest columns from our middle eastern analyst, Micah Halpern. You can also hear Micah's  daily blogs on The Morning Zone at 6:33 and 9:35 AM weekdays
Mubarak in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 4, 2012

On October 6, 1981 Hosni Mubarak assumed the presidency of Egypt. On June 2, 2012 he was sentence to life in prison.

Mubarak was one of the most powerful leaders of the Middle East. But situations change as the winds blow in his part of the world. Some of the most stable leaders are ousted - going from feared dictator to reviled exploiter. And indeed, Hosni Mubarak has suffered a tremendous fall.

The Book of Samuel described the fate of many leaders by saying: "Oh - the mighty have fallen."

On hearing the verdict Mubarak must have been both relieved and shocked. Shocked that he was convicted, relieved that he was not to be executed.

We cannot even come close to understanding the second thoughts Mubarak must be having about his handling of the riots in Tahir Square last year. He certainly could have put them down with great violence, but chose not to - never foreseeing that his openness to the protesters would bring him down.

The sons of Mubarak were exonerated for the events that took place during those few weeks. Perhaps that gives the former dictator of Egypt some solace.

We have no idea of what lies ahead for an Egypt without Mubarak. One thing is certain. Those winds continue to blow and they will bring much more change to the country Mubarak so loved.

Egypt Stops Gas to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 3, 2012

Egypt is prohibiting gasoline from entering Gaza.

This is the third stoppage in a month. The gas the shortage has become a crisis in Gaza. Electricity has been reduced from the generating station to 18 hours a day. The generator is powered by gasoline.

The gasoline is sitting in the port and has not been permitted to make its way to Gaza. Months ago Israel gave the green light and is now hands off. It is Egypt that is stopping the flow of gasoline to Gaza.

The crisis is even more serious because illegal gas has not been smuggled as frequently as it has in the past which means that the shortage is greater than the figures show.

But interestingly, no one is shouting at Egypt. Qatar delivered the gasoline. Its vessels now sit in port. One of the reasons for the silence could be because the Egyptians are to blame.

Could it be that the world is not interested when Egyptians oppress Palestinians?

US Wants Daqduq From Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 2, 2012

Ali Moussa Daqduq is on the US wanted list. He is living free and high on the hog in Iraq. The United States has asked for his extradition.

Daqduq is a member of Hezbollah, he is also an Iranian agent. He was in US custody as of March 2007, ten weeks after he planned a very well executed attack on US soldiers and leaders in Karbala Provincial Joint Command Center. The attackers wore US-like uniforms, had US IDs and drove US vehicles - and then they murdered five US citizens.

Daqduq admitted that he planned and executed the attack. In an act of friendship and diplomacy, Daqduq was handed over to Iraqi custody and tried by Iraq. And then the Iraqi court dismissed his case for lack of evidence - despite the confession.

In Iraqi law all evidence permitted into court must be collected by Iraqi inspectors. Ali Moussa Daqduq gave his confession to the United States.

The US wants Daqduq back. This is a test of the relationship between the US and Iraq.


Russia Delivers Arms To Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 1, 2012

The United States has condemned Russia for shipping arms to Syria.

A Russian cargo ship docked and unloaded massive amounts of weapons and then headed on to Greece.

The most important point to note in this scenario is that Russia is still selling high tech weapons to Syria. By doing so, they are telegraphing to the world that they do not believe that the regime of Bashar Assad is going to fall.

Russia also recently signed a fighter jet deal with Syria and will soon be delivering the YAK fighter jet to the Syrian air force. The YAK is one of Russia's most advanced weapons. They would not hand weapons of this caliber over to a teetering leader holding on by the skin of his teeth.

Russia has a very different point of view from the United States on what is happening in Syria.

When asked, the Russians cynically respond by saying that selling and delivering weapons to Syria is not illegal - it is just against the wishes of the United States.

Most significantly, selling to the Syrians is in the best interest of Russia.


Flame is Attacking Iran's Oil
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 31, 2012

The Flame computer virus is only now showing its power.

We now know that Flame can hijack any computer. We now know it can relay any and all information. And we now know that it can sabotage - everything.

It can also connect to any blue tooth phone or devise around the infected computer.

Iran says that Flame is now under control. I highly doubt that.

This program is the second stage of the Viper virus which struck a few months ago. At that time the Oil Ministry of Iran was taken off line to quarantine and destroy Viper. It failed.

Flame built on viruses that were already in place. These viruses appear to be quarantined - when found, but they simply become dormant. At that point they are almost undetectable.

Right now the 2.2 million barrels of oil extracted daily by Iran are in jeopardy. Trying to protect their oil industry by taking them off line as was done on Wednesday would strike another huge blow to Iran's economy.

Most analysts are looking at the nuclear implications. Yes, those are certainly significant. But now the Flame virus has attacked Iran's only real industry - oil.

The Flame virus is not only extremely effective, it is also extremely dangerous.

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