Micah Halpern Has Been Thinking on The Middle East
Monday November 5, 2012
Once again Iran is masterfully getting around sanctions to help buoy herself up and make certain that she remains competitive in the steel market.
Iran is a very large producer of steel. The Islamic Republic produces steel for internal needs and for production, not just for export.
But they need the raw materials. They need coke and coal and metallurgical coal, known in the business as coking coal.
So where are they getting these raw materials? From the Ukraine.
The raw material arrives in Iran via third party intermediaries and foreign banks. It gets shipped to Iran by way of the Black Sea. While sanctions monitors are busy watching for oil and checking out the Persian Gulf, Ukrainian companies are just bringing in the raw materials the other way.
A company can make as much as $25 million a month providing these raw materials to Iran. The important element here is that bringing coal to Iran is not a violation of the sanctions. Selling steel to Iran, now that is a violation.
The EU wants to stop all trade with Iran. But the UN and the US understand the need to provide humanitarian goods. But what happens when those goods make Iran stronger and provide her with the raw materials for a major industry.
As I said, Iran has, again and again and again masterfully gotten around the sanctions.
Sunday November 4, 2012
In today's army, the most valued soldier is the techie. The cyber warrior reigns. This is person we used to call -- the pocket protector guy.
Israel's IDF is no exception. And Israel has one of the best, if not the best, cyber units in the world.
These soldiers need to be different. They need to think outside the box. They are, for the most part, extremely arrogant and very creative. The way one protects a systems is to first spend time, oftentimes a lot of time, finding its vulnerabilities.
The Intelligence Branch of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has made the decision to actively recruit young hackers. They are scouring Israeli high schools for potential warriors. That should be expected.
And they are taking it a step further. The IDF Special Warriors Unit has launched a recruitment drive for the best hackers in the Diaspora Jewish community. Once they are found they will be coaxed and lured to join their patriotic destiny and serve in the Israeli Army.
Another example of thinking out of the box.
Saturday November 3, 2012
Last month Saudi Arabia banned shooting guns at weddings. Shooting shotguns at weddings is a long and very popular tradition among tribes not only in Saudi Arabia but also throughout much of the Arab world.
The Saudi government felt that the tradition of shooting bullets into the sky was just too dangerous, hence the new law. But while they are publicizing the ban, they are not really enforcing the new law.
So, for Saudis at least, it should have been no surprise that twenty-six guests attending a recent wedding were electrocuted or burned to death as a result of weapon fire. The gunfire toppled electric wires, the wires hit a metal door, people were electrocuted. A fire also ignited and more guests were killed in the fire.
According to the report all those killed at the wedding feast were from the same tribe.
What a terrible waste of human life. A happy milestone was transformed into a horrific tragedy.
Friday November 2, 2012
I've Been Thinking:
Syrian supporters of Assad are spreading a conspiracy theory that is so mind boggling that people might actually believe it.
They are saying that Sandy, the hurricane that devastated the United States causing billions upon billions in damages, was the result of a highly sophisticated Iranian weapon.
The group supporting Assad posted a message on their Facebook page saying that Sandy was the work of Iran and that the hurricane was punishment for those who attack Syria.
What makes this conspiracy so different from others is that Iran is placed front and center as the major actor causing the damage in this drama.
Obviously no such weapon exists. But people will believe it and it will weaken the hearts of the opposition. There are people who can actually be convinced into believing that Iran has the ability to alter the power of nature.
Unbelievable, but true.