Micah Halpern’s Been Thinking Again About The Middle East
Friday August 24, 2012***
A report in a government sponsored Egyptian newspaper called al Gomhuria caught my attention yesterday. The report was subsequently described, in detail, on English YNET
The paper reported that Hezbollah just completed three days of maneuvers in the Bequa Valley in Lebanon. The exercises included 10,000 Hezbollah fighters. The operation was observed by Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
Over the three days Hezbollah enacted battles with Israel. They enacted attack strategies, raids and contingency plans for conquering key areas and making certain that local villagers and villages know their role and responsibilities.
The report also referred to 2,000 Hezbollah fighters who were trained for this purpose by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. And they wrote that Iran has made it clear to Hezbollah that they must get involved and attack Israel if Israel strikes Iran.
This is a very serious set of circumstances and it must be watched very carefully. Believe me, Israel watched the satellite footage and has begun to assess Hezbollah’s new technology, weapons and capabilities.
These maneuvers signal a new phase in Israel/Hezbollah/Iranian relations.
**Wednesday August 23, 2012**
Over the past few days I have been sounding the alarm warning that unless the United States quickly counters Iran’s moves on Egypt, Egypt will be lost to the United States as a possible ally.
I pointed out that the new president of Egypt, Muhammad Morsy, accepted Iran’s invite to visit Iran and participate in the Non-Aligned Movement conference hosted by Iran and taking place in Teheran on August 30 I wrote that by accepting the invitation Morsy is showing that he may be moving over to the Iranian sphere.
And now, a short while ago, Morsy’s office confirmed that the new Egyptian president will be visiting Washington, DC on September 23, almost exactly one month after his trip to Iran.
Phew. This is the counter move by the United States. It is good, but must be played out carefully and delicately. The United States must, at the same time, be giving with and demanding of Egypt. In terms of giving, the United States is slated to continue providing Egypt with monetary aid to the tune of $1.3 billion.
This trip to Washington must come with the proviso that US support of Egypt is conditional – and then those conditions must be carefully spelled out. Those conditions must include Egypt’s relationship with Israel and attitude toward democracy.
And then the United States must make sure that those conditions are met. It’s the carrot and the stick. And Egypt will nibble from both Iran and from the United States until she decides which side tastes sweeter.
~~Wednesday August 22, 2012~~
Not everyone in Iran is a saber rattling, some Iranians have a more realistic understanding of the risks that war with Israel entails.
Iran’s greatest, or certainly, one of it’s greatest Islamic leaders the Ayatollah Yousef Sanei yesterday announced that: “We must all do our best to prevent the Zionist attacks on Iran, because if they happen, Iran will be hurt greatly, even though the Zionist regime will be hurt even more.”
The BBC Farsi station reported the quotes. The Ayatollah Sanei was speaking in the holy city of Qom at the celebration of the Muslim Eid that concludes the fasting month of Ramadan.
He continued: “We should not act, God forbid, as warmongers in our country and provoke a war. The nation is currently in a special condition, and the most important task is to shut the Zionist regime up with our thoughts, pen, and correct efforts and actions.”
And then he concludes by saying: “Everyone should make an effort so that a possible war with the Zionist regime does not break out, because although the Zionist regime will suffer the hardest, Iran will be damaged.”
The entire analysis is realistic and appropriate and it is probably very mainstream Iran, it is just not a point of view we hear very often from over there.
~~Tuesday August 21, 2012~~
The Iranian White Throated Robin, Irania Gutturalis, has touched down in the Israel.
This is a very rare bird and indigenous only to Iran. It does migrate, but only very rarely, to Israel. That explains why this robin is on the endangered birds list in Israel even though they are plentiful in Iran.
The bird was spotted and photographed in a children’s park in Israel’s southern most city, Eliat. The Iranian was hopping and playing and enjoying himself. The photographer quickly snapped and sent pictures to the local bird watching center to confirm it was true.
Eilat is an international capital for bird watchers. People come from all over the world to see migrating bird that travel from Africa to Europe or from the northern portion of the Middle East to the southern portion.
When a tagged bird with a computer migration tracking chip arrived from Israel to Iran a few months ago, it was treated as a spy. Calls went out all throughout Iran that the bird was Israel’s new secret weapon.
In Eilat, Israel the Iranian White Throat Robin is being treated like royalty.
~~Monday August 20, 2012~~
Yesterday Israel positioned one of its Iron Dome Anti-Missile batteries in Eilat. Last week they positioned one in the city of Safed.
Three GRAD missiles have recently fallen on Eilat. Now the Iron Dome will be there to intercept any more missiles that are sent their way.
The Iron Dome has been placed in exactly the area where the previous rockets have fallen. It is a mountainous area off a highway that descends to Eilat.
As this is happening in Israel there have been reports that Egypt is also positioning surface missiles in Sinai. Those missiles face Israel and they are joined by T-60 tanks which have been moved to the border with Israel.
The Iron Dome was created to intercept regular GRAD type missiles – more mobile and less sophisticated than other missiles. But there are also GRADs that are very large and very accurate. The Iron Dome can also defend against those missiles, the type that Egypt is placing in Sinai.
In terms of the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty and its viability, these are not good signs.
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