Micah Halpern is a world traveled author, columnist and commentator and our Middle Eastern analyst on The Morning Zone. Here is a compilation of his weekly on-ling blogs and you can hear his radio commentary weekdays on The Morning Zone Program at 6:35 and 9:35AM MDT on AM650 KGAB and Listen Live at www.kgab.com.

I've Been Thinking:

Iran Sends 3000 Soldiers to Syria

~~By Micah Halpern~~

~~August 5, 2012~~

The Arabic media giant Al Arabia reported on TV that Iran has sent thousands of soldiers to Syria to help Assad.The head of the Joint Military Council confirmed the report and said that 3,000 Iranians soldiers were now in Syria fighting. The Joint Military Council is one of the many groups fighting the Assad regime.

He explained that the reason the Assad regime needed Iranian help was that Syrian soldiers were too much of a risk. They could not be trusted as they were likely to defect to his group or to other rebel forces.

All this was happening as Assad stepped up his fight using planes and helicopters to reclaim strongholds and pound the rebel fighters in Aleppo and Damascus.

The situation in Syria continues to unfold.

Iran Fears Soft War~

~~By Micah Halpern~~

~~Saturday August 4, 2012~~

Ali Jafari is the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The IRG is by far the most powerful group in Iran.

Jafari addressed a conference in Teheran recently and his speech was pasted on the IRG website. Jafari talked about the "Soft War."

He said that the biggest challenge to the Islamic revolution was the "Soft War." The expression "Soft War" normally refers to a conflict that does not involve conventional weapons of war like guns and planes and bombs.

In other words, a "Soft War" refers to sanctions to cyber warfare and to propaganda.

Iran is waging its own defense and attack in the "Soft War." But it has also taken some devastating blows. Acknowledging this publicly was a huge strategic move on Iran's part.

The IRG is hoping to get the support of the masses. The "Soft War" is felt most by the middle class. Jafari needs the middle class to know that at home, they are the true fighters for their Islamic revolution.


~~Brutal Murder of Wives in PA~~

~~By Micah Halpern~~

~~Friday August 3, 2012~~

Several dozen women and handful of men marched silently through the street in Bethlehem. The march was in protest of the inaction of the community and they demanding that all people especially the government and police protect women.

Earlier this week a woman was brutally murdered in the street by her husband in the Palestinian town of Batir. The murder took place in broad daylight in front of people who did nothing to stop it. This was the third such incident in a matter of weeks, the others were in Tulkaram in the West Bank and in Shati in Gaza.

Since January 12 women have been murdered by their husbands in the PA. And since 2011 thirteen women have been murdered for honor - they did something to bring shame on the family name.

In the Palestinian Authority police seldom act to protect or even investigate these murders.

The public demonstration may embarrass PA leadership and force them to act. President Abbass' office responded by saying that he held a meeting with the police about ensuring civilian safety.

That is not quite enough. Not if you are a victim


~~Hamas Critique of PA & Auschwitz~~
~~By Micah Halpern~~

~~Thursday August 2, 2012~~

Yesterday a Hamas leader publicly strafed and viciously criticized a Palestinian Authority advisor for visiting Auschwitz.

Last week Zaid al Bandak a close adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went to visit the infamous and most notorious Nazi death camp located in southern Poland. In Auschwitz the Nazis murdered 1 million Jews in gas chambers and then burnt their bodies in crematoria.

Hamas made clear in their criticism of the visit that they firmly believe that the Holocaust is a lie fabricated to give Jews superior victim status that justifies their oppression of the Palestinians.

This conflict shows just how different Hamas is from the PA. It's critical that the difference be underscored. Hamas is a terror organization that has sworn to destroy Israel. It is part of their very essence.

The PA is the authority that Israel was, is and will need to deal with in order to achieve a rapprochement.

It is too simple to lump everyone together and say that the all Palestinian leadership is the same.


~~Egypt Denies Sending Letter to Israel~~
~~By Micah Halpern~~

~~Wednesday August 1, 2012~~
Egyptian President Morsy sent a letter to Israeli President Peres yesterday. The letter spells the name of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt with a "Y" not an "I". Who am I to spell it differently.

The letter, accompanied by a cover letter, was delivered by the Egyptian Embassy in Israel.

The Israeli press picked up the news and heralded it. The Egyptian spokesperson for President Morsy who is the representative of Muslim Brotherhood said that the press reports in Israel were "all a fabrication."

But it is not so.

I saw a copy of the cover letter which mentions the official letter. In the cover letter Morsy blesses Peres and thanks Peres for the blessings he bestowed upon him.

So why the denial in Egypt?

Because being friendly - or rather, not being hostile - to Israel, is unacceptable in the new Egypt.


~~Iran To Execute 4 for Bank Fraud~~
~~By Micah Halpern~~

~~Tuesday July 31, 2012~~

Yesterday a court in Iran convicted and sentenced four men to death. They will be executed for bank fraud.The four were investment bankers who forged papers enabling them to get $2.6 billion in government loans that they then used to buy government properties.

The arrests were made in September 2011. The trial and the sentencing took less than 11 months. The government of Ahmadinejad has been tainted by this case. One of the charges against the current government is corruption and the charge is based on this $2.6 billion scandal.

In Iran they execute people convicted of bank fraud. There is no such thing as white collar crime and white collar sentencing in Iran.

I could not even begin to imagine how many people would now be on death row if that were the white collar punishment meted out in the United States.

~~Jordan Opens Syrian Refugee Camps~~
~~By Micah Halpern~~

~~Monday July 30, 2012~~

Jordan gave permission to the United Nations to establish 200 refugee camps for Syrians seeking safe haven from the crisis in Syria.

Thus far 140,000 refugees have crossed into Jordan where the camps will accommodate up to a million. Until now Jordan was reluctant to permit camps thinking that camps will create their own problems. The number of refugees Jordan permits to cross the border per day has increased from 500 to 1000 and may be as many as 2000.

Now the Syrians are helping the UN establish the refugee camps. The first was opened yesterday on the Syrian border.

The Zaatari Camp was opened with 500 new refugees. It will eventually hold 120,000.

Jordan is preparing for the worse possible scenario. Kudos to Jordan.
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