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Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 25.05.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • “The Price for Peace in Syria”
  • Al Monitor: What did Putin mean by withdrawing ‚foreign armed forces‘ from Syria?
  • Al Monitor: Turkey’s de-escalation efforts around Idlib come with risks.
  • Statements following Russian-Syrian talks (att.)
  • Ukraine Declares ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation in the Donbas’ Officially Over: What Does That Mean?
  • ‚Not a Problem‘: Austrian Energy Giant Defends ‚Dependence on Russia‘
  • Egypt and Ethiopia Smooth Tensions Over Nile Dam.
  • Andrey Kortunov (Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member)
  • -> Where Are U.S.–Russia Relations Headed?
  • -> SCO: The Cornerstone Rejected by the Builders of a New Eurasia?

Massenbach* Reuters / Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin:

  • Wladimir Putin: Europa soll für Syriens Aufbau zahlen –

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel pocht beim Treffen mit Russlands Präsidenten Wladimir Putin für Syrien auf einen UN-Friedensprozess.

Europa muss nach Ansicht des russischen Präsidenten Wladimir Putin beim Wiederaufbau Syriens helfen, wenn die Flüchtlinge dorthin zurückkehren sollen. Das Thema des Wiederaufbaus müsse entpolitisiert werden, forderte er nach einem Treffen mit Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel am Freitag im russischen Sotschi. Putin kritisiert bereits seit Längerem die Haltung Europas, wonach der Westen sich auf humanitäre Hilfe in Syrien beschränkt und kein Geld für den Wiederaufbau der Landes zur Verfügung stellt, solange Präsident Baschar al Assad an der Macht ist. Assad hatte wenige Stunden vor der Merkel-Visite Gespräche mit Putin in Sotschi geführt.

Aleppo – 2018

Merkel betonte erneut, dass der UN-Friedensprozess für Syrien vorangetrieben werden müsse. Aktuell wird in zwei weiteren Foren nach einer Lösung für das Bürgerkriegsland gesucht: in den Gesprächen der sogenannten Small Group, an denen unter anderem die USA, Großbritannien, Saudi-Arabien und Deutschland beteiligt sind, und in den Astana-Verhandlungen unter Führung Russlands. Der Westen bemüht sich, die unterschiedlichen Prozesse langfristig wieder unter dem Dach der Vereinten Nationen zu bündeln. „Es geht jetzt darum, in den nächsten Schritten auch wirklich eine gemeinsame Agenda zu haben, die dann in den jeweiligen Gruppen auch behandelt werden kann“, sagte Merkel.

Besorgt äußerte sich die Kanzlerin über das sogenannte Dekret Nummer Zehn in Syrien. Danach können Menschen, die sich nicht in einer bestimmten Frist in Syrien melden, ihre Wohnungen und Häuser verlieren. „Das ist natürlich eine sehr schlechte Nachricht für alle, die eines Tages wieder nach Syrien zurückkehren wollen“, sagte Merkel. „Darüber werden wir noch intensiver sprechen und Russland bitten, seinen Einfluss geltend zu machen, dass das von Assad nicht gemacht wird, denn das wäre eine große Barriere für eine Rückkehr. Deshalb muss verhindert werden, dass da Fakten geschaffen werden.“

Merkel und Putin wollen an der Nord-Stream-2-Pipeline festhalten

Merkel und Putin wollen trotz des Drucks der USA an der umstrittenen Erdgas-Pipeline Nord Stream 2 durch die Ostsee festhalten. Beide versuchten, Sorgen Kiews zu zerstreuen, nach Inbetriebnahme der Trasse gingen Transiteinnahmen für die Ukraine verloren. Putin kündigte an, der Transit solle nicht beeinträchtigt werden. Er schränkte jedoch ein: „Die Lieferungen werden fortgesetzt, wenn dies wirtschaftlich begründet und sinnvoll ist für alle Beteiligten.“

Merkel betonte, es sei von strategischer Bedeutung, dass der Transit weitergehe. Deutschland sei bereit, sich zu engagieren. Die Frage sei, welche Garantien die Ukraine erhalte. Bereits Anfang der Woche war Wirtschaftsminister Peter Altmaier zu Gesprächen über Nord Stream 2 zwischen Moskau und Kiew gependelt.

Es war Merkels erster Besuch in Russland seit Mai 2017. Das deutsch-russische Verhältnis ist gespannt, seit Russland sich 2014 die ukrainische Halbinsel Krim einverleibt hat und Separatisten in der Ostukraine unterstützt. Merkel drang darauf, Pläne für den Einsatz einer UN-Mission in der Ostukraine voranzutreiben. Putin erwiderte, die Außenminister beider Länder seien beauftragt worden, Ansätze für eine Blauhelmmission auszuarbeiten. (Tsp, Reuters)

https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/treffen-mit-angela-merkel-wladimir-putin-europa-soll-fuer-syriens-aufbau-zahlen/22583352.html

https://de.reuters.com/article/syrien-russland-putin-idDEKCN1IJ1Y8

  • Statements following Russian-Syrian talks (att.)

Assad: ….As to economic cooperation, we noted the recent growth of Russian investment, Russian companies’ investments in various areas of the Syrian economy, and also discussed possible steps to further encourage Russian companies to invest in our country and take part in the reconstruction process…..

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57488

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Ukraine Declares ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation in the Donbas’ Officially Over: What Does That Mean?

Adam Coffey – 16 May 2018

A recent change in the way Ukraine describes the separatist conflict on its territory is not just about branding; it is also about the search for a more successful strategy

The so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO), run by Ukraine’s security forces for almost four years, has now officially come to an end. At first sight, this could be interpreted as the cessation of hostilities that have claimed the lives of over 10,000 people. Sadly, this is not the case, which became clear immediately after the announcement, with further injuries reported by both side. The ATO, however, has been replaced by a Joint Force Operation (JFO) that, far from being a mere rebranding exercise, hints at some important political and structural reforms. Ukraine may be prepared to move on from its hard-line stance on some of the key issues underlining the military confrontation.

A small but significant difference between the JFO and ATO is how the conflict area is now officially and legally classified. Since the start of the ATO in 2014, the conflict area to which it applies has been described officially in Ukrainian legislation and European declarations as ‘non-governmental-controlled areas’. The classification has stopped short of laying blame on the Russian efforts to destabilise eastern Ukraine and has inadvertently provided a boost to the Russian narrative that denies any connection between Russia proper and the separatists in Ukraine. This has changed under the new JFO classification, and the area is now formally described as ‘temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions controlled by Russian occupation administration’. Switching the focus from the ‘terrorists’, or at least the separatist forces, and identifying Russian involvement in their stead sends a clear message that Ukraine not only remains determined about the reintegration of these regions, but that it also formally accuses Russia of fomenting the troubles.

The Minsk accords, concluded between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in 2015 in an effort to dampen the fighting, have only been partially implemented partly because of the complex challenge of agreeing on how to treat the separatists. Pardoning separatists, organising local elections, and ensuring that the Donbas enjoys a ‘special status’ enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution – all provisions of the Minsk agreements – are still considered by Ukrainian leaders as being steps too far for Kiev to undertake while Ukraine’s international borders are violated by Russia.

Ukraine’s argument has always been that its territorial integrity should take precedence over any ‘special’ administration measures that may be subsequently enforced. And, although the changes in the designation of the areas outside the Ukrainian government’s control will not affect the violence on the ground, they do clarify matters and put the blame of the rebellion, at least as far as the Ukrainian authorities are concerned, on Russia.

The introduction of the JFO also entails substantial command and control changes. Pervasive confusion in the beginning of the conflict, particularly the uprisings in key cities, resulted in the country’s main security agency, the Security Service of Ukraine, treating the separatists as a terror-related challenge, rather than a foreign intervention. But with the launch of the JFO, the Armed Forces of Ukraine now have control of the operation. From a military perspective, this makes perfect sense. Most of the combat operations conducted are not terrorist operations; they are combat engagements and therefore should be controlled as such.

It is expected that this designation change will assist with command and control tasks and render Ukrainian commanders more flexible and agile in their response. Post-Soviet armies are often mired in bureaucracy and overburdened with defunct command and control layers, so any fresh approach that results in a reduction in such baleful effects should be welcome.

Refashioning the Ukrainian operation in the east should have happened much earlier than it has. But it is also worth noting that, although the Ukrainian government is now ready to blame Russia for the rebellion, Kiev has also been careful not to imply that it is at war with Russia. So, although some of the ambiguity in the way Ukraine defines the conflict has now disappeared, a certain level of ambiguity is still being maintained.

Adam Coffey is a British Army Visiting Fellow at RUSI. Adam is an Army Officer who has recently returned from Ukraine as part of the UK’s Building Partner Capacity Operation.

The views expressed in this Commentary are the author’s, and do not reflect those of RUSI or the Ministry of Defence.

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From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

Andrey Kortunov (Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Webinar on Effective Partnerships in Russia (Retail vs Distribution)

International Trade Administration sent this bulletin at 05/22/2018 02:37 PM EDT

Live Interview with Russian Market Distributor & Retailer

Overview:

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Over 1,000 American firms of all sizes continue to do business in Russia, given its 142 million consumers, $27k+ GDP per capita (as measured in purchasing power parity), a growing middle class and highly educated and trained workforce.

The wild west of the 1990s in Russia is over. Russian distributors are no longer lining up to represent international companies.

U.S. companies must search for partners proactively in order to understand the ins and outs of the market. Moreover, business in Russia is moving fast. There is tremendous competition from the rest of the world, including China. Choosing the right distributor is one of the most important things you can do when doing business in Russia.

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* ‚Not a Problem‘: Austrian Energy Giant Defends ‚Dependence on Russia‘

US President Donald Trump has reportedly asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to withdraw its support for the Nord Stream 2 project and allegedly promised to negotiate a new US-EU trade deal. CEO of the Austrian energy giant OMV Rainer Seele doesn’t see a problem with dependence on the Russian gas, as, according to him, such dependence is mutual, DPA reported. At the same time, he slammed US efforts to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project.

"The interference of the US government clearly shows me that the realization of economic interests is achieved through sanctions," he said.

The OMV CEO expects that all the necessary approvals from the Danish, Swedish and Russian governments will be received by Gazprom by the end of the summer. Seele also warned against seeing Nord Stream 2 as a total replacement for pipelines going through Ukraine, as according to him, these would still be used for transit.

READ MORE: Berlin Responds to US Threats of Imposing Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2

OMV is a participant in the Nord Stream 2 project along with Russian Gazprom, French Engie, UK-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, German Uniper and Wintershall. It is planned that the new double pipeline will deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas a year to EU countries.

Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that US President Donald Trump had asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel during their meeting in April to withdraw Germany’s support for the Nord Stream 2 in exchange for a new trade deal with Europe.

READ MORE: Remaining Permits for Nord Stream 2 May Be Issued in Summer — Gas Concern’s Head

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after his negotiations with Merkel on May 18 that Nord Stream 2 is not intended to end the gas transit through Ukraine, saying that it will continue as long as it is economically viable.

https://sputniknews.com/business/201805201064622831-austrian-energy-giant-defends-dependence/

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* WSJ: Egypt and Ethiopia Smooth Tensions Over Nile Dam.

Officials report progress after months of acrimony over how the share the river’s waters.

May 16, 2018 10:23 a.m. ET

0 COMMENTS

CAIRO—Officials from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Wednesday made progress after months of acrimony over how to share the waters of the Nile river, smoothing tensions in a conflict that has threatened to upset the political balance in the Horn of Africa.

The spat is pitting old power Egypt against a rising Ethiopia. Ethiopia is building a massive $4.2 billion dam on the Nile’s main tributary that Egypt, which depends on the Nile for its water supply, fears will divert too much water and place pressure on its agriculture.

The foreign ministers from Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan’s water minister agreed at a meeting in Cairo to launch a joint scientific study of how quickly the dam being built by Ethiopia should be filled. The three signed a document calling for the leaders of the three countries to meet every six months.

“We have consulted and deliberated quite extensively as you have seen, which has led us to an understanding of the way forward,” said Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the conclusion of the talks.

The positive note follows months of meetings in Cairo and Addis Ababa that all failed to yield consensus on how to break the deadlock.

Ethiopia started constructing the dam, which will be Africa’s biggest, in 2011 when Egypt was in the throes of the Arab Spring. The project, which is due to be completed next year, has been fully funded by Ethiopia and has become a national symbol of its economic and strategic ambitions.

Ethiopia last year was the world’s fastest-growing economy and is desperate for additional energy sources to power its plans to become a major manufacturer. The country also hopes to generate income by selling power from dam.

Ethiopia has dismissed Egypt’s fears that if the dam is as filled as quickly as Addis Ababa wants it could affect its agriculture. Officials criticize Cairo as clinging to colonial-era agreements that grant Egypt the vast majority of the Nile waters, despite the fact that the river largely emanates in and flows through Ethiopia. Sudan, wedged between the two, has seen its relationship with Egypt rapidly deteriorate.

Another high-level meeting on the dam is planned for July 3 and 4 in Cairo.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/egypt-and-ethiopia-smooth-tensions-over-nile-dam-1526480615?reflink=djem_Frontiers

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Middle East

Al Monitor: What did Putin mean by withdrawing ‚foreign armed forces‘ from Syria?

Putin’s diplomatic surge on Syria

Maxim Suchkov writes May 10 that “one shouldn’t be surprised to see a high-level visitor or two from Syria or Iran to Russia rather soon,” after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow the previous day.

So no surprise for Al-Monitor readers that both Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have since come calling in Russia.

Last week, we described in this column Vladimir Putin’s role as "go-to" mediator between Iran and Israel. The US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) may have, inadvertently, strengthened Putin’s hand. Moscow’s good offices are, for now, the only diplomatic venue available where both sides can pass messages and expect them to be faithfully delivered. Russian diplomacy has since shifted into even higher gear on Syria.

Hamidreza Azizi writes, “Iran’s decision not to widen the scope of its confrontation with Israel in Syria could be interpreted as another component of Tehran’s approach in the face of the West’s new activism. As such, Iran does not see any need for an escalation, since by maintaining close cooperation with Russia it sees the Israeli issue as something manageable down the road. This derives mostly from the view that if Russia finally takes new steps to enhance the Syrian military’s defense capabilities, and especially by providing it with S-300 air defense systems, Iranian forces in Syria would be far less likely to face Israeli attacks in the future. At the same time, Iran is trying not to provoke Moscow to take Israel’s side, thereby preserving a meaningful level of distance between the Russian and Israeli positions.”

Assad’s meeting with Putin in Sochi on May 17 came two days after diplomats from the Astana parties — Russia, Turkey and Iran — concluded their latest round of consultations on Syria. While the follow-through is what counts, the words coming out of the Putin-Assad summit reveal hints of a potential breakthrough on two fronts, as well as a needed boost for UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Suchkov reports, “Arguably the most important outcome of the meeting is that Assad has finally embraced the need to form a committee tasked with drafting a Syrian Constitution. Assad had opposed the idea, for fear of eventually losing power or being traded off, ever since its adoption in January at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Moscow has advocated the idea as the best tool to navigate the conflict into the politico-diplomatic domain (and one that would allow it to maintain influence over the process).”

Assad said after meeting Putin, “We focused on the issue of the Constitutional Committee that should be established following the results of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. We expect to start the corresponding work with the UN. I have confirmed to President Putin today that Syria will send the list of its delegates to the Constitutional Committee to discuss amendments to the current Constitution. It will be done as soon as possible."

Assad’s seemingly long-awaited concession to Russian efforts to establish a Constitutional Committee was not the only possible game changer. “The most intriguing takeaway from the meeting,” Suchkov reports, “are perhaps Putin’s remarks about the foreign military presence in Syria: ‚We proceed from the assumption that in view of the significant victories and success achieved by the Syrian army in its fight against terrorism, and the start of a more active phase of the political process, foreign armed forces will be withdrawing from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.’”

What is not known is whether the Trump administration will recognize and seize the prospect of Russian mediation, at a time when Iran is on defense and the Syrian people may be catching a glimmer of hope that this terrible war may actually be winding down.

Al Monitor: Turkey’s de-escalation efforts around Idlib come with risks

Article Summary

Turkey has erected its final observation post in the Idlib region, but many unknowns and potential hazards remain.

REUTERS/Osman Orsal

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Turkey completed its final Syrian de-escalation military outpost May 16, wrapping up the project in Jisr al-Shughur, a town that abuts Turkey’s Akcakale border crossing and that is notorious as the local hub for Salafists and jihadis from Central Asia and the Xinjiang region of China.

With that effort, Ankara has fulfilled its promise to Iran and Russia — the other guarantors of the many peace negotiations held in Astana, Kazakhstan — to build 12 outposts virtually encircling Idlib; Turkey will continue to operate them as well. Now the Turkish army’s position separates pro-Iran armed groups and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with one mechanized infantry company reinforced with armor at each of these outposts.

Turkey has the personnel of two mechanized infantry brigades reinforced with commando and military engineering detachments (about 1,300 soldiers in total) scattered in the north, east, south and southwest of Idlib, the hot zone that will determine when and where the operation achieves its goals west of the Euphrates River.

Establishing the de-escalation posts had always been a hot issue among Ankara, Moscow and Tehran. Moscow was eager for Ankara to finish the job, while Tehran has been the game spoiler, particularly during negotiations on how to share control of the zones in east and southeast Idlib. As stipulated by the trilateral accord reached at Astana, Turkey set up the outposts in the Sunni opposition-controlled parts of Idlib. Under the accord, Russia and Iran will have to put up similar observation posts on the turf controlled by Assad’s forces. These observation posts will thus constitute a security buffer between the opposition and Assad forces. But there have been no signs of Iran doing its part, and its delay in disciplining autonomous pro-Iran armed groups south of Aleppo has been annoying Ankara.

The Turkish army began setting up the de-escalation posts in October. The army now has troops deployed at: Salva village near Dana; Samaan village (Takle) and Aqil Mountain, both near Darat Izza; al-Eis near al-Hader; Tal Tukan village near Saraqib; Surman village near Maarat al-Numan; Anadan (Tal Tamurah) and Rashidin, both in western Aleppo; Zeytuna and Istabrak (very close to Jisr al-Shughur), both in southwestern Idlib; Morek (Tal as-Sawwan) in rural Hama; and Zawiyah in rural southern Idlib.

What is Ankara’s strategic rationale for establishing these outposts? With Moscow’s backing, Ankara seeks to deter any Iran-backed ground offensive by the Assad regime in northwest Syria and prevent a potential mass refugee movement. The outposts are also making Ankara’s military footprint in the north more visible, and therefore, protecting the Afrin region and the triangle formed by al-Bab, Jarablus and al-Rai beyond their geographic boundaries. For Moscow, Ankara’s fulfillment of this promise means pro-Iran and pan-Shiite armed groups deployed in southern Aleppo won’t be able to move in and fill the power vacuum in southern and southeastern Idlib.

Although the media haven’t said much about these observation posts, it is possible to say that they actually constitute a cross-border operation with even more ambiguities than Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations. Six of the 12 outposts are 35 kilometers (almost 22 miles) or more from Turkey’s border. The most distant one is 88 kilometers (55 miles) away. These outposts each have the manpower of only one military company, and so will have limited capability to resist if attacked. Bearing in mind that Turkey doesn’t have air superiority in the region, it won’t be easy to reinforce these scattered outposts from the air and ground, or to evacuate them.

Is there a risk that these outposts might be attacked? Turkish forces are under the protection of Russia, which controls the skies and the entire process, but there is continuing speculation over the status of Idlib and who will be controlling the city.

Pro-Assad forces could attack opposition forces in the Idlib region in coming weeks. We know that Assad forces, after clearing opposition forces from Damascus, Hama and Homs, have evacuated about 40,000 armed Sunni opposition fighters and their families to Idlib and other areas controlled by Turkey in northern Syria. Idlib’s population has doubled to about 3 million because of displaced people. Assad’s forces, which have completed most of their operations against opposition forces in and north of Damascus could now launch an operation to clear Idlib of opposition forces. Such an operation and the mass internal migration it would provoke could well be more than the Turkish outposts could handle. Despite Russian domination of the area, Turkey has to keep in mind the possibility of an accidental clash or the Assad regime acting on its own.

Another risk in Idlib is posed by the Salafi-jihadi armed groups linked to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham that control the city’s center. The responsibility Turkey has assumed at Idlib inevitably raises the issue of how Turkey’s relations with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham will develop. If that relationship sours, Turkish outposts will be the nearest targets for the jihadi group.

Turkey’s presence in Idlib deters pro-Assad groups and helps opposition groups survive against Assad forces. But the UN considers Hayat Tahrir al-Sham a terror organization, which could complicate the issue even more.

Finally, there are groups linked with al-Qaeda in the area, as well as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, both of which could create yet another major headache for Turkey.

Two key issues will determine the fate of these Turkish outposts. One is how long Ankara can continue its de-escalation efforts if Iran begins meddling and whether Russia feels it must choose between backing Iran or Turkey. The other issue is whether Turkey can contain the tense situation around Idlib until the political transition begins — if ever.

Metin Gurcan is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse. He served in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Iraq as a Turkish military adviser from 2002 to 2008. After resigning from the military, he became an Istanbul-based independent security analyst. Gurcan obtained his PhD in 2016 with a dissertation on changes in the Turkish military over the preceding decade. He has published extensively in Turkish and foreign academic journals, and his book “What Went Wrong in Afghanistan: Understanding Counterinsurgency in Tribalized, Rural, Muslim Environments” was published in August 2016

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/turkey-syria-de-escalation-efforts-around-idlib-risky-1.html#ixzz5GGNSdTib

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

The National Interest: The Price for Peace in Syria Is Cooperation with Assad

Two unpleasant propositions about the lengthy civil war in Syria have been substantially absent from current policy discussions. It seems time to bring them forward and to take them seriously.

The first acknowledges that the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have pretty much won the war. As journalist Robin Wright noted recently, Assad has managed to “consolidate his hold over the majority of Syria” and now “controls all the major cities.” Grandstanding bombings devised to encourage the regime to kill with bullets and shrapnel rather than with gas are exercises in futility. As she concludes “Assad is . . . winning the war and the reality is that the military strike will not change that.”

And in February, a U.S. intelligence community report concluded that, “the Syrian opposition’s seven-year insurgency is probably no longer capable of overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad or overcoming a growing military disadvantage.”

The second proposition is a stark observation put forward in a think tank report in 2015 by Ambassador James Dobbins and his colleagues: “any peace in Syria is better than the current war.”

For those whose chief concern is the welfare of the Syrian people, the conclusion, however painful, should be obvious. The United States and other intervening states should work primarily to bring the suffering to a substantial close, and this likely means cutting off support to most rebel combatants in Syria and working with—perhaps even directly supporting—Assad and his foreign allies.

This would, of course, constitute a massive reversal in policy—as well as a grim admission that the Russians have been essentially right in the civil war. But, although a great many elements in the Syrian tragedy remain cloudy, it seems clear that foreign assistance to the rebels has simply had the result of prolonging, or systematically stoking, the disaster. For years, much of the fighting has consisted of the mindless lobbing of ordnance on civilian areas, a process that mainly creates misery and refugees. All, or just about all, present policy proposals concerning Syria would essentially perpetuate this dismal condition.

There is a risk, of course, that, once something of a peace has been secured, Assad’s forces will embark on murderous rampages against former enemies. But it is more likely that this danger can be effectively dealt with if the United States and other interveners are inside the tent rather than outside of it.

The country would be effectively partitioned, with pockets still controlled by various rebel groups from U.S.-supported Kurds to Islamist operatives. And there would also be Islamic State remnants to deal with. Following the Dobbins proposal, this condition might prevail for years as efforts are made to negotiate difficult settlements.

But the very considerable bulk of the country would be substantially pacified. As a result, many refugees might find it safe to return and to help rebuild their shattered country.

And it is clear that a considerable portion of Syrians prefer being in government areas rather than areas controlled by rebels who are often incoherent and vicious. Details are sketchy, but given the choice, two-thirds of civilian evacuees from rebel-held East Aleppo asked to settle in government areas, not in rebel-controlled areas.

One Aleppo professor, himself an opponent of the regime, estimates that in an election today, Assad would get more than 70 percent of the vote.

As early as 2014, Graham Fuller, a Middle East specialist and former vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, pointed out that although Assad “is hardly an ideal ruler,” he “is rational, has run a longtime functioning state,” and scarcely represents a threat to the United States. Moreover, Assad is supported by many in Syria who “rightly fear” the “domestic anarchy” that might come after his fall. The lessons of Libya are clearly relevant here.

Fuller concluded that “The time has now come to bite the bullet, admit failure, and to permit—if not assist—Assad in quickly winding down the civil war in Syria.”

This suggestion was highly unfashionable at the time, and then, like the Dobbins assessment, it was overwhelmed for a while by hysteria over the rise of the vicious, if ultimately ratherridiculous, ISIS group. However, although the perspective remains very much a minority view, its time may well have come.

John Mueller is a political scientist at Ohio State University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/the-price-peace-syria-cooperation-assad-25871

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see our letter on: http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

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02-13-18 Coats_National-Intelligence- Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community.pdf

2015 RAND_PE182-A Peace Plan for Syria.pdf

05-17-18 The Price for Peace in Syria Is Cooperation with Assad The National Interest B.pdf

05-22-18 A_Kortunov-Where Are U.S.-Russia Relations Headed.pdf

05-17-18 Statements following Russian-Syrian talks . President ofRussia.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 18.05.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • The United States and the Holy See: An Enduring Vision for Peace and Freedom
  • Donald Trump – Der beste Außenpolitiker seit George Bush Senior?
  • FP: Regime Change for Dummies
  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Wall Street Journal: ‘I Am the Mastermind’: Mohammed bin Salman’s Guide to Getting Rich

· Rising oil prices boost U.S. economy: Kemp – Reuters News

  • Chatham House: Russia’s New State Armament Programme:

Massenbach*The United States and the Holy See: An Enduring Vision for Peace and Freedom

President Ronald Reagan meets with Pope John Paul II in Fairbanks, Alaska on May 2, 1984.

By Callista L. Gingrich on May 14, 2018

Since taking up my post as United States Ambassador to the Holy See on December 22, 2017, I’ve often been asked to explain the benefits of maintaining an embassy to the Vatican. After all, the territory of the Holy See, the government of the Roman Catholic Church, occupies less than one quarter of a square mile. So why do we need an embassy?

The answer is rooted in history. When Pope John Paul II arrived in Poland on June 5, 1979, during his first official pilgrimage to his native land, he declared "There can be no just Europe without the independence of Poland marked on its map!”

President Reagan, inspired by the pontiff’s message that Eastern Europe would soon be free from Soviet dominance, requested a meeting with Pope John Paul II. When the two leaders met in Vatican City in 1982, President Reagan asked, “Your Holiness, when will that be?” When the Pope responded, “In our lifetime,” the President grabbed his hand and said, “Let’s work together.”

Following their meeting, President Reagan returned to the United States and instructed the State Department to work closely with the Vatican. “I want a full-fledged embassy,” he ordered. Two years later, in 1984, the United States Embassy to the Holy See was established.

The embassy’s mandate was to work hand-in-hand with the Holy See to counter the destructive and destabilizing behavior of the Soviet Union. We succeeded through the leadership of President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, and the resilience of the American people. Today we are faced with different challenges — equally great and perilous.

As Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., noted, "President Reagan not only forged a strong personal relationship with His Holiness John Paul II, but also an important diplomatic synergy between the United States and the Holy See.”

That synergy endures to this day. The necessity of our partnership did not end with the fall of the Berlin Wall. It remains critical to U.S. national security priorities, from responding to humanitarian crises and safeguarding human rights to countering the aggressive behavior of states and preventing and mediating conflict.

And the reason is simple: The Vatican is a soft-power superpower. Its impact, under the leadership of Pope Francis, is real and respected around the world. The Church is engaged on every continent, advancing human rights and religious freedom, mediating conflict and preventing violence, inhibiting the spread of epidemics like HIV/AIDS and Ebola, and fighting terrorism. The Holy See also has the second largest diplomatic presence behind the United States – with 183 diplomatic partners.

The Vatican, through an unrivaled network of local contacts, plays an active role in countries where many governments have difficulty operating, from the Central African Republic and South Sudan to Syria.

Across much of Africa, the Catholic Church serves on the frontlines as the only viable institution in society. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Catholic Church continues to play a critical role in supporting political dialogue and providing humanitarian relief. In the Central African Republic, the Holy See has been and remains a crucial mediating force, bringing opposing parties together and achieving results. Pope Francis’ visit in 2015, for example, brought Muslims and Christians together, helping to pave the way for a peaceful and democratic presidential election.

The Vatican’s unique ability to develop trust, work with local communities, and deliver messages is unlike any nation-state. And the Catholic Church is one of the world’s largest providers of education, healthcare, and humanitarian assistance. Its extensive network of relief workers and service providers has access and credibility in the world’s most troubled areas. America benefits from this enormous reach and soft-power influence.

In short, the United States Embassy to the Holy See serves as a global engagement post. We leverage the global impact and network of the Vatican – extending to more than 1.3 billion Catholics and millions of non-Catholics as well – to promote our common priorities in every region of the world.

The Vatican is also an important U.S. partner in fighting modern slavery, promoting democracy, and safeguarding human rights, particularly related to religious freedom.

For example, the United States and the Holy See share a commitment to combating the global evil of human trafficking. President Trump has pledged to bring the “full force and weight” of the U.S. government to this fight.

Pope Francis talks with Callista Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, during a private meeting Dec. 22, 2017 at the Vatican. (Courtesy of U.S. Embassy to the Holy See)

Our two governments are likewise committed to protecting and promoting religious freedom in every part of the world. As indicated in the 2016 International Freedom Report, when this fundamental right is denied, “instability, human rights abuses, and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root.” Our embassy works closely with the Holy See to secure the future of not just Christian minorities but all religious minorities who are persecuted simply for professing their faith.

The Holy See’s vast global influence makes it a critical partner to address a wide range of issues. Working together with the Vatican, the United States Embassy to the Holy See will continue to promote peace, freedom, and human dignity throughout the world.

About the Author: Callista L. Gingrich serves as the United States Ambassador to the Holy See.

https://blogs.state.gov/stories/2018/05/14/en/united-states-and-holy-see-enduring-vision-peace-and-freedom

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Adapting Russia’s armed forces to today’s challenges will require sustained investment in modernization efforts and military R&D
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Chatham House
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The Russia and Eurasia Programme is delighted to announce the publication of a new research paper:
Russia’s New State Armament Programme:
Implications for the Russian Armed Forces and Military Capabilities to 2027

by Richard Connolly and Mathieu Boulègue

w640_9811126_20180510russiastatearmament_0.jpg
s.gif The newly approved state armament programme (GPV 2027) will form the basis of Russia’s defence procurement and military priorities until 2027. Over the next decade, the Ministry of Defence will be allocated the vast majority of around R19 trillion ($306 billion) for the procurement of military equipment, its modernization and repair, and research and development (R&D). However, as inflation has eroded the value of the rouble since 2011, the new programme is less ambitious than its predecessor in real terms.
s.gif GPV 2027 is likely to focus on force mobility and deployability, military logistics, and strengthening command-and-control (C2) systems. Additional emphasis is likely to be placed on the standardization and optimization of existing systems. GPV 2027 will guide defence procurement and the modernization of the armed forces. The modernization of Russia’s strategic nuclear triad is expected to remain a priority. The ground forces can expect a larger share of funding than before. Meanwhile, the country’s Aerospace Forces (VKS) will probably concentrate on filling existing gaps in procurement, as well as on boosting power-projection capabilities and force mobility. Air defence systems, and the honing of deterrence and anti-access capabilities, will probably keep playing an important part in military planning.
s.gif Key external factors affecting the implementation of GPV 2027 will include ‘lessons learned’ from operational combat experience in Ukraine and Syria since 2014, as well as negative impacts of targeted international sanctions on Russia’s defence sector and from the breakdown of military cooperation with Ukraine since 2014. Internal factors will include the struggle to modernize military equipment, the need to increase the effort around military R&D, and the existence of long-term, unresolved issues relating to the internal workings of the defence industry.
s.gif By 2027, the Russian armed forces are likely to be considerably better equipped than they are today. Nevertheless, one should not overstate the pace of probable modernization. While some progress may be made in the development of new-generation equipment, the armed forces will probably still rely on a mix of legacy hardware and modernized Soviet systems alongside new designs. Providing Russia with 21st-century military capabilities and adapting its armed forces to today’s challenges will require sustained investment in modernization efforts and military R&D.
Dr Richard Connolly is an associate fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. He is a senior lecturer in political economy and co-director of the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham. His research and teaching are principally concerned with the political economy of Russia.

Mathieu Boulègue is a research fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. Before joining Chatham House, he was a partner at the risk management and strategic research consultancy AESMA, where he worked as director of Eurasian affairs. In his research, Mathieu focuses particularly on Eurasian security and defence issues, as well as on Russia’s domestic and foreign policy.

Read the full research paper >

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Donald Trump – Der beste Außenpolitiker seit George Bush Senior?

KOLUMNE: GRAUZONE am 12. Mai 2018

Außenpolitisch erreicht Donald Trump einen außenpolitischen Erfolg nach dem nächsten: die Aufkündigung des Atomabkommens mit dem Iran, das Gipfeltreffen mit Kim Jong-Un. Die Europäer sollten von diesem Verhalten lernen. Von Alexander Grau

Alexander Grau ist promovierter Philosoph und arbeitet als freier Kultur- und Wissenschaftsjournalist. Vor Kurzem erschien sein Buch „Hypermoral. Die neue Lust an der Empörung“ beim Claudius Verlag München.

Auch wenn es in Deutschland kaum einer laut sagt: Außenpolitisch macht Donald Trump alles richtig. Ob mit Plan, aus Überlegung, schlauem Kalkül oder purem Zufall, das sei einmal dahingestellt. Tatsache ist aber: Die Chance, dass Trump in die Geschichte als der außenpolitisch erfolgreichste Präsident seit George Bush Senior eingehen wird, ist überaus groß. Im Grunde ist er es schon jetzt. Erfolgreicher als der Multilateralist und Friedensengel Barack Obama ist er allemal. Aber das war auch nicht so schwer.

Trump hat Nordkorea unter Druck gesetzt. Pjöngjangs Abrüstungsofferten und das Zusammentreffen von Kim Jong-Un und Südkoreas Präsident Moon Jae In sind sein Verdienst. Auch die Freilassung der drei US-Amerikaner durch Nordkorea, die dort seit Jahren inhaftiert waren, ist ein direktes Ergebnis seiner Politik. Gleiches gilt für den am 12. Juni in Singapur anberaumten Gipfel zwischen ihm und Nordkoreas Diktator Jong-Un.

Ein neuer Ansatz ohne Scheinheiligkeiten

Derselben Linie folgte die Verlegung der US-amerikanische Botschaft nach Jerusalem. Wo hasenfüßige Europäer mal wieder einen Frieden gefährdet sahen, der ohnehin nicht existiert, signalisierte Trump, dass mit der als „Friedenprozess“ apostrophierte Farce Schluss sein muss. Es braucht einen grundlegend neuen Ansatz ohne Selbstbetrug und Scheinheiligkeiten. Denn zur Wahrheit gehört, dass der Iran seit Jahrzehnten an der Destabilisierung des Nahen Ostens arbeitet. Sein Endziel ist die Vernichtung Israels und die Konsolidierung des schiitischen Halbmonds, also eines Herrschaftsbereichs von der Mittelmeerküste über den Iran bis nach Bahrain.

Dazu dient unter anderem die Hisbollah im Libanon, die als Machtinstrument Teherans nach dem Ausbruch des Bürgerkriegs im Irak noch an Bedeutung gewonnen hat. Hinzu kommt, dass in Syrien, also an der israelischen Grenze, nunmehr Einheiten der iranischen Revolutionsgarden stationiert sind. Dass es so kam, ist kein Zufall, sondern basiert auf Überlegungen der Obama-Administration: Angesichts zerfallener Staaten und des damals erstarkten IS sollte der Iran als stabilisierende Regionalmacht etabliert werden. Man hat mithin den Bock zum Gärtner gemacht. Denn es ist Teheran, das aus genannten Gründen maßgeblich zur Destabilisierung beiträgt und droht einen Flächenbrand zu entzünden.

Abkommen hat Iran gestärkt

Ein Eckpfeiler dieser kurzsichtigen Politik war das unsägliche Atomabkommen, das in Europa und insbesondere hierzulande als Friedensfetisch gilt. Nun hat Michael Wolffsohn hierzu schon das Wesentliche festgestellt. Daher nur noch einmal die Eckpunkte: Das Abkommen akzeptiert den Schwerwasserreaktor in Arak und damit die Möglichkeit der Urananreicherung. Lediglich sein Umbau wird in Aussicht gestellt. Die Infrastruktur des Nuklearprogramms blieb weitgehend erhalten. Von den circa 19.000 Gas-Zentrifugen konnte der Iran 6.104 zur Urananreicherung behalten. Das erscheint als gewaltige Reduktion, faktisch wurden aber nur ungenutzte Zentrifugen der ersten Generation abgebaut. Forschung an den Zentrifugen in Fordo ist nach wie vor erlaubt. Hinzu kommt, dass das zentrale Anliegen – die Herstellung hoch angereicherten Urans – dem Iran ohnehin nur bis 2030 untersagt ist. Damit relativierte das Abkommen die Resolution der Internationalen Atomenergiebehörde (IAEA) vom Februar 2006.

Kurz: Das Atomabkommen hat die Fähigkeit Irans zur Entwicklung von Atomwaffen kaum geschmälert. Langfristig schon mal gar nicht. Es hat Iran als Regionalmacht zurückgebracht ins Spiel und das Regime ökonomisch stabilisiert. Nicht ohne Grund warnten im März 2015 republikanische Senatoren die Regierung in Teheran, das Abkommen zu unterzeichnen – es werde die Amtszeit Obamas nicht überstehen. Trump hat daraus die Konsequenzen gezogen. Das Abkommen hätte nie unterzeichnet werden dürfen. Es ist nicht nur ein schlechter Deal, es ist gar kein Deal, zumindest wenn man darunter ein Abkommen zum wechselseitigen Nutzen versteht.

Trump ist erfolgreicher als Obama

Soweit die Situation. Doch in Europa ist man verliebt in eine Politik des Nichtstuns und hält das für höhere Diplomatie. Das gilt für die Spannungen innerhalb der EU, das gilt für die Migrationspolitik, das gilt für die Situation in Nahost und galt für Nordkorea. Der Volksmund hat für diesen Umgang mit Konflikten das Bild des Vogels Strauß gefunden, der seinen Kopf in den Sand steckt. Dabei ist der Strauß bekanntermaßen ein recht wehrhaftes Tier.

Donald Trump, so hat man den Eindruck, hat verstanden (oder spürt zumindest instinktiv), dass diese Politik des Wegduckens vor aggressiven Regimen und Auf-die-lange-Bank-Schiebens existentieller Konflikte erst die Probleme schafft, die sie verhindern will. Die Obama-Administration war für diese Art von Schneeflocken-Politik das abschreckende Beispiel. Dass Trump schon jetzt außenpolitisch mehr erreicht hat als sein Vorgänger in acht Jahren, könnte eine Lehre sein. Dass sie gehört wird, ist jedoch unwahrscheinlich.

https://www.cicero.de/aussenpolitik/atomabkommen-deal-trump-usa-iran-nordkorea-obama-aussenpolitik?utm_source=cicero_Newsletter

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* FP: Regime Change for Dummies

“No population likes taking orders from well-armed foreign occupiers, no matter how benevolent their original intentions might have been.”

A brief global history of a tactic that’s back in style: toppling other countries‘ governments.

Stephen M. Walt – May 14, 2018 –

Col. Muammar Gaddafi arrives at the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Sept. 23, 2009 in New York City.

In my last column, I argued that U.S. President Donald Trump’s rash decision to violate the Iran nuclear deal was the first step in a new round of regime change in the Middle East. If his goal was stopping an Iranian bomb and preventing a regional arms race, the existing agreement was working just fine, and he should have been trying to make it permanent instead of gutting it. If his goal was stopping Iran’s “regional activities,” the smart strategy would have been to keep the country from going nuclear while working with others to bring Iran to heel through pressure and additional diplomacy.

Instead, Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are hoping that violating the Iran deal will let them re-impose sanctions on Iran. They hope this pressure will topple the Islamic Republic, or lead Iran’s own hard-liners to restart its nuclear enrichment program and provide a pretext for the preventive war that Bolton has long advocated.

More sensible strategists might have first considered whether this goal even makes sense. What does history teach us? Did previous efforts at regime change (by the United States and by others) produce the expected benefits, or did they end up making things worse? Does regime change produce real benefits at relatively low cost, or is the price tag usually much higher than expected, while the benefits tend to be disappointing?

The answers, in fact, are pretty obvious, as can be seen from the following brief history of regime change. (Spoiler alert: It’s almost always a very bad idea.)

The Iran coup, 1953: In the Middle East, the grandfather of post-World War II regime changes was Operation Ajax, the joint American and British effort to topple the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and restore the young Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to the throne. The plot was a brilliant tactical success, and one could argue that the shah was a valuable ally to the United States until 1979. But the shah was something of a mixed bag as an ally (among other things, he began Iran’s nuclear weapons program), and the U.S. role in placing him on the throne and backing him is the main reasons that the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his political descendants have been so hostile to the United States. The lesson: even short-to-medium-term success sometimes leads to much bigger problems later on.

The Suez debacle: After the Egyptian government nationalized the Suez Canal Company in 1956 (a perfectly legal maneuver, by the way), the leaders of Britain, France, and Israel colluded in a harebrained scheme to topple Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Israel agreed to invade the Sinai Peninsula, providing the pretext for Britain and France to intervene to “protect the canal.” The attackers assumed that the defeat would puncture Nasser’s prestige and led to his ouster. The result was a humiliating failure: Although the Israeli assault went well, the scheme fooled precisely no one, and the United States and Soviet Union eventually forced Britain, France, and Israel to withdraw from the territories they had seized. Not only did Nasser not fall from power, but his defiance of the two former colonial powers and Israel also sent his prestige soaring. In the end, the Suez war mostly succeeded in demonstrating that Britain and France weren’t true great powers anymore.

Egypt’s Yemen adventure: Unfortunately for Egypt, Nasser’s prestige went to his head, and in the early 1960s he decided to intervene on the side of supposedly progressive forces in the Yemen Civil War. Egypt eventually sent more than 50,000 troops there, spent money it didn’t have, and ended up withdrawing five years later with nothing to show for it.

Ariel Sharon’s grand scheme: In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, ostensibly in retaliation for the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London but in fact as part of a grand scheme that then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had cooked up. In an attempt to rout the PLO and install a pro-Israel government in Lebanon, Israel’s troops invaded its neighbor, shot down a bunch of Syrian aircraft, and chased Yasser Arafat and the PLO all the way to Beirut. But the whole scheme soon unraveled, Israel ended up occupying Southern Lebanon until 2000, and the end result was the creation of Hezbollah. Well done, Arik!

Saddam Hussein vs. the world: Mired in debts following the Iran-Iraq War, in 1990 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and tried to annex it. This blatant attempt to solve his many economic and internal problems failed completely, because an unlikely coalition of Western and Arab powers led by the United States quickly assembled to toss Iraq out of Kuwait, destroy much of its military power, and then dismantle his various weapons of mass destruction programs. Saddam managed to cling to power, but his effort at “regime change” in Kuwait was an abject failure.

Toppling the Taliban: When the Taliban regime in Afghanistan refused to deliver Osama bin Laden into U.S. custody after Sept. 11, the United States joined up with the Afghan Northern Alliance and intervened to drive the Taliban from power. Washington then helped coordinate the formation of a new Afghan government under Hamid Karzai. Guess what? That was more than 15 years and a trillion dollars ago, and today the United States is still mired in a war it can’t win and can’t seem to get out of. Turns out toppling governments is easy; creating new ones is really, really hard. And don’t forget that the Soviet Union had a similar experience when it tried to engineer regime change in Kabul and ended up in a protracted war it couldn’t win either.

The United States vs. Saddam Hussein, 2003: In the aftermath of 9/11, the George W. Bush administration embraced the neoconservative blueprint for “regional transformation” in the Middle East, beginning with the invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney fell for this cockamamie scheme; Israeli leaders such as Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak helped sell the idea to the American people, and plenty of liberal hawks bought into the idea as well. With hindsight, however, the whole idea was positively delusional. The United States had little trouble defeating Saddam’s fourth-rate army, but the end result was a bitter insurgency, greatly expanded Iranian influence, and eventually, the emergence of the Islamic State. The war also cost the lives of more than 7,000 U.S. soldiers and contractors and left more than 50,000 wounded, and it cost the American taxpayer several trillion Neoconservative die-hards — including John Bolton — defend the decision to this day, but neither the price tag nor the result is what they confidently predicted back when they were leading the country to war.

Ousting Qaddafi: Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi was a thorn in America’s side since he first seized power in 1969, but an extended multilateral sanctions campaign eventually persuaded him to give up Libya’s WMD programs, which were not far advanced. In exchange, the George W. Bush administration agreed to leave him in power and to refrain from regime change. When an anti-Qaddafi uprising began as part of the Arab Spring, however, President Barack Obama promptly reneged on Bush’s pledge and joined forces with Britain, France, Oman, and some other Arab countries to get rid of the pesky megalomaniac. The end result was not a new, prosperous, and tranquil Libya, however; instead, the country soon descended into anarchy, creating new opportunities for the Islamic State and allowing lot of unsecured weaponry to flow to other war zones.

“Assad must go” (or maybe not): As with Libya, outside powers could not resist trying to interfere in the uprising against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. The Obama administration declared “Assad must go,” and Saudi Arabia, the United States, Turkey, and a number of other powers tried to aid the anti-Assad forces, despite fears that this might result in a jihadi takeover. Russian and Iranian intervention kept Assad in power, however, and the end result has been more than a half million dead and a continuing struggle for power that keeps threatening to escalate further.

I could toss in America’s failed efforts to manage political transitions in places such as Yemen or Somalia as well, but you get the point. And lest you think I’ve just cherry-picked the biggest disasters, more comprehensive studies of the full universe of “foreign-imposed regime changes” have shown that it rarely produces the beneficial outcomes that its advocates predict. Given this sorry track record, you’d think outside powers would understand that “regime change” is a Pandora’s box that is best left firmly closed.

The reasons aren’t hard to understand.

First, toppling a foreign regime puts other regimes on notice, and they begin to take action to avoid a similar fate. It is not surprising that Iran and Syria both intervened to thwart U.S. efforts in Iraq, for example, because they knew they were next on the U.S. hit list if the Iraq adventure had succeeded. And it is equally unsurprising that North Korea sacrificed much to get nuclear weapons, or that Iran has seriously considered doing so, given that the United States has repeatedly called for their demise. The more the United States makes regime change a staple tool of its foreign policy, the more resistance it is likely to face.

Second,toppling a foreign government isn’t the end of the job — it’s when the hard work really starts. Removing an existing regime creates winners and losers, and the latter are usually willing to take up arms or do other unpleasant things to try to regain their former positions. Instead of a thriving and stable democracy, with political competition regulated by well-established and legitimate institutions and norms, the more likely result is a failed state and civil war.

Third, once installed in power, the new government is rarely the compliant tool that regime-changers expect. Hamid Karzai was hailed as the ideal leader for post-Taliban Afghanistan, but he proved to be a recalcitrant and uncooperative politician who refused to crack down on corruption or take the advice of the Americans on whom his government depended. Iraq’s post-Saddam leaders have hardly been reliable U.S. clients either, and some of them, such as former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, were more sympathetic to Iran from the start. Even when you help bring someone to power, they have to govern with their own interests and political survival in mind, and that often means doing things that Americans won’t like. This is especially true in the Middle East, where the United States is broadly disliked (and not without reason).

Compounding this problem is ignorance: Foreign powers that intervene to topple a local government rarely know enough about the society they are entering to make smart decisions about the new order that must now be created. They won’t know which local leaders are reliable or honest, or have sufficient cultural understanding to devise institutions that will be seen as legitimate by the local population. No matter how bad things were before the old regime was toppled, the situation is likely to be even worse once the old order has collapsed. Regime-changers always claim they will be greeted as liberators, but the more likely outcome is a population that is quickly disillusioned and soon becomes resentful and violent.

Lastly, no population likes taking orders from well-armed foreign occupiers, no matter how benevolent their original intentions might have been, and heavy-handed measures to deal with pockets of resistance will ignite nationalist passions and generate new sources of opposition. That’s been the story nearly everywhere the United States has intervened in recent years, and the U.S. experience is far from unique.

The real puzzle, of course, is why the United States seems incapable of learning this rather obvious lesson. One reason it doesn’t learn is that it is the countries where it intervenes that bear most of the costs of its imperial follies, while the only Americans who die or are wounded are those who have volunteered for military service.

And because the United States now finances wars by borrowing, the economic costs will be paid by future generations, not by those who are making decisions today. Add to this mix the phalanx of well-funded, hawkish think tanks, letterhead organizations, lobbies, and campaign contributors that buy up politicians and provide Bolton and his ilk comfortable sinecures from which to operate, and you can begin to understand why a president who used to say the United States needed to get “out of the nation-building business” is now taking steps that will force it to do more of the same.

https://foreignpolicy-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/14/regime-change-for-dummies/amp/

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Middle East

Wall Street Journal: ‘I Am the Mastermind’: Mohammed bin Salman’s Guide to Getting Rich

The heir to the Saudi throne has used businesses connected to government to enrich himself and family members, including a mammoth deal involving Airbus

Justin Scheck and Justin Scheck – The Wall Street Journal

May 16, 2018 12:15 p.m. ET

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in London on his first foreign tour as heir to the Saudi throne.

RIYADH—Prince Mohammed bin Salman was a teenager when he realized his father, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, was, by Saudi royal standards, a pauper.

While other sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder grew wealthy from government business, Salman, then the governor of this capital city, supported his family with handouts from his brother the king. Mohammed decided to change that, he later told associates.

Nearly two decades later, Salman is king, and Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, is the crown prince who says he wants to crack down on corruption and remake the Saudi economy along more modern lines. Prince Mohammed is also fantastically wealthy. In recent years, he has acquired one of the world’s largest yachts, a French palace and a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting that was later donated to the United Arab Emirates.

Trickle Down

A 2015 plane deal by Saudi Arabia’s state-controlled airline, Saudia, sent profits to a company owned by Turki bin Salman — son of the Saudi king and brother of crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

How the prince amassed his wealth exemplifies ways that the autocratic kingdom, essentially a family business, continues to intermingle commercial ventures and Saudi government connections to a degree far from Western norms. While it’s been long known the Saudi royal family keeps a share of the nation’s oil income, other business dealings involving the family’s dominant branch have been held more closely.

Among the connections: Prince Mohammed is managing director—and 20% owner—of a chemical producer that supplies large, state-controlled firms, Saudi corporate filings showed as recently as last year. A company majority-owned by two of the crown prince’s younger brothers was awarded a coveted broadband license from the government, Saudi records showed.

Additionally, in 2015, Prince Mohammed helped engineer a multibillion-dollar deal between European plane giant Airbus SE and Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Saudia Airlines, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the transaction. The deal is worth tens of millions of dollars to his family, the documents show.

A spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment about Prince Mohammed’s business dealings.

An Airbus A320, part of the Saudi national airline’s fleet, departs Frankfurt in 2015.

The story of the Airbus deal suggests this mixing of business and government remains a staple of the Saudi economy, despite the crown prince’s highly publicized crackdown on many other royals who the prince said abused their power to get rich. Indeed, Airbus decided to go into business with the king’s family despite its reservations over the blurry distinction between private and public financial interests, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Airbus spokesman declined to comment, saying the company had a policy of not discussing any of its business dealings that could potentially be under investigation by law enforcement agencies.

The modern Saudi state was created in 1932 when Abdulaziz ibn Saud united two regions of the Arabian peninsula and became the first king. American geologists would soon discover oil in the desert, providing a gusher of cash to fund a lavish lifestyle for the royal family.

Many of Abdulaziz’s sons—he had dozens—and grandsons started companies to take on no-bid government contracts or otherwise profit from their political power.

Those practices continued after King Abdulaziz died in 1953 and the crown passed to a succession of his sons. One prince held the country’s only express-mail license, via a joint venture with DHL, the shipping company now owned by Deutsche Post AG , which became an oft-repeated example of how the royal family steered business toward itself. A DHL spokeswoman declined to comment.

Prince Salman didn’t focus so much on gathering wealth, say people close to the family. While his brothers built fortunes, Salman gathered power. He spent 48 years as Riyadh’s governor, overseeing the city’s expansion from a dusty desert enclave to a petrodollar-fueled metropolis of modern skyscrapers and wide boulevards.

Prince Salman prioritized education for his sons—one of Prince Mohammed’s half-brothers became an astronaut and another an Oxford-trained professor, Prince Mohammed has said in recent years.

It was around 2000 when the teenage prince had what he would years later call a shocking realization: His father wasn’t rich.

Salman subsisted on money from his brother, then-King Fahd, Prince Mohammed has told people. He lived a hand-to-mouth existence—if a lavish one—spending the cash on family expenses, rather than saving or investing.

The concerned prince, seeking more financial independence, scraped together about $100,000 to invest in Saudi stocks, he has said.

Eclectic Empire

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his brothers have broad business holdings. Some examples from 2017 Saudi corporate filings.:

Middle East Environment Protection Co.

Operates landfill and recycling operations in Saudi Arabia.

Watan Industrial Investment Company Ltd.

Sells industrial chemicals in Saudi Arabia. Its clients include Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company.

Manga Productions Co.

Affiliated with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s foundation. The company develops cartoons, video games and comic books.

Tharawat Holding Co.

Has stakes in banking, real estate and other industries.

Tharawat Seas

Invests in farming fish and shrimp for domestic and export markets.

Ansaq Medical Company

Through subsidiaries, Tharawat owned Ansaq, which made a deal with a New Orleans hospital system to bring Saudis to the U.S. for organ transplants.

Source: Saudi government filings compiled by Diligencia

Prince Mohammed kept trading through college and law school. Through the early 2010s, as his father moved up the royal ranks, he was appointed to a series of government positions. During that time Prince Mohammed made billions of Saudi riyals—hundreds of millions of dollars—on the Saudi stock market, he has told several people interviewed by the Journal.

Prince Mohammed also branched into business. Saudi corporate records as of 2017 show he owns stakes in at least five real-estate development companies, as well as a recycling firm. He is also 20% owner of Watan Industrial Investment Co. Ltd., a chemical producer that supplies state-controlled firms including Aramco, the government’s oil company, the documents show.

A company called Tharawat has emerged as a key player in the business activities of Prince Mohammed’s family. According to Saudi corporate filings, one of his younger brothers, Turki bin Salman, owned 99% of the investment firm as of May 2017, while another brother, Naif, owned the remaining 1%. Prince Turki has since bought his brother’s stake, according to Ammer al Selham, Tharawat’s CEO.

In practice, Prince Mohammed controls and benefits from Tharawat’s business, say several people familiar with their dealings, including two who have discussed the firm with him. Mr. Selham disputed that, saying: “At no time was HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman a shareholder or a beneficiary of the company.”

Tharawat and a subsidiary own the majority of a tech firm called Jawraa that was awarded a coveted broadband license from the Saudi government in 2014, Saudi records show. The license allowed it to become one of three companies operating new mobile-phone networks in the country.

Tharawat has had interests in fish farms, real estate, tech services, agricultural-commodity trading and restaurants. It owns an office park in Riyadh.

An investment vehicle Tharawat owns, Nasaq Holding, says on its website that it is investing in construction to take advantage of “the government’s tenth development plan including investments worth $358.2 billion in real estate.” Saudi corporate filings show that Tharawat owned a company that partnered with Ochsner Health System in New Orleans to bring Saudis to the U.S. for organ transplants.

The kingdom’s struggling flagship air carrier, Saudia Airlines, provided Tharawat with another lucrative opportunity.

In 2014, at the advice of Western “transformation” experts, the money-losing airline reached a tentative deal with Airbus to revitalize its aging fleet. The arrangement would have provided Saudia with dozens of jets financed by the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund, or PIF, says a person involved in the talks. By agreeing up front to take 50 planes, Saudia would get a major discount.

As it turned out, Prince Mohammed’s family was at that very moment eyeing its own investment in airplanes. Investors in the Middle East had been looking for alternatives to the saturated real-estate market, and airlines were looking to lighten their balance sheets by leasing jets rather than buying them outright.

Tharawat in 2014 acquired a 54% stake in Quantum Investment Bank, a Dubai-based company with scant history of deal making, corporate documents show. Prince Turki, Mohammed’s younger brother, became Quantum’s chairman. Quantum executives didn’t respond to requests for comment, and the bank later took down its website.

Executives from Quantum and another small bank formed a company called International Airfinance Corp., or IAFC, to enter the jet-leasing business.

IAFC became the manager of a fund called ALIF, structured to follow Muslim strictures against paying interest. Airbus agreed to invest $100 million in ALIF if the fund bought only Airbus planes. On June 23, 2014, Airbus and IAFC held a “signing ceremony” in London to announce the new fund, hosted by Prince Turki bin Salman, International Airfinance said in a press release. The fund was aiming to raise $5 billion in equity and debt, deal documents show.

Then, in January of 2015, King Abdullah died and the original Saudia-Airbus plane deal stalled.

Soon after Salman took the throne, Saudi officials told Airbus they had a new plan, say people familiar with the deal: Rather than selling the jets to the Saudi government, Airbus would sell them to ALIF—the fund connected to the bin Salman family—which would in turn rent the planes to Saudia.

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman and then-French President François Hollande stand in the background at a June 2015 ceremony ratifying a deal by Airbus to sell 50 planes intended for lease to the Saudi national airline.

People involved in the process say Saudia didn’t solicit competitive bids from leasing companies, and rebuffed the advances of companies seeking to offer competitive rates before choosing ALIF to do the deal.

In response to questions about the deal, Saudia Vice President Abdulrahman Altayeb said in an email that “the aircraft acquisition transaction was in accordance with Saudia’s internal procedures, which included a review of the lease price to ensure its competitiveness against the market benchmark, as well as aircraft delivery schedule being in line with Saudia’s requirements related to its fleet plan.”

At the time of the deal, some Airbus executives had reservations. Airbus faced investigations into potential corruption overseas by Western law enforcement, including a probe by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office into possible bribery by an Airbus subsidiary in Saudi Arabia, and didn’t want further problems. “When I saw Turki was taking over, it kind of brought cold water on all our excitement about the fund,” says a person involved.

Ultimately, this person said, Airbus relented. It was one of the biggest plane deals of the year. Plus, a person involved with the discussions said, Airbus officials decided “we don’t want to prevent the son of the king doing business.”

Others with a stake in the deal were thrilled by the involvement of a Saudi prince. “We took it as a good thing that there were people with deep pockets and political connections that we thought would make this transaction happen,” says one of those people, who says he considered the princes’ involvement “a good risk mitigator” for investors.

The future Saudi king, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, left, spoke with his son Prince Mohammed in 2012

Some Saudi officials were left scratching their heads. Within the government and airline, says one official, “everyone thought it makes more sense for the PIF to finance that deal,” since buying 50 planes at once would net Saudia a huge discount. Under the lease deal, Saudia wouldn’t get the benefit of that discount.

Deal documents the Journal reviewed and interviews with people involved in the deal detail a convoluted chain of transactions that ends up benefiting Tharawat, the bin Salman company. As one government official put it, “at the end it went to Tharawat, who got others to finance it, and made huge profits without risking any of their money.”

The chain begins with Quantum, the bank Tharawat co-owns, and where Turki bin Salman was appointed chairman. Quantum arranged funding from investors and banks for buying planes, receiving a payment for each equity investment and tranche of debt raised, people familiar with the arrangement say. The ALIF fund raised about $4 billion as of 2017, according to IAFC’s website.

ALIF used the money to buy Airbus planes at a big discount—more than 60% off the list price, say people familiar with the deal. By leasing the planes to Saudia at about market-rate, rather than passing on the discount, ALIF targeted 15% returns. That’s higher than the normal 7% to 9% returns for a fund handling such long-term leases to an airline like Saudia, says Paul Lyons of U.K. aviation-business consultancy IBA Group Ltd.

IAFC, which manages ALIF, has a potentially big upside itself: It stands to get a big chunk of the deal’s profit, even though it doesn’t have any equity in the fund. Deal documents show IAFC gets 35% of profits above 7% return on investment, and 50% of profits above 10%. “That is very high,” says Aldo Giovannitti, who previously researched aviation investments for the World Bank. He says a standard rate would be 10% to 20%.

Mr. Selham, the Tharawat CEO, said neither Quantum nor Turki bin Salman is a shareholder of IAFC, which is registered in the Cayman Islands and doesn’t disclose its ownership.

However, IAFC’s operations are intermingled with the bank’s. Quantum’s chief executive is also managing partner of IAFC, and IAFC and Quantum share staff, according to statements by Quantum and IAFC and people familiar with the companies.

A person involved in structuring the deal defended the fund’s high projected returns, and said the lease rate shouldn’t be compared with other airplane-leasing deals. There are few comparable arrangements, this person said, since it involved many planes and an Islamic-finance component that could result in an airline paying higher lease rates.

Prince Mohammed finalized the deal during a 2015 visit to France, says a Saudi official with knowledge of the transaction. Not long after, at a gathering in a Saudi palace, the crown prince took credit for the transaction, according to a person who was present.

“I am the mastermind behind this deal,” the prince said, explaining how it showed his success in balancing state financial interests with his family’s.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-am-the-mastermind-mohammed-bin-salmans-guide-to-getting-rich-1526487353?emailToken=fb92874fabdb27752cd0c8fc950ed3a4dM3bePPn7FbiPBlKKJdXmPwG9NZxA7uKj%2Bpx6IywTvMeu%2FH2M9rlZvyNO7mprDx9uJc7uYLalQ5yoSuFtgWoHjL4A7Tw5T5r0Fzg7P3JWzUWoQej5vwg6rNq0ToNtWTf

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

The Reagan Democrats are no longer Democrats. Will they ever be again?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2016/11/11/daily-202-the-reagan-democrats-are-no-longer-democrats-will-they-ever-be-again/58252889e9b69b6085905df0/?utm_term=.7916a4f5fa84&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

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Rising oil prices boost U.S. economy: Kemp – Reuters News

The size and suddenness of this shift is one reason why the rise of shale production in the United States qualifies as a genuine energy revolution.

15-May-2018 15:22:01

John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own

  • Chart:

By John Kemp

LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) – U.S. net petroleum imports have fallen to the lowest level in more than half a century as a result of the shale revolution, which is profoundly changing the impact higher oil prices have on the economy.

Since the 1860s, the United States has been the world’s largest producer and consumer of oil, which means it has a complicated relationship with oil prices.

Rising oil prices benefit some businesses and workers at the expense of others, and the same has been true about a sharp price fall.

Until after World War Two, the country was a net exporter to the rest of the world, the first era of U.S. energy dominance.

But from the late 1940s and especially the 1950s, the United States turned into an increasingly major oil importer.

Since then, the principal effect of a rise in oil prices has been to transfer income from consumers and businesses in the United States to oil-producing countries in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

Rising prices have put pressure on the U.S. balance of payments and the dollar’s value, contributing to an occasionally negative relationship between the price of oil and the exchange rate.

But as net imports have declined in the last decade, the picture has changed again, and the main transfers of income are now occurring within the United States rather than with the rest of th

e world.

The impact of oil prices on the U.S. trade deficit and the exchange rate is becoming much less significant than before.

Instead, rising prices are transferring income from net consuming states such as California, Florida, New York and Illinois to net producing states including Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and North Dakota.

Rising prices are also transferring income from households, motorists, the transportation sector, manufacturers and retailers to the oil industry and its supply chain.

In the broadest sense, rising oil prices tend to depress spending by consumers while enhancing investment by the oil industry (“How rising oil prices will affect the United States”, Barron’s, May 11).

In the short term, rising oil prices have provided a significant boost to the economic expansion as the positive impact on investment has outweighed the negative impact on consumer spending.

But that positive scenario may not last if oil prices continue to rise over the next two years.

OIL TRADE BALANCE

Domestic crude production has more than doubled from an average of 5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2008 to 10.3 million bpd in February 2018.

Government policies have also cut import dependence by requiring increases in vehicle fuel economy and mandating the addition of ethanol and biodiesel to the fuel supply.

Domestic consumption of petroleum products peaked at 20.8 million bpd in 2005 and was averaging 19.9 million bpd in 2017.

The result has been a transformation in U.S. petroleum trade, with the country becoming an increasingly important exporter of refined products, such as diesel, and more recently crude oil.

The size and suddenness of this shift is one reason why the rise of shale production in the United States qualifies as a genuine energy revolution.

Net imports of crude oil and petroleum products peaked at more than 12.5 million bpd in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

By 2017, net imports had fallen to 3.7 million bpd and they continued to shrink in the first three months of 2018 (https://tmsnrt.rs/2rG6GIs).

The United States remains an important net importer of crude (roughly 6 million bpd in recent months) but has become an important net exporter of refined products (3 million bpd).

The balance of payments is now much more insulated from the impact of changing oil prices than during the 2008 oil shock.

Between January and March 2018, the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world worsened by almost $23 billion compared with a year earlier.

The non-petroleum components of the deficit worsened by $26 billion but the petroleum deficit actually improved by almost $4 billion (“International Trade in Goods and Services”, Census Bureau, May 2018).

ENERGY DOMINANCE?

The rise in U.S. oil production has encouraged some policymakers to speak about achieving energy independence or even a second era of energy dominance.

The reality is more complicated. Increased domestic energy production is clearly beneficial for the economy.

But sharp increases or reductions in oil prices can still have profound distributional effects within the United States.

Since capital and labour do not move without friction between industries and states, sudden income redistribution can still have an adverse impact on the overall performance of the economy.

The oil slump between 2014 and 2016 deepened the overall slowdown in business investment and contributed to a soft patch in overall economic growth, which initially overshadowed the gains for consumers.

The rise in prices since 2016 is now contributing to an acceleration of business investment and activity in the oil and gas sector and all along the supply chain, helping boost the overall economic expansion.

Mining, which includes oil and gas production, was the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy in 2017 ("Gross domestic product by industry: fourth quarter and annual 2017", Bureau of Economic Analysis, April 2018).

Rising oil prices are one reason the economies of some major oil-producing states outperformed the rest of the country towards the end of 2017.

Texas was the fastest-growing state economy in the country in the final three months of 2017 (“Gross domestic product by state: fourth quarter and annual 2017”, Bureau of Economic Analysis, May 2018).

But beyond a certain point, rising oil prices will start to weigh on investment and spending by the non-oil sector and households, retarding overall growth.

Moreover, the United States remains embedded in a dense web of international trading relationships with petroleum producing and consuming countries.

Higher oil prices tend to improve the opportunities for U.S. exports and outward investment in petroleum-exporting countries in the Middle East and other regions.

But they also tend to curb export growth to petroleum-importing countries, notably China, India, Japan and in Europe, which include some of the country’s most important trading partners.

Related columns:

Trouble looms for developing countries as commodity revenues collapse, Reuters, Sept. 30, 2016

U.S. economy slows sharply as oil and gas slump deepens, Reuters, Feb. 1, 2016

Oil shock is hurting U.S. economy, Reuters, Jan. 19, 2016

Commodity slump intensifies risks to emerging markets, Reuters, Oct. 8, 2015

Falling oil investment will hit U.S. economy, Reuters, Jan. 21, 2015

(Editing by Dale Hudson)- John Kemp – Senior Market Analyst – Reuters

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see our letter on: http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

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05-16-18 ‚I Am the Mastermind’_ Mohammed bin Salman’s Guide to Getting Rich – WSJ.pdf

05-10-2018 russia-state-armament-programme-connolly-boulegue-final-chatham house.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 11.05.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • WSJ-Opinion – After Obama’s Iran Deal – Trump can exit because Obama never built U.S. support for the pact.
  • Sanctions spell the end of OPEC output deal: Kemp – Reuters News
  • NEWS Digest about Iran
  • Joint Statements to the Press With Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray – Remarks – Mike Pompeo – U.S. Secretary of State.

· My Wish List for the Bundeskanzleramt –Andrey Kortunov.

  • Unbalanced Europe and the New Order in the OSCE Space
  • CTC-Westpoint: The Islamic State’s Lingering Legacy among Young Men from the Mosul Area
  • Grußwort von Staatsministerin Müntefering zur Feierstunde anlässlich 40 Jahren Städtepartnerschaft zwischen Dortmund und Rostow am Don.

Massenbach*WSJ-Opinion – After Obama’s Iran Deal.

  • Trump can exit because Obama never built U.S. support for the pact –

By The Editorial Board

May 8, 2018 7:11 p.m. ET

President Trump on Tuesday withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, rightly calling it “defective at its core.” Yet he also offered Iran a chance to negotiate a better deal if it truly doesn’t want a nuclear weapon. Mr. Trump’s challenge now is to build a strategy and alliances to contain Iran until it accepts the crucial constraints that Barack Obama refused to impose.

 

The Obama Administration spent years negotiating a lopsided pact that gave Tehran $100 billion of sanctions relief and a chance to revive its nuclear-weapons program after a 15-year waiting period. Instead of cutting off “all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb” as Mr. Obama claimed, the deal delayed the country’s entry into the nuclear club and gave the mullahs cash to fund their Middle East adventurism.

***

Mr. Trump outlined a more realistic strategy in October, promising to work with allies to close the deal’s loopholes, address Tehran’s missile and weapons proliferation, and “deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.” An Iranian nuke would be a modest problem if Iran were a democracy. But the Islamic Republic is no India and has a four-decade history of oppressing its own people, taking foreign hostages and threatening neighbors with extinction.

State Department policy chief Brian Hook spent months shuttling between European capitals to get an agreement to strengthen inspections of suspected nuclear sites, stop Iran from developing ballistic missiles and eliminate the deal’s sunset provisions. Deal signatories China and Russia don’t share U.S. strategic goals in the Mideast, but the Trump Administration’s reasonable presumption is that Britain, France and Germany do.

Mr. Trump’s case for fixing the deal was bolstered last week when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed intelligence that Iran repeatedly lied to U.N. weapons inspectors about past nuclear activity. As Mr. Trump noted Tuesday, Tehran doesn’t allow inspectors access to many military sites. Mr. Netanyahu also revealed that Iran hid an extensive nuclear archive, which would still be secret if not for Israeli intelligence.

Regimes that have peaceful intentions don’t behave this way. When South Africa decided to denuclearize in the early 1990s, President F.W. de Klerk ordered the destruction of all sensitive technical and policy documents and gave U.N. inspectors “anytime, anywhere” access to inspect nuclear facilities. In Moammar Gadhafi’s case, U.S. officials physically removed sensitive nuclear-weapons documents, uranium and equipment from Libya.

Yet Britain, France and Germany waved away Israel’s intelligence, and European Union chief Federica Mogherini said the evidence doesn’t “put in question Iran’s compliance” with the nuclear deal. The Europeans may think they can maintain commercial dealings with Iran and wait out Mr. Trump through the 2020 election.

This is risky because Mr. Trump said in the next 90 to 180 days the U.S. will reimpose “the highest level of economic sanction” on Iran’s energy and automotive industries, ports, shipbuilding and more. The sanctions will cut Iran off from the global financial system even as the regime faces labor strikes and political protests amid a struggling economy. The country may find fewer buyers for its oil exports, and the rial has plunged.

Iran may try to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Europe to keep euros flowing to Tehran. But the U.S. has leverage. As Mr. Trump said Tuesday, “Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.” Attempting to isolate the U.S. could present European companies with an eventual choice of doing business with the U.S. or Iran. The smarter play is for Europe to persuade Iran that to maintain commerce with the world it should renegotiate the pact.

***

Mr. Obama issued his own broadside Tuesday against withdrawal, but then he made it easier for Mr. Trump by never winning domestic support for the deal. He refused to submit it for Senate approval as a treaty, which would have had the force of law. Mr. Trump is walking away from Mr. Obama’s personal commitment to Iran, not an American commitment.

But this is also a warning to Mr. Trump that his Administration has more work to do to execute his Iran strategy. This means building bipartisan support in Congress for sanctions; diplomacy to deter Iran’s adventures in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East; and more diplomacy with Europe to fix the nuclear deal’s fatal weaknesses.

Perhaps the best part of Mr. Trump’s remarks came at the end when he spoke to “the long-suffering people of Iran.” He said “the people of America stand with you” and made the offer of better relations and a more prosperous future if their leaders will shed their destructive nuclear and imperial dreams. Political change in Tehran remains the best hope for a non-nuclear Iran.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-obamas-iran-deal-1525821110?emailToken=f7c027df377f61f05585d1de1092c5eayazGzzFPJiqWfVFffd6P%2FObqtdgy1HbBlacJMzIjEdGaxOGEO7DjXNGNzwTl9ifunNiGSw44mh%2B%2F4PPUZ6INAg%3D%3D

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From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

  • My Wish List for the Bundeskanzleramt

28 апреля 2018 –Andrey Kortunov

Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

I understand the fundamentals. Russia lost Germany back in 2014 or even earlier. Seventy-three years after the end of WW2 and twenty-eight years after the reunification, the new generation of Germans owes Russian nothing. After the Ukrainian crisis, no ‘business as usual’ is possible in any foreseeable future; Moscow and Berlin continue to sharply disagree on many critically important international matters. Germany is and will always be a disciplined member of NATO and that of the European Union; it will not take any initiatives that might look risky, inappropriate or untimely to other members of these organizations. To cut it short, there are absolutely no reasons to hope for any breakthrough in the German-Russian relations just because a new coalition government has finally arrived at Berlin.

However, a new government in Berlin is always a new opportunity — not only for Germany itself, but also for its international partners, Russia including. After all, the Federal Republic is not just another European country. It has always been a driving force behind the European integration, an articuatel — and sometimes explicitly dissenting — voice in the North Atlantic Alliance. Is there another country that could be more interested in overcoming the new division of our common continent, in avoiding a nuclear and conventional arms race in Europe, in preventing nationalism, populism and unilateralism from getting the upper hand anywhere between Lisbon and Vladivostok?….. The starting point should be a strong common European policy towards Russia. The road to Moscow does not lead through Berlin alone, but also through Brussels. The guidelines for this are provided by the five principles for a European policy towards Russia drafted by Federica Mogherini and agreed upon by all EU foreign ministers in March 2016: Firstly, full implementation of the Minsk agreement; secondly, closer relations with Russia’s neighbours; thirdly, strengthening European resilience against interference; fourthly, selective engagement with Russia for instance in combatting terrorism; fifthly, strengthening people-to-people contacts. These five guidelines have not lost any of their relevance today. However, their implementation requires new energy and political investment….”

  • Unbalanced Europe and the New Order in the OSCE Space

May 3, 2018 – Ivan Timofeev-PhD in Political Science, RIAC Director of Programs, RIAC Member, Head of „Contemporary State“ program at Valdai Discussion Club, RIAC member

“The collapse of relations between Russia and the West after 2014 put an end to the idea of Greater Europe. The area of common security and cooperation from Lisbon to Vladivostok, or even wider – from Vancouver to Vladivostok – remains on paper in numerous documents that are gradually being buried in archives….”

  • Azerbaijan after the Presidential Elections: Internal and Foreign Policy Dynamics

May 4, 2018-Sergey Markedonov

PhD in History, Associate Professor, Department of Regional Studies and Foreign Policy, Russian State University for the Humanities, RIAC Expert

  • Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 23-29, 2018

Resignation of Serzh Sargsyan from the post of Prime Minister of Armenia against the background of mass protests; end of flooding in the Volgograd Region; scheduling the date to elect the leader of Dagestan; election of a Georgian MP with the participation of Gigi Ugulava; revocation of the banking licence from the Makhachkala bank affiliated with Gamidov; statement on the return to politics proclaimed by the founder of the „Georgian Dream“ Party, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of April 23-29, 2018, prepared by the „Caucasian Knot„.

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster*   Grußwort von Staatsministerin Müntefering zur Feierstunde anlässlich 40 Jahren Städtepartnerschaft zwischen Dortmund und Rostow am Don

04.05.2018 – Rede

— es gilt das gesprochene Wort —

Sehr geehrter Herr Oberbürgermeister Sierau,
sehr geehrter Herr Botschafter Netschajew,
sehr geehrter Herr Kuschnarew,
liebe Bürgerinnen und Bürger aus Rostow und Dortmund,

Herzlichen Dank – für die freundliche Einladung, lieber Herr Oberbürgermeister Sierau, heute mit Ihnen und Ihren Gästen zu feiern. Das 40–jährige Jubiläum der Städtepartnerschaft zwischen Dortmund und Rostow am Don ist ein guter Grund!

Ich bin auch gern dabei, denn die deutsch-russischen Städtepartnerschaften liegen mir sehr am Herzen.

Aber: wer hätte gedacht, dass deutsche Außenpolitik schon in Dortmund anfängt!

Letzte Woche habe ich in Berlin im Auswärtigen Amt den russischen Botschafter, Herrn Netschajew, kennen gelernt. Eine Begegnung, die in mir auch meine persönlichen Erinnerungen wieder wach gerufen hat.

Die Erinnerung an die russische Sprache, lieber Herr Botschafter, die ich während meiner ersten Schuljahre lernen konnte. Und die Erinnerung an die russischen Märchen, die wir als Kinder in der Schule sogar auf die Bühne gebracht haben. Auch wenn meine Sprache heute brach liegt – eine Lehre bleibt!
Diese russischen Volksmärchen erzählen über das Leben der Menschen, über Freundschaft und Verbundenheit und darüber, wie man gemeinsam den Gefahren und Widrigkeiten des Alltags trotzen kann.einladen, mitzutun. Sie eröffnen Räume für Begegnung von Bürgerinnen und Bürgern, von Schülerinnen und Schülern, von Sportlern oder Künstlern.

Sie ermöglichen den Erfahrungsaustausch: der Fachleute in den Rathäusern, etwa über Fragen der Stadtentwicklung oder den Strukturwandel, der hier in unserer Region noch nicht abgeschlossen, aber mit Fleiß und Phantasie gemeistert wurde.

Das „Märchen vom Rübchen“ etwa, ist mir in Erinnerung: Alle müssen gemeinsam an ihm ziehen, um es schlussendlich zu ernten.

Trotz aller Schwierigkeiten, die es zwischen unseren Ländern und Europa und Russland gerade gibt, sollten wir uns immer wieder gemeinsam daran erinnern: dass man am Ende an einem Strang ziehen muss, wenn Gutes erreicht werden soll.

Sehr verehrte Damen und Herren!

Städtepartnerschaften sind auch deswegen so bedeutsam. Weil sie viele Menschen

Meine Heimatstadt Herne, rund 20 Kilometer von hier, hat zum Beispiel mit Belgorod in Russland eine Partnerschaft – eine Kommune, die einen ähnlichen Strukturwandel zu bewältigen hat.

Städtepartnerschaften sind damit ein wichtiger Teil unserer Außenpolitik: Sie sind Außenpolitik von unten, eine Außenpolitik der Zivilgesellschaft, im besten Sinne.

Dieses Potential der Völkerverständigung, das Potential der Städte und Gemeinden in den Internationalen Beziehungen – das müssen wir weiter fördern!

Das „Deutsch-russische Jahr der kommunalen und regionalen Partnerschaften“, das von den Außenministern Deutschlands und Russlands im Juni in Krasnodar eröffnet wurde, ist deswegen ein guter, ein richtiger Weg, den wir weiter beschreiten müssen.

Das Ziel dieses Vorhabens, das bereits angelaufen ist, ist ehrgeizig: Es soll die deutsch-russischen Städtepartnerschaften stärker ins öffentliche Bewusstsein rücken und Anregungen geben für die Auseinandersetzung mit aktuellen gesellschaftspolitischen Fragen, die unsere beiden Länder beschäftigen.

Wie gehen wir um mit einer veränderten Arbeitswelt, die sich gerade angesichts der Digitalisierung von Arbeits- und Produktionsprozessen rasant wandelt? Wie sehen die Städte von morgen aus? Wie funktioniert der Nahverkehr? Haben wir genug Möglichkeiten, Kultur in den Städten zu fördern?

Den Kommunalpolitikern, da bin ich sicher, werden die Themen da so schnell nicht ausgehen – sind es doch gerade die Kommunen, die Orte, an denen sich entscheidet, wie eine Gesellschaft letztlich funktioniert.

Auch Dortmund und Rostow haben eine Reihe von Ähnlichkeiten, die sie einander nah bringen und die die geographische Entfernung zweitranging erscheinen lassen:

  • Beide Städte wurden Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts durch die industrielle Entwicklung mit tiefgreifenden Veränderungsprozessen konfrontiert.
  • Beide Städte haben im 20. Jahrhundert, nach den Gräueln des Zweiten Weltkriegs, den das nationalsozialistische Deutschland entfesselt hatte, mutige Frauen und Männer gehabt, die einen Neuanfang wagten. Dafür sind wir in Deutschland bis heute sehr dankbar.

Die damalige Entscheidung, eine Partnerschaft zwischen einer westdeutschen und einer sowjetischen Stadt zu gründen, das war dabei nur ein erster Schritt.

Noch wichtiger waren – und sind – die Menschen von Dortmund und Rostow, die diese Partnerschaft mit Leben füllen und die ein dichtes Netz von Kontakten aus Politik, Gesellschaft, Wirtschaft und Kultur geknüpft haben.

Ein sehr schönes Beispiel der Dortmund-Rostow-Zusammenarbeit ist das seit 2005 bestehende „East-West-Jazz-Orchestra“, in dem Musiker aus beiden Städten gemeinsam auftreten, in Deutschland, Russland und andernorts. 
Hier arbeiten die Künstler eng zusammen und schaffen ihre gemeinsamen Werke. Diese Räume der Zusammenarbeit und der Kommunikation ermöglichen gleichzeitig auch neue Perspektiven, die wir immer brauchen, wo Verständigung erreicht werden soll.

Dieses Verständnis füreinander brauchen wir auch in der nächsten Generation: Denn es sind die jungen Menschen, die Frieden zwischen unseren Völkern bewahren und unsere Gesellschaften morgen mitgestalten werden. Der Austausch zu fördern, aber auch das historische Bewusstsein zu schärfen, habe ich mir für meine Arbeit als einen Schwerpunkt gesetzt.

Begegnungen und Freundschaften erleichtern vieles und sie sind gerade dann besonders wertvoll, wenn die bilateralen Beziehungen auf politischer Ebene komplizierter werden – gleichzeitig aber Vertrauen und Dialog dringend nötig sind.

Sehr geehrter Herr Botschafter, ein russisches Sprichwort sagt es ganz treffend:

„Freunde zu finden ist leicht, schwieriger ist ein Freund zu sein.“

Unsere Zusammenarbeit mit den Ländern der Östlichen Partnerschaft wollen wir gerade deswegen fortsetzen, weil wir auch wissen: Beide Seiten sind für das Gelingen dieser Projekte verantwortlich. Beide Seiten mögen daher dafür sorgen, sowohl finanzielle Mittel bereitzustellen, als auch den notwendigen Freiraum für diesen offenen Austausch zu schaffen – ohne staatliche Einflussnahme oder erschwerender Beschränkungen.

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren!

40 Jahre Städtepartnerschaft zwischen Dortmund und Rostow – das ist bereits an sich eine großartige Sache!

Sie setzen heute noch „eins drauf“: Nämlich die Unterzeichnung für ein „Zentrum für den deutsch-russischen Austausch“.

Das weist in die Zukunft und macht einmal mehr deutlich, wie sehr beide Seiten auf diese Partnerschaft bauen.

Sie stehen mit Ihrem Engagement damit für das, was ich mir für das deutsch-russische Verhältnis wünsche.

Also: Lassen Sie uns gemeinsam an diesem „Rübchen“ ziehen!

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Jubiläum.

Спасибо! (Danke!)

Vielen Dank!

https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/newsroom/muentefering-staedtepartnerschaft-dortmund-rostow/2070708?pk_campaign=newsletter_Rede_2018_05_04&pk_kwd=link_Gru%C3%9Fwort+von+Staatsministerin+M%C3%BCntefering+zur+Feierstunde+anl%C3%A4sslich+40+Jahren+St%C3%A4dtepartnerschaft+zwischen+Dortmund+und+Rostow+am+Don

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Politics: From Vision to Action

 

image0081 Barandat*    COLUMN-Sanctions spell the end of OPEC output deal: Kemp – Reuters News

09-May-2018 12:28:22

John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own

By John Kemp

LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran marks the end of the current output agreement between OPEC and its allies.

OPEC is likely to insist the current agreement remains in effect, at least for now, but the prospective removal of several hundred thousand barrels per day of Iranian exports from the market will require a major adjustment.

Saudi Arabia has already promised to „mitigate“ the impact of any potential supply shortages, in conjunction with other suppliers and consumer countries, in a statement released immediately after the sanctions decision.

The kingdom is customarily coy about how it might respond but the prospective removal of Iranian crude from the market will send oil prices sharply higher unless other producers step up to fill the gap.

As a practical matter, only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Russia and the United States have the ability to raise production and exports in the short term.

Saudi Arabia and its close allies Abu Dhabi and Kuwait hold almost all the spare capacity that could respond quickly to a reduction in Iranian exports.

U.S. shale producers could also increase their output but it would take time and their light crude is not a good substitute for heavier Iranian oil.

Russian firms may also hold spare capacity and could certainly increase output over a 12-month horizon. Their crude is a close equivalent to Iranian grades.

The United States and Saudi Arabia appear to have reached a high-level political understanding in which the United States will intensify pressure on Iran in exchange for Saudi Arabia agreeing to help avoid a spike in oil prices.

The existence of an understanding was confirmed by the U.S. Treasury Secretary who told reporters on Tuesday that „we have had conversations with various parties … that would be willing to increase oil supply“.

In retrospect, the president’s tweet on April 20 blaming OPEC for high oil prices can be seen as part of the negotiating process to reach an understanding with Saudi Arabia.

In effect, the United States agreed to implement tough sanctions, and Saudi Arabia agreed to limit the impact on oil prices.

The outlines of that agreement remain unclear, and may not be entirely clear to Washington and Riyadh, but the understanding is vital to the successful implementation of sanctions.

U.S. gasoline prices are already averaging just under $3 per gallon, the highest level since late 2014, up from $2.50 a year ago.

U.S. politicians will want to avoid being blamed for a further escalation in the run up to congressional elections in November.

Assuming the U.S. sanctions are effective in curbing Iran’s crude exports, Saudi Arabia and its OPEC allies will have to raise their production to make up the shortfall, or risk being blamed for a further rise in motoring costs.

UPDATED DEAL

The original agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, and other oil exporters, led by Russia, set output levels in December 2016.

The output agreement has already been extended twice, in May and December 2017, and is now scheduled to run until at least December 2018.

Even before the United States decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, OPEC’s output agreement was in danger of being overtaken by events.

The collapse in Venezuelan output has reduced production much more than intended and caused global oil inventories to draw down much faster than OPEC predicted at the end of last year.

The result has been a sharp increase in prices, which has been broadly welcomed by OPEC members, especially Saudi Arabia, which needs the revenues to pay for its ambitious transformation programme.

Losing significant volumes of Iranian exports as a result of sanctions will worsen the existing under-supply in the market and cause inventories to decline even faster and prices to rise even higher.

But further significant price increases threaten to complicate OPEC’s strategy by accelerating the upturn in shale drilling, as well as denting the growth in oil consumption.

They also pose a political problem since neither the Trump administration nor Saudi Arabia will want to be blamed for pushing up prices for motorists in the United States and elsewhere.

For all these reasons, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members will come under intense pressure to raise their output to make up for any loss of Iranian barrels.

In theory, U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry will not be re-imposed for six months to give customers, traders and banks time to wind down their relationships in an orderly fashion.

In theory, too, the United States is open to granting waivers to importers of Iranian crude, provided they show some willingness to reduce their purchases.

But the U.S. Treasury has already made clear it expects importers to start cutting purchases of Iranian crude immediately if they want to obtain a waiver later, according to a briefing note issued by the Treasury on Tuesday.

The result is that sanctions will start to phase in quickly and could start to progressively cut Iranian exports within the next few months, assuming the sanctions are effective.

OPEC members need to start reacting now if they intend to avert an escalation of prices, rather than leaving the decision to December, by which time the market will be exceptionally tight and it will be too late.

Current OPEC and non-OPEC production levels were specified for a world over-supplied with crude. That world no longer exists.

Negotiating a new deal on output levels is likely to prove tricky since OPEC operates by consensus and sanctions pit two of its most important producers directly against one another.

So the existing deal may technically remain in force while members ignore its output levels in practice.

But the U.S. sanctions on Iran, assuming they are effective, mark the end of the current output agreement.

Related columns:

Saudi Arabia wants higher prices to kick oil addiction„, Reuters, May 3

Rising oil prices put demand destruction back on the agenda„, Reuters, May 2

Mission accomplished for OPEC as oil moves from slump to boom„, Reuters, April 24

OPEC pact likely to evolve rather than terminate„, Reuters, Feb. 24

(Editing by Edmund Blair)

John Kemp – Senior Market Analyst – Reuters 

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Joint Statements to the Press With Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray – Remarks – Mike Pompeo – U.S. Secretary of State  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Good afternoon. Today it is my pleasure and a great honor to welcome the Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray to the State Department. Welcome.

We had a great discussion and we had so because Mexico is one of the United States’ closest partners. Together we are working to build a more secure, prosperous, and democratic hemisphere. We are neighbors, allies, and friends.

The conversation, as I said, was forthright. We talked about a range of issues. In particular, we spoke of four vital areas in which we work with Mexico every day: trade; management of our shared border; security; and the shared regional and global priorities of our two countries.

First, it comes as a surprise to no one that our economic interests are deeply intertwined. Mexico is our second largest export market, third largest trading partner. The importance of modernizing NAFTA cannot be overstated, and we will continue to work towards an agreement with Mexico and with Canada.

Second, we manage a couple-thousand-mile border. Every day more than $1.7 billion in trade crosses that border back and forth, supporting thousands of jobs on both sides of that border. We seek to improve efficiency at our ports of entry to support the legitimate flow of commerce between our two countries.

Third, we work together to enhance our shared security by disrupting transnational criminal organizations. We recognize the demand of – for drugs is principally on the American side of the border, and that this problem is destroying communities and tearing families apart. That is why the President has renewed efforts to prevent and treat addiction here at home and to combat the flow of drugs coming into our country from abroad.

Our security is linked to one another’s. It will take our shared resources and commitment to disrupt criminal groups that illegally traffic drugs, weapons, and human beings. Continued cooperation under the Merida Initiative advances our mutual security objectives. We’ve made some progress through the U.S.-Mexico Strategic Dialogue to disrupt these transnational criminal organizations. We should be proud of that. This will continue to be a priority for the administration.

Fourth, and finally, we work together with Mexico on regional and global challenges. For example, we are working with our partners in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to reduce insecurity and violence, enhance economic opportunity, and fight corruption. These shared efforts address the underlying conditions driving illegal immigration. We also cooperate with Mexico to build regional consensus on the crisis in Venezuela. Thank you for your leadership, Secretary, on this issue in particular. I echo the message of Vice President Pence from earlier today at the OAS meeting: We urge our entire hemisphere to impose strict accountability on the corrupt and brutal Maduro regime.

We are always looking for new ways to deepen our partnership with Mexico. Today, good news: the signing of the U.S.-Mexico Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement further expands our relationship and will benefit the North American and U.S. suppliers in the nuclear energy industry.

Again, Foreign Secretary, I want to thank you for coming here today to discuss the many pressing issues facing our two countries. I’m deeply appreciative of having my first press conference here at the State Department with you. Thank you, Foreign Minister.

FOREIGN SECRETARY VIDEGARAY: Thank you very much, Secretary. Although I’ll be speaking in Spanish in a moment, I just want to say that I am very, very proud and very honored to have this first conversation with you as Secretary of State, because we’ve met before, but not in your role as Secretary of State, so I am very, very, very honored. And we had, as you said, a very productive, very frank first conversation as such. Let me switch to Spanish.

(Via interpreter) Since the beginning of the administration of President Trump, the Mexican Government, the government of President Pena Nieto, has promoted and offered an institutional relationship of mutual benefit and mutual respect. We acknowledge that we share threats, that we have opportunities that we can take advantage of together; and we also need to say we also have some differences, some of which are public and well known, but we cannot allow those differences to define this relationship. We need to be able to work for the interest of two neighboring countries and two neighboring peoples who are brothers so as to overcome our differences. Mexico, Mr. Secretary Pompeo, is a large country, a proud country, proud of its history, enthused about its future, and we are a sovereign state. And as a sovereign state, we offer the United States our friendship, the will to work together on the issues that join us to do good things – good things for the people of the United States and of course for the people of Mexico.

The relationship between Mexico and the United States finds itself at a turning point of the decisions made between our governments in the next few months, even in the next few days. Well, this will determine the relationship between our two countries for the next years and even the next few decades. We find ourselves at that crucial moment in the renegotiation and modernization of NAFTA, a renegotiation that Mexico faces in good faith with constructive spirit, convinced that North America can be the most competitive region in the world, and with the belief that we have huge, concrete opportunities for prosperity and well-paid jobs for all of our inhabitants.

We have shared challenges on the issue of security, and moments ago Secretary Pompeo was mentioning the work we’ve done throughout a new high-level group to fight transnational criminal organizations. We will continue along that path. This is what we have agreed upon on the understanding that the problem does not have to do with supply or demand; the problem is a market at the regional level that needs to be disarticulated so as to be able to fight successfully this phenomenon.

With regards to migration, we face common challenges. Mexico has stopped become – being simply an origin country; we are also becoming a country that receives migrants. We need to continue to think about priority to the fundamental dignity of migrants, whatever their migratory condition. Of course, we will continue to work on the regional issues where we share values and a vision. This is the case with regards to Central America. In particular with the countries of the so-called Northern Triangle – Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras – we will continue to promote development and security. We have agreed upon the fact that in the next few weeks we will have in the city of Washington the second conference that puts together Mexico and the United States as cohosts with the three governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and other regional partners that will continue to be part of this effort.

With regards to Venezuela, we share to a very large extent the concern given the situation of systematic disruption of democracy. We will continue to call for a solution arising from Venezuelans themselves who can find a peaceful solution to re-establish democracy in their country. Of course, we will continue to work on different causes at multilateral organizations where we share values and purposes.

I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity to underscore the fact that the Government of Mexico is very pleased with the progress made to achieve the denuclearization of the North Korean Peninsula. We recognize the work of Secretary Pompeo in this regards. This is an issue that affects us all around the world.

Finally, I’d like to thank the Department of State, the Department of Energy, and the entirety of the Trump administration who was part of this for the signature of the Cooperation Agreement for the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy. This agreement, which will be presented throughout a newsletter in the next few minutes, will allow us to continue strengthening cooperation, specifically in the area of technological transfers so that Mexico can continue to develop its nuclear energy so that the next governments in Mexico can continue to develop the use of nuclear technology for medical purposes, for example, or for the generation of electricity if that is decided in the future.

Thank you, Secretary, for the signature of this agreement which I believe it is important to highlight; beyond everything we see on the media and the differences we might have, this shows we continue to work together, we continue to address specific issues that are useful for our peoples and creating a better future for our region. I wish you the greatest of success. It is an honor for me to be back at the Department of State and to be here with you at your first message to the media in this hall. Thank you, Secretary Pompeo. We are ready to continue working together. https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/05/281916.htm

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  Massenbach’s   image0121 Recommendation

CTC-Westpoint: The Islamic State’s Lingering Legacy among Young Men from the Mosul Area

April 2018, Volume 11, Issue 4

 Abstract: After expulsion of Islamic State forces from Mosul, Iraq’s government declared the country “fully liberated” and the Islamic State “defeated.” But field interviews and non-threatening psychological experiments with young Sunni Arab men from the Mosul area indicate that the Islamic State may have lost its “caliphate,” but not necessarily the allegiance of supporters of both a Sunni Arab homeland and governance by sharia law. These continued supporters of some Islamic State core values appear more willing to make costly sacrifices for these values than those who value a unified Iraq. Nearly all study participants rejected democracy, and expressed unwillingness to tradeoff values for material gain. Thus, rather than relying on implementation of Western values or material incentives to undercut (re)radicalization, the findings suggest that alternative interpretations of local society’s core values could be leveraged as ‘wedge issues’ to better divide groups such as the Islamic State from supporting populations. 

From July to October 2017, the authors conducted in-depth, one-on-one interviews, including evaluation on a series of psychological measures, with young Sunni men just coming out from under Islamic State rule in Mosul, Iraq, and the surrounding region. To a significant degree men like this are likely to shape and be affected by the post Islamic State political and security landscape in the region. The goal was to better understand how people who had lived under the Islamic State perceived: 1) the Islamic State’s rule; 2) the Islamic State’s political and insurrectional prospects following military defeat by the Iraqi Army and allied militia with aid from an international coalition dominated by the United States and Iran; 3) their own political future; and 4) their willingness to make costly sacrifices for their primary reference groups and for political and religious ideals.

The multidisciplinary and multinational team of researchers has been working on the frontlines of the fight against the Islamic State since the beginning of 2015.a In their research with frontline combatants in Iraq (peshmerga, Iraqi Army, Sunni Arab militia, Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party (PKK), and captured Islamic State fighters), the authors employed an initial set of psychological measures to gauge willingness to make costly sacrifices.1 In these frontline studies, whose results the authors’ replicated in more than a dozen online studies among thousands of Western Europeans outside the conflict zone, the authors investigated two key components of a theoretical framework they termed “The Devoted Actor” to better understand people’s willingness to make costly sacrifices.2

The Devoted Actor framework integrates research on “sacred values” that are immune to material tradeoffs—whether religious or secular, as when land or law become holy or hallowed—and “identity fusion,” which gives individuals a visceral feeling of oneness and invulnerability to a primary reference group to which they belong.3 The authors found three crucial factors common to those devoted actors most willing to make costly sacrifices: The first was commitment to non-negotiable sacred values and the groups that the actors are wholly fused with. The second was readiness to forsake kin for those values. And the third was devoted actors’ perception that the spiritual strength of their own group (often interpreted as heartfelt commitment to the group’s values) outweighed their perception of the group’s material strength or that of its enemies (often interpreted in terms of manpower and firepower). The authors showed that, in extreme conflicts, expressed willingness to act in defense of core values can trump cost-benefit calculations, with implications for policy decisions relevant to improving the political and security outlook in a particular region.

More generally, these prior studies, as well as the new results presented here, are part of a series of investigations intended to inform policymakers and the public about recent findings from social science research on the relative importance of material interests versus abstract ideals and values, which can help determine individuals’ willingness to make costly sacrifices in geographic “hot spots.” The research methodology does not involve general attitudinal surveys or form-filling questionnaires. Rather, the authors employ a theoretical framework developed in the course of research in conflict zones around the world, using a series of dynamic measures (described below) to tease out that framework so as to identify pathways to and from individual and collective violence and to better understand potential implications for policy…..(for more see att. study)

https://ctc.usma.edu/islamic-states-lingering-legacy-among-young-men-mosul-area

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White House factsheet on Iran sanctions

 U.S. Treasury briefing on Iran sanctions

State Department briefing on sanctions

Iran says nuclear agreement still in effect

Saudi Arabia promises to mitigate impact

U.S. Treasury sees no impact on oil prices

U.S. sanctions: implications and next steps

United States has commitments to increase oil output ($FT)

Saudi Arabia stands to be the biggest winner from sanctions

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see our letter on:  http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

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04-26-18 The Islamic State’s Lingering Legacy among Young Men fr om the Mosul Area – C.pdf
05-08-18 Andrey Kortunov-My Wish List for the Bundeskanzleramt.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 04.05.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

Massenbach*The Diplomat: Will China Replace the US Global Role?

“China has neither the will nor the capacity to replace the United States as world leader?”

„While U.S. soft power was helped by a global familiarity with European cultural elements, as spread during colonialism, Chinese culture is a typical regional civilization – this significantly raises the cost of China’s global governance and limits China’s global appeal. Further, considering that it is difficult for China to attract global talents like the United States and become a new home for immigrants, China is highly unlikely to outperform the United States in higher education, scientific research, and innovation. In the process of its rise, China is likely to concentrate on building its own order or system. However, this will be largely limited to regional influence, and mainly reflected in nonmilitary aspects. China can be expected to establish international mechanisms confined to certain areas (such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), but again, creating dominant international organizations like the United Nations will be impossible for China. All in all, China is unlikely to replace the United States’ global role after its rise.“

https://thediplomat.com/2018/04/will-china-replace-the-us-global-role/

(read more: https://thediplomat.com/2018/04/what-might-a-chinese-world-order-look-like/ )

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https://cdn.govexec.com/b/newsletter/images/do-header-logo.pngNetanyahu and Iran’s Atomic Archive: What’s New and What’s Not // Joshua Pollack

In a dramatic Monday presentation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that his government’s intelligence agents had obtained thousands of documents about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Netanyahu said the documents revealed new facts, and proved that Iran had lied about its development efforts.

But Joshua Pollack, editor of Nonproliferation Review, notes that little of what the prime minister said was unknown to the wider community. And the most interesting revelation takes Netanyahu’s argument in a direction he didn’t necessarily mean to go.

Among the new bits: Tehran’s nuclear planners envisioned an arsenal so small as to make Kim Jong Un giggle.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is nothing if not a showman. No world leader makes more effective use of props and visual aids, from the literal red line he drew on a cartoon bomb diagram at the United Nations in 2012 to the fragment of an Iranian drone he brandished at the Munich Security Conference this February. Few are so comfortable delivering public remarks in English, never mind someone who is not even a native speaker. Love him or hate him, the man has talent.

But speaking on Monday in a televised address from the Kirya—Israel’s Ministry of Defense—Bibi outdid himself. “Tonight,” he declared, “we’re going to show you something that the world has never seen before.” Striding across a stage, he revealed a collection of papers and CD-ROMs, representing a cache of documents recently snatched out of Iran by Israeli intelligence.

The Prime Minister then proceeded to walk his audience through the contents of what he called Iran’s “atomic archive.” Using a slideshow to make the case that “Iran lied” about never having pursued nuclear weapons, he appealed to President Trump to “do the right thing” about the “terrible deal” concluded with Iran in 2015 to constrain its nuclear program.

As Bibi knows, Trump must decide this May 12 whether to continue to waive sanctions against Iran, in keeping with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or “Iran deal.” Failing to renew the waivers would effectively withdraw United States from the agreement, with unpredictable consequences.

Show, don’t tell

We can be sure that the President, well-known to be a visual learner, appreciated Bibi’s style of presentation. Unfortunately, Netanyahu showed very little that we haven’t already been told.

Indeed, if the “atomic archive” holds nothing more damning than the contents of Monday’s presentation, then it should increase our confidence that Iran’s weaponization work remains on ice. Nearly every point in his presentation corresponded to intelligence findings made public years ago, first in the “Key Judgments” of a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, and later in a detailed annex to a 2011 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, with the delicate title, “Possible Military Dimensions to Iran’s Nuclear Programme.”

“This is an original Iranian spreadsheet from the archives of Project Amad,” said Netanyahu, referring to Iran’s weapon-design project, which was suspended in the fall of 2003 and hidden away. “Look at what we have here. Yellowcake [uranium] production, centrifuge enrichment process, warhead project, simulation project, and [nuclear] test. And indeed, when we analyzed what’s in these archives, we found that Project Amad had the all the five elements, the five key elements, of a nuclear weapons program. I want to take them one by one.”

And so he did, showing off interesting images and videos corresponding to each point. But in most respects, the 2011 IAEA report was even more detailed. It named and described the “AMAD Plan,” including documents on the chemical processing and enrichment of uranium, the development of a warhead design, modeling and simulation, studies to prepare for nuclear testing, and other areas besides—every point Bibi discussed, and quite a bit more. Much of the annex was derived from “the alleged studies,” a collection of intelligence gathered in 2005.

Did Iranian officials lie about the country’s past efforts to develop nuclear weapons, as Bibi maintains? You bet. Did we need his presentation to reach that conclusion? Absolutely not.

Still the best deal in town

It may seem curious, but Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, and its past attempt to do so, are precisely why the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China struck a bargain with Iran. What Iran had been up to was only too well understood. So if Iran’s leaders wanted relief from sanctions, they would have to accept unusually strict limits and monitoring on their civilian nuclear program. That’s the essence of the deal that Netanyahu and Trump both loathe so much.

Contrary to claims that the deal required Iran to “come clean” and be truthful about its past weapons research, it required only that Iran implement an agreement with the IAEA, facilitating its investigation into Iran’s past activities—which is what happened. Everyone involved understood that Iran’s leaders were lying to save face. After more than a decade of denials, they would not undergo the humiliation of a public admission to the contrary. It’s absurd to imagine otherwise.

To some, Iran’s regime is so pernicious that keeping the strongest possible sanctions going for as long as possible may seem more important than convincing Tehran not to indulge its nuclear ambitions. But this argument is rarely voiced openly, and is doubtful on the merits. Every other threat that Iran poses—terrorism, subversion, and missile proliferation—would only be abetted by its possession of nuclear weapons.

The unambitious arsenal

Perhaps only by accident, Bibi Netanyahu did place some fascinating new bits of information on the public record. Showing images of documents without visible dates, he described the AMAD Plan’s vision for a nuclear arsenal. It was to have consisted of five nuclear devices suitable for ballistic missile delivery. Each was to have a yield of 10 kilotons, small by nuclear standards.

This is a remarkably miniscule, unambitious arsenal. It would make Kim Jong Un giggle. Only one country is known to have created anything like it: South Africa, which built a handful of very basic nuclear weapons in the 1980s, and then decided to dismantle them. Only later, after the end of Apartheid, did the new government reveal the story. According to a South African nuclear official, Waldo Stumpf, the idea was to keep the bombs secret; only if the country were threatened with invasion would it hint at its capability, or conduct a nuclear test to reveal it.

Did a similar idea motivate Iran’s AMAD Plan? We don’t know. Not enough information has entered the public record. But it is worth asking whether this project amounted to a crash program to create a secret, fairly rudimentary nuclear capability, only to be revealed in an emergency.

According to the 2011 IAEA report, the AMAD Plan was not organized until some point in the late 1990s or early 2000s; most of its work appears to have been conducted “during 2002 and 2003.”

It was also in January 2002 that President George W. Bush’s delivered his famous “Axis of Evil” speech, lumping Iran in with Iraq and North Korea as mortal threats to the “peace of the world.” It would be a twist worthy of O. Henry if that speech, pointing to the threat of weapons of mass destruction, convinced the Iranian regime to reach for nuclear weapons as quickly as it could. If an appropriately sanitized version of the “atomic archive” ever becomes public, perhaps it will be possible to reach firmer conclusions.

  • Joshua Pollack is a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the editor of the Nonproliferation Review. Full bio

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/05/netanyahu-makes/147874/

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Syrien: Russische Militärpolizei überwacht Ost-Kalamun – Versöhnungszentrum

Die russische Militärpolizei und die syrische Polizei werden die Städte in dem syrischen Gebiet Ost-Kalamun überwachen, das die Regierungstruppen wieder unter ihre Kontrolle gebracht haben. Dies teilte ein Vertreter des russischen Zentrums für Versöhnung der Konfliktparteien in Syrien mit.

Zuvor war berichtet worden, dass am Mittwoch syrische Regierungstruppen und die russische Militärpolizei in das Gebiet mit den Ortschaften Ad-Dumair, Dschajrud und Al-Ruhaibah einmarschiert seien. Bis dahin stand es unter Kontrolle von neun islamistischen Gruppierungen, darunter auch Dschaisch al-Islam.

„Die russische Militärpolizei und die syrische Polizei werden die Städte von Ost-Kalamun gemeinsam überwachen, um die Sicherheit der einheimischen Bevölkerung sowie die Sicherheit in Schulen, Krankenhäusern und staatlichen Einrichtungen zu gewährleisten“, sagte der Vertreter.

© Sputnik /

„Russia, Moskwa!“: Duma-Bewohner jubeln nach Befreiung von Rebellen – VIDEO

Ungefähr 5500 Kämpfer und ihre Familienmitglieder waren aus dem Gebiet weggebracht worden.

Ende der letzten Woche war die Evakuierung der Kämpfer aus der Stadt Ad-Dumair abgeschlossen worden. Die Stadt galt als eine Hochburg und ein Versorgungszentrum des Gebiets Ost-Kalamun im Nordosten des syrischen Gouvernements Damaskus.

Die Vereinbarung über eine friedliche Evakuierung war nach demselben Prinzip wie bei den Städten und Dörfern Ost-Ghutas getroffen worden.

https://de.sputniknews.com/politik/20180426320480681-syrien-russische-militaerpolizei-ost-kalamun/

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Deutsche Bank Research – Handelskonflikt fordert Unternehmen und Regierung

Deutschland hat seine Warenausfuhren 2017 um nominal 6,2% erhöht und erzielte den bislang zweithöchsten Handelsbilanzüberschuss seiner Geschichte. Besonders starke Impulse gingen dabei von den Ausfuhren nach China und in die Niederlande aus. Handelskritische Äußerungen in den USA sorgten zuletzt für Irritationen und dämpfen die Exportaussichten der deutschen Exportwirtschaft, wenngleich die EU (und damit Deutschland) bislang von höheren US-Importzöllen ausgenommen ist. Die deutschen Hersteller von Investitionsgütern sowie die pharmazeutische Industrie wären von einem Handelsstreit am meisten betroffen. Sie verzeichnen eine insgesamt hohe Exportquote.

Merkels vierte Legislaturperiode: Zurück zur Arbeit – zurück zum Krisenmanagement?

Der drohende Handelskrieg mit den USA rückt das von dem Merkel-Vertrauten Peter Altmaier (CDU) geleitete Wirtschaftsministerium ins Rampenlicht, das bei der Portfolioaufteilung zwischen CDU, CSU und SPD weithin als eher unwichtig angesehen wurde. Zwar liegt die Kompetenz in der Handelspolitik bei der EU, aber natürlich gibt es entsprechende Abstimmungen mit den Mitgliedern. Das Dilemma für die EU: Reagiert sie auf die „Schutzzölle“, riskiert sie eine Eskalationsspirale, an deren Ende alle ärmer wären. Keine Reaktion des größten Handelsblocks der Welt würde aber als weitere Schwächung der WTO angesehen. Die EU sollte daher für die Wiederbelebung der TTIP-Verhandlungen werben, eigene Zugeständnisse eingeschlossen. Schwieriger noch ist, wie sich die EU zukünftig zwischen den Handelsmächten USA und China positioniert, wenn die Handelskonflikte weiter zunehmen.

https://www.dbresearch.de/MAIL/RPS_DE-PROD/PROD0000000000466631.pdf

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*U.S.-Morocco Strategic Energy Working Group on Energy Cooperation

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

April 19, 2018

The U.S. Department of State hosted the second U.S.-Morocco Strategic Energy Working Group meeting in Washington, D.C. on April 19, 2018. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk and Director General Amina Benkhadra, National Bureau of Petroleum and Mines for Morocco, led the discussions.

Officials from the Department of Commerce also participated along with Moroccan delegation members from the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency, the Research Institute for Renewable Energy and New Energies, and the Embassy of Morocco in Washington D.C.

Discussions focused on recent developments in the Moroccan energy sector, including hydrocarbons exploration, renewables deployment, and energy efficiency; on-going Department of State and Commerce initiatives in Morocco; areas for collaboration including natural gas, energy efficiency, and renewables; and private sector investment opportunities in the energy field.

As its demand for energy rises, Morocco is working to attract U.S. investment to help meet the needs of its growing economy. The United States is an ideal partner for advancing Morocco’s energy security goals. This event exemplifies the strong U.S.-Morocco bilateral relationship and the significant strides we have made in energy sector collaboration over the last few years.

For further information, www.state.gov/e/enr. / https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/04/280643.htm

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Mouna KadiriHead of Africa Development Club- Groupe Attijariwafa Bank

Le Club Afrique Développement et la Société Ivoirienne de Banque ont organisé les 26 et 27 avril derniers à Abidjan une mission multisectorielle autour des Fintech présidée par le Ministre de la Communication, de l’Economie Numérique et de la Poste, M. Bruno Nabagné Koné, avec le fondateur de l‘incubateur d‘innovations kLab.rw –Rwanda, Deloitte , IFC – International Finance Corporation, le Gotic, CINETPAY, TaxiJet Cote d’Ivoire et l’incubateur Seedstars.

 

Plus de 250 chefs d’entreprises de Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritanie, Maroc, Tunisie, Sénégal et du Cameroun ont réalisé près de 200 rendez-vous d’affaires (BTP, immobilier, génie civil, industrie électrique et électronique, Tics, Fintech, Commerce et la distribution). A la demande des adhérents, intéressés par le secteur de l’agroalimentaire, une visite de la SDTM (Société de Distribution de Toutes Marchandises) située au Port Autonome d’Abidjan a été organisée. #AlMada #PositiveImpact .

 

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                                                                                                 Middle East     

Wall Street Journal: Europe, Trump and the Iran Deal

Macron’s move opens the way for a joint rewrite of the nuclear agreement.

 

Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington…was notable for its warm atmospherics, but its significance could be far more substantial. The French President said he’s willing to accept a revised Iran nuclear deal that includes at least some of President Trump’s demands.

“We want sustainable stability and I believe that the discussions we’ve had together make it possible to open the way, to pave the way, for a new agreement,” Mr. Macron said Tuesday, surprising many in Europe. The Trump-centric U.S. media gave more attention to Mr. Macron’s remarks a day later that he thinks Mr. Trump still wants to withdraw from the deal by May 12, but that isn’t news. Progress toward a joint Europe-U.S. revision is.

Specifically, the French leader appears to be on board with fixing at least two of three giant loopholes in the John Kerry-Barack Obama deal: strengthening inspections at any suspect sites inside Iran, and adding a provision on Iran’s ballistic missiles. He also seems to have embraced the larger Trump strategy to contain Iran, which includes confronting its record of cyber attacks, human-rights abuses, support for terrorism and military adventurism.

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This is a major advance, and it offers hope that the U.S. and France, Britain and Germany can agree on a revised pact. Contrary to common misunderstanding, Iran, Russia and China wouldn’t have to agree to these changes. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is known, isn’t a treaty. Mr. Obama never submitted it for Senate approval because he knew it would be defeated. The deal is essentially a set of assurances agreed to at the United Nations that lack the force of U.S. law.

The U.S. and the French are still negotiating over the range of missiles that would be banned. But we’re told the biggest remaining U.S. disagreement with Mr. Macron is the deal’s sunset provision. To get a deal before leaving office, Mr. Obama agreed to let the pact begin to expire in 2025.

This is an invitation to Iran to bide its time and restart its nuclear program from a stronger economic position in a mere seven years. Mr. Trump is right to want to make the deal permanent, and Mr. Macron told Congress Wednesday that “Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never.” Never is later than 2025.

The Europeans fear this would cause Iran to renounce the deal and break out to build a bomb. But while the mullahs will protest, Iran has incentives to remain in a revised deal. The terms are simply too good for Iran even with revisions, and Iran can’t afford the renewal of sanctions if it wants faster growth to create jobs for its restive youth. Iran needs foreign trade and investment.

On the sunset provision, Iran could decide to ignore a U.S.-Europe rewrite and wait until 2025 to test the world’s resolve to enforce it. This is all the more reason not to let this single issue block U.S. and European agreement now.

The benefits would be considerable. A revised deal would show Western unity against Russian revanchism and Iranian imperialism. It would show Iran that the Obama-Kerry appeasement was the exception, not a Western consensus. On the eve of a Trump-Kim Jong Un summit, a Europe-U.S. rewrite would also reinforce Mr. Trump’s demand that North Korea must dismantle its nuclear program to have normal relations with the world.

If Europe and the U.S. can’t agree, Mr. Macron is right that Mr. Trump will probably honor his promise to withdraw on May 12. There would be a diplomatic uproar, and Mr. Trump would be denounced by the usual suspects. Iran and some in Europe would try to isolate the U.S. diplomatically.

But Mr. Trump has ample discretion to reimpose sanctions on Iran under U.S. law. If Europe tried to join Iran and Russia and isolate the U.S., the Trump Administration could then also impose secondary sanctions on European companies doing business with Iran. Faced with the choice of business with the U.S. or Iran, most companies would choose the U.S. But there’s no denying the consequences of unilateral U.S. withdrawal would be messy.

All of which argues for the U.S. and Europe to agree on terms for a rewrite of the Kerry-Obama Iran deal. Europe has to decide if it wants to unite with the U.S. to make the Iran deal better for world security, or stick with the Obama terms and risk a showdown over U.S. sanctions on Iran and Europe.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-trump-and-the-iran-deal-1524785195?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=7

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  *Massenbach’simage002  Recommendation*

Augengeradeaus: Dokumentation: Merkel und Trump zur sicherheitspolitischen Themen

T.Wiegold 28. April 2018 ·

(Zur Dokumentation aus der Abschrift des Bundespresseamtes ):

 

Trump: Heute habe ich die Ehre, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel wieder im Weißen Haus begrüßen zu dürfen. Im letzten Jahr habe ich die Kanzlerin durch viele produktive Telefonanrufe, Diskussionen und Treffen sehr gut kennengelernt. Wir haben ausgezeichnete Beziehungen. (…)

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Bei unserem Treffen heute haben die Kanzlerin und ich auch den Iran besprochen. Das Regime heizt Gewalt, Blutvergießen und Chaos im ganzen Mittleren Osten an. Wir müssen sicherstellen, dass dieses Regime nicht die Möglichkeit hat, Kernwaffen zu erreichen, und dass der Iran die Proliferation nicht fortsetzt. Wo immer man im Mittleren Osten ist, ist der Iran. Während wir noch beseitigen, was an Resten von ISIS übrig ist, müssen wir sicherstellen, dass der Iran keinen Nutzen daraus zieht. Es ist wichtig, dass die Koalition, die wir haben, und die regionalen Partner ihre finanziellen und militärischen Beiträge zur Bekämpfung von ISIS verstärken. Einige der Länder sind sehr wohlhabend und werden jetzt zur Kasse gebeten. Sie müssen für die Hilfe, die wir gewährt haben, zahlen.

Die Kanzlerin und ich hatten auch eine produktive Diskussion über die Sicherheit Europas, über die Verantwortung der europäischen Länder, einen entsprechenden Beitrag für die eigene Verteidigung zu leisten. Wir sprachen über die Notwendigkeit, das NATO-Bündnis zu stärken, um sicherzustellen, dass alle Mitglieder ihre Zusage erfüllen, zwei Prozent und hoffentlich noch mehr des Bruttoinlandsproduktes für die Verteidigung auszugeben. Es ist äußerst wichtig, dass unsere NATO-Verbündeten ihren finanziellen Beitrag erhöhen, damit alle ihren fairen Anteil zahlen können. Wir hoffen dass es Fortschritte beim Lastenausgleich gibt. Viele Länder haben bereits ihren Beitrag geleistet. Das ist auch weiterhin erforderlich. Sehr viele zusätzliche Gelder wurden in den letzten 16 Monaten für die NATO bereits zur Verfügung gestellt. Ich bin stolz darauf, dass ich hierzu einen wichtigen Beitrag geleistet habe. (…)

Merkel: Danke schön! Ich möchte mich vor allen Dingen für den Empfang hier im Weißen Haus und die Gelegenheit, uns auszutauschen, bedanken.

Dies ist mein erster Besuch außerhalb Europas nach meiner Wiederwahl. Es war mir wichtig, zu zeigen, dass für Deutschland die transatlantischen Beziehungen von großer Wichtigkeit sind und dass wir wissen, dass diese transatlantischen Beziehungen existenziell für uns sind. Die transatlantischen Beziehungen haben einen großen Beitrag dazu geleistet, dass Deutschland heute wiedervereint sein kann. Ich habe den ersten Teil meines Lebens auf der anderen Seite des Eisernen Vorhangs verbracht. Dass diese Wiedervereinigung möglich gewesen ist, haben wir ganz wesentlich auch den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika zu verdanken.

Das prägt auch unsere zukünftige Zusammenarbeit, die angesichts einer Welt in Turbulenzen dringender denn je ist. Deutschland möchte und wird deshalb ein verlässlicher Partner in der Allianz der NATO sein. Deutschland ist ein verlässlicher Partner in der Europäischen Union umso mehr, als wir heute im Kampf gegen die Nuklearisierung des Iran, im Kampf gegen Terrorismus, im Kampf gegen ISIS im Irak, in Syrien, im Kampf gegen den Terrorismus in Afghanistan oder auch in Afrika dringend aufeinander angewiesen sind. (…)

Darauf müssen wir genauso im Verhältnis zum Iran und im Kampf gegen die Nuklearisierung dort achten. Wir sind der Meinung, dass das Nuklearabkommen mit dem Iran ein erster Schritt ist, der dazu beigetragen hat, die Aktivitäten zu verlangsamen und auch besser zu überwachen. Aber wir sind von deutscher Seite auch der Meinung, dass es nicht ausreicht, um wirklich eine Rolle des Iran zu erreichen, die auf Verlässlichkeit gründet. Deshalb muss mehr dazukommen. Das ballistische Raketenprogramm ist ein Gegenstand größter Besorgnis. Die Tatsache, dass der Iran in Syrien und auch im Libanon Einfluss nimmt, ist für uns ein großer Teil der Besorgnis. Hier müssen wir die Eingrenzung des Einflusses erreichen. Wir müssen natürlich auch schauen, dass über die Dauer dieses Iran-Abkommens hinaus Verlässlichkeit geschaffen werden kann. Das heißt, ich denke, Europa und die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika sollten hier sehr eng zusammenarbeiten, auch um das schreckliche Blutvergießen in Syrien zu beenden und eine Lösung für die Region insgesamt hinzubekommen.

Wir haben darüber hinaus natürlich über unsere Aufgaben im Zusammenhang mit der Verteidigung gesprochen. Deutschland wird im Jahre 2019 einen Anteil der Verteidigungsausgaben am Bruttoinlandsprodukt von 1,3 Prozent haben. Das ist eine Steigerung in den letzten Jahren. Wir sind aber längst noch nicht da, wo wir hin müssen; das wissen wir. Wir stehen aber zu den Zielen, die wir in Wales vereinbart haben. (…)

FRAGE: Frau Bundeskanzlerin, zum Nukleardeal mit dem Iran: Sie haben Präsident Trump gerade sagen hören, dass der Iran sein Nuklearprogramm nicht wieder aufnehmen werde. Befürchten Sie, dass der Iran sein Nuklearprogramm wieder aufnehmen wird, wenn sich die Vereinigten Staaten aus dem Deal zurückziehen?

Zweitens. Sie sind der zweite Leader der Europäischen Union, der in dieser Woche das Weiße Haus besucht. Welche Verbesserungen haben Sie dem Präsidenten vorgeschlagen, die es geben muss, damit die Vereinigten Staaten weiterhin an dem Deal beteiligt sein können?

Merkel: Ich habe meine Position deutlich gemacht, dass ich glaube, dass dieses Abkommen alles andere als perfekt ist, um alle Probleme mit dem Iran zu lösen, aber dass es ein Baustein ist, auf den man aufbauen kann. Ich glaube, dass wir in den letzten Wochen und zwei Monaten, würde ich etwa sagen, als Großbritannien, Frankreich und Deutschland sehr gut mit den amerikanischen Kollegen zusammengearbeitet haben. Nun werden wir sehen, welche Entscheidungen hier auf amerikanischer Seite gefällt werden. Ich habe aus unserer Perspektive noch einmal darauf hingewiesen, dass die gesamte Region für uns natürlich von größter Bedeutung ist; denn sie liegt nicht tausende Kilometer weit weg, wie das zwischen den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, Iran und Syrien ist; vielmehr sind Syrien und Iran Länder vor unserer Haustür. Deshalb ist das von allergrößter Bedeutung für uns, und wir werden hier im engen Gespräch bleiben.

FRAGE: Frau Bundeskanzlerin, Sie haben ja Amerika früher einmal als Sehnsuchtsland bezeichnet. Im deutschen Wahlkampf haben Sie gesagt, die Zeiten, in denen sich Deutschland voll auf die USA verlassen konnte, seien ein Stück weit vorbei und Europa müsste sein Schicksal selbst in die Hand nehmen. Haben Sie mit dem Präsidenten heute über diese unheilvolle Entwicklung gesprochen, dass Europa und die USA auseinanderdriften? Müsste Deutschland nicht ganz unabhängig von der Forderung des Präsidenten nach einer deutlichen Aufstockung des Verteidigungshaushalts da auch liefern? (…)

Merkel: Erstens. Amerika bleibt für viele Menschen in Deutschland, aber auch in anderen Ländern der Sehnsuchtsort. Wir haben gerade eben darüber gesprochen, dass es allein 44 Millionen Menschen gibt, die ihre Wurzeln in Deutschland haben und seit Generationen hier leben. Aber auch für die, die nicht seit Generationen hier leben, sondern die in Deutschland leben, ist Amerika ein großartiges Land. Wenn es in einzelnen Fragen politische Differenzen gibt, dann muss man darüber sprechen, aber das schmälert dieses Land der Freiheit und dieses starke Land natürlich überhaupt nicht. Insofern gibt es davon nichts zurückzunehmen.

Ich habe dann in der Tat gesagt, dass Deutschland und Europa ihr Schicksal mehr in die Hand nehmen können, weil wir uns nicht mehr, wie wir das in den Zeiten des Kalten Krieges und auch während der deutschen Teilung ein Stück weit getan haben, darauf verlassen haben, dass Amerika uns schon helfen wird. Amerika hilft uns heute immer noch, aber Schritt für Schritt werden wir unseren Beitrag auch leisten müssen. Es gibt das Gefühl, dass Amerika sich sehr breit engagiert hat, in Regionen, die sehr fern von Amerika liegen, und dass die Bevölkerung auch hier sagt: Was hat uns das nun wirklich gebracht? Deshalb setzt der Präsident darauf, dass jeder auch seine Last trägt.

Wir wachsen da aus einer Rolle heraus, in der man viele Jahre nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg froh war, wenn sich Deutschland nicht zu sehr engagiert hat, weil wir durch die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus eben so unglaublich viel Unheil angerichtet haben. Diese Zeit der Nachkriegsordnung ist aber zu Ende, der Krieg ist mehr als 70 Jahre her, und wir müssen auch als Deutsche lernen, mehr Verantwortung zu übernehmen. Wir sind zum Beispiel stolz darauf, dass Deutschland heute der zweitgrößte Truppensteller in der NATO ist. Wir haben hier in den letzten Jahren sehr, sehr viel gemacht aus der Perspektive des Präsidenten vielleicht nicht schnell genug. Ich sage als deutsche Bundeskanzlerin trotzdem: Wir haben da wichtige Schritte getan, und diese Schritte werden wir weiter tun müssen. Wir können uns nicht darauf verlassen, dass, wenn Konflikte vor unserer Haustür stattfinden, andere einspringen werden und wir keinen Beitrag leisten müssen.

Unser Beitrag wird in den nächsten Jahren also wachsen müssen. Das hat mit militärischem Engagement zu tun, das hat mit Entwicklungshilfe zu tun, das hat mit der Bekämpfung von Fluchtursachen zu tun, aber das hat auch mit der Bereitschaft zu tun, sich auch diplomatisch zu engagieren. Zum Beispiel ist Deutschland jetzt zum ersten Mal auch in der „Small Group“ dabei, die sich mit Syrien befasst und jetzt in Paris getagt hat zusammen mit den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, mit Großbritannien, mit Saudi-Arabien , und wir wollen da unseren Beitrag einsetzen. Das ist unsere Pflicht, und deshalb empfinde ich es jetzt nicht so, dass wir uns da beklagen müssten. Wir müssen vielmehr lernen, als großes und ökonomisch erfolgreiches Land das sagt ja auch der Präsident: Ökonomisch seid ihr erfolgreich, aber militärisch und politisch wollt ihr nicht so viel tun müssen wir lernen, unsere Rolle zu spielen, und da, wo es auch einmal Meinungsverschiedenheiten gibt, wird man die unter Freunden auch besprechen können.

Trump: Danke, Frau Bundeskanzlerin! Wir brauchen eine Zweibahnstraße, eine gegenseitige Beziehung. Die Vereinigten Staaten haben jetzt ein Handelsdefizit von 151 Milliarden US-Dollar mit der EU, und die Bundeskanzlerin und ich haben das diskutiert. Wir arbeiten daran und wir wollen das fairer machen auch die Bundeskanzlerin will das fairer machen. Das Gleiche bei der NATO: Wir haben eine wesentlich größere Last als andere, insofern sollten andere Länder mehr zahlen. Ich will nicht sagen, dass Deutschland mehr zahlen sollte, aber andere Länder sollten eben mehr zahlen. Wir schützen Europa und wir zahlen wesentlich mehr als alle anderen. Ich weiß, wunderbar, aber es hilft Europa mehr als uns. Warum zahlen wir dann einen Großteil der Kosten? Wir arbeiten also an diesen Dingen. Es war unfair, aber ich will da der Bundeskanzlerin oder der EU keine Schuld zuweisen. Ich weise die Schuld denjenigen zu, die meine Vorgänger waren. Man hätte nie ein Handelsdefizit von 151 Milliarden US-Dollar akzeptieren sollen. Wir werden das also reziprok machen, wir werden wesentlich fairer sein, die Situation wird fairer werden, und letztendlich werden alle sehr zufrieden sein. Beide Seiten werden also einen Gewinn daraus ziehen, es ist ungeheures Potenzial vorhanden zwischen der EU und den Vereinigten Staaten, und ich denke, das wird auch Realität werden. Es wird auch für die NATO von Vorteil sein, wenn die Leute, die zahlen sollen, auch tatsächlich zahlen. Polen hat zum Beispiel gesagt, dass sie etwas mehr zahlen, als sie zahlen müssten, weil sie der Meinung sind, dass Amerika einen zu großen Teil der Last getragen hat und das vielleicht nicht fair ist.

Wenn ich mir die Zahlen von Deutschland und anderen Ländern ansehe, kann ich also sagen: Da mag man vielleicht Donald Trump nicht, aber Sie müssen verstehen, dass ich da einen guten Job mache, denn ich repräsentiere ja die Vereinigten Staaten. Angela repräsentiert Deutschland und sie macht einen ausgezeichneten Job, einen fantastischen Job. Meine Vorgänger haben keinen sehr guten Job gemacht. Wir werden aber versuchen, Sie einzuholen, wir werden eine reziproke, eine gegenseitige Beziehung haben; das wird für uns alle von Vorteil sein. 

http://augengeradeaus.net/2018/04/dokumentation-merkel-und-trump-zur-sicherheitspolitischen-themen/

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Politico: Trump hails House Intelligence Committee report on Russia

The House Intelligence Committee has released a 253-page report on its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The GOP report signals the committee found no evidence of collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia but affirms evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Though its findings were previewed in a summary a month earlier, President Donald Trump hailed the Republican report as vindication of his claim that there was „no collusion“ between him or his team and the Russian government.

„Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. ‚No evidence‘ that the Trump Campaign ‚colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia,'“ Trump tweeted „Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia — Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!“

While the report stated the committee found an absence of evidence of a campaign-Russia connection, it did emphasize that other ongoing investigations — such as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — might be privy to facts the committee could not obtain. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also continuing to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

„We acknowledge that Investigations by other committees, the Special Counsel, the media, or interest groups will continue and may find facts that were not readily accessible to the Committee or outside the scope of our investigation,“ the panel concluded.

The document, endorsed only by Republican members of the panel, follows a year-long investigation that at times was marked by intense partisanship and acrimony. The report was based interviews with 73 witnesses, nine hearings and a review more than 300,000 documents. Democrats have rejected the conclusions, describing ample evidence that suggests the possibility of collusion and accused Republicans of short-circuiting the investigation and letting tight-lipped witnesses off the hook without subpoenas.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/27/house-intelligence-committee-issues-russia-report-557413

https://docs.house.gov/meetings/IG/IG00/20180322/108023/HRPT-115-1.pdf

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see our letter on:  http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

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04-10-19-8 DB Research_Handelskonflikt fordert Unternehmen und Regierung-PROD0466631.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 27.04.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Carnegie: Unheard Voices: What Syrian Refugees Need to Return Home.
  • Al-Monitor: Russia rotates its Mideast diplomats.
  • Map: Balance of Power- Syria.

· Augengeradeaus: Gesprächskanal Berlin-Moskau – zwischen den Verteidigungsministerien (m. Nachtrag).

· George Friedman; War and the Asymmetry of Interests – The United States is a global power in a world filled with asymmetric interests.

  • NZZ: Die Syrien-Konferenz in Brüssel berät über zusätzliche Hilfsmöglichkeiten.
  • Al-Monitor: Trump emerges from Macron meeting ready to take on Iran in Syria
  • Endless Endgame: Whither Russia-West Confrontation?

by Elkhan Nuriyev, Russia in Global Affairs, Moscow, April 2018

  • What is going on in Yerevan?

April 18, 2018 -EPA-EFE/VAHRAM…- Mikael Zolyan – Ph.D. in History, Associate Professor, Yerevan State Linguistic University

  • The Caucasian Knot: Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 16-22, 2018
  • The Evolution of the Peshmerga vs. the Case of Islamic State in Iraq

April 17, 2018 – REUTERS/Ako Rasheed Marianna Charountaki – Ph.D., Lecturer in Kurdish Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester

  • A Pyrrhic Victory: the History of the Sanctions War Against Iran

April 20, 2018 – EPA-EFE/ABEDIN…Ivan Timofeev -PhD in Political Science, RIAC Director of Programs, RIAC Member, Head of "Contemporary State" program at Valdai Discussion Club, RIAC member.

  • The Ethical and Legal Issues of Artificial Intelligence

April 23, 2018 -Vostock-photo – Maksim Karliuk -Research Fellow at the HSE – Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

Massenbach* Al-Monitor: Russia rotates its Mideast diplomats

lexander Efimov has been named ambassador to Syria.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/04/russia-rotate-diplomats-syria-uae.html#ixzz5DbP7MeYS

MOSCOW — Russia is replacing its ambassador to Syria. Many believe that Alexander Kinshak, 56, who has served in the Damascus post since 2014, will be appointed next month to lead Russia’s Foreign Ministry Department for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Alexander Efimov, 59, Russia’s current ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will take over as ambassador to Syria. The shift comes amid bigger swaps in the MENA department that have been taking place this year.

On March 27, MENA Department director Sergey Vershinin, 64, was appointed deputy foreign minister — a position that became vacant when Gennady Gatilov, 68, was appointed to be Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva. The Geneva post had been previously occupied for seven years by Alexey Borodavkin, 68, whom President Vladimir Putin appointed as ambassador to Kazakhstan in February.

Some Russian media outlets titled their reports on the coming appointment of Efimov as “Lavrov lobbies for a peace-making ambassador to Syria,” stressing Moscow’s need for a comprehensive postwar approach in its Syria policies. (Sergey Lavrov is Russia’s foreign minister.) The departing ambassador has long been a troubleshooter type of diplomat for Russia in the region. Having started his diplomatic career in 1988, from 2002-2004 Kinshak served as minister counselor of the Russian diplomatic mission to Iraq and then led the embassy in the country as charge d’affaires; Putin honored Kinshak with the Order of Courage for his service in Iraq. From 2004-2008 Kinshak served as deputy director for the MENA Department in Moscow, and then was designated back to the region as ambassador to Kuwait from 2008-2013 before moving to Syria in 2014.

As ambassador to Syria, Kinshak was instrumental in conducting Russia’s diplomatic efforts on the Syrian track, including talks with Damascus over arms supplies for Assad and Russian military facilities in Khmeimim and Tartus, as well as negotiations with Kurds and Americans. In February, he warned of an impending US attack on Syria in order to “undermine efforts on political settlement [in the country]."

“Recently, the issue of Syrian government use of chlorine and sarin in eastern Ghouta and Idlib has been spun [in the media]. Given the notorious experience of the [April 2017] Khan Sheikhoun incident, we cannot rule out that this is an effort to launch a new military attack on Syria to prop up losing militants and undermine political settlement,” he said in February.

For his distinguished service in Syria, Kinshak was honored with another state award — the Order of Honor. But as the situation on the ground has been changing, his public profile gradually decreased. His successor in Syria brings a different background and toolkit. Efimov, who started in the Foreign Ministry in 1980, also previously followed in Kinshak’s footsteps when he served as deputy director for the Foreign Ministry’s MENA Department from 2010-2013 before becoming ambassador to the UAE. From 2004-2008 he was Russia’s minister counselor in Jordan.

Efimov’s focus in Abu Dhabi was primarily on economic cooperation between Russia and the UAE and he helped establish a $7 billion joint bilateral investment fund. Thus, his experiences and contacts may come in handy now that Russia seeks regional and international funding for the restoration of Syria. Russia and Syria are also developing a road map on economic and trade cooperation to boost Syria’s economy and development in the postwar stage. All of this will require the design of multiple projects and obtaining financing for them. A shift in the ambassador’s role in Damascus from being a “war manager” (as Kinshak was seen) to being an “economic manager” (as Efimov is seen) is a move in that direction.

The shifts in the apparatus come as Russia eyes its next steps in Syria, particularly the supply of S-300 systems to create a layered air defense system. Lavrov said the decision had been triggered by the US-led strikes on Syria.

“Now, we have no moral obligations. We had the moral obligations, we had promised not to do it some 10 years ago, I think, upon the request of our known partners,” said the Russian foreign minister, alluding to his country’s agreements with Israel, the latest in 2010, when Israel asked Russia to annul an existing supply contract with Syria.

A source in the Russian Foreign Ministry who agreed to comment on the issue of diplomatic changes on condition of anonymity dismissed the idea there are bigger policy goals behind the chain of new appointments.

“It’s just technical procedure. People come, people go, no one got fired or anything, people instead got promoted, which may mean the Kremlin appreciates their performance.”

Another source with insight into the issue who spoke to Al-Monitor not for attribution said that if any policy changes involving Syria do occur, they won’t be due to new appointments within Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

“The Syria file is a prerogative of the Russian Defense Ministry, not the Foreign Ministry. It would be [Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail] Bogdanov, Vershinin, Gatilov, and [now, possibly, Kinshak] who would be important diplomatic go-tos on the Syria track but the actual policymaking wouldn’t come from them.”

Maxim A. Suchkov, Ph.D., is editor of Al-Monitor’s Russia-Mideast coverage. He is a non-resident expert at the Russian International Affairs Council and at the Valdai International Discussion Club. Formerly he was a Fulbright visiting fellow at Georgetown University (2010-11) and New York University (2015).

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/04/russia-rotate-diplomats-syria-uae.html

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Al-Monitor: Trump emerges from Macron meeting ready to take on Iran in Syria

Jack Detsch – April 24, 2018

US President Donald Trump emerged from a wide-ranging meeting with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the White House today with a new outlook on America’s role in Syria.

Instead of focusing on his oft-stated desire to quickly pull out the 2,000 US troops battling the remnants of the Islamic State (IS), Trump laid out a strategic justification for long-term US involvement in the conflict. He and Macron, he said, shared a common goal to “leave a strong and lasting footprint, and that was a very big part of our discussion.”

“As far as Syria is concerned, I would love to get out. I’d love to bring our incredible warriors back home,” Trump said at a joint press briefing with Macron after their meeting. “With that being said, Emmanuel and myself have discussed the fact that we don’t want to give Iran open season to the Mediterranean.”

The change of tone marked a significant win for the 40-year-old French president, who has used fist bumps, a military parade and an Eiffel Tower dinner to help persuade Trump to remain diplomatically and militarily active in the Middle East. Rather than rip up the Iran deal, Macron said, the United States should work with Europe to strengthen oversight of Iran’s nuclear program while keeping Tehran in check, notably in Syria.

“I’m very happy about the discussion we had together, because we raised very new issues and very new solutions together, and especially the fact that the Syrian crisis and the Syrian situation should be part of this broader picture,” Macron said.

Today’s comments alongside Macron represent a continuing evolution of the Trump administration’s public position on Syria.

Before his ouster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for the United States to maintain an open-ended presence in Syria to roll back Iran’s influence and topple President Bashar al-Assad.

“US disengagement from Syria would provide Iran the opportunity to further strengthen its position in Syria,” Tillerson said in a speech at Stanford University in January. “As we have seen from Iran’s proxy wars and public announcements, Iran seeks dominance in the Middle East,” outlining the so-called land bridge strategy that Trump alluded to today.

At a National Security Council meeting in early April, Trump’s chief military and diplomatic advisers asked the president to leave US forces in Syria to prevent insurgent IS cells from regrouping at the Iraqi border. But that same day, Trump doubled down on his calls for a quick US troop withdrawal, while urging regional powers to step up with money and troops — an exhortation he repeated today.

“To me, the main thing [Trump’s advisers] achieved seems to be getting Trump to back off the idea that the US is going to leave soon,” Amanda Sloat, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for southern Europe and eastern Mediterranean affairs, told Al-Monitor. “But it does raise the longer-term question of at what point do we draw down, and what that does to [US-backed Kurdish forces] that remain in those liberated areas.”

The US-led coalition has trained more than 11,000 Syrian Arab and Kurdish troops since the start of the counter-IS campaign in 2015. By some estimates, Iran may have as many as 125,000 proxy forces in Syria, making up much of Assad’s troop strength as the seven-year war has decimated the regime’s once formidable army.

A surge of recent US airstrikes near the border with Iraq, in addition to $1.3 billion in the Pentagon’s 2019 budget request for Iraq and Syria, could be aimed at stopping fighters, weapons and supplies from moving back and forth. Specifically, the Defense Department is asking for $290 million to help Iraq monitor its border crossings with Syria, including scanners, 1,500 border guards and other equipment. But experts say Iran primarily extends its supply lines in Syria through the air.

“The Islamic Republic’s primary supply route to Syria has been the air bridge,” said Amir Toumaj, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “On the Syria side, the US doesn’t have ground influence in certain areas that the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] has, most prominently the border town of Abu Kamal.”

France has also doubled down in supporting Kurdish fighters despite risking offending Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a NATO ally. Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, confirmed to Al-Monitor today that France has provided strike aircraft, ground artillery and trainers in Syria during the three-year campaign.

France also fired missiles from naval and air forces during US-led strikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities earlier this month.

“In the long run, we need to win peace, and make sure that Syria does not fall into any hegemony in the region,” Macron said at today’s press conference. “So to that effect, the approach which is agreed means that we can work, and work on all of the situation, the whole of the situation in the region, and with these efforts, to contain Iran in the region.”

It’s not yet clear how the United States and France could hold territory to resist Iran, beyond current American postings on the border and providing money to train Iraqi troops and put up checkpoints. In January, US Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that Iran did not possess a “land bridge” in the region, and has called for the United States to stand by the UN-backed Geneva peace talks.

Despite balking at US commitments in the Middle East, experts say the commander in chief will likely defer to the top generals and diplomats running the war unless it hurts him politically.

“President Trump does not think about Syria unless it’s going to put a crimp in his game in the 2020 elections,” said Nick Heras, a Middle East fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. “So as long as he can act like a tough guy and dodge a grenade, he’s fine.”

Jack Detsch is Al-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent. Based in Washington, Detsch examines US-Middle East relations through the lens of the Defense Department. Detsch previously covered cybersecurity for Passcode, the Christian Science Monitor’s project on security and privacy in the Digital Age. Detsch also served as editorial assistant at The Diplomat Magazine and worked for NPR-affiliated stations in San Francisco.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/04/macron-trump-flip-syria.html?utm_campaign=20180425&utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%20Newsletter

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From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

  • Endless Endgame: Whither Russia-West Confrontation?

by Elkhan Nuriyev, Russia in Global Affairs, Moscow, April 2018

“….What is currently happening in West-Russia relations is not a new Cold War; it is not even a renewed East-West divide. It is a grand high-stakes geopolitical game that has been fueled by decades of mutual mistrust and competing interests of great powers.

The current international situation reminds one of a chess game in which kings, queens, and pawns are moved with an illusion of an absent opponent, neglect for his possible moves, and unawareness of potential positions of the opposing chess pieces. Yet in this game the chessboard is a very real battlefield with such hotspots challenging global security as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and other modern pivot states. The ability to see the entire battleground is therefore crucial….” http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/book/-19475

  • What is going on in Yerevan?

April 18, 2018 -EPA-EFE/VAHRAM…- Mikael Zolyan – Ph.D. in History, Associate Professor, Yerevan State Linguistic University

The events of the last few days in Yerevan seem to have come as a surprise not just to the authorities and analysts, but to many opposition supporters as well. Only a week ago, it seemed that nothing could threaten Armenia’s internal political stability, and that the upcoming transition to a parliamentary republic would run smoothly."

  • The Caucasian Knot: Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of April 16-22, 2018

Mass protests in Yerevan / Special operations against militants conducted in three regions of Southern Russia / Top-ranking officials detained in Kuban / On April 16-22, 2018, 11 persons fell victim to armed conflict in Northern Caucasus /

  • The Evolution of the Peshmerga vs. the Case of Islamic State in Iraq

April 17, 2018 – REUTERS/Ako Rasheed Marianna Charountaki – Ph.D., Lecturer in Kurdish Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester

  • A Pyrrhic Victory: the History of the Sanctions War Against Iran

April 20, 2018 – EPA-EFE/ABEDIN…Ivan Timofeev -PhD in Political Science, RIAC Director of Programs, RIAC Member, Head of "Contemporary State" program at Valdai Discussion Club, RIAC member.

  • The Ethical and Legal Issues of Artificial Intelligence

April 23, 2018 -Vostock-photo – Maksim Karliuk -Research Fellow at the HSE – Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

“Ethics and law are inextricably linked in modern society, and many legal decisions arise from the interpretation of various ethical issues. Artificial intelligence adds a new dimension to these questions. Systems that use artificial intelligence technologies are becoming increasingly autonomous in terms of the complexity of the tasks they can perform, their potential impact on the world and the diminishing ability of humans to understand, predict and control their functioning. Most people underestimate the real level of automation of these systems, which have the ability to learn from their own experience and perform actions beyond the scope of those intended by their creators. This causes a number of ethical and legal difficulties that we will touch upon in this article. ..”

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Carnegie: Unheard Voices: What Syrian Refugees Need to Return Home

  • Peace is not possible without justice!

As the Syrian regime regains territory, there have been growing calls in neighboring countries for refugees to go home.

Yet refugees have conditions for a return—conditions that political efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict have largely ignored.

To understand refugee attitudes toward return, the Carnegie Middle East Center listened to the concerns of Syrians—both male and female, young and old—struggling to build meaningful lives in Lebanon and Jordan.

What is most striking is that despite the increasingly difficult challenges they face, a majority are unwilling to go back unless a political transition can assure their safety and security, access to justice, and right of return to areas of origin.

Economic opportunity and adequate housing are important but not requirements. Above all, their attitudes make it clear that both a sustainable political settlement and a mass, voluntary return are contingent upon international peace processes that account for refugee voices.

Listening to Refugees

· Facing mounting social and economic difficulties, refugees feel trapped between host countries that do not want them and a Syria to which they cannot return.

· Refugees are pessimistic about the prospects for a Syrian peace deal. They reject any proposals that could lead to Syria’s fragmentation, oppose the idea of deescalation zones, and have no confidence in safe zones.

· The refugees’ primary conditions for return are safety and security. But they do not believe they are achievable without a political transition and have little faith that the Syria to which they aspire will soon be attainable.

· They have no confidence in the political actors involved in Syria, and most anti-regime refugees do not believe the opposition truly represents them.

· Women and young men are among those most fearful of returning to Syria. They are concerned about the lack of security and possible persecution under President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Many young men fear conscription.

· As the war drags on and conditions in their host countries worsen, an increasing number of refugees are considering resettling outside the region, particularly in Europe. However, they fear that once they leave the region, they may not be able to return.

· Essentially, the notion of a voluntary return of refugees is losing meaning. Restrictive policies in Lebanon and Jordan may force refugees to return to an unsafe environment in Syria; while the regime’s policies in Syria—on housing and property rights, military conscription, and vetting procedures—may make it difficult, if not undesirable, for them to return.

Establishing Conducive Policy Measures

· A safe and sustainable return of refugees requires a framework that acknowledges the political roots of the Syrian crisis rather than just its humanitarian dimension; concedes that peace is not possible without justice; and recognizes the right of refugees to return to their areas of origin.

· Safety and security can only be guaranteed through a political process that creates inclusive governance mechanisms; ends criminal impunity; and facilitates reintegration, demilitarization, and access to justice.

· While this process will take time given the many forces operating in Syria, efforts to prepare refugees for a return should begin now. These could include creating a cadre of Syrian lawyers and paralegals to inform refugees of their rights and help resolve the many anticipated local disputes. They could also include establishing a network of trusted community mediators.

· Reconstruction funding should not inadvertently empower the Syrian regime. Starting on a small scale in regions that are not under regime control could provide a better alternative for local rebuilding efforts.

· Any funding should also be conditional on the return of refugees to their homes and access to their property. A vetting process should be established to ensure that local entities receiving international funding have not been involved in war crimes and are not regime fronts.

· Meanwhile, the refugees’ right to a voluntary return must be respected. To encourage host countries to adopt policies that secure the basic needs of refugees, international support must include both humanitarian aid and economic investments geared toward job creation for host country nationals and refugees.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Policy Framework for Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan
3. Refugee Attitudes Toward a Return to Syria
4. Conclusion and Recommendations
5. Annex I: Project Methodology

https://carnegie-mec.org/2018/04/16/unheard-voices-what-syrian-refugees-need-to-return-home-pub-76050?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiT0dRM1l6QTJOR1U1TXprNCIsInQiOiJUTHBFY2YyQ3I1Q0Z4TnpiYnl2RVUwQ2pZdTI4Tmp5Z3hSOWcwcUtRUVNuMzF4KzBlN3NkaFhCamZoTzczZTYzZTRqcDI1VkVXcjVLTVwvYlR3QmNRK3hJVDlYZlRkeDFLNGd1UitPdndRTEZ2blM5QUh3bTcycFYreE1odXFpSWYifQ%3D%3D

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*

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Middle East

Augengeradeaus: Gesprächskanal Berlin-Moskau – zwischen den Verteidigungsministerien (m. Nachtrag)

T.Wiegold 17. April 2018 ·

In diesen Zeiten und erst recht nach dem westlichen Luftangriff auf Ziele in Syrien am vergangenen Wochenende sind solche Dinge doch zumindest fürs Archiv einen Merkposten wert: Es gibt weiterhin einen Gesprächskanal der Verteidigungsministerien in Deutschland und Russland. Der Leiter der Politikabteilung im Berliner Verteidigungsministerium, Geza von Geyr, traf sich mit seinem Kollegen im russischen Verteidigungsministerium.

Aus der Facebook-Mitteilung des russischen Verteidigungsministeriums:

Der Leiter der Hauptverwaltung für internationale militärische Zusammenarbeit des Ministeriums für Verteidigung der Russischen Föderation, Generalmajor Alexander Kshimovsky, kam zu Konsultationen mit dem Leiter der Politischen Abteilung des Bundesministeriums der Verteidigung, Géza Andreas von Geyr, zusammen.

Die Parteien diskutierten aktuelle Fragen der internationalen Sicherheit, einschließlich der Situation im Nahen Osten, Europa und Afghanistan, und tauschten Meinungen über die Perspektiven der Zusammenarbeit zwischen Russland und Deutschland auf der militärischen Linie aus.
(..)
Das Treffen wurde sachlich und konstruktiv geführt. Die Teilnehmer vereinbarten, die Kontakte fortzusetzen, um aktuelle Sicherheitsfragen und bilaterale Beziehungen zu diskutieren.

(Übersetzung mit Google Translate)

Nun gut, die Aussage ist hinreichend formalistisch („trafen sich in konstruktiver Atmosphäre zu Gesprächen über Themen von beiderseitigem Interesse“), aber allein die Tatsache, dass es aktuell ein solches Gespräch gibt, ist bemerkenswert. Meine nichtexistenten Russisch-Kenntnisse lassen mich leider im Dunkeln, was mit „Perspektiven der Zusammenarbeit zwischen Russland und Deutschland auf der militärischen Linie“ gemeint sein könnte – denn eine militärische Zusammenarbeit zwischen den NATO-Staaten und Russland ist meines Wissens nach wie vor ausgesetzt.

Nachtrag: Die englischsprachige Mitteilung auf der Webseite des russischen Verteidigungsministeriums fällt etwas knapper aus. Da fehlt vor allem die Aussage Die Parteien diskutierten aktuelle Fragen der internationalen Sicherheit, einschließlich der Situation im Nahen Osten, Europa und Afghanistan, statt dessen heißt es nur The parties discussed topical issues of international security.

Vom deutschen Verteidigungsministerium gab es dazu keine offizielle Stellungnahme. Wie übrigens schon bei einem ähnlichen Treffen vor einem Jahr, auch damals nach einem Luftangriff als Reaktion auf einen vermuteten Chemiewaffenangriff.

Nicht im direkten Zusammenhang, aber in der aktuellen Lage auch von Bedeutung ist diese aktuelle Meldung der russischen Nachrichtenagentur TASS:

Russian military uncovers militants’ chemicals lab in Syria’s Douma

http://augengeradeaus.net/2018/04/gespraechskanal-berlin-moskau-zwischen-den-verteidigungsministerien/

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

War and the Asymmetry of Interests

  • The United States is a global power in a world filled with asymmetric interests.

By George Friedman

This past weekend, I attended a re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington, the battle that started the American Revolutionary War, in Massachusetts. The pleasure of being with children and grandchildren was my primary motive. But as I watched the superb re-enactment, an obvious question came to mind: Why did the Americans defeat the British, not just at Lexington but in the war itself? The British forces were better armed and better trained, and there were potentially far more of them. On a purely military basis, the British should have won, yet they didn’t.

A phrase came to mind: asymmetry of interests. The concept of asymmetrical warfare has become commonplace in recent years. It refers to warfare in which different types of technology and tactics confront each other, like improvised explosive devices against armored brigades. Sometimes, the force with what appears to be inferior technology can compel the force with superior technology to withdraw. This is what we see in the American Revolution. We need to consider why.

For the Homeland

About 56,000 British troops were deployed at the height of the Revolutionary War, supplemented by 30,000 Hessian mercenaries in a kind of coalition. The Americans deployed about 80,000 regular and militia forces. The British forces were far better trained and, most important, had more and better artillery. The Hessians were professional soldiers. The Americans had a core of trained soldiers, but the militia troops were a mixed bag. During the war, 25,000 American troops died in battle or from disease compared to 24,000 British. The British losses were a fraction of the global British force, but for the Americans, this was 5 percent of the free white male population, according to the website Foxtrot Alpha‏.

The British forces were united. The American population was divided. A little less than half of all Americans were committed to the revolution. A fifth were loyal to the British. Thus, both sides were fighting on a terrain in which substantial parts of the population opposed them. The British drew their supplies from Britain, while the Americans had to draw their logistics from the population – with some help from the French.

When you look at the disparities, the losses and the disunity, the Americans should have lost. It is true that the final battle involved the French fleet, but the Americans stayed intact as a fighting force for eight years to reach that point. So even leaving the French out, the Americans were not defeated. And to keep fighting, the Americans had to absorb tremendous casualties without a decisive break in cohesion and morale.

They were able to do it because of the asymmetry of interests. The Americans were fighting for their homeland. Defeat would subordinate the United States to British power for a long time. They had no interests that could compete with the interest to defeat the British. The British, on the other hand, were simultaneously engaged in a struggle with France for domination of Europe and control of the oceans, a contest that would lead to global empire. For the British, the American Revolution was not a matter of indifference, but neither was its outcome decisive in determining Britain’s place in the world.

The British were prepared to deploy a substantial force in North America, but having done that, they went on with their nascent industrial revolution and their global concerns. The amount of time and casualties they could rationally devote to North America had to be seen in the context of broader interests. They could absorb casualties, but the war could not be an absolute imperative.

Absolute War

World War II is on the other end of the spectrum, a rare war in which all major powers had absolutes at stake. Britain, Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union and the United States all faced, or could face, existential consequences from the war. Their interests were symmetrical. It was therefore a war in which no effort was spared by anyone to avoid defeat and attain victory. In a sense, the war, once commenced, ceased to be political. It became a purely military conflict in which anything less than total military and industrial commitment would be irrational. There was precious little political maneuvering once the war got fully underway in 1941.

For many Americans, the WWII model, which I will call “absolute war,” ought to be the model for fighting all wars. Instead, none of the U.S. wars since WWII have been absolute. As a result, since that time the U.S. has been unable to decisively defeat enemies that are militarily inferior. Korea resulted in stalemate. Vietnam resulted in stalemate, withdrawal and the defeat of America’s Vietnamese allies. The wars against jihadists have not resulted in a decisive, positive outcome for the United States. The only conflict since WWII in which the U.S. achieved its strategic goal was Desert Storm, where the Iraqi army was defeated in Kuwait. Many blame strategy or insufficient public support or a host of other reasons for this.

There might be truth to all these reasons, but I think the fundamental reason was an asymmetry of interest between opposing forces. Consider Vietnam. Vietnam was on the periphery of American strategic interest. The U.S. was less concerned with Vietnam than with the consequences in the region and elsewhere if North Vietnam were to unite the country under communism. Those consequences were hypothetical – even if they occurred, they might not undermine U.S. interests substantially. On the other side, the North Vietnamese were fighting for fundamental national imperatives, chief among them the unification of Vietnam under the ideological and political control of Hanoi. From this, they might control all of Indochina and emerge as a major regional power able to counterbalance China.

In other words, the outcome of the wars in Vietnam – French and American – went to the heart of the North Vietnamese national interest. The wars from the French and American points of view were not insignificant but were still on the margins of national imperatives. The unification of Vietnam under a communist regime was essential to North Vietnam. Blocking North Vietnam’s ambitions was of interest to the United States, but not an absolute imperative. It was part of a mosaic of interests.

The British were not prepared to devote all the resources they had to fighting American rebels. Doing so would have been irrational. Even defeat at the hands of the heavily committed Americans was more palatable than throwing their fleet into battle with the French at that time and place. For the British, there was nothing absolute in North America. It was a political war, not an absolute one. The same has been true of the United States in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Thus, only one of these wars was won, while over time, the imperative that led to war dissipated.

When Great Powers ‘Lose’

In a democratic society, sacrificing lives without an absolute commitment to victory is unsavory. All of the wars since World War II have left a bad taste in the mouths of Americans. Sacrificing lives for tactical advantage, rather than for the direct defense of the homeland, is unpalatable. Sacrificing them for tactical advantage that is abandoned over time is worse. Absolute war is moral; political war designed to bring temporary advantage has the air of immorality.

In watching the re-enactment of Lexington, I could imagine British planners thinking, “We can’t abandon North America, but we can’t ignore the French, and the French are more important.” They must have spent many hours being briefed on the French and far less on the Americans. In due course, since the Americans were prepared to die far out of proportion to the interests of the British, their notional helicopters lifted off their notional embassies and left with their global power surging in spite of defeat.

Great powers have multiple interests, and not all interests are the same. That means a global power is prepared to initiate and withdraw from wars without victory, for tactical and political advantage. Over time, paying the cost of the war becomes irrational. Great powers can “lose” wars in this sense and still see their power surge. Fighting in a war in which your country’s interest is not absolute, and therefore the lives of soldiers are not absolute, is difficult for a democracy to do. In most of the world, the great power will encounter an asymmetry of interest. Those who live there care far more about the outcome of the war than the great power does. And so, the great power withdraws from Syria when the price becomes higher than the prize. Given the string of defeats, it is expected that the great power is in decline. Like Britain after its defeat in North America, it is not in decline. It has simply moved on to more pressing interests.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/war-asymmetry-interests/?utm_source=GPF+-+Paid+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d0275de45c-GPF_Weekly_Paid_List&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_72b76c0285-d0275de45c-240043701

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NZZ: Die Syrien-Konferenz in Brüssel berät über zusätzliche Hilfsmöglichkeiten. Ziel der Konferenz am Mittwoch ist vor allem, Unterstützung für die notleidende Zivilbevölkerung im Bürgerkriegsland Syrien zu organisieren. Zudem soll am Rande auch darüber diskutiert werden, wie die Bemühungen um eine friedliche Lösung des Syrien-Konflikts gefördert werden können.Sieben Antworten zur aktuellen Lage in Syrien (read more att.)

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see our letter on: http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

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04-25-18 NZZ_Syrien_ Antworten zum Vorgehen der USA im Syrien-Krieg.pdf

04-24-18 Carnegie_Yahya_UnheardVoices-What Syrian Refugees Need to Return Home.pdf

04-24-18 Artificial Intelligence – Russia_Iran, Armenia, Pershmerga.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 20.04.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

· The White House: Statement on Barbara Bush

  • Harald Kujat et al: „Aufruf zur Vernunft“ ( Aufruf.CFvW.org. )
  • Syrien:Und ihr denkt, es geht um einen Diktator
  • Defense One: For Not-Quite-Wars, Italy Has a Useful Alternative to Traditional Troops
  • FAZ: Vom Versagen der Eliten
  • Prospects of Military Space Industry

Alexei FenenkoPhD in History, Associate Professor at School of world politics of MSU, RIAC expert

  • We Will Need to Return to Dialogue

Andrey KortunovDirector General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

Massenbach*National Interest: Here Are All the Reasons Striking Syria Was a Bad Idea

For one, it is a flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Ted Galen Carpenter [2]

The air and missile strikes that the United States and its British and French allies launched against Syrian government targets are reprehensible for so many reasons.

First, Washington’s action is a flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution. Except in cases of responding to an attack on the United States, that document gives Congress, not the president, the authority to decide whether to involve the republic in combat. Punishing a foreign regime for an alleged outrage against its own citizens does not qualify, and arguments to the contrary are either disingenuous or historically illiterate.

Second, there is not even certainty that Bashar al-Assad’s government was the guilty party for the chemical attack that triggered the Western response. As I noted in an earlier article, [3] there are several other suspects, most notably the various rebel factions trying to oust Assad from power. Those groups, reeling from a series of military defeats, have a powerful incentive to lure Washington into deeper involvement in Syria’s civil war on their side. Conversely, Assad has no incentive to provoke the United States.

Third, by degrading the Syrian government’s military assets with the latest attacks, the West risks enabling the largely Islamist rebel coalition to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the Syrian conflict. The most powerful faction [4] in that coalition is Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate). Assad is assuredly a corrupt and brutal ruler, but to help empower such an Islamist successor regime is hardly in America’s best interest.

Fourth, the airstrikes needlessly create new tensions in Washington’s already abrasive relationship with Russia. So far, the Kremlin has reacted with restraint, and everyone needs to hope that attitude continues. But even if Vladimir Putin refrains from escalating his country’s own military involvement in Syria (or taking action in other locales such as Georgia and Ukraine) the new cold war between Moscow and the West will deepen.

Worst of all is the sanctimonious hypocrisy of the Western powers regarding their justifications for the air strikes. Trump, as well as British prime minister Theresa May and French president Emmanuel Macron, portrayed the assault on Syria as a moral imperative to deter the use of chemical weapons in the international system. Beyond that objective, they painted Assad and his government as an exceptionally vile enemy. In his address to the American people announcing the raids [5], President Trump charged that “the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians.” The new incident, Trump insisted, confirmed “a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime. The evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.”

Trump also sharply criticized Russia and Iran for their longstanding support of Assad. “To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children? The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators.”

The latter statement deserves a prize either for cluelessness or diamond-studded gall. The United States has never had a problem supporting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators. Washington’s alliances with such regimes [6], including the Shah of Iran, Nicaragua’s Somoza family, a succession of genocidal generals in Guatemala, Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the Saudi royal family (among others) provide ample evidence of chronic moral insensitivity.

Daniel Larison, a columnist for the American Conservative, provides a stinging rebuke to the hypocritical moral posturing of the Western powers. Citing Trump’s (apparently rhetorical) question of what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children, Larison responds [7]:

Trump should know the answer, since he just hosted one of the chief architects of the war on Yemen that the U.S. has backed to the hilt for the last three years. Britain welcomed the Saudi crown prince earlier on, and France just hosted him in the last few days. All three have been arming and supporting the Saudis and their allies in Yemen no matter how many atrocities they commit. There may be governments that have the moral authority to lecture Syria and its allies over their atrocious conduct, but the Trump administration and our British and French allies aren’t among them.

The Saudis and their allies have used the weapons sold to them by the United States and other Western governments to slaughter innocent Yemeni civilians by the thousands, including cluster munitions that almost every nation on earth has outlawed.

If the United States and its European allies believe that attacking Assad will strike an effective blow against the future use of chemical weapons by Syria or other nations, that is a policy debate worth having. If, as is more likely, they believe that weakening Assad’s forces can save the rebels from imminent defeat, and that a successor regime controlled by those rebels would be better for both the Middle East and America’s security interests, that is a policy debate worth having.

But they should at least spare us the moral preening and hypocritical posturing. Those three nations did not even disown Saddam Hussein for his repeated use of poison gas [8], throughout the 1980s, including the killing of at least five thousand of Iraq’s Kurdish citizens at Halabja in 1988. And Washington has rarely attempted to restrain its menagerie of authoritarian allies from engaging in other atrocities. Indeed, as Larison notes, the United States, Britain and France are outright accomplices in Saudi Arabia’s current slaughter of innocents in Yemen. The Western powers need to get their own moral houses in order before lecturing Russia, Iran, and other countries.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the contributing editor of ten books, and the author of more than 700 articles on international affairs.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/here-are-all-the-reasons-striking-syria-was-bad-idea-25404

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From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

  • Prospects of Military Space Industry

April 12, 2018-REUTERS/Stringer-Alexei Fenenko

PhD in History, Associate Professor at School of world politics of MSU, RIAC expert

  • We Will Need to Return to Dialogue

April 11, 2018 – Andrey Kortunov

Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

In the difficult period that now lies ahead, it will be vital to keep channels of communication open. Further crises are almost certain to occur. But each crisis — like each unhappy marriage — will be unhappy in its own way, and will bring its own dangers and perhaps, in some cases, opportunities. Maintaining routes through which countries can talk frankly with each other — both at a political and operational level — is most important when their relations are at their worst.

  • The West’s Unilateral Cold War

Mar 20, 2018 SERGEI KARAGANOV

Sergei Karaganov is Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and Honorary Chairman of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.

The problem between Russia and the West is really a problem among Westerners themselves. If there is a new cold war, it is only because established elites have not come to terms with reality: the balance of military, political, economic, and moral power has shifted too far away from the West to be reversed.

Despite the diplomatic spiral, however, there is no new Cold War. And there won’t be a hot war unless Washington ignites a confrontation while pursuing an ever more interventionist and activist foreign policy in areas viewed as vital by Russia.

  • A More Eurasian and Less Euro-Atlantic World

Elkhan Nuriyev is an Expert Advisory Board Member at the Reconnecting Eurasia in Geneva, Switzerland. He is also a Global Energy Associate at the Brussels Energy Club.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Harald Kujat et al: „Aufruf zur Vernunft“ ( Aufruf.CFvW.org. )

Aufruf 14.April 2018

zu gemeinsam angewandter Vernunft in den internationalen Beziehungen unserer Zeit

· Rufen Sie mit uns durch Ihre Unterschrift die Mächtigen dieser Welt auf, … Die Zeit drängt!

·

· Sign to join our appeal to the great of this world …
The time is running out!

·

· Обратитесь вместе с нами, поставив свою подпись, к власть имущим этого мира с просьбой,… Время не ждет!

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* FAZ: Vom Versagen der Eliten

· Von Jochen Buchsteiner , London – -Aktualisiert am 16.04.2018

Seit Jahren eckt Jan Zielonka mit seinen Fragen und Theorien an. Der Oxforder Professor beklagt nun eine Gegenrevolution und greift die „liberalen Eliten“ an.

Die grundlegende Aufgabe der Intellektuellen ist es, alle angenommenen Weisheiten in Zweifel zu ziehen … und jene Fragen zu formulieren, die sich sonst niemand zu stellen wagt.“ Mit diesen Worten des deutschen Briten Ralf Dahrendorf beendete Jan Zielonka nicht nur sein jüngstes Buch – er lebt den Satz. Seit Jahren eckt der Professor für Europäische Politik in Oxford an. Zielonka, der sich als „Dahrendorf Fellow“ in den Fußstapfen des oft als „großer Europäer“ gewürdigten Soziologen sieht, nannte die EU „Imperium“, als sie noch hoch im Kurs stand, und fragte sich später, ob sie am Ende sei. In seinem jüngsten Buch knöpft er sich nun sein eigenes Umfeld vor – die „liberalen Eliten“.

Zielonka bekennt sich zu ihnen, alles andere wäre auch lachhaft für „einen Schlesier, der in Polen aufgewachsen ist, einen niederländischen Pass hat, in Italien seine Steuern zahlt und in Britannien arbeitet“. Zielonka lehrte an verschiedenen Universitäten Europas, verkehrt in den politischen Kreisen Warschaus, Roms und Londons, beriet die EU, fiel in Ungnade und war zuletzt wieder ein etwas gefragterer Gast in Brüssel. Das war vor dem Buch.

In Form eines Briefes an den vor acht Jahren verstorbenen Dahrendorf versucht Zielonka zu analysieren, was zur Zeit in Europa geschieht. Er bezieht sich dabei auf einen Text, den Dahrendorf nach der europäischen Revolution von 1989 geschrieben hat – und kontrastiert ihn mit der „Gegenrevolution“ von heute. Angegriffen werde nicht nur die EU, erklärt Zielonka, sondern „unsere gegenwärtige Ordnung: die liberale Demokratie und das neoliberale Wirtschaftsmodell, Migration und die multikulturelle Gesellschaft, historische ,Wahrheiten‘ und politische Korrektheit, moderate Volksparteien und etablierte Medien“.

Angreifer ist natürlich der „Populismus“, aber der Professor hält nichts von diesem Begriff; er sieht ihn vielmehr als Teil des Problems. „Populisten wird vorgeworfen, einfache Antworten auf komplexe Fragen zu geben – aber versuchen wir das nicht alle?“ Zur Illustration erwähnt er die Erbschaftsteuer und den Mindestlohn, mit denen die etablierten Volksparteien versuchen würden, „komplexe Probleme wie die soziale Ungleichheit mit simplen Rezepten in den Griff zu bekommen“. Die Herablassung gegenüber den „Konterrevolutionären“ schütze die Eliten nur davor, sich mit den eigenen Fehlleistungen auseinanderzusetzen.

Zielonka spitzt Debatte zu

Die Eliten Europas dürften sich nicht wundern über den Gegenwind, denn sie hätten die liberalen Ideale, die Dahrendorf und andere nach 1989 zum Konsens erklärt haben, „verraten“. Statt dem liberalen Philosophen Karl Popper seien sie dem liberalen Wirtschaftswissenschaftler Friedrich Hayek gefolgt. Der von Hayek abgeleitete Neoliberalismus habe die sozialen Gräben in den westlichen Gesellschaften vertieft, wofür die Finanzkrise von 2008 nur sichtbarster Ausdruck gewesen sei. Zugleich hätten die Eliten das liberale Prinzip, die Minderheiten vor der Mehrheit zu schützen, ins Extrem gesteigert. Nun würden Minderheiten den Diskurs dominieren, was immer weniger Bürgern begreiflich zu machen sei.

Fragesteller: Dahrendorf in seinem Büro. Aufnahme von 2002.

Zielonkas Buch spitzt eine Debatte zu, die das Königreich spätestens seit dem EU-Referendum führt: die über die Krise der liberalen Demokratie. Der Publizist David Goodhart entwickelte die inzwischen oft zu hörenden Begriffe von den „Anywheres“ und den „Somewheres“. Erstere, die hoch mobilen, akademisch gebildeten und liberal gesinnten Eliten, führten das Land, und würden von den weit zahlreicheren „Somewheres“, den verwurzelten, bodenständig lebenden Bürgern, immer weniger verstanden. Auch in Amerika wächst die Zahl der Autoren, die wie Yascha Mounk oder William Galston kritisch über die Versäumnisse der Eliten schreiben.

Laut Zielonka genügt es nicht, Besserung zu geloben. Die liberale Demokratie lasse sich nur reparieren, wenn die Eliten ihre Fehler anerkennen, korrigieren und wieder Gemeinsamkeiten mit der breiten Bevölkerung herstellen. Vorwürfe an die Populisten, wie die Verbreitung von „fake news“, müsse man an sich selber richten. Schließlich seien es etablierte Politiker gewesen, die das „Post truth“-Zeitalter eingeleitet hätten, indem sie PR-Agenturen und Spindoctors beschäftigt hätten. An die eigene Nase fassen müssten sich aber auch liberale Intellektuelle, die allzu oft ein „einseitiges Bild der komplexen sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Wirklichkeit“ gezeichnet hätten. So bemängelt Zielonka, dass viele Theorien zur europäischen Integration erstellt worden seien, aber keine zur europäischen Desintegration. „Das ist so, als würde man den Frieden studieren, ohne den Krieg zu studieren.“

Von Wahlen in Italien und Ungarn bestätigt

Das Entfremdungsgefühl vieler Bürger werde mustergültig von Brüssel verkörpert, findet Zielonka. Die Macht habe sich nicht nur von den Nationalstaaten auf die EU, sondern von dort in technokratische Gremien jenseits demokratischer Kontrolle verlagert. Das Modell sei am Ende, seit es keine Ergebnisse mehr liefere, sondern nur noch Krisen zu lösen versuche, die zum Teil sogar hausgemacht seien. Zielonkas Resümee: „Europa wird von ein paar Triple-A-Ländern mit Deutschland vorneweg dominiert, willkürliche Einmischungen in die inneren Angelegenheiten kleinerer Mitgliedstaaten nehmen zu, und die Politik dreht sich mehr um Bestrafung als um Unterstützung und Anreize.“

Bestätigt fühlt er sich von den Wahlen in Italien und Ungarn. Mit dem „Triumph der Parteien, die sich gegen Brüsseler Einmischungen und Einwanderung aussprechen“, hätten die Konterrevolutionäre ihren Marsch fortgesetzt. Die Wahlsiege des Franzosen Macron und des Niederländers Rutte seien nur scheinbare Gegenmomente gewesen: Macron habe gewonnen, weil er gegen das etablierte Parteiensystem angetreten sei, und Rutte, weil er in letzter Minute einwanderungskritische Positionen eingenommen habe.

Brauchen wir die EU?

Als Freund der Konterrevolutionäre will Zielonka nicht verstanden werden: „Sie sind gut darin, uns zu demaskieren, aber ihnen fehlt die Fähigkeit, ihre Ziele in der Regierung umzusetzen.“ Wie ihr Vormarsch gestoppt werden kann, ist dem Professor nicht klar. Viele strukturelle Schieflagen ließen sich nur schwer aus der Welt schaffen, etwa das „Dilemma des modernen Nationalstaats“. Einerseits sieht Zielonka in ihm das einzige Gehäuse, in dem Demokratie funktionieren kann, andererseits beschränken grenzübergreifende Herausforderungen seine Macht immer offenkundiger. Brauchen wir also doch die EU?

Zielonka bejaht das, glaubt aber, sie müsse sich neu erfinden. Sein Bauplan dafür ist bescheiden. Von mehr Flexibilität spricht er und weniger Konzentration auf Wachstum und Wettbewerb, auch von dem Ziel einer „offenen Gesellschaft“, das von ihrem Erfinder Popper über Dahrendorf bis Zielonka überdauert hat. Nicht die Nationalstaaten sollten den Kurs der EU bestimmen, sondern Städte, Regionen und transnationale Organisationen. Das sind natürlich nur Rudimente, und Zielonka weiß das. Aber, sagt er in Anlehnung an Dahrendorf: „Meine Aufgabe ist es, Fragen zu stellen, nicht letzte Antworten zu liefern.“

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/was-geschieht-zur-zeit-mit-europa-15543248.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_0

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Defense One: For Not-Quite-Wars, Italy Has a Useful Alternative to Traditional Troops.

More nations should consider creating police-cum-military forces for hybrid stabilization missions.

They are a domestic police force, but they are doing their jobs in countries hundreds and thousands of miles from home: Afghanistan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Palestine. They get so many invitations — pleas, really — from countries emerging from conflict, or descending into it, that they must turn some down. They are Italy’s Carabinieri, and their unusual mix of law-enforcement talent and military capability may often be a better answer than traditional troops to today’s not-quite-wars.

Visitors to Italy are often confused by the peculiar setup of the country’s law enforcement. The municipal-based Polizia performs routine police work, chasing burglars and investigating thefts. The Guardia di Finanza, operating under the Ministry of Finance, handles smuggling and financial crime. And the Carabinieri? They are what one might call Italy’s special police, in charge of investigating particularly complex crimes and keeping public order under difficult conditions. If, say, a mass riot broke out after a Roma-Lazio game, the Carabinieri would be trusted to restore order. When mafia bosses are apprehended, the arrests are often carried out by Carabinieri officers; last year, they pulled ‘Ndrangheta boss Giuseppe Giorgi from a secret compartment behind his fireplace.

Crucially, the Carabinieri are also trained soldiers; they serve under both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior. “They have an almost unique background, being a military force tasked with domestic security, law and order, police and investigative work,” noted Stefano Stefanini, a former ambassador of Italy to NATO and former security advisor to Italy’s president. “Control of the domestic territory is their basic responsibility. They bring this expertise to the international stabilisation missions, whereas other countries’ armed forces are often ill-equipped to deal with civilian tension and unrest.”

Indeed, the Carabinieri play a crucial role in international stability-projection. “Their dual identity has allowed the Carabinieri to take part in Italian military missions abroad both as a combat unit, as a Military Police unit, as a specialized anti-riot crowd control unit, and as trainers of the indigenous police forces and security units in a crisis area,” General Claudio Graziano, Italy’s Chief of Defense, told me.

That unusual combination has made the Carabinieri popular among countries emerging from armed conflict. Unlike UN peacekeepers, they can both train local police forces and help maintain public order. Currently some 500 Carabinieri are on foreign deployment, serving as part of 33 missions. In Afghanistan, 30 Carabinieri are training and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces, the Afghan National Police, and the Afghan National Civil Order Police. In Iraq, Carabinieri have trained 13,000 police officers in the past two years. When ISIS was destroying historic sites, Italy took the lead in the UN’s Blue Helmets of Culture initiative and dispatched troops from the Carabinieri’s Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

Perhaps even more significantly, some 160 Carabinieri serve as part of international Multinational Specialised Units in Bosnia and Kosovo, helping maintain public order, patrolling sensitive areas, and assisting the return of refugees and displaced persons. They focus much of their effort on the divided city of Mitrovica, where one UN peacekeeper was killed and several others were injured during riots in 2008.

The Kosovo incident and the Blue Helmets of Culture illustrate why the Carabinieri are so useful: they’re a police force and a military one alike, a security hybrid that can be used for a wider range of tasks than an ordinary soldier or police officer. “Even 11 years ago, [then-UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan was impressed by the capabilities of the Carabinieri,” said Mark Malloch Brown, a deputy UN Secretary-General under Annan, who subsequently served as Britain’s Minister for Africa, Asia, and the United Nations. “They represent a shift from traditional monitoring to keeping security within failing states. Quasi-military policing is often needed.”

Sadly, that need is increasing. While UN peacekeepers are still a major global presence – currently some 90,000 blue helmets from 123 countries are serving on 15 peacekeeping missions – they have been plagued by scandals such as Haiti’s 2010 cholera outbreak, which originated with Blue Helmets. More importantly, in many cases Blue Helmets’ peace-monitoring mission no longer works: there’s simply too little peace to monitor. In 1995, UN peacekeepers posted to the town of Srebrenica were disastrously overrun by Bosnian Serbs who proceeded to rape or kill thousands of local civilians.

A force of 160 Carabinieri won’t deter well-armed forces intent on mass murder, but they’re better suited than regular Blue Helmets to maintain order. “Their success reflects the state of peace-keeping today,” said Malloch Brown. “There’s more state breakdown; we’re back to a pre-1989 world, but the two dominant states have been replaced by a larger number of regional actors, which has led to more instability. Just look at Yemen. One might call the Carabinieri a precursor towards a different kind of peacekeeping.”

By extension, the Carabinieri’s overseas efforts benefit Europe. “They’re instrumental in reducing the capability of jihadist groups to promote attacks in Europe,” said Laura Quadarella Sanfelice di Monteforte, a professor of counter-terrorism at the University of Rome Unicusano.

Indeed, after cuisine and fashion, the Carabinieri may be Italy’s most important export. It’s hardly surprising that NATO’s three-year-old Stability Policing Centre of Excellence is located in Italy, as is the NATO Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence. The Carabinieri even run a training center-cum-think tank of their own, the 13-year-old Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU), where they teach colleagues from other countries.

The Carabinieri have also played a key role in developing NATO’s new Stability Policing Doctrine, which will be tested during Sweden’s large VIKING exercise this month and subsequently presented to NATO commanders. “We’re trying to affirm a new vision named stability policing,” said Graziano, referring to Italy. “It means having units capable of carrying out police-related activities to reinforce or temporarily replace local police forces. That helps restore and uphold public order and security, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights.” Stability operations are also likely to feature prominently during the alliance’s 2018 summit this July.

Gen. Graziano is willing deploy even more Carabinieri. “I’m really proud that the Carabinieri’s professionalism and capabilities are recognized worldwide, and we are ready and eager to offer to our allies and partners this distinctive ‘specialization of excellence’,” he told me.

But part of the centers’ objective is for other countries to develop Carabinieri-like capabilities – because unlike cuisine and fashion, Carabinieri export is a financial burden to Italy. “Whenever there is the dual need of post-conflict domestic stability and of empowering local authorities and forces through specialized training, the Carabinieri are in great demand,” noted Stefanini. “Their success is their problem, as Italy finds it difficult to meet requests for Carabinieri deployment abroad.” That need may well include an eventual post-conflict Syria, which would be a particularly complex peace-enforcement mission.

Indeed, the Carabinieri shouldn’t be an exclusively Italian product. “Other countries should institute similar programs to the Carabinieri,” said Malloch Brown. “But even if you had five times as many Carabinieri, it wouldn’t fix the security situation. There isn’t a whole lot the Carabinieri or the rest of the international community can do about the breakdown of the international order.”

Unfortunately, that is the stark reality. Even more reason, then, to give Italy credit for their special police force’s crucial international role, far beyond the arrest of Mafiosi. With cuisine and fashion, the world has been extremely active in copying Italy. Let’s do the same with the Carabinieri.

· Elisabeth Braw is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. She lives in London and frequently writes about European security for publications including the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and The Times (of London). Full bio

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/04/todays-not-quite-wars-italy-has-alternative-traditional-troops/147457/?oref=defenseone_today_nl

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Syrien:Und ihr denkt, es geht um einen Diktator

· Von Hans-Christof Kraus – Hans-Christof Kraus lehrt Neuere und Neueste Geschichte an der Universität Passau.

Die Reaktionen auf den Syrien-Konflikt offenbaren die geopolitische Ahnungslosigkeit mancher deutscher Kommentatoren: Zehn Minuten Nachhilfe aus gegebenem Anlass können nicht schaden.

Man kann nur staunen über das Ausmaß an fast schon sträflicher Naivität oder auch nur schlichter Ignoranz, das viele Beurteiler der Syrien-Krise an den Tag legen, vor allem, wenn es darum geht, die Hintergründe für das zähe Tauziehen im Sicherheitsrat der Vereinten Nationen zwischen Amerika und den westlichen Mächten einerseits, Russland und China andererseits aufzuhellen.

Folgt man der Darstellung des Konflikts in weiten Teilen der westlichen Welt, dann scheint es sich lediglich um die Frage zu handeln, ob es gelingt, die syrische Bevölkerung von einem blutigen Diktator zu befreien. Vor allem in Deutschland scheint die Unkenntnis, mit der diese Auseinandersetzung derzeit diskutiert wird, grenzenlos zu sein – bis hin zu einer angeblichen, allerdings nicht bestätigten Anfrage an die russische Regierung, ob sie bereit wäre, Assad im Falle seines Sturzes in Russland Asyl zu gewähren.

Dabei geht es um vollkommen andere Probleme. Die Konfliktlinien verlaufen dort, wo sie von fast allen deutschen Beobachtern nicht einmal mehr wahrgenommen werden, und zwar vor allem deshalb, weil man in unserem Land verlernt hat, in weltpolitischen und geostrategischen Kategorien zu denken. Ob die Syrer, in weltpolitischer Sicht gesehen, derzeit oder künftig von einem Diktator aus dem Hause Assad, von einer demokratischen oder sich als demokratisch inszenierenden Regierung oder auch von einem radikal muslimischen Regime regiert werden, ist aus der Perspektive geostrategischer Erwägungen zuerst einmal gleichgültig.

Eine Einteilung in „Weltinsel“ und „Herzland“

Als um und nach 1900 die Welt, die gesamte Landoberfläche des Globus, aufgeteilt und zumeist unter die politische Oberherrschaft der Europäer und Amerikaner gestellt worden war, entwickelten die geostrategischen Denker der damaligen Zeit ein vollkommen neues Bild künftiger Weltpolitik. Die Angelsachsen hatten, obwohl gerade sie unangreifbar erschienen, jetzt zum ersten Mal Anlass, um ihre Weltstellung fürchten zu müssen. Der britische Geograph und Politiker Halford Mackinder entwickelte kurz vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg seine außerordentlich folgenreiche Lehre von der Unterlegenheit der maritimen Weltmächte.

Beerdigung der Opfer eines Anschlags in Damaskus: Folgt man Darstellungen des Konflikts in der westlichen Welt, handelt es sich meist um die Frage, ob es gelingt, die syrische Bevölkerung von einem blutigen Diktator zu befreien.

Hatte bis dahin das Diktum des amerikanischen Militärtheoretikers Alfred T. Mahan von der Unangreifbarkeit global agierender Seemächte gegolten, so machte Mackinder die Gegenrechnung auf: In seiner neuen Analyse der Landoberfläche des Globus ordnete er die Seemächte dem „äußeren insularen Bereich“ zu, während er Europa, Asien und Afrika als gigantischen Großkontinent auffasste, den er die „Weltinsel“ nannte. Kern dieser Weltinsel war das „Herzland“ („pivot area“), das er in Nord- und Mittelasien verortete. Hier und im Umfeld des „Herzlandes“ seien sieben Achtel der Weltbevölkerung angesiedelt, auch befinde sich in diesem Gebiet der bei weitem größte Anteil der auf der Erde verfügbaren Rohstoffe. Künftige Herrscher der Welt könnten daher nicht mehr die angelsächsischen Seemächte sein, so Mackinders Schlussfolgerung, sondern eventuell diejenige Macht (oder Mächtegruppierung), die in der Lage sei, das Herzland vollständig unter die eigene Kontrolle zu bringen.

Debatte um die weltpolitisch entscheidende Region der Erde

Das starke angelsächsische Misstrauen gegen die kommunistische Sowjetunion in der Zwischenkriegszeit, aber anschließend auch der unerbittliche, bis zum Ziel der bedingungslosen Kapitulation geführte Kampf Amerikas und Großbritanniens gegen die beiden das Herzland von Westen und Osten bedrohenden Achsenmächte Deutschland und Japan sind nur vor dem Hintergrund dieser geopolitischen Konzeption zu verstehen: Der Albtraum einer von Deutschland und Japan gemeinsam oder schlimmstenfalls sogar von Deutschland allein kontrollierten „pivot area“ im Herzen Eurasiens musste mit allen Mitteln verhindert werden. Hierin bestand das erste und wichtigste Kriegsziel Roosevelts und Churchills, dem alles andere untergeordnet wurde.

Noch vor Kriegsende wurde die Lehre Mackinders von der Bedeutung des Herzlandes weiterentwickelt und etwas abgewandelt. Nicholas Spykman, bedeutendster amerikanischer Geopolitiker seiner Zeit, entwickelte schon während des Krieges die Theorie, dass nicht eigentlich das Herzland, sondern dessen Randgebiet, das „Randland“ („rimland“), die weltpolitisch entscheidende Region der Erde sei: Dieses „rimland“ erstreckt sich von Skandinavien über Mittelosteuropa, die Türkei, die arabischen und vorderasiatischen Länder und Indien bis hin nach Indochina, Korea, Ost- und Nordchina. Hier sei die wirklich entscheidende Region der Weltinsel, des gesamten eurasiatischen Kontinents also, zu finden, und wem es gelinge, dieses Randland mit seinen ungeheuren Menschenmassen und seinen unerschöpflichen Rohstoffen unter die eigene Kontrolle zu bringen, sei der Herr der Erde oder könne zumindest den anderen Mächten, gerade auch den traditionellen Seemächten, seinen Willen aufzwingen.

Interventionsverbot für raumfremde Mächte?

Nicht zuletzt auf der Voraussetzung dieser grundlegenden Analysen des bereits 1943 verstorbenen Spykman wurde es nach dem Krieg die geopolitische Staatsräson der Vereinigten Staaten, den traditionellen Isolationismus endgültig aufzugeben, dafür aber fortan aktive Weltpolitik zu treiben. Für die Ära des Kalten Krieges jedenfalls lässt sich sagen, dass fast alle der Hauptkonfliktlinien zwischen Ost und West in den Regionen jener breiten „Randland“-Zone zwischen Finnland im Westen, Korea im Osten gelegen haben. Zwar nicht alle, aber doch die meisten Kriege der Nachkriegszeit, vom Koreakrieg über die Nahost- und die Golfkriege bis hin zum Vietnamkonflikt haben sich in genau dieser Zone abgespielt.

Die geopolitisch-völkerrechtliche Gegentheorie zu Mackinder und Spykman ist fast noch älter; im Kern ist sie bereits in der amerikanischen Monroe-Doktrin von 1823 zu finden; mit der Titelformulierung einer berühmten Schrift des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, erschienen während des Zweiten Weltkriegs, kann man sie als „Völkerrechtliche Großraumordnung mit Interventionsverbot für raumfremde Mächte“ (Carl Schmitt) bezeichnen. Dieses Modell hat in seiner Entstehungszeit freilich nicht funktioniert; und gerade mit Blick auf die Bedeutung des Herz- und des Randlandes haben die Amerikaner ein Interventionsverbot außerhalb der eigenen amerikanischen Hemisphäre (jedenfalls dann, wenn es gegen die eigenen Interessen gerichtet war) weder anerkannt noch respektiert.

Es geht nicht vorrangig darum, der syrischen Bevölkerung zu helfen

Im Gegenteil: Sie haben auch nach 1945 immer wieder gerade dort interveniert, wo es ihnen erforderlich schien, die eigene Machtstellung konsequent zu stärken. Nicht zuletzt der Ölreichtum und die auch strategisch entscheidend wichtige Lage der Region zwischen dem östlichen Mittelmeer und dem Arabischen Meer haben gerade dieses Gebiet zu einem Hauptaktionsfeld amerikanischer Außenpolitik werden lassen, bis hin zum letzten Irak-Krieg, zur Besetzung Afghanistans und zu den undurchsichtigen, völkerrechtlich jedenfalls in keiner Weise legitimierbaren Aktionen im nordöstlichen Pakistan.

Die Vereinigten Staaten haben auch nach 1945 immer wieder gerade dort interveniert, wo es ihnen erforderlich schien, die eigene Machtstellung konsequent zu stärken.

Der aktuelle Konflikt um ein Eingreifen oder Nicht-Eingreifen in den syrischen Bürgerkrieg ist deshalb so brisant, weil sich in dieser Frage der Gegensatz zwischen zwei radikal unterschiedlichen geostrategischen und weltpolitischen Konzeptionen manifestiert. Den Amerikanern und der westlichen Seite geht es nicht oder nicht vorrangig darum, der bedauernswerten syrischen Bevölkerung zu helfen, sondern um Einflussnahme auf die Neugestaltung des Landes nach einem voraussichtlichen Sturz des derzeitigen Regimes, obwohl man mit diesem bisher stets gut zusammenarbeiten konnte. Mehrere, seit längerem geplante, für den Westen wichtige Öl- und Gaspipelines stehen auf dem Spiel, die Saudi-Arabien und Qatar mit dem östlichen Mittelmeerraum und der Türkei verbinden und deshalb partiell durch syrisches Gebiet führen sollen.

Das Blatt hat sich gewendet

Russen und Chinesen nehmen die gegenteilige Perspektive ein. Die russische Militärbasis am Mittelmeer, im syrischen Hafen Tartus gelegen, steht ebenfalls auf dem Spiel – wie die allgemeine machtpolitische Stellung Moskaus und Pekings im nahöstlich-vorderasiatischen Raum. Der Blick auf einen möglichen militärischen Konflikt zwischen Israel und Iran macht es für die beiden größten Mächte Asiens unabdingbar, hier präsent zu sein.

Noch ist nicht vorauszusehen, welche von beiden Seiten sich durchsetzen wird, denn auch die Amerikaner haben schon häufiger UN-Resolutionen missachtet, wenn ihnen dies zur Förderung ihrer eigenen Interessen notwendig erschien. Den unerklärten Krieg gegen den Irak, der zum Sturz des Regimes von Saddam Hussein führte, haben Moskau und Peking höchst widerwillig hinnehmen müssen – am Ende nur deshalb, weil sie es nicht wagen konnten, der zeitweilig einzigen hochgerüsteten Weltmacht entschiedener entgegenzutreten. Heute hat sich das Blatt gewendet: Aufgrund schwerer hausgemachter wirtschaftlicher Probleme, die mit einem weit überdehnten außen- und militärpolitischen Engagement zusammenhängen, befinden sich die Vereinigten Staaten in einer deutlich geschwächten Position. Ihr militärisches Eingreifen in Syrien erscheint schon aus diesem Grund als kaum wahrscheinlich.

Die Würfel sind noch nicht gefallen

Insofern muss die Regierung in Washington das inzwischen dreimal hintereinander ausgesprochene Veto Pekings und Moskaus, mit der eine UN-Resolution gegen das syrische Regime verhindert wird, als ernste Warnung auffassen. Wie es scheint, sehen sich China und Russland in einem gemeinsamen Kondominat über den südasiatischen Raum, und ihr striktes Nein gegen ein Eingreifen der westlichen Mächte in Syrien kann sehr wohl im Sinne einer politisch-völkerrechtlichen Doktrin eines wenigstens angedeuteten Interventionsverbots für raumfremde Mächte, womit vor allem Amerika gemeint ist, gesehen werden. Die Regierung in Washington wiederum wird ein solches Verbot, wäre es denn ernst gemeint, kaum akzeptieren können, denn in der Konsequenz würde dies den endgültigen Verzicht auf politisch-ökonomische Einflussnahme, eventuell sogar auf militärisches Eingreifen in den Regionen des „Randlandes“ bedeuten. Washington kann schon aus ureigenem Interesse jene eurasiatischen Randregionen nicht ihrem Schicksal – und schon gar nicht den beiden asiatischen Weltmächten – überlassen.

Insofern kann man am Ausmaß, am Verlauf und an den, wie abzusehen ist, schon bald eintretenden Folgen des Syrien-Konflikts wie in einem Brennspiegel die gegenwärtige Verteilung weltpolitischer Machtpotentiale ablesen. Die Würfel sind noch nicht gefallen. Aber die geostrategischen Global Player halten sie bereits in der Hand.

www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/syrien-und-ihr-denkt-es-geht-um-einen-diktator-11830492.html?GEPC=s5

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The White House • April 18, 2018

Statement on Barbara Bush

Former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away yesterday in Houston, Texas. She was 92. Along with Abigail Adams, Mrs. Bush is one of only two First Ladies in American history to see a child follow her husband to the U.S. Presidency.

The White House released this statement last night:

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join the Nation in celebrating the life of Barbara Bush. As a wife, mother, grandmother, military spouse, and former First Lady, Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family. Amongst her greatest achievements was recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection. She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well. The President and First Lady’s thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mrs. Bush.

The U.S. flag will fly at half-staff until sunset of the day that Mrs. Bush is laid to rest.

Read statements from the Vice President and Karen Pence and from First Lady Melania Trump.

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see our letter on: http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

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04-17-18 Russia_U.S._Space, Russia-Asia.pdf