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Gesendet: Donnerstag, 23. Februar 2017 11:02
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Massenbach-Letter.NEWS-24-Feb-17

STRATFOR: In Russia, Visions of the Future Evolve

    • Carnegie Moscow Center: Decline, Not Collapse: The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy

 

  • From our Russian News Desk: Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security

 

    • Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz

 

  • West Point: The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency
  • Syria: Saudi Arabia Prepared To Send Ground Troops To Fight Islamic State

 

    • Tom Cotton played a key role in getting Trump to elevate McMaster

 

  • Israeli-Palestinian water talks important for two-state solution
  • Rußland 1917: Wie wurde Polen unabhängig?

 

    •  

 

  • Poll: Americans want Democrats to work with Trump

 

 

    Massenbach* STRATFOR: In Russia, Visions of the Future Evolve

Analysis

By Lauren Goodrich

 

How do you measure a country’s hope? Quality-of-life indexes offer an overview of how well the population of a given country lives on average, based on factors such as life expectancy, employment rate and per capita gross domestic product. But although this metric gives an idea of how people may feel about their lives and countries today, it doesn’t necessarily reflect their desires or expectations for the future. In Russia, parents‘ dreams for their children, as recorded in polls taken periodically in the 25 years since the Soviet Union’s collapse, provide unusual insight into the level of optimism among the country’s population. Their varying responses through times of trial and triumph illustrate Russia’s post-Soviet transformation and reveal its people’s hopes for the future.

 

Anywhere but Here

When the Soviet Union fell, it took many of its most fundamental institutions down with it. The political system descended into disarray under President Boris Yeltsin. Organized crime and oligarchs ran rampant, inciting power grabs, violence and chaos. Moscow, meanwhile, was losing a brutal war in Chechnya. By 1998, the country’s financial and economic structures had imploded, leaving Russia in crisis. Teachers and doctors went months without pay as educational and health care systems struggled to remain functional. And during the bitter winter months, schools, universities and hospitals endured regular electricity and heating shortages.

 

As the quality of life in Russia declined, emigration from the country soared. Those who hadn’t made it out of Russia seemed to be plotting their departure. During my brief time teaching at Siberia’s Tomsk Polytechnic University in 2000, I witnessed the phenomenon firsthand. My students were eager to learn English, particularly the American variety, voracious for stories of life back in the United States and awed by the seemingly endless possibilities the West had to offer. Under the circumstances, it was hardly surprising that some 70 percent of Russian parents hoped their children would go on to study and work abroad, according to a poll released in 1997 by Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The Soviet Union’s collapse had shaken Russians‘ confidence in their country and left them with little hope for the future.

 

But for President Vladimir Putin, the country’s desperation represented a rare opportunity. Putin officially came to power in 2000 as a Moscow outsider who promised to stabilize Russia and restore its prosperity and international esteem. Using a deft but often heavy hand, Putin consolidated the country politically, economically, financially and socially. He rallied the public behind one dominant party, purged dissident political forces from the Kremlin, brought the industrial sector under state control, rooted out oligarchs and criminal organizations alike, and rebuilt the military. To ensure that his sweeping reforms were properly implemented, Putin installed former colleagues from the security services in business, ministerial, regional and even cultural posts. By the mid-2000s, Russians had regained confidence, and Putin’s approval ratings were high.

 

Working From Home

The country’s stability gave Russian parents a brighter outlook for their children’s prospects. A Levada poll conducted in 2005 found that 57 percent of Russians hoped that their children would make careers in their home country, mostly in business or professional fields. According to the poll, 26 percent of Russian parents wanted their children to enter financial professions, becoming lawyers, economists or bankers. Eighteen percent preferred careers in medicine, while 13 percent wanted their children to work as businesspeople or entrepreneurs. Though the respondents envisioned different careers for their children, they shared the desire to see the next generation succeed as it helped the country prosper. The poll indicated a sense of optimism among Russians about the direction of their country.

 

A decade later, Russian attitudes have changed once again. A poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center surfaced at the end of 2016, claiming that 53 percent of Russians want their children to find employment in the security services, police or military. This ambition reflects a shift in public opinion unprecedented in Russia’s post-Soviet history. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Russians viewed the security services as defunct and avoided conscription by any means available for fear of being deployed to Chechnya. Today, by contrast, the sheer size of the security, police and military forces made them among the most attractive prospective employers for Russians entering the workforce. Russia employs 1 million active armed forces, 907,000 interior forces, including police, 400,000 National Guard members, and 300,000 Federal Security Services (FSB) personnel, along with tens of thousands of others in smaller security agencies. Among the country’s other employers, only natural gas behemoth Gazprom can rival these employment figures, though it doesn’t offer the same opportunities for power and prestige that the security and armed forces do.

 

The Power of Patriotism

Job availability and upward mobility, however, aren’t the only factors inspiring young Russians — or at least their parents — to dream of careers in the security services and military. For more than a decade, the Kremlin has promoted patriotism among the population. Putin’s first patriotism campaign in the 2000s centered on civic duty in an effort to rally people behind the Russian state. The subsequent surge of support gave the Kremlin a free hand to crack down on oligarchs, political rivals, Chechen insurgents and oppositional foreign elements.

 

The Kremlin’s latest patriotism drive has tapped deeper into the Russian identity by appealing to the public’s sense of moral virtue, its survival instinct and its belief in Russia as a global leader. At the same time, the effort to counter NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe, the military and intelligence campaigns in Syria and the interventions in eastern Ukraine have restored Russian military and security forces to their former prestige. The FSB, which has infiltrated the country’s most important industries, has become the most powerful entity in Russia. The military, meanwhile, has come to symbolize the nation’s return to global prominence. The change in public perception was evident in March 2016, when people gathered en masse at Voronezh air base to greet Russian pilots returning home from Syria.

 

But perhaps the most striking aspect of this shift is what it portends for Russia. As the recent poll suggests, most Russians today believe that their country’s future lies in its military might, rather than its economic success. And though their conviction is based in part on the belief that Russia has regained its strength as a world power, it also derives from a fear that the entire system could collapse again if not properly secured.

 

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/russia-visions-future-evolve?id=be1ddd5371&uuid=23a80303-f43d-42e5-bb2c-30a55781d0d2

 

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Carnegie Moscow Center: Decline, Not Collapse: The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy

By Andrey Movchan

 

Russia faces bleak economic prospects for the next few years. It may be a case of managed decline in which the government appeases social and political demands by tapping the big reserves it accumulated during the boom years with oil and gas exports. But there is also a smaller possibility of a more serious economic breakdown or collapse. A proper analysis requires consideration of a number of key and often overlooked features of Russia’s post-Soviet economy. (For more see att.)

 

http://carnegie.ru/2017/02/02/decline-not-collapse-bleak-prospects-for-russia-s-economy-pub-67865?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkROa05USmpPVEExTXpkbSIsInQiOiJ0MWloM2pUbHV2ZWpTVjFBTEoxWXk5bkZuc2UrRjVIR1hIYkU0ekw3Q2RiY1JjQ2Z3WjRNV0xnM2FFRElrdGZ3RlJmN0FXQkNpYUxPWWY0OVZwUll4NitjXC9EUGc4SzRwS3FDT2tSWU5HTEc3bWVqWmlpSGg4R1BKS3BkRERYXC9rIn0%3D

 

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

 

  • Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security

 

 

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„The Security Times”, Sonderausgabe von „The Atlantic Times“ zur Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz … u.a.:

Big money

February 10, 2017 … Donald Trump has brought back the concept of burden sharing in NATO, albeit with a different spin: Who actually pays the bill and for what? Adam Thomson, Harald Kujat, Lucie Béraud-Sudreau and Nick Childs debate …

US spending on EU security is only 4.5 percent of the Pentagon budget

By Lucie Béraud-Sudreau and Nick Childs … S.6

https://www.securityconference.de/fileadmin/MSC_/2017/Sonstiges/ST_Feb2017_double_page.pdf

 

Dazu die Kolumne von Theo Sommer, 21. Februar 2017: Die Milchmädchenrechnung der USA

… Sicherlich ist es richtig, dass die Europäer mehr für ihre eigene Sicherheit tun müssen – wegen Putin, wegen Trump, wegen wachsender Bedrohungen aus dem Mittleren Osten und aus Nordafrika. Aber nicht wegen der Vorwürfe, die sie dauernd aus Amerika zu hören bekommen, sie seien Drückeberger, Trittbrettfahrer, gleichsam militärpolitische Zechpreller. Die Unterstellung brauchen sie nicht auf sich sitzen zu lassen … Die Amerikaner verweisen stets darauf, dass sie 72 Prozent aller Verteidigungsausgaben der Nato-Staaten tragen … stellen keineswegs ihr gesamtes Militärdispositiv in den Dienst der Nato … eindeutig … dass die USA ihre Sicherheitsdollars hauptsächlich für die eigenen Bedürfnisse ausgeben … Im Gegenzug erhalten sie überdies in Europa Stützpunkte, Aufmarschräume, Kommunikationszentren und Lazarette, ohne die sie ihre fatalen Kriege im Mittleren Osten kaum hätten führen können …

 

http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2017-02/nato-donald-trump-eu-beitraege-forderung-5vor8

 

 

  • Mein Kommentar (UvM): Wer nur in Kategorien „Panzer“ denkt, wird US-amerikanische Sicherheitspolitik nicht begreifen. Einen Wirtschaftsstrategen, wie U.S. President Trump, wird auch diese Denke nicht erreichen und schon gar nicht überzeugen, der Aufwendungen/Ausgaben des U.S. Haushalt, auch die des Haushaltes des Pentagon (see US Army Corps of Engineers) als Verteidigungsleistung zuordnet. So langsam dringt auch in Deutschland der Begriff “Vernetztes Denken“ in die Köpfe von Strategen(?).
  • Einem bundesdeutschen Haushälter mit seinen Haushaltstiteln wird das Zuordnungsdenken nicht gelingen.
  • Unterstützung von hoher Politik wird nicht zu erwarten sein, da Politik (jedenfalls Sicherheitspolitik allumfassend) nicht stattfindet. Kann sie zu erwarten sein? Im Englischen ist „not able“ treffend. 

 

 

Zum Nachlesen: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approximately 37,000 dedicated Civilians and Soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide. With environmental sustainability as a guiding principle, our disciplined Corps team is working diligently to strengthen our Nation’s security….(  http://www.usace.army.mil/About/    )

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point:

The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency

February 22, 2017

Author(s): Aymenn Al-Tamimi

 

Abstract: Late January 2017 saw a significant realignment of rebel and jihadi factions in Syria. Following aggressive moves by al-Qa`ida-aligned Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a number of rebel groups sought protection under Ahrar al-Sham. In response, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and its main allies announced the formation of a new umbrella group, Hay`at Tahrir al-Sham, headed by the leader of a hardline former faction of Ahrar al-Sham. If the lines between the two blocs harden, a confrontation between them could further weaken the rebel position in Syria. 

The rapid recapture of east Aleppo by the Assad regime and its allies in the first half of December 2016 constituted a major blow for the Syrian insurgency. In effect, the regime now has firm control over the two largest urban conurbations in the country (namely, Damascus and Aleppo). While areas of insurgent activity remain in some suburbs to the east and south of Damascus, these pockets do not pose a real threat to the regime and could well be removed over the course of this year. While the regime now stands on much firmer ground politically, it still makes very clear its intentions to reconquer the entirety of Syria, and there is little doubt that it will continue to pursue this goal, whatever notions of a political settlement are discussed at foreign venues.

Therefore, there is a very real possibility of a regime advance into the most important remaining insurgent stronghold of Idlib province in the northwest of Syria, from which the regime was almost completely driven out in the spring of 2015. This threat, combined with ongoing soul-searching within rebel and jihadi groups on how the defense of east Aleppo collapsed so quickly, helped give renewed energy to preexisting discussions on mergers between various factions within the Syrian rebellion. (for more see att.)

https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-formation-of-hayat-tahrir-al-sham-and-wider-tensions-in-the-syrian-insurgency

see: Syria: Saudi Arabia Prepared To Send Ground Troops To Fight Islamic State

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/syria-saudi-arabia-prepared-send-ground-troops-fight-islamic-state?id=899b2d6282&uuid=3b0d44d0-5fec-4bdb-a193-e4639456dfda

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                                                                                                            Policy = res publica

                                            Bitte keine Kommentare, / Please no comments!

Freudenberg-Pilster*   Met Police appoints first female chief Cressida Dick

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39055696

Formularende

Cressida Dick is the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner – the first woman to take charge of London’s police force.

She succeeds Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who led the force from 2011 until announcing his retirement last year.

******************************************************************************************************************                                                                        Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*    — Tom Cotton played a key role in getting Trump to elevate McMaster.

 

The New York Times reports that the Arkansas senator was a protégé of McMaster as a young officer in Iraq and nearly resigned his commission in 2007 when it looked as though McMaster might be forced out: “After Mr. Flynn’s resignation, Mr. Cotton reached out to (Mike) Pence, (Steve) Bannon and Reince Priebus … about General McMaster and forwarded his résumé and personal phone number, according to several officials involved in the process.”

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/02/21/daily-202-trump-s-new-national-security-adviser-literally-wrote-the-book-on-vietnam/58ab8a21e9b69b1406c75cd2/?utm_term=.65d42f8c0ee8

…..General McMaster has no links to Mr. Trump and is not thought of as being as ideological as the man he will replace. A battle-tested veteran of both the Persian Gulf war and the second Iraq war, General McMaster is considered one of the military’s most independent-minded officers, sometimes at a cost to his own career.

The selection encouraged Republicans who admire General McMaster and waged a behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade Mr. Trump to select him. Key to the choice was Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, an Army veteran who once served under General McMaster and suggested him to the White House. A coterie of other national security conservatives, including a top aide to Senator John McCain of Arizona, also lobbied for him, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who has worked with General McMaster, encouraged him to take the job.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/us/politics/mcmaster-national-security-adviser-trump.html?_r=0

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                                                                                                 Middle East     

Israeli-Palestinian water talks important for two-state solution

 

January 16, 2017   Palestinians and Israelis agreed Sunday to Joint Water Committee activities after a six-year freeze … while the international community met in Paris to discuss the stymied peace process, Israeli and Palestinian officials held a regional meeting on critical meeting on water.

 

Major General Yoav Mordechai sat with Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh at a table adorned with small Israeli and Palestinian flags. They were joined by Moshe Garazi and Mazen Jenim, the Israeli and Palestinian heads of the respective water authorities. “Signing the water agreement proves that you can reach agreements and understandings when you discuss matters in a substantive, bilateral manner that is clean of foreign considerations when it concerns matters of natural resources and other infrastructural issues that affect the entire population,” said Mordechai.

 

“In the last year and a half, we [Israelis and Palestinians] signed four agreements for electricity, water, postal services and 3G infrastructure in telecommunications, which are designed to improve the welfare of the entire population in the region,” Mordechai said. Once the committee reconvenes, it will look to improve and modernize the water infrastructure in the West Bank, which is out of date and cannot handle the needs of the growing population in the area. The committee will look at allocating more water to the Gaza Strip and discuss taxes and the use of recycled water for agriculture. It also will work on a 23-year strategic plan to provide water to the area until 2040 …

 

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/UN-official-Israeli-Palestinian-water-talks-important-for-two-state-solution-478599

 

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*Massenbach’s   Recommendation*

 

Rußland 1917: Wie wurde Polen unabhängig?

 

 

Die Revolution von Ende Februar und Anfang März (nach dem Julianischen Kalender, der damals in Russland galt) war nach Massenprotesten der Arbeiter und Soldaten in Petrograd (so hieß St. Petersburg damals) gegen die Regierung ausgebrochen. Es kam zum Sturz der Monarchie, die Macht ergriff die so genannte Provisorische Regierung.

Unter den zahlreichen scharfen Fragen, die mit diesem dramatischen Ereignis verbunden sind, ist ein Moment erwähnenswert, der im Kontext der aktuellen Beziehungen zwischen beiden Ländern akut ist: Nach dem Fall der Monarchie in Russland wurde Polen unabhängig.

© Sputnik/

Oktoberrevolution: Lenin hätte auch ohne deutsche Hilfe gesiegt – Historiker

Manche Historiker und Politiker sagen direkt, Polen habe nur dank der Revolutionskrise in Russland – zunächst im Februar und dann im Oktober 1917 – ein souveränes Land werden können. Ihre Opponenten behaupten im Gegenzug, Polen hätte sich spätestens seit Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts konsequent um die Unabhängigkeit von Russland bemüht, so dass die russischen Erschütterungen im frühen 20. Jahrhunderts keine große Rolle für diesen Prozess gespielt hätten. Wo liegt die Wahrheit? Wohl irgendwo in der Mitte – wie gewöhnlich.  Allerdings sollte man dieses Problem nicht zu primitiv betrachten.

Die polnische radikale nationale Befreiungsbewegung kämpfte das ganze 19. Jahrhundert lang um die Unabhängigkeit, was die Aufstände der Jahre 1830 und 1831 sowie der Jahre 1863 und 1864 besonders deutlich zeigten. Die Polen beteiligten sich auch sehr intensiv an den demokratischen Aktionen während der ersten russischen Revolution der Jahre 1905 bis 1907.

Aber im Revolutions-Frühjahr 1917 spitzte sich die Polen-Frage noch mehr zu. Die separatistischen nationalistischen Bewegungen handelten danach immer intensiver, die nationale Elite gewann wieder an Bedeutung. Nach der Liberalisierung des politischen Regimes und der Erweiterung der Rechte und Freiheiten der russischen Bürger zeigten die polnischen Machthaber immer mehr Interesse für die politische Eigenständigkeit.

© Sputnik/

100 Jahre Emigration aus Russland nach Deutschland: von Großfürst bis Lolita-Autor

Es ist nicht zu vergessen, dass die politische Situation in Russland nach dem Sturz des Zaren ungewiss wurde: Es etablierte sich die so genannte „Doppelmacht“. Die Polen-Frage wurde auf einmal zum Gegenstand einer eigenartigen politischen Konkurrenz zwischen den beiden Machtzentren. Die beiden zeigten ihr demokratisches Potenzial und versuchten, wichtige nationale Minderheiten auf ihre Seite zu ziehen, indem sie entweder mit der Unterstützung dieser Minderheiten im künftigen Machtkampf oder mit der Zustimmung der westlichen Entente-Länder rechneten, die als „Patronen“ der polnischen Souveränität auftraten.

Ursprünglich bestand die Provisorische Regierung auf der Aufrechterhaltung der Einheit Russlands, wobei alle Einwohner des Landes gleiche Bürgerrechte und —freiheiten genießen sollten. Das entsprach durchaus dem Modell eines demokratischen, aber einheitlichen und unteilbaren Russlands, für das die liberalen Parteien der Kadetten und „Oktobristen“ kämpften, denen damals die Mehrheit in der Regierung gehörte. Sie ließen durchaus zu, dass Polen die Autonomie bekommen könnte, aber nicht die absolute Souveränität.

Aber in dem am 14. März 1917 veröffentlichten „Appell an das polnische Volk“ des Petrograder Sowjets, wo die Mehrheit den gemäßigten Sozialisten, nämlich den Menschewiken und Sozialrevolutionären gehörte, ging es eben um die vollständige Unabhängigkeit Polens: „Der Petrograder Sowjet der Arbeiter- und Soldatendeputierten erklärt, dass Russlands Demokratie sich auf die Anerkennung der nationalen und politischen Selbstbestimmung der Völker stützt, und erklärt, dass Polen das Recht hat, in staatlich-internationaler Hinsicht völlig unabhängig  zu sein. Wir schicken dem polnischen Volk unseren brüderlichen Gruß und wünschen ihm viel Erfolg  im bevorstehenden Kampf um die Etablierung der demokratischen republikanischen Staatsordnung im unabhängigen Polen.“

© REUTERS/ Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta

Pro-russischer Kurswechsel? – Polen veröffentlicht Geheimpapier

Die Provisorische Regierung reagierte darauf mit ihrem „Appell an die Polen“, der am 16. März 1917 erschien und ihnen ebenfalls die Unabhängigkeit versprach. In diesem Dokument wurde ihr Recht auf die Bildung ihres eigenen Staates aus drei Teilen des polnischen Territoriums anerkannt, das zuvor zwischen Russland, Österreich-Ungarn und Deutschland aufgeteilt worden war. Die Frage hinsichtlich des konkreten Territoriums des künftigen polnischen Staates blieb allerdings offen. Die Provisorische Regierung betonte lediglich, dass sie mit der Bildung einer „freien militärischen Union“ mit Polen rechnete, während die endgültige Festlegung der Grenzen Polens und Russlands erst in einer Sitzung der Konstituierenden Versammlung erfolgen sollte.

Diese offizielle Erklärung spielte in der weiteren Entwicklung des russischen Staates eine fatale Rolle, denn damit wurde der Zerfall des Zarenreiches ausgelöst. Im Sommer 1917 verkündete Finnland seine Unabhängigkeit. Auch die Ukraine warf das Thema Selbstbestimmung auf, und die Desintegration Russlands wurde immer intensiver. Bezeichnend war, dass dies dann auch zur Spaltung der Provisorischen Regierung führte. Als sich nach der Trennung Polens von Russland auch die Frage von der Unabhängigkeit der Ukraine gestellt hatte, bekamen die Kadetten und Oktobristen auf einmal Angst, und es brach ihr Konflikt mit den Sozialrevolutionären aus, sodass die Koalition im Juli 1917 zerfiel.

Auffallend ist, dass auch der letzte russische Kaiser die „polnische Karte“ aufs Spiel gesetzt hatte. Im Dezember 1916 wandte sich Nikolaus II. als Oberbefehlshaber mit dem Erlass Nr. 870 an die Armee und Flotte, in dem er unter den Zielen der Kriegsfortsetzung zum ersten Mal „die Gründung eines freien Polens“ erwähnte. So etwas hatte er übrigens weder zuvor noch danach gesagt. Aber seine Worte in dem Erlass sind nun einmal ein historischer Fakt, angesichts dessen man schlussfolgern kann, dass sich die Position des Zaren zur „Polen-Frage“ kurz vor der Revolution und im kritischen Moment des Ersten Weltkriegs grundsätzlich verändert hatte. tnik/ Mikhail Klimetiev

In Wahrheit aber verzichteten die russischen Machthaber – kurz vor der Revolution und gleich nach der Revolution – nicht etwa aus ideologischen Gründen auf ihr Recht auf die Verwaltung über Polen, sondern weil Russland schon nach der Okkupation Kongresspolens durch die Armeen der Mittelmächte im Jahr 1915 dieses Recht faktisch verloren hatte. Im Kampf um die Sympathien der Polen gewann Russland gegen Deutschland und Österreich-Ungarn. Im Sommer 1917 entschied sich der Kommandeur der polnischen Legionen in der österreichisch-ungarischen Armee und künftige erste Marschall der Zweiten polnischen Republik, Josef Pilsudski, zur Auflösung seiner Truppenteile, weil er keinen Sinn mehr darin sah, auf der Seite Deutschlands und Österreich-Ungarns für die Befreiung Polens zu kämpfen. Teilweise wurden Russlands Gegner an der Ostfront dadurch geschwächt, aber das konnte keine Wende des Kriegs im Allgemeinen werden.

Im Februar 1917 bekamen russische Soldaten bekanntlich einige Elemente der Demokratie zu spüren, die später allerdings zu ihrer Demoralisierung und zum Zerfall der Zarenarmee führten. Von der Revolution wurden auch alle Aspekte des Lebens der Soldaten und Offiziere der Polnischen Schützendivision, die der russischen Armee angehörte, betroffen: Unter ihnen wurden die polnische Sprache und polnische nationale Symbole verbreitet. Im März 1917 beteiligten sich die in Kiew stationierten Truppenteile der Division an einer Parade der dortigen Truppen, und zwar unter der polnischen Flagge.

Die polnischen Ulanen bestanden – und zwar erfolgreich – darauf, nicht mehr Russland den Treueeid zu leisten, sondern es gab ab sofort einen anderen Eid, in dem es sich um die Unabhängigkeit und Vereinigung Polens handelte. Bei einem Soldatenforum der Division im April 1917, das in Kiew stattfand, wurde eine Deklaration beschlossen, der zufolge der Krieg fortgesetzt werden sollte, um Polens Souveränität auf allen Territorien wiederherzustellen. Auf Basis dieser Division sollte eine Armee gebildet werden, die auf der Seite der Entente kämpfen würde.

Eine solche Perspektive würde aus der Sicht der Konjunktur auch der neuen russischen Macht passen. Im März 1917 entwickelte der Militärminister Alexander Gutschkow einen Plan zur Aufstellung einer polnischen Armee auf dem Territorium Russlands, der die Versorgung der Polnischen Division mit Artilleriewaffen und technischen Abteilungen, dann die Aufstellung einer zweiten Division und später ihre Vereinigung zu einem Korps vorsah. Zu diesem Zweck wurde beim russischen Generalstab eine Militärkommission gebildet, die mit der Aufstellung der polnischen Truppenteile beauftragt wurde, an deren Spitze am 30. April der Kommandeur der Polnischen Schützendivision, Generalmajor Tadeusz Bylewski, gestellt wurde.

Somit wurde Polens Bewegung zur Souveränität größtenteils durch die Demokratisierung in Russland im Frühjahr und Sommer 1917, durch das politische Chaos und die Ineffizienz der neuen russischen politischen Macht, aber auch durch den Zerfall der Armee und die ständigen Niederlagen an der Front vorangebracht.

https://de.sputniknews.com/panorama/20170219314595640-oktoberrevolution-polen-russland/

 

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Poll: Americans want Democrats to work with Trump

 

A strong majority of Americans say Democrats should look to cooperate with President Trump to strike deals, according to the inaugural Harvard-Harris poll provided exclusively by The Hill.

 

The survey found that 73 percent of voters want to see Democrats work with the president, against only 27 percent who said Democrats should resist Trump’s every move.

 

The findings are significant as Democratic leaders in Congress are under growing pressure by their liberal base to obstruct the president’s agenda. The poll shows the party is divided on how to deal with Trump: 52 percent of Democrats polled say they should cooperate with him on areas of agreement and 48 percent saying they shouldn’t.

 

Those figures are nearly identical when the question is flipped – 68 percent of those polled say that Trump should be willing to compromise and find ways to work with Democrats in Congress. Thirty-two percent said Trump shouldn’t bend at all, even if it means finding ways to achieve his agenda without congressional approval.

 

Republicans are similarly divided here, with 48 percent wanting compromise and 52 percent saying Trump should be unwavering.

 

“This shows that voters want Trump and Democrats to compromise and if they don’t, they both may pay a heavy price with the electorate,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard-Harris poll.

 

The Hill will be working with Harvard-Harris throughout 2017.

 

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer(N.Y.) has said he’s hopeful he can work with Trump on issues where there is bipartisan overlap, like on trade, infrastructure spending, rebuilding the nation’s inner cities, and closing the “carried interest” tax loophole.

 

The chances of bipartisanship this year appear dim. More than 60 House Democrats boycotted Trump’s inauguration and GOP leaders in Congress don’t anticipate much, if any, help from the other side of the aisle.

 

While liberals are furious at the Trump administration for ramping up deportations of illegal immigrants, some Democrats were encouraged that Trump this week struck a softer tone in discussing children brought into the country illegally through no fault of their own.

 

However, Trump’s broader agenda of repealing the Affordable Care Act, slashing spending, rolling back regulations and cracking down on immigration are anathema to Democrats, who are growing more entrenched in opposition to the president with each passing day.

 

Conversely, Trump has been frustrated with the Senate for the slow pace of confirmations for his Cabinet nominees. The president feels Democrats are out to sink key figures in his inner circle, such as former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned this week amid controversy. Trump’s pick for Labor secretary, Andy Puzder, also withdrew his nomination this week under fire from Democrats and some in the GOP.

 

Trump and his team feel under siege by civil servants and many in the Intelligence community, who he blames for damaging leaks meant to embarrass and undermine his administration.

 

Still, a majority of Americans – 50 percent – said they believe Trump will be effective in implementing his agenda, against only 40 percent who said he would fail.

 

While Trump entered the White House with a historically low approval rating, leading many Democrats to question his mandate to govern, the Harvard-Harris poll put him at a respectable 45 percent favorable and 51 percent unfavorable.

 

Forty-eight percent said they approve of the job Trump is doing, compared to 52 percent who say they disapprove.

 

Trump has a better approval rating than Republicans in Congress, who post a 43-57 split, or Democrats, who came in at 41 positive and 59 negative.

 

The online survey of 2,148 registered voters was conducted between Feb. 11 and Feb. 13. The partisan breakdown is 39 percent Democrat, 30 percent Republican, 27 percent independent and five percent other.

 

http://thehill.com/homenews/news/320229-poll-americans-want-democrats-to-work-with-trump

 

About Harris Poll:

 

In November 2013, Nielsen Holdings agreed to purchase Harris Interactive for $116.6 million. The purchase was completed on February 3, 2014.[5] The Harris Poll continues to run and current releases by The Harris Poll can be found on their new website.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris_Interactive

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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*

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

UdovonMassenbach@t-online.de   Mail@Freudenberg-Pilster.de   JoergBarandat@yahoo.de

02 16 17 decline not collapse the bleak prospects for russias economy carnegie moscow cp movchan 201 7 web eng 2 102 21 17 ensuring euro atlantic security102 21 17 the daily 202 trumps new national security adviser literally wrote the boo102 22 17 the formation of hayat tahrir al sham and wider tensions in the syrian insurgency1

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02 21 17 the daily 202 trumps new national security adviser literally wrote the boo2

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 24.02.17 – II

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Tom Cotton played a key role in getting Trump to elevate McMaster
  • Israeli-Palestinian water talks important for two-state solution
  • Rußland 1917: Wie wurde Polen unabhängig?
  • Poll: Americans want Democrats to work with Trump

Barandat*

02-21-17 The Daily 202_ Trump’s new national security adviser literally wrote the boo.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 24.02.17

Massenbach-Letter. News – STRATFOR: In Russia, Visions of the Future Evolve

  • Carnegie Moscow Center:Decline, Not Collapse: The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy
  • From our Russian News Desk: Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security
  • Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz
  • West Point: The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency
  • Syria: Saudi Arabia Prepared To Send Ground Troops To Fight Islamic State
  • Tom Cotton played a key role in getting Trump to elevate McMaster
  • Israeli-Palestinian water talks important for two-state solution
  • Rußland 1917: Wie wurde Polen unabhängig?
  • Poll: Americans want Democrats to work with Trump

Massenbach* STRATFOR: In Russia, Visions of the Future Evolve

Analysis

By Lauren Goodrich

How do you measure a country’s hope? Quality-of-life indexes offer an overview of how well the population of a given country lives on average, based on factors such as life expectancy, employment rate and per capita gross domestic product. But although this metric gives an idea of how people may feel about their lives and countries today, it doesn’t necessarily reflect their desires or expectations for the future. In Russia, parents‘ dreams for their children, as recorded in polls taken periodically in the 25 years since the Soviet Union’s collapse, provide unusual insight into the level of optimism among the country’s population. Their varying responses through times of trial and triumph illustrate Russia’s post-Soviet transformation and reveal its people’s hopes for the future.

Anywhere but Here

When the Soviet Union fell, it took many of its most fundamental institutions down with it. The political system descended into disarray under President Boris Yeltsin. Organized crime and oligarchs ran rampant, inciting power grabs, violence and chaos. Moscow, meanwhile, was losing a brutal war in Chechnya. By 1998, the country’s financial and economic structures had imploded, leaving Russia in crisis. Teachers and doctors went months without pay as educational and health care systems struggled to remain functional. And during the bitter winter months, schools, universities and hospitals endured regular electricity and heating shortages.

As the quality of life in Russia declined, emigration from the country soared. Those who hadn’t made it out of Russia seemed to be plotting their departure. During my brief time teaching at Siberia’s Tomsk Polytechnic University in 2000, I witnessed the phenomenon firsthand. My students were eager to learn English, particularly the American variety, voracious for stories of life back in the United States and awed by the seemingly endless possibilities the West had to offer. Under the circumstances, it was hardly surprising that some 70 percent of Russian parents hoped their children would go on to study and work abroad, according to a poll released in 1997 by Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The Soviet Union’s collapse had shaken Russians‘ confidence in their country and left them with little hope for the future.

But for President Vladimir Putin, the country’s desperation represented a rare opportunity. Putin officially came to power in 2000 as a Moscow outsider who promised to stabilize Russia and restore its prosperity and international esteem. Using a deft but often heavy hand, Putin consolidated the country politically, economically, financially and socially. He rallied the public behind one dominant party, purged dissident political forces from the Kremlin, brought the industrial sector under state control, rooted out oligarchs and criminal organizations alike, and rebuilt the military. To ensure that his sweeping reforms were properly implemented, Putin installed former colleagues from the security services in business, ministerial, regional and even cultural posts. By the mid-2000s, Russians had regained confidence, and Putin’s approval ratings were high.

Working From Home

The country’s stability gave Russian parents a brighter outlook for their children’s prospects. A Levada poll conducted in 2005 found that 57 percent of Russians hoped that their children would make careers in their home country, mostly in business or professional fields. According to the poll, 26 percent of Russian parents wanted their children to enter financial professions, becoming lawyers, economists or bankers. Eighteen percent preferred careers in medicine, while 13 percent wanted their children to work as businesspeople or entrepreneurs. Though the respondents envisioned different careers for their children, they shared the desire to see the next generation succeed as it helped the country prosper. The poll indicated a sense of optimism among Russians about the direction of their country.

A decade later, Russian attitudes have changed once again. A poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center surfaced at the end of 2016, claiming that 53 percent of Russians want their children to find employment in the security services, police or military. This ambition reflects a shift in public opinion unprecedented in Russia’s post-Soviet history. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Russians viewed the security services as defunct and avoided conscription by any means available for fear of being deployed to Chechnya. Today, by contrast, the sheer size of the security, police and military forces made them among the most attractive prospective employers for Russians entering the workforce. Russia employs 1 million active armed forces, 907,000 interior forces, including police, 400,000 National Guard members, and 300,000 Federal Security Services (FSB) personnel, along with tens of thousands of others in smaller security agencies. Among the country’s other employers, only natural gas behemoth Gazprom can rival these employment figures, though it doesn’t offer the same opportunities for power and prestige that the security and armed forces do.

The Power of Patriotism

Job availability and upward mobility, however, aren’t the only factors inspiring young Russians — or at least their parents — to dream of careers in the security services and military. For more than a decade, the Kremlin has promoted patriotism among the population. Putin’s first patriotism campaign in the 2000s centered on civic duty in an effort to rally people behind the Russian state. The subsequent surge of support gave the Kremlin a free hand to crack down on oligarchs, political rivals, Chechen insurgents and oppositional foreign elements.

The Kremlin’s latest patriotism drive has tapped deeper into the Russian identity by appealing to the public’s sense of moral virtue, its survival instinct and its belief in Russia as a global leader. At the same time, the effort to counter NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe, the military and intelligence campaigns in Syria and the interventions in eastern Ukraine have restored Russian military and security forces to their former prestige. The FSB, which has infiltrated the country’s most important industries, has become the most powerful entity in Russia. The military, meanwhile, has come to symbolize the nation’s return to global prominence. The change in public perception was evident in March 2016, when people gathered en masse at Voronezh air base to greet Russian pilots returning home from Syria.

But perhaps the most striking aspect of this shift is what it portends for Russia. As the recent poll suggests, most Russians today believe that their country’s future lies in its military might, rather than its economic success. And though their conviction is based in part on the belief that Russia has regained its strength as a world power, it also derives from a fear that the entire system could collapse again if not properly secured.

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/russia-visions-future-evolve?id=be1ddd5371&uuid=23a80303-f43d-42e5-bb2c-30a55781d0d2

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

Carnegie Moscow Center:Decline, Not Collapse: The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy

By Andrey Movchan

Russia faces bleak economic prospects for the next few years. It may be a case of managed decline in which the government appeases social and political demands by tapping the big reserves it accumulated during the boom years with oil and gas exports. But there is also a smaller possibility of a more serious economic breakdown or collapse. A proper analysis requires consideration of a number of key and often overlooked features of Russia’s post-Soviet economy. (For more see att.)

http://carnegie.ru/2017/02/02/decline-not-collapse-bleak-prospects-for-russia-s-economy-pub-67865?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkROa05USmpPVEExTXpkbSIsInQiOiJ0MWloM2pUbHV2ZWpTVjFBTEoxWXk5bkZuc2UrRjVIR1hIYkU0ekw3Q2RiY1JjQ2Z3WjRNV0xnM2FFRElrdGZ3RlJmN0FXQkNpYUxPWWY0OVZwUll4NitjXC9EUGc4SzRwS3FDT2tSWU5HTEc3bWVqWmlpSGg4R1BKS3BkRERYXC9rIn0%3D

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

  • Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security

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

"The Security Times”, Sonderausgabe von "The Atlantic Times" zur Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz … u.a.:

Big money

February 10, 2017 … Donald Trump has brought back the concept of burden sharing in NATO, albeit with a different spin: Who actually pays the bill and for what? Adam Thomson, Harald Kujat, Lucie Béraud-Sudreau and Nick Childs debate …

US spending on EU security is only 4.5 percent of the Pentagon budget

By Lucie Béraud-Sudreau and Nick Childs … S.6

https://www.securityconference.de/fileadmin/MSC_/2017/Sonstiges/ST_Feb2017_double_page.pdf

Dazu die Kolumne von Theo Sommer, 21. Februar 2017: Die Milchmädchenrechnung der USA

… Sicherlich ist es richtig, dass die Europäer mehr für ihre eigene Sicherheit tun müssen – wegen Putin, wegen Trump, wegen wachsender Bedrohungen aus dem Mittleren Osten und aus Nordafrika. Aber nicht wegen der Vorwürfe, die sie dauernd aus Amerika zu hören bekommen, sie seien Drückeberger, Trittbrettfahrer, gleichsam militärpolitische Zechpreller. Die Unterstellung brauchen sie nicht auf sich sitzen zu lassen … Die Amerikaner verweisen stets darauf, dass sie 72 Prozent aller Verteidigungsausgaben der Nato-Staaten tragen … stellen keineswegs ihr gesamtes Militärdispositiv in den Dienst der Nato … eindeutig … dass die USA ihre Sicherheitsdollars hauptsächlich für die eigenen Bedürfnisse ausgeben … Im Gegenzug erhalten sie überdies in Europa Stützpunkte, Aufmarschräume, Kommunikationszentren und Lazarette, ohne die sie ihre fatalen Kriege im Mittleren Osten kaum hätten führen können …

http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2017-02/nato-donald-trump-eu-beitraege-forderung-5vor8

  • Mein Kommentar (UvM): Wer nur in Kategorien „Panzer“ denkt, wird US-amerikanische Sicherheitspolitik nicht begreifen. Einen Wirtschaftsstrategen, wie U.S. President Trump, wird auch diese Denke nicht erreichen und schon gar nicht überzeugen, der Aufwendungen/Ausgaben des U.S. Haushalt, auch die des Haushaltes des Pentagon (see US Army Corps of Engineers) als Verteidigungsleistung zuordnet. So langsam dringt auch in Deutschland der Begriff “Vernetztes Denken“ in die Köpfe von Strategen(?).
  • Einem bundesdeutschen Haushälter mit seinen Haushaltstiteln wird das Zuordnungsdenken nicht gelingen.
  • Unterstützung von hoher Politik wird nicht zu erwarten sein, da Politik (jedenfalls Sicherheitspolitik allumfassend) nicht stattfindet. Kann sie zu erwarten sein? Im Englischen ist „not able“ treffend.

Zum Nachlesen: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approximately 37,000 dedicated Civilians and Soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide. With environmental sustainability as a guiding principle, our disciplined Corps team is working diligently to strengthen our Nation’s security….( http://www.usace.army.mil/About/ )

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

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point:

The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency

February 22, 2017

Author(s): Aymenn Al-Tamimi

Abstract: Late January 2017 saw a significant realignment of rebel and jihadi factions in Syria. Following aggressive moves by al-Qa`ida-aligned Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a number of rebel groups sought protection under Ahrar al-Sham. In response, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and its main allies announced the formation of a new umbrella group, Hay`at Tahrir al-Sham, headed by the leader of a hardline former faction of Ahrar al-Sham. If the lines between the two blocs harden, a confrontation between them could further weaken the rebel position in Syria.

The rapid recapture of east Aleppo by the Assad regime and its allies in the first half of December 2016 constituted a major blow for the Syrian insurgency. In effect, the regime now has firm control over the two largest urban conurbations in the country (namely, Damascus and Aleppo). While areas of insurgent activity remain in some suburbs to the east and south of Damascus, these pockets do not pose a real threat to the regime and could well be removed over the course of this year. While the regime now stands on much firmer ground politically, it still makes very clear its intentions to reconquer the entirety of Syria, and there is little doubt that it will continue to pursue this goal, whatever notions of a political settlement are discussed at foreign venues.

Therefore, there is a very real possibility of a regime advance into the most important remaining insurgent stronghold of Idlib province in the northwest of Syria, from which the regime was almost completely driven out in the spring of 2015. This threat, combined with ongoing soul-searching within rebel and jihadi groups on how the defense of east Aleppo collapsed so quickly, helped give renewed energy to preexisting discussions on mergers between various factions within the Syrian rebellion. (for more see att.)

see: Syria: Saudi Arabia Prepared To Send Ground Troops To Fight Islamic State

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/syria-saudi-arabia-prepared-send-ground-troops-fight-islamic-state?id=899b2d6282&uuid=3b0d44d0-5fec-4bdb-a193-e4639456dfda

************************************************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

Bitte keine Kommentare, / Please no comments!

Freudenberg-Pilster* Met Police appoints first female chief Cressida Dick

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39055696

Formularende

Cressida Dick is the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner – the first woman to take charge of London’s police force.

She succeeds Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who led the force from 2011 until announcing his retirement last year.

****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*

02-16-17 Decline, Not Collapse_The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy Carnegie Moscow_CP_Movchan_201 7_web_Eng_2_.pdf
02-21-17 Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security.docx
02-21-17 The Daily 202_ Trump’s new national security adviser literally wrote the boo.pdf
02-22-17 The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 24.02.17

Massenbach-Letter. News – STRATFOR: In Russia, Visions of the Future Evolve

  • Carnegie Moscow Center:Decline, Not Collapse: The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy
  • From our Russian News Desk: Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security
  • Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz
  • West Point: The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency
  • Syria: Saudi Arabia Prepared To Send Ground Troops To Fight Islamic State
  • Tom Cotton played a key role in getting Trump to elevate McMaster
  • Israeli-Palestinian water talks important for two-state solution
  • Rußland 1917: Wie wurde Polen unabhängig?
  • Poll: Americans want Democrats to work with Trump

Massenbach* STRATFOR: In Russia, Visions of the Future Evolve

Analysis

By Lauren Goodrich

How do you measure a country’s hope? Quality-of-life indexes offer an overview of how well the population of a given country lives on average, based on factors such as life expectancy, employment rate and per capita gross domestic product. But although this metric gives an idea of how people may feel about their lives and countries today, it doesn’t necessarily reflect their desires or expectations for the future. In Russia, parents‘ dreams for their children, as recorded in polls taken periodically in the 25 years since the Soviet Union’s collapse, provide unusual insight into the level of optimism among the country’s population. Their varying responses through times of trial and triumph illustrate Russia’s post-Soviet transformation and reveal its people’s hopes for the future.

Anywhere but Here

When the Soviet Union fell, it took many of its most fundamental institutions down with it. The political system descended into disarray under President Boris Yeltsin. Organized crime and oligarchs ran rampant, inciting power grabs, violence and chaos. Moscow, meanwhile, was losing a brutal war in Chechnya. By 1998, the country’s financial and economic structures had imploded, leaving Russia in crisis. Teachers and doctors went months without pay as educational and health care systems struggled to remain functional. And during the bitter winter months, schools, universities and hospitals endured regular electricity and heating shortages.

As the quality of life in Russia declined, emigration from the country soared. Those who hadn’t made it out of Russia seemed to be plotting their departure. During my brief time teaching at Siberia’s Tomsk Polytechnic University in 2000, I witnessed the phenomenon firsthand. My students were eager to learn English, particularly the American variety, voracious for stories of life back in the United States and awed by the seemingly endless possibilities the West had to offer. Under the circumstances, it was hardly surprising that some 70 percent of Russian parents hoped their children would go on to study and work abroad, according to a poll released in 1997 by Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The Soviet Union’s collapse had shaken Russians‘ confidence in their country and left them with little hope for the future.

But for President Vladimir Putin, the country’s desperation represented a rare opportunity. Putin officially came to power in 2000 as a Moscow outsider who promised to stabilize Russia and restore its prosperity and international esteem. Using a deft but often heavy hand, Putin consolidated the country politically, economically, financially and socially. He rallied the public behind one dominant party, purged dissident political forces from the Kremlin, brought the industrial sector under state control, rooted out oligarchs and criminal organizations alike, and rebuilt the military. To ensure that his sweeping reforms were properly implemented, Putin installed former colleagues from the security services in business, ministerial, regional and even cultural posts. By the mid-2000s, Russians had regained confidence, and Putin’s approval ratings were high.

Working From Home

The country’s stability gave Russian parents a brighter outlook for their children’s prospects. A Levada poll conducted in 2005 found that 57 percent of Russians hoped that their children would make careers in their home country, mostly in business or professional fields. According to the poll, 26 percent of Russian parents wanted their children to enter financial professions, becoming lawyers, economists or bankers. Eighteen percent preferred careers in medicine, while 13 percent wanted their children to work as businesspeople or entrepreneurs. Though the respondents envisioned different careers for their children, they shared the desire to see the next generation succeed as it helped the country prosper. The poll indicated a sense of optimism among Russians about the direction of their country.

A decade later, Russian attitudes have changed once again. A poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center surfaced at the end of 2016, claiming that 53 percent of Russians want their children to find employment in the security services, police or military. This ambition reflects a shift in public opinion unprecedented in Russia’s post-Soviet history. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Russians viewed the security services as defunct and avoided conscription by any means available for fear of being deployed to Chechnya. Today, by contrast, the sheer size of the security, police and military forces made them among the most attractive prospective employers for Russians entering the workforce. Russia employs 1 million active armed forces, 907,000 interior forces, including police, 400,000 National Guard members, and 300,000 Federal Security Services (FSB) personnel, along with tens of thousands of others in smaller security agencies. Among the country’s other employers, only natural gas behemoth Gazprom can rival these employment figures, though it doesn’t offer the same opportunities for power and prestige that the security and armed forces do.

The Power of Patriotism

Job availability and upward mobility, however, aren’t the only factors inspiring young Russians — or at least their parents — to dream of careers in the security services and military. For more than a decade, the Kremlin has promoted patriotism among the population. Putin’s first patriotism campaign in the 2000s centered on civic duty in an effort to rally people behind the Russian state. The subsequent surge of support gave the Kremlin a free hand to crack down on oligarchs, political rivals, Chechen insurgents and oppositional foreign elements.

The Kremlin’s latest patriotism drive has tapped deeper into the Russian identity by appealing to the public’s sense of moral virtue, its survival instinct and its belief in Russia as a global leader. At the same time, the effort to counter NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe, the military and intelligence campaigns in Syria and the interventions in eastern Ukraine have restored Russian military and security forces to their former prestige. The FSB, which has infiltrated the country’s most important industries, has become the most powerful entity in Russia. The military, meanwhile, has come to symbolize the nation’s return to global prominence. The change in public perception was evident in March 2016, when people gathered en masse at Voronezh air base to greet Russian pilots returning home from Syria.

But perhaps the most striking aspect of this shift is what it portends for Russia. As the recent poll suggests, most Russians today believe that their country’s future lies in its military might, rather than its economic success. And though their conviction is based in part on the belief that Russia has regained its strength as a world power, it also derives from a fear that the entire system could collapse again if not properly secured.

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/russia-visions-future-evolve?id=be1ddd5371&uuid=23a80303-f43d-42e5-bb2c-30a55781d0d2

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

Carnegie Moscow Center:Decline, Not Collapse: The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy

By Andrey Movchan

Russia faces bleak economic prospects for the next few years. It may be a case of managed decline in which the government appeases social and political demands by tapping the big reserves it accumulated during the boom years with oil and gas exports. But there is also a smaller possibility of a more serious economic breakdown or collapse. A proper analysis requires consideration of a number of key and often overlooked features of Russia’s post-Soviet economy. (For more see att.)

http://carnegie.ru/2017/02/02/decline-not-collapse-bleak-prospects-for-russia-s-economy-pub-67865?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkROa05USmpPVEExTXpkbSIsInQiOiJ0MWloM2pUbHV2ZWpTVjFBTEoxWXk5bkZuc2UrRjVIR1hIYkU0ekw3Q2RiY1JjQ2Z3WjRNV0xnM2FFRElrdGZ3RlJmN0FXQkNpYUxPWWY0OVZwUll4NitjXC9EUGc4SzRwS3FDT2tSWU5HTEc3bWVqWmlpSGg4R1BKS3BkRERYXC9rIn0%3D

**********************************************************************************************************************

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

  • Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security

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

"The Security Times”, Sonderausgabe von "The Atlantic Times" zur Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz … u.a.:

Big money

February 10, 2017 … Donald Trump has brought back the concept of burden sharing in NATO, albeit with a different spin: Who actually pays the bill and for what? Adam Thomson, Harald Kujat, Lucie Béraud-Sudreau and Nick Childs debate …

US spending on EU security is only 4.5 percent of the Pentagon budget

By Lucie Béraud-Sudreau and Nick Childs … S.6

https://www.securityconference.de/fileadmin/MSC_/2017/Sonstiges/ST_Feb2017_double_page.pdf

Dazu die Kolumne von Theo Sommer, 21. Februar 2017: Die Milchmädchenrechnung der USA

… Sicherlich ist es richtig, dass die Europäer mehr für ihre eigene Sicherheit tun müssen – wegen Putin, wegen Trump, wegen wachsender Bedrohungen aus dem Mittleren Osten und aus Nordafrika. Aber nicht wegen der Vorwürfe, die sie dauernd aus Amerika zu hören bekommen, sie seien Drückeberger, Trittbrettfahrer, gleichsam militärpolitische Zechpreller. Die Unterstellung brauchen sie nicht auf sich sitzen zu lassen … Die Amerikaner verweisen stets darauf, dass sie 72 Prozent aller Verteidigungsausgaben der Nato-Staaten tragen … stellen keineswegs ihr gesamtes Militärdispositiv in den Dienst der Nato … eindeutig … dass die USA ihre Sicherheitsdollars hauptsächlich für die eigenen Bedürfnisse ausgeben … Im Gegenzug erhalten sie überdies in Europa Stützpunkte, Aufmarschräume, Kommunikationszentren und Lazarette, ohne die sie ihre fatalen Kriege im Mittleren Osten kaum hätten führen können …

http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2017-02/nato-donald-trump-eu-beitraege-forderung-5vor8

  • Mein Kommentar (UvM): Wer nur in Kategorien „Panzer“ denkt, wird US-amerikanische Sicherheitspolitik nicht begreifen. Einen Wirtschaftsstrategen, wie U.S. President Trump, wird auch diese Denke nicht erreichen und schon gar nicht überzeugen, der Aufwendungen/Ausgaben des U.S. Haushalt, auch die des Haushaltes des Pentagon (see US Army Corps of Engineers) als Verteidigungsleistung zuordnet. So langsam dringt auch in Deutschland der Begriff “Vernetztes Denken“ in die Köpfe von Strategen(?).
  • Einem bundesdeutschen Haushälter mit seinen Haushaltstiteln wird das Zuordnungsdenken nicht gelingen.
  • Unterstützung von hoher Politik wird nicht zu erwarten sein, da Politik (jedenfalls Sicherheitspolitik allumfassend) nicht stattfindet. Kann sie zu erwarten sein? Im Englischen ist „not able“ treffend.

Zum Nachlesen: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approximately 37,000 dedicated Civilians and Soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide. With environmental sustainability as a guiding principle, our disciplined Corps team is working diligently to strengthen our Nation’s security….( http://www.usace.army.mil/About/ )

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

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point:

The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency

February 22, 2017

Author(s): Aymenn Al-Tamimi

Abstract: Late January 2017 saw a significant realignment of rebel and jihadi factions in Syria. Following aggressive moves by al-Qa`ida-aligned Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a number of rebel groups sought protection under Ahrar al-Sham. In response, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and its main allies announced the formation of a new umbrella group, Hay`at Tahrir al-Sham, headed by the leader of a hardline former faction of Ahrar al-Sham. If the lines between the two blocs harden, a confrontation between them could further weaken the rebel position in Syria.

The rapid recapture of east Aleppo by the Assad regime and its allies in the first half of December 2016 constituted a major blow for the Syrian insurgency. In effect, the regime now has firm control over the two largest urban conurbations in the country (namely, Damascus and Aleppo). While areas of insurgent activity remain in some suburbs to the east and south of Damascus, these pockets do not pose a real threat to the regime and could well be removed over the course of this year. While the regime now stands on much firmer ground politically, it still makes very clear its intentions to reconquer the entirety of Syria, and there is little doubt that it will continue to pursue this goal, whatever notions of a political settlement are discussed at foreign venues.

Therefore, there is a very real possibility of a regime advance into the most important remaining insurgent stronghold of Idlib province in the northwest of Syria, from which the regime was almost completely driven out in the spring of 2015. This threat, combined with ongoing soul-searching within rebel and jihadi groups on how the defense of east Aleppo collapsed so quickly, helped give renewed energy to preexisting discussions on mergers between various factions within the Syrian rebellion. (for more see att.)

see: Syria: Saudi Arabia Prepared To Send Ground Troops To Fight Islamic State

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/syria-saudi-arabia-prepared-send-ground-troops-fight-islamic-state?id=899b2d6282&uuid=3b0d44d0-5fec-4bdb-a193-e4639456dfda

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Policy= res publica

Bitte keine Kommentare, / Please no comments!

Freudenberg-Pilster* Met Police appoints first female chief Cressida Dick

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39055696

Formularende

Cressida Dick is the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner – the first woman to take charge of London’s police force.

She succeeds Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who led the force from 2011 until announcing his retirement last year.

****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*

02-16-17 Decline, Not Collapse_The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy Carnegie Moscow_CP_Movchan_201 7_web_Eng_2_.pdf
02-21-17 Ensuring Euro-Atlantic Security.docx
02-21-17 The Daily 202_ Trump’s new national security adviser literally wrote the boo.pdf
02-22-17 The Formation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Wider Tensions in the Syrian Insurgency.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 17.02.17

Massenbach-Letter. News * Defense Secretary Mattis issues new ultimatum to NATO allies on defense spending*

  • Trump Puts NATO Allies in the Crosshairs Over Military Spending
  • Flynn + Russia
  • Mexico isn’t Trump
  • Russia’s Businesses
  • Russia and China: A New Model of Great-Power Relations
  • Merkels Fluechtlingspolitik – eine Abfolge im Cicero
  • Trump-Israel & Palestine
  • STRATFOR: A Storm Is Brewing Over Europe

February 15, 2017 | 20:02 GMT

The administration of President Donald Trump has offered former Vice Admiral Robert Harward the post of national security advisor, according to unnamed officials, Reuters reported Feb. 15. The administration has not confirmed the information and there are no reports as to whether Harward has yet responded. Harward was the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command from 2011 to 2013 and served on the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush. If confirmed, he would replace former Defense Intelligence Agency chief Michael Flynn for the post.

Massenbach*Biggest Threat to Mexico’s Economic Well-Being Isn’t Trump,

Say Some of the Country’s Economists.

The U.S.-educated Mexican economists who negotiated the trade pact in the 1980s are worried more about their own country’s protectionist tendencies than about Donald Trump

Standing from left, Mexican President Carlos Salinas, U.S. President George Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Oct. 7, 1992

By

David Luhnow

Updated Feb. 10, 2017 5:19 p.m. ET

As a high-school student in northern Mexico in the 1970s, Ildefonso Guajardo marked the start of each new academic year with a ritual. His family would drive three hours to a J.C. Penney store in Texas, and his father would give him $300 to spend on a new wardrobe—clothing that was far cheaper and of better quality than what he could find in Mexico’s closed economy.

“Four shirts, four pants, underwear and socks for the whole school term, all in a day of shopping in Laredo,” recalls Mr. Guajardo, who is now Mexico’s economy minister.

Shopping in Mexico was a lousy experience in those days. The country was emerging from four decades as an economy closed to imports, and most items were still proudly—if poorly—Made in Mexico. A running joke was that Mexican TVs made for great radios—because the image was so terrible.

Partly because of that experience, Mr. Guajardo went on to study economics at the University of Pennsylvania and eventually joined the team of highflying economists who negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement—the first time in modern history that a poor country and a rich one did away with all trade barriers to compete on even terms.

Nowadays, Mr. Guajardo and the other members of Mexico’s Nafta generation find themselves defending the legacy of the pact at a time when its future is uncertain under the new U.S. administration of Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has assailed the treaty as the “worst trade deal ever” and blames it for enticing some American firms to move factories south of the border. He has vowed to renegotiate it or tear it up.

Despite the threats from the new U.S. president, Mexico’s Nafta team all agree on a somewhat surprising idea: Mr. Trump is not the most serious threat to Mexico’s economic well being. The bigger threat is Mexico itself, with its long history of nationalism and Mexico-first economics.

“What worries many of us is not what Trump will do, but what Mexico will do in response,” says Jaime Serra, who as Mexico’s commerce minister in the early 1990s oversaw the negotiation for Mexico. “We can’t go eye for an eye. We need to stay open and stay committed to our economic path,” he says.

While many Mexicans feel hurt and betrayed by a country they had begun to view as a friend and ally, a trade war is going to take a far bigger toll on Mexico’s export-driven economy than it will on a far larger U.S. economy. “It would be shooting ourselves in the foot,” says Jaime Zabludovsky, a former deputy trade minister on Mexico’s Nafta negotiating team.

Before Nafta, developing countries were told by most economists that they needed to protect their local industry against advanced economies by keeping tariffs higher than in rich countries. Even today, the World Trade Organization allows poorer countries higher tariffs (which is why, if Mr. Trump tears up Nafta, the U.S. is likely to face higher tariffs going into Mexico than vice versa).

After more than two decades under Nafta, it hasn’t all been easy for Mexico. Confronted by efficient American firms, thousands of Mexican companies closed their doors, and millions of farmers abandoned their small plots to head to cities or to migrate to the U.S.

But the pact has helped to transform the Mexican economy, lifting millions into higher-paying factory jobs. It has also forced Mexican firms to raise their quality. Mexico is now the world’s largest exporter of flat-screen TVs. Mr. Guajardo now buys his wardrobe almost entirely in Mexico.

“I buy it not because of a nationalistic pride, but because it’s a good product and it’s price competitive,” he said.

The backlash against globalization in parts of the developed world and Mr. Trump’s rise to the U.S. presidency have stunned the generation of economists who convinced Mexico to become one of the most open economies in the world, with duty-free access for 46 countries around the world.

Even now, the Mexican team that negotiated the Nafta deal stands out for its economic credentials. It included more than a dozen Ph.D.s from top U.S. schools such as the University of Chicago, Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford—the cathedrals of free-market thought. Their boss was the country’s Harvard-trained president, Carlos Salinas.

For them, the challenge to the pact from the U.S. has upended the world as they knew it and threatens to undo their life’s work. “It never crossed my mind we’d be arguing with the U.S. government about free trade,” says Mr. Serra, who got his Ph.D. in economics from Yale. Alarmed, many of those in the team who negotiated Nafta now find themselves back in the trenches, advising either President Enrique Peña Nieto or Mexican industry on how to respond.

So far, the Mexican government looks to be sticking with its free-trade principles. The country’s leaders hope to finalize an expanded trade deal with the European Union this year, and they are seeking to lower trade barriers with markets like Argentina to buy grains that are normally sourced in the U.S., in case of a trade war with their northern neighbor.

Mexico is eyeing free trade talks with Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore—all countries that were in the now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal killed off by the new U.S. administration, a senior Mexican official said. Mexico is also considering asking its fellow members of the Pacific Alliance—a free-trade pact that includes Colombia, Peru and Chile—to expand the group to Asian nations.

If Nafta is scrapped, tariffs would revert to WTO levels, with U.S. industrial products paying higher levies to enter Mexico than vice versa—about 5% versus 2.5%. A far bigger hit would come for pickup trucks assembled in Mexico and for U.S. agricultural products entering Mexico, both of which would face tariffs of about 25%. And those are not small flows of goods: Mexico sent $18.5 billion worth of pickups north last year and bought some $18 billion in U.S. agricultural products (Mexico is the U.S.’s top buyer of corn and pork).

Even without the agreement, the architects of Nafta say that Mexico should consider keeping its tariffs with the U.S. at zero to keep import costs down and remain globally competitive. They argue that Mexico’s export competitiveness is explained less by the decline in U.S. tariffs than by the decrease in Mexican tariffs, which made imports more affordable as key inputs and increased the competition faced by Mexican companies.

“Imagine a world where Mexico—the poor country—is the one staying open and teaching the world a lesson even as the U.S. closes,” says Luis de la Calle, who helped to negotiate the pact and got his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Even if Mr. Trump passes some kind of 25% border tax on Mexican products, much of that has already been offset by a 20% decline in the peso since last May, when Mr. Trump surged in the polls. A new tax would likely cause the peso to fall further, making Mexico’s exports more affordable and making U.S. imports to Mexico more expensive.

Herminio Blanco, who led the negotiating team and got his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, tells a story about going to an event at Stanford University to celebrate the passage of Nafta in 1993. He got a standing ovation from all the assembled economists except one: the Nobel Laureate and staunch free-market advocate Milton Friedman. Mr. Friedman told Mr. Blanco that he didn’t stand because Mexico should have lowered its tariffs without waiting for a reciprocal deal from the U.S. “His point was that we shouldn’t lower tariffs only because others are doing it. We should do it because it’s the best idea to enhance competitiveness,” says Mr. Blanco.

Politically, however, not engaging in a tit-for-tat with Mr. Trump might be difficult. The rise of the U.S. president—who regularly railed against Mexico during the campaign—is fanning the flames of Mexico’s nationalism, which has long been a feature of domestic politics, first in opposition to Spain in the struggle for independence and then in opposition to the U.S. after it took about half of Mexico’s land during the 1846-48 Mexican-American War.

That nationalistic impulse had waned during the Nafta years, but is staging a comeback. In recent weeks, several consumer groups have launched boycotts of American products. The Twitter hashtag #NoCompresUSA (Don’tBuyUSA) reached more than three million users in the past week. Tens of thousands of Mexicans have heeded a call to put the Mexican flag on their profile pictures on apps like Twitter and WhatsApp.

This Sunday, several hundred thousand demonstrators are expected to take to the streets to “defend Mexico’s honor” against Mr. Trump (and also to call for a crackdown on corruption at home). They are planning to end the march by singing Mexico’s national anthem. Even Corona, owned by running a new ad campaign that criticizes Mr. Trump’s proposed wall.

“If the U.S. raises tariffs on Mexico, I don’t see how Mexico can’t respond. It would be seen as weakness by the U.S. administration,” says Enrique Cardenas, a Mexican economic historian.

The rise of Mr. Trump has lifted the fortunes of Mexico’s own firebrand outsider, the leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The former Mexico City mayor, who leads the polls ahead of next year’s presidential election, is seen by supporters as an outsider crusading against a corrupt political establishment and by critics as a dangerous populist. He is most famous for having refused to accept a narrow defeat in the 2006 election and declaring himself president, complete with a mock swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Lopez Obrador hasn’t attacked Nafta per se, but he has built his career on attacking the “neo-liberal” opening engineered by the Nafta generation. He vows to focus more on domestic projects and was staunchly opposed to Mexico’s opening of its oil industry to foreign investment in 2013.

The rise of Mr. Trump also has emboldened voices in Mexico calling for the country to shift its economic focus from exports to the domestic economy—to promote Made in Mexico again. Just last week, Mr. Peña Nieto relaunched the “Made in Mexico” brand for high-quality Mexican products, complete with an Aztec eagle logo that was first launched in 1978, during the closed economy. “Today we have to consume what is Mexican,” he said. “Not only because we are [Mexican] but because they are quality products,” he said.

A group of Mexican economists recently penned a draft of an action plan called “In the National Interest.” It calls for a greater role for the state in pushing domestic investment, including rules that would force foreign companies to transfer technology and use local suppliers and a bigger role for development banks.

“We forgot about the role of the state and fell into the historical naiveté that growing competition would lead to greater productivity and growth,” says Rolando Cordera, an economist at UNAM, Mexico’s largest public university. “Under the threat of Trump, we must begin a new path of development that emphasizes investment in the domestic market.”

Such arguments worry the trade pact’s architects. “This is perhaps the greatest challenge of a world without Nafta,” says Mr. Zabludovsky, the former deputy trade minister. “All the phantoms of the past will come crawling back: for intervention, deficit spending, protectionism, import substitution and all the things we thought were behind us. Scary, indeed.”

Mexico has done such an economic about-face before. In the late 19th century, dictator Porfirio Díaz opened the country to foreign investment. By the turn of the century, there was more U.S. investment in Mexico than in the rest of the world put together, according to Enrique Krauze, a prominent Mexican historian. But after the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917, the country began closing its doors, culminating in the nationalization of the oil industry in 1938. The U.S. helped to create the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1946 to set rules for postwar global trade, but it took Mexico 40 years to join GATT, the precursor to the WTO.

Mexico’s closed economy ushered in a period of remarkable growth called the Mexican Miracle, bringing millions from the farms to the cities. But economists say that Mexico stayed closed for too long, helping to create a bloated state that eventually ran into repeated financial crises, including the 1982 debt default that eventually forced Mexico to open up.

“Nafta was a great step forward. It went against the grain of Mexico’s history and the historic instinct of nationalism, protectionism, jealousy of the outside world and anti-Americanism,” says Mr. Krauze. He also, however, criticizes the Nafta generation—and Mexico’s recent governments more broadly—for relying on manufacturing exports as a cure-all, neglecting the country’s deeper challenges, from a weak judicial system to a backward-looking, largely forgotten rural south.

“A little bit of economic nationalism is fine, without renouncing Nafta or an open economy. Let’s find ways to develop the other Mexico,” he says. “But if we use this to return to an era of economic populism, then it will be a disaster for Mexico.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexicos-nafta-defenders-1486747522

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From our Russian News Desk.

  • Flynn + Russia
  • Russian Businesses in
  • Egypt / Energy
  • Turkmenistan / Energy / TAPI
  • Afghanistan
  • China

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EU gets wake-up call as Gazprom eyes rival TAP pipeline

Russian gas from Turkish Stream could flow to the EU via the TAP pipeline. Gazprom plans to use Pioneering Spirit, the world’s largest construction vessel, to build Turkish Stream gas pipeline’s offshore section.

[Gazprom]

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/02/Pioneering-Spirit.jpg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ >

Russian gas from Turkish Stream could flow to the EU via the TAP pipeline. Gazprom plans to use Pioneering Spirit, the world’s largest construction vessel, to build Turkish Stream gas pipeline’s offshore section.

[Gazprom]

Gazprom’s bid to tap into a pipeline meant to wean Europe off Russian gas threatens to undermine a pillar of European energy policy and slow plans to develop rival deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.

As the European Union struggles against the “iron embrace” of Russian pipelines, it has made opening a new Southern Gas Corridor to carry gas from Azerbaijan by 2020 a priority.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/05/Southern-gas-corridor-Azertag-Azerbaijan.jpg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

Southern gas corridor on time, BP executive says

The Southern Gas Corridor, a project of pipelines to bring new gas supplies to Europe, is running on time and on budget, a BP senior executive said today (12 May).

EurActiv.com

The 10 billion cubic metre (bcm)-capacity Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is the project’s end piece, joining up with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline at the Turkish border, then crossing Greece and Albania to reach Italy.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/04/tap_pipeline.png&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

TAP pipeline open to other shareholders, including Iran

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will carry Azeri gas to European markets, and is seen as Europe’s alternative to its reliance on Russia, is open to new shareholders, including Iran, a spokeswoman for the project said yesterday (8 April).

EurActiv.com

Construction work on TAP gives EU officials the first non-Russian gas pipeline to supply Europe since Algeria’s Medgaz link nearly a decade ago, paving the way for diluting Gazprom’s large one-third share of Europe’s gas market.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/05/vitaliy_baylarbayov_2.jpeg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

SOCAR: It is impossible to stop the Southern Gas Corridor

To imagine that a project like Turkish Stream could ruin the Southern Gas Corridor is complete nonsense. Unlike the Gazprom project, the Southern Gas Corridor is about billions of dollars already being invested, Vitaly Baylarbayov, deputy Vice President of SOCAR told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

EurActiv.com

That at least was the plan, until Gazprom’s deputy head Alexander Medvedev last month said the company was considering pumping gas through the link under an auction system giving equal access to any would-be supplier.

Medvedev questioned Azerbaijan’s ability to fill the pipeline, saying Russia could step in to plug any shortfalls once the link is expanded. “It won’t lie empty,” he said.

“That would be very bad,” one EU official said. “It would be totally contrary to everything we have agreed with partners.”

The EU worries Gazprom has abused its dominant position to overcharge central and eastern European states, some of which are nearly wholly reliant on Russian gas.

It foiled Russia’s South Stream project to pump gas to south-eastern Europe under the Black Sea by insisting on anti-trust rules banning suppliers from owning pipelines, without giving other vendors access.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/03/southstream2.jpeg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

Putin: We haven’t given up the South Stream project

On a visit to Hungary, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a U-turn, announcing that his country has not given up the South Stream pipeline project, which he had himself declared dead in December.

EurActiv.com

Taken together with separate Russian plans to double its Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, EU nations must fend off “this iron embrace from the North and from the South”, another EU official said.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/01/Steinmeier-and-Wallstrom.jpg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

Sweden ready to provide port for Nord Stream 2 construction

The Swedish government said on Monday (30 January) that it would not hinder Russia’s Gazprom in its plan to use a southern Swedish port as a base for constructing a gas pipeline project that has raised security concerns.

EurActiv.com

While the first phase of TAP’s capacity will be filled by the BP-led consortium developing Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II gasfield, TAP says any gas supplier can bid for another 10 bcm of capacity through so-called Open Season auctions.

Some of TAP’s shareholders – including Italy’s Snam and Belgium’s Fluxys – said they would welcome Gazprom’s entry, and EU sources admitted there may be little they can do to keep Gazprom from bidding when the pipeline is expanded after 2020.

“We see the Southern Gas Corridor foremost as a major source of diversification: new gas, new route, new supplier,” European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič told Reuters.

EU sources said Russian gas flows via TAP may jar with the terms set by its financial backers, such as the European Investment Bank. The bank said it is carrying out due diligence.

At most, officials say they could extend an exemption from EU anti-trust rules to TAP in order to keep Gazprom out, but Brussels would require the firms and governments concerned to initiate the move.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/04/tap_pipeline.png&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

TAP pipeline secures exemption from Third Energy Package

The Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP), representing the European section of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) which will bring gas from Azerbaijan, has obtained an extension of the validity period of the project’s exemption from third party access to its pipe.

EurActiv.com

Intervening may also run counter to the bloc’s goals of promoting an unregulated gas market. And it risks triggering a backlash from Moscow, whose plan to join TAP still hinges upon the construction and expansion of a major gas link to Turkey.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/05/amos_hochstein.jpeg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

US discourages Greece from Turkish Stream

The United States wants Greece to focus on the Western-backed TAP pipeline project rather than the rival Gazprom-favoured project Turkish Stream, a US special envoy said.

EurActiv.com

‘Clever strategy’

By accessing TAP, Gazprom is seeking to defend market share by flooding Europe with cheaper piped gas than would-be challengers, including from the east Mediterranean and North Africa, industry sources say.

“The hub around Israel, Cyprus, Egypt could compete, but if Russia can saturate the TAP, it won’t be easy,” a senior Italian industry source said.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/06/Yuval-Steinitz-and-Recep-Tayyip-Erdogan.jpg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

Offshore gas seen as game changer in Israel-Turkey relations

The relations between Turkey and Israel have been marred since diplomatic relations broke down six years ago, after Israeli forces raided a Turkish ship bound for Gaza, killing 10 Turkish activists. But huge offshore gas discoveries in the Israeli and Cypriot economic zone have become a game changer.

EurActiv.com

Last year Gazprom pursued another pipeline scheme – the Interconnector Turkey Greece Italy (ITGI) Poseidon, first backed by the EU as an alternative to Russian imports – for its own use.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/02/Poseidon-pipeline-IGI.jpg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

Gazprom revives ‚Poseidon‘ Adriatic link

Gazprom has revived a project that would see an offshore pipeline built to bring Russian gas from Greece to Italy. The new project is named “Poseidon”.

EurActiv.com

“In the geopolitical game around Turkey and the EU, Russia is trying to keep all its options open,” said Kirsten Westphal of the SWP Foundation in Berlin. “That is clever … because it makes it hard for others to take decisions on projects.”

Regional instability has already chipped away at the bloc’s grand plan of pooling gas from Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran into a huge 100 bcm/year delivery system.

While BP says additional volumes from Shah Deniz II could be pumped into an expanded TAP, analysts are sceptical as domestic gas demand soars and oldfields fail.

But Azerbaijan’s state firm SOCAR, whose gas is contracted for TAP, dismissed concerns Shah Deniz could run dry.

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/09/Absheron-and-Shah-Deniz-gas-fields.jpg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ ><!– Could not decode json –>

New discoveries improve the Southern Gas Corridor’s prospects

Azerbaijan said natural gas produced in the Absheron offshore gas field in the Caspian Sea could be exported through the Southern Gas Corridor. Until now it was planned that only gas from Shah Deniz 2, another offshore field, would be sent to Europe.

EurActiv.com

“Gazprom is not SOCAR’s rival in TAP,” a source at SOCAR told Reuters, saying half of the pipeline capacity would be reserved for Azeri gas.

Background

<img src=’http://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/03/tap_route_map.jpeg&#8216; class=’img-responsive‘ style=’width:100%‘ />

Russia can use Trans-Adriatic pipeline, Commission confirms

A Commission official confirmed yesterday (5 March) that Gazprom can use the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) to move gas, if the Russian export monopoly builds the “Turkish Stream” pipeline and brings gas to Greece.

EurActiv

http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/eu-gets-wake-up-call-as-gazprom-eyes-rival-tap-pipeline

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Angela Merkel: Die Flüchtlingspolitik-Eine Abfolge

In: Cicero 2015-2017.

****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Defense Secretary Mattis issues new ultimatum to NATO allies on defense spending

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the NATO military alliance is central to ties between America and Europe and remains of importance to the United States. Mattis says that NATO is a ‚fundamental bedrock‘ of transatlantic ties (Reuters)

BRUSSELS — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued an ultimatum Wednesday to allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, warning that if they do not boost their defense spending to goals set by the alliance, the United States may alter its relationship with them.

“I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” Mattis said. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.”

The statements came during a closed-doors meeting with defense ministers from other NATO countries and were provided to reporters traveling with the defense secretary to Brussels. It marks an escalation in Washington’s long-running frustration that many NATO countries do not spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product as they have pledged. President Trump often made that point during his upstart run for the White House, at various times calling the alliance “obsolete” while grousing that its 28 members need to pay “their fair share.”

Mattis, a retired Marine general, recalled Wednesday that when he was NATO’s supreme allied commander of transformation from November 2007 to September 2009, he watched as then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned NATO nations that Congress and the American people “would lose their patience for carrying a disproportionate burden” of the defense of allies.

That impatience, Mattis said, is now a “governmental reality.”

“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values,” Mattis said. “Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do. Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/02/15/mattis-trumps-defense-secretary-issues-ultimatum-to-nato-allies-on-defense-spending/?utm_term=.1765398c7c3b&wpisrc=nl_check&wpmm=1

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– Trump Puts NATO Allies in the Crosshairs Over Military Spending

Germany, long criticized by U.S. administrations as a reluctant warrior, starts to ramp up its defense budget

U.S. Army personnel on Monday unload equipment at an air base in Romania as part of a response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. This week top officials attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels and a security conference in Munich.

By

Julian E. Barnes in Brussels and Anton Troianovski in Berlin

Last month, Germany began deploying an army battle group to Lithuania, the first of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops to arrive to bolster the defenses on the alliance’s eastern border with Russia.

It isn’t an overwhelming display of force. The initial German contingent is 460 troops, supplemented by a few hundred soldiers from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Norway.

Some current and former American officials derided the unit as a “Frankenbattalion,” calling it an example of Germany’s failure to shoulder its fair share of the NATO burden. While Germany defended its plan and the U.S. has dropped its official complaints, it illustrates the tensions coursing through the alliance as the Trump administration prepares to push Europe for more defense spending.

“We have been complaining since 1949 that European allies aren’t doing enough,” said Jim Townsend, who served in the Pentagon during the Obama administration. “But for Germany it has been particularly problematic in the last 10 years.”

NATO is at a crossroads. Having helped keep the peace in Europe for more than 70 years, the 28-nation alliance is being sharply challenged by Russian aggression in Ukraine, and by President Donald Trump, who has called the organization obsolete and argued it should focus on counterterrorism.

This week, top officials from the new U.S. administration come to Europe for a NATO meeting in Brussels and a security conference in Munich where questions of the group’s missions and finances will be on sharp display. How member countries resolve their differences will go a long way toward determining NATO’s future and usefulness.

Mr. Trump has signaled he will put new muscle behind America’s long-standing demand that Europe spend more on defense. “We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO Alliance, which many of them have not been doing,” Mr. Trump said in a speech last week at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO allies in Europe and Canada raised their defense spending by $10 billion last year, a 3.8% increase that is bigger than allied officials initially expected.

The U.S. spends $664 billion annually on its military, or 3.61% of GDP, tops in both categories of any NATO country. Spending by other NATO members ranges from nothing, by Iceland, to $60.3 billion by the U.K.

Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, spends around $40 billion, or 1.2% of its gross domestic product, on defense. The U.S. has been pushing for Germany to hit 2% of its GDP on defense spending for more than a decade.

German soldiers arrive in Karmelava, Lithuania, on Feb. 1, part of a NATO mission to bolster the defensive capabilities of the three Baltic states.

More recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been trying to push her pacifist-minded country to close the gap. In November, the German Parliament made the biggest increase in military spending in more than a decade, raising the defense budget 8% to €37 billion ($39 billion), and German government officials say they will push for more increases in the coming years. Alliance officials note if Germany was to meet NATO’s 2% of GDP goal, it would require tens of billions of dollars in extra spending each year.

Administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, will come to Europe this week to deliver a message of reassurance, but also to note that defense spending must rise.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen—perhaps the German politician most supportive of increased military spending—visited Washington on Friday to detail her country’s defense work and called demands for a larger defense budget appropriate.

“It’s a fair demand,” she said during her trip to Washington. “If we want to jointly master the crises in the world, namely the fight against terrorism, and also put the alliance on solid footing, then everyone has to pay their share.”

Some German policy makers say the U.S. appears to be overly focused on the 2% number, given Germany’s engagement on the ground from Afghanistan and Iraq to Mali and Kosovo.

U.S. officials said they aren’t worried about spending for spending’s sake but see a real military gap—in personnel and materiel.

Core to Europe’s defense is the U.S. contribution. The U.S. has 35,000 military personnel in Europe, mostly in Germany, including two Army infantry brigades. The U.S. has bolstered its force with a heavy tank brigade with 3,500 troops and 87 tanks. It also maintains tanks and artillery at sites around western Europe.

That said, NATO plans for the defense of Europe rely heavily on Germany, which will be required to have six heavy infantry brigades ready to reinforce Poland or the Baltic states in the event of a conflict with Russia, according to Western officials briefed on requirements. NATO is pressing for more tanks, long-range artillery, ground-based air defense systems, aerial refueling planes and other equipment from Germany, officials said.

Some German lawmakers have questioned if the alliance is mistakenly preparing for yesterday’s battles.

“I do believe that we need to do more in terms of equipment for the army,” said Rainer Arnold, the top defense-policy expert in parliament for the center-left Social Democrats. “But we must be careful about believing that Europe will be defended in a great tank battle—that doesn’t conform with today’s military technology.”

Mr. Arnold said the 2% goal is “a utopia,” because Germany would struggle to spend such a large sum, and many of its neighbors would react warily if Berlin dramatically increased defense spending.

NATO officials say the new requirements are a necessary calibration to respond to the threat from Russia. Alliance officials say they are making investments in drones and cyberdefenses, but the Russian military buildup must be immediately countered with the kind of heavy military equipment that will ensure Moscow realizes any incursion would ultimately fail.

To a certain extent, all of NATO’s European allies have been caught by surprise as the threat has moved from counterinsurgency and low-intensity combat to preparing to defend against Russia. For years NATO urged European allies to tailor their forces to the kind of peacekeeping missions they were conducting in Kosovo or the kind of fighting and training missions they conducted in Afghanistan.

Germany had more than 2,000 Leopard 2 battle tanks in its arsenal during the Cold War and 800,000 military and civilian personnel in its armed forces after the Berlin Wall came down. Successive rounds of cuts whittled the military down to 177,000 service members, a maximum of 56,000 civilians, and a goal of just 225 Leopard 2 tanks.

NATO pushed European countries to model their forces on the British, de-emphasizing tanks and focusing on light deployable forces. Now the alliance has shifted gears demanding the country once more build up its heavy forces. Germany has already started to follow suit, moving last year to add thousands of new military positions and refurbish scores of decommissioned tanks.

The U.S. military’s focus on Germany as the potential game-changer is in part because of the size of its economy, but it is also because of the quality of its equipment.

U.S. military officers often speak with unhidden jealousy about German Panzerhaubitze 2000, viewed as perhaps the most advanced artillery system of its kind.

The problem: Germany has only about 90 of the artillery in service, having sold off 16 to Croatia and 21 to Lithuania. According to U.S. officials, German troops must share large artillery pieces for training, because they don’t have enough to go around.

German officials said artillery pieces are sometimes unavailable because of maintenance needs and that the military is now expanding its stock, with 12 new Panzerhaubitze 2000s slated to be delivered this year.

The U.S., by contrast has 5,923 artillery pieces, including 969 of its most advanced system, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. This year the U.S. will be moving a part of that arsenal, a brigade worth of artillery, to storage bunkers in Europe.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, right, escorts German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen prior to their bilateral meeting at the Pentagon Feb. 10.

The small number of troops deployed to Lithuania raised questions among some U.S. officials about whether the German military is large enough.

Lithuanian officials said they aren’t worried and pointed to the swiftness of the German deployment, which arrived ahead of the British and Canadian forces headed to Estonia and Latvia.

German officials argue a multinational battalion is a better deterrent: Russia would know it would cross not one ally but many if it made a move in Lithuania. Allied ambassadors backed the German plans, and the U.S. stopped pushing the issue, saying it was settled.

Officials are hoping for a change in Germany’s pacific public attitude about military action, shaped by the shadow of World War II. Polls show growing concern about Germany’s security in the wake of the Ukraine crisis and high-profile terror attacks. The German military’s Center for Military History and Social Science found half of Germans in a poll last year wanted the defense budget to be increased, compared with just 19% in 2013.

In November, the German military premiered a $7 million, 82-episode reality show on YouTube called “The Recruits,” which follows the exploits of a group of 12 trainees as they navigate basic training on the Parow Naval base on the Baltic Sea.

Members of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, prepare to ship a recovery tank, used to move other tanks that have broken down, to Lithuania.

The slickly produced show doesn’t obscure the challenge for Germany. In one episode, Petty Officer Second Class Carl Scholwin, who has spent 10 years in the military, laments that service members in his country “don’t get the recognition that they really should get.”

Asked later by The Journal about what it is like to return from a mission abroad, he said: “In Germany, you get left by the roadside. You’re not really noticed.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-puts-nato-allies-in-the-crosshairs-over-military-spending-1487088613

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Middle East

President Trump said he “can live with” a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, bucking decades of U.S. policy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 1:02 PM EST

Mr. Trump said the United States would no longer insist on a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord, backing away from a policy that has underpinned America’s role in Middle East peacemaking since the Clinton administration.
“I’m looking at two states and one state,” Mr. Trump said, appearing in a joint news conference at the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. “I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/world/middleeast/benjamin-netanyahu-israel-trump.html?emc=edit_na_20170215&nl=breaking-news&nlid=42724716&ref=cta&_r=0

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

A Storm Is Brewing Over Europe

STRATFOR: Geopolitical Weekly

February 14, 2017

By Adriano Bosoni

Storm clouds are once again gathering above the eurozone. In coming months, its continuity will be threatened by events in Europe and the United States. Germany, the largest political and economic player in Europe, will try to keep the bloc together.

But the crisis could be too big for Berlin to handle, especially since some of the actors involved see Germany as a part of the problem rather than the solution.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently described the European Union as "a vehicle for Germany." He and members of his administration argue that Germany’s industry has benefited significantly since the introduction of the euro in the early 2000s. The boon to Germany, the argument goes, is that the common European currency is weaker than the deutsche mark would be; the result is more competitive German exports. Trump was not the first U.S. president to criticize Germany’s trade surplus, the biggest in the world. But he was the first to suggest the United States could take countermeasures against German exports.

Some of Germany’s own eurozone partners have also accused the country of exporting too much and importing too little, a situation that leads to low unemployment in Germany and to high unemployment elsewhere in the currency area. Their charges, however, do not focus on the value of the euro (which is set by the European Central Bank) but on Berlin’s tight fiscal policies, which restrict domestic consumption and limit Germans‘ appetite for imports. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have asked Germany to increase investment in public infrastructure and raise the wages of German workers.

Addressing the German Question

Indeed, the European Union is a vehicle for Germany, but for reasons that go well beyond trade. Many of Europe’s current political and economic structures were designed to resolve the question of Germany’s role in Europe. Situated at the center of the North European Plain, the largest mountain-free territory in Europe, Germany has no clear borders. This means that its neighbors in the east and the west can easily invade, a fact that has traditionally given German leaders a sense of constant insecurity.

In addition, before the country’s unification in the 1870s, the Germans had little in common other than language. Their location at the heart of trade routes in Central Europe and their access to many navigable rivers allowed the Germans to develop multiple economic centers. The Holy Roman Empire, which ruled over German lands, lasted for 10 centuries precisely because the emperor had limited influence on the affairs of the hundreds of political entities that made up the empire. Seeing a strong, united Germany in the 21st century makes it easier to forget that the country has traditionally had strong regional identities and powerful centrifugal tendencies that worked against national unity.

Germany’s Geographic Challenge

Between the mid-19th and the mid-20th centuries, German leaders sought to solve the country’s geopolitical challenges through war, with disastrous consequences for Germany and for the rest of Europe. After World War II, Germany built a federal system where wealth is distributed between states, under the supervision of the federal government. This was coupled with a corporatist economic model that incorporates the economic elites into the leadership structure and strong social safety nets that prevent social upheaval. This entire social-political structure relies on an economic model that is heavily dependent on exports.

To a large extent, the European institutions were imposed on Germany. A weak and occupied West Germany saw membership in the European Economic Community (the European Union’s predecessor) as a way to peacefully return to the international community after two world wars. The political and economic integration of Western Europe was actually a French idea encouraged by a great deal of U.S. pressure. After Germany’s reunification in 1990, the creation of the eurozone followed a similar pattern. Paris saw the introduction of a common currency as a way to bind France and Germany so close together that another war between them would be impossible. At the time, the idea of another Franco-German war did not seem as far-fetched as it does now, and to a large extent losing the deutsche mark was the price that Germany had to pay for reunification.

Solving Problems and Creating New Ones

Europe’s economic and political integration enabled Germany to achieve some of its main geopolitical goals. It reduced the likelihood of another war on the North European Plain by creating a co-leadership of the Continent with France. Even after the French economy started to show signs of decay, Berlin made sure to keep Paris involved in continental decision-making. European integration also opened markets from Portugal to Romania, and from Finland to Cyprus, for German exports. All of this was possible while Germany’s membership in NATO kept Berlin’s defense expenditures modest.

But the euro’s arrival deprived some of Germany’s main trade partners of the ability to devalue their currencies to compete against their neighbor in the north. At the time the bargain seemed fair, since countries in Mediterranean Europe were suddenly able to issue debt at Northern European interest rates, which they did enthusiastically. Access to cheap debt made many countries in the eurozone delay the introduction of structural reforms in their increasingly less competitive economies.

The euro may not have been a German idea, but Berlin made sure that it did not threaten its interests. The European Central Bank was modeled after the Bundesbank, with its mission of low inflation (a German obsession after the hyperinflationary 1930s) and with no explicit mandate to foster economic growth. The eurozone was created as a monetary union without a fiscal union. No mechanisms to transfer resources from Europe’s wealthy north to its relatively poorer south, or to share risk among their financial sectors, were introduced. To accept greater risk sharing, countries in the north require their southern partners to completely surrender their fiscal policies to technocrats in Brussels. This is something that countries like Greece could be pressured to accept but that is unacceptable for countries such as France or Italy.

A Perfect Storm in the Making

These shortcomings became apparent during the past decade. Europe’s economic crisis, and the austerity measures that followed it, led to the emergence of nationalist, populist and anti-establishment political forces across the Continent. Some are critical of the European Union, while others want to get rid of the eurozone. The economic decline of France and Italy left Germany without reliable partners to redesign either one of them.

Every year of the past decade has been a test of the eurozone’s resilience, but 2017 could be the year when the bloc’s very survival in endangered. France will hold presidential elections in two rounds in April and May. Opinion polls say the National Front party, which has promised to hold a referendum on France’s membership in the eurozone, should win the first round but be defeated in the second. The Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election, however, have shown that polls sometimes fail to detect the deep social tendencies driving populist movements.

Moreover, a recent scandal involving France’s main conservative presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, has damaged his image. Should the center-right fail to reach the second round of the elections, millions of conservative votes will be up for grabs. Some would probably migrate to centrist parties, attracted by their promise of economic reform. But many would go to the far right, seduced by proposals to increase security, impose tougher rules on immigration and restore France’s national sovereignty. A win by the far-right candidate — a direct threat to the eurozone’s survival — cannot be ruled out.

In Italy, things are even more complex, as two of the three most popular political parties want to leave the eurozone. Italian lawmakers are using the need to reform the country’s electoral law as a pretext to delay elections. But even if Parliament ends its mandate in early 2018, Italy’s threat to the eurozone will be delayed rather than averted. Unlike France, where the two-round electoral system was designed to prevent extremist parties from reaching power, Italy’s proportional system means that Euroskeptic forces stand a real chance of entering the government. And no matter the outcome of the election, Italy’s massive public debt (which, at roughly 130 percent of GDP, is the second-highest ratio in the eurozone after Greece) will remain a ticking bomb for the currency area.

The mere announcement of a referendum on eurozone membership in France or Italy could be enough to precipitate the collapse of the currency area. A run on Southern European banks could happen before the referendum even took place if people feared that their savings could be converted into national currencies. People in countries such as Italy, Spain or Portugal could transfer their savings to havens in Northern Europe, hoping to be given German marks instead of Italian lira, Spanish pesetas or Portuguese escudos.

To make things more complicated, the Greek saga is not over. Greece’s creditors are debating whether the terms of the bailout program are realistic and whether Athens should be granted debt relief. Ten years into the Greek crisis and three international rescue programs later, Athens remains a danger for the eurozone. The main concern is not Greece’s debt per se, because most of Athens‘ debt is in the hands of institutional creditors such as the IMF, the ECB and the European Union’s bailout funds, which means that a Greek default can be contained. The problem is that a Greek exit from the eurozone could lead to a contagion effect that could hurt the likes of Italy, Spain or Portugal. Some have argued that the eurozone would actually be stronger without Greece in it, but the price of finding out whether that’s true could be too high.

Should France or Italy be taken over by Euroskeptic forces, or should Greece precipitate yet another crisis in the eurozone, Germany’s instinctive reaction would be to seek accommodation with its partners in the currency area to protect the status quo. But depending on the magnitude of the crisis, officials in Berlin could be forced to make preparations for a post-eurozone world. This could involve returning to the deutsche mark or, as some German economists have proposed, creating some kind of "northern eurozone" with the likes of Austria and the Netherlands.

But a strategy that makes sense from a financial point of view could be risky from a geopolitical perspective, since any moves to distance Germany from France hide the germ of a future conflict between the two. No matter what Berlin does, it has to ensure that political ties with Paris remain as strong as possible. Germany holds general elections in September, and events in the previous six months would have a direct impact on the electoral strategies of the main political parties.

A Fragile Eurozone

The threats to the eurozone would be easier for Germany to tolerate if things were quiet in the United States. But Trump’s protectionist rhetoric is encouraging nationalist forces in Europe. France’s National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, has even bragged that the U.S. president is actually copying proposals she made five years ago.

The coming storm in the eurozone does not necessarily have to destroy it. The U.S. government could decide to avoid a trade war with its allies in Europe. Moderate forces could win the general elections in France and Italy, and Greece and its creditors could find yet another last-minute agreement. But the fact that the eurozone has reached a point where the entire system can collapse because of an election, a bailout negotiation or measures taken by a foreign government speaks volumes of its fragility.

Even if the doomsday scenario is averted in 2017, the relief may last only until the next election. In Europe, as in the United States, there are millions of voters who feel that the alleged benefits of globalization have not reached them, and who believe that their economic problems could be solved by putting an end to the free movement of people, goods and services — the very principles upon which European integration was built.

The rhetoric from the U.S. government and the rise of nationalist forces in Europe pose a fundamental threat for an export-dependent economy like Germany’s. They also threaten the continuity not only of the eurozone but, depending on how events unfold, also of many of the political and economic strictures that Europe built after the war. The supranational eurozone is a half-built house in a neighborhood where national sovereignty has been eroded but not completely erased. The irreconcilability of this dilemma could take the currency bloc from its current fragmentation to outright dissolution.

https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/storm-brewing-over-europe?id=be1ddd5371&uuid=1aa7c174-1924-4e85-bbae-b6e9d689de4c

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At last: IISS

Russia and China: A New Model of Great-Power Relations

Survival February–March 2017 … Moscow has found itself in the position of demandeur visà-vis Beijing, creating an increasingly imbalanced bilateral relationship … managing their bilateral relations effectively; they take a pragmatic, behind the scenes approach to resolving disputes and publicly stress the positive elements in the relationship. These ‘relationship management’ efforts have helped to mitigate the potential tensions created by Russia’s relatively weaker position post-2014, leading China not to abuse its stronger position …

There are limits to the Russia–China relationship, however. China will not make Russia the centrepiece of its foreign policy, which is increasingly global and multidimensional. Furthermore, the relationship with the US will remain far more central to China’s global and regional interests, both strategic and economic. While historic Russian mistrust of China has abated in recent years, elites in Moscow prize their foreign-policy independence and thus continue to search for additional partners in the Asia-Pacific, including some of China’s regional rivals. Ultimately, both countries’ leaders are unsentimental pragmatists, and when their strategic calculus differs, there are limits to how far they will go to sacrifice for the other …

2014, however, were a watershed moment for Russian foreign policy … the Ukraine crisis stripped Russian policymakers of alternatives to getting closer to Beijing. Russia’s China policy is no longer about reconciling with an important neighbour; instead, China is now Moscow’s only viable strategic option …

Current trend lines are pointing toward a much closer, albeit highly unbalanced, Russia–China relationship. Russia is much more enthusiastic about ties with China and has significantly less freedom of manoeuvre than before; China is sympathetic and interested in cooperation but has no intention of making Russia the focal point of its foreign policy …

Russia is a peripheral market … This asymmetry – and Russia’s unmet expectations – could create challenges for the relationship … gas relationship between Russia and China necessarily has strategic implications, its significance to the two sides is fundamentally different.

The Russian government would like it to be understood as a key strategic bond between the two countries … For China, the gas relationship with Russia is much more mundane. China does not ‘need’ Russian gas … and is under no pressure … Therefore, the gas relationship does not provide balance to an otherwise asymmetrical relationship; it is an element of the broader asymmetry. Russia needs to export the gas much more than China needs to import it …

The emerging cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is also indicative of the new Russia–China modus operandi … Moscow was initially cautious in its reaction to the BRI, worrying about the implications for Russian interests and about potential encroachment from a country that has far more to offer economically to the five post-Soviet Central Asian countries …

China could have tried to implement the BRI in EEU member states on a purely bilateral basis. Instead, Beijing agreed to a significant political gesture, first proposed by Moscow, during а presidential summit in May 2015: a joint statement agreeing to ‘join up’ the BRI and the EEU. In the statement, Russia declared its support for the BRI, while China did the same for the EEU. Moscow made this proposal for three reasons. Firstly, it recognised its own relative economic weakness. Russia simply cannot build the kind of infrastructure projects on the scale that China is planning as part of the BRI. Nor can it match the foreign direct investment that China seems prepared to offer to Russia’s neighbours. Russia itself would like to benefit from BRI projects on Russian territory. As a result, bandwagoning became a logical choice. Secondly, Russia has decided that the strategic complementarity of the two countries’ political regimes and foreign policies outweigh any concerns about Chinese involvement in post-Soviet Eurasia. China eschews direct involvement in the politics of the region, and China and Russia share threat perceptions about ‘colour revolutions’, that is, alleged Western attempts at fomenting popular revolt in order to install more pliable governments. China (unlike the West, in Russia’s view) would never attempt to overthrow sitting governments or pursue a democratisation agenda.

China also has no intention of challenging Russia’s role as the primary security provider in post-Soviet Eurasia. Finally, Russia views the potential of economic development spurred by the BRI as beneficial to regional stability in Central Asia, where economic privation has contributed to popular unrest in the past …

EEU member states also agreed to begin negotiating an agreement on a trade- and economic-cooperation framework with … the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. … Russia and China have learned to manage their relationship effectively … today’s Russian and Chinese leaders do not seek to export their political systems. They are ‘anti-revolutionary’ in that they oppose (some imagined, some real) Western efforts to foment revolution in those countries where governing elites are opposed to Western policies … they released a Joint Declaration on Promotion and Principles of International Law in June 2016, which stated that they support ‘the principle of non-intervention in the internal or external affairs of States, and condemn as a violation of this principle any interference by States in the internal affairs of other States with the aim of forging change of legitimate governments’. Additionally, the two countries promote norms, particularly on cyber issues and human rights, which reinforce internal control and limit external oversight or capacity to influence events across borders …

Russia and China will not form some sort of ‘authoritarian International’ to spread an alternative political model or block all Western projects. On issues where either country shares interests with the West, it has and will continue to cooperate. And neither country wants the other to have direct influence over its ties with other important partners, including the US. China sees the US as both necessary for its economic development (far more important than Russia) and the only potential adversary that poses an existential threat …

http://scharap.fastmail.net/public/Russia%20and%20China-Survival.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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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

Fluechtlingspolitik_Merkel-In Bedraengnis-Verhaengnisvollster Fehler-Die Abschiebekanzlerin.pdf

02-15-17 Flynn+Russia_ Russian Businesses_in_Egypt_TAPI-Turkmenistan-Afghanistan_Russia+China.docx

0-15-17 Trump, Meeting With Netanyahu, Backs Away From Palestinian State – The New Y.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 10.02.17

Massenbach-Letter. News *Russia And The US: Can Containment Be Stabilised?*

  • Stratfor: Investing in Syria’s Future.
  • STRATFOR:Who Will Fund Syria’s Reconstruction?
  • Now Britain:

– Igor Ivanov and Malcolm Rifkind participate in Russia-UK security workshop

– The Independent: The Brexit White Paper completely contradicts a key argument for Brexit

-The Independent: At last, White Paper sets out 12 key Brexit goals. Now for the 12 key unanswered questions.

The Government has laid out its plans for leaving the EU, but the much-anticipated document is unlikely to appease critics.

  • National Republican Congressional Committee Goes After Blue-Collar Districts in 2018

Massenbach*National Republican Congressional Committee Goes After Blue-Collar Districts in 2018

  • GOP campaign arm releases list of 36 initial targets –

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s initial list of offensive targets for 2018 includes 36 Democrat-held districts, many in blue-collar areas of the country.

If Democrats are targeting the well-educated suburbs (see New Jersey’s 11th District, for example), where Donald Trump either barely won or underperformed, Republicans are going after many rural districts where Hillary Clinton underperformed the congressional ticket.

Three Minnesota Democrats from rural parts of the state are on the GOP House committee’s target list. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Rick Nolan has been a top target for the past two cycles, and his 8th District race is consistently among the most expensive House race in the nation. Nolan won re-election by less than a point in his sprawling Iron Range district last fall, while Trump carried it by 16 points.

Next door in the 7th District, DFL Rep. Collin C. Peterson again finds himself on the GOP hit list after being targeted heavily in 2014 and then getting away without national Republican attention in 2016. But despite bragging before last year’s election about his underfunded challenger, who received no national assistance, Peterson only won re-election by 5 points in a district Trump carried by more than 30 points.

In the southern part of the state, DFL Rep. Tim Walz also had a surprisingly close re-election last November, despite not being a national GOP target. He won by less than a point in the 1st District, where Trump won by 15 points. This cycle, he’s on the NRCC list.

Republicans are targeting nine other Democrats in districts where Clinton lost. Those include Rep. Cheri Bustos in Illinois’ 17th District, Rep. Tom O’Halleran in Arizona’s 1st District, Rep. Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s 2nd District, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire’s 1st District, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in New York’s 18th District, Rep. Josh Gottheimer in New Jersey’s 5th District, Rep. Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, Rep. Jacky Rosen in Nevada’s 3rd District and Rep. Ron Kind in Wisconsin’s 3rd District.

Seats that Clinton narrowly won, like New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster’s 2nd District, are also on the list. Others include Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney’s 2nd District, Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s 5th District, Florida Rep. Charlie Crist’s 13th District, Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee’s 5th District, Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s 4th District, Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio’s 4th District and Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader’s 5th District.

Republicans are also targeting some districts that Clinton carried more comfortably. In Florida’s 7th District, the NRCC is on the offensive against freshman Democrat Stephanie Murphy, who knocked off longtime GOP Rep. John L. Mica last fall in a redistricted seat.

California Rep. Ami Bera was one of the NRCC’s three main Democratic targets last cycle, and he’s once again on its list this cycle. Clinton won his district by 11 points, but expect Republicans to double down on the congressman’s father’s guilty plea for making illegal contributions to his son’s campaigns.

The NRCC will again contest New York’s 3rd District, which Democrat Tom Suozzi won last fall after Rep. Steve Israel’s retirement. Clinton won the Long Island district by 6 points. The NRCC is also targeting Rep. Raul Ruiz in California’s 36th District, a seat with a slight GOP advantage but one that Clinton won by 9 points.

In two Midwestern districts, Republicans are targeting Michigan Rep. Sander M. Levin and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, whose districts Clinton carried by 8 and 7 points, respectively.

The NRCC is also going after a handful of Democrats in districts that Clinton won by double digits, some by as much as 22 points. Those include Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona’s 9th District, freshman Rep. Salud Carbajal in California’s 24th District, Rep. Scott Peters in California’s 52nd District, Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th District, Rep. William Keating in Massachusetts’ 9th District, Rep. John Delaney in Maryland’s 6th District, Rep. Derek Kilmer in Washington’s 6th District and Rep. Denny Heck in Washington’s 10th District.

In New Mexico, the NRCC is targeting the 1st District seat being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham at the end of the term and the 3rd District seat held by Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Ben Ray Luján.

http://www.rollcall.com/news/nrcc-blue-collar-districts-2018?utm_name=newsletters&utm_source=rollcallnews&utm_medium=email

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From our Russian News Desk.

Russia And The US: Can Containment Be Stabilised?

Photo:
Twitter/@WhiteHouse

Even though Donald Trump has already taken office as the new president of the United States, the contours of his foreign policy, his priorities and relations with allies, have yet to take shape. In Europe, many believe that the change of the U.S. leadership will have serious consequences in the short and medium term. Although there is clearly a window of opportunity in terms of Russia-U.S. relations, the policies of the new president could aggravate issues that have been accumulating within the European security system.

These are hard times for the Euro-Atlantic system. An asymmetric bipolar system has essentially emerged in the region, with NATO being on one side and Russia on the other. Unlike the Cold War era, there is much more uncertainty in this system. In terms of forces and capabilities, the balance clearly tilts toward NATO. The system is also characterised by inefficient arms control mechanisms and the existence of mutual resentment and claims. This reproduces Richardson’s classical arms race model, in which the buildup of military capabilities is accompanied by low trust level. Even though there appears to be no ideological divide between these two centres of gravity, the ideological gap between them has significantly widened. There is also an imbalance in the competition of ideas. While Russia questions the viability of western models and the assumption that there is no possible alternative, EU countries and the U.S. explicitly and implicitly question the legitimacy of Russia’s political system in general. In this sense, the ideological rift has gone far beyond the confrontation between the west and the USSR.

President Trump and US Policy Challenges

However, what makes the situation different from the Cold War period is the vulnerability of the Euro-Atlantic system. The west was self-sufficient and impregnable to outside security threats during the Cold War, but this institutional framework is poorly equipped to handle the serious threats it is facing today. NATO and Russia excel in containing each other. However, in the face of the threat of radical Islamism, to take one example, they are struggling to coordinate their actions in the Middle East. The west could lose its balance in the future as Turkey takes on a bigger role and the EU strengthens its political standing. In addition, relations between the two powers have become less predictable, which makes the system even more vulnerable. v

The new U.S. president has already announced a whole set of priorities and measures that will, of course, affect European security and accelerate its transformation. What are these key decisions?

Primarily, the balance of power will change. Donald Trump seems determined to build up U.S. military capabilities both quantitatively and qualitatively. Odds are he will not oppose upgrading nuclear deterrence forces or developing the European missile defence shield. The new U.S. president is determined to assert American interests. And in doing so, he attaches great importance to military power.

Imperatives of Neomodernism for the Middle
East

Trump’s approach to cooperation with NATO allies will also affect the balance of power in Europe. His restrained attitude toward the alliance raised misgivings within NATO leadership and in some European countries. However, the new president is unlikely to bring about any serious structural changes within NATO. In his critical comments about NATO, Trump talked about the need for European allies to make a bigger financial contribution to common security. In this regard, Trump is acting as a pragmatic businessman, telling the U.S. allies that benefits from a common security system come at a cost. The U.S. will probably succeed in forcing its European partners to increase military spending, and there is economic capacity for doing so despite the challenges some EU countries are facing. This will tilt the strategic balance further toward the West and make the security system even less stable, especially if the Russia-NATO rivalry remains a cornerstone of this system.

The bottom line is that military power will become an increasingly important factor in Russia’s relations with the West, which does not promise any good for European security. It will make it more fragile and vulnerable. However, military power is not the only variable in this equation. A lot will depend on how Moscow’s interpretation of Washington’s power politics. One of the most obvious reactions could be to take a defensive stance and come up with an adequate response even if it does not fully match the steps taken by the U.S. and NATO to increase their military capabilities. This will definitely make the security system more vulnerable since an asymmetric arms race increases the risk of an open confrontation. Strategic stability could be further undermined by the offensive nuclear weapons development, efforts by the U.S. to deploy missile defence systems or pursue space warfare, the lack of cyber-warfare rules and other factors.

That said, this is not the only possibility. Moscow could ignore efforts by the West to build up its military capabilities, while the vulnerability of the Euro-Atlantic region to external threats could become a major factor. In this case, even if Russia and the U.S. do not become allies, at least they will no longer view each other as primary rivals. Two key factors are required for this to happen.

2017 Foreign Policy Outlook

First, the ideological gap between Russia and the U.S. has been narrowing since Trump’s victory. Of course, there is no question of the two countries becoming closer in terms of ideology. However, Trump does not deny Russia’s legitimate interests, and in some cases, these interests coincide with what the U.S. wants. So far, Trump has been portraying Russia as an equal interlocutor, if not a possible partner, saying that there was a need to make deals with Russia to be able to focus on other issues. For Trump, Russia is a “normal” player, no worse or better than other countries. This is what sets the new president apart from Democrats and their Russophobic approaches, as well as the Republicans who view Russia as an absolute evil and deny its right to pursue its legitimate interests. With Barack Obama putting Russia, ISIS and Ebola in the same category, achieving any kind of progress in Russia-U.S. relations became impossible. In this sense, Trump has adopted a radically different approach towards Russia compared to his predecessor.

Second, Russia, despite all its challenges and issues, has enough assets to engage in a dialogue with the U.S. In the current situation, ignoring Russia’s stance could be quite costly. Of course, Moscow can hardly expect Trump to make any concessions since he will probably turn out to be a tough negotiator. However, Russia has things it can put on the table, which means that compromise is quite possible. Moscow has become one of the key actors in resolving the Syrian issue. Russia can also initiate a dialogue on cybersecurity issues, arms control, the situation in Afghanistan, etc. Russia has shown that it can get on well enough even with sanctions imposed. The Kremlin is not facing any emergencies that could force it to make serious concessions, which means that Moscow can engage in calm discussion and negotiate key issues.

All in all, there are several possible scenarios. In the first scenario, the existing security system of containment would remain in place with all its flaws, while making relations between the two parties more predictable. The second scenario would involve a destabilised system of containment. In this case, Moscow will respond to the U.S. and NATO efforts to build up military capabilities, leading to a spiral of fear and an arms race. The third scenario would be to scale back containment policies by gradually or partially overcoming the existing differences. The fourth scenario would be to achieve a qualitatively new partnership in light of common threats. In the fifth scenario, on the contrary, relations would deteriorate, resulting in a new crisis. In the current environment, the best option at the initial stage is to stabilise the containment regime with scaling it back over time.

First published in theValdaiDiscussion Club.

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Stratfor: Investing in Syria’s Future.

Forecast

  • The crippled state of Syria’s economy risks weakening the remaining loyalist support for the government in Damascus.
  • The international involvement in the country’s civil war will leave Damascus with few partners that it can trust to help with its reconstruction efforts.
  • Iran’s investments in Syria will not yield immediate financial gains but will afford Tehran greater influence in the country.

Analysis

Six years of conflict in Syria have left its economy in tatters. Since 2010, the country’s gross domestic product has shrunk by more than half. The war has devastated Syria’s population, killing more than 440,000 people and driving some 6 million more out of the country, a loss that will cripple the country long after the fighting inevitably stops. An estimated 60 percent of Syria’s population — what’s left of it — is unemployed, and it’s hard to say how many more Syrians are underemployed.

Though the government entered the new year at an advantage over its opposition, having just retaken the city of Aleppo, its financial decline has undermined its ability to exert control over the country. When the time finally comes to begin picking up the pieces, the government in Damascus will not be able to embark on the daunting task of reconstruction alone. Several countries have already begun extending their support to help rebuild the battered nation, some more strategically than others.

An Inauspicious Start

When the country descended into civil war in 2011, it was already facing economic troubles. Drought conditions hurt the country’s agricultural sector, all the more so as rural Syrians moved in droves to urban areas. Syria’s economy, moreover, had only just emerged from a period of economic liberalization that President Bashar al Assad kicked off when he took office in 2000. Although reforms in the banking industry had encouraged economic growth, their progress was reversed within a year of the war’s start when foreign governments slapped sanctions on Syria’s central bank and financial sector. The country’s economic output had shrunk by more than 40 percent by 2013. As its cash flow dwindled, Damascus was forced to progressively cut food, fuel, water and electricity subsidies. By 2015, Syria’s reserves had reportedly fallen to just $1 billion, enough money to cover roughly a month’s worth of imports.

The past year was even worse for Syria’s economy. The cost of natural gas and water rose in 2016, particularly in the capital, though other cost-of-living indicators such as rent and taxes stayed more or less constant. The cost of food, meanwhile, rose by 99 percent compared with the previous year. On top of that, shelling and airstrikes have destroyed infrastructure across the country, causing shortages of water and electricity. This bodes ill for al Assad: The country’s precipitous economic decline could start to undermine trust in the government, even among its most loyal supporters. And since the government has lost the ability to provide basic services to its people, Syrians have taken matters into their own hands to furnish necessities. In rebel-held territories such as Idlib, competing factions have taken over supplying food, water and electricity to the local populace. As a result, Damascus‘ authority over the country has weakened, even in the territories it still technically controls.

Hollow Victories

In late 2016, the Syrian government claimed its greatest triumph in the civil war so far when it pried the city of Aleppo from rebel control. But it was a hollow victory, like so many of Damascus‘ successes in reclaiming territory. The war has devastated vast portions of Aleppo, once Syria’s most populous city, as well as an economic capital. The damage to the city is estimated between $100 billion and $200 billion, and the province surrounding it is still an active war zone with multiple fronts. Even now, the Syrian government is working to repair water and electricity infrastructure that its forces had a hand in destroying, a process that will take months if not years to complete. In the meantime, industry in Aleppo will stay at a standstill.

Furthermore, the government’s gains against the rebels have done little to ameliorate the country’s food shortages. The Islamic State is still present in eastern Syria, formerly the country’s breadbasket. In addition, the government can no longer rely on the abundant agricultural production in the country’s northeastern corner because Syrian Kurds have taken control of the region, which they hope to establish as a semi-autonomous zone. Even though the Kurdish territory is still nominally under the central government’s control, Damascus is steadily losing its influence there.

The country is on the verge of a wheat crisis, too. The government could apparently afford only one-third of the wheat it had planned to purchase for the month of January. In fact, Damascus‘ cash crunch kept it from finalizing a deal for a much-needed wheat shipment of 1 million metric tons from Russia at a 20 percent discount. Moscow’s markdown wasn’t terribly generous, considering that Russia is still trying to offload the fruits of last year’s record wheat harvest (on a saturated market, no less). Still, the offer is a sign of Russia’s interest in helping the Syrian government get back on its feet — one that Damascus lacked the funds to take advantage of.

Iran: An Ally for Richer or for Poorer

But Russia is not the only foreign power trying to lend a helping hand to Syria. For richer or for poorer, Damascus has a devoted ally in Iran. The two countries recently signed deals over phosphates, telecommunications, oil and natural gas, and agriculture that were all designed to kick-start Syria’s stagnant economy — and secure potential kickbacks for Iranian companies down the road. Tehran has also extended an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion in credit over the course of the conflict, enabling Damascus to continue paying government salaries, funding its war effort and keeping essential services running.

Iran’s financial assistance is an investment, not an act of charity. Tehran views the money it is funneling into Syria as a long-term insurance policy for its continued influence with Damascus, regardless of who is in charge. These economic ties will ensure that Iran has even greater leverage over Syria than it does over Iraq. Unlike Damascus, which many countries have isolated over the course of the civil war, Baghdad entered its reconstruction phase after Operation Iraqi Freedom with several coalition partners, including the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The al Assad government lacks support even among most of the powerful countries in the Middle East, leaving it few foreign partners with which to rebuild and giving Iran considerable sway.

Of course, Iran also stands to benefit economically from its deals. Tehran intends to offer the services of its state-owned companies for Syria’s reconstruction. When the time comes, Iran will be Syria’s preferred partner for efforts to restore the country, notwithstanding the deeper economic ties Damascus had forged with other nations such as Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia prior to the conflict. The contracts Iranian companies win in Syria will help their country stay on top as the leading iron producer and second-biggest steel producer in the Middle East. Funding Syria’s reconstruction will be tricky, however, because Syria will not have the cash reserves to pay for the work.

Lining Up Behind Iran

By sinking hundreds of billions of dollars into Syria from the start of the civil war, Iran has demonstrated the value it places in the country as a strategic ally and a conduit to its prized militant proxy, Hezbollah. Tehran’s focus on investment deals also indicates that it believes the war will end soon. Until then, Iran will invest in Syria as needed to stabilize the country and protect its interests. And as its own economy slowly improves thanks to steady oil prices and eased economic sanctions, it may redouble its support.

At the same time, other countries are lining up to cash in on Syria’s eventual reconstruction. Egypt signed a deal to increase its investment there, and Lebanon hopes to become a transit hub for funds and construction materials en route to Syria. But Iran has made sure that it will be at the top of Damascus‘ list of partners when the Syrian government starts putting its country back together.

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/investing-syrias-future

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster*

Kostas Koufogiorgos, 24.01.17

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Barandat* "Who Will Fund Syria’s Reconstruction? is republished with permission of Stratfor."

Who Will Fund Syria's Reconstruction?

"<a href="https://www.stratfor.com/video/who-will-fund-syrias-reconstruction">Who Will Fund Syria’s Reconstruction?</a> is republished with permission of Stratfor."

https://www.stratfor.com/video/who-will-fund-syrias-reconstruction?id=be1ddd5371&uuid=f34b9384-f7c6-4f84-8481-a74509f3c425

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Middle East

Naher Osten

Dezember 2016 Was führte zum Arabischen Frühling, der 2011 im Nahen Osten die herrschenden Machtverhältnisse erschütterte? Und wie fällt die Bilanz fünf Jahre später aus? … Der Arabische Frühling, das Aufbegehren gegen langjährige, autoritäre und repressive Machtstrukturen, hat im Nahen Osten seit 2011 heftige Konflikte ausgelöst. Leidtragende sind vor allem die Menschen in der Region, die Kämpfe um eine neue Machtverteilung haben aber auch internationale Auswirkungen. Ein Blick auf Ursachen und Hintergründe hilft zum Verständnis der aktuellen Krisensituation …

http://www.bpb.de/shop/zeitschriften/informationen-zur-politischen-bildung/238943/naher-osten

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Arab Fractures: Citizens, States, and Social Contracts

A new Carnegie report takes stock of the institutional fractures facing the Arab world across three separate landscapes–citizens, states, and geopolitics. The economic models and social contracts upon which the Arab regional order was constructed are coming undone, and the resulting crisis of governance underpins many of the grave security, ideological, and political challenges facing the Middle East.

The report is coauthored by Carnegie Middle East Program scholars and Arab thought leaders. (for more see att.)

http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/02/01/arab-fractures-citizens-states-and-social-contracts-pub-66612?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTldObU1qQmpPVFJrWmpJMCIsInQiOiIrQU9tVm1LMjQrTmtoU2R1RXcrMm5zNllydzJVMHFlY2h1dHhrbjVibno3ZnppMElJODZYeWhoS2h6OWlQQ29MRnJtblpud1lkSU1lYTlDdm9tUFVpNVwvdTNaNk56cW9wXC9CVEo2VmZ2aUpGRVF4eUhZXC9YeTU3bGY2ejljdkhTMyJ9

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The Independent: The Brexit White Paper completely contradicts a key argument for Brexit

Claim that leaving the EU would enable Parliament to reassert its sovereignty appears to be challenged in the policy document

Parliament has “remained sovereign throughout our membership to the EU” despite people “not always feeling like that”, the Brexit White Paper says.

The statement contradicts a key message from the campaign to leave the European Union, which argued ending the UK’s membership to the EU would "bring back sovereignty" to Parliament and end Brussels‘ control over national laws.

But in a section titled “taking control of our own laws”, the White Paper states: “The sovereignty of Parliament is a fundamental principle of the UK constitution. Whilst Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.”

A key tenet of the campaign ahead of the Brexit referendum last June was the debate about loss of control and the idea the UK was increasingly governed by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

In an article published by the Sun on 22 June written by "Brexit campaigners" Lord Green, Daniel Hannan and Patrick Minford, they said "leaving the EU on June 23 will save our sovereignty".

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-white-paper-uk-parliament-remian-sovereign-eu-membership-referendum-campaign-brussels-article-a7559556.html

The Independent: At last, White Paper sets out 12 key Brexit goals. Now for the 12 key unanswered questions

The Government has laid out its plans for leaving the EU, but the much-anticipated document is unlikely to appease critics.

(For more see att.)

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Igor Ivanov and Malcolm Rifkind participate in Russia-UK security workshop

23 january 2017 On January, 19-20, London hosted Russia-UK expert workshop dedicated to security issues between the two countries. The event was organized within the framework of RIAC-RUSI (Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies) joint project …

The workshop was attended by over 20 experts, former government officials and diplomats with expertise in nuclear and conventional weapons, European security architecture, non-distribution of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional security threats …

Igor Ivanov opening speech, 19, January 2017 … Unfortunately, these days we do not have too many mechanisms for a bilateral expert dialogue between Moscow and London. Most of attempts to launch such a dialogue for this or that reason have not been successful. This deficit of bilateral communications on the expert level makes the RIAC-RUSI initiative even more significant.

Let me express my deep gratitude to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as to the British Embassy in Moscow – without their generous support this meeting would hardly take place

When you start reflecting about the Russian-British relations, you are not likely to find many compelling reasons to be optimistic. I think that all the differences of opinions notwithstanding, we can all agree with at least two basic conclusions. First, we have to accept that our relations today — above all, political relations between Moscow and London, — are close to the zero point. Both sides have a lot of complaints and grievances to address to each other. This situation should not surprise us. Problems and grievances can emerge even among partners and allies — suffice to mention Brexit.

However, when there is not dialogue and problems are not addressed and properly dealt with, they tend to accumulate and to poison the relationship in general.

This is exactly what we have seen in the Russian-British relations recently. Second, the current state of the Russian-British relations does not meet long-term interests of both sides. Moreover, it seriously limits their respective abilities to respond to very real security threats and challenges that both our countries have to confront on the day-to-day basis. This poor state of bilateral relations prevents Russia and UK from fully implementing their responsibilities as permanent members of the UN Security Council in providing for maintaining international peace and security. This is truly unfortunate since the need for a more active UN Security Council role in dealing with numerous crises around the globe is evident to everybody.

We all remember well enough the narratives of the two sides, mutual reproaches and even direct accusations. I do not think that I should spend your time retelling them now.

It is highly unlikely that we could convince each other to change views of the other side on the fundamentals …

Through analyzing our success stories, we can try to identify the means that we can use today to get our relationship out of the current crisis … state visit of President Putin to the United Kingdom in July of 2003 … I would like to remind you that at a press conference during the visit President Putin referred to the United Kingdom as “one of the priority partners” for Russia; he expressed his confidence that the visit would serve further progress in the bilateral relationship. In its turn, the British side designated the relations with Russia as ‘splendid’ and stressed that the visit opened new opportunities for the British — Russian cooperation … we were all committed to turning the page of the Cold war as soon as possible and to writing new history together … Unfortunately, at some stage, this process got stalled and later it was replaced by mutual accusations and an information war … Getting back on track will be slow and complicated …

The most evident thing, as I can see it, would be to stop the information confrontation … We also need to put together a high level Task Force, which will include not only state bureaucrats, but parliamentarians, public opinion leaders, business persons and civil society representatives in order to launch a multifaceted discussion on the future of our relations … to investigate whether the two sides are ready for a practical cooperation … I am sure that the list of such areas will be quite impressive … areas of common interests, where the synergy of combined efforts by the two countries can bring along positive results. It seems that, above all, we should discuss regional and global security, as well as economic cooperation

We can put the ‘difficult questions’ on a back-burner or delegate them to appropriate expert groups for further considerations. In any case, such questions should not become a deal-breaker; they should not block or slow down our cooperation in the fields where this cooperation meets long-term interest of both sides … for centuries

Britain and Russia had been difficult partners to each other.

However, in the most critical moments of the European and world history we always managed to get to the same side of the barricade confronting common challenges and common enemies … we should not forget that the security dimension is closely related to many other dimensions of this complex relationship.

One cannot imagine Russian-British relations without a diverse economic cooperation, without a vibrant cultural interconnection, without multiple joint projects in education and research, without a thick network of civil society exchanges. Quite often, activities in these dimensions do much more than just complimenting the political dialogue.

They outpace the political dialogue and create a certain ‘margin of safety’ in the overall relationship, absorbing – at least partially – unavoidable shocks at the political level. It goes without saying that these dimensions of the Russian-British relations have to be properly analyzed and evaluated …

http://russiancouncil.ru/en/inner/?id_4=8605#top-content

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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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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

02-03-17 The Independent_At last, White Paper sets out 12 key Brexit goals. Now for the 12 key unansw.pdf

02-06-17 Russia And The US_Can Containment Be Stabilised.docx

02-07-17 Carnegie_Arab_World_Horizons_Final.pdf