Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 22/11/13


Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen. * „Sueddeutsche. / Prantl: Wie souverän ist Deutschland?“*

* Foreign Affairs Left Out – How Europe’s Social Democrats Can Fight Back *

* Botschaft von Ungarn in Berlin hat in „Energiesicherheit in Mitteleuropa: ein Test für die Interessenvertretung der Visegrád-Gruppe“ gepostet * "Electricity in Central Europe: Germany adds to uncertainty" *

Asia Times: Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, two pillars of the US foreign policy establishment, are urging lawmakers to hold back from enacting new sanctions against Iran, saying an interim agreement with Tehran – the focus of international nuclear talks in Geneva beginning on Wednesday – would advance the national security of the US, Israel, and Washington’s Middle East partners. *

Massenbach* Left Out – How Europe’s Social Democrats Can Fight Back

by Henning Meyer, LSE

When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, social democrats in Europe believed that their moment had finally arrived. After a decade in which European politics had drifted toward the market-friendly policies of the right, the crisis represented an opportunity for the political center left’s champions of more effective government regulation and greater social justice to reassert themselves.

After all, it was thanks to center-right policies that deregulated financial markets had devolved into a kind of black hole, detached from the wider global economy but exerting a powerful force on all kinds of economic activity. When the financial services industry finally collapsed, the effects went far beyond Wall Street and the U.S. economy, plunging financial markets and economies everywhere into a deep crisis that has still not been resolved.

But social democrats in Europe sensed a possible silver lining. For decades, they had argued for stiffer regulations to steady inherently unstable financial markets, to no avail. The crisis, it seemed, proved them right. Moreover, in the wake of a massive global recession, millions of people had to turn for support to the welfare systems that social democrats had built and sustained: yet another vindication, they believed.

And yet five years later, Europe’s social democratic moment has yet to materialize. Social democrats have won victories at the national level in a number of countries, including Denmark, France, and Slovakia. But these relatively modest gains have been overshadowed by a sense that Europe has fallen into a period of political volatility, a permanent emergency of sorts brought on by the flaws revealed in the euro system and the European Union as the global financial crisis morphed into a eurozone crisis. Even though social democrats have not yet been able to fully capitalize on the situation, they still have a chance to do so, but only if they come to see how the mistakes they made during the previous two decades reduced their political capital and left them ill prepared to take advantage of a political environment that should play to their strengths.


By the time the financial crisis began, Europe’s social democratic parties had already lost momentum. From the late 1970s until the mid-1990s, they had suffered significant declines in electoral support in key countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom. These declines prompted soul-searching on the European left, which took different forms in different countries. One common conclusion, however, was that as neoliberalism spread and economies around the world changed dramatically, traditional social democratic politics seemed outdated to many voters. Across the Atlantic, in the United States, the Democratic Party, led by President Bill Clinton, responded by shifting to the right, plotting a “third way” that accommodated market-friendly neoliberal policies. Impressed by Clinton’s success, social democratic parties in Europe followed his lead. In the United Kingdom, Tony Blair won election as prime minister in 1997 by promising a more growth-friendly “New Labour” party. In Germany, Gerhard Schroeder followed suit, leading his Social Democratic Party to victory in 1998 promising to lead from the Neue Mitte (New Center), the label he chose to describe his version of Blair’s approach.

The key intellectual shift shared by the many different third-way currents that emerged in the 1990s was their application of pro-market policies to almost every area of governing. Third-way proponents saw social security systems not primarily as insurance against major life risks, such as unemployment, illness, and infirmity, but rather as a means of economic reintegration. Their goal was to transform the social safety net into a trampoline, focused less on addressing the immediate needs of the poor and disadvantaged and more on helping such people rapidly rejoin the economy. In practice, these reforms increased the risk that the unemployed would face permanent downward mobility, with the government subsidizing their reentry into the very bottom end of the labor market.

Still, in electoral terms, the third way worked well, at least for a time. By the end of the 1990s, social democrats led most of the EU states. But although embracing more neoliberal policies led to success at the ballot box, social democrats soon suffered the consequences of abandoning their traditional political identities. All political movements can benefit from periods of reflection and renewal, and social democrats had — and still have — plenty of lessons to learn from conservatives, Greens, and liberals. But to many voters, the extent to which social democrats had changed their stripes represented an opportunistic betrayal of their core beliefs that left them almost indistinguishable from their political competitors.

Such accusations took their toll, but the weakness of the third way became undeniable only after the financial crisis. Suddenly, traditional social democratic warnings about the inherent instability of markets — the kind of talk that third-way leaders such as Blair had left behind — seemed prescient, not old-fashioned. But because social democratic leaders had spent the previous two decades adopting, rather than adapting, neglecting to develop a true alternative to neoliberalism’s insistence on unfettered markets, the crisis found them intellectually unprepared. Even worse, many social democrats in government, including those in Germany and the United Kingdom, had pushed through various forms of financial deregulation, leading voters to view them as collaborators in a failed system.


The self-inflicted political wounds of the social democrats have proved so deep that even five years after the financial crisis exposed the flaws of the third way, they have still not figured out how to move past their embrace of neoliberal economic policy and present a coherent political alternative. Today, while they should be riding high, the social democrats appear overwhelmed by the rapid change that is taking place around them — just like almost every other group in the European political ecosystem.

The eurozone crisis requires bold decisions and steps toward further European integration that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. The European Union’s usual course of action — muddling through — has reached its limits, and Europe’s citizens, many of whom are suffering severe economic hardship, are confused and disillusioned. To have any chance of leading their countries out of this morass, Europe’s social democrats must redefine their political identities and rebuild their credibility — and they must do so quickly.

To accomplish those goals in the midst of a continent-wide political crisis, social democrats must abandon their recent obsession with short-term electoral tactics and return to their political and ideological roots, offering voters in their countries a vision of a “good society.” The core social democratic values of freedom, equality, and social justice should be the guiding ideals for a good society that recalibrates the relationship among citizens, the economy, and the state. A dynamic and sustainable economy must be not an end in itself but a means to improve the lives of all citizens, not just a few at the top. The allocation of income and wealth in many places today has little to do with people’s performance; it is mostly the result of power and influence. A good society would reinstate the performance principle. And in an era in which an increasing number of citizens feel alienated from the political process, it is important to offer new opportunities for people to shape the societies they live in.

In addition to ending the social democrats’ ill-fated detour into neoliberal policies, moving toward a good-society approach would require a break with the political techniques of the third way. During the last two decades, social democratic politics took on a transactional character. Based on the findings of opinion polls and focus groups, third-way adherents developed policies and rhetoric they hoped would cater to the preexisting preferences of small segments of electoral “customers.”

It should have come as no surprise that retrofitting the techniques of retail marketing to electoral strategy would not make for coherent politics — it rarely makes for good business, either. Steve Jobs, the visionary founder of Apple, understood this well. When asked by his biographer, Walter Isaacson, why he refused to rely on traditional market research, Jobs replied, “Some people say, ‘Give the customers what they want.’ But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. . . . People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Europe’s social democrats should heed Jobs’ advice and craft a new and convincing political agenda that reflects their core values, rather than trying to reverse-engineer a platform that just reflects what opinion research suggests the public wants to hear.

An electoral strategy based on articulating core social democratic values would also offer a tactical advantage. As European societies become more culturally and socially fragmented, trying to target particular groups of voters with tailored messages means chasing ever-smaller segments of society with ever-narrower messages. This divide-and-conquer approach served third-way politicians well during the years of stability and prosperity. But during a crisis or a prolonged period of instability, it has prevented social democratic parties from putting forward broad-based platforms that could unite otherwise diverse social groups around a single economic and political vision. Opting for a clear, consistent message based on core values would help social democrats differentiate themselves and their ideas in the chaotic political environment of today’s Europe.


Of course, redefining social democracy will be a slow process, constrained by the limits of day-to-day politics. The task will also be complicated by the fact that social democrats’ competitors can also adapt. Indeed, some center-right leaders, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have taken a page from the third-way strategists and begun making populist appeals based on ideas from the social democratic tradition. In stark contrast to the austerity measures Merkel wants the EU to apply to other member states, Merkel’s domestic agenda promises rent control, increased benefits for couples with children, and more government investment in education and infrastructure. Merkel’s support for such policies helped prevent Germany’s opposition Social Democratic Party from making a strong showing in the national elections in September. The election results also demonstrated that simply being in opposition does not necessarily mean social democrats will gain significant ground; between 2009 and 2013, Merkel’s party increased its share of the votes for parliamentary seats by 7.7 percent, whereas the Social Democratic Party’s increase was a mere 2.7 percent. The lesson is that it can take more than just spending a term in opposition for social democrats to figure out how to improve their political fortunes.

And even in the rare cases in which social democrats have regained power, such as in France, they are learning that winning an election is not the same as governing successfully. François Hollande’s victory was an important step for Europe’s social democrats. But the French president’s rocky first year in office, during which he saw his popular approval ratings plummet, demonstrated that winning an election is not the same as governing effectively and that leaders should not mistake the weakness of their political opposition for their own strength. European social democracy is not just a platform for winning elections but a political philosophy that aims to transform society for the better based on an agenda that can command broad support.

Nevertheless, social democrats will have to stage an electoral comeback in order to effect the changes they seek. The coming year will witness important elections for the European Parliament and a national election in Sweden; social democrats have a realistic shot at doing well in both contests. The following year, national elections in the United Kingdom will offer social democrats perhaps their best chance to retake power in a major European country.

But if Europe’s social democrats are to have a real shot at winning office and governing successfully, they need to think big. Rhetorical adjustments will not suffice, nor will simply rebranding third-way ideas for the current situation. To finally seize the moment, social democrats need to return to their roots and offer Europeans a vision of a good society, one that can redeem the promise of social justice and a prosperous economy.

HENNING MEYER is Editor of Social Europe Journal and a Research Associate at the Public Policy Group at the London School of Economics.



Policy= res publica

Bärbel Freudenberg-PilsterFreudenberg-Pilster* Geheimer Krieg

Drohnen, Militärstützpunkte, Geheimdienste

Wie von Deutschland aus der Kampf gegen den Terror gesteuert wird. Eine Serie der Süddeutschen Zeitung und des NDR – im Fernsehen, in der Zeitung und auf

See att.(s. Anlage)



Politics: From Vision to Action* Lavrov confirms arms deal with Egypt

DEBKAfile November 15, 2013, 7:49 PM (GMT+02:00)

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and a Rosoboronexport official Mikhail Zavaly confirmed DEBKAfile’s reports about a large-scale sale of Russian arms to Egypt worth, they said, $2 bn. It would include advanced helicopters, air and missile defense systems and MiG-29/M2 warplanes. Negotiations are still ongoing on the MiGs. Some of the items were kept under wraps. The export agency official commented: “There is never a vacuum on the international arms market. If one supplier goes away, then another one appears.



Suter* Yahoo follows Google in planning data encryption to block snooping

This undated photo provided by Google shows a Google data center in Hamina, Finland. The Washington Post reported last month that the

National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world. (AP Photo/Google

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo (YHOO) is expanding its efforts to protect its users‘ online activities from prying eyes by encrypting all the communications and other information flowing into the Internet company’s data centers around the world.

The commitment announced Monday by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer follows a recent Washington Post report that the National Security Agency has been hacking into the communications lines of the data centers run by Yahoo and Google (GOOG) to intercept information about what people do and say online.

Yahoo had previously promised to encrypt its email service by early January. Now, the Sunnyvale company plans to have all data encrypted by the end of March to make it more difficult for unauthorized parties to decipher the information.

Google began to encrypt its Gmail service in 2010 and has since introduced the security measure on many other services. The Mountain View company has promised to encrypt the links to its data centers, too. A Google engineer said that task had been completed in a post on his Google Plus account earlier this month, but the company hasn’t yet confirmed all the encryption work is done.

Other documents leaked to various media outlets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden this year have revealed that Yahoo, Google and several other prominent technology companies, including Microsoft, Facebook and Apple (AAPL), have been feeding the U.S. government some information about their international users under a court-monitored program called PRISM. The companies maintain they have only surrendered data about a very small number of users, and have only cooperated when legally required.

The NSA says its online surveillance programs have played an instrumental role in thwarting terrorism.

The increased use of encryption technology is aimed at stymieing government surveillance that may be occurring without the companies‘ knowledge. Even when it’s encrypted, online data can still be heisted, but the information looks like gibberish without the decoding keys.

"I want to reiterate what we have said in the past: Yahoo has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency," Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wrote in a Monday post on the company’s Tumblr blog.

Facebook also has said it’s cloaking its social networking network with greater encryption, but hasn’t publicly set a timetable for getting all the added protection in place.

Debunking the perception that the NSA and other U.S. government agencies can easily vacuum up potentially sensitive information about people’s online lives is important to Yahoo, Google and other Internet companies because they need Web surfers to regularly use their services so they can sell more of the digital ads that bring in most of their revenue.

The companies fear the government spying revelations eventually will drive some people away from their services and make it more difficult to attract more users outside the U.S. If that were to happen, it could slow the companies‘ financial growth and undercut their stock prices.

Yahoo has been struggling to boost its revenue for years, making it even more important for the company to reassure its 800 million users worldwide about the sanctity of their personal information.



Middle East

The Day After: Iran’s Quiet Taliban Diplomacy Reflects Preparations for a Post-U.S. Afghanistan

“….Iran quickly emerged as an important source of diplomatic, economic and humanitarian support to the U.S.-backed Karzai government….”

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 21

November 14, 2013 02:17 PM Age: 23 hrs

Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Featured, Iran

By: Chris Zambelis

Afghan Taliban members (Source The Guardian)

In many respects, the ascendance of Hassan Rouhani to the Iranian presidency has raised optimism for the prospects of a limited rapprochement between the United States and Iran. This is the case even as the United States and Iran stand diametrically opposed on a host of critical issues. Analysts and journalists continue to pay close attention to the peculiarities of Iranian foreign policy, with subjects such as the diplomacy surrounding its nuclear ambitions, its alliances with the Ba’athist regime in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon and its rivalry with Israel and Saudi Arabia tending to attract the most coverage. In contrast, Iran’s posture toward its eastern neighbor Afghanistan has received short shrift. In light of the ongoing drawdown of the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) deployment and plans to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the future of Afghanistan is very much in question.

Given the historic animosity between Iran and the Taliban and Iran’s avowed friendship with the regime of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, signs that the longtime enemies may have forged ahead with a quiet diplomatic track independent of other political proceedings have fueled speculation about Iran’s intentions toward Afghanistan. These developments have surfaced at a particularly difficult juncture for the Karzai regime. To date, the Karzai regime’s attempts to engage the Taliban in peace talks have proved fruitless. While the Taliban has accepted the principle of peace negotiations, it has rejected Kabul’s advances. Its official position is that it will not enter into formal peace talks with its Afghan adversaries while foreign troops are in Afghanistan (TOLO News [Kabul], June 23; al-Jazeera [Doha], June 19). These reports have also come during a period of heightened tensions between Washington and Kabul over a number of issues. The Karzai regime has raised concerns regarding the scope of U.S. military activities in Afghanistan and Washington’s diplomatic approach to the Taliban. The United States has signaled its readiness to engage the Taliban in fostering a peace agreement, acquiescing in principle in 2012 to the establishment of a formal representation in Doha, Qatar, to facilitate the Taliban’s participation in peace negotiations with Kabul (see Terrorism Monitor, February 12, 2012).

Afghan authorities have raised concerns about Iran’s motives in dealing with the Taliban through the Qatar-based representation. The Karzai regime perceives attempts by foreign outside actors, such as Iran and the United States, to interact unilaterally with the Taliban as an affront to its sovereignty and legitimacy (Hasht-e-Sobh [Kabul], June 4). The Karzai regime is furious over a number of actions taken by the Taliban’s Qatar-based representatives, such as the Taliban’s decision to hoist its flag outside of its Doha office along with a sign reading “Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” The office was supposed to have opened as the “Afghan Taliban Political Office in Doha.” For Kabul, these actions demonstrate the Taliban’s true intention: operating a shadow government-in-exile to undermine Kabul’s authority (TOLO News, June 24). The timing of the Taliban’s provocative actions in Qatar is also telling. In an attempt to humiliate the Karzai regime, they coincided with NATO’s formal handover of security responsibilities to Afghan authorities (TOLO News, June 24; al-Jazeera, June 18). Reports of diplomatic contacts between Iran and the Taliban have also occurred amid efforts between Pakistan and the Taliban’s ideological progeny the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to begin peace talks (Dawn [Karachi], May 23). Given this context, reports suggesting that the Taliban dispatched a diplomatic delegation to Tehran in late May to participate in secret talks with Iranian officials merit closer scrutiny (Fars News Agency [Tehran], June 1).

Mixed Signals

Iran and the Taliban have issued different accounts of the circumstances behind their alleged talks. Iran’s Fars News Agency was the first media outlet to report on the meetings, though the report did not disclose many details about the nature of the meetings. However, it did state that the Taliban delegation met with Iranian security officials and underlined Iran’s commitment toward fostering peace in Afghanistan. The report also mentioned that a separate delegation of Taliban officials had traveled to Iran earlier in the year to attend Iran’s annual Islamic Awakening conference in April (Fars News Agency, June 1). The political delegation representing the Taliban is said to have consisted of Sayyid Tayyab Agha, Mawlawi Shabuddin Delawar and Shir Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai, although some reports claimed that additional officials travelled with the delegation (Arman-e-Melli [Kabul], June 12; Fars News Agency, June 1). These three representatives operate out of the Taliban’s formal political mission in Qatar, which was inaugurated in June (al-Jazeera, June 18). Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi dismissed reports that the aforementioned talks had taken place (Press TV [Tehran], June 2). In a possible attempt to divert attention away from the events in Tehran while also assuaging the concerns of the Karzai regime, Iran announced that it opposed the principle of discussions between the United States and the Taliban and any other proceedings that do not include the active participation of Kabul (Press TV, June 22).

While Iran has remained coy about its dealings with the Taliban, an official statement issued by the Voice of Jihad, the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (a.k.a. the Afghan Taliban), provided further details. In the statement, Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yusuf Ahmadi confirmed the initial reports published in Iranian media describing the aforementioned diplomatic meetings to discuss what he called “issues of mutual interest.” The statement did not contain additional details about the topics discussed during the purported diplomatic talks. It did acknowledge that Taliban representatives delivered a speech during the Islamic Awakening Conference that addressed a variety of topics, including the political demands of the Taliban, the current situation in Afghanistan and the plight of Afghan refugees in Iran. The statement added that the Taliban had previously participated in international forums held in France and Japan and that the Islamic Emirate is eager to cooperate with its neighbors on the basis of “mutual respect.” [1] Iran has hosted Taliban delegations during previous Islamic Awakening Conferences that included former ranking members of the organization. Iran’s dealings with the Taliban in this capacity are likely to have been intended to cultivate influence within the various Taliban factions and to outflank other major actors with a stake in Afghanistan (such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) in the lead-up to a negotiated peace framework to end the war in Afghanistan (al-Jazeera, January 3, 2012).

Afghan media reactions reflected the uncertainty surrounding the purported meetings by offering varied descriptions of the events in question. According to one account, the Taliban officials dispatched to Tehran were operating under what was labeled to be “great U.S. influence.” The same report also stated that Iranian officials implored their Afghan counterparts to devote themselves to politics and participate in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled to be held in April, 2014 (Weesa [Kabul], June 9). Another report alleged that the Taliban operates an official liaison office in Tehran. The same report also suggested that the extent of the political relationship between Iran and the Taliban includes regular contacts (Afghan Channel 1 [Kabul], June 2).

Background to Rapprochement

Enmity has marked Iran’s relationship with the Taliban over the years. The Taliban’s style of ultraconservative Sunni fundamentalism has always been hostile to Shia Iran. The Taliban view Shia believers as heretics and apostates. The Taliban’s brutal treatment of Afghan Shia minorities such as the ethnic Hazara community, which has endured persecution and atrocities, reveals the extent of its hostility toward Shia Islam. Iran threatened to invade Afghanistan in 1998 following the Taliban’s killing of Iranian diplomats in Mazar-e-Sharif in September of that year. Iran’s longtime support in coordination with Russia and India for the opposition Northern Alliance – the numerous militias that resisted Taliban rule from parts of northern Afghanistan over the years leading up to the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, is another source of antagonism between Iran and the Taliban. Iran’s antipathy for the Taliban was strong enough to disregard its hostility towards the United States: Iran lent the United States intelligence support to aid the U.S. objective of toppling the Taliban and neutralizing al-Qaeda during Operation Enduring Freedom. Iran quickly emerged as an important source of diplomatic, economic and humanitarian support to the U.S.-backed Karzai government. In regards to their shared antipathy towards the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Iranian and U.S. interests on Afghanistan, on the surface, have largely converged. However, the steady upsurge in tension between Iran and the United States, combined with a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, would eventually raise questions about possible Iranian involvement in aiding and abetting Taliban operations targeting U.S. forces (see Terrorism Monitor, November 6, 2009).

Geopolitical Considerations

Questions remain regarding the extent (or veracity) of the political contacts forged between Iran and the Taliban in recent months. Nevertheless, what is clear is that Iran’s interests and influence in Afghanistan are extensive. A sizeable segment of Iran’s population shares ethnic, cultural, religious and language ties with millions of Afghans. As a consequence of their geographic proximity, the deterioration of Afghanistan has impacted Iran profoundly on numerous levels. Over one million Afghan refugees currently reside in Iran (Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), November 1). The expansion of the Afghan opium trade – Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer – is blamed for being a contributing factor in the high prevalence of opium consumption among Iranians. Iran is widely believed to have the highest rate of opium addicts per capita in the world (Economist [London], August 13). Iran also struggles to secure its border with Afghanistan, which serves as a busy transit point for narcotics, arms and human smugglers. These issues remain points of contention between Iran and the Taliban even while both sides appear to be engaging in back-channel diplomacy. For example, the Taliban publicly condemned Iran for the killing of Afghan migrants in May by Iranian security officers who had strayed into Iranian territory from Afghanistan. The Taliban also advised Iran to approach future incidents through a consideration of neighborly rights and Islamic values. [2]

The fluctuating geopolitics of the Middle East is also shaping Iran’s approach toward the Taliban. Given their history of animosity, Iran has an interest in mitigating potential security threats emanating from the Taliban. Iran is wary of a resurgent Taliban that is likely to emerge as the dominant actor in Afghanistan (and, potentially, Pakistan) following the withdrawal of U.S.-led NATO forces. The growing politicization of sectarianism in the Middle East is also affecting Iran’s outlook. Iran’s support for Syria and Hezbollah has rendered it a target of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies that are themselves lending supporting to hardline Salafist and other Sunni extremist currents around the Arab world and greater Middle East.

Iran is experiencing a renewed bout of terrorist and insurgent violence in its southeastern province of Sistan-Balochistan by an obscure militant current that blends ethnic Baloch nationalism with an extremist Salafist discourse that is virulently anti-Shia and evocative of al-Qaeda’s kind of radicalism. The emergence of the Harakat Ansar Iran (Movement of the Partisans of Iran) and, more recently, Jaysh al-Adl (Army of Justice), appear to seek inspiration from the now defunct Jundallah (Soldiers of God) movement that was implicated in scores of attacks against Iranian security and civilian targets in recent years. Iran has accused Saudi Arabia, among others, of supporting these organizations (al-Jazeera, November 7; see Terrorism Monitor, November 15, 2012). Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries (the other two being Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates [UAE]) to have recognized the Taliban before the September 11, 2001, attacks. As a result, Iran would be well served to reach an accommodation with the Taliban, even on limited terms, so as to outmaneuver Saudi Arabia on issues that affect Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria.

On a more subtle level, Iran is also looking to position itself as an indispensable force for stability in Afghanistan following the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces. This amplifies Iran’s diplomatic leverage on a host of issues that extend beyond Afghanistan, including future deliberations over its nuclear program, the future of Syria and the removal of economic sanctions. Iran is also likely to be looking to bolster its position in light of growing regional and international interests – political, security, and economic – that are rapidly expanding their respective footholds in Afghanistan, particularly those of Pakistan, China, India and Russia (National [Abu Dhabi], May 5). By the same token, Iran may also be seeking to cultivate contacts and sympathetic figures within the Taliban should the situation in Afghanistan destabilize further after the eventual withdrawal of U.S.-led NATO forces.


For its part, the Taliban also seems committed to working with Iran for the purposes of enhancing its diplomatic leverage in the current political environment with an eye on the day after the foreign forces depart Afghanistan. The Taliban may also be trying to weaken Iran’s relationship with the Karzai regime and other traditionally anti-Taliban factions. According to one assessment, the Taliban’s outreach to Iran is designed to persuade Iran to refrain from providing support to anti-Taliban forces when foreign forces leave Afghanistan. The Taliban delegation is reported to have assured its Iranian counterparts that factions representing different ethnic, religious and political groups will be formally represented in any future post-NATO order (Pajhwok Afghan News [Kabul], June 3). Moreover, the political optics surrounding its alleged dealings with Iran was not lost on the Taliban. Cognizant of the Karzai regime’s current difficulties and its unease over the progression of regional diplomacy toward a peace agreement in Afghanistan, the Taliban touted a sampling of observations produced by analysts and journalists that present its position in a positive light in contrast to Kabul’s diminishing prospects in a report issued on its official website. [3] The report highlighted commentary published by Western and regional media outlets that portrayed the Taliban’s recent dealings with Iran as a sign of its growing international legitimacy in contrast to Kabul’s declining diplomatic leverage and growing nervousness over the course of regional events. It also referenced reports that described the Taliban’s representation in Qatar as serving the role of an official embassy.

Uncertainty continues to cloud the claims describing Iran’s back-channel exchanges with the Taliban. But the political sensitivities involved are conducive to surreptitious dealings, even on matters of great strategic importance. With Afghanistan expected to endure an especially tense and difficult 2014, its long-term future is as likely to be shaped by decisions concluded behind closed doors as ones made in the view of the Afghan public.

Chris Zambelis is a Senior Analyst specializing in Middle East affairs for Helios Global, Inc., a risk management group based in the Washington, D.C. area. He is also the director of World Trends Watch, Helios Global’s geopolitical practice area.


1. See “Remarks of Qari Yousuf Ahmadi regarding visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran by delegations of Islamic Emirate,” Voice of Jihad (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), June 4, 2013,

2. See “Declaration of the Islamic Emirate regarding the incidents in the border regions with Iran and Pakistan,” Voice of Jihad (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), May 13, 2013,

3. See “The official visit of Taliban to Iran in the eyes of the analysts,” Voice of Jihad (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), June 10, 2013, (accessed November 2013).





Wie souverän ist Deutschland?

Die Recherchen zum geheimen Krieg der USA zeigen: Auf deutschem Boden existieren offenkundig zwei Staatsgewalten – die deutsche und die amerikanische. Wenn die Deutschen das Schalten und Walten der US-Geheimdienste tolerieren, akzeptieren, respektieren, wirft das die Frage nach ihrer Souveränität auf.

Ein Kommentar von Heribert Prantl

Moderne Staaten haben sich der Könige entledigt, aber nicht der Souveränität, so sagt der deutsche Europarechtler und Rechtsphilosoph Ulrich Haltern. Aber was bedeuten Souveränität und Selbstbestimmung heute? Ist Souveränität nur noch ein Habitus, eine Art von staatsmännischer Gelassenheit? Ist es also souverän, wenn es die Bundesregierung hinnimmt, dass die USA von deutschem Boden aus Krieg führen? Ist es souverän, wenn die Bundesanwaltschaft dabei zuschaut? Ist es souverän, dass die deutschen Staatsgewalten das geheimkriegerische Schalten und Walten der Amerikaner tolerieren, akzeptieren, respektieren?

Ist Souveränität die Gabe der deutschen Autoritäten, das alles zu ertragen, was derzeit in der Süddeutschen Zeitung und dem NDR (‚Der geheime Krieg‚) an Merk- und Denkwürdigkeiten beschrieben wird – weil es nur um den Preis größter Aufregung und eines Zerwürfnisses mit der Weltmacht und dem Nato-Partner USA zu ändern wäre? Wenn dies Souveränität ist, würde das bedeuten: Souverän ist, wer vergisst, was nur schwer zu ändern ist. Das wäre dann eine sehr souveräne Insouveränität.

Geheimer Krieg Deutschlands Rolle im "Kampf gegen den Terror"

Eine Serie der Süddeutschen Zeitung und des NDR +++ Deutschland zahlt Millionen für US-Militär +++ US-Konzerne haben Geheimdienstaufträge in Deutschland +++ Sonderseite zum Projekt: +++ alle Artikel finden Sie hier: +++ englische Version hier +++

Wer ist der Souverän? In der Demokratie ist der Souverän nicht ein König, sondern das Volk. So steht als Kernsatz auch im Grundgesetz : "Alle Staatsgewalt geht vom Volke aus", heißt es dort in Artikel 20. Das Volk ist in der Demokratie das Subjekt, in dem Recht und Macht zusammenfallen. Aber jedenfalls das deutsche Volk und die deutsche Volksvertretung wissen nichts oder fast nichts davon, dass von Deutschland aus US-Drohnen gesteuert werden, dass hier eine US-Logistik zur Folterung und Exekution von Menschen sitzt; schon gar nicht haben sie das gebilligt. Ist es mit der Souveränität womöglich so mit der Wirtschaft, hat sie sich globalisiert? Wenn es so wäre, dann könnte das ja nicht nur eine einseitige Angelegenheit sein – dann müsste es nicht nur US-Staatsgewalt in Deutschland geben, sondern deutsche Staatsgewalt auch in den USA, so wie es dort (oder in China oder in Russland) deutsche Autos gibt. Souveränität hat sich nicht globalisiert. Sie sieht allerdings ganz anders aus als früher.

Es hat einen Entstaatlichungsprozess gegeben – das bekannteste Kürzel dafür heißt Europäische Union. Die Nationalstaaten sind von dem dichten Geflecht einer EU-Rechts- und Quasi-Verfassungsordnung umgeben, dazu auch noch von vielen internationalen Vertragswerken eingehüllt. Die Staatsrechtler und die Politikwissenschaftler reden daher von ‚offenen Staaten‘ und von einer ‚Welt jenseits des Staates‘; sie konstatieren eine Postnationalisierung des Verfassungsrechts, sie reden von einem europarechtlich überlagerten Grundgesetz und einer relativierten Staatlichkeit. Mit dieser relativierten Staatlichkeit ringt auch das Bundesverfassungsgericht in jeder seiner Euro-Entscheidungen: Wie viel Hoheit braucht der Staat, um noch als Staat zu existieren?

Der Nationalstaat ist nicht tot, aber entzaubert. Das ist, angesichts der blutigen Geschichte dieser Nationalstaaten, gewiß nicht schlecht. Die Exzesse eines fast mystisch aufgeladenen Staatlichkeit hatten sich im alten, klassischen Konzept von Souveränität niedergeschlagen. Heute sind Deutschland und Co weit entfernt von der absoluten Befehls- und Selbstbestimmungmacht, von der "summa soluta potestas" – die einst, im 16. Jahrhundert, der Staatstheoretikter Jean Bodin als den Inhalt von Souveränität beschrieben hat. Die modernen Staaten, die in Europa zumal, haben Teile ihrer Herrschaftsgewalt delegiert und dafür die Möglichkeit erhalten, internationale Politik und internationales Recht zu gestalten.

Mit diesem neuen Konzept ist aber das rigorose Schalten und Walten der USA in Deutschland kaum zu erklären. Dieses Schalten und Walten legitimiert sich allenfalls zum Teil durch Verträge, also durch das souveräne Verhandeln zweier Staaten. Die Legitimation der US-Militär- und Geheimdienstlogistik in Deutschland besteht offenbar auch in ihrer schieren Existenz. Muss man das – mit Carl Schmitt, dem umstrittensten Staatsrechtslehrer des 20. Jahrhunderts – einfach als Faktum respektieren? Carl Schmitt hat in seiner Verfassungslehre gechrieben: "Was als politische Größe existiert, ist, juristisch betrachtet, wert, dass es existiert".

Es existieren offensichtlich zwei Staatsgewalten in Deutschland: erstens die deutsche, und zwar in der Gestalt, die ihr die EU- und andere Verträge gegeben haben; daneben zweitens die US-amerikanische, in nicht genau bekannter Form. Mit zwei nebeneinander existierenden Macht- und Herrschaftssystemen gibt es freilich in Deutschland reiche Erfahrungen: Jahrhunderte lange waren das zuerst Kaiser und Papst, dann Staat und Kirche.

CS Monitor: After NSA spying revelations, US must reform rules on secrecy and data

The US should make two key reforms. First, the over-designation of material as classified makes it is harder to protect the few real secrets; this must be change. Second, the FISA court must become a gatekeeper for NSA access to communications data.

Pacific Palisades, Calif. — Some good may come from the fallout over Edward Snowden’s revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has collected massive amounts of personal communications data in the name of counterterrorism. The leaks may prompt the United States to undertake a needed re-examination of how material becomes classified and how communications data is safeguarded.

First, the way in which materials are branded as secret should be rethought. Because so much is classified, it is harder to protect the few real secrets. As a lifetime national security student and practitioner, who has held top-secret clearances for more than 40 years, I can say that the federal government classifies far too much material. And while the damage caused by the Snowden leaks appears to be significant, other famous leak cases demonstrate that not all documents that are classified are designated as such because their release would cause national security damage.

Geheimer Krieg – Drohnen, Militrsttzpunkte, Geheimdienste –
Asia Times Online _ Scowcroft, Brzezinski urge Iran accord.pdf