Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 20/06/14

Massenbach-Letter

Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

· Russian and Saudi contacts resulted in scripted and strangely identical responses that claimed that Saudi Arabia and Russia were discussing a power-sharing resolution for Syria. (STRATFOR *The Intrigue Lying Behind Iraq’s Jihadist Uprising*)

· International Community Should ‘Prepare for Peace’ in Syria and Throughout Region — World Bank Group President*

· World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan*

· StrategicStudies 3. 2014: Early Warning – Africa’s Pivotal Place in the Pacific Re-Balance (attachment)

· In diplomatic breakthrough, UK to re-open Iran embassy*

· Europeans seeking Iranian gas supplies*

· Umfrage: Ein Viertel der Europäer findet, dass allgemeine und berufliche Bildung hinter den Anforderungen zurückbleiben*

Massenbach* Regional Implications of the War in Syria*

The civil war between Assad and his opponents has steadily transformed into a global jihad.

Download PDF

Three-and-a-half years into the civil war in Syria, the conflict has become a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. It threatens to tear the region apart along sectarian lines. It has injected new oxygen into groups and movements driven by violent Islamist ideologies, including but by no means limited to groups formally associated with al-Qaeda. Indeed, we are now faced with a sharp rise in violent extremism from within both the radical Sunni and Shiite camps. As Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently noted, we can expect an increase in political uncertainty and violence across the region in 2014. There are many reasons this will be the case, not all of which are directly tied to the war in Syria.

Three types of fallout from the war in particular are certain to cause significant spillover of one kind or another. The first is the flow of foreign fighters to Syria from across the Middle East and the impact this dynamic is certain to have on regional stability. The second is the especially pernicious sectarian nature of the conflict at hand. The third is the sharp increase in dangerous macro trends, from refugees and population displacement to poverty, hunger, and lack of adequate health care, that create conditions conducive to violence and instability…

Download the PDF to read the full article.

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/regional-implications-of-the-war-in-syria

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STRATFOR *The Intrigue Lying Behind Iraq’s Jihadist Uprising*

By Reva Bhalla

Events in Iraq over the past week were perhaps best crystallized in a series of photos produced by the jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Sensationally called The Destruction of Sykes-Picot, the pictures confirmed the group’s intent to upend nearly a century of history in the Middle East.

In a series of pictures set to a purring jihadist chant, the mouth of a bulldozer is shown bursting through an earthen berm forming Iraq’s northern border with Syria. Keffiyeh-wrapped rebels, drained by the hot sun, peer around the edges of the barrier to observe the results of their work. The breach they carved was just wide enough for the U.S.-made, Iraqi army-owned and now jihadist-purloined Humvees to pass through in single file. While a charter outlining an antiquated interpretation of Sharia was being disseminated in Mosul, #SykesPicotOver trended on jihadist Twitter feeds. From the point of view of Iraq’s jihadist celebrities, the 1916 borders drawn in secret by British and French imperialists represented by Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot to divide up Mesopotamia are not only irrelevant, they are destructible.

Today, the most ardent defenders of those colonial borders sit in Baghdad, Damascus, Ankara, Tehran and Riyadh while the Europeans and Americans, already fatigued by a decade of war in this part of the world, are desperately trying to sit this crisis out. The burden is on the regional players to prevent a jihadist mini-emirate from forming, and beneath that common purpose lies ample room for intrigue.

Turkey Searches for a Strategy

With the jihadist threat fanning out from Syria to Iraq, Turkey is struggling to insulate itself from the violence and to follow a strategic agenda in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey has forged an alliance with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership in a direct challenge to Baghdad’s authority. With the consent of Turkey’s energy minister and to the outrage of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, two tankers carrying a few million barrels of Kurdish crude left the Turkish port of Ceyhan in search of a buyer just as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant was ratcheting up its offensive. Upping the ante, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced June 16 that a third tanker would be loaded within the week. With al-Maliki now relying on Kurdish peshmerga support to fend off jihadists in the north, Ankara and Arbil have gained some leverage in their ongoing dispute with Baghdad over the distribution of energy revenue. But Turkey’s support for Iraqi Kurds also has limits.

Ankara had planned to use a tighter relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government to exploit northern Iraq’s energy reserves and to manage Kurdish unrest within its own boundaries. However, Turkey never intended to underwrite Kurdish independence. And with Kirkuk now in Kurdish hands as a result of the jihadist surge, the largest oil field in northern Iraq stands ready to fuel Kurdish secessionist tendencies. Much to Turkey’s dismay, Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Workers‘ Party and the People’s Protection Units are already reinforcing peshmerga positions in northern Iraq. At the same time, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and its jihadist affiliates are holding 80 Turkish citizens hostage.

Turkey will thus enlarge its footprint in Mesopotamia, but not necessarily on its own terms. Some 1,500 to 2,000 Turkish forces have maintained a quiet presence in Iraqi Kurdistan. That force will likely expand now that Turkey has an array of threats to justify such a presence and a growing need to temper Kurdish ambitions. Iraq’s Kurdish leadership will be reminded of their deep distrust for Turkey but will also be overwhelmed by its own challenges, not least of which is Turkey’s main regional competitor, Iran.

Iran on the Defensive

Unnerved by Turkey’s increasingly assertive Kurdish policy and possibly in anticipation of the expanding jihadist threat sweeping Iraq’s Sunni belt, Iran over the past several months has been expanding its military presence along its northern border with Iraq. Tehran now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of having to reinforce its Shiite allies in Iraq militarily. Though Iran has perhaps the most sophisticated and extensive militant proxy network in the region to do the job, this strategy carries enormous risks.

Iran has spent recent years painstakingly trying to consolidate Shiite influence in Iraq under a central authority in Baghdad. Tehran was never wedded to al-Maliki in particular, but it did need to maintain a strong enough foothold in Baghdad to manage Iraq’s naturally fractious Shiite landscape. Employing Shiite militias enables Iran to reinforce the Iraqi army in a time of urgent need but risks undermining Iran’s long-term strategy to manage Iraq through a firm hand in Baghdad. The more empowered the militias and the weaker Baghdad becomes, the harder Iran will have to work to keep a lid on separatist moves in Iraq’s Shiite south.

The militants rampaging through Iraq’s core Sunni territories will embrace deeper Iranian involvement in the conflict. There is no better motivation for Arab Sunni fighters of various ideological stripes than a call to arms against their historical Persian foes and their Arab Shiite allies. An outpouring of sectarian blood feuds will also make it all the more difficult for Iraq’s Shiite government to recruit enough allies among Iraq’s Sunni population to fight against the jihadists. Indeed, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant would not have been able to mount its lightning surge across Iraq had it not been for the substantial support it has received from local Sunni tribes who in turn receive substantial support and guidance from sponsors in the Persian Gulf. Our attention thus turns to the Saudi royals sitting quietly in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia Stirs the Pot

This has not been a good year for the Saudis. A Persian-American rapprochement is a living nightmare for the Sunni kingdom, as is the prospect of the United States becoming more self-sufficient in energy production. Saudi Arabia has little means to directly sabotage U.S.-Iranian negotiations. In fact, as we anticipated, the Saudis have had to swallow a bitter pill and open up their own dialogue with Iran. But the Saudis are also not without options to make life more difficult for Iran, and if Riyadh is going to be forced into a negotiation with Tehran, it will try to enter talks on its own terms.

Syria and Lebanon always make for useful proxy battlegrounds, though a Sunni rebellion has little chance of actually toppling the Iranian-backed regime in Damascus, and Lebanon is too fragmented for any one regional player to claim a decisive advantage. The contest has thus shifted back to Mesopotamia, where Iran cannot afford to see its Shiite gains slip and where Saudi Arabia — both the government and private citizens — has maintained strong ties with many of the Sunni tribes in Anbar and Mosul provinces that have facilitated the Sunni uprising. There is no love lost between the Saudis and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. In fact, the Saudis have branded it a terrorist organization and have even uncovered cells of the group on Saudi soil plotting against the kingdom.

But the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is also not the only group participating in the current offensive. Former Baathist fighters from the Naqshabandiyya Way along with Jaish al-Mujahideen and Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah are also playing a substantial role in the fighting. Most of the Sunni militias and the growing number of Awakening Council (Sunni fighters recruited by the United States to battle al Qaeda in Iraq) defectors joining these militias coordinate directly with the Majlis Thuwar al Anbar (Anbar insurgents‘ council), which in turn coordinates with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant on a selective basis. Saudi Arabia’s acting intelligence chief, Yousef bin Ali al Idrisis, is believed to be in direct communication with the Majlis Thuwar al Anbar, affording Riyadh the opportunity to influence the shape of the battlefield — and thereby to aggravate Iran in a highly sensitive spot.

As a bonus for Saudi Arabia, even as the Sunni uprising is largely confined to Iraq’s Sunni belt and thus unlikely to seriously upset Iraq’s production and exports from the Shiite south, the price of Brent crude has climbed to $113 a barrel for the first time this year. Saudi Arabia is not the only one that welcomes this bump in the price of oil; Russia is quite pleased with the outcome in Iraq as well.

Revisiting a Mysterious Meeting in Sochi

Just days before the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-led offensive in Iraq, a quiet meeting took place at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vacation spot in Sochi on June 3. Putin invited Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to see him and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who cut short an engagement in Moscow to get there on time. Details on the meeting are scarce. Our attempt to obtain information about the gathering from Russian and Saudi contacts resulted in scripted and strangely identical responses that claimed that Saudi Arabia and Russia were discussing a power-sharing resolution for Syria. The state-owned Saudi Press Agency then reported June 10 that Lavrov and al-Faisal had a follow-up phone conversation to discuss a Syrian settlement. Syria may well have been on the agenda, and Russia has an interest in protecting its influence in Damascus through a deal that keeps Syrian President Bashar al Assad in power, but we suspect there was more to these engagements.

Both Saudi Arabia and Russia share two key interests: undermining the U.S.-Iranian negotiating track and ensuring oil prices remain at a comfortable level, i.e., above $100 a barrel. There is little either can do to keep Iran and the United States from negotiating a settlement. In fact, the jihadist threat in Iraq creates another layer of cooperation between Iran and the United States. That said, Washington is now facing another major Middle Eastern maelstrom at the same time it has been anxiously trying to prove to itself and everyone else that the United States has bigger issues to deal with in other parts of the world, namely, in Russia’s backyard. Moreover, the United States and Turkey are not of one mind on how to manage Iraq at a time when Washington needs Ankara’s cooperation against Russia. If an Iraq-sized distraction buys Moscow time to manage its own periphery with limited U.S. interference, all the better for Putin. Meanwhile, if Saudi Arabia can weaken Iran and test U.S.-Iranian cooperation, it might well be worth the risk for Riyadh to try — at least for the time being.

A Lesson from History

Whether by mere coincidence, strategic design or a blend of the two, there are as many winners as there are losers in the Iraq game. Russia knows this game well. The United States, the heir to the Sykes-Picot map, will be forced to learn it fast.

When the French and British were colluding over the post-Ottoman map in 1916, czarist Russia quietly acquiesced as Paris and London divided up the territories. Just a year later, in 1917, the Soviets threw a strategic spanner into the Western agenda by publishing the Sykes-Picot agreement, planting the seeds for Arab insurrection and thus ensuring that Europe’s imperialist rule over the Middle East would be anything but easy. The U.S. administration recognizes the trap that has been laid. But more mindful of the region’s history this time around, Washington will likely leave it to the regional players to absorb most of the risk.

Editor’s Note: Writing in George Friedman’s stead this week is Reva Bhalla, vice president of Global Analysis.

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/intrigue-lying-behind-iraqs-jihadist-uprising?utm_source=freelist-f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20140617&utm_term=Gweekly&utm_content=readmore

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*In diplomatic breakthrough, UK to re-open Iran embassy*

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) – Britain plans to re-open its embassy in Iran, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday, saying it would soon establish a small initial presence in Tehran two and a half years after a mob ransacked its embassy there.

The announcement comes after the United States, a close ally of Britain, said it could launch air strikes and act jointly with its arch-enemy Iran to shore up the Iraqi government after a rampage by Sunni Islamist insurgents across Iraq that has scrambled alliances in the Middle East.

"I have … now decided the circumstances are right to reopen our embassy in Tehran," Hague said in a written statement to parliament. Hague said he had discussed the matter with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday.

http://www.zawya.com/story/In_diplomatic_breakthrough_UK_to_reopen_Iran_embassy-TR20140617nL5N0OY2BA2/?lok=094734140617&&zawyaemailmarketing

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Europeans seeking Iranian gas supplies*

Three European countries have filed requests to purchase gas from Iran.

Informed sources said on Sunday Switzerland recently approached the Iranian Oil Ministry officials for the start of negotiations over importing gas, Fars News Agency reported.

Greece has indirectly called for Iran’s gas exports since the European country’s officials believe Iran can transfer gas via Turkey and then to other countries across Europe.

Other countries, which have entered into direct gas talks with Iran, include Germany (a member of the world powers negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear program), Poland, Japan, Austria, Oman, Turkey and Iraq.

According to the sources, the European and other countries‘ officials and analysts believe Iran is the safest energy supplier in the world, especially after the Russia-Ukraine crisis threatens to stop Russian gas supplies to Europe.

The Iranian energy sector is facing unilateral US sanctions that punish any third party working with Iran.

They have dismissed US sanctions as inefficient, saying that they have numerous partners for trade and exports.

Some European countries have recently voiced interest in making investments in Iran’s energy sector after a gas deal was signed between Iran and Switzerland, regardless of US sanctions.

The National Iranian Gas Export Company and Switzerland’s Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg signed a 25-year deal in March 2010 for the annual delivery of 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas.

In mid-February, media reports said Ankara started talks with Iran for the construction of Iran-Turkey-Europe Natural Gas Pipeline Project (ITE) to deliver gas to Europe via Turkey.

The pipeline project is being considered by Turkey as international sanctions against Iran’s energy sector are declining following the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal with the world powers.

For transit of natural gas sourced in Iran through Turkey, the Iranian Oil Ministry and Turkey’s Energy and Natural Sources Ministry signed an "Agreement Protocol" on November 17, 2008.

The protocol also provides for Turkey to be able to procure its natural gas requirement from the pipeline under the project, if required.

The total length of the pipeline under the project is about 5,000 km. The length of the pipeline within the eastern and western borders of Turkey is about 1,750 km. The annual gas target for Europe under this project is 35 billion cubic meters.

Turkey’s part of the ITE Natural Gas Pipeline Project will be from the Turkey- Iran border to the Ipsala/Edirne Greece border, passing through Agri, Erzurum, Erzincan, Gumushane, Sivas, Yozgat, Kirsehir, Kirikkale, Ankara, Eskisehir, Bilecik, Kutahya, Bursa, Balikesir, Canakkale and Tekirdag.

Iran owns the world’s largest natural gas reserves after Russia and is also Turkey’s second biggest gas supplier after Russia.

http://www.zawya.com/story/Europeans_seeking_Iranian_gas_supplies-ZAWYA20140616053320/#utm_source=zawya&utm_medium=web&utm_content=related-news&utm_campaign=story

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* StrategicStudies 3. 2014: Early Warning – Africa’s Pivotal Place in the Pacific Re-Balance

(See attached file: 140408 Copley_Early Warning)

Volker Perthes: Europe in a Multipolar World JUN 9, 2014 – One aspect of the Ukraine crisis that both Russia and the West need to understand is that the rest of the world appears to be relatively unconcerned about it … world politics is no longer defined by what happens in Europe, even when a major conflict is brewing there. The international system has become so multi-polar that non-European states can now choose to follow their own interests rather than feel obliged to side with the East or the West … nearly one-third of the UN’s members sent an equally emphatic message by abstaining or not participating in a General Assembly vote condemning Russia’s actions … Even Western-friendly governments – including Brazil, India, South Africa, and Israel – were not prepared to take sides …

The implicit message from the new non-aligned is straightforward: Why should we care about a territorial conflict in Europe when you Europeans fail to act decisively on Palestine, Kashmir, or territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas?

Instead, many of these countries are calling on the West to de-escalate the crisis and, as an official Chinese foreign-ministry statement advocated, to “exercise restraint and refrain from raising tensions.” That is good advice – and no different from what Europeans tell others in similar situations. Unlike other regions of the world, however, Europe, including Russia, can be proud of its regional security organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); Europe needs to make them work … Russia has reminded the world that it is possible to bully one’s neighbors and steal their territory using brute force; but, in a globalized, multi-polar system, this alone will not be enough to rally other countries to its cause. And the EU, as a highly sophisticated paper tiger, would be no more attractive … If Europe wants to remain a pole in a multi-polar international system, it must prove that it can pursue a common foreign and security policy, particularly in times of crisis and conflict … That means that the EU must emerge … with a stronger commitment to common defense and joint contingency planning, and a unified energy policy that can secure independence from Russian oil and gas. But Europe must also show that it can, and will, defend the principles of rules-based international relations. Maintaining and strengthening the pillars of Europe’s common defense is not a simple task; but multilateral security organizations like the OSCE are not made for easy times. They are intended to protect members from manipulation and aggression, and in a way that can garner global support. In this sense, Europe’s main task now is to leverage its already considerable strategic assets.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/volker-perthes-proposes-two-scenarios-for-the-eu-s-global-role–with-the-test-coming-in-ukraine

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Suter* Education and training is not up to the job, say quarter of Europeans in survey

European Commission – IP/14/685 17/06/2014

Education and training is not up to the job, say quarter of Europeans in survey

A new Eurobarometer survey on the ‚European Area of Skills and Qualifications‘ (Special Eurobarometer 417) shows also that around a quarter (23%) of EU citizens feel that their education or training has not provided them with the skills to find a job in line with their qualifications. While over half of the respondents (56%) think their qualifications would be recognised in other Member States, 6% tried to work or study in another Member State but were unable to do so, either because their qualifications were not recognised by their prospective employer or education institution, or because the respondents lacked information about recognition of their qualifications abroad.

The survey’s findings are echoed by the results of a separate Commission online consultation, ‚Towards a European Area for Skills and Qualifications‘, aimed at education and training specialists. It collated views on the obstacles faced by people in having their skills and qualifications recognised across Europe and found that there is strong support for action to simplify European tools for recognition of skills and qualifications, to make them more coherent and easier to use, and to ensure a stronger focus on the needs of pupils, students, workers and employers. Respondents also call for more emphasis in education and training on what is learnt rather than the number of hours of instruction.

"Our objective is simple: everyone in Europe should be able to have their skills and qualifications understood and recognised, within and across national borders, by employers and educational institutions. They need to be recognised in a fair, comparable and transparent way, so that people’s skills and qualifications improve their employability or open the way for further learning," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

Over the years, various European initiatives have been put in place to promote the recognition of skills and qualifications, such as the European Qualifications Framework, systems for awarding and accumulating credits for coursework, quality assurance and documentation of skills and competences. But significant bottlenecks remain: implementation of the initiatives has been slow; there are still too many obstacles to educational and working mobility; and the current initiatives are not well adapted to developments in digital learning and ‚internationalisation‘ (student mobility between EU and non-EU countries, joint degrees awarded by universities in different countries).

Other findings from the Eurobarometer survey:

· The most important aspects of education and training, according to EU citizens, relate in particular to a teacher’s ability to engage and motivate students. This area is seen as needing the most improvement (51%). Other areas for improvement are learning environments to stimulate creativity and curiosity (41%), and practical work experience with a company or organisation (37%).

· A large majority of EU citizens (95%) consider that skills can be gained outside of formal education, particularly foreign language skills and skills that can be used in different jobs.

· Only 9% say they know the level of the European Qualifications Framework to which their qualifications correspond, and just 21% have heard of the European Qualifications Framework.

· Overall, when looking at a variety of tools that can be used to document skills and qualifications, awareness is generally low. The most commonly mentioned tool is the Europass CV (15%).

· In total, 44% of EU citizens say that they have looked for information of some kind on education, training or career guidance. Just over half of respondents (56%) say they found it at least quite easy to find the information they needed.

The results and implications of the consultation and the Eurobarometer survey will be presented and discussed at a conference on the European Area of Skills and Qualifications, taking place today in Brussels.

Background

The Eurobarometer survey was carried out in all 28 Member States between 26 April and 11 May; 28 000 people from different social and demographic groups were interviewed face-to-face.

The Commission’s online consultation, which ran from 17 December 2013 to 15 April 2014, received feedback from education and training experts in 36 countries (all Member States plus Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Australia).

Public consultation on the European Area for Skills and Qualifications

Special Eurobarometer Survey on the European Area for Skills and Qualifications

For more information

European Commission: Education and training

Androulla Vassiliou’s website

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-685_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_417_en.pdf

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Middle East

*International Community Should ‘Prepare for Peace’ in Syria and Throughout Region — World Bank Group President*

BEIRUT, June 3, 2014- While the war in Syria shows no sign of abating, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today told an audience of students and policymakers that it was time to “prepare for peace” in Syria and surrounding countries, citing similar efforts that began 70 years ago before the end of World War II.

“No one knows how or when this war in Syria will end – and sadly there are no signs of it ending anytime soon,” Kim said in a speech at the Ministry of Education in Beirut during a four-day trip to the Middle East. “But this is exactly the right time for us to prepare for the peace that surely will come. The international community, including the World Bank Group, the United Nations, and key donors, must put together a plan that will help not only Syria rebuild, but also will help Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq recover from the massive spillover effects of the war.”

In his speech, Kim spoke about the extensive planning for rebuilding Europe that began in 1944, even though there were no signs then that World War II was ending.

“Let me take you back to 70 years ago, to 1944, while the guns were still firing during World War II,” Kim said. “It was difficult to envision peace then – Europe was experiencing a scale of human tragedy that dimmed the hopes of Europeans the same age as you.”

But the international community started planning for Europe’s recovery and then spent billions of dollars in rebuilding the region when the war ended. The recovery was swift. Europe’s economic output in 1951 was 35 percent higher than before the war, he said. “We know that it’s possible to build back better, even after the most devastating conflicts.”

Today can be the 1944 moment for Syria and for the entire Arab world,” Kim said. “Today must be the day that the international community, led by Arab leaders, begins preparing for peace and economic opportunities in Syria and lays the groundwork for a more prosperous future for all people in this region.”

The World Bank Group President said that the plan to rebuild must include good governance, inclusive growth, sustainability, and quality education and health care.

He made a special point in thanking Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq for their role in taking in Syrian refugees. He said their generosity should be acknowledged around the world. In particular, he cited the extraordinary efforts made by Lebanon and Jordan, which together account for opening their borders to nearly 2 million refugees.

Kim acknowledged that many people might be skeptical of a hopeful message involving the future of Syria, but he argued that the seeds of transparency, citizen involvement, and the demand for more jobs have been planted throughout the region. He said the region’s 100 million young people represented a possible positive force for growth, as long as countries invested in their education and the right environment to create jobs.

He said the World Bank Group, in particular, was actively pushing a strategy of regional integration that could bring great economic prosperity.

“This region is no different from any other,” Kim said. “Peace, stability, growth and opportunities come when people and countries realize that they have a common interest in living, developing and thriving together, irrespective of national, ethnic or sectarian divisions. In this region, integration is the key.”

Discussions with government officials focused on Lebanon’s longer-term development program and the World Bank’s sustained engagement. Kim confirmed the Bank’s commitment to garnering support from the international community for Lebanon, saying this would include updating its recent economic and social impact assessment of the Syrian crisis.

In his meeting with the donor community, Kim urged representatives to contribute—quickly and generously—to a World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund, set up to gather grant financing for development projects to help build the economic resilience of Lebanese communities hosting more than a million Syrian refugees, as well as mitigating threats to Lebanon’s fiscal stability. “The world needs to come to Lebanon’s rescue as it cannot be left to confront the deep challenges on its own for a conflict that is not of its making,” said Kim.

The World Bank Group President visited a local school in Beirut to see for himself the impact of the Syrian conflict on the Lebanese public education system, where the sharp increase in demand for education arising from the large numbers of Syrian child refugees, has led to mounting costs, adverse effects on the quality of education, double teaching shifts and a huge need for non-formal education.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim’s visit to Lebanon is part of a three-country trip to the Middle East which included a stop in Saudi Arabia and will include a stop in Jordan.

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/06/03/international-community-should-prepare-for-peace-in-syria-and-throughout-region

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

*World Bank Group President Praises Lebanon and Jordan for Hosting Syrian Refugees and Calls on Global Community to Do More*

AMMAN, June 4, 2014– On his last day in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to bring global attention to the plight of the refugees and the impact of the Syrian crisis on neighboring countries. Kim urged the international community to recognize the enormous role that Lebanon and Jordan are playing in absorbing the huge influx of refugees and to step up the aid effort to match the severity of the crisis.
The countries neighboring Syria, Jordan and Lebanon in particular, have assumed the responsibility of maintaining regional stability by taking in close to two million refugees,” said Kim outside the Zaatari refugee camp. “The international community must step in and do its part.”

Along with drawing attention to immediate needs, Kim used the opportunity of his three-day visit to map out a vision of the region’s immense potential and the steps required to realize it. In a speech a day earlier in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, Kim stressed that the region was at a crossroads and that it was time to rally around a plan to rebuild and lay the foundations for a more just and prosperous future, even in the face of the humanitarian crisis. The World Bank Group, he added, would commit the full range of its resources in support of the effort.

For Syria, and for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, this process of preparing for peace will not be easy,” said Kim before an audience of university students and policymakers. “But this war will end. We need now to put together the development plans for the day when Syria’s guns fall silent and when an internationally recognized government ensures peace and stability.”

During a visit that included stops in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan, the World Bank Group President carried his message of preparing for peace to political leaders, civil society and the private sector. In Saudi Arabia, Kim met with government officials and Arab Development Funds to strengthen partnerships and scale up support to countries in transition. Kim expressed strong appreciation for the close collaboration with Saudi Arabia in support of Yemen during its transition process. Saudi Arabia has contributed US$3.25 billion to neighboring Yemen to help develop its economy which included a US$1 billion deposit to the Central Bank of Yemen.

While in Lebanon, the World Bank Group President visited a local public school in Beirut for a firsthand experience of the strain on education services arising from the Syrian children refugees. The increased demands on the school system have raised costs and impacted the quality of education. In meetings with political leaders, Kim reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to Lebanon’s long term development goals, while simultaneously garnering support from the international community to strengthen the ability of the country’s communities and institutions to withstand the shocks emanating from the Syrian crisis. In a separate meetingwith the donor community,Kim urged representatives to contribute—quickly and generously—to a World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund set up for Lebanon.

In meetings with King Abdullah II of Jordan and a range of political leaders, the World Bank Group President delivered a similar message of dual assistance to cope with the Syrian crisis and establish the conditions for inclusive growth. “We are working closer than ever with the United Nations on complementing immediate humanitarian assistance with long term development support,” said KimAdditional support for Jordan and Lebanon is critical so that they are resilient enough to cope with circumstances while staying focused on creating the right environment for the region to realize its immense potential.”

Kim was accompanied on his trip by Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for MENA and Mouayed Makhlouf, the International Finance Corporation’s Regional Director for MENA.

The World Bank Group’s (IBRD, IDA, IFC, MIGA) active portfolio in the MENA region, currently at US$16 billion, has been growing steadily over the last few years. New World Bank Group commitments for fiscal year 2014 are close to US$5 billion.

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*Jordan Has a Jihadi Problem Too*

The full extent of Salafi jihadist inroads in the kingdom will likely remain unknown until the war in Syria ends, but the current indicators are troubling.

The Jordanian city of Maan is boiling. Three hours of bad road south of the capital, Amman, this underdeveloped and economically depressed tribal town of 60,000 has long been a locus of anti-government protest. But lately the natives have been particularly restive. Last June, so many locals were firing automatic weapons at the downtown police station that a decision was made to move the headquarters out of town. More recently, violent clashes between Maanis and the gendarmerie have become so ubiquitous that a tank has been stationed along the highway at city limits.

Endemic unemployment — believed to be more than 30 percent — is a big part of the problem. So is criminality and hair-trigger hostility toward the central government. Worse, the city’s residents are armed to the teeth, and misunderstandings routinely escalate to Hatfield-McCoy proportions. Perhaps most troubling, however, has been the unprecedented growth of the Salafi jihadist movement in Maan.

An estimated 2,500 Jordanians are currently participating in the war in Syria, the largest contingent of Sunni foreign fighters battling Bashar al-Assad’s nominally Shi’a regime. In the three years since the war in Syria began, about 250 Jordanians have been killed, nearly two dozen of whom have been buried in Maan. The city’s status as the leading graveyard of Jordanian martyrs is confirmed by its large central mosque, which is festooned with banners of the fallen heroes.

During a recent trip there, I spent some time speaking to a young man named Farouq, whose brother Mahmoud joined the jihad this past March. Mahmoud, I was told, was a successful industrial engineer who lived as a bachelor in the port city of Aqaba, owned a home, and worked in Jordan’s phosphate industry. Like everyone else in the family, Mahmoud prayed five times a day and "hated Shi’a more than Jews." Nevertheless, he was clean shaven when he left for Aqaba and showed no outward signs of affinity for Islamist militancy. Less than a year after his departure from Maan, however, Mahmoud grew a beard and became multazim, or one of "the committed," to Salafism.

Farouq said "it was a surprise" two months ago when Mahmoud called from Syria to say he had joined the al-Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and was fighting in Deraa, not far from the Jordanian border. I asked Farouq how his parents took the news. They were saddened by his departure, but not angry. "If Mahmoud dies," he said, "there will be a martyr’s wedding, Allah willing." Given his enthusiasm for his brother’s martyrdom, I inquired why Farouq himself didn’t enlist in the jihad. "I thought about going," he said, "but I’m married."

While Farouq isn’t fighting, others from Maan are, apparently at the behest of local clergy who have been preaching that the jihad in Syria is a fard ‚ayn, or a Quranic injunction. Meanwhile, Farouq is hoping that after Assad is defeated, Jabhat al-Nusra will establish an Islamic state in Syria — and eventually in Jordan. "Secularism," he says, "is dangerous."

Just how many Maanis share Farouq’s aspirations for Syria and Jordan is unclear. To be sure, I met a broad range of folks in Maan who disparaged and downplayed the Salafi jihadist phenomenon. Indeed, most people I encountered said that the actual number of Salafi jihadists was relatively small, and that unemployment, official corruption, and the government’s heavy-handed response to protests were more urgent concerns.

Some Maanis even suggested that Amman was exaggerating the threat to exact higher rents from the West. Why else, I was asked, would the palace allow Abu Sayyaf, the Maan-based leader of Jordan’s Salafi jihadi movement, to remain at large, proselytizing unconstrained from the city?

Of course, Maan isn’t the only city in Jordan that has witnessed jihadi funerals and popular foment in recent years; it’s just the most prominent example of the trend. And the arrival of nearly a million refugees from Syria over the past three years is all but certain to add to the growing list of social and economic grievances of average Jordanians. Economic hardships and other self-inflicted wounds — such as the draconian new counterterrorism law and restrictions that led Freedom House to downgrade Jordan’s freedom-of-the-press ranking — could ultimately make the kingdom an even more conducive environment for al-Qaeda recruitment.

These days, Jordanian officials are attributing unrest in Maan to a criminal element in an isolated and habitually recalcitrant tribal redoubt. To be sure, Maan has long been a challenge to govern, but the addition of Islamic radicalism to the already incendiary mix will further complicate efforts to pacify the city. With no end in sight to the sectarian war in Syria, an increasing number of Sunni Muslim Jordanians — in Maan and throughout the kingdom — may be tempted to join the jihad.

Last month, Western concerns about foreign fighters spiked after an American-born suicide bomber detonated in Syria and a former French jihadi attacked Jewish tourists in Belgium. With the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) now controlling vast tracts of territory in these states, Sunni Islamist militancy in the Middle East has become a central concern for the West and its regional partners.

For Jordan, a regime historically targeted by al-Qaeda for its close relations with the United States, the threat is increasingly proximate. Still, the extent of Salafi jihadi inroads in the kingdom will likely remain unknown until the war in Syria ends and these battle-hardened foreign fighters return home. If the problem turns out to be as pervasive as it now seems to be, the first sign may be an uptick in terrorism in Jordan.

David Schenker is the Aufzien Fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute.

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/jordan-has-a-jihadi-problem-too

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