Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 03/10/14

Massenbach-Letter. News

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

Guten Morgen.

· Die Neue Liberale formiert sich | MDR.DE

· In eigener Sache: Udo von Massenbach – Bundesschatzmeister der Partei „Neue Liberale“

· EU turns to Iran as alternative to Russian gas


· Germany stresses on Iran’s participation in fight against ISIS

· Iran offers to be West’s natural ally

· Turkey Must Tread Carefully Against Islamic State

· COLUMN-Free trade in oil serves U.S. interests: John Kemp

Massenbach* EU turns to Iran as alternative to Russian gas*

“Diplomats are in place to ease a potential major shift in global energy trade. "Our main point of contact with the Iranian government is through its embassy in Berlin, and its new ambassador there is a former member of Iran’s energy ministry," the Commission source said. Ali Majedi was named in July as Iran’s ambassador to Germany. Before that he was deputy oil minister in charge of international affairs”

The European Union is quietly increasing the urgency of a plan to import natural gas from Iran, as relations with Tehran thaw, while those with top gas supplier Russia grow colder.

Two "ifs" – the removal of sanctions on Iran and the addition of some pipeline infrastructure – are not preventing EU planners preparing, a European Commission source involved in developing EU energy strategy told Reuters.

"Iran is far towards the top of our priorities for mid-term measures that will help reduce our reliance on Russian gas supplies," the source said. "Iran’s gas could come to Europe quite easily and politically there is a clear rapprochement between Tehran and the West."

Russia is currently Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, meeting a third of its demand worth $80 billion a year. The EU has imposed sanctions on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, increasing the need for gas from elsewhere.

While sanctioned itself, Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia and is a potential alternative given talks between Tehran and the West to reach a deal over the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear programme.

"High potential for gas production, domestic energy sector reforms that are underway, and ongoing normalisation of its relationship with the West make Iran a credible alternative to Russia," said a paper prepared for the European parliament.

However, the paper added that Iran was not a credible alternative energy supplier in the short-term due to sanctions and large infrastructure needs before exports become viable.

Internal EU energy security documents seen by Reuters also describe plans to tap new non-European gas import sources in central Asia, including Iran.

Iran, exploiting the reversal of old enmities caused by the upheaval of the Islamic State militants in the Middle East, is also keen to sell its gas.

"Iran can be a secure energy centre for Europe," its President Hassan Rouhani was quoted on Wednesday telling Austrian President Heinz Fischer in New York.

Tehran’s assertions over reliable supply are likely to ring alarm bells at Russia’s giant Gazprom, after interruptions to its exports via Ukraine in previous disputes scared Europe.

"Iran is trying to position itself in Europe as an alternative to Russian gas. It’s playing a very sophisticated game, talking with Russia on the one hand about cooperation on easing sanctions and also talking to Europe about substituting Russian gas with its own," said Amir Handjani, an independent oil and gas specialist working in Dubai.

"Given Russia’s current strategy politically, which is one of confrontation with Europe, I see the EU having little choice but to find alternative gas supplies," he added.

Sanctions and routes

The lifting of sanctions on Iran – the game changer – is unlikely to be soon. Diplomats are pessimistic over the odds that Iran and world powers will conclude a final agreement by a 24 November deadline.

Iran and six world powers – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – are trying to hammer out a long-term nuclear accord that would bring an end to international sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

Analysts say Iran has already lost out on lucrative liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports in Asia, where customers pay the highest prices, to Gulf rival Qatar, so Tehran has to look to Europe.

"Iran’s interest to deliver gas to Europe is very big. Parts of Iran’s economic and political elite as well as Western companies are preparing for an end of the sanctions," said Frank Umbach, energy research director at King’s College in London.

Mark Dubowitz, of US think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Iran was looking to exploit the situation in both Iraq and Russia to get concessions out of the West on the nuclear track.

"Washington should be wary of any attempt to further erode its negotiating position by opening up any more economic escape hatches for Iran until a comprehensive deal is reached, and enforced, that dismantles Tehran’s military-nuclear programme," said Dubowitz, who has also advised U.S. lawmakers on sanctions.

The US State Department had no immediate comment.

The most feasible route for Iranian gas to Europe would be via Turkey, already a customer, although the existing Tabriz-Ankara pipeline would not be big enough for major exports.

Iran has long lobbied to build a designated pipeline that would connect its huge South Pars gas field with European customers – the so-called Persian Pipeline.

"It’s an extremely ambitious project," Handjani said. "Even if half of it gets built it would be major accomplishment for both Europe and Iran."

Investors in Europe, as well as the European Commission, favour the cheaper, and politically less controversial, option of importing Iranian gas to the EU via Turkey through extended pipelines that already exist or are currently being developed.

Energy majors Total of France and Italy’s Eni have in the past expressed interest in developing South Pars, one of the world’s biggest gas fields, shared by Qatar and Iran, with total reserves estimated around 50 trillion cubic metres (tcm), enough to meet European demand for over 100 years.

Independent feasibility studies show that if sanctions were to be eased and investments started soon, Iran could supply 10-20 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year to Turkey and Europe by the early 2020s.

Diplomats are in place to ease a potential major shift in global energy trade.

"Our main point of contact with the Iranian government is through its embassy in Berlin, and its new ambassador there is a former member of Iran’s energy ministry," the Commission source said.

Ali Majedi was named in July as Iran’s ambassador to Germany. Before that he was deputy oil minister in charge of international affairs. Majedi could not be reached for comment.


Die Neue Liberale formiert sich | MDR.DE

In Hamburg hat sich am Wochenende eine neue Partei gegründet: die neue Liberale. Viele der Mitgliede…

RTL Nord:

Partei für enttäuschte FDP-Anhänger?

In Hamburg war am vergangen Wochenende politisch einiges los.

Die "neuen Liberalen" haben sich in Wilhelmsburg zu ihrem ersten Bundesparteitag getroffen. Über 250 eingetragene Mitglieder verfügt die gerade mal zwei Wochen alte Partei bisher. Die meisten davon sind Abtrünnige aus anderen Parteien, allen voran aus der FDP. Und so wundert es auch nicht, dass die am Wochenende gewählte Spitze der Neuen Liberalen aus ehemals "alten Liberalen" besteht.

Welche Ziele die neue Partei verfolgt, unsere Reporterin Nicole Ide berichtet.

Hintergrund: Die Führungsspitze der Neuen Liberalen
Die Neuen Liberalen wurden in Hamburg ersonnen und werden künftig auch von Hamburgern angeführt. Ein Parteitag machte die frühere FDP-Parteispitze der Hansestadt, Najib Karim und Sylvia Canel, zu den Vorsitzenden der Neuen Liberalen.

Najib Karim: Der 41-Jährige kam mit seinen Eltern kurz vor dem Einmarsch der Sowjets in Afghanistan als Asylbewerber nach Deutschland. Dort wuchs er in Hamburg-Langenhorn auf, ehe er in Hannover Biochemie studierte und Naturwissenschaftler wurde. «Sehen Sie es mir deshalb nach, dass ich manchmal so dröge und monoton rede», sagt Karim. Lange Zeit arbeitete er nach eigenen Angaben als Wissenschaftler und Unternehmensberater, lehrte in Lübeck und unterrichtet inzwischen auch Mathematik an einer Hamburger Stadtteilschule. Vor fünf Jahren war Karim in die FDP eingetreten, hatte dort mehrere Funktionen. Zuletzt war er stellvertretender Parteivorsitzender in Hamburg und Spitzenkandidat für die Europawahl.

Sylvia Canel: Die 56 Jahre alte Gymnasialehrerin für Biologie und Deutsch war zwölf Jahre lang Mitglied der FDP, ehe sie die Neuen Liberalen mitgründete. Zuletzt war die gebürtige Hamburgerin und frühere Bundestagsabgeordnete (2009-2013) sogar Vorsitzende der Liberalen in der Hansestadt. «Meine Themen sind immer Bildung, Bildung, Bildung», sagt die Mutter zweier Kinder. Vor ihrem Eintritt in die FDP arbeitete Canel als selbstständige Gymnasiallehrerin mit Lehraufträgen für Vor-, Grund-, Realschulen und Gymnasien. Außerdem war sie zu der Zeit Elternratsvorsitzende und gründete eine Selbsthilfegruppe für Eltern mit ADS/ADHS-Kindern.

P. meint

Leider wird in den Medien alles auf die Ex-FDP-Mitglieder reduziert. Die "Neue Liberale" ist viel mehr als das! Die allermeisten(!) Mitglieder kommen aus einem ganz anderen politischen Spektrum und hatten nie etwas mit der FDP am Hut, mich eingeschlossen. Ich finde das sehr schade, zumal auch der Initiator Dr. Karim seit seinem Eintritt in die FDP versucht hat, sie sozialliberal "umzukrempeln", es aber nicht geschafft hat und letztlich wegen der Unbelehrbarkeit und der Struktur der FDP – die Basis hat kaum etwas zu sagen – das Handtuch geworfen und den Aufruf zur Neugründung der Neuen Liberalen gemacht hat.


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Where does the gender gap in economics enrolment arise?

Posted on September 30, 2014 by IZA Press

Although women account for 57% of all students at UK universities, the share of female economics students is only about 27%. In a new IZA paper, Mirco Tonin and Jackie Wahba use rich data on university applications to explore the reasons behind the big gender gap in economics enrolment. They also explain why it would be in the interest of society to close this gap.

Economists generally have an influential role in policy making, directly or as academics, consultants or policy analysts. The gender of those making policies matters because males and females tend to have different policy preferences. Also, since economics is one of the subjects associated with relatively high average earnings, lower enrolment by females is a contributing factor behind the gender pay gap.

The study finds no indication that universities discriminate against females when making their offers. As the acceptance rate does not differ between males and females, the enrolment gap is entirely due to low application rates: Only 1.2% of females apply to economics, as opposed to 3.8% of males. An important limiting factor (though not the whole story) seems to be the gender gap in math. Among those who enroll at university, math is an A level subject for 19% of males, but only 10% of females.

There is evidence that this gap in math is cultural rather than “biological”, as the gap disappears in more gender-equal societies. Thus, a policy aimed at reducing the gap in math could be very effective. In particular, it could start a positive loop, with an improvement in the participation of girls to educational paths leading to positions of influence generating more equality in society, again encouraging girls to seek educational paths leading to positions of influence, and so on.

Read abstract or download complete paper (PDF).


Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Beyond Looking East: Greater Indian Involvement in Maritime East Asia

September 24, 2014 The recent trip to India by Xi Jinping, the President of China, seemed to effectively offset the impression of strong India-Japan ties that was demonstrated during Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan several weeks prior … it is still early to judge if India and China can maintain good relations as in the famous slogan “Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers)” …

The China-India border conflict is still one of the three hottest Chinese territorial disputes along with South and East China Seas islands issues. Although India traditionally does not engage with other regional matters actively, New Delhi often uses security cooperation with China’s neighboring countries as a diplomatic tool to counter Chinese aggressions. In this context, those three disputes are linked with each other politically …

The security cooperation with Vietnam and Japan could be evidence that India is now ready to poke China with its involvement with other Chinese territorial disputes. The ancient Indian philosopher Kautilya, in his strategic treatise the Arthashastra, also explains that “your enemy’s enemy is your friend” … Moreover, today, New Delhi cannot afford to overlook problems in East Asia, especially in the domain of maritime security. India’s trade with Northeast Asia is rapidly increasing …

In addition, India’s state-owned energy company, ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), has gotten involved with oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea through a joint venture with PetroVietnam … On 21 September, Modi also answered a question from the media on China’s role in maritime disputes in its near seas by saying, “we can’t close our eyes to problems” …

How will Indian active involvement in other Chinese territorial disputes influence the security environment in East Asia?

First, New Delhi’s involvement will remain indirect in the near future. It is unlikely that the Indian Navy or other forces will be mobilized in defense of other countries in East Asia to counter China. Second, even as India strengthens its presence in this region, it will neither reduce tension between China and neighboring states nor solve those territorial disputes. Third, nevertheless, we can still expect active Indian involvement will enhance deterrence against Chinese aggressive action. It will be a great opportunity to enhance unanimous action against Chinese assertiveness regarding territorial claims. Today, the claimants of territories which China also claims do not act unanimously against Beijing. While some of the countries try to pressure Beijing, others – including previous Indian governments – have taken a weak stance to Chinese assertive actions. This is not and effective way to counter China. The BJP’s strong stance against incursion by the PLA is welcome in this context. If India chooses to strengthen its presence in other regions, it is time for New Delhi to cooperate more with other claimants to dissuade Beijing’s escalation.

Why Obama’s U.N. Speech is a Major Turning Point U.S. Foreign Policy September 24, 2014 … President Obama’s speech at the United Nations … stands in sharp contrast to his disappointing West Point speech in May. The headlines will undoubtedly be taken by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) but the speech is actually very revealing as to Obama’s worldview and how much things have changed in the past year …

Obama has been developing the idea that the world is not as bad as it appears in the press and the United States is relatively safe and secure … speculate whether Obama was a part of the “Zen Master” school of U.S. foreign policy. Zen Masters … “think that the long arc of history is bending in their direction — that the fundamental strengths of the United States and its key allies are more robust than any potential rivals on the global stage. The worst thing to do, therefore, is to overreact in the short run to things that will balance out in the long run. They don’t believe in getting riled up too much, and that, in the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should” … Using this philosophy, Obama … argued that ultimately Putin’s actions would be self-defeating. The United States should punish Russia through sanctions but not overreact in Ukraine. The Middle East was starting to “buckle” but the United States shouldn’t be expected to "keep a lid" on the problems there.

U.S. military power could not be the “primary instrument” to shape the new equilibrium that would come out of the chaos … Throughout the course of the past year, which has been full of destabilizing developments, he has resisted the notion that we are at a tipping point. Until now. Today, he told a world audience that he too is worried the international order is falling apart. Today, he sees the chasm ahead. Today, he agrees that without an American push, history may be headed in a tragic direction.

Syria: ISIS is not the only problem

23 September 2014 … To concentrate solely on ISIS as the media (and hence the public) tends to do can lead us into thinking that if we degrade ISIS then we have fixed the problem. But take this week as a snapshot of how complex a problem we are really facing. On Israel’s long-dormant border with Syria, the UN and Syrian military have now left the field of battle to the control of Jabhat al-Nusra, a group that continues to pledge loyalty to al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. And in Lebanon, Jabhat al-Nusra has just executed the second Lebanese police officer of 22 soldiers and police officers they hold. Islamic State supporters have beheaded two of the soldiers. These are just the latest deaths of Lebanese security personnel in an ongoing battle with Islamists that saw Jabhat al-Nusra and affiliates briefly take over the Lebanese town of Arsal in early August.

In Syria, Islamist groups wanting to implement their version of Islamic government also battle away, for the most part cooperating with, but not part of, Jabhat al-Nusra. The umbrella group Islamic Front, however, suffered a setback recently with the death of the leader of Ahrar al-Sham and other senior figures in a mysterious attack in northern Syria. The transnational nature of the Islamist problem was illustrated by the fact that even the Dagestani branch of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate sent its very public condolences.

The US sees a group of vetted rebels as a possible solution but as this and this show, while the idea of vetted secular Syrian rebels sounds attractive, the devil is in the detail … the question that needs to be asked is not simply whether we are going to target ISIS but what we are going to do about other Islamist groups in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, both of which threaten Lebanon. None of these groups fundamentally differ about their desired societal endstate; its simply who should lead that is their point of difference. The problem with this regional Gordian knot is that it cannot be cut simply by a sword, as Alexander did. It is a problem of breathtaking complexity, of which the military solution is a small but necessary part … The problem of course, is how to make such a complex issue simple enough for the public to digest.

NEU bei:


European Security and Defence, CSDPbasics leaflet – 26 September 2014 …

The Ebola outbreak: local and global containment – Brief – No26 – 19 September 2014 …

Mare Europaeum? Tackling Mediterranean migration – Brief – No25 – 04 September 2014 …


Losing the "Forgotten War" The U.S. Strategic Vacuum in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia Sep 25, 2014 …



EBRD aims to work with more local banks, says Head of Trade Finance Programme*

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is stepping up its efforts in Ukraine, working to support the economy and the Bank’s clients through difficult times and to better prepare private enterprise for the return of growth.

One of the areas in which the EBRD is increasing its engagement is trade finance. The Bank’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) works with eight local banks in Ukraine (and over a hundred more around the EBRD region) to enable their private corporate clients to continue their international trade. To date, the programme has supported trade transactions worth €1.5 billion in Ukraine, of which over €175 million were processed in 2014.

“We are working to increase the number of local banks with which we cooperate, and we believe that this year Ukraine will become the largest country by business volume for the EBRD’s Trade Finance Programme. We want to broaden the range of our priorities – for example, to support imports of energy-efficient equipment, such as efficient tractors for agriculture or equipment for renewable energy generation,” said Rudolf Putz, Head of the EBRD’s TFP.

The Trade Finance Programme partnered with Worldwide Expert Trade Finance conferences to bring to Kiev a two-day event dedicated to trade finance. The well-attended conference on 30 September and 1 October brought together bankers and experts from 12 countries.

The opening address at the conference was given by the newly appointed EBRD Managing Director for Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and the Caucasus, Francis Malige. He touched on EBRD priorities in Ukraine, where the Bank aims to invest €1 billion this year, and praised the role of the TFP in supporting businesses.

Malige also looked at how Ukraine was dealing with its current challenges and how the EBRD was responding to these. He commented: “Ukraine is facing severe recession, a geopolitical crisis, a banking system crisis and an energy supply crisis, each of which would represent a very serious issue in any country. ‎So Ukraine’s resilience is admirable, and this puts a heavy responsibility on our shoulders to provide support without compromising our sound banking and transition mandate.”

Ukraine is the second-largest portfolio of the EBRD and the Bank is the leading foreign investor in the country, with €9.5 billion invested to date. Currently the EBRD works with the authorities on a range of policy issues, in areas ranging from the banking sector to the anti-corruption initiative and more.


Eurasian Union: the real, the imaginary and the likely*

09 September 2014 The recent history of Russian attempts to reintegrate the post-Soviet space is littered with failed political and economic initiatives. Such initiatives have included the creation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus in the 1990s, the Eurasian Economic Community launched in 2000, and the GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) grouping launched in 1997.

So far the only project which seems likely to come to fruition is the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan which is scheduled to become the Eurasian Economic Union as of 1 January 2015. The Eurasian Union exists already. Its physical headquarters – the Eurasian Economic Commission – is a bureaucratic structure with a staff of 1,000 … in Moscow. Its legal basis is the Eurasian Union treaty signed in May 2014. In fact, however, there are two Eurasian Unions: one real, and the other imaginary. One is economic, and the other geopolitical.

The real Eurasian Economic Union is an international organisation like many others. It has a legal identity … Its member states exchange trade concessions among themselves and rely on the institution as an external enforcer of rules. But there is another Eurasian Union, one fuelled by geopolitical aspirations.

President Putin launched this phase of Eurasian integration, the key foreign policy objective of his third presidential term in the Kremlin, in an article in Izvestia in October 2011. His vision was for the Eurasian Union not just to foster a new round of post-Soviet reintegration: he also wanted to turn the Eurasian Union into one of the ‘building blocks’ – on a par with the EU, NAFTA, APEC and ASEAN – of ‘global development’. The Union was supposed to crown Vladimir Putin’s efforts to reintegrate the post-Soviet states: it was to be the instrument by which he would ‘bring Russia up from its knees’ and make it a distinctive pole of influence in a multipolar world by reversing the ‘civilised divorce’ of former Soviet republics from the USSR.

Beim Autor ließe sich durchaus eine „interessante“ Tendenz vermuten (siehe auch im Vorwort: „ … takes a slightly different angle – and herein lies ist originality and distinctive contribution to the ongoing debate … pleads for a more sober and rational approach to the common European space between Russia and the EU – one whereby more cooperative games may eventually prevail and ‘loselose’ outcomes be prevented”).

Lesenswert: Conclusion S.43ff

“ … Both Russia and the EU have achieved the interim goals of their respective neighbourhood policies. But hard reality is dictating that both Moscow and Brussels need to scale down the ambitious designs of their neighbourhood policies.

The … clash between two projects – European and Eurasian – has in a sense been ‘settled’ by the Ukraine crisis … A simple diplomatic ‘reset’ might be tempting, but would not work … at some point down the road the lifting of Western sanctions on Russia and a stabilisation of Ukraine can go hand-in-hand. Settling for the minimalist neighbourhood visions might be a way to slowly overcome the current crisis and build a wider European space that is neither unipolar nor bipolar, but simply more cooperative …”

The Russian debate … Russkii Mir vs Eurasia? S.14-18 “ … even if the Eurasian Union proves a costly endeavour for Russia, that cost would not be exorbitant given the resources Russia has at its disposal. For many in Russia the Eurasian Union is not just an economic project, but a stepping stone to a bigger, greater, geopolitical Eurasia …“

S 19f „…The real Eurasia (as represented by the regional economic body) and the imaginary Eurasia (as represented by Putin’s vision of a geopolitical superbloc) are not necessarily mutually reinforcing. The former needs a measured, steady and calculated approach, and the latter is fuelled by grandiose and ideological ambitions. On the one hand, the current Eurasian Union is supposed to be the engine of the future geopolitical Eurasia. But for the real Eurasia to work it needs a small number of countries, a manageable number of internal tensions, and some economic benefits to make it minimally self-sustaining. The real Eurasia needs to focus first and foremost on its internal set-up before it can expand.

The logic of a geopolitical Eurasia is the opposite. It suggests that the larger the Eurasian Union, the stronger Russia’s great power image will be – both domestically and internationally. It also needs to materialise relatively fast, before Russia loses even more economic relevance in the post-Soviet space to China and the EU. But the rush to expand creates the risk that adding too many carriages to the train or pushing the Eurasian engine to drive too fast will derail it …”

Ukraine + Krim


“ … Russia also seems to have thought that by destabilising Ukraine it was safeguarding its own security. An unstable Ukraine with an unresolved territorial conflict over Crimea and ongoing hostilities in Eastern Ukraine would be Russia’s best guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO. The logic of ‘what is bad for Ukraine is good for Russia’ seems to have prevailed … Russian failures are also part of a ‘lose-lose-lose situation’ for Russia, Ukraine and possibly the West. The closing of the Eurasian alternative for Ukraine will not necessarily pave the way to a successful European Ukraine.

As a Russian expert puts it, ‘rather than having a Turkish Ukraine – inside NATO and aspiring to the EU – the Kremlin prefers to have no Ukraine at all, to blow the house down’.34 As a result both Russia and Ukraine are likely to emerge worse off from the current crisis …”


“ … The real, but small, Eurasian Economic Union will continue to exist.

Time will tell whether it will be a success or not. But the dream of a geopolitical Eurasia died in Ukraine. ‘Eurasia’ will remain confined to its existing members, and a few small and poor states that will not necessarily make the union stronger. The key question is how the real Eurasian Union will build its relationship with the European Union …”


“… In the end the EU’s and Russia’s maximalist ambitions were both frustrated primarily due to the choices and responses of the targeted states, rather than great power rivalry …”


“… In the end what derailed Russian plans for post-Soviet integration was not the EU but the unhealthy dynamic in relations between Russia and many post-Soviet states, of which the EU was more of a watcher than a player …”

(Comment J.B.: … na ja, da gibt’s ja eine Reihe gewichtiger Stimmen, die darauf hinweisen, dass Moskau für die Vision Eurasian Union nicht nur das Kleingeld , sondern eine ganze Reihe anderer Fähigkeiten + Potentiale fehlt.)

U.S.–RUSSIA WORKING GROUP RELEASES JOINT STUDY ON STRATEGIC SECURITY September 5, 2014—The Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations, a bilateral collective of rising experts from American and Russian institutions, announces the publication of its fourth joint report: “The Sword and the Shield: Toward U.S.-Russian Strategic Compatibility.”

Coauthored by Keith Darden (American University) and Timofei Bordachev (National Research University–Higher School of Economics, Moscow), the paper explains the underlying principles for the strategic stability achieved during the Cold War, and calls for a fundamental reevaluation of arms control and security policy in the present-day U.S.-Russia relationship. The authors argue that changes in the international security environment have rendered obsolete the existing strategies of security provision, which first evolved during the early Cold War. The security portfolios of Russia and the United States have diverged dramatically in the past 25 years, with the result that "symmetrical reductions of nuclear forces no longer have symmetrical effects on Russian and U.S. security."

The study recommends that the United States and Russia instead pursue an approach guided by "strategic compatibility," under which both partners "assure their optimal force and offensive strengths without undermining each other’s deterrent or defensive capacities with respect to one another, thus providing a solid background for strategic stability, even in the absence of trust." The study explains why the Cold War period that shaped current security policy was a historical anomaly, and concludes that while relations between the two countries today are not warm, both countries can securely reduce their nuclear arsenals unilaterally, and security arrangements that "are in the strategic interests of both sides" can be achieved without bilateral treaties …



Middle East

STRATFOR:Turkey Must Tread Carefully Against Islamic State*


As the United States begins its full assault against the Islamic State in Syria, backed by Arab allies, the absence of NATO ally Turkey is drawing attention and comment. Just days before the Sept. 22 beginning of U.S. airstrikes, Turkey managed to broker a deal with the Islamic State to return 49 diplomats held in Iraq for 101 days. Contrary to diplomatic and media speculation, however, Turkey is not supporting the transnational, Syria- and Iraq-based jihadist movement known as the Islamic State.

While the details of just how Ankara retrieved its diplomats are sketchy, Ankara likely negotiated their release through its contacts among the Iraqi Sunni community and its ally, Qatar. This influence, especially among Sunni locals in not just Iraq but also Syria, will be critical if Turkey is going to be able to manage the jihadist threat long after the United States declares mission accomplished and moves on.


Rumors have long circulated that Turkey has been aiding Islamic State fighters. A New York Times article suggesting Turkey was tolerating an Islamic State recruiting center went viral, as did the subsequent war of words between the government and New York Times management. Another argument heard is that Ankara sees the Syrian Kurds gaining their own autonomous enclave in northeastern Syria as an intolerable security threat for the Turks — making the Islamic State the lesser evil. More recently, Turkey’s unwillingness to join the U.S.-led international effort against the Islamic State was also seen as being driven by Turkey’s dealings with the jihadist group.

Such perceptions have been reinforced now that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has secured the release of 49 diplomats abducted by the group from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul after the militants seized control of the city. Turkey’s dealings with the Islamic State are much more nuanced than has generally been understood. Last year in July, Stratfor shed light on this dynamic, analyzing how the Turks were caught between two very threatening realities — both demanding simultaneous management — on their southern flank: jihadists of various stripes and Syrian Kurdish separatists.

Managing the very difficult geopolitical battle space that is Syria required Ankara to develop relations within both the jihadist and Kurdish landscapes south of their border. Turkey also understands that it cannot allow itself to be a launchpad for an international effort against the Islamic State, the outcome of which is extremely uncertain. Turkey is all too aware of how Pakistan even today, nearly two generations after it agreed to serve as the staging ground for the U.S.-led effort to counter Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, continues to deal with the fallout of that war, which has not yet ended.

From the Turks‘ viewpoint, the Americans and their Western and regional allies (with the exception of Jordan) all have the option of walking away from the conflict in Syria. Not only does Turkey feel that it will have to deal with the mess in Syria long after other stakeholders have moved on, it also knows that the United States expects Turkey to manage the Syrians as well as other regional matters. Turkey has not forgotten how, during the days of President Turgut Ozal, Ankara cut Iraq’s export pipeline in 1990 at the behest of the United States in the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War but was later left with the aftermath as promises of aid disappeared with the subsequent change of U.S. administrations. This bitter experience informed Turkey’s 2003 decision to refuse Washington access to Turkish territory for a northern invasion of Iraq. At the same time Turkey is deeply worried about being caught between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are engaged in a vicious proxy sectarian war.

It is against this geopolitical backdrop that the Turkish move to negotiate the release of its diplomats must be considered. In an ideal world, one in which the Islamic State does not exist, Turkey would be the lead player with influence among the Sunnis in both Syria and Iraq and in much better shape to dominate Syria and give considerable competition to Iran in Iraq. But in the real world, not only does the Islamic State exist, it is actually in competition with Turkey for influence among the Sunni Arabs to the south of the Turkish Republic.

While the Sunni majority in Syria is much more fragmented than its sectarian kinsmen in Iraq, the neighboring Sunni minority has sought to empower itself by leveraging the Islamic State. This means that the Turks will have to delicately handle weeding out the Islamic State from within the Iraqi Sunni community. But that is a long-term work in progress, while the immediate task has been to secure the release of their diplomats.

The Turks knew that the way in which they dealt with this hostage crisis would greatly determine their ability to shape the behavior of Iraqi Sunnis. Building upon their existing links with Sunni tribes, former Baathists and other political players, they likely negotiated with the Islamic State. It should be noted that Turkey has had close ties with former Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who was sentenced to death by Nouri al-Maliki’s administration in 2012 for alleged links to terrorism. Al-Hashimi, who has been spending a great deal of time in Turkey, openly supported the Sunni insurrection that began in June.

Al-Hashimi is also very close to Turkey’s main Arab partner, Qatar. Al-Hashimi periodically frequents Doha, which has significant influence among a range of jihadist groups and very likely played a key role in the release of the diplomats, which happened just days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Qatar. While there is no evidence of a ransom payment, and Turkish officials deny such, it cannot be ruled out that money changed hands. Meanwhile, reports are surfacing that there may have been a prisoner swap in which Ankara secured the release of some Islamic State members. Hurriyet Daily News reported Sept. 23 that the Turkish government was able to convince Syrian rebel group Liwa Al Tawhid to release 50 Islamic State prisoners being held by the Salafist-jihadist organization, which is a joint Turkish-Qatari proxy. And Erdogan obliquely hinted on Sept. 21 at the possibility of a prisoner exchange when he remarked, in response to a journalist’s question, "Whether there was or wasn’t a swap — [the consulate] personnel were returned to Turkey."

Clearly Erdogan is not worried about any fallout from a prisoner exchange, especially since the United States recently released five high-profile Afghan Taliban detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for an American soldier, a deal also mediated by Qatar. This experience allows the Turkish spy service to enhance its influence among the Sunnis and develop intelligence on the Islamic State. Between this release of the diplomats from Iraq and the buffer zone that the Turkish military is working to create on the border with Syria, the Turks are looking beyond the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State and the arming of Syrian rebels on the ground.




New York Times: ‘ISIS’ Harsh Brand of Islam Is Rooted in Austere Saudi Creed*

BAGHDAD — Caliph Ibrahim, the leader of the Islamic State, appeared to come out of nowhere when he matter-of-factly in the middle of an otherwise typical Ramadan sermon. Muslim scholars from the most moderate to the most militant all denounced him as a grandiose pretender, and the world gaped at his growing following and its vicious killings.

His ruthless creed, though, has clear roots in the 18th-century Arabian Peninsula. It was there that the Saud clan formed an alliance with the puritanical scholar Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab. And as they conquered the warring tribes of the desert, his austere interpretation of Islam became the foundation of the Saudi state.

Much to Saudi Arabia’s embarrassment, the same thought has now been revived by the caliph, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the foundation of the Islamic State.

“It is a kind of untamed Wahhabism,” said Bernard Haykel, a scholar at Princeton. “Wahhabism is the closest religious cognate.”


How ISIS Works

With oil revenues, arms and organization, the jihadist group controls vast stretches of Syria and Iraq and aspires to statehood.

The Saudis and the rulers of other Persian Gulf states — all monarchies — are now united against the Islamic State, fearful that it might attack them from the outside or win followers within. Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have all participated with Washington in its attacks on the Islamic State’s strongholds in Syria.

For their guiding principles, the leaders of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are open and clear about their almost exclusive commitment to the Wahhabi movement of Sunni Islam. The group circulates images of Wahhabi religious textbooks from Saudi Arabia in the schools it controls. Videos from the group’s territory have shown Wahhabi texts plastered on the sides of an official missionary van.

This approach is at odds with the more mainstream Islamist and jihadist thinking that forms the genealogy of Al Qaeda, and it has led to a fundamentally different view of violence. Al Qaeda grew out of a radical tradition that viewed Muslim states and societies as having fallen into sinful unbelief, and embraced violence as a tool to redeem them. But the Wahhabi tradition embraced the killing of those deemed unbelievers as essential to purifying the community of the faithful.

“Violence is part of their ideology,” Professor Haykel said. “For Al Qaeda, violence is a means to an ends; for ISIS, it is an end in itself.”

The distinction is playing out in a battle of fatwas. All of the most influential jihadist theorists are criticizing the Islamic State as deviant, calling its self-proclaimed caliphate null and void and, increasingly, slamming its leaders as bloodthirsty heretics for beheading journalists and aid workers.

The upstart polemicists of the Islamic State, however, counter that its critics and even the leaders of Al Qaeda are all bad Muslims who have gone soft on the West. Even the officials and fighters of the Palestinian militant group Hamas are deemed to be “unbelievers” who might deserve punishment with beheading for agreeing to a cease-fire with Israel, one Islamic State ideologue recently declared.

“The duty of a Muslim is to carry out all of God’s orders and rulings immediately on the spot, not softly and gradually,” the scholar, Al Turki Ben-Ali, 30, said in an online forum.

The Islamic State’s sensational propaganda and videos of beheadings appear to do double duty. In addition to threatening the West, its gory bravado draws applause online and elsewhere from sympathizers, which helps the group in the competition for new recruits.

That is especially important to the Islamic State because it requires a steady flow of recruits to feed its constant battles and heavy losses against multiple enemies — the governments of Iraq and Syria, Shiite and Kurdish fighters, rival Sunni militants and now the United States Air Force.

For Al Qaeda, meanwhile, disputes with the Islamic State are an opportunity “to reposition themselves as the more rational jihadists,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, seen in an image from a video released by the Islamic State in July.

The Islamic State’s founder, Mr. Baghdadi, grafted two elements onto his Wahhabi foundations borrowed from the broader, 20th-century Islamist movements that began with the Muslim Brotherhood and ultimately produced Al Qaeda. Where Wahhabi scholars preach obedience to earthly rulers, Mr. Baghdadi adopted the call to political action against foreign domination of the Arab world that has animated the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and other 20th-century Islamist movements.

Mr. Baghdadi also borrowed the idea of a restored caliphate. Where Wahhabism first flourished alongside the Ottoman Caliphate, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded shortly after that caliphate’s dissolution, in 1924 — an event seen across the world as a marker of Western ascent and Eastern decline. The movement’s founders took up the call for a revived caliphate as a goal of its broader anti-Western project.

These days, though, even Brotherhood members appear almost embarrassed by the term’s anachronism, emphasizing that they use caliphate as a kind of spiritual idea irrelevant to the modern world of nation-states.

“Even for Al Qaeda, the caliphate was something that was going to happen in the far distant future, before the end times,” said William McCants, a researcher on militant Islam at the Brookings Institution. The Islamic State “really moved up the timetable,” he said — to June 2014, in fact.

Adhering to Wahhabi literalism, the Islamic State disdains other Islamists who reason by analogy to adapt to changing context — including the Muslim Brotherhood; its controversial midcentury thinker Sayed Qutb; and the contemporary militants his writing later inspired, like Ayman al-Zawahri of Al Qaeda. Islamic State ideologues often deem anyone, even an Islamist, who supports an elected or secular government to be an unbeliever and subject to beheading.

“This is ‘you join us, or you are against us and we finish you,’ ” said Prof. Emad Shahin, who teaches Islam and politics at Georgetown University. “It is not Al Qaeda, but far to its right.”

Some experts note that Saudi clerics lagged long after other Muslim scholars in formally denouncing the Islamic State, and at one point even the king publicly urged them to speak out more clearly. “There is a certain muteness in the Saudi religious establishment, which indicates it is not a slam dunk to condemn ISIS,” Professor Haykel said.

Finally, on Aug. 19, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the Saudi grand mufti, declared that “the ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism do not belong to Islam in any way, but are the first enemy of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims, as seen in the crimes of the so-called Islamic State and Al Qaeda.”

Al Qaeda’s ideologues have been more vehement. All insist that the promised caliphate requires a broad consensus, on behalf of Muslim scholars if not all Muslims, and not merely one man’s proclamation after a military victory.

“Will this caliphate be a sanctuary for all the oppressed and a refuge for every Muslim?” Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, a senior jihadist scholar, recently asked in a statement on the Internet. “Or will this creation take a sword against all the Muslims who oppose it” and “nullify all the groups that do jihad in the name of God?”

Another prominent Qaeda-linked jihadist scholar, Abu Qatada al-Falistini, echoed that: “They are merciless in dealing with other jihadists. How would they deal with the poor, the weak and other people?”

Both scholars have recently been released from prison in Jordan, perhaps because the government wants to amplify their criticism of the Islamic State.


Germany stresses on Iran’s participation in fight against ISIS*

Berlin, Sept 26, IRNA – German Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesperson said Berlin welcomes Iran’s participation in international fight against ISIS and stresses on serious and constructive role of all countries including Iran in this regard.

According to IRNA reporter, Sawsan Chebli, talking to reporters on Friday to a question on the role of Iran in international fight against ISIS, said, ‚We welcome Tehran’s constructive role in this regard.‘

Referring to statements of German Foreign Minister in his meeting with President Hassan Rouhani in New York on Thursday, Chebli said,‘ As Mr. Steinmeier stressed Iran is an important and influential country in the region and has a decisive role in resolving regional crises including fight against the terrorist group of ISIS.‘

She added Iran has also played a constructive role in the formation of the new government in Iraq which can be important in establishing peace and tranquility in that country.

‚We believe that Iran has an important role in the region and it goes without saying that Iran’s presence at the negotiation table on important regional issues will be influential.‘

Chebli said Iran, with its actions against ISIS, has shown that they have a similar viewpoint with the international community on the fact that ISIS is a big threat for the region and the world.

She added Germany believes that all countries should have close cooperation in confronting ISIS.


Iran offers to be West’s natural ally*

The overwhelming majority with which the House of Commons in London passed a few hours earlier the resolution endorsing the government’s proposal to join the US-led military strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq catapults Prime Minister David Cameron to a pivotal role in President Barack Obama’s strategy. With Britain by its side, US doesn’t need the ramshackle “coalition of the willing”, while without Britain, even six Saudi Arabias within that coalition wouldn’t have meant much.

Cameron has begun preparing himself already. His meeting on Wednesday in New York with the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (just before the House of Commons vote) was symbolic insofar as it has been the first such meeting since the 1979 Islamic revolution, but London wouldn’t have made such a historic move except with the foreknowledge that Iran’s integration with the international community is imminent.

Indeed, the facade of the P5+Germany process has been torn asunder and Washington and select European allies are directly negotiating with Tehran, marginalizing any role for Russia. The US-Iranian consultations have intensified and the Iranian statements also point in the direction of a real possibility of a nuclear deal emerging by the end-November deadline.

As I wrote earlier, the two tracks — Iran’s role in the US-led fight against the Islamic State and the nuclear talks — are running neck-and-neck. All pretensions to the contrary — that the two tracks are not interlinked — have been cast aside.

In an extraordinary speech at the UN General Assembly on Thursday (the day after the Cameron-Rouhani meeting), the Iranian president came out openly that a nuclear deal will open up infinite possibilities of cooperation between the West and Iran across the board. Rouhani’s plea was two-fold: a) West should realize that Iran is its only “natural ally” in the Middle East; and, b) If the nuclear problem can be resolved, that enables Iran to work with the West in creating a New Middle East.

Most certainly, Washington and London would regard this as the nearest that Iran has come to signal that it is willing to help in a political transition in Syria just as it helped the transition in Iraq, which has met with Obama’s full satisfaction.

By M K Bhadrakumar September 26, 2014


COLUMN-Free trade in oil serves U.S. interests: John Kemp

U.S. oil refiners have been among the biggest beneficiaries of free trade in the last decade, so it is ironic some continue to lobby hard to maintain the protectionist ban on crude exports.

Domestic consumption of oil-based products fell by just over 2 million barrels per day (b/d) between 2005 and 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Refiners turned to export markets to fill the gap, increasing exports of finished petroleum products and other refinery liquids by just less than 2 million b/d over the same period (

The renaissance in U.S. refining stems from the shale boom but it would not have been possible without free trade policies guaranteeing access to export markets.

Production, profits and jobs at U.S. refineries are increasingly underpinned by exports to Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Without exports, many refineries would have been forced to close by falling demand for gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and asphalt at home.

Most refiners have quietly accepted the case for free trade applies to unprocessed crude as well. But some smaller and more domestically focused operators continue to oppose any effort to ease or lift the restrictions on crude exports.

Four smaller refiners have formed Consumers and Refiners United for Domestic Energy (CRUDE) to lobby Congress and the White House against repealing the four-decade old restrictions.

The crude export ban was originally introduced in response to the 1973 oil embargo, in which the members of the Organisation of Arab Exporting Countries (OAPEC) cut production and banned exports to the United States and the Netherlands in retaliation for their support for Israel.

The U.S. oil export ban was meant to reserve American energy for American customers after supplies were cut from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

The original logic of the ban has long since become moot in the changed strategic environment of the 21st century.

But opponents claim permitting crude exports could harm American consumers and workers by raising fuel prices and leading to refinery closures.

Neither outcome is likely. In fact, there is no rational basis for maintaining a near-total ban on exporting crude while allowing refined products to be exported freely.


Permitting crude oil exports would not raise the price of finished fuels such as gasoline and home heating oil for American consumers.

Pump prices have always been set in global markets and linked to international benchmarks like Brent rather than domestic crude prices like WTI or Bakken.

With U.S. refiners now exporting more than 1 million barrels of distillates, half a million barrels of gasoline and 200,000 barrels of jet fuel every day, arbitrage ensures American consumers pay the same at the pump as motorists abroad. Any price changes as a result of lifting the ban would be trivial.

The principal effect of the export ban is to transfer profits from domestic crude producers to refiners by artificially depressing the price of domestic crude oil while allowing product prices to be set at international level.

Restrictions have boosted the profits of refineries and guaranteed them market share without making fuel any cheaper for consumers, at the expense of oil producers and royalty owners.


Export opponents imply jobs might be lost and refineries might close if the ban were lifted, but there is no real reason to expect either outcome.

U.S. refineries would remain cost-advantaged by their proximity to domestic production. Most are also considerably more sophisticated than competitors in Europe and Latin America so they have a technology advantage as well.

If the export ban was lifted, there are unlikely to be any significant refinery closures or job losses. Besides, focusing on exclusively on refinery employment is too narrow.

U.S. refineries directly employ around 76,000 workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), compared with more than 210,000 workers directly engaged in oil and gas drilling.

Refineries have created fewer than 10,000 extra jobs over the last decade, while increased oil and gas production has generated nearly 100,000, and employment is still increasing.

Wage rates in field production and refineries are similar, according to the BLS, not least because many petroleum engineers and other highly skilled workers are equally able to find employment in the upstream or downstream sections of the industry.

Government policy should be aiming to maximise well-paid jobs across the industry, whether upstream, midstream or downstream, rather than in just one part of it.


The export ban is sometimes justified on public interest and national security grounds, by reserving American oil for American customers and maintaining a strong domestic petroleum industry.

But the ban does nothing of the sort. More than 4 million barrels of American oil and gas liquids are already exported every day, mostly in the form of diesel, gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas.

Thanks to the shale revolution, the United States has experienced a boom in oil and gas jobs and lower prices for both natural gas and oil products.

As a result of advances in drilling, the country has a strong comparative advantage in oil and gas production, and should focus on maximising oilfield output and employment rather than subsidising refineries that do not need the help.

The ban on crude exports is illogical, unnecessary, and serves only to enrich shareholders in a small number of domestically focused refineries.

It does nothing to promote jobs or cut fuel prices for ordinary Americans. Instead it exposes the United States to charges of hypocrisy when U.S. officials try to promote liberalisation and oppose barriers erected by other countries, such as China’s restrictions on the export of rare earth elements.

Boosting domestic production, minimising oil imports and maximising exports serves the strategic interests of the United States by reducing global price volatility, ensuring the stable flow of energy to allies, and reducing the influence of other energy exporters who are hostile to the United States.

The case for Congress and the president to lift outdated restrictions on crude exports is therefore overwhelming. Lawmakers and the White House should act promptly once the midterm elections are over. To continue enforcing the ban could only be seen as a cynical and arbitrary exercise in protectionism on behalf of a small number of vocal refinery owners.

John Kemp | Senior Market Analyst | Reuters

In eigener Sache:

Udo von Massenbach – Bundesschatzmeister der Partei „Neue Liberale“

Dies ist eine Mitteilung über meinen neuen politischen Hintergrund. Am Massenbach-Letter. News“ wird sich in seiner Ausrichtung nichts ändern. Dafür sorgen nicht zuletzt die beiden Mitstreiter/in (sic! ein Unwort) Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster und Jörg Barandat.

Meinen Einstand in die „Neue Liberale“ hatte ich mit dem angefügten Antrag: „Thing global. Deutschland über Europa hinaus denken. Warum TTIP mehr ist als ein Handelsabkommen.“

Mein Kommentar im nachfolgenden Artikel beschreibt weitere Positionen, die die Berichterstattungen ergänzen.


Udo v. Massenbach

Sehr geehrte Frau Werner,

es ist richtig, die beiden Vorsitzenden sind aus Hamburg. Es liegt bei der Besetzung auch keine Quote vor. Quote von 50%? Die neuen Liberalen haben sich bereits

bei dieser Entscheidung von „gleich“ ohne Wenn-und-Aber leiten lassen.

Im Übrigen: Wir haben großen Wert darauf gelegt, dass Berlin als Hauptstadt und politischem Zentrum mit einem ausgewiesen so-called Wirtschaftsliberalen mit internationalen Verbindungen durch die Position des Schatzmeisters vertreten ist. Es mag zunächst unbedeutend erscheinen, der Kenner goutiert. Ich füge Ihnen zur Information meinen auf dem Bundesparteitag eingebrachten Antrag bei.

Mit freundlichem liberalen Grüßen

Udo von Massenbach


„Neue Liberale“

Mohrenstr. 1

10117 Berlin

Tel: +49 30 224 888 96

Fax: +49 30 224 888 94



see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat



Antrag Udo von Massenbach -Think global.Deutschland über Europa hinaus denken.pdf