Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 17/10/14

Massenbach-Letter. News

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

· ISIS Has Almost No Popular Support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon

· Fateful week for US-Iran talks

· Arab Spring heading for TashkentUzbekistan is the key country in Central Asia

· Why the Islamic State Is Losing

· Umfassende Bestandsaufnahme und Risikoanalyse zentraler Rüstungsprojekte der Bundeswehr-Exzerpt Analyse

· The Risks of Cheap Water

· FAZ: Kommentar: Die Energiewende zerbröselt

· Gallup:Americans Say Equal Pay Top Issue for Working Women

Massenbach* Why the Islamic State Is Losing*

The pundits have it wrong — the group’s move toward Baghdad is a sign of desperation.

Many in the world media seem to be concluding, with alarm, that the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is at the gates of Baghdad. ISIL has made dramatic gains in Anbar province, Iraq’s perennially troubled "wild west," and Anbar is next to Baghdad. Ergo, Baghdad must be next to fall. It was probably no accident that, on Tuesday, President Obama convened an urgent conference of defense officials from 21 countries at Andrews Air Force Base to coordinate strategies and tactics.

Everyone should calm down. The reality is that ISIL and its forerunners have always been in Baghdad. The Iraqi capital and its rural exurbs – the "Baghdad belts" — have been a desperate battleground since 2003.

True, ISIL has been posing much more of a direct threat to Baghdad since the beginning of 2014, when the movement took control of Fallujah, a city of 300,000 that is located just 25 miles west of Baghdad International Airport. But Baghdad won’t fall to cascading panic the way that Mosul did in June 2014, no matter how many towns and cities ISIL overruns in the Euphrates River Valley to the northwest of the capital.

Here’s why. Mosul was a predominately Sunni city of one million people where the Shia-led security forces were despised and where the bulk of Iraq’s security forces were hundreds of miles away. Baghdad is a predominately Shia city of more than seven million and the hub of a gargantuan popular mobilization of Shia militias and regular security forces. Mao Zedong said that the guerrilla "must swim among the people as the fish swims in the sea," but ISIL would be swimming with piranhas if it tried to recreate Mosul in Baghdad.

In truth, the threat posed to Baghdad this autumn is emerging less because ISIL is winning the war in Iraq and more because it might be slowly but steadily losing it. All across north-central Iraq, ISIL is being challenged by joint forces comprised of Sunni tribes, Shia militias, Iraqi soldiers, Iranian advisors and U.S. airpower. ISIL is struggling to maintain its grip on this battlefield of strange bedfellows, and it could be moving on Baghdad now out of a desperate need for a big victory more than anything else. Even as ISIL appears to be making progress in marginal places like Kobane, the Syrian Kurdish border town, inside Iraq the group has been faltering and needs a new front to rejuvenate its campaign.

Among the less-noted victories against ISIL recently: In early October, Kurdish peshmerga forces and local Sunni tribesmen of the Shammar confederation — usually bitter rivals — cooperated in a three-day blitzkrieg that recaptured the vital Rabiya border crossing that links the ISIL territories in Iraq and Syria. In Dhuluiya, 45 miles north of Baghdad, Sunni tribesmen of the Jabouri confederation are pushing ISIL back from their lands in collaboration with both Iraqi Army forces and, stunningly, Iranian-backed Shia militiamen from the Kataib Hezbollah movement.

Near Kirkuk, the Obeidi confederation, another conglomeration of Sunni tribes, is starting to cooperate with Shia Turkmen tribes and Kurdish security forces against ISIL. For the first time since June, the Iraqi government is able to drive tanks and supply columns all the way from Baghdad to Kirkuk, allowing the security forces to open a new front on ISIL’s eastern flank.

This is not to say that ISIL is just rolling over. The Islamic State certainly landed some good punches in early October, overrunning a handful of small garrisons in Anbar, capturing parts of the 100,000-strong city of Hit and driving security forces out of much of Ramadi city, Anbar’s provincial capital.

But overall, ISIL’s reaction to Sunni tribal uprisings — suicide bombings and assassinations against the tribes — will only reinforce tribal resolve. ISIL still needs to relieve pressure on its northern Iraqi territories and open a new front.

Which is where Baghdad comes in. Regardless of what happens in Anbar, ISIL needs to punch back somewhere vital, somewhere sensitive, if it is to regain the initiative in Iraq. Iraq-watchers have been waiting for an ISIL thrust against Baghdad for many months, and many are scratching their heads as to why it has not landed yet.

It is not for lack of opportunity. ISIL was well-established in the inner suburbs of Baghdad even before June 2014: With great fanfare, Islamic State militants held a 75-vehicle parade in Abu Ghraib, just 15 miles from the U.S. Embassy, in May. Terrifyingly, there’s little to prevent missile attacks closing down Baghdad’s sole international airport. So what is ISIL waiting for?

They cannot capture the Shia metropolis of Baghdad outright and have been putting their effort into consolidating control of Sunni areas in northern and western Iraq. As counterterrorism analyst Daveed Gartenstein-Ross adroitly notes, they also seem to have become fixated on Kobane, perhaps at the expense of higher-priority missions in Iraq and Syria.

One option could be an uprising in the Sunni neighbourhoods of west Baghdad, areas that are open to the ISIL-dominated Jazeera desert to the northwest of Baghdad. The uprising need not succeed or get much backing from Baghdad’s Sunnis: ISIL’s gambit would rely upon sparking sectarian cleansing by Shia militias, thus dragging all Sunni men in Baghdad into the fight.

ISIL could also try a spectacular terrorist attack like its July 22, 2013, assault on the heavily defended Abu Ghraib prison, when 800 inmates were freed. Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), nestled in vulnerable west Baghdad and adjacent to insurgent-infested farmlands, would be a prime target. On Oct. 12, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told ABC’s This Week that Apache gunships flew strike missions from the airport in early October because ISIL had come "within 20 or 25 kilometers of BIAP" and had "a straight shot to the airport."

But most likely, ISIL is simply readying for its annual killing spree against Shia pilgrims during the Ashura and Arbaeen religious festivals. In the week before Ashura begins on Nov. 3, Baghdad will swell with millions of pilgrims making their way to Karbala, just southwest of the capital. Many of these pilgrims make the 50-mile walk from Baghdad to Karbala, which passes within seven miles of Jurf as-Sakr, a heavily-contested ISIL stronghold to the south of Baghdad. We can expect mortar attacks, car bombings and suicide-vest detonations inside the crowds.

This is the real meaning of ISIL being at the gates of Baghdad — that the movement is poised perilously close to key religious and transportation hubs, and may be intent on mounting sectarian outrages at the most sensitive moment of the year for the Shia. The Iraqi security forces view Ashura and Arbaeen as an annual trial — and in recent years they have achieved significant success in limiting the mayhem caused by ISIL and its forerunners.

This year the Iraqi military and allied Shia militias have been fighting hard, with U.S. air support, to clear ISIL back from the pilgrim routes between Baghdad and Karbala — and with some success. Protecting the pilgrims and blunting ISIL’s gambits in Baghdad will be the next great test for Iraq’s recovering security forces — because the enemy is truly at the gates of the Shia world.

Michael Knights, a Lafer Fellow with The Washington Institute, regularly travels to Iraq and has worked in all of the country’s provinces.



Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Gallup: Americans Say Equal Pay Top Issue for Working Women*

Equal opportunity for advancement is second

by Jeffrey M. Jones

This article is featured in "Women and the Workplace," a weeklong series exploring a variety of issues affecting modern working women.

PRINCETON, NJ — Nearly four in 10 Americans say equal pay is the top issue facing working women in the United States today, a sentiment shared by roughly the same proportions of men, women, and working women. About twice as many Americans mention equal pay as cite the second-ranked issue — equal opportunity for advancement. No other issue is cited by more than 10% of Americans.

The results are based on an open-ended question asked in a Sept. 25-30 Gallup poll. There are almost as many working women as working men in the U.S. And many women today seek not only to have jobs but to establish their careers and advance in them. But working women continue to face challenges that differ from those of working men. As an example, last week, Microsoft’s CEO sparked controversy when asked about one of the major challenges for working women — pay equity — when he suggested that women should not ask for raises but rely on the system to deliver fair pay to them.

Americans clearly see norms of fairness and equality — in terms of pay and the opportunity to get ahead — as the greatest challenges for working women. These surpass issues such as how women are treated in the workplace and balancing parenthood with work, but these more practical concerns certainly are not absent from the list of issues facing women. For example, 8% of Americans mention that respectful treatment of female employees, including sexual harassment, is an issue in the workplace. Another 7% mention access to childcare, and 6% mention balancing work and home life.

For the most part, men, women, and working women have similar ideas about the challenges facing working women. The greatest perceptual differences appear between men and working women with respect to the top-of-mind importance of childcare, work-home balance, and healthcare. Few men, no more than 3%, mention these as the most important challenges for working women. But 9% of working women mention healthcare, 10% mention balancing work and home life, and 12% mention childcare.

Men in general are also less likely than women and working women to cite any issue, as 20% of men do not have an opinion, compared with 12% of all women and 8% of working women.

While there are not wide differences by gender in perceptions of the key issues for working women, the views of political liberals and conservatives diverge. Liberals are nearly twice as likely as conservatives, 51% to 28%, to mention equal pay as the biggest challenge working women face. Despite this difference, it is still the most commonly mentioned issue for conservatives.

Liberals are also much more likely than conservatives to mention equal opportunity. In contrast, conservatives are more likely than liberals to mention the availability of jobs as the top issue for working women.

Conservatives are also much more likely than liberals not to offer a response — 26% of conservatives do not have an opinion, compared with 8% of liberals.


Americans regard basic norms of fairness and equality — specifically in terms of pay and opportunities to advance — as the greatest issues facing working women today. Although there are almost as many working women as working men in the U.S. today, and women are increasingly rising to positions of prominence in business, they still as a group lag behind men in pay and in the percentage of upper management positions they hold.

In fact, equal pay for women has become a major issue this year. In addition to the controversy regarding the Microsoft CEO’s comments, pay equity has also become a significant issue in this year’s political campaigns. And it resonates with voters — ranking among the most important issues in this year’s elections. The prominence of the issue in this year’s campaign may also explain why it is top-of-mind for Americans as the most important issue facing working women.


Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Umfassende Bestandsaufnahme und Risikoanalyse zentraler Rüstungsprojekte der Bundeswehr-Exzerpt Analyse *

KPMG | P3 Group | TaylorWessing

Umfassende Bestandsaufnahme und Risikoanalyse

zentraler Rüstungsprojekte I Exzerpt I 30.09.2014


1 Gesamtgutachtenauftrag …………………………………………………………………………………………… 5

1.1 Auftragsbeschreibung ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5

1.2 Genese …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

1.3 Rollenverständnis und Abgrenzung ……………………………………………………………………………… 6

2 Sachstand und Risikolage der betrachteten Großprojekte ……………………………………………….. 8

2.1 Schützenpanzer PUMA ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8

2.2 Transportflugzeug A400M ………………………………………………………………………………………… 12

2.3 Eurofighter ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15

2.4 NATO Helicopter (NH 90) ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

2.5 Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger ……………………………………………………………………………. 21

2.6 Fregatte F 125 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 24

2.7 Streitkräftegemeinsame verbundfähige Funkgeräteausstattung (SVFuA) ……………………….. 28

2.8 Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS) …………………………………………………………………. 30

2.9 Signalverarbeitende Luftgestützte Weitreichende Überwachung und Aufklärung (SLWÜA) 33

3 Optimierung der Rüstungsbeschaffung bei Großprojekten …………………………………………….. 37

3.1 Leitbild für eine optimierte Rüstungsbeschaffung ……………………………………………………….. 37

3.2 Handlungsempfehlungen ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 38

3.3 Reflexion bestehender Empfehlungen ……………………………………………………………………….. 48

3.4 Vorschlag zur organisatorischen Verankerung …………………………………………………………….. 49

4 Zusammenfassung und Ausblick ……………………………………………………………………………….. 51

Das Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr, Koblenz (im Folgenden „BAAINBw“), hat das Konsortium aus a) der KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Berlin (im Folgenden „KPMG“), mit ihren Unterauftragnehmern TaylorWessing Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB und KPMG Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH und b) der P3 Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Aachen (mit konzernverbundenen Unternehmen als Unterauftragnehmer) mit Werkvertrag vom 27. Juni 2014 beauftragt, eine „umfassende Bestandsaufnahme und Risikoanalyse zentraler Rüstungsprojekte“ vorzunehmen.

Anlass dieser Beauftragung war die Entscheidung der Bundesministerin der Verteidigung Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, Strukturen und Prozesse im Management der Rüstungsprojekte zu überprüfen und Transparenz für Parlament und Öffentlichkeit herzustellen sowie notwendige Verbesserungen anhand einzelner Teilgutachten für jedes der ausgewählten zentralen Rüstungsprojekte aufzuzeigen.

Die Ergebnisse wurden in einem Gesamtgutachten zusammengefasst. Das Gesamtgutachten unterliegt der Einstufung als Verschlusssache der Stufe „VS – Nur für den Dienstgebrauch“.

Dieses Exzerpt enthält die wesentlichen Ergebnisse des Gesamtgutachtens, die nicht als Verschlusssache eingestuft sind. Es betrifft im Wesentlichen die phasenübergreifende Verbesserung des Projekt‐ und Risikomanagements von Rüstungsprojekten und ‐vorhaben (Analyse, Realisierung und Nutzung), ein transparentes, ebenengerechtes Berichtswesen und Impulse für die weitere Organisationsentwicklung (Prozesse und Strukturen).

Das Beraterteam hat innerhalb von drei Monaten in zehn interdisziplinären Arbeitsgruppen parallel die Risiken der folgenden neun Vorhaben und Projekte mit einem Gesamtvolumen von über 50 Mrd.

EUR untersucht:

 Schützenpanzer PUMA

 Transportflugzeug A400M

 Eurofighter

 NATO Helicopter (NH 90) einschließlich „Global Deal“

 Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger

 Fregatte Klasse 125 (F125)

 Streitkräftegemeinsame Funkausstattung (SVFuA)

 Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS)

 Signalverarbeitende Luftgestützte Weitreichende Überwachung und Aufklärung (SLWÜA)

Continued: see att.


*The Risks of Cheap Water*

Lake Oroville in California in August.

This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.

It will get worse. As climate change and population growth further stress the water supply from the drought-plagued West to the seemingly bottomless Great Lakes, states and municipalities are likely to impose increasingly draconian restrictions on water use.

Such efforts may be more effective than simply exhorting people to conserve. In August, for example, cities and towns in California consumed much less water — 27 billion gallons less —than in August last year.

But the proliferation of limits on water use will not solve the problem because regulations do nothing to address the main driver of the nation’s wanton consumption of water: its price.

“Most water problems are readily addressed with innovation,” said David G. Victor of the University of California, San Diego. “Getting the water price right to signal scarcity is crucially important.”


Interstate 5 in Del Mar, Calif., in September. California is in an extended drought and has introduced fines to foster conservation.

The signals today are way off. Water is far too cheap across most American cities and towns. But what’s worse is the way the United States quenches the thirst of farmers, who account for 80 percent of the nation’s water consumption and for whom water costs virtually nothing.

Adding to the challenges are the obstacles placed in the way of water trading. “Markets are essential to ensuring that water, when it’s scarce, can go to the most valuable uses,” said Barton H. Thompson, an expert on environmental resources at Stanford Law School. Without them, “the allocation of water is certainly arbitrary.”

Two studies to be presented at a forum next week organized by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment make the case that markets and prices are an indispensable part of the tool kit to combat scarcity. They are essential to induce both conservation and investment in water-saving technology, and to steer water to where it is valued most.

“There is enough water; we can live within our means,” said Jim Lochhead, chief executive of Denver Water. “But the systems we have in place simply do not have enough flexibility to move water to the places where it is most needed.”

The price of water going into Americans’ homes often does not even cover the cost of delivering it, let alone the depreciation of utilities’ infrastructure or their R&D. It certainly doesn’t account for other costs imposed by water use — on, say, fisheries or the environment — caused by taking water out of rivers or lakes.

Consumers have little incentive to conserve. Despite California’s distress, about half of the homes in the capital, Sacramento, still don’t have water meters, paying a flat fee no matter how much water they consume.

Some utilities do worse: charging decreasing rates the more water is consumed. Utilities, of course, have little incentive to discourage consumption: The more they did that the more their revenues would decline.

Rates have little relation to water’s replacement cost. In Fresno, which gets less than 11 inches of rain a year, a family of four using 400 gallons a day faces a monthly water bill of $28.26. In Boston, where rainfall exceeds 40 inches, the same family would pay $77.73.

While this may seem a mess, it is nothing compared to the incentives facing American farms.

Their water rights are primarily subject to state law. In the West, they have been allocated by a method that closely resembles “first come first served.” The first farm that drew water had a right to whatever it needed pretty much forever. Junior users — who arrived later — had to stand in line.

Farmers pay if the government brings the water to the farm, say via an aqueduct from the Colorado River. But the fees are minimal. Farmers in California’s Imperial Irrigation District pay $20 per acre-foot, less than a tenth of what it can cost in San Diego. And the government has often subsidized farmers via things like interest-free loans to cover upfront investments. (An acre-foot is the amount it takes to cover one acre of land a foot deep in water.)

This kind of arrangement helps explain why about half the 60 million acres of irrigated land in the United States use flood irrigation, just flooding the fields with water, which is about as wasteful a method as there is. It also helps explain why underground water reserves declined by 53 million acre-feet between 2003 and 2014, about twice the volume of Lake Mead.

This is hardly the only obstacle to conservation. A farm that doesn’t use its full allotment of water risks forfeiting it for not putting it to “beneficial use.” And any water saved automatically flows to other farmers with junior rights.

Farmers in many states are theoretically allowed to lease unused water. But the many holders of junior rights can block them. And they are legion: California has granted rights to five times its average annual flow of surface water.

These restrictions have perverse consequences. San Diego, for instance, is building the nation’s biggest desalination plant to produce fresh water at a cost of about $2,000 per acre-foot. But alfalfa growers in Southern California last year used hundreds of billions of gallons growing alfalfa that might fetch at best $340 a ton, or $920 per acre-foot of water.

Markets, and sensible pricing structures, are good at resolving these problems. Some water districts, like Irvine Ranch in California, have successfully introduced rising fee schedules: starting low for a basic allotment covering families’ essential needs and rising quickly with volume to make people think twice about refilling the swimming pool.


Sprinklers at a sod farm in Lodi, Calif. Farmers account for 80 percent of the nation’s water consumption.

Spurred by the sense of crisis, incipient water markets show great promise. Santa Fe, N.M., has required builders to have water rights with their building applications since 2005 — giving farmers an opportunity to sell their rights to developers rather than using them for low-value crops.

In 2003, the San Diego Water Authority cut a deal with the Imperial Irrigation District — a large area of parched farmland near California’s Arizona border — to provide the city with 200,000 acre-feet of water at a price starting at $258 per acre-foot.

Seven states in the Colorado River system are starting a pilot program to explore a market between farmers and urban water authorities to help maintain water volumes in Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

This isn’t quite charging farmers for the water they use. But that may be a bridge too far, considering the tight margins of many farms and the political clout of many farmers.

Still, markets such as those timidly emerging in the West could not only free water for the users who value it more, but they could also provide farmers with the revenue needed to invest in water management technology.

None of this will come easily. People like cheap water and protest when rates rise. Farmers have resisted transfers of water to cities at least since California’s water wars a century ago.

The looming prospect of acute water scarcity demands a solution, however. It’s not only the West’s problem. Two years ago, the drought in the Midwest was as severe as the current drought in California. Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron were at historic lows.

Alternative solutions have been proposed — like towing icebergs from the Arctic or diverting water from the Missouri River to use on the other side of the Rockies. But the standard response to scarcity — grabbing more — cannot work any longer. There isn’t more water to grab.

Which means markets must play their part. “Without prices or trade,” said Robert Glennon, an expert on water at Arizona University’s College of Law, “we will just get more diversion of rivers, more dams and more wells.” And nothing will be fixed.



Middle East

Arab Spring heading for Tashkent

Uzbekistan is the key country in Central Asia — although Kazakhs intensely dislike hearing this — and what happens in that country will be of immense consequence to regional security and stability of the vast space between the Caspian and the western borders of China — perhaps, even including Xinjiang. Yet, there is little awareness among Indian scholars and think tankers that Uzbekistan is veritably a volcano waiting to erupt. True, it is a highly secretive country which yields its secrets very grudgingly to outsiders.

Yet, in bits and pieces, one could hear through the past year or so the rumblings of something very sinister going on in Uzbekistan. Three weeks ago, it was officially stated in Tashkent that the dictator-president Islam Karimov’s daughter Gulnara (who used to be widely discussed in the West as a potential successor to her father some day) has been put under house arrest.

Now, when a dictator cannot save his daughter from incarceration and persecution, it is clear that he no longer controls the levers of power. Indeed, a grim succession struggle has begun in Tashkent. There are alarming reports that the Uzbek volcano might erupt any day.

Indeed, the Karimov era seems to be ending and a vicious power struggle has begun, involving security agencies and the famous “clans” (whose alignments and realignments constitute the alchemy of politics in all Central Asian societies.)

Karimov belonged to the Samarkand clan, but he skillfully kept an equilibrium. It is unclear which clans are now on the ascendance as his days are ending — Zhizak clan, Tashkent clan and Ferghana clan being the principal ones.

Clan struggle can turn the country into a veritable snake pit. Equally, Uzbek security agency (which is successor to the Soviet-era KGB) is notoriously brutal and it seems to be on the march to grab power. According to a former British ambassador in Tashkent (from around the time I served there in the 1990s), dissidents used to be put into cauldrons of boiling water and women used to be raped with scissors and metal objects.

The Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan has always been a hotbed of Islamism. That is how the question has lately arisen: How real is the threat posed by the surge of the Islamic State in the Middle East to the Central Asian region? Having said that, it is also impossible to ignore that that the islamist threat to Central Asia is often magnified out of proportion by outside powers with a view to keep the dictators in line.

Of course, the region’s dictators themselves have a vested interest in portraying that they are a bulwark against the rising tide of islamist extremism and thereby integrate into the West’s war on terror. (Read a recent analysis here on the linkages between Central Asia’s militant Islamist groups and their foreign contacts, such as Taliban in Afghanistan.)

Josef Stalin knew that controlling Uzbekistan was vital to keeping Central Asia calm. His devastating solution to Central Asia’s nationality question in the 1920s saw the Uzbek communities ending as minorities in all of Uzbekistan’s 4 neighboring “stans”. (There is also an Uzbek population in the Amu Darya region within Afghanistan.)

Then, there is the great game involving Russia, China and the US. Not only its geographical location but its great wealth of rare minerals would make Uzbekistan a prize catch for the big powers. At the moment, China is ahead of Russia and the US in cultivating Karimov’s favors. The Chinese business interests have thereby profited. Karimov feels extremely comfortable that Beijing is never preachy about democracy, human rights, etc and is preoccupied with advancing trade and investment.

If Uzbekistan descends into anarchy, it will take the entire region down with it. The stakes are so high for Russia and China that some sort of intervention by them — together under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or by Russia alone — to steady the situation in Uzbekistan may become necessary at some point. Russia still wields enormous clout behind the scenes in Tashkent, especially at the level of the security agencies.

But the Americans hold a trump card — “color revolution”. In fact, Uzbekistan is ripe for a color revolution now that it is apparent that the dictator’s days are over.

With the establishment of the US military bases in Afghanistan, there is going to be a very strong American intelligence presence in the region. The US has had dealings with Uzbek dissidents. IN sum, the “infrastructure” is in place for staging a color revolution. To be sure, there will be a concerted US attempt to checkmate any pro-Russia drift on the part of Uzbekistan.

For Russia, on the other hand, a friendly regime in Tashkent might be inclined to steer Uzbekistan back into the fold of the Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO] and if luck holds good, Tashkent may even apply for membership of the fledgling Eurasian Economic Union, which is Moscow’s main regional integration vehicle in the “post-Soviet” space.

Kazakhstan is already a member of the EEC, Kyrgyzstan is about to join and Tajikistan is mulling over it, but if Uzbekistan discards its Karimov-era aloofness and instead applies for membership of the CSTO and EEC, it would be a game changer for Moscow in the geopolitics of Eurasia and Moscow would have blocked the US and NATO from projecting power into Russia’s backyard.

And precisely for that reason, the US can be expected to influence the course of events in Uzbekistan in the immediate period ahead. Ideally, the US would like to project the NATO as the provider of security in Central Asia and, therefore, a foothold in Uzbekistan becomes highly desirable. A detailed analysis of the unfolding crisis of the succession struggle in Uzbekistan is available here on a Russian website.





Several important points were raised by the participants and every single point deserves a special attention, yet since we have limited time, we are supposed to pursue a more structured path to continue our discussion in order to have more concrete recommendations. And I also strongly recommend the jammers to be more and more precise and to the point.

I would like to draw your attention to the following points that raised yesterday for further discussion on today and Thursday!

Violence in the Middle East is growing more destructive while divisions are blurring. In particular, weakened state authorities and insecure conditions in Iraq and Syria offer a breeding ground for terrorist organizations and radical groups.

Iraq and Syria have been a stage for proxy wars. Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have radicalized the region and triggered an arms race. Iran’s impact on the governments and on different radical Shiite elements should not be underestimated. Is it possible to stop these actors from penetrating the region?

Turkey has never faced the complicated realities of the Middle East from such proximity. Turkey’s capacity, effectiveness, and influence have been tested many times, and unfortunately, in the majority of cases Ankara failed the test. There is a mismatch between the role Turkey wants to play and its actual capacity while domestic and foreign politics are intertwined – the country is stuck in domestic politics and politicians do not have the energy, capacity or will to initiate something new.

Ascribing the problem solely to the organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will likely fail to produce correct solutions. The government deadlock in Iraq and Syria, decades-old alienating policies of the ruling regimes, sectarian conflict, lack of vision by local religious and political actors, involvement of regional power proxies, all indicate that an ISIS- type organization would have emerged in any case. Is ISIS likely to disappear soon or how must it be stopped?

Any answer to this question must be comprehensive. Every local, regional and global actor has a role to play. Some important regional grievances and diseases must be solved to stop not only ISIS and similar organizations, but the ISIS spirit itself. The real task at hand is to eliminate the favorable conditions for groups such as ISIS. There must be a short-, mid- and long-term strategy.

These radical groups have reached a previously unattained position of influence and power. How can local people be encouraged to denounced terrorism and cut all support to ISIS? How can we overcome the trust deficit?

Military operations will not be enough, so what other policies are needed? What should be the plan? What are the prospects for regional and global powers influencing the conflict positively? Just name the country/organization and indicate what it should do!

ISIS has pursued very effective propaganda strategies, with actions in Syria and Iraq one of the most publicized in the world. Foreign fighters broadcast the ISIS message in different languages, giving the group an unprecedented upper hand over the other armed groups operating in the region, enabling it to recruit more people and access more money and ammunition.

What should foreign fighters’ countries of origin do to prevent new recruits? From monitoring of border crossings to increasing intelligence activities and damaging ISIS’s financial resources, the leads are many.

Is there a real plan for a post-ISIS region? Should the international community be preparing post-conflict civilian missions and if so, what should be their most urgent goals?

Today in the forum, particular attention will be paid to the Syrian refugee crisis. There are almost 4 million refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Most will not be able return to home even if Assad steps down due to the destruction of their hometowns. Can refugees be integrated into their host societies?

These host countries have already reached their capacities. How could the burden be better shared, through what kind of mechanisms?

Besides the role of Turkey, the EU and the USA, what about the role of Russia and Iran? The position of these actors should be addressed more broadly.


ISIS Has Almost No Popular Support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon*

New polls show that the group has curried little favor in key countries, but the nuances behind the numbers have important implications for U.S. policy toward Syria, Iran, and other actors.

How much grassroots support does the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) enjoy in key "coalition" countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon? Until today, one could only guess at the answer. Recent news reports about the arrests of ISIS adherents in all three of these countries add urgency to the question.

Now, however, a trio of new polls — the first ones of their kind — provides the hard data on which to make this judgment. The polls were conducted in September by a leading commercial survey firm in the Middle East, using face-to-face interviews by experienced local professionals. The sample was a random, geographic probability national sample of 1,000 respondents (nationals only, excluding expatriates or refugees) in each country, yielding a statistical margin of error of approximately 3 percent.

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View the charts and article in Arabic.

The most striking as well as encouraging finding is that ISIS has almost no popular support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon — even among Sunnis. Among Egyptians, a mere 3 percent express a favorable opinion of ISIS. In Saudi Arabia, the figure is slightly higher: 5 percent rate ISIS positively. In Lebanon, not a single Christian, Shiite, or Druze respondent viewed ISIS favorably; and even among Lebanon’s Sunnis, that figure is almost equally low at 1 percent.

Nevertheless, there is a real difference between almost no support and no support at all. Since 3 percent of adult Egyptians say they approve of ISIS, that is nearly 1.5 million people. For Saudis, the 5 percent of adult nationals who support ISIS means over half a million people. And even in tiny Lebanon, 1 percent of adult Sunnis equals a few thousand ISIS sympathizers. In any of these places, this is enough to harbor at least a few cells of serious troublemakers.

Another major caveat is that the nearly uniform opposition to ISIS does not extend to other political Islamist organizations. In Egypt, for example, a surprisingly high proportion — one-third of the total population — voices a positive attitude toward Hamas. In Saudi Arabia, that figure is even higher at 52 percent. Still more surprising, despite the Egyptian and Saudi governments‘ relentless crackdowns and propaganda campaigns against the Muslim Brotherhood, is the comparable percentage who say they view the group favorably: 35 percent in Egypt and 31 percent in Saudi Arabia. By way of comparison, Hezbollah, a Shiite Islamist organization, receives just 12-13 percent popular approval among Egypt’s or Saudi Arabia’s overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim populations.

On these and other issues, there is very little variation among Egyptians by various demographic categories. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood rates 37 percent approval in urban concentrations like Cairo or Alexandria; 35 percent approval in Upper Egypt; and 33 percent approval in the Delta countryside. The subsample of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, fewer than 10 percent of the total, is too small to be statistically significant.

In Lebanon, by contrast, even as nearly all reject ISIS across the board, opinions about other Islamist groups are highly polarized by sect — but not always in the way one might expect. Hezbollah, as expected, is rated favorably by 92 percent of Shiites. Among Christians, that figure drops dramatically, yet still hovers near 40 percent. But among Lebanon’s Sunnis, a mere 8 percent have a positive view of Hezbollah. More counterintuitive, however, is the relatively low level of support for Hamas among Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims, especially so soon after the latest war in Gaza. Only one-fourth have even a "fairly positive" view of the Palestinian Islamist movement.

A further major point is that shared opposition to ISIS does not mean high ratings for the United States. In Egypt and in Saudi Arabia alike, America now has a dismal 12 percent approval number. In Lebanon, that number doubles to 25 percent, but again along a sharply polarized sectarian gradient: from 39 percent among Christians, to 30 percent among Sunnis or Druze, down to a measly 3 percent approval among the plurality Shiite population. To put these figures in perspective, China rates 38 percent positive among Saudis, 40 percent positive among Egyptians, and 54 percent positive among Lebanese.

One final key finding concerns popular attitudes toward two other common enemies of ISIS: Syria and Iran. In both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, favorable attitudes toward either the Iranian or the Syrian government barely make it into double digits. The relevant numbers in each country are stuck at merely 12-14 percent approval.

But in Lebanon, once again, sectarian polarization is the rule, in this case to an astonishing degree. Among the country’s Shiites, both the Iranian and even the Syrian governments enjoy a 96-97 percent approval rating. Conversely, among Lebanon’s Sunnis, Iran gets just 12 percent favorable reviews and Syria just 14 percent. Interestingly, however, Lebanese Christians fall somewhere in the middle on this measure: over a third (37 percent) give Iran at least a "fairly positive" rating, and nearly half (47 percent) say the same about Syria, where Bashar al-Assad’s regime is sometimes viewed as their protector against ISIS and other Islamic extremists.

What do all these numbers mean for the current U.S. campaign against ISIS? Public opinion can be fickle, but for now several policy implications emerge from this analysis. First, Washington and its allies need not fear that ISIS might attract a mass following in these nearby Arab societies, or that a strong popular backlash might develop against U.S. airstrikes, or against our other Arab allies in this fight. But second, the United States would be well advised to target its actions very narrowly against ISIS — not against other Islamist groups that have recently come under American fire, and could well add to their substantial popularity as a result. And third, any U.S. overtures either to Assad or to Iran, as potential partners against ISIS, run a great risk both of further alienating the Egyptian and the Saudi publics, and of further inflaming the dangerous sectarian polarization among Lebanese at the same time.


Fateful week for US-Iran talks *

High expectations have been raised by world statesmen — one Iranian and the other two American — on the eve of the ‘trilateral’ meeting in Vienna today between the US secretary of state John Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday expressed optimism about a resolution of the nuclear problem in terms that haven’t been articulated before. He said Iran has the “political will” to clinch a deal. Interestingly, he said this in a national address telecast alive.

The signs are that Iran’s Supreme Leader has authorized the Iranian negotiators to clinch a deal. The Iran Daily newspaper, which is identified with the Supreme leader’s office has showered fulsome praise on Rouhani’s policies seeking detente with the West.(here).

Clearly, the talks in Vienna are being held in an overall atmosphere of ‘normalcy’ returning in Iran’s relations with the West. A report in the Wall Street Journal suggested that Iranian tankers may have begun delivering oil to European countries in a significant sign of easing of the sanctions regime.

Perhaps, what merits close attention are the views expressed by two influential former US secretaries of state Dr. Henry Kissinger and James Baker during the NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ program on October 12.

This is what a well-informed and influential politician like Baker says about Iran: “I mean, the truth of the matter is, that Iran is very, very much opposed to what ISIS [Islamic State] is doing [in Iraq and Syria]. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Iran was not helping us quietly deal with some of this.”

Picking up from there NBC’s Tom Brokaw asks Kissinger how Israel, “our closest ally in the Middle East”, would perceive the US engagement with Iran. In an extraordinary turnaround, Kissinger whose identity of views with Israel traditionally on Iran’s role in regional politics has been almost one hundred percent, replies:

“As long as Iran that’s ruled by the ayatollah, and bases itself on its sectarian philosophy. We have to be careful. But basically, as a country, Iran is a natural ally of the United States. It’s the ideological, religious component that makes it an antagonist.” {Emphasis added.]

Fast forward. The national security advisor Susan Rice now joins the NBC’s Brokaw. Asked to comment on Iran’s role, Rice says:

“We’re not in coordination or direct consultation with the Iranians about any aspects of the fight against ISIL. It is a fact that in Iraq, they also are supporting the Iraqis against ISIL. But we are not coordinating. We’re doing this very differently and independently.”

But, would the US be interested in engaging Iran? Rice: “We’ve had some informal consultations on the margins of the nuclear talks about certain regional issues. But there’s no coordination, there’s no collaboration on the anti-ISIL campaign.” (Transcript). Rice parried.

Indeed, the signs are good for today’s talks at Vienna. Meanwhile, Zarif himself has been cautiously optimistic and would sum up in his arrival remarks in Vienna yesterday that, “this round of negotiations can level the path to a final agreement.” Which means don’t expect a breakthrough as such but things are going well enough.

Zarif added the caveat that “the issues which need to be settled are still too many… (but) there is a general understanding over the bases of issues, but these are details like the volume of enrichment, and the manner and the time table for the removal of the sanctions…”

Significantly, Zarif co-related the nuclear talks with “the realities existing on the regional and international scenes as well as this reality that (a solution to the nuclear issue) “will benefit all.”

Indeed, what gives extra traction to the negotiations in Vienna is that the regional conflicts (Islamic State, Syria, Iraq) are intersecting with the Iran nuclear issue in a way that the US would see the great urgency of reconciliation with Iran.

Iran has begun an earnest effort to harmonize its regional policies on vital issues affecting regional security and stability. Tehran muted its criticism of the establishment of US military bases in Afghanistan and has strongly endorsed the US-sponsored national unity governmenin Kabul. It is on the same page with US regarding islamic State. Most important, it exchanged notes with US on Syria and Israel. (See my blog A new dawn in Middle East politics?)

No doubt, we are heading toward a fateful weekend in Middle East politics. Today, the US-EU-Iran trilateral at Vienna; tomorrow the P5+1 and Iran at Vienna at senior officials level; and, lest we forget, the Asia-Europe summit meeting at Milan on Thursday and Friday, where European leaders (re)engage President Vladimir Putin and the process begins for the rollback of EU sanctions against Russia — where a key topic of discussion will be Middle East and how Russia can work with the West.

Of course, Russia doesn’t sit at the table when Kerry negotiates with Zarif today in Vienna, but it is an interested party for a variety of reasons and keeps a close tab on what’s afoot. The DFM Sergei Rybakov said in Moscow yesterday that a ministerial meeting of the 5+1 group and Iran could take place in November and if that meeting gets scheduled (as a follow-up to today’s meeting in Vienna), “this will mean that the solution is near.”


FAZ: Kommentar: Die Energiewende zerbröselt

Erstmals sinkt die Oköstrom-Umlage. Doch die Lage sieht besser aus, als sie ist. Die Energiewende als politisches Großprojekt wird Deutschland noch Jahrzehnte beschäftigen.

Wenn das kein Erfolg ist. Nicht einmal ein Jahr ist der sozialdemokratische Energieminister im Amt, und schon sinkt die Umlage zur Förderung des Ökostroms. Zwar geht sie bloß um weniger als 0,1 Cent auf 6,17 Cent je Kilowattstunde zurück, was dem Drei-Personen-Durchschnittshaushalt im Jahr knapp 3 Euro Ersparnis bringt. Doch zum ersten Mal seit dem Start des Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetzes (EEG) vor 14 Jahren verringert sich die Belastung, die der Verbraucher durch die Förderung von Strom aus Wind, Sonne und Biomasse hat. Das ist positiv, selbst wenn die Kunden den Ökostrom im kommenden Jahr wieder mit mehr als 20 Milliarden Euro bezuschussen.

Dennoch kann Minister Sigmar Gabriel die Stabilisierung der Umlage nicht als seinen politischen Gewinn verbuchen. Dass die Einnahmen aktuell ausreichen, um den Ökostrom zu bezahlen und das alte Defizit zu begleichen, liegt vor allem daran, dass die Umlage im vergangenen Herbst so deutlich erhöht worden war. Viel spricht auch dafür, dass die Umlage schon im übernächsten Jahr wieder steigen wird. Denn die Erzeugung von Elektrizität durch Wind, Sonne und Biomasse muss weiter kräftig ausgebaut werden. Schließlich soll die deutsche Stromerzeugung zur Mitte des Jahrhunderts fast frei von Kohlendioxidemissionen sein.

Fukushima einte die Gesellschaft

Mit der Ökostrom-Umlage ist es deshalb wie mit der Energiewende. Die Lage sieht besser aus, als sie ist. Deshalb gibt es Grund zu großer Besorgnis. Schlimm genug, dass es mit dem großen Plan zum Umbau der Energieversorgung auf vielen Bauabschnitten nicht recht vorangeht: Was soll der Dachdecker auf der Baustelle, wenn der Bau nicht über den Keller hinausgekommen ist? Schlimmer ist, dass die Bauherren sich immer weniger darüber einig sind, was und womit sie überhaupt bauen wollen.

Die 2011 nach dem Atomunfall von Fukushima große partei-, ja gesellschaftsübergreifende Gemeinsamkeit für einen Ausstieg aus der Atomenergie und den schrittweisen, kontrollierten Umstieg in ein von erneuerbaren Energien dominiertes Erzeugungsregime ist inzwischen zerronnen. Trotz großer Koalition gibt es nicht einmal in der Atompolitik so viel Konsens, dass ein paar im Ausland lagernde Container mit radioaktivem deutschen Müll auf Standorte in mehreren Ländern verteilt werden könnten.

Alter Kampf, neuer Gegner

Die früher so große Koalition für die Energiewende zerbröselt. Politischer Eigennutz, Angst vor dem Wähler, Spezialinteressen der Umwelt- und Wirtschaftslobby, nicht zuletzt ideologische Engstirnigkeit sorgen dafür, dass die feinen Risse im Fundament des überaus ambitionierten Projektes sich mehr und mehr zu Spalten verbreitern. Wo mehr Kooperation gefragt wäre – etwa auch durch eine energiepolitische Verdrahtung mit den Nachbarn -, wächst die Konfrontation. Das ist Gift für ein wirtschafts- und energiepolitisches Großprojekt, welches das Land noch Jahrzehnte beschäftigen wird.

So sind die Umweltverbände wieder in die Schlachtformationen der Antiatomzeit zurückgefallen, nur mit dem Unterschied, dass sie jetzt gegen die Verstromung von Braun- und Steinkohle polemisieren und mit einigem Erfolg ankämpfen. Der grünschimmernde SPD-Teil der Koalition hegt viel Sympathie für einen Kohleausstieg, der zügiger käme, als ihn die Ausbaupläne für Strom aus Wind, Sonne und Biomasse ohnehin erzwingen. Die Union hält – noch – dagegen: Zwangsabschaltungen wären teuer und würden der Umwelt wenig helfen, weil die frei werdenden CO2-Zertifikate der Kraftwerke dann lediglich anderswo genutzt würden.

Zuviel Strom im Süden, kein Anschluss in den Norden

Während die einen über Zwangsabschaltungen nachdenken, verbietet die staatliche Regulierungsbehörde Betreibern das Abschalten ihrer Kohlekraftwerke mit der Begründung, ohne diese sei die Netz- und Versorgungssicherheit gefährdet. Das alles klingt irrwitzig, hat aber Methode.

Als wäre die Lage nicht vertrackt genug, blockiert Bayerns christsozialer Ministerpräsident Horst Seehofer den Netzausbau, weil Anwohner protestieren. Dabei ist gerade Süddeutschland auf Stromlieferungen angewiesen, wenn die verbleibenden Kernkraftwerke in den kommenden Jahren nach und nach abgeschaltet werden. Dass politische Führung auch heißt, für einmal als richtig erkannte und gemeinsam beschlossene Vorhaben zu streiten, kommt Seehofer nicht in den Sinn. Ein Baustopp aber hätte gewaltige Folgen: Ohne die Stromautobahnen in den Süden müsste der Windstromausbau im Norden reduziert oder gestoppt werden. Dort gibt es schon heute Strom im Überfluss.

Wenn Seehofer ernst genommen werden möchte, muss er auch die Konsequenzen tragen. Die Idee einer Zweiteilung des deutschen Strommarktes hat Charme. Gingen die von energiepolitischen Abenteurern verursachten Kosten doch nicht mehr zu Lasten aller Stromkunden, sondern nur zu Lasten derjenigen in Süddeutschland. Dann könnte Seehofer, der schon den Ausbau der Windkraft in Bayern durch großzügige Abstandsregelungen verhindert hat, auch teure Gaskraftwerke anwerfen lassen – vorausgesetzt natürlich, er kann auch deren Gasversorgung sicherstellen.



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Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat