Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 23/01/15

Massenbach-Letter. News

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

Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address | January 20, 2015

· Kurdish leaders say they know who pushed ISIS to attack Kurdistan

· Schlumberger to Pay $1.7 Billion for Stake in Russia’s Eurasia Drilling

· Senator John McCain Launches New Attack on ‘Antiquated’ Jones Act

· EU-Sanktionen gegen Russland vor Neubewertung

· Kerry voices backing for energy diversification, judicial reforms in Bulgaria

· Natalia Zubarevich: If Caucasus faces increase of hostilities, transfers will grow

· Organization of Islamic Cooperation: Priorities and Policies

· Moscow prepares for meeting of Syrian leaders

· Wolfgang Ischinger: "Die Welt ist gefährdet. Und niemand kümmert sich"

· Kurdish leaders say they know who pushed ISIS to attack Kurdistan

· Syria Calling: Radicalisation in Central Asia

Massenbach* Schlumberger to Pay $1.7 Billion for Stake in Russia’s Eurasia Drilling*

Eurasia Will Delist Its Shares From London Stock Exchange*

MOSCOW—Russia’s largest drilling company Eurasia Drilling Co. said Tuesday the world’s largest oil-field services company Schlumberger Ltd. will acquire a 45.65% stake in the company for $1.7 billion.

As part of the deal, Eurasia will delist its shares from the London Stock Exchange , the company said. The agreement includes an option for Schlumberger to buy the rest of Eurasia Drilling’s shares three years after the deal closes. The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter, the company said.

Market Talk

Schlumberger’s acquisition of 45.6% in Russia’s largest drilling company Eurasia Drilling signals that “the Western firm is taking an opportunity to strengthen its presence in the regional market,” Otrkitie brokerage says. Says the $22/share valuation of the deal is fair and recommends the holders of Eurasia accept the offer.

(Market Talk is a stream of real-time news and market analysis that’s available on Dow Jones Newswires)


Senator John McCain Launches New Attack on ‘Antiquated’ Jones Act*

Jones Act ships under construction at the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has once again launched an attack on the Jones Act, announcing Tuesday that he has filed an amendment to a Keystone XL Pipeline bill that would repeal the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, aka the Jones Act, requiring that all goods shipped between ports of the United States be carried by vessels built in the United States and owned and operated by Americans.

“I have long advocated for a full repeal of The Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers,” said Senator John McCain in a press release issued Tuesday. “The amendment I am introducing again today would eliminate this unnecessary, protectionist restriction.

Legislation approving the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared an initial Senate hurdle on Monday by a vote of 63-32, a measure that opens the bill up for debate and the offering of amendments, such as the one introduced by McCain. A Senate vote on the amendment could come as soon as next Tuesday, according to some reports.

“[Monday] evening’s vote means it will now advance to the floor for open debate and every member will have an opportunity to offer amendments they believe will strengthen the bill,” said Senator John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican and co-sponsor of the Keystone bill, reports Reuters.

The amendment filed by Senator McCain particularly targets the U.S. build requirement of the Jones Act. The text of the amendment can be found here.

Responding to Senator McCain’s new attack, the American Maritime Partnership, representing the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime, has issued the following statement obviously opposing McCain’s latest actions:

WASHINGTON, DC – American Maritime Partnership (AMP), the voice of the domestic maritime industry, today released the following statement on Senator John McCain’s recent measure to eliminate the U.S. shipbuilding industry, which is critical to supporting America’s military power and defense needs, employs hundreds of thousands of Americans, and pumps tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy.

“The McCain amendment would gut the nation’s shipbuilding capacity, outsource our U.S. Naval shipbuilding to foreign builders, and cost hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs across this country,” said AMP Chairman Tom Allegretti. “The shipbuilding requirement, which Senator McCain seeks to eliminate, is in place to ensure that the United States maintains the industrial capacity to build its own ships, so as to protect and defend the American homeland. It is hard to believe that the Congress would endorse a change to the law that would outsource U.S. jobs and reduce national security by effectively creating dependence on foreign countries to build our ships.”

American Maritime is Critical to National and Homeland Security

A primary purpose of the Jones Act is to promote national and homeland security. The Navy’s position is clear – repeal of the Jones Act would “hamper [America’s] ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and Navy shipbuilding.” Similarly, just a month ago, Congress enacted legislation reaffirming the Jones Act and calling a strong commercial shipbuilding industry “particularly important as Federal budget cuts may reduce the number of new constructed military vessels.” The independent Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said America’s military power is dependent on a strong “shipyard industrial base to support national defense needs.”

The McCain amendment would undermine and devalue tens of billions of dollars of investments in existing U.S. constructed vessels throughout the American domestic maritime industry. The Jones Act is the foundation of the American domestic maritime infrastructure—vessels, mariners, and shipyards—that is critical to military sealift. The same is true of homeland security, where American workers on American vessels work closely with local, state and federal agencies to perform a critical domestic protection function.

American Maritime Is Vital to Nation’s Economy

The American domestic maritime industry is investing record amounts in new ship construction in virtually every trade, a “tremendous renaissance,” according to Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration. American shipyards are building record numbers of modern, state-of-the-art vessels in all sectors with more on order. The amendment is particularly troubling because shipyards are among the largest employers in many states, providing stable manufacturing jobs that pay far above the national average. A recent study by the U.S. Maritime Administration cited the “economic importance” of the American shipbuilding and repair industry, with annual employment of more than 400,000, annual labor income of about $24 billion, and annual gross domestic product of $36 billion.

In December, Senator John McCain vowed the eventual full repeal of the Jones Act despite tough opposition.

“It’s one of these things you just propose amendments to bills and encourage hearings and sooner or later the dam breaks,” McCain said after a speech at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, in December.

“But I have to tell you … the power of this maritime lobby is as powerful as anybody or any organization I have run up against in my political career. All I can do is appeal to the patron saint of lost causes and keep pressing and pressing and sooner or later you have to succeed,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Jones Act Under Attack – American Maritime Partnership Fires Back

In addition to AMP’s strong statement opposing Senator McCain’s Jones Act amendment, there seems to be a rising chorus of voices stating their opposition to the measure, which are highlighted below:

NAVY LEAGUE: “The loss of the American-built provisions in the Jones Act would have devastating ripple effects on all the sea services. Its immediate impact would be a reduction in the number of ships built in U.S. shipyards, which would result in a loss of jobs, a loss of industrial knowledge and skills, and a loss in America’s edge in shipbuilding quality and technology.“

MEBA: “Senator McCain has chosen to offer his amendment at the last minute to an unrelated bill because he knows that if the issue is debated fairly and openly on its merits, he would not be able to defend his position.”

SEAFARERS: “This amendment has no place in the Keystone bill or in Congress,” stated SIU President Michael Sacco. “It is just another attack on the Jones Act, one that could cripple the U.S.-flag maritime industry. We need all hands on deck to defeat this amendment.”

GREAT LAKES MARITIME TASK FORCE: The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force sees no benefit to allowing foreign-built vessels to carry cargo between U.S. ports, but warns that nearly 60,000 jobs in the Great Lakes states will be sacrificed for no good reason if the amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill offered by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is accepted. “There is no reason to even consider this amendment,” said John D. Baker, President of GLMTF and President Emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council “The vessels built in Great Lakes shipyards are so efficient that year in, year out they save their customers billions of dollars in freight costs compared to the land-based transportation modes. What shortcoming, what failing can be found there?”

USCG COMMANDANT Adm. Paul Zukunft: “That for me is a real consequence, if we have foreign flagged vessels doing coastalized trade, what are the safety standards, what are the maritime pollution … standards, how are they in compliance with the same standards that we apply to our U.S. fleet?” Adm. Paul Zukunft said at the Surface Navy Association’s National Symposium in Crystal City, Va.

“I think, at the end of the day, it will put our entire U.S. fleet in jeopardy, where our fleet of roughly 80-plus international U.S.-flagged vessels will rapidly go to zero,” he said. “And then in a time of crisis, who are we going to charter to carry out our logistics? … Very difficult if we don’t have a U.S. flagged ship.”


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Wolfgang Ischinger: "Die Welt ist gefährdet. Und niemand kümmert sich"

Terror in Europa, Religionskrieg in Nahost, Ukraine-Krise: Diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger fürchtet, dass wir nur die Ouvertüre eines Dramas erlebt haben – und erinnert an den 30-jährigen Krieg.

Die Welt: Herr Ischinger, in der Trauer sind die Europäer vereint – aber sind sie auch der Herausforderung durch Terroristen gewachsen, die den Krieg mit Maschinengewehren in unsere Städte tragen?

Wolfgang Ischinger: Ich kann es nur hoffen. Aus meiner Sicht haben wir es mit einer neuen Qualität terroristischer Mörderattacken in Europa zu tun, die wir bislang eher aus Nahost, Afghanistan oder Pakistan kannten. Die Bürger dagegen zu schützen, ist für die europäischen Sicherheitsbehörden eine enorme Herausforderung, um nicht zu sagen: Das ist kaum möglich. Wir werden uns damit Anfang Februar auf der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz auseinandersetzen müssen.

Die Welt: Rechnen Sie mit weiteren Anschlägen, womöglich auch in Deutschland?

Ischinger: Diese Attentate hätten auch in Rom, Brüssel oder Berlin stattfinden können. Angesichts der beachtlichen Zahl junger Menschen, die aus Deutschland nach Syrien oder in den Irak reisen, um sich dort terroristisch ausbilden zu lassen, wäre es ein Wunder oder jedenfalls viel Glück, wenn wir von Hass und Vernichtungswillen dieser Dschihad-Touristen verschont blieben.

Der Anti-Terror-Einsatz gegen Dschihadisten ‎in Deutschland und die Festnahmen im belgischen Verviers sind ja ein bedrohlicher Beleg, dass Paris auch anderswo in Europa passieren könnte. Ich bin kein Experte für die innere Sicherheit, aber als Außenpolitiker habe ich gelernt, immer mit dem Worst Case zu rechnen. Und der lautet: Der nächste Anschlag ist weniger eine Frage des Ob als vielmehr des Wie und Wann.

Die Welt: Die Franzosen schützen kritische Orte im Land mit 10.000 Soldaten. Steht auch uns eine neue Debatte über Einsätze der Bundeswehr im Inneren bevor?

Ischinger: Wir leben derzeit noch unter der Käseglocke des bisher Unversehrten. Ich fürchte, wenn wir in Deutschland wirklich eine terroristische Gewalttat erleben müssten, wird es nicht nur um die bekannten Themen wie Vorratsdatenspeicherung und andere Gesetzesverschärfungen gehen. Ich fürchte, das Klima in Deutschland könnte sich dann sehr negativ verschärfen.

Wahr ist: Ein Patentrezept für eine perfekte Sicherheit gibt es nicht, wir werden mit Risiken leben müssen. Eine glückliche Perspektive ist das nicht, aber sie entspricht der globalen Entwicklung: Die Weltordnung ist gefährdet, die USA werden sich in Zukunft eher selektiver engagieren, und es ist kein anderer Polizist in Sicht, der sich kümmert.

Die Welt: In Syrien hat sich über Jahre niemand um den Bürgerkrieg kümmern wollen. Ist der Terrortourismus, ist der Islamische Staat ein Produkt des zögerlichen Eingreifens des Westens?

Ischinger: Jedenfalls ist die Unfähigkeit der internationalen Gemeinschaft, vom Sicherheitsrat der Vereinten Nationen bis zur Europäischen Union und ihrer Partner, den Syrienkonflikt in den Griff zu bekommen, ein Element, das diese Entwicklung eher gefördert als gebremst hat. Nun haben wir Millionen von Flüchtlingen und einen Krieg mit konfessionellen Elementen, der mich in seiner Komplexität an den 30-jährigen Krieg erinnert.

Das Problem aber geht über Syrien hinaus: Wir erleben ein Versagen der "global governance" auf breiter Front. Ob in der Ukraine, ob in Afrika, es gibt eine enorme Nachfrage nach einer Gestaltung der Weltordnung – und es gibt eine nicht vorhandene Fähigkeit, diese Nachfrage zu befriedigen. Wir bräuchten eigentlich einen UN-Sicherheitsrat, der jede Woche dabei hilft, einen Konflikt zu lösen. Tatsächlich ist er total blockiert.

Die Welt: Hinzu kommt die nachlassende Lust der Amerikaner, sich als Weltpolizist zu engagieren. In Syrien haben sie zwar eine internationale Allianz gegen den IS geschmiedet und die Iraker militärisch mit Luftschlägen unterstützt. Dennoch bleibt der Umfang des US-Engagements in seiner Intensität hinter früheren Interventionen zurück.

Ischinger: Es handelt sich um eine schwindende Bereitschaft der Obama-Administration, diese Rolle zu spielen. Dieser Präsident hat – und ich kann das verstehen – beschlossen, einer Mehrheitsneigung in der amerikanischen Bevölkerung zu folgen, die kriegsmüde ist. Von den Republikanern wird Obama dafür massiv kritisiert. Ich bin mir nur nicht sicher, ob sie es anders machen würden. Es stellt sich die Frage: Sind die Amerikaner es leid, sich in Kriege verwickeln zu lassen? Oder sind sie es leid, sich um die Welt zu kümmern?

Die neuen Mächte von China über Brasilien bis Indien wollen nicht im Interesse der Allgemeinheit führen, sie vertreten noch vor allem ihre Partikularinteressen. Wenn die USA dauerhaft auch nicht mehr wollen, dann haben wir ein Problem. Denn den Europäern fehlen die politischen und militärischen Handlungsmöglichkeiten, um all den Regionen der Welt zu helfen, die nach entschlossenem Eingreifen verlangen.

Die Welt: Wobei auch die Logik früherer Interventionen nicht mehr funktioniert. Wen soll man in Syrien unterstützen? Im Irak sind es jetzt die Kurden, die wir neulich noch als Terrorgruppierung eingestuft haben …

Ischinger: Damit sprechen Sie ein Grunddilemma der Außenpolitik an. Der Realpolitiker Henry Kissinger hat immer gesagt: Ich unterstütze den, der für Stabilität sorgt. In Syrien war das Assad, mit dessen Geheimdienst der Westen kooperierte und sich damit so manches Problem vom Halse hielt.

Die Welt: Ist das jetzt, nach dem Aufkommen des IS, wieder eine Option?

Ischinger: Nein, das würde die Glaubwürdigkeit unserer Politik erschüttern. Hinter die Forderung "Assad muss weg" kommt man nicht mehr zurück. Wie man gleichzeitig diesen Diktator und den IS in die Knie zwingen kann, darauf freilich hat niemand eine abschließende Antwort. Man kann sich rückblickend schon die Frage stellen: War es richtig, so entschieden einen Regimewechsel in Syrien zu fordern? Ich persönlich glaube, dass dauerhafte Stabilität durch Zusammenarbeit mit autoritären Systemen nicht sicherzustellen ist.

Westliche Politik muss heute dort versuchen zu unterstützen, wo Ansätze von Modernität erkennbar sind. Beispielsweise sollte die EU mit aller Macht Tunesien unterstützen. Das ist ein Leuchtturmland mit einer aktiven Zivilgesellschaft und könnte zum Modell für die arabische Welt werden. Aber es gibt keine für alle Fälle geltenden Regeln, man muss im Einzelfall zwischen Werten und Interessen abwägen – und dabei oft genug zwischen zwei schlechten Optionen wählen.

Die Welt: Trägt die Unterstützung der Kurden nicht dazu bei, dass der Irak in seiner jetzigen Form nicht überleben, sondern aufgespalten wird?

Ischinger: Es kann und sollte nicht Ziel europäischer Politik sein, die Veränderung von Staatengrenzen anzustreben. Gleichzeitig ist aber offenkundig, dass in Syrien und im Irak Prozesse stattfinden, die die Existenz beider Staaten massiv infrage stellen. Die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass der Irak und Syrien in der Form der vergangenen 50 Jahre weiter existieren, halte ich nicht für besonders groß.

Die Welt: Deutschland hat sich durchgerungen, Waffen an die Kurden im Nordirak zu liefern und will nun Soldaten ausbilden. Ein ausreichender Beitrag?

Ischinger: Unsere Unterstützung der Peschmerga ist nicht kriegsentscheidend. Wir versuchen mit beschränkten Mitteln einen beschränkten Beitrag zu leisten, um dort noch Schlimmeres zu verhindern. Ich hätte es auch für sinnvoll und vertretbar gehalten, wenn die deutsche Luftwaffe sich an den Operationen im Irak beteiligt hätte – wie es kleinere Länder wie die Dänen oder Niederländer ja auch tun. Und dennoch ist die Hilfe für die Peschmerga ein wichtiger und richtiger Schritt.

Ich finde es bemerkenswert, dass Bundesregierung und Bundestag sich dazu durchgerungen haben. Vor zehn Jahren haben wir noch einen Konflikt mit Großbritannien und den USA riskiert, um uns aus dem Irak herauszuhalten. Es hätte dem unterschwelligen Bewusstseinsstand in Deutschland entsprochen zu sagen: Die Amerikaner sind schuld an dieser Entwicklung und sollen es jetzt selber richten. Für unsere Partner ist es, auch nach der falschen Enthaltung bei der Libyenentscheidung im Sicherheitsrat, ein vertrauensbildendes Signal, dass Deutschland von Verantwortung nicht nur redet, sondern auch handelt.

Die Welt: Es war die zentrale Botschaft der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz vor einem Jahr, als Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck sagte: Deutschland muss sich außenpolitisch "früher, entschiedener und substanzieller" einbringen. Ist die Regierung diesem Anspruch gerecht geworden?

Ischinger: Ohne die Gauck-Rede wären die Waffenlieferungen an die Peschmerga nicht möglich gewesen. Der Bundespräsident hat, gemeinsam mit Außenminister Steinmeier und Verteidigungsministerin von der Leyen, eine notwendige Debatte über Verantwortung und Interessen angestoßen und damit einen Bewusstseinswandel in Gang gesetzt. Im Rückblick war diese Rede für die deutsche und europäische Sicherheitspolitik ein Glücksfall.

Freilich ist auch wahr, dass zu dem damaligen Zeitpunkt niemand ahnte, dass wir am Vorabend von globalen Großkrisen stehen und die Gauck-Rede die Ouvertüre eines Dramas sein sollte, dessen Hauptakt wir 2015 erleben werden. Die Ukraine beispielsweise haben wir in München noch als nationale Krise behandelt. Kein Mensch hat mir damals gesagt: Wolfgang, du musst das als europäische Sicherheitskrise diskutieren, mit der Überschrift: Das Versagen der europäischen Sicherheitsarchitektur.

Die Welt: Ukraine, IS, "arabischer Frühling": Wie erklären Sie sich das Versagen der Sicherheitspolitik, aufkeimende Krisen zu erkennen?

Ischinger: Ich würde nicht von Versagen sprechen. Was treibt eigentlich Außenpolitik an, wurde der britische Premier Harold Macmillan mal gefragt. Er sagte: "Events, my dear boy, events." ("Ereignisse, mein lieber Junge, Ereignisse" – d. Red.) So ist es. Ich war 1989 Mitarbeiter von Außenminister Genscher. Im Sommer 1989 haben wir weder den Mauerfall noch das Ende der Sowjetunion auch nur im Entferntesten am Horizont aufscheinen sehen.

Als der damalige US-Botschafter Vernon Walters in Bonn prophezeite, es werde nicht mehr lange dauern bis zur Wiedervereinigung, da herrschte parteiübergreifend Entsetzen unter den Vertretern der politischen Orthodoxie Deutschlands. Wir haben es also nicht kommen sehen, 1989 nicht, und eben 2014 auch nicht. Aber auch Putin, da bin ich mir sicher, hat nicht kommen sehen, welche Folgen seine Aggression in der Ukraine haben würde. Er hat sich in eine Nebelwand begeben, ohne zu wissen, wo der Gipfel ist.

Die Welt: Wie meinen Sie das?

Ischinger: Die Ukraine war vor eineinhalb Jahren ein gespaltenes Land, im Westen habsburgisch-katholisch orientiert, im Osten orthodox-russisch. Heute können Sie an jedem Gartenzaun auch in der Ostukraine die Nationalflagge sehen. Die Ereignisse auf dem Maidan haben zu einer tief greifenden Veränderung der nationalen Identität der Ukraine geführt. Der Maidan ist zu einem einigenden Element geworden.

Heute ist zum Beispiel eine große Mehrheit der Ukrainer für die EU-Assoziierung. Noch vor anderthalb Jahren war die Meinung dazu gespalten. Der einzige Teil, wo anders gedacht wird, ist der von den Separatisten beherrschte Streifen an der russischen Grenze. Aber dieser Streifen ist letztlich ein Ballast für Russland, auch für die Annexion der Krim zahlt Putin einen hohen Preis. Der Kreml hat weder die Sanktionen noch den Ölpreisverfall in seine Kalkulationen einbezogen.

Die Welt: Ist Putin noch ein berechenbares Gegenüber für Verabredungen?

Ischinger: Putin steht vor einer nicht weniger schweren Aufgabe als die Amerikaner mit dem Abzug aus Vietnam. Die Herausforderung, auch für den Westen, lautet: Wir müssen einen Weg finden, der zum Ende dieser Krise führt, ohne dass Putin sein Gesicht verliert. Da wird man strategische Geduld benötigen. Es wäre ein Wunder, wenn die Bemühungen von Kanzlerin Merkel – ich bewundere ihre Engelsgeduld – schnell zum Ziel führen würden.

Es wird darum gehen, mit kleinsten pragmatischen Schritten voranzukommen. Zügiger ginge es nur, wenn wir den Preis zahlen, den die Russen fordern, nämlich einen garantierten Verzicht auf eine Aufnahme der Ukraine in die Nato. Den Preis können wir nicht zahlen, weil unser Bekenntnis lautet: Jeder europäische Staat muss die Wahl haben, der Gemeinschaft anzugehören, der er angehören möchte. Der Deal ist also noch nicht erkennbar, der zu einem Ende führen könnte.

Die Welt: Wie kann zumindest eine erneute Eskalation verhindert werden?

Ischinger: Vordringlich ist der Versuch, einen gefährlichen Unfall bei den militärischen Muskelspielen zu verhindern. Wenn russische Jagdflugzeuge über US-Fregatten im Schwarzen Meer kreisen, dann kann bei den kurzen Vorwarnzeiten durch den Irrtum eines einzelnen Soldaten plötzlich eine Katastrophe passieren.

Wir brauchen also eine strategische Vereinbarung zwischen der Russischen Föderation und der Nato über das Unterbleiben von möglicherweise interpretationsfähigen militärischen Aktivitäten. Man könnte Mindestentfernungen für solche Manöver festlegen oder Ähnliches. So etwas wäre ohne Gesichtsverlust möglich und könnte doch Unsägliches verhindern.

Die Welt: Lassen sich schon erste Lehren aus der Ukraine-Krise ziehen?

Ischinger: Diese Krise hat der Nato vor Augen geführt, dass wir von falschen Voraussetzungen ausgegangen sind. Wir dachten, das Europa durch die Vielzahl an Verträgen, Verabredungen und gemeinsamen Institutionen zwischen Russland, Nato und EU so ausgestattet ist, dass Krisen verhindert werden können. Das war ein Irrtum, Krisen sind wild ausgebrochen. Wir haben zum Beispiel nichts für die Weiterentwicklung der konventionellen Rüstungskontrolle in Europa getan. Es war für Russland möglich, Großmanöver an seiner Westgrenze abzuhalten, die von keiner Vereinbarung erfasst worden.

Vorläufig lässt sich also schlussfolgern: Die politische Sicherheitsarchitektur Europas funktioniert nicht. Das gemeinsame Haus Europa ist errichtet worden, aber die Regeln des Umgangs in diesem Haus, wie man mit Keulen, Messern und Gewehren umgeht, sind unzureichend. Wir müssen über die Regeln und ihre Durchsetzung neu nachdenken. Dieser Prozess ist jetzt unter anderem in der OSZE bereits angestoßen worden. Wir haben feststellen müssen, dass die Wände des gemeinsamen Hauses nicht fest genug sind, dass das Haus nicht sturmsicher ist und dass eine Alarmanlage leider fehlt. Da muss man jetzt gemeinsam ran.


Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* EU-Sanktionen gegen Russland vor Neubewertung

19. Jan. 2015 Die EU-Außenbeauftragte Federica Mogherini dringt auf eine Lockerung der Sanktionen gegen Russland. Vor allem die osteuropäischen Staaten sind dagegen. In Brüssel droht jetzt ein heftiger Streit … Lockerung der Sanktionen unter bestimmten Bedingungen und neue Gespräche mit Moskau in wichtigen Politikbereichen wie Handel, Sicherheitsfragen und Visa-Liberalisierung. Das geht aus einem vertraulichen Diskussionspapier "zu den Beziehungen zu Russland" hervor, dass die EU-Außenbeauftragte Federica Mogherini den 28 Außenministern der Union bei ihrem Treffen am Montag in Brüssel zur Beratung vorlegen will …

Hinter den Kulissen wird … die Forderung nach einer neuen Russland-Strategie immer lauter. "Wir müssen überlegen, wie wir mit Russland zusammenarbeiten können – trotz der Ukraine-Krise", sagte ein EU-Diplomat. Diese Sicht wird aber nicht von allen Mitgliedsstaaten geteilt. Vor allem die baltischen Staaten, einige Osteuropäer[sic! J.B.] wie Polen, aber auch Großbritannien fordern eine harte Haltung gegenüber Moskau, solange Russland nicht einlenkt … spätestens im März wird es zur Nagelprobe kommen.

Dann müssen die Außenminister Farbe bekennen: In wenigen Wochen steht die Entscheidung über eine Verlängerung bestimmter Sanktionen gegen Russland an, die nach einem Jahr automatisch auslaufen – ohne einen einstimmigen Beschluss über eine Verlängerung werden die Reisebeschränkungen und Konteneinfrierungen für bestimmte Personen und Unternehmen, die von der ersten Sanktionsrunde betroffen waren, aufgehoben … Die Chancen für noch härtere Sanktionen sind aus heutiger Sicht aber sehr gering. Länder wie Italien, Österreich, Zypern, Tschechien, Ungarn und die Slowakei sehen schon heute vor allem die Wirtschaftssanktionen immer skeptischer … EU-Chefdiplomatin Mogherini schlägt nun eine "Differenzierung" der Sanktionen vor.

Unter dem Einfluss des deutschen Außenministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) unterscheidet sie zwischen Strafmaßnahmen, die als Folge der Krim-Annexion getroffen wurden, und solchen Sanktionen, die die Lage in der Ostukraine betreffen … Im Falle der Ostukraine sollte die EU ihre Strafmaßnahmen aber daran knüpfen, ob es Fortschritte bei der Umsetzung eines Waffenstillstands gibt:

"Andererseits sollte die EU bereit sein, diese Sanktionen nach unten zu fahren, sobald Russland das Minsker Abkommen umsetzt", schreiben Mogherinis Beamte aus dem Europäischen Auswärtigen Dienst (EAD). Sie sprechen von einer "selektiven und graduellen" Abkehr von den Sanktionen, "gemessen daran, wie Russland sich verhält".

Diese Haltung dürfte am Montag auf die grundsätzliche Zustimmung aller Außenminister treffen. Umstrittener dürfte Mogherinis zweiter Vorschlag sein, den sie allerdings bewusst etwas vager formuliert. Sie listet Felder auf, in denen Moskau und Brüssel wieder stärker ins Gespräch kommen sollten – trotz der Ukraine-Krise. "Es gilt, Vertrauen in einigen Bereichen zu schaffen, gemeinsam etwas zustande zu bringen, um sich dann besser den schwierigen Fragen widmen zu können"

[i.e.: Practical co-operation + mutual benefit] … Das ist auch Steinmeiers Position, dessen Einfluss im Kreise der europäischen Außenminister seit dem Abgang der Chefdiplomaten aus Schweden und Polen, Bildt und Sikorski, immer größer wird. So schlägt Mogherini mögliche Gespräche über Energiefragen, Forschungs- und Ausbildungsprogramme, Technologietransfers, Klimaprobleme, Sicherheitspolitik und einen "informellen Dialog" zwischen EU und der neu gegründeten Eurasischen Wirtschaftsunion vor …

EU: Time Not Right to Ease Russia Sanctions

January 19, 2015 European Union foreign ministers said on Monday there were no grounds to lift economic sanctions against Russia despite conciliatory proposals from the EU’s foreign policy chief as violence intensified in eastern Ukraine. Federica Mogherini had suggested in a confidential memo seen by Reuters that member states could start talking to Russia again about global diplomacy, trade and other issues if Moscow implemented agreements to end the separatist conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

“I don’t think that we now should think how to re-engage. Russia should think how to re-engage,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told reporters as he arrived for a meeting where Mogherini’s paper was to be discussed. Mogherini’s suggestion has gone down badly with some of the EU’s more hawkish states, such as Lithuania, which suggested it would send the wrong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the EU’s resolve was cracking. The EU has joined the United States in imposing tough sanctions on Russia … but the bloc’s 28 member states are divided in their enthusiasm for sanctions … Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said the time was not right for the EU to “give up any sanctions or to send any signals that we are willing to do so, but … we should explore any possibility to find a political solution to this crisis.” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the EU must hold on to its sanctions on Russia, but it also needed a long-term perspective on engaging with Moscow.

Mogherini said any relaxation of sanctions on Russia would only happen if there were improvements on the ground in Ukraine. Sebastian Kurz, foreign minister of Austria, on the doveish side of the sanctions debate, said the EU should draw up a strategy to put relations with Russia back on a firm footing in the long term. “It’s not about sharpening or easing sanctions, it’s about coming away from pure reaction … I think it’s false only to be reactive” …

Russia Wants Formal French Answer on Mistral

January 13, 2015 The French procurement office … declined to comment on a report Russia has asked for a written statement on whether the Mistral class helicopter carrier will be delivered to Moscow. Russia officially sent a written request to France for an explanation of the refusal to deliver the Mistral warship, Russian news agency Ria-Novosti reported … Russia has called on France to either deliver the Mistral or hand back the payment … France on Nov. 25 suspended the delivery and said the warship would only be released if a real cease-fire was observed in Ukraine and if Moscow and Kiev reached a political settlement over the deadly dispute in eastern Ukraine …


Kerry voices backing for energy diversification, judicial reforms in Bulgaria*

United States backing for energy diversification and for the Bulgarian government’s recently-adopted updated strategy on judicial reform were voiced by US secretary of state John Kerry during talks in Sofia with President Rossen Plevneliev, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Kerry’s counterpart Daniel Mitov.

Speaking on January 15 in the Bulgarian capital at a joint news conference with Borissov, Kerry said that no country should be completely dependent on another for its energy supplies.

Kerry’s remark was made against a background of Bulgaria’s complete dependence on Russia for its natural gas supplies, and an overall lack of energy supply diversity. Bulgaria also was blamed by Vladimir Putin when the Russian leader announced the shelving of the South Stream project, although Moscow’s gas pipeline plan would have done nothing for energy diversity for Bulgaria.

Kerry said that the US would send an energy expert to work with Bulgarian energy officials to help develop a plan for the country’s energy future.

Against a background of long-standing US discreet lobbying for Bulgaria to embark on shale gas exploration and use, Borissov reiterated that Bulgaria had a moratorium on the issue which would remain in place until there could be guarantees about the environmental safety of extracting shale gas

“We have said repeatedly that there is a moratorium on shale gas exploration until it is proven that it would not be at the expense of the environment and our position is clear to our partners,” Borissov said.

The Bulgarian Prime Minister also expressed confidence that US energy firm Westinghouse would be an investor in the country, and added that a gas interconnector with Greece would be built using European Union funds.

Borissov said that his talks with Kerry had focused on regional and global challenges of a political nature, co-operation in defence and security, energy security and diversification and the rule of law.

This co-operation would continue through working groups on the issues of security and defence, energy security, the rule of law, education and relations between the peoples of Bulgaria and the US, Borissov said.

Kerry said that the deepening of military co-operation within NATO and the optimisation of the Bulgarian army to Nato standards was discussed.

Article 5 of the Nato Charter was absolutely stable, Kerry said, adding that the project to build a peaceful Europe was not finished. The US was committed to securing a strong and sovereign Bulgaria, Kerry said.

He said that it was clear that there was no doubt that there are many great opportunities for investment, adding that the US is “deeply committed” to help attracting investment to the country.

Key to attracting investment was to have transparency of government, open government, the combating of corruption, and the rule of law.

Kerry emphasised that the US fully supported Bulgaria’s plans to reform the judicial system.

“I am here to tell every single Bulgarian citizen that America is fully committed to the security, prosperity, health and power of its democratic institutions,” Kerry said.

In face-to-face talks earlier at the Presidency, Plevneliev and Kerry expressed their shared view that Bulgaria and the US are strategic partners, according to a statement by the President’s office…..

The President’s office said that Kerry praised Bulgaria’s contribution in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the construction of the defence potential of Nato in the Black Sea region.

Plevneliev emphasised that not only Bulgaria but also the region of South Eastern Europe was working for more connectivity and integration in the field of energy, thereby reducing dependence on supplies of energy resources.

“The construction of interconnectors between the gas networks of Bulgaria and its neighbours and projects of the Southern Gas Corridor are an effective means to increase both the regional stability in the energy sector and the supply of natural gas to Europe,” Plevneliev said.


Middle East

Syria Calling: Radicalisation in Central Asia*

Growing numbers of Central Asian citizens, male and female, are travelling to the Middle East to fight or otherwise support the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL or ISIS). Prompted in part by political marginalisation and bleak economic prospects that characterise their post-Soviet region, 2,000-4,000 have in the past three years turned their back on their secular states to seek a radical alternative. IS beckons not only to those who seek combat experience, but also to those who envision a more devout, purposeful, fundamentalist religious life. This presents a complex problem to the governments of Central Asia. They are tempted to exploit the phenomenon to crack down on dissent. The more promising solution, however, requires addressing multiple political and administrative failures, revising discriminatory laws and policies, implementing outreach programs for both men and women and creating jobs at home for disadvantaged youths, as well as ensuring better coordination between security services.

Should a significant portion of these radicalised migrants return, they risk challenging security and stability throughout Central Asia. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan form a brittle region, sandwiched between Russia and Afghanistan, Iran and China. Each suffers from poor governance, corruption and crime. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan resemble authoritarian police states. Kazakhstan has some wealth, but its regions are in disrepair, and its political system is autocratic. All five fail to deliver quality social services, particularly in rural areas. Their security services – underfunded, poorly trained and inclined to resort to harsh methods to compensate for a lack of resources and skills – are unable to deal with a challenge as intricate as radical Islam. Rather than promoting religious freedom while safeguarding secular constitutions and attempting to learn from European or Asian experiences in rehabilitating jihadis, the five fuel further radicalisation by using laws to curb religious growth and the police to conduct crackdowns.

Recruitment to the extremist cause is happening in mosques and namazkhana (prayer rooms) across the region. The internet and social media play a critical but not definitive role. The radicalisation of women is often a response to the lack of social, religious, economic and political opportunities afforded to them in Central Asia. Economic reward is not a motivation for those drawn to IS-controlled territory. For some, it is a personal adventure; for others it is a call to arms. Many find themselves providing support services to more experienced fighters from the Caucasus or Arab states.

Ethnic Uzbeks, including citizens of Uzbekistan, are most numerous among the Central Asians with the Islamic State, but Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Turkmen and Tajiks are also well represented. Some are recruited at home; others are radicalised abroad, often as migrant workers. The problem is acute in southern Kyrgyzstan, where the risks are amplified by the alienation of the Uzbek community since the violence in Osh in 2010.

The appeal of jihadism in the region is also rooted in an unfulfilled desire for political and social change. Rich or poor, educated or not, young or mature, male or female, there is no single profile of an IS supporter, but fatigue with social and political circumstances is an important linking thread. Uzbekistan is particularly exposed. Frustrated and excluded, people who would not have considered fighting with the longer-established Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) or the Taliban in Afghanistan perceive the Islamic State as the creator of a novel and ordained political order.

The number of Central Asians receiving combat training and progressing through IS command structures is increasing, as are the jihadi networks of which they are a part. Although most Central Asians find themselves in jamaats (factions) organised loosely along ethnic and linguistic lines, theseform larger regional battalions of cooperating fighters from across the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China’s Xinjiang region. The risk is rising that these connections will gather pace and purpose in Central Asia, blindsiding governments ill-prepared to respond to a security threat of this type.

Russia and China are already concerned and have urged the Central Asian states to address the problem of radicalisation in light of the rise of IS. The region’s other international partners, including, the EU and the U.S., should recognise that Central Asia is a growing source of foreign fighters and consider prioritising policing reform, as well as a more tolerant attitude to religion, in their recommendations for combating the problem. Without a concerted effort on the part of the Central Asians, including their security services with respect to intelligence sharing, however, the response outside powers seek will likely flounder.




Natalia Zubarevich: If Caucasus faces increase of hostilities, transfers will grow*

In her interview to the "Caucasian Knot", Natalia Zubarevich, Associate Professor of the Higher School of Economics, an economist and geographer, expressed her opinion concerning the consequences of the arising economic crisis for the regions of Northern Caucasus and southern Russia. According to the expert, the period of turbulence will be long and affect not only Russia, but also countries of Southern Caucasus economically related to our country. However, unstable regions that "face hostilities" can count on the economic support of Moscow.

"Caucasian Knot": How did the crisis and the Western economic sanctions affect the development of the Russian regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) and the Southern Federal District (SFD)?

Natalia Zubarevich: The major problem is not in the sanctions. The Russian economy has slowed its development even prior to the introduction of any sanctions, devaluation, and fall of oil prices. In 2013, industrial production was no longer growing, and investment began to decline. Therefore, what we have in 2014 is a continued rapid decline.

Against the background described above, the situation in southern Russia and Northern Caucasus in the past year looked better than in the other regions. It can be explained, since Northern Caucasus is primarily dependent on federal transfers, which are not particularly reduced in contrast to the whole of Russia.

As for 10 months of 2014, the situation is as follows: in Ingushetia, transfers comprise 83 percent of total budget revenues, in Chechnya 82 percent, in Dagestan 70 percent, in Karachay-Cherkessia 65 percent, in Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria – 55 percent. If there is no money in the federal budget, then there is no happiness in Northern Caucasus. Till present, the federal budget was able to balance due to the high price of oil, but the rouble was depreciating at the same time. The depreciation of rouble compensated for the federal budget the fall in oil prices, since the main budget revenues come from production and sale of hydrocarbons, and those transactions are performed in US dollars.

In 2014, the budgets of the NCFD republics show even a surplus; however, in 2015, it is clear that the federal budget will be cut. According to the estimates, it will be cut by 10 percent. I have a question: to what extent will such an important part of expenditures as transfers to subjects of the federation be cut? Following the results of 10 months, Northern Caucasus should get worried. More than half of the NCFD republics received less in the past year, and only Ingushetia and Chechnya were lucky enough. The great river of transfers from the federal budget will shrink, and this is the main risk.

And it is hard to predict what the federal centre will do in 2015.

I have noticed an interesting relationship: when a North-Caucasian republic suddenly faces an increase of hostilities, then it receives more transfers. I am afraid that the republics can use that way to compete for transfers… Dagestan and Ingushetia represent an example of the above. I believe that the political component will be dominant for allocation of transfers for the republics of Northern Caucasus.


19 january2015

Organization of Islamic Cooperation: Priorities and Policies

Grigory KosachProfessor of the Chair of Modern East Department of History, Political Science and Law, Russian State University for the Humanities, RIAC expert

In late June 2005, Russia took part in the 32nd Council of Foreign Ministers Conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (the Organization of Islamic Conference prior to 2011) and joined the group as an observer. The accession process had been launched by President Putin in 2003 during his working visit to Malaysia, where he addressed the 10th OIC Summit in Putrajaya and declared the need for Russia to join because the country is "interwoven with the Islamic world." [1] Ten years after Moscow began the relationship, it is quite appropriate to draw attention to the OIC’s new role in the worldwide Islamic community, its ability to counter global challenges and solve its own problems, as well as the clear need for Russia to strengthen its bond with the organization, let alone the terms for closer cooperation if the rapprochement is found beneficial.

President Putin convincingly argued that Russia’s drive towards the OIC was necessary because its population of 20 million Muslims enjoy an undisputed right to be a part of the global Ummah. This statement is still valid to date. At the October 2013 meeting with the heads of Muslim Boards in Ufa, Mr. Putin stated that "the voice of Russia’s Muslim leaders must be better heard in the Islamic world."[2] Both in the past and nowadays, the Kremlin would like to see this achieved in order to consolidate its domestic Islamic community, as well as to identify ways to resolve internal problems.

Establishing contacts with the OIC, Russian leaders hoped to engage the group in order to attract foreign investment.

Establishing contacts with the OIC, Russian leaders hoped to engage the group and the Islamic Development Bank in order to attract foreign investment. The September 2003 visit of Abdullah ibn Abdul-Aziz, then Saudi Crown Prince, appeared promising for expanding Russian-Saudi relations. Riyadh’s attitudes were also critical for the North Caucasus settlement that hinged on whether the Islamic world would recognized the regional status quo. While in Moscow, the future Saudi King said that the Chechen issue was Russia’s "domestic problem" [3] and also voiced his "respect and understanding of Russia’s initiative" aimed at cooperation with the OIC [4]. The Chechen issue was taken off the table when the group saw Ahmat Kadyrov, the then president of Chechnya, in the Russian delegation at the Putrajaya summit and heard Mr. Putin claim that Russia was not "associating" terrorism with "any religion," which resonated with the OIC’s traditional approach.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington followed by the Global War on Terrorism have placed the Muslim world, with its established intergovernmental coordinates, under unrelenting pressures.

During the current decade, Russia’s interest in the OIC received another boost. The February 2013 Foreign Policy Concept of Russia underlines Moscow’s willingness "to expand interaction with Islamic states" using its "observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation." [5] In early October 2013, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu signed the Framework Agreement on Cooperation between Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and OIC Permanent Secretariat. Commenting on the event, Mr. Lavrov mentioned that "the agreement was building a solid legal base" for bolstering relations between the two sides [6]. When in Jeddah in June 2014, the Russian top diplomat visited the OIC’s headquarters and met Secretary General Iyad bin Amin Madani, he pointed out that the OIC and Russia shared "common interests in advancing peace and the dialogue between the civilizations and religions." [7] In September 2014, they met again on the sidelines of the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations to outline the agenda for the forthcoming "bilateral political consultations." [8]

Political Priorities

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington followed by the Global War on Terrorism have placed the Muslim world, with its established intergovernmental coordinates, under unrelenting pressures, materialized in greater Israeli assertiveness on the Palestinian issue and threats of U.S. strikes against Afghanistan and later Iraq.

In October 2001, Doha hosted the 9th Emergency Meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers devoted exclusively to the fallout of the U.S. events and their global impact. The participants condemned the "monstrous acts of terrorism", demanding the prosecution, trial and punishment for the perpetrators and stressing that such doings are incompatible with "the teachings of monotheistic religions and norms of human morality." The gathering rejected any link between terrorism and Islam, underlining the articles of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam that are focused on "the divine value of human life." The OIC vowed to "participate in the UN-led international efforts", develop "the definition of terrorism" and "eradicate its causes", emphasizing that blurring the line between Islam and violence would undermine the "fight against terrorism" which should rest on "universal humanistic foundations of monotheistic religions and global civilizations."[9]

Establishing contacts with the OIC, Russian leaders hoped to engage the group in order to attract foreign investment.

In April 2002, the 10th Emergency Meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers in Kuala Lumpur adopted the Declaration on International Terrorism with the "unconditional condemnation of terrorism as a threat to peace, international security and human rights." The document also denounced the "state-sponsored terrorism" pointing on Israel [10]. At the same time, the August 2012 OIC Emergency Summit in Mecca adopted the Charter on Strengthening Islamic Solidarity proclaiming the "inadmissibility of links between Islam and extremist ideologies", the importance of the "dialogue between religions and civilizations", and "determination to fight against terrorism until a clear victory." [11]

Without naming Afghanistan, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration stated that "a unilateral action against a Muslim country under the pretext of countering terrorism would narrow the antiterrorist efforts." After the U.S. military operation and the fall of the Taliban, the OIC kept up its stance, insisting that "all nations have a right to independently select their political, economic and civil systems in the absence of external interference, and do their best for reconstructing Afghanistan" (see the papers of Khartoum meeting of OIC foreign ministers in June 2002) [12]. Acting likewise in the case of Iraq, during the 57th UN General Assembly, the OIC held its annual coordination meeting of foreign ministers to proclaim the inadmissibility of military action, regarding the eventual operation in Iraq as "an attempt against national security of all Muslim states." [13] After the U.S. intrusion in Iraq, the OIC concentrated on creating conditions for its domestic reconciliation.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington followed by the Global War on Terrorism have placed the Muslim world, with its established intergovernmental coordinates, under unrelenting pressures.

The OIC balanced its temperance on Afghanistan and Iraq with toughness over Israeli actions in the Palestinian territory and moved in step with Saudi Arabia in hailing the Madrid peace process. Riyadh very well understood that the nascent irreversible changes in the region should, despite all difficulties, facilitate the emergence of a regional Middle Eastern space incorporating the Arab world and Israel. Riyadh was eager to lead the emerging process and the OIC extended a helping hand through supporting the al-Aqsa Intifada and condemning the Israeli response to its advance. By adopting the June 2002 Arab peace initiative at the Khartoum meeting of foreign ministers, the OIC brought the entire Muslim world into the circle of the initiative’s backers [14]. At the same time, the OIC would not partner with Hamas, considering the Palestinian National Authority as the only representative of Palestinian aspirations, including accession to the UNESCO and to the observer status in the UN. Denouncing the Israeli punitive action in the Gaza Strip, including Operation Protective Edge in July 2014, the OIC has qualified its consequences as "a humanitarian disaster for the Palestinian people". The OIC took part in the organization of the international conference of donors for Gaza and maintains contacts with the Palestinian Authority [15].

New Challenges

Between 2010 and 2014, stability and territorial integrity, the OIC’s staples, definitely came to the forefront, basically due to such convincing circumstances as the Arab Spring and destabilization in Mali after the regime change and the outburst of the Touareg separatism in spring 2012, which have shaken the system of regional relationships and given rise to terrorist and separatist groups.

As for Mali and the entire Sahel, the OIC sees the source of destabilization in transnational criminal cells linked to al-Qaeda. The OIC foreign ministers‘ meeting in Djibouti in November 2012 demanded that member states engage in "deeper cooperation in countering terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking" and also expressed support for UN-led international efforts aimed to restore territorial integrity of Mali. The meeting’s participants unanimously voiced their readiness to cooperate with all parties interested in the stabilization [16].

After the U.S. military operation and the fall of the Taliban, the OIC kept up its stance, insisting that "all nations have a right to independently select their political, economic and civil systems in the absence of external interference, and do their best for reconstructing Afghanistan".

The documents of the 12th Summit in Cairo in February 2013 reflect the OIC’s approach toward the Arab Spring countries. Wary of the political change in Egypt and Tunisia, which has paved the way for Islamists, as well as Qatar’s support for these processes, Riyadh insisted that the final communiqué should neglect the situation in both countries. Strained relations with Libya and Qatar’s support of the Libyan opposition have been the key makers of Riyadh’s approach to Tripoli, as the final communiqué welcomed the changes in Libya expressing hope for "emergence of effective state institutions." At the same time, because of Iran’s attitude towards Bahrain, the document omitted the mention of the invasion of the Gulf States and only appealed to the Bahraini monarch about the need for "national dialogue." [17] As far as Yemen is concerned, the OIC was located in the wake of the Saudis and their allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council and used the June 2011 foreign ministers‘ meeting in Astana to shore up demands from the opposition over the resignation of the president and establishment of a national reconciliation government [18]. The November 2012 ministerial in Djibouti supported the government’s drive towards national dialogue [19]. However, Iraq and Syria have been the OIC’s main concern.

Between 2010 and 2014, stability and territorial integrity, the OIC’s staples, definitely came to the forefront.

The August 2012 4th OIC Emergency Summit in Mecca suspendedSyria’s membership [20] and emerged as a milestone in the development of the organization’s approach to the Syrian crisis. The November 2012 meeting in Djibouti provided more details by placing the responsibility for "continued violence" on the Syrian government and demanding the "respect of Islamic values and human rights." In fact, it was the choice in the opposition’s favor that matched the approach of Riyadh [21]. The Djibouti Declaration called upon the world community to "take a resolute stand for stopping violence" and welcomed the formation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces [22].

The work on Syria was continued at the February 2012 12th OIC Summit in Cairo, which suggested that the Coalition should set up a transitional government without members of the regime whose "hands are stained with blood" and slam on the interference of "foreign forces" in the Syrian conflict [23], implying the military groups of the Hezbollah that supports Damascus and is seen by Riyadh as an ally of Tehran.

Willing to participate in a Syrian settlement, the OIC supported the Action Group on Syria set up in June 2012 and took part in the Geneva-2 conference. Speaking last February 2 at its platform, Mr. Madani underlined that the events in the Syria boil down to "struggle of the people for dignified and free life without oppression, violence and tyranny" and that the OIC would welcome mutual understanding of the UN Security Council permanent members and help creating conditions for "bringing together the regional states to prevent the transformation of Syria into the battlefield for expanded influence."[24]The approach has implicitly condemned Russia and Iran to echo the Saudi attitudes.

The OIC has been treating eternally unstable Iraq with a focus on humanitarian issues because of Saudi-Iranian competition and related divisions between the Iraqi Sunnis allied with Riyadh and Tehran-linked Shiites. In 2012 and 2013, the situation in Iraq was seen through the prism of "compassion for the victims" of terror, the threat of "confessional frictions for the country’s future" and calls for an end to the conflict. At that, the OIC has offered several initiatives aimed at overcoming the Sunni-Shiite controversy. The Mecca Charter of August 2012 included the Saudi proposal to establish the Center for the Dialogue of Islam Legal Schools matching the King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue set up in Vienna in November 2012. The Center will be headquartered in Mecca and engage "the wise men of Islamic Ummah" co-opted by the OIC Permanent Secretariat and Council of Foreign Ministers [25].

The expansion of ISIS in Syria and its invasion of Iraq last summer have made the OIC adapt its rhetoric, leaving key reference points intact, among them the "consolidation of all Iraqi political forces" and "comprehensive national reconciliation" for countering the "extremist threat." The OIC has unconditionally condemned ISIS violence toward non-Muslim minorities in Syria and Iraq, as well as the executions of foreign hostages [26]. Hailing President Obama’s strategy of countering the Islamic State and the participation of some Arab states in its implementation, the OIC insists that the list of terrorists cannot be limited to the ISIS, al-Qaeda or Boko Haram but should also include extremist groups advocating hatred for "religious minorities in all countries of the world." Besides, "no harm can be made to the Syrian moderate opposition fighting against the Damascus regime." [27]

1. Hereinafter cited by Russian President’s Address at the 10th Meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of Islamic Conference. October 16, 2003. Purajaya, Malaysia.

2. President of Russia. Opening of the Meeting with Heads of Russia’s Muslim Boards. October 2013, Ufa.

3. Prince Abdullah: The Chechen Issue is Russia’s Domestic Affair.

4. President of Russia: Talks between the Russian President and Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Abdullah ibn Abdul-Aziz al Saud.

5. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation. Approved by President Putin on December 12, 2013.

6. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Report and Answers of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the Signing of the Framework Agreement on Cooperation between Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Permanent Secretariat of the OIC. Moscow, October 1, 2013.

7. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Meeting between Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Iyad bin Amin Madani.

8. OIC Secretary General Meets UN Secretary General and Russian Foreign Minister, New York, September 28, 2014.

9. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Final Communiqué of the 4th Emergency Session of Foreign Ministers, Doha, October 10, 2001.

10. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The 9th Emergency Session of Foreign Ministers, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on International Terrorism.

11. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Mecca Charter on Strengthening Islamic Solidarity. Mecca, August 15, 2012.

12. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Final Communiqué of the 29th Session of Foreign Ministers Meeting, Khartoum, June 27, 2002

13. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Final Communiqué of the annual Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States, United Nations Headquarter – N.Y., 17 September 2002. –

14. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Муназзама ат-таавун аль-ислямий. Аль-Байян аль-хитамий ли ад-даура ат-тасиъа ва аль-ишрун ли вузара аль-хариджийя.

15. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The OIC at International Forum of Donors for Gaza Reconstruction. October 12, 2014.

16. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Political Resolutions Adopted by the 39th Session of the Foreign Ministers‘ Meeting. Djibouti, November 17, 2012.

17. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Final Declaration of the Cairo Summit. Cairo, February 7, 2013.

18. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Political Decisions of the 38th Meeting of Foreign Ministers. Astana, June 30, 2011.

19. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Муназзама ат-таавун аль-ислямий. Карарат аш-шуун ас-сиясийя ас-садыра ан ад-даура ат-тасиъа ва ас-салясин ли иджтимаа вузара аль-хариджийя.

20. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Resolutions of the 4th Emergency Summit. Mecca, August 15, 2012.

21. Ibid.

22. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Муназзама ат-таавун аль-ислямий. Иъалян Джибути.

23. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Муназзама ат-таавун аль-ислямий. Байян Аль-Кахира аль-хитамий.

24. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Opening Remarks of Secretary General Iyad Madani at Geneva-2 Conference. Montreux, February 2, 2014.

25. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Муназзама ат-таавун аль-ислямий. Мисак Макка Аль-Мукаррама ли таазиз ад-тадамун аль-ислямий.

26. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The OIC Condemns the Killing of U.S. Journalist and Support International Efforts to Counter the ISIS. August 22, 2014.

27. Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The OIC Welcomes the Call of President Obama for Countering Extremist Ideology.


Moscow prepares for meeting of Syrian leaders*

On Jan. 26-29, Moscow is to host a consultative meeting between representatives of various groups of the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government on a “Moscow platform” provided by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting, which the world media has dubbed the Syrian peace talks, is expected to be a two-part affair. Part I, scheduled for Jan. 26-27, will bring together representatives of the Syrian political opposition and civil society in the absence of government representatives. On Jan. 28-29, a delegation from the Syrian regime is to join the deliberations.

The organizers envision an unrestricted and inclusive dialogue just for Syrians and with no preconditions, with an agenda open to any issues involved in a potential Syrian settlement. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to provide a venue but not interfere, leaving the Syrians free to discuss all issues, including counterterrorism and a political solution.

The dialogue in Moscow is not seen as an alternative to the Geneva process or the Geneva meetings, two of which have been held, with the second producing zero results. Moscow has declared its commitment to the principles of the June 20, 2012, Geneva Communiqué, which the UN Security Council approved in Resolution 2118. The meeting will be held in the framework of that commitment, free from external interference, a principle proclaimed by Russian diplomacy.

Far from an alternative to the Geneva format, these meetings are intended as a potential step toward resuming the Geneva deliberations, provided the Syrians manage to agree on something — anything — among themselves. Moscow believes an agreement could be reached to end the bloodshed that jeopardizes the future of the Syrian nation and its people. In fact, there clearly are Syrian patriots wishing to preserve the nation’s integrity on the many sides of the conflict, among the opposition and regime loyalists alike.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited opposition figures to the meeting on an individual basis to avoid creating rivalries and prioritizing some organizations over others. Therefore, the meeting’s attendees will not represent any specific organizations, but should they wish to express a consolidated opinion as a group, they would naturally be able to do that. Indeed, the arrangements call for an open dialogue with equal participation by all attendees.

No official representatives of the Russian government are to attend the meetings. It is up to Syrians themselves to decide what should and what should not be discussed. No one will exert any pressure on the Syrians. Damascus has agreed to send a delegation, though it is yet unclear who will be included.

Likewise, it is not yet clear which of the opposition invitees have accepted and which have declined. The organizers presume that a refusal to take part in this dialogue will suggest that the holdouts fail to offer constructive positions and are unwilling to use even the slightest opportunity to reach agreement to end or reduce the violence and resolve some humanitarian issues at the very least. A few analysts do not rule out the chance that certain quarters in a number of Arabian Peninsula states might try to foil the meeting.

Despite the United States’ frequent criticism of Russia’s Syria policies, the US administration has supported Moscow’s initiative. On Jan. 14, 2015, at the beginning of his meeting with Staffan de Mistura, the UN secretary-general’s representative for Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry went so far as to say, “We hope that the Russian efforts could be helpful.” Moscow took his words as a signal that Russia and the United States could continue constructive cooperation on Syria in the way that they cooperated in the international efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal. Russian analysts believe that as the West faces a dramatic escalation of the threat posed by international networks of Islamic terrorism, restoring Russian-US cooperation will be necessary to fight that threat.

Moscow has also noted a completely new emphasis in Kerry’s remarks on President Bashar al-Assad and his regime, suggesting that the hitherto irreconcilable US approach has mellowed. In particular, Kerry noted, “It is time for President Assad, the Assad regime, to put their people first and to think about the consequences of their actions, which are attracting more and more terrorists to Syria, basically because of their efforts to remove Assad.” It means that Moscow’s and Washington’s positions are no longer as antagonistic. In fact, the Russian position can in no way be interpreted as offering unconditional support to Assad personally. Nevertheless, not only Moscow but the international community recognize Assad as a legitimate head of state who enjoys a sizable following among the nation’s population and who is nowadays, according to Moscow, a natural partner of global and regional powers in the fight against terrorism.

Under the new circumstances, one might also refer to a narrowing gap between Moscow and Brussels in regard to the Syrian crisis. According to the Arabian news outlet Al-Akhbar, on Dec. 11, de Mistura and the EU foreign ministers confirmed that the European policy on Syria had shifted, meaning that an opportunity emerged for a European relationship with Assad. The same publication suggests that de Mistura and the European Union are concerned about the policies of Turkey, which remains “the only country still facilitating the passage of foreign fighters to Syria.” This concern has only grown after the wife of a terrorist who was killed after attacking a kosher deli in Paris, currently wanted by the French police, allegedly chose the Turkish route to flee to Syria.

Add to that a global media uproar after an article by Emre Uslu was published in Today’s Zaman on Jan. 14. Uslu quotes a former agent of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization candidly discussing the organization’s involvement in funneling weapons from Libya to groups operating under al-Qaeda leadership, plus its work to facilitate the movement of foreign jihadists to Syria. Such allegations cannot destroy the relationship of close cooperation recently established between Moscow and Ankara. However, they have not gone unnoticed by Russian analysts. Meanwhile, despite all its differences with Ankara on the Syrian issue, Moscow cannot ignore Turkey’s ongoing role as a highly influential player on that field. Among other things, this is evidenced by the fact that Khaled Khoja, a businessman born in Damascus who was elected the new chairman of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in January, is in fact a Turkish national.



*Kurdish leaders say they know who pushed ISIS to attack Kurdistan*

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish leaders say they now know who encouraged the Islamic State (ISIS) to begin attacks on the Kurdistan Region last summer.

“We know what ISIS’s agenda was, why they targeted Kurdistan and who sent them to Kurdistan,” said Ali Hussein, member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leadership.

“And certainly the time will come when the people of Kurdistan will learn about it too,” he said.

Other high profile officials told Rudaw on condition of anonymity that Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has also been informed about who and what drove ISIS to begin fighting Kurdish forces last August.

On several occasions last year, Barzani said that “others had pushed ISIS to turn towards Kurdistan,” without revealing further details.

Thousands of Peshmerga forces are now concentrated in the Gwer area, 60 KM west of Mosul, after hundreds of ISIS militants attacked the town last week in a surprise attack.

Hussein said that Gwer’s location is of extreme strategic importance to both the Kurdistan Region and ISIS.

“This place is close to Erbil and at the same time it is close to Mosul,” said Hussein, who is also a Peshmerga commander in the area. “It is as important to ISIS as it is to us. It (Gwer) is very close to Mosul, which is the ISIS capital of Iraq.”

Gwer briefly fell to ISIS militants last summer before it was recaptured by the Peshmerga ground troops with the support of American air strikes.

Peshmerga officials in the area say that in the Gwer region alone they have killed 400 ISIS militants in the last three months of fighting.

The area is strewn with destroyed ISIS vehicles, including a long-range artillery gun that posed the biggest threat to Erbil when the group attacked the region in August.

A Peshmerga fighter, standing only 300 meters from the last border with the Islamic State, said: “the war with ISIS is a vicious war.”

“But the Peshmerga are like a mountain and ISIS should learn not to bang their heads against the mountain,” he said.

The Kurdish forces share a 1,050 kilometer border with ISIS and fighting rages on a daily basis from Shingal to Makhmour in the west to southern Kirkuk.

“This the first frontline with ISIS,” said a Peshmerga, standing under a Kurdistan flag on a recently-dug mound marking the Kurdish border. “If ISIS crosses this line they will be able to reach anywhere,” he warned.



see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat



crisis group-syria-calling-radicalisation-in-central-asia.pdf

Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address _ January 20, 2015 _ .pdf