Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 13/03/15

Massenbach-Letter. News

· Biogasrat fordert Klima-Zuschlag bei KWK-Novelle

· Assad Key to Any Political Solution in Syria * Syria: "Military Pressure Particularly May Be Necessary * Why is American airpower not stopping ISIS?

· Time for Some Straight Talk on NATO * Japan Times: Cameron’s disappearing act

· Germany ready to assist Bulgaria in necessary reforms – Steinmeier * Serbia: EU accession and the reform process * Remarks on Transatlantic Cooperation and the Crisis in Ukraine * Joint gas buying on EU leaders‘ summit agenda

· Athen droht mit Pfändung deutscher Immobilien

Massenbach*

Syria: "Military Pressure Particularly May Be Necessary by Frederic C. Hof

US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters during a news conference with Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on March 5, 2015, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, following a series of meetings with King Salman, Deputy Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef, and members of the regional Gulf Cooperation Council. (Photo: US Dept. of State)

In his March 5, 2015 press availability in Riyadh with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, Secretary of State John Kerry went out of his way to douse regional speculation (often articulated in the form of total certainty) that the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) entails cooperation with the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Kerry noted that Syria "is being torn apart by a leader who places his personal preservation ahead of the preservation of the state or the preservation of all of the people of his state." Then he uttered the magic words: "Ultimately, a combination of diplomacy and pressure will be needed to bring about a political transition. Military pressure particularly may be necessary, given President Assad’s unwillingness to negotiate seriously. And what we must do is strengthen the capacity for this political solution."

Kerry’s words are meaningful only to the extent that they reflect forthcoming action. Soon after he became secretary of state in early 2013 he observed that Bashar al-Assad’s "calculation" with respect to genuine political negotiations would have to be changed; a calculation rooted in military realities. Iran responded to Kerry’s warning by shifting those realities in Assad’s favor: by bringing in foreign fighters from Lebanon and Iraq to rescue the regime’s crumbling army. Propped up in Damascus by an Iran that values greatly his unquestioning support for Hezbollah’s rocket and missile force in Lebanon, Assad views with contempt any notion of power sharing, much less complete political transition. Given the Obama administration’s track record when it comes to matching over-the-top rhetoric with appropriate action, Kerry’s latest statement may be eliciting no more than knowing smirks in Damascus and Tehran.

Kerry also noted, "Whether or not we are able to reach a deal on the nuclear program, the United States will remain fully committed to addressing the full slate of issues that we have with Iran, including its support of terrorism." Substitute the word "become" for "remain" and the statement becomes the basis for something approximating hope. Tehran—along with Moscow—has been all-in supporting mass murder in Syria. Iran’s Supreme Leader and Russia’s President have withheld nothing in supporting a systematic campaign of war crimes and crimes against humanity waged by Bashar al-Assad and his security forces against Syrian civilians. They have seen the Assad way of war—barrel bombs, starvation sieges, and mass incarcerations featuring torture, starvation, and sexual abuse—as necessary for securing a client whose services they value, even as they assure Western interlocutors privately that they have no affection or respect for the man himself.

The failure of the United States and its Western partners to do anything of consequence to mitigate the effects of Iran’s deep complicity in Assad regime mass murder has contributed mightily to Israeli and Gulf Arab reservations and fears about a nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. The issue has less to do with the provisions of an agreement that would elongate Iran’s "breakout" time for fielding nuclear weapons than it does with the sense that US and Western European leaders are simply flaccid and apathetic in the face of very assertive, unapologetic, and triumphalist Iranian military intervention in the region. Those who would be most directly affected by the consequences of a nuclear agreement wonder: (a) Will Washington be diligent in insuring that its provisions are enforced and (b) will an Iran out from under sanctions be better positioned to finance its unopposed (at least by Washington and Europe) program of regional hegemony?

The issue, in short, is one of confidence and credibility. For years, Western leaders have been chanting about the alleged absence of a military solution to Syria’s problem: an open invitation to Tehran and Moscow to seek a military solution for their client’s benefit, all the while secure in the knowledge that there would be no consequential pushback. As the parameters of that solution unfolded in mid-2013, the response of the Obama administration was to seek to repeal the laws of political physics by arguing that Bashar al-Assad would have to yield political power irrespective of military realities: he would have to read the terms of the June 2012 Geneva Final Communiqué and comply forthwith. Then came the chemical weapons crisis and the accompanying spectacle of US political dysfunction. Did the administration imagine that no one was watching? Perhaps it did not care. It knew there was no roiling domestic demand for steady, reliable US leadership. It had other priorities.

Yet the consequences have been enormous. Credibility was sacrificed at a price that is now clear, given Prime Minister Netanyahu’s performance. ISIS—a spectacular symptom of Assad-induced chaos in Syria—erupted from secure Syrian bases and flowed almost unimpeded through much of Iraq. Eager not to offend the sensibilities of Iranians it hopes will recognize their own interests in a non-nuclear outcome, President Obama assures the Supreme Leader in writing that his Syrian client will not be touched and tells anti-regime Syrian fighters on the receiving end of Iranian-orchestrated offensives that they ought to sign up to be trained and equipped to fight ISIS. Is it any wonder that John Kerry has to ride the circuit and persuade people that they ought not to believe their eyes and ears?

Fortunately, there is a way to prioritize the fight against ISIS while building the basis for a decent political outcome in Syria. Yet it will require the kind of US leadership for which this administration has demonstrated little appetite.

In conjunction with coalition airpower, a ground combat component provided by regional powers can make quick work of ISIS in central and eastern Syria. An alternate Syrian government—one recognized and supported by the London 11—can be established in Raqqa or Deir Ezzor. As some ISIS fighters flee into northwestern Syria, an air exclusion zone can be established so that coalition aircraft can pursue them without interference from regime aircraft out and about dropping barrel bombs on civilians.

None of this would require a frontal assault on regime, Iranian, or Hezbollah forces. The vacuum permitting ISIS to dominate central and eastern Syria will have been closed. The train-and-equip program could be expanded to build a truly national army. Relief and reconstruction could begin in earnest in major parts of Syria. Some refugees can come home. A "combination of diplomacy and pressure" will have created a far better basis for an eventual negotiated settlement than exists today.

Will Washington try to make something real out of Kerry’s words? Will partners in the region step up to a plan that would, when implemented, do precisely what they say they want and what Kerry is calling for in Riyadh? Or is this just more empty verbiage falling on deaf ears and deepening the doubts of Arabs and Israelis alike about the willingness and ability of the United States to lead, to persuade, and to do things of consequence beyond talking about them?

Frederic C. Hof is a Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/syria-military-pressure-particularly-may-be-necessary

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Time for Some Straight Talk on NATO*

Unfortunately, there is a direct link between the lack of political will in Europe to respond to hard power emergencies and the stark decline in countries‘ military capabilities and capacities. A number of smaller NATO members have degraded their militaries to the point where the routine training of personnel has become problematic. Some allied air forces today are so non-deployable that they are more reminiscent of glorified flight clubs, since they can only operate in their countries‘ skies and not much beyond.

It is unacceptable that with the Russian threat looming ever larger in the east, NATO’s capabilities and military muscle rest on the United States, Canada, and to a much lesser extent the United Kingdom, France and Poland, with Germany both militarily marginal and politically obstructionist. And yet I suspect that unless the United States leads by example, both by articulating a new policy of permanent reinforcements and by increasing its deployments in Europe while at the same time demanding reciprocity from the largest European states, nothing much will change. It is high time to return to the old principles of deterrence through permanent presence. And since the threat is being posed by a nuclear power, if NATO allies are serious about their treaty commitments, it is also time to revisit flexible response in the event of escalation for lessons that would apply in the new situation should the threat of a wider war indeed arise.

The point is not to debate whether Russia would defeat a fully mobilized and united NATO in an all-out military clash scenario—it would not. But Putin may decide to try to beat NATO by instead moving ahead with another Donetsk-type scenario, either in the Baltic States or elsewhere along the periphery: fomenting a crisis and stopping to test the allied response, gambling that this would expose the internal political fissures in NATO and ultimately paralyze its decision-making process. Politically NATO’s consensus remains fragile, especially when it comes to moving from verbal assurances to actual physical reinforcements of it northeastern flank. The consensus will not gel unless the Obama administration leads with a clear commitment to reestablish a larger and more strategically rational military footprint in Europe. The Cold War-era U.S. base infrastructure in Europe should be re-imagined, and both U.S. and European NATO member-states‘ physical assets augmented with permanent U.S. and NATO bases in the most exposed countries, specifically the Baltic States, Poland and Romania.

Otherwise, if the U.S. adheres to its "lead from behind Germany formula" while the latter is stuck in the "Mitte," NATO will continue to drift, and we will continue to lose precious time to refurbish the only institution with the means to bring combined Western power to bear in a crisis. And yes, that means also in war, should it come to that in Europe again.

Andrew A. Michta is the M. W. Buckman Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/natosource/time-for-some-straight-talk-on-nato

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Japan Times: Cameron’s disappearing act*

by Denis Macshane(Denis MacShane was the United Kingdom’s Minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005.)

LONDON – “Where is David Cameron?” asks Germany’s influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

The German paper is leading a chorus of cruel comments about how the British prime minister “shines by his absence on the international stage.” That’s how Le Figaro, the center-right paper in France, ungallantly headlined a report on Britain’s disappearance as a geopolitical player.

“‘The British prime minister is rarely absent when cameras are around. That’s why it is all the more striking that European foreign policy is taking shape without him. In the diplomatic struggle with Moscow, Berlin and Paris lead for Europe, while Washington listens carefully from across the Atlantic.”

But the government in London that was once the mentor for Eastern Europe can “hardly be seen or heard,” continued the FAZ correspondent in London.

In Le Monde, the paper’s editorial director, Sylvie Kauffmann, says the reason for David Cameron’s absence from high-level European diplomacy is that, “Great Britain has been left on the sidelines because of its threat of Brexit — Britain exiting the European Union.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is managing the Russia-Ukraine conflict principally as a European issue. In that context, to have to rely on Cameron would weaken her. In fact, British diplomacy shines by its absence in the Ukraine dossier.”

The British prime minister has claimed — or at least his aides have spun it that way — that he has a special relationship with Mrs. Merkel.

Le Monde’s editorial director thinks differently. She argues that Merkel has switched to François Hollande, a line that is confirmed by senior French diplomats in private conversations.

Kauffmann, who knows Berlin well, says that this reborn Franco-German axis “is serious. The attacks in Paris, Merkel’s ungrudging solidarity and the way Hollande handled the event has brought the two leaders together.”

In a recent French Cabinet meeting, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was openly critical of Britain’s nondiplomacy in Europe.

His intervention sparked criticisms from other ministers, including Finance Minister Michel Sapin, who complained about the habit of the U.K. Chancellor George Osborne’s nonstop criticism of the eurozone and its handling of the Greek crisis.

These attacks from across Europe on Cameron’s lack of policy on Europe are without precedent. They represent the gradual awakening across the Channel that Cameron’s proposed “In-Out” EU referendum — an irrevocable pledge if he retains power — is likely to lead to Brexit, Britain quitting the EU.

Why invest much time in a relationship if in a couple of years Britain will no longer be in the EU?

In Britain, two recently retired generals have taken the unusual step of publicly criticizing the prime minister. On BBC News, General Sir Richard Shirreff deplored David Cameron’s absence from team Europe’s efforts to try and stop Ukraine sliding into unstoppable conflict.

“The U.K. is a major NATO member, it is a major EU member, it is a member of the U.N. Security Council, and it is unfortunate that the weight that the British prime minister could bring to efforts to resolve this crisis appears to be absent.” General Shirreff called his prime minister a “bit player” and a “foreign policy irrelevance.” Those are strong words, especially considering that, until 2014, Sir Richard was the U.K.’s highest-ranking NATO commander.

Shirreff was echoing the criticism from General Jonathan Shaw who commanded Britain’s Special Forces (SAS).

In his new book “Britain in a Perilous World” (Haus Books), Shaw describes David Cameron as a prime minister seemingly “more interested in the instant gratification of action rather than the tedious discipline of deep, coherent thought.” Ouch.

Unlike in the United States — where outspoken generals once out of the military are commonplace — British senior army officers usually maintain a stiff-upper-lip silence about their political masters.

That these two admired military commanders have separately made the same kind of criticism of the prime minister as newspaper editors on the European continent shows just how low Britain’s diplomatic status has sunk even in the eyes of senior Brits at the heart of the British state machinery.

“‘The British Giant shrinks to Little England” is how Germany’s Die Welt sees Cameron’s new isolationism. The paper’s veteran London correspondent, Thomas Kielinger, is an Anglophile who taught at British universities and is author of a well-received Churchill biography, which is selling well in Germany.

But he asks “What will happen with the referendum on the EU that Cameron promised in 2017? Uncertainty, thy name is the United Kingdom.”

This is also true of the British in security policy. The size of the British army is reduced by current plans to 82,000 men — which can be comfortably accommodated in Wembley Stadium.

“A single British aircraft carrier currently holds vigil on the seas — there is no more question of whether ‘Britannia rules the waves.’ In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Royal Air Force had 31 squadrons. Now there are only eight.

This explains why the British contribution to the air war against the Islamic State amounts to just 6 percent of all sorties flown,” Kielinger writes.

The paper concludes that Cameron — and by implication his country — does not matter anymore on the European stage.

True or not, the judgment is the harshest passed on a British prime minister in decades from so many who are friends of Britain and do not want to see the country slowly vanish as an international player.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/03/08/commentary/world-commentary/camerons-disappearing-act/#.VPxG4vNTG00

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Assad Key to Any Political Solution in Syria*

The Syrian civil war has been completely lost in the quagmire that is ISIS and the wider problems stemming from Iraq and the war waged upon it by President Bush and the neoconservative establishment. The dangers of meddling in Iraq were clear to anyone who had read even a few pages of modern Middle Eastern history, but few in Western power circles were honest enough to question the policy and call on their governments to think twice before meddling in Middle Eastern affairs.

Iraq’s straggling reconciliation and seemingly permanent state of crisis failed to discourage the West – and other governments that should have known better (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to name three) – from interfering in the wave of protests that broke out in Syria shortly after the revolts of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt had reached a mature point coined as the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011. The media interpreted the coincidence of the timing of the Syrian protests as an expression of the desire for democracy. Regional and world powers, meanwhile, saw an opportunity to change the Baathist government that had ruled in Damascus for almost 50 years, skillfully navigating through many traps to maintain a degree of independence, and bring Syria into their ‘sphere of influence.’

Little attention was given to the more expert analyses that the Syrian ‘awakening’ never actually happened; democratic ambitions were dormant then and remain ever more lethargic today. Much like Tunisia, the original impetus for the protest came from farmers looking for compensation and improved water supply, especially in the southern regions – and the town of Dara’a in particular – that had suffered intense periods of drought for at least three seasons. The Syrian leadership made a significant mistake: it used hardline methods against the protesters rather than suffocating the issue with some good old fashioned largesse (which could have been limited to infrastructure improvements in Dara’a or inviting a few protesters to the presidential palace to meet the president in an atmosphere of reconciliation).

In Tunisia, the protests also started in an area affected by drought. However, close ties between the European Union and the Ben Ali dictatorship, cemented through intense economic cooperation, tourism, and migration, kept the EU at bay. The United States had relatively few ambitions in the Maghreb; and Tunisia does not border Israel – in fact, bilateral relations were relatively good. The Tunisian protest grew organically, following its own tempo rather than one tuned by foreign interference. President Ben Ali himself, moreover, never received due credit for realizing that his time was up such that on January 14, 2011, he left Tunisia to seek exile (surely encouraged by the secret police and the armed forces), sparing his people from a prolonged conflict. Tunisia, unlike Syria, has a rather uniform ethnic makeup in the context of Arab states. It is 99% Sunni Muslim, featuring a well-integrated Berber population, and held together, unlike many Islamic states, by a well-rooted tradition of secularism and strong institutions. Ben Ali could leave knowing that there were few chances of a civil war mutating into an ethnic or religious conflict while Tunisia’s main and best organized Islamist expression, al-Nahda, is dominated by the most liberal wing of the Muslim Brotherhood under the leadership of Rashid Ghannouchi. Syria, meanwhile, has endured ethnic and religious sectarianism and the al-Assads, like many other dictators in the Arab world, have proven to be adept at balancing divisions (if by force) in order to establish the kind of stability that allows a country to grow and even develop.

The Syrian civil war, with its causes and eventual outcome, is being largely ignored. World attention is now concentrating on the Frankenstein like side-effects of the Iraq war – Islamic State (IS or ISIS) – and its spillover into the fertile anarchy of Syria. The Assad presidency, whose dire predictions of chaos to foreign meddlers have become too embarrassing for the latter to concede, is now but a footnote on the issue of regional terrorism. The West wonders how it could have come to this; how many of its youth have become drawn to the struggle in Syria (and Iraq), ignoring the causes and their tremendous responsibility for the current state of affairs.

For this reason alone, Bashar al-Assad and the Baathist party in Damascus are worthy of consideration. Indeed, it is time for al-Assad to be rehabilitated and included in the process of resolving – if such a verb is even legitimate given the extent of the anarchy – the problem of ISIS and the Syrian civil war itself. That fight has been stolen from him – Western, Saudi, and Qatari-funded foreigners rather than native Syrians have taken over and they have made the very kind of progress in Syria that the West claims to have been fighting since the 9/11 attacks in the United States. The rebels (at least those that have any power and influence) are motivated not by democracy but by the ultimate installation of an Islamic state.

Many media pundits should consider Hillary Clinton’s statement when she visited Jordan two years ago and, looking over at Syria from Mt. Nebo, proclaimed like a reincarnation of Col. T.E. Lawrence and General Allenby that “Assad must go.” King Abdallah of Jordan, who has found his sense of leadership and royal legitimacy through his country’s new war against ISIS, is likely very grateful that President al-Assad ignored Ms. Clinton’s vacation suggestions, staying on to contain the Islamist tide from spilling over to Amman. Syria is not Tunisia, and al-Assad is not Ben Ali.

It is not a stretch to suggest that had al-Assad gone into exile, by now the Caliphate would be based in Damascus rather than the middle of nowhere.

http://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/assad-key-to-any-political-solution-in-syria/

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Remarks on Transatlantic Cooperation and the Crisis in Ukraine

Remarks

Antony J. Blinken
Deputy Secretary of State

Professor Henrik Enderlein, Dean, Hertie School; Dr. Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference

Hertie School

Berlin, Germany

March 5, 2015

http://www.state.gov/s/d/2015/238644.htm

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* *Why is American airpower not stopping ISIS?*

by Rick Francona (An acknowledged Middle East expert, dynamic speaker, author of Ally to Adversary – An Eyewitness Account of Iraq’s Fall from Grace, former NBC and current CNN military analyst, retired intelligence officer Lt Col Rick Francona offers his thoughts and opinions on various Middle East topics.
Recommended by TIME.com, CNN.com, MSNBC.com and the Chicago Sun-Times )

USAF airstrikes on the city of Kobani, Syria

The United States-led coalition has been bombing targets of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since August of last year. Hundreds of targets have been destroyed, and despite claims to the contrary by White House, Department of Defense and Department of State spokespersons, ISIS continues to mount attacks and seize territory. How can that be? Being attacked by the world’s best air force – over 80 percent of the sorties are being flown by the U.S. Air Force – seems to have had little effect.

This was driven home to me on a personal level when ISIS stormed several Assyrian villages in the al-Hasakah area of Syria. Several of my Arabic language instructors in the 1970s are of Assyrian descent, in fact many speak Aramaic/Syriac natively.

Last week, the son of one of these instructors called to tell me he had just spoken to family members in Tal Tamr (about 20 miles northwest of al-Hasakah), the first Assyrian town seized by ISIS fighters. The town sits at a strategic intersection.

According to Yoni, 40 trucks – mostly equipped with machine guns – blew into town and killed the first six men they encountered. They then burned the church and rounded up all the women and children they could find. The children were being held in cages under threat of being burned alive. ISIS offered to exchange the women for prisoners held by Syrian Kurds. (Some of these exchanges later took place). His question to me, "Why can’t we see 40 armed trucks in a convoy and take them out?"

My thought process as I searched for an answer:

I initially thought that maybe there were not enough targets for the pilots to attack. Then I took a look at the suite of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets – manned, unmanned and strategic – and deduced we must have virtual synoptic coverage of the areas of interest in Syria and Iraq. When you look at a map and the vast areas under ISIS control – about the size of Great Britain – most of it is just empty desert. The main areas of interest are in the river valleys: the Tigris, Euphrates, Khabur, Diyala, etc. Those we can cover.

If we have decent sensor coverage of the area, the problem must be something in the command and control system. I was slow to come to this realization because I thought we had fixed this decades ago. The key to airpower is flexibility.

My own experience in this goes back to the latter stages of the war in Vietnam. I was a Vietnamese linguist monitoring North Vietnamese communications, figuring out where the enemy was, passing that information to command and control elements who would try to direct attack aircraft onto those targets. This was over 40 years ago using the technology of the day. Surely we have improved.

Actually, I know we improved. Those of us who remained in the Air Force after Vietnam developed the intelligence-operations cycle to the point that our collection of information from a variety of sensors – imagery, electronic, communications, signatures, etc. – could be used to put weapons on targets inside of an enemy’s decision cycle. In other words, use intelligence to guide kinetic operations before the enemy knows what hit him.

We did this well in Operation Desert Storm. Decisions were made at the tactical level – targets were hit when discovered. We also designated areas in which pilots were free to engage targets as they appeared. One of the tactics was to delineate "kill boxes" in which no friendly forces were present. Anything that appeared to be military was engaged – it had a devastating effect on the Iraqis.

We have regressed. I am not sure why, but we seem to be operating in a zero-defect environment. That is political-speak for not killing any innocent people in the conduct of military operations. While we try to minimize civilian casualties, it is after all, war – people are going to be killed. No one advocates a cavalier attitude toward the application of airpower, but you cannot paralyze your armed forces because innocent people may be killed. (Okay, cue the hate email.)

What follows is from a current U.S. Air Force pilot, who we will call Chris (tac callsign "Hedgehog"). According to Chris, all the lessons learned in Vietnam, and used effectively during the first Gulf War, have been forgotten. This really bothers those of us who fought hard to institutionalize the tactics developed from the lessons we learned the hard way.

In Chris’s words:

"The level of centralized execution, bureaucracy and politics is appalling. Pilots have no decision making authority in the cockpit. Unless a general can look at a video from an ISR sensor, we cannot get authority to engage. I’ve spent hours watching a screen in my cockpit as ISIS commits atrocities, but I cannot do anything. The fear of making a mistake is now the hallmark of American military leadership.

"We are not taking the fight to the enemy. Their centers of gravity are in al-Raqqah, but we don’t attack there. Truck traffic flows on the roads between Syria and Iraq unimpeded. We often orbit for hours over a suspected target, waiting for a decision to engage. Trust me, we pilots are trying to get the job done, despite the bureaucracy."

There is a problem, yes, but it is not in the theater of operations – it is in Washington and Tampa (U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base). You have placed trained, committed American Airmen in harm’s way to execute the military option as part of American foreign policy. Get out of the way and let them do their jobs.

Our pilots know what the bad guys look like – let our pilots kill them.

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Joint gas buying on EU leaders‘ summit agenda

EXCLUSIVE: EU leaders will discuss how best to strengthen the bloc’s bargaining power, including the collective buying of gas, when they debate the European Commission communication on Energy Union. (att.)

http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/joint-gas-negotiations-eu-leaders-summit-agenda-312614

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Biogasrat fordert Klima-Zuschlag bei KWK-Novelle

Berlin, 05.03.2015 „Wir brauchen eine klimapolitisch kluge Reform des Kraft-Wärme-Kopplungsgesetzes (KWK-G) und unterstützen die nordrhein-westfälische Initiative von SPD, CDU sowie BÜNDNIS90/DIE GRÜNEN nach einer schnellen Gesetzesnovelle“, sagt Biogasratgeschäftsführer Michael Rolland nach einem Gespräch hierzu mit nordrhein-westfälischen Energiepolitikern.

Mit dem bundesweiten Spitzenverband der kommunalen Unternehmen (VKU) ist sich der Biogasrat+ einig: Die bislang vorgesehene Deckelung bei der KWK-Förderung von 750 Millionen Euro im Jahr muss weg. Nur so könne der Stromanteil der umweltfreundlichen und hocheffizienten Kraft-Wärme-Kopplung bis 2020 auf 25% erhöht werden, wie im Koalitionsvertrag von Union und SPD verbindlich vereinbart. Moderne, kraftwärmegekoppelte Anlagen haben derzeit einen Anteil von rund 16% an der gesamten Nettostromerzeugung in Deutschland und sparen pro Jahr 60 Millionen Tonnen CO2 Emissionen ein. Das entspricht in etwa den gesamten CO2-Emissionen, die im Alltagsverkehr durch Fahrten zur Arbeit bzw. für geschäftliche und Ausbildungswege verursacht werden.

„Damit die Bundesregierung ihre internationalen Verpflichtungen zum Schutz des Klimas einhalten kann, brauchen wir bei der jetzt anstehenden KWK-Novelle einen Klimazuschlag von 2 Cent, sofern fossile Brennstoffe durch erneuerbare Brennstoffe ersetzt werden oder effizientere Technologien zum Einsatz kommen“, fordert Rolland.

Mit 2 Cent pro Kilowattstunde Strom können wir die klimaschädlichen Treibhausgasemissionen um mindestens weitere 10% senken. „Das muss uns aktiver Klima- und Umweltschutz wert sein“, so der Biogasratsprecher.

Kraftwärmegekoppelte Anlagen ermöglichen die gleichzeitige energieeffiziente Gewinnung von Strom und Wärme. Sie können flexibel gesteuert werden und beim Einsatz von erneuerbaren Energien z.B. durch den Einsatz von Biomasse die immer größer werdende, schwankende Stromeinspeisung aus Windkraft und Photovoltaik-Anlagen optimal ausgleichen.

Kurzinformation Biogasrat+ e.V.

Der Biogasrat+ ist der Verband für dezentrale Energieversorgung und vertritt die Interessen der führenden Marktteilnehmer. Dabei steht die Markt- und Systemintegration der erneuerbaren Energien entlang der gesamten Wertschöpfungskette im Vordergrund. Biogas/Biomethan kann im Strom, Wärme und Kraftstoffmarkt wesentlich dazu beitragen, die ökologischen Zielvorgaben der Politik zu erfüllen, ohne dabei unnötige Kosten für die Allgemeinheit zu verursachen. Aus diesem Grund setzt sich der Verband für einen stärkeren Einsatz von Biomethan in allen Nutzungspfaden ein, indem die rechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen optimiert und dadurch eine nachhaltige Entwicklung des Marktes sichergestellt wird.

Pressekontakt:

Tel.: +49 30 206 218 100

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Middle East

Griechenland-Reparationen

Athen droht mit Pfändung deutscher Immobilien

Griechenlands Regierungschef Alexis Tsipras beharrt auf Reparationen für den Zweiten Weltkrieg. Sein Justizminister erklärte sich bereit, die Pfändung deutscher Immobilien im Land zu erlauben.

http://app.handelsblatt.com/politik/international/griechenland-reparationen-athen-droht-mit-pfaendung-deutscher-immobilien/11487496.html

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

*OPEC is winning its battle with U.S. shale: Kemp*

(John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)

By John Kemp

LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) – U.S. shale producers are falling behind in the Red Queen’s Race as the downturn in drilling means that new oil production is failing offset falling output from existing wells.

The famous race is named after the scene from Lewis Carroll’s novel "Through the Looking-Glass", in which the Red Queen warns Alice: "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast."

The race is a metaphor for the relationship between increased oil production from newly drilled wells on the one hand and declining output from old wells on the other.

The net result is that the downturn in drilling is threatening to cut output for the first time since the start of the shale revolution.

Other forms of oil production, notably from offshore fields in the Gulf of Mexico, will continue to increase in the next few months. But in the shale sector, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has won its battle with U.S. shale producers and forced output growth to a standstill.

By refusing to cut its own output in November and allowing prices to fall sharply, OPEC has attempted to force shale producers to curb their rapidly swelling output.

Production from three of the four largest shale oil plays in the United States will fall next month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says.

April production from the Bakken region is projected to fall by 8,000 barrels per day (bpd) from March. Eagle Ford, meanwhile, is expected to drop by 10,000 bpd and Niobrara by 5,000 bpd, according to the EIA’s "Drilling Productivity Report", published on Monday.

Only the Permian Basin is expected to achieve continued growth next month, but the projected increase of 21,000 bpd is less than half the 43,000 bpd recorded in December (link.reuters.com/qak34w).

Once production from minor plays and gas-producing regions is included, EIA predicts oil output from shale regions will be flat next month.

Drilling is becoming more productive in all areas as producers concentrate on high-yielding acreage and abandon peripheral zones.

Weighted-average new production per well in the four plays is expected to increase almost 10.5 percent from 388 bpd for wells drilled in December to 428 bpd for wells drilled in February.

But the number of new wells drilled across all four fell by 30 percent to 765 over the same period, outstripping any productivity gains.

Wells drilled in December are expected to have added about 423,000 bpd of new oil when they were completed and put into production in February. But wells drilled in February are forecast to add only 328,000 bpd of new oil when they begin production next month.

At the same time, declining output from the stock of legacy wells is expected to worsen from 319,000 bpd in February to 330,000 bpd in April.

December’s wells added a total of 103,000 bpd to net production in February. But February’s new wells will add virtually nothing to net production in April.

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Serbien

moderated by Srecko Velimirovic

Sehr geehrte Leserinnen und Leser,

der dies wöchige Massenbach-Newsletter/Serbien steht ganz im Zeichen der Abstimmung des Europäischen Parlaments zur endgültigen Resolutionsfassung über den Integrationsprozesses Serbiens zur EU. Der im Februar eingereichte Beschlussvorschlag des EP-Berichterstatters David McAllister soll in dieser Woche ohne größere Verzögerungen verabschiedet werden, nachdem er bereits mit großer Mehrheit durch den Auswärtigen Ausschuss des EP gebilligt wurde. Auch die stellvertretende Vorsitzende des Ausschusses für auswärtige Angelegenheiten der EU – Tanja Fajon setzt sich dafür ein, dass die Verhandlungsgespräche so bald wie möglich aufgenommen werden. Doch die von kroatischen EU-Abgeordneten ausgelöste Debatte zu zahlreichen noch offenen und ungeklärten Fragen, drohten die Abstimmung zur Resolutionsfassung zu verzögern. Schließlich setzte sich die Position durch, ​dass die angeführten Probleme auf bilateraler und nicht auf EU-Ebene gelöst werden sollten. Im Rahmen der Resolution wurde der bisherige Fortschritt in der Normalisierung der Beziehungen zu Pristina, die Durchführung interner Reformen und die Entwicklung regionaler Zusammenarbeit lobend erwähnt. Gleichzeitig äußerte man aber Kritik hinsichtlich der eingeschränkten Meinungsfreiheit die im Land herrsche sowie an der fehlenden Annäherung an verhängten EU-Sanktionen gegen Russland. Die erwarteten Abstimmungsresultate des Europäischen Parlaments sind zwar nicht bindend, aber die Europäische Kommission und der Rat der Europäischen Union haben sie bei ihren künftigen Entscheidungen zu berücksichtigen.

Ich wünsche Ihnen viel Spaß beim Lesen!

Srecko Velimirovic

EU accession and the reform process

3/11/2015 11:20:00 AM

Fajon urges soonest opening of chapters in talks with Serbia

(Click to follow this link)

BELGRADE – The opening of the first chapters in the Serbia-EU talks should take place as soon as possible, says Vice-President of the European Parliament and Social Democrat MEP Tanja Fajon. In the European Parliament resolution on Serbia’s progress we urged the European Commission to start the negotiations as soon as possible, Fajon told the Belgrade-based paper Danas ahead of Wednesday’s vote on the final version of the resolution on Serbia’s progress in European integrations. Speaking about the normalisation of Belgrade-Pristina ties and the suspended participation of Serbs in Kosovo institutions, Fajon noted that the issue of the Serbs‘ return to institutions in Kosovo is a very important part of the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, and that some even see it as essential for Serbia’s progress on the path towards the EU. Ensuring the best possible living conditions for people who live in Kosovo, including Serbs, is the most important thing, Fajon said.

http://www.tanjug.rs/news/168710/fajon-urges-soonest-opening-of-chapters-in-talks-with-serbia.htm

continued see att. „Newsletter_11kw-Serbia“

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The Western Balkans Between Europe and Russia No. 170,

Because Russia’s moves in Ukraine have raised questions regarding Moscow’s intentions on the Balkans, the EU has once more intensified its engagement in that region. Even though the states of the Western Balkans remain on course to join the EU, uncertainty remains over the future of this region, which also remains important for Swiss foreign policy.

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Germany ready to assist Bulgaria in necessary reforms – Steinmeier*

Germany is ready to provide assistance for the necessary reforms in Bulgaria, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Sofia on March 10 after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Daniel Mitov.

The two discussed the investment climate in Bulgaria and the need for it to be improved.

Steinmeier said that relations between countries were built not only on the basis of official meetings, but on contacts between peoples.

He said that 5000 German companies were operating in Bulgaria, 50 000 Bulgarians were living and working in Germany and there were more than 5000 students at German universities.

” All those people who build and deepen relations between our two countries are welcome in our country,” Steinmeier said.

According to Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, the two foreign ministers agreed on an enhanced schedule of bilateral consultations between the ministries of foreign affairs on current issues in the European agenda of special interest for Bulgaria.

These include the European future of the Western Balkans and support for the necessary reforms to achieve a European perspective, including through the participation of Bulgaria in the so-called Berlin process; need for a new approach and an EU Strategy for the Black Sea; the future of the Minsk process and the problems between Russia and Ukraine; the challenges of the situation in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East and increased refugee and migration pressures.

Germany will provide assistance to Bulgaria for the preparation of the country’s first EU Presidency, Mitov said.

Bulgaria and Germany will begin active bilateral energy dialogue whose aim will be to achieve lasting ensure energy security of Bulgaria, including the use of the opportunities offered by the EU Energy Union and European investment plan.

Bulgaria will rely on the support of Germany for the reform of the country’s judicial system, together with successful co-operation to strengthen the rule of law and support to improve the performance of European funds, Mitov.

Steinmeier had confirmed the commitment of both governments to provide maximum assistance, guarantees and encourage investment from Germany in the Bulgarian economy and increase bilateral trade, Mitov said.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, speaking at a joint news conference after talks with Steinmeier, called for German investment in motor vehicle manufacturing in Bulgaria.

“We have no special preferences whether it would be BMW, whether it is Mercedes, whether it is Porsche or Volkswagen, what is important is for Bulgaria to start manufacturing entire vehicles. We manufacture rubber seals, windows, seats, air conditioning, so….components can easily make a big factory,” Borissov said, adding Bulgaria’s low taxes and highly skilled workforce.

“You have seen how many Bulgarians work in Germany. Once they can work there, they certainly could work in this plant. We should create similar conditions here and keep these people in Bulgaria and still get high salaries,” he said.

Steinmeier did not respond in front of journalists to Borissov’s call.

Steinmeier said that economic co-operation between Bulgaria and Germany could be strengthened further.

Trade between the countries was continuing to grow every year but its potential was not exhausted, he said.

Again noting as a positive fact the number of German companies investing in Bulgaria, and adding that he had discussed with Borissov continuing to increase German companies looking at Bulgaria as a place to invest, Steinmeier said that important conditions were the availability of skilled labour and trained personnel, while prerequisites for increasing investment were reforms in domestic policies, the judiciary, and also redressing deficiencies in the conduct of competitions for public orders.

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Kurdistan

The Tikrit Offensive Raises Hard Questions about US Policy*

In Iraq, an assault on ISIS-held Tikrit, north of Baghdad, is underway. In theory, this serves US goals: defeating the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and restoring Iraq’s territorial integrity and political sovereignty. In practice, something different and more sinister is underway in Tikrit and Iraq writ large. While this will weaken ISIS in the short-term, it will ultimately deepen Iraq’s sectarian tragedy and undermine the United States’ regional standing and interests. This raises difficult questions about what the United States is and ought to be doing in Iraq.

In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey welcomed the role of Iranian-backed Shia militia in the battle for predominantly-Sunni Tikrit, provided it did not result in or fuel sectarian tensions. Unfortunately, not only is such tension already rampant in Iraq, but it is difficult to imagine that an Iranian-backed Shia militia attack on a Sunni town will not make it worse. Meanwhile, there are increasing indications that neither Iran nor our ostensible allies in the Iraqi government see the United States as a critical partner in the war effort.

General Dempsey is correct that, in theory and taken in isolation, it matters little who liberates Tikrit, as long as ISIS is defeated. In reality, however, it matters a great deal – not only because Shia militia have a track record of ethnic cleansing and atrocities against Iraqi Sunnis, but also because the increasing role of Iran and its proxy militia in the war on ISIS speaks volumes about the Iraq emerging today. Try as we may to spin it otherwise, the Tikrit offensive is another battle in a long and increasingly open-ended sectarian war, in which the main beneficiaries are not sovereign state institutions but Iran and its proxy militia.

The growing role of Iranian and sectarian militia involvement in fighting ISIS carries serious risks: The first is that of atrocities against Sunnis perceived as belonging to or even neutral toward the insurgency (for that is what ISIS in Iraq is, in addition to being a self-styled ‘state’). One Shia militia commander has promised that Sunni tribes backing ISIS would be punished even more severely than ISIS itself, to avenge the hundreds of Shia Muslims executed earlier by ISIS near Tikrit. That even the relatively moderate Prime Minister Haidar Abadi defines ISIS members broadly is cause for concern.

One could argue that atrocities are an unavoidable part of the reality of civil war and that the latter’s inherent ugliness need not rule out meaningful political change in post-ISIS Iraq. Perhaps, but little about the emerging balance of forces in Iraq indicates that the newly-empowered Shia militia will disarm; that militia leaders who established their credentials in a sectarian war will not expand their influence into official Iraqi institutions; or that Sunnis who rallied behind, tolerated, or simply came to terms with ISIS will not be worse off in the ‘new’ Iraq than they were under Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

Prime Minister Abadi appears sincere about addressing the Sunni grievances that enabled the rise of ISIS, but he does not control Iraq or its political establishment. Instead, both his own political survival and that of the Iraqi state increasingly depend on Iran and its militia clients. His efforts to reach out to Sunnis, including by establishing a Sunni national guard to fight ISIS and police Sunni territory, are being obstructed by foreign and domestic players opposed to mobilizing Sunnis whom they suspect of enabling ISIS.

The US policy of militarily supporting and publicly condoning the role of sectarian militia in the Iraqi war carries serious costs. There is the moral issue of effectively taking sides in a sectarian war that is increasingly dominated by Sunni and Shia jihadists. Second, a US strategy that cedes the war on ISIS to Iran and its militia clients further undermines the United States’ already weakened standing among Arab allies that support the war on ISIS, but would strongly prefer it not lead to an Iraq dominated by Iranian-aligned Shia militia. Third, it sends (or reinforces, given the unfortunate US track record in Syria) a message to Sunni Arab populations that the United States is allied with Iran and its clients at a time when it desperately needs Sunni Arab partners.

For reasons that are unclear, the United States has apparently stayed out of the Tikrit offensive. Perhaps it is concerned about the highly visible role of Shia militia and Iranian forces, or calculates that US air support services in Tikrit are not required. Its ostensible allies in the Iraqi government seem to agree; they do not appear overly concerned with the United States’ absence, indicating that while they would prefer US support, they would have “no problem” going it alone—or more accurately, in exclusive partnership with Iran. In fact, Iraqi forces have been operating in the Tikrit area since August 2014, mostly without significant US support.

It is possible that the United States can only reign in Iran and its sectarian militia in Iraq by deploying substantial ground forces there and leading the war against ISIS. At present, however, there is no US appetite for another ground war in Iraq and no guarantee of success if the United States were to fight one. Yet staying the course carries high costs and the resulting Iraq is most certainly not in line with US interests or values. If there is to be any point at all to remaining engaged in Iraq’s troubles, the United States should not signal its approval for what is transpiring there.

Faysal Itani is a resident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

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see our letter on:

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

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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

03-05-15 Press Availability With Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.pdf

03-01-15 Time for Some Straight Talk on NATO – The American Interest.pdf

03-05-15 CSSAnalyse170-EN-The Western Balkans Between Erope and Russia.pdf

03-10-15 DRILLING PRODUCTIVITY REPORT.pdf

03-05-15 Blinken – Remarks on Transatlantic Cooperation and the Crisis in Ukraine.pdf

03-04-15 Joint gas buying on EU leaders‘ summit agenda _ EurActiv.pdf

Griechenland-Reparationen_ Athen droht mit Pfändung deutscher Im mobilien – I.pdf

Newsletter_11kw-Serbia.pdf

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