Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 19/06/15

Massenbach-Letter. News

· Accounting for Inertia in Geopolitical Forecasting * Will AKP’s losses spark Turkish re-think on Syria-

· Eastern Patriarchs: "Stop the wars in our land"* Koepf/Gazette: Vom kurzen Frühling in die Katastrophe

· STRATFOR: A Net Assessment of the Middle East

· Global water supplies are ‘in distress’, scientists warn

· Russia expects Serbia’s support for lifting of sanctions * Wittmann:KonstruktiveAnsätzefür das Verhältnis mit Russland * Cordes: Das Verhältnis zwischen Deutschland und Russland

“As the crescent moon to be sighted, and the holy month of Ramadan will begin, may Allah bless you with happiness and grace that fills your home with warmth & peace !

Wishing you, your family and loved ones a Blessed Ramadan.”

Massenbach* Will AKP’s losses spark Turkish re-think on Syria*

Turkish military might favor change on Syria

Fehim Tastekin writes that some Justice and Development Party (AKP) members are asking whether Turkey’s Syria policy may have contributed to the ruling party’s loss of as many as 53 seats (when it went from 327 seats to 258, out of 550) in the Grand National Assembly elections last week:

“Many believe that one reason for the AKP’s dismal showing in the 2015 elections is its policy on Syria. While the AKP’s militant base angrily asks in Internet messages, ‘Who lost the elections? Jerusalem, Syria, Egypt and Somalia did,’ there are those among the AKP founding fathers who believe that votes were lost in provinces bordering Syria and among Kurds in general because of the AKP’s mishandling of Rojava [Western Kurdistan] and Kobani [in Syria]. These seniors now think that a new course of action is essential to solve the Syrian crisis.”

A re-think of Syria policy could open debate on whether Turkey is doing enough to halt the supply of weapons and financing to jihadist groups, and to fulfill its commitments as a NATO ally in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS), stances that have frustrated international efforts to crack down on foreign fighters in Syria.

Tastekin reports: “Regarding arming the opposition and controlling the border, the AKP will have to listen to voices from its own ranks as well as from any potential coalition partner. A more concrete and determined line can be expected in combating IS. The new government will find it very hard to introduce a new approach to the refugee issue or to send the refugees back. On Rojava, the MHP [Nationalist Action Party] and the HDP [Peoples‘ Democratic Party] have sharply opposing views. If the new government is to include the MHP, then relations with the Kurds could deteriorate.”

Those advocating a change in Turkey’s Syria policies may have an ally in the Turkish military. Metin Gurcan describes an officer corps favoring a more cautious approach in Syria: “Most of the officers Al-Monitor spoke with emphasized national legislation and international law when speaking about Syria; all of them agreed that all international engagements about Syria must be based on legal justifications and not go beyond them.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to give priority to deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than containing foreign fighters, is backfiring, as IS begins to have Turkey in at least its ideological sights.

Gurcan reports: “For the first time, we see how closely IS is monitoring the changes in political Islam in Turkey, and how it is looking for a place for itself in that transformation. There is no doubt that Turkish Islamism represented by the AKP has been tarnished with corruption allegations. IS appears to be fusing its ideology with Islamism and Ottomanism in Turkey to create a new radical Islamist school of thought there that could motivate the Islamist masses already disengaged from socio-economic life and democracy closer to IS.”

Semih Idiz writes that early AKP soundings into the defeat indicate that “the image of profligacy, waste and corruption … alienated large portions of the electorate.”

Idiz reports that despite some efforts at self-criticism, some AKP figures and supporters in the media have insinuated that “external forces” are behind the party’s losses. And it may be unrealistic to expect Erdogan to lead the AKP toward more inclusive policies.

Idiz concludes: “The prospect of Erdogan assuming a socially unifying and pacifying role appears unlikely, however. It is after all he who, according to many of his domestic and foreign critics, is the cause of much of the division and social unrest we see in Turkey today. It is also he whose bellicose campaigning in the lead-up to Sunday’s elections, when combined with his openly declared but now effectively dead ambition of becoming Turkey’s sole leader, may have been one of the main causes why the AKP lost so much support.”

Arad Nir does not rule out a change in Turkey’s stance toward Israel. While some Israeli decision-makers may believe that “a weak Erdogan is good for Israel,” Nir contends that “this may not be necessarily true. Erdogan’s decision to rehabilitate relations with Israel, at the appropriate time, was made at the peak of his power.”

Eastern patriarchs: "Stop the wars in our land"

The five Christian patriarchs of Antioch held their annual meeting in Damascus on June 8 to “confirm more than ever that we are staying” in Syria and the region.

Jean Aziz writes that “the patriarchs’ presence in Damascus at this particular time may be seen by the Syrian regime’s opponents as support for the Syrian government by the Eastern churches. Therefore, the church leaders were careful in handling this issue, especially in light of past experiences.”

Aziz reports that in September 2014 “the patriarchs met with US President Barack Obama [at the White House]. The meeting’s agenda caused an uproar in Beirut, because the patriarchs and bishops had told Obama that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad provided protection to the Christians in Syria, in light of the extremism emerging among his opponents.”

At that meeting Obama “emphasized that the United States recognizes the importance of the historic role of Christian communities in the region and of protecting Christians and other religious minorities throughout the Middle East,” according to a White House statement.

Christians account for approximately 10% of Syria’s 22 million citizens, and many consider the Syrian government as its only protection from a likely miserable fate at the hands of IS and other jihadist and Salafist groups that have been gaining ground in the war.

Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil cautioned in an interview with Al-Monitor in March that the region’s Christian communities were vanishing, saying, “They are leaving. It is not a risk, it is a reality.”

Edward Dark reported for Al-Monitor on the devastation wrought on Aleppo’s remaining besieged Christian community when they fell under bombardment on April 10, Good Friday in the Eastern Christian calendar, reporting the event as “a terror-filled nightmare that sent new shock waves of despair and terror.”

Syria’s Christians likely take cold comfort in the efforts by US regional partners to make the case for collaboration with alleged moderate factions within al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, as reported this week in the Wall Street Journal. This column has for 18 months warned of this alarming trend by those advocating an al-Qaeda makeover in Syria to keep the pressure on the Syrian government.

Aziz concludes that “the political aspect of the meeting in Damascus seems to be clear despite [Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Gregory III] Laham’s assertions. [Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X] Yazigi’s invitation of the Eastern patriarchs to Damascus falls within the scope of coordination between his church and Moscow, and [Maronite patriarch of Antioch and head of the Maronite Church in Lebanon Bechara al-] Rai’s visit to the Syrian capital was made possible through coordination efforts between him and the Vatican. Hence, the meeting in Damascus can be seen as an attempt to find another source of protection for the Christians of the region. However, providing protection to the Christians from extremists is a challenge. The meeting in Damascus coincided with the first anniversary of the displacement of Christians from Mosul, the Ninevah plains and several villages in Iraq, following the invasion of the Islamic State.”[English]&utm_campaign=2253c66528-Week_in_review_June_15_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-2253c66528-93106913#


*Vom kurzen Frühling in die Katastrophe*

Peter Köpf in: „Die Gazette“ Nr. 46

Peter H. Koepf*

Editor in Chief*

The Atlantic Times / The German Times / The Asia Pacific Times*


Außer in Tunesien hat die sogenannte Arabellion keine demokratischen Blütengetrieben.Diktatoren sind geschwächt oder verschwu nden , machtfreie Räumevon rücksichtslosen Radikalislamisten besetzt. Dass es dazu kommen konnte,istauch Ergebnis gravierender Fehleinschätzungen des Westens.

Salem El-Hamid ist Chefarzt in einer Kinderkli­nik in Gummersbach. Achtzig Stunden pro Woche arbeite er dort, versichert er. Mindestens.

Und doch findet er Zeit für sein „Hobby", wie er es nennt: die Wahrheit zu ergründen und zu ver­künden – über den Bürgerkrieg in Syrien und

im Irak, und wer dafür verantwortlich ist. Wenn er, der Generalsekretär der Deutsch-Syrischen Ge­sellschaft, wie Anfang Mai beim American Ger­ man

Business Club Berlin etwas fahrig durch sei­ne Powerpoint-Folien navigiert, lautet das Fazit: Der Westen ist schuld am Chaos, die Amerikaner und ihre

Verbündeten haben im Morgenland ein 1400 Jahre währendes Gleichgewicht beseitigt. „Wir nennen es ein Mosaik", sage er. „In Deutschland würde

man es Mulcikulci nennen." Alles zerstört. Der Westen, sagt er, hätte sich heraushalten müssen.

Es ist noch nicht lange her, da träumten Europäer und Amerikaner davon, dass die aufständischen Araber am Mittelmeer ihre Diktatoren vertreiben und durch demokratische, westlich orientierte Regierungen ersetzen. Nun ist in Syrien Bürgerkrieg, und dort wie im Irak verbreiten die Schlächter des sogenannten Islamischen Staats (IS) Angst und Schrecken; auch in Libyen sind die Terroris­ten angekommen, Kopten und andere aus dem Land geflüchtet, und skrupellose Schleuser nutzen das Land aus Ausgangshafen für ihre anrüchigen Geschäfte mit der Not; in Ägypten hat eine Regierung mit schweigender Duldung des Westens ihre demokratisch gewählten Vorgänger gestürzt, in Gefängnisse gesteckt und gerötet. Die Anarchie hat sich mancherorts als schlimmer erwiesen als die Diktatur. Rainer Hermann, Islamwissenschaft­ler und Redakteur der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, schreibt in seinem Buch über den IS:

„Wo sunnitische Extremisten herrschen, werden alle Minderheiten ausgelöscht – ob sie schiitische Muslime sind, muslimische Mystiker, Christen, Yeziden oder Schabak; wo aber säkulare Diktaturen die Macht ausüben , ob unter Assad in Syrien oder unter Sisi in Ägypten, überleben sie."

Der IS verdient das Label ,Made in USA‘

Im Arabischen Frühling war es wie so häufig im Lenz, wenn Gefühle den Verstand überrumpeln : Erklärtermaßen im Interesse der Demonstranten, der Menschen- und insbesondere der Frauenrechte, aber mehr noch im eigenen Interesse wie zu­ vor schon in Afghanistan und im Irak, warfen sich Amerikaner ins Getümmel, mal mehr, mal weni­ger unterstützt von Europäern. Michael Lüders, langjähriger Nahost-Korrespondent der Wochenzeitung Die Zeit, spricht Klartext: „Der Westen hat in fremde Kriege und schwelende Konflikte eingegriffen und jeweils versucht, einem Gewin­ner nach eigenem Gusto an die Macht zu verhel­fen."

Das Ergebnis ist niederschmetternd, für den Wes­ten, aber mehr noch für die Menschen in den be­troffenen Staaten. Haben sich die Lebensbedingungen in Afghanistan, Irak, Somalia, Jemen, Pakistan, Libyen, Syrien verbessert? Sind Stabilität und Sicherheit erreicht? Mitnichten. Wo diktatorische Regime und mit ihnen staatliche Ordnung verschwanden, wuchsen neue, radikale und zerstörerische Kräfte. (Forts. S. Anlage)


Secret CIA effort in Syria faces large funding cut

Key lawmakers have moved to slash funding of a secret CIA operation to train and arm rebels in Syria, a move that U.S. officials said reflects rising skepticism of the effectiveness of the agency program and the Obama administration’s strategy in the Middle East.

The House Intelligence Committee recently voted unanimously to cut as much as 20 percent of the classified funds flowing into a CIA program that U.S. officials said has become one the agency’s largest covert operations, with a budget approaching $1 billion a year.

“There is a great deal of concern on a very bipartisan basis with our strategy in Syria,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel. He declined to comment on specific provisions of the committee’s bill but cited growing pessimism that the United States will be in a position “to help shape the aftermath” of Syria’s civil war.

The cuts to the CIA program are included in a preliminary intelligence spending bill that is expected to be voted on in the House next week. The measure has provoked concern among CIA and White House officials, who warned that pulling money out of the CIA effort could weaken U.S.-backed insurgents just as they have begun to emerge as effective fighters. The White House declined to comment.

Recent CIA assessments have warned that the war is approaching a critical stage in which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is losing territory and strength, and might soon be forced to relinquish all but a narrow corridor of the country to rebel groups — some of them dominated by Islamist militants.

[Assad hold on seen as increasingly imperiled}

“Regime losses across the front lines are edging the conflict closer to [Assad’s] doorstep,” a U.S. intelligence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The Syrian president “is not necessarily on the verge of defeat,” the official said, noting that Russia and Iran continue to support him and could help him stave off collapse. But because of regime losses in Idlib and elsewhere, the official said, “many people are starting to openly talk about an endgame for Assad and Syria.”

The projections have prompted a flurry of discussions at the White House, CIA, Pentagon and State Department regarding post-Assad scenarios, officials said, and whether U.S.-backed moderate forces will be in a position to prevent the country from being overrun by extremist groups, including the Islamic State, which has beheaded Western hostages and declared a caliphate encompassing large parts of Syria and Iraq.

This week, President Obama expanded the U.S. military’s role against the Islamic State, unveiling plans to deploy U.S. advisers to new bases in Iraq, while announcing no change to the limited American-led bombing campaign that began in Iraq and Syria last year. A separate Defense Department program authorized to train moderate fighters to combat the Islamic State has not yet begun.

But the sudden contraction of Assad’s sphere of control has focused renewed attention on Syria and the CIA program set up in 2013 to bolster moderate forces that still represent the United States’ most direct involvement on the ground in Syria’s civil war.

The cost of that CIA program has not previously been disclosed, and the figure provides the clearest indication to date of the extent to which the agency’s attention and resources have shifted to Syria.

At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed in documents The Washington Post obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

U.S. officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.

The CIA declined to comment on the program or its budget. But U.S. officials defended the scale of the expenditures, saying the money goes toward much more than salaries and weapons and is part of a broader, multibillion-dollar effort involving Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to bolster a coalition of militias known as the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army.

Much of the CIA’s money goes toward running secret training camps in Jordan, gathering intelligence to help guide the operations of agency-backed militias and managing a sprawling logistics network used to move fighters, ammunition and weapons into the country.

The move by the House intelligence panel to cut the program’s funds is not mentioned in the unclassified version of the spending bill. But statements released by lawmakers alluded to some of their underlying concerns, including a line calling for an “effort to enhance the metrics involved in a critically important [intelligence community] program.”

That language, officials said, was a veiled reference to members’ mounting frustration with the program and a perceived inability by the agency to show that its forces have gained territory, won battles or achieved other measurable results.

“Assad is increasingly in danger, and people may be taking bets on how long he can last, but it’s largely not as a result of action by so-called moderates on the ground,” said a senior Republican aide in Congress, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.

In the past two years, the goal of the CIA’s mission in Syria has shifted from ousting Assad to countering the rise of extremist groups including al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL.

“Unfortunately, I think that ISIS, al-Nusra and some of the other radical Islamic factions are the best positioned to capi­tal­ize on the chaos that might accompany a rapid decline of the regime,” Schiff said.



Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Global water supplies are ‘in distress’, scientists warn*

Dead almond trees in California’s Central Valley, which has a ‚highly stressed‘


More than a third of the world’s biggest aquifers, a vital source of fresh water for millions, are “in distress” because human activities are draining them, according to satellite observations.

Scientists from Nasa, the US space agency, and the University of California, Irvine, analysed 10 years of data from the twin Grace satellites, which measure changes in groundwater reserves by the way they affect Earth’s gravitational pull.

“Twenty-one of the world’s 37 biggest aquifers have passed sustainability tipping points . . . they are being depleted,” said Jay Famiglietti, the study leader.

“Over a third [13] are so bad that they are experiencing exceptionally high levels of stress.”

The problem is most serious in regions where rainfall and snowmelt cannot make up for water extracted for agriculture, industry, drinking and other human purposes.

The scientists determined aquifers’ overall stress rates on the basis of their depletion over 10 years of satellite measurements, together with their potential for replenishment, taking account of regional climate and human activities.

The results, published in the Water Resources Research journal, show that the Arabian Aquifer System, an important water source for more than 60m people, is the most “overstressed” in the world.

It is followed by the Indus Basin aquifer of India and Pakistan and the Murzuq-Djado Basin in northern Africa. California’s Central Valley, currently at the centre of a political battle over water rights, was classed as “highly stressed” and suffering rapid depletion — mainly for agriculture.

Although many of the world’s great aquifers are being drained rapidly, there is “little to no accurate data about how much water remains in them,” the researchers added.

Professor Famiglietti said: “Available physical and chemical measurements are simply insufficient. Given how quickly we are consuming the world’s groundwater reserves, we need a co-ordinated global effort to determine how much is left.”

By comparing their satellite-derived groundwater loss rates to the limited data on groundwater availability, the researchers found huge discrepancies in projected times to total depletion of the aquifers.

In the Northwest Sahara Aquifer System, for example, such times fluctuated between 10 and 21,000 years. The study noted that a dearth of groundwater was leading to severe ecological damage, including rivers running dry, water quality deteriorating and land subsiding.

Groundwater aquifers are located in soil or deeper rock layers beneath the earth’s surface. Drilling down to discover the extent of an aquifer can be difficult and expensive but there is often no other option, according to the authors.

“We need to explore the world’s aquifers as if they had the same value as oil reserves,” Prof Famiglietti said. “We need to drill for water the same way that we drill for other resources.”


Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* *STRATFOR: Accounting for Inertia in Geopolitical Forecasting*

Geopolitics, at least in the sense that we practice, is neither deterministic in its approach to understanding nations and their interactions nor simply synonymous with current events or international relations. At its most basic, geopolitics as a discipline seeks to explain the intersection between place and people, or more specifically between place and the nation, and the impact they have on one another. Practitioners assess geography, politics, economics, security, history and society inclusively to build a deeper understanding of nations, subnations, regions and the world.

Constraints, Compulsions and Circumstances

Geopolitics teaches us how to identify and assess the compulsions and constraints on nations and their principal actors — the driving forces and limiters that shape the behavior and direction of nations and their interactions. The balance between "compulsions" (what must be done) and "constraints" (what cannot be done) — a tension that induces or restricts certain behaviors, actions and directions — changes with differing "circumstances," or the current state of being domestically, regionally or internationally at a given moment in time. Thus, some compulsions may exist for years or decades, but only in a very special set of circumstances do they really induce action.

By identifying these constraints and compulsions, the limitations on options become more apparent, allowing predictions of patterns and actions. If history explains the past with an eye on the present, geopolitics explains the present with an eye on the future. The purpose is not only understanding the pressures on nations, but also predicting future responses — and thus providing time to prepare for, dissuade or counter the actions of others.

At a certain level, geopolitics eliminates the impact of the individual human element: Each individual is diluted in the totality, subsumed in some sense by the forces at work, namely, the broader constraints and compulsions that compel and limit options and decisions. Individuals by their very nature are highly variable, being affected by numerous unseen elements at any given moment. Consider, for example, John Lewis Gaddis‘ musing in The Landscape of History on the potential that an unrecorded flea may have given Napoleon itchy underwear, leading to his loss at Waterloo. While individuals are relatively unpredictable on a short time frame, their collective behavior, their decisions as they shape the directions of nations, are less variable and more compelled or constrained. Thus, in rising above the individual, geopolitics presents a framework for forecasting and a method that can be taught and tested.

The relationship between the constraints and the compulsions is in a constant state of flux and influenced by circumstances. Assessing these three factors presents a picture of fairly limited options and, in reducing possibilities, leaves a very small number of likely directions for future action. This allows geopolitics to serve as the starting point for forecasting. Frequently, however, a directional pattern that appears obvious from a geopolitical assessment and forecast will not come to pass within the expected time frame, or a dynamic that may appear highly constrained will suddenly break forth far ahead of the forecast.

Three Case Studies

As a case in point, let’s look at the current European crisis. Nearly from the beginning of our existence, Stratfor has clearly seen and identified the core constraints on European unity, and in particular on the creation of a common European currency. Our 1995-2005 Decade Forecast stated:

The European Union’s enjoyment of this period will be limited somewhat by Germany’s ongoing digestive problems—absorbing the old East Germany—and an inability to create a Monetary Union. On the one hand, the reluctance of major powers to abdicate sovereignty to Brussels makes negotiations difficult and subject to collapse and breakdown. On the other hand, the fact that the EU contains both net creditor and debtor nations makes the creation of a single, integrated fiscal policy—the precondition for monetary union—difficult to imagine. The idea that Greece or Portugal and Norway or the Netherlands will share fiscal strategies is a bit difficult to imagine. As the EMU frays, European integration in general will be questioned. The great reversal of 1997 will resonate through the next decade.

Our Fourth Quarter of 1998 forecast continued to expect the failure of the EMU:

We continue to believe that the EMU will be dead on arrival. The EMU is an economic colossus built on a base of political sand. Each European election now has the potential of undermining the entire edifice. Even if this German election doesn’t, some election will. The EMU, like Russia and Asia, is going to meet the dark face of politics sooner rather than later. This last quarter of 1998 may destroy the EMU, postpone it, or most likely, allow it to go forward with political constraints that will guarantee its failure.

Applied geopolitics clearly showed that the EMU and the euro were inherently flawed. We assumed that if these flaws appeared obvious to us, they would be as obvious to the Europeans. We also believed the Europeans would be unable to bring the new currency to fruition even if they did not consciously recognize the same constraints we had identified. But not only did the euro move forward, for a time it was a very strong global currency. In our 1999 Annual Forecast, we admitted: "We were clearly wrong when we expected the euro to fail. The euro is here and seems likely to work in the short run."

Today, however, the European Union is hampered by many of the very constraints we recognized two decades ago. While an integrated fiscal policy may have worked relatively well during times of economic prosperity, in times of crisis, it stripped some countries of the tools they needed to respond — bringing increasing political strain within member countries and toward the entire European experiment. Put simply, the very different economic models of Northern and Southern Europe require more than a "one size fits all" set of economic tools. While geopolitics exposed those constraints, we missed something in initially predicting that they would block the formation of the EMU and the euro or give rise to a monetary union so politically constrained it would be destined to fail from the outset. The error was not one of failing to recognize constraints but rather of failing to understand how they applied and in what time frame.

Now consider our long-standing forecast of an economic crisis in China as "the Chinese miracle" outlived its growing internal contradictions. For more than a decade, we identified the constraints that would bring an end to the miracle and lead to a political crisis as China sought to manage the social consequences of slowing growth. Many of the problems we identified are now generally accepted as obvious precursors to China’s economic slowdown, which was finally set in motion by the European financial crisis. Though what is obvious now to many was obvious to us for a long time, we still failed to forecast the timing of the crisis.

The recent action by Russia in Ukraine fits a similar pattern. We identified the stresses on Russian-U.S.-European relations, the sense of unease felt by Russia at seeing its periphery eroded, and the likely locations for a Russian response to reassert its national security interests. And yet we failed to forecast the timing of the crisis in Ukraine. In this case, it was not an issue of being too early, but rather of being too late. Though very challenging to nail down, the time factor in forecasting is critical: The best forecast with an inaccurate time component is of limited value.

In looking back at nearly two decades of inaccurate forecasts, particularly those that erred in timing, three basic factors emerge. The first is an intelligence gap, where key information needed to make an accurate forecast is either missing or has been overlooked or misinterpreted. The second is a basic analytic failure, namely, the failure to adhere to our methodology due to complacency, allowing assumptions to become "facts." The third is something that I will call "inertia." In physics, inertia is the principle that an object moving in a particular direction will tend to continue moving in that particular direction unless acted upon by some factor or force, or that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by some factor or force. In short, objects tend to continue to do what they are doing unless something knocks them off kilter.

The Role of Inertia in Geopolitics

Applied to geopolitics and forecasting, inertia is perhaps most often seen as acting against a change in a certain direction but not fully constraining it. Inertia, then, is a key factor in understanding the time component of geopolitical forecasting. With a change in circumstances, a compulsion may require a certain new action, and a constraint may mitigate against continuing with an existing action, but inertia may significantly delay the change in action. The constraints that militated against the formation or success of the euro were real, but they were initially overcome by the institutional inertia of a Europe that had considered and launched upon a unitary path, one initially put in motion to balance German and French interests and competition and thus reduce the likelihood of another European war. And the compulsions that now would appear to lead to European re-division are being delayed by the inertia of the assertion that the European experiment should continue as is.

Inertial factors may be institutional (the structure of government, for example), fiscal (the method of budgeting and spending), societal (the nature of society and the population), or manifest in other sub-systems. Regardless, inertia must be assessed and understood to add greater time accuracy in forecasting. What geopolitics makes apparently simple and clear is made complex and muddy by inertia.

We know a large ship is hard to turn quickly and keeps moving forward long after the helm is thrown over. A ship of state is much larger, and its direction is accordingly more difficult to alter even after a crisis moment is recognized and acted upon. We also know that the economic effects of certain policies or of changing circumstances are often not fully felt until the next leadership is in place, and that the repair is often not noted until long after circumstances have improved. Inertia is the factor that shapes these delays and, as such, complicates the time factor in forecasting.

What are the inputs in measuring inertia? How is inertia different from constraints, or should it be considered among the constraints? And are inertial factors universal or situational? When we look at differing groups of peoples, different nationalities and sub-nationalities, there are often common characteristics in the ways they act and react. In some sense, there are French, American and Chinese ways of acting. Stereotypes exist for a reason: They are exaggerations of national characteristics. This is not to say that every individual is the same, or that there are no differences within cultures and nations, but rather that places exert certain forces on the development of a people over time that eventually produce common characteristics.

What has shaped the mindset of the leadership of Japan over time is far different than what has shaped the mindset of the leadership of Congo. Geography places certain constraints, encourages certain behaviors, and over time builds in a set of generally identifiable characteristics of thought and typical responses. These are, at their core, conditioned by geography, by place. In some sense, this is one step in what we refer to as "empathetic analysis," or understanding the factors that shape the outlook of the individual leaders. Whereas geopolitics often rises above the individual, the narrower the time frame and the more discrete the scope, the more the individual and their worldview matter.

Constraints such as political power, political checks, economic activity and natural resources may be shared by all, but they are still expressed differently in different places, and their relative significance to one another changes. Empathetic analysis, our term for the process of getting inside the thinking of geopolitical actors, tells us to look at the constraints within a particular geographical area, system and time. If constraints were common across geographic space and time, then there would be no need for empathetic analysis; applying my own paradigm would be sufficient to assess the paradigm of another. But as that is clearly not the case, then there must be something like a national characteristic, the culmination of history, culture, economic activity and societal factors in a particular geographical area shaped, guided and constrained by the realities of that geography.

If geopolitics helps reveal this national characteristic, perhaps inertia and the factors and balances to consider also have national characteristics, as well as elements unique to specific locations at specific times. The general types of inertial factors may be common across differing locations, but they exert a different balance of forces based on location.

What are the compulsory factors that direct behavior? Perhaps they are external stresses, domestic economics, politics, demographics, etc. The balance of these factors may shift with differing circumstances, one being more important at one moment, another at another moment. What is the response time to these pressures, to these compulsions? Is it always conscious, is it at times nearly inevitable, and is the response limited by constraints? It would seem that inertia can be considered an important component that determines the delay time between stimulus and action/reaction. Inertia may be fairly elastic, exerting a slow resistance, but is by no means insurmountable, instead merely producing steady delays on the timelines of expected outcomes. Inertia may also be fairly inelastic, exerting a strong resistance until, all at once, it is overcome in a massive breaking moment.

Understanding the inertial forces applicable in a given place and time is critical to improving forecasting accuracy because it impacts the critical time component of the forecast. Timing in forecasting is just as important as accuracy and separating the significant from the insignificant. But timing requires a more complete understanding of the balance between compulsion, constraint, circumstances and the resistant pull of inertia. Inertia exerts a strong pull on the time factor in any otherwise obvious forecast produced by the overall assessment of constraints, compulsions and circumstances. Given what we have learned over the years, inertia will be elevated as a variable in our practice.



Middle East

*STRATFOR: A Net Assessment of the Middle East*

By George Friedman

The term "Middle East" has become enormously elastic. The name originated with the British Foreign Office in the 19th century. The British divided the region into the Near East, the area closest to the United Kingdom and most of North Africa; the Far East, which was east of British India; and the Middle East, which was between British India and the Near East. It was a useful model for organizing the British Foreign Office and important for the region as well, since the British — and to a lesser extent the French — defined not only the names of the region but also the states that emerged in the Near and Far East.

Today, the term Middle East, to the extent that it means anything, refers to the Muslim-dominated countries west of Afghanistan and along the North African shore. With the exception of Turkey and Iran, the region is predominantly Arab and predominantly Muslim. Within this region, the British created political entities that were modeled on European nation-states. The British shaped the Arabian Peninsula, which had been inhabited by tribes forming complex coalitions, into Saudi Arabia, a state based on one of these tribes, the Sauds. The British also created Iraq and crafted Egypt into a united monarchy. Quite independent of the British, Turkey and Iran shaped themselves into secular nation-states.

This defined the two fault lines of the Middle East. The first was between European secularism and Islam. The Cold War, when the Soviets involved themselves deeply in the region, accelerated the formation of this fault line. One part of the region was secular, socialist and built around the military. Another part, particularly focused on the Arabian Peninsula, was Islamist, traditionalist and royalist. The latter was pro-Western in general, and the former — particularly the Arab parts — was pro-Soviet. It was more complex than this, of course, but this distinction gives us a reasonable framework.

The second fault line was between the states that had been created and the underlying reality of the region. The states in Europe generally conformed to the definition of nations in the 20th century. The states created by the Europeans in the Middle East did not. There was something at a lower level and at a higher level. At the lower level were the tribes, clans and ethnic groups that not only made up the invented states but also were divided by the borders. The higher level was broad religious loyalties to Islam and to the major movements of Islam, Shiism and Suniism that laid a transnational claim on loyalty. Add to this the pan-Arab movement initiated by former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who argued that the Arab states should be united into a single Arab nation.

Any understanding of the Middle East must therefore begin with the creation of a new political geography after World War I that was superimposed on very different social and political realities and was an attempt to limit the authority of broader regional and ethnic groups. The solution that many states followed was to embrace secularism or traditionalism and use them as tools to manage both the subnational groupings and the claims of the broader religiosity. One unifying point was Israel, which all opposed. But even here it was more illusion than reality. The secular socialist states, such as Egypt and Syria, actively opposed Israel. The traditional royalist states, which were threatened by the secular socialists, saw an ally in Israel.

Aftershocks From the Soviet Collapse

Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the resulting collapse of support for the secular socialist states, the power of the traditional royalties surged. This was not simply a question of money, although these states did have money. It was also a question of values. The socialist secularist movement lost its backing and its credibility. Movements such as Fatah, based on socialist secularism — and Soviet support — lost power relative to emerging groups that embraced the only ideology left: Islam. There were tremendous cross currents in this process, but one of the things to remember was that many of the socialist secular states that had begun with great promise continued to survive, albeit without the power of a promise of a new world. Rulers like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Syria’s Bashar al Assad and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein remained in place. Where the movement had once held promise even if its leaders were corrupt, after the Soviet Union fell, the movement was simply corrupt.

The collapse of the Soviet Union energized Islam, both because the mujahideen defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan and because the alternative to Islam was left in tatters. Moreover, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait took place in parallel with the last days of the Soviet Union. Both countries are remnants of British diplomacy. The United States, having inherited the British role in the region, intervened to protect another British invention — Saudi Arabia — and to liberate Kuwait from Iraq. From the Western standpoint, this was necessary to stabilize the region. If a regional hegemon emerged and went unchallenged, the consequences could pyramid. Desert Storm appeared to be a simple and logical operation combining the anti-Soviet coalition with Arab countries.

The experience of defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan and the secular regimes‘ loss of legitimacy opened the door to two processes. In one, the subnational groupings in the region came to see the existing regimes as powerful but illegitimate. In the other, the events in Afghanistan brought the idea of a pan-Islamic resurrection back to the fore. And in the Sunni world, which won the war in Afghanistan, the dynamism of Shiite Iran — which had usurped the position of politico-military spokesman for radical Islam — made the impetus for action clear.

There were three problems. First, the radicals needed to cast pan-Islamism in a historical context. The context was the transnational caliphate, a single political entity that would abolish existing states and align political reality with Islam. The radicals reached back to the Christian Crusades for historical context, and the United States — seen as the major Christian power after its crusade in Kuwait — became the target. Second, the pan-Islamists needed to demonstrate that the United States was both vulnerable and the enemy of Islam. Third, they had to use the subnational groups in various countries to build coalitions to overthrow what were seen as corrupt Muslim regimes, in both the secular and the traditionalist worlds.

The result was al Qaeda and its campaign to force the United States to launch a crusade in the Islamic world. Al Qaeda wanted to do this by carrying out actions that demonstrated American vulnerability and compelled U.S. action. If the United States did not act, it would enhance the image of American weakness; if it did act, it would demonstrate it was a crusader hostile to Islam. U.S. action would, in turn, spark uprisings against corrupt and hypocritical Muslim states, sweep aside European-imposed borders and set the stage for uprisings. The key was to demonstrate the weakness of the regimes and their complicity with the Americans.

This led to 9/11. In the short run, it appeared that the operation had failed. The United States reacted massively to the attacks, but no uprising occurred in the region, no regimes were toppled, and many Muslim regimes collaborated with the Americans. During this time, the Americans were able to wage an aggressive war against al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. In this first phase, the United States succeeded. But in the second phase, the United States, in its desire to reshape Iraq and Afghanistan — and other countries — internally, became caught up in the subnational conflicts. The Americans got involved in creating tactical solutions rather than confronting the strategic problem, which was that waging the war was causing national institutions in the region to collapse.

In destroying al Qaeda, the Americans created a bigger problem in three parts: First, they unleashed the subnational groups. Second, where they fought they created a vacuum that they couldn’t fill. Finally, in weakening the governments and empowering the subnational groups, they made a compelling argument for the caliphate as the only institution that could govern the Muslim world effectively and the only basis for resisting the United States and its allies. In other words, where al Qaeda failed to trigger a rising against corrupt governments, the United States managed to destroy or compromise a range of the same governments, opening the door to transnational Islam.

The Arab Spring was mistaken for a liberal democratic rising like 1989 in Eastern Europe. More than anything else, it was a rising by a pan-Islamic movement that largely failed to topple regimes and embroiled one, Syria, in a prolonged civil war. That conflict has a subnational component — various factions divided against each other that give the al Qaeda-derived Islamic State room to maneuver. It also provided a second impetus to the ideal of a caliphate. Not only were the pan-Islamists struggling against the American crusader, but they were fighting Shiite heretics — in service of the Sunni caliphate — as well. The Islamic State put into place the outcome that al Qaeda wanted in 2001, nearly 15 years later and, in addition to Syria and Iraq, with movements capable of sustained combat in other Islamic countries.

A New U.S. Strategy and Its Repercussions

Around this time, the United States was forced to change strategy. The Americans were capable of disrupting al Qaeda and destroying the Iraqi army. But the U.S. ability to occupy and pacify Iraq or Afghanistan was limited. The very factionalism that made it possible to achieve the first two goals made pacification impossible. Working with one group alienated another in an ongoing balancing act that left U.S. forces vulnerable to some faction motivated to wage war because of U.S. support for another. In Syria, where the secular government was confronting a range of secular and religious but not extremist forces, along with an emerging Islamic State, the Americans were unable to meld the factionalized non-Islamic State forces into a strategically effective force. Moreover, the United States could not make its peace with the al Assad government because of its repressive policies, and it was unable to confront the Islamic State with the forces available.

In a way, the center of the Middle East had been hollowed out and turned into a whirlpool of competing forces. Between the Lebanese and Iranian borders, the region had uncovered two things: First, it showed that the subnational forces were the actual reality of the region. Second, in obliterating the Syria-Iraq border, these forces and particularly the Islamic State had created a core element of the caliphate — a transnational power or, more precisely, one that transcended borders.

The American strategy became an infinitely more complex variation of President Ronald Reagan’s policy in the 1980s: Allow the warring forces to war. The Islamic State turned the fight into a war on Shiite heresy and on established nation states. The region is surrounded by four major powers: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey. Each has approached the situation differently. Each of these nations has internal factions, but each state has been able to act in spite of that. Put differently, three of them are non-Arab powers, and the one Arab power, Saudi Arabia, is perhaps the most concerned about internal threats.

For Iran, the danger of the Islamic State is that it would recreate an effective government in Baghdad that could threaten Iran again. Thus, Tehran has maintained support for the Iraqi Shiites and for the al Assad government, while trying to limit al Assad’s power.

For Saudi Arabia, which has aligned with Sunni radical forces in the past, the Islamic State represents an existential threat. Its call for a transnational Islamic movement has the potential to resonate with Saudis from the Wahhabi tradition. The Saudis, along with some other Gulf Cooperation Council members and Jordan, are afraid of Islamic State transnationalism but also of Shiite power in Iraq and Syria. Riyadh needs to contain the Islamic State without conceding the ground to the Shiites.

For the Israelis, the situation has been simultaneously outstanding and terrifying. It has been outstanding because it has pitted Israel’s enemies against each other. Al Assad’s government has in the past supported Hezbollah against Israel. The Islamic State represents a long-term threat to Israel. So long as they fought, Israel’s security would be enhanced. The problem is that in the end someone will win in Syria, and that force might be more dangerous than anything before it, particularly if the Islamic State ideology spreads to Palestine. Ultimately, al Assad is less dangerous than the Islamic State, which shows how bad the Israeli choice is in the long run.

It is the Turks — or at least the Turkish government that suffered a setback in the recently concluded parliamentary elections — who are the most difficult to understand. They are hostile to the al Assad government — so much so that they see the Islamic State as less of a threat. There are two ways to explain their view: One is that they expect the Islamic State to be defeated by the United States in the end and that involvement in Syria would stress the Turkish political system. The other is that they might be less averse than others in the region to the Islamic State’s winning. While the Turkish government has vigorously denied such charges, rumors of support to at least some factions of the Islamic State have persisted, suspicions in Western capitals linger, and alleged shipments of weaponry to unknown parties in Syria by the Turkish intelligence organization were a dominant theme in Turkey’s elections. This is incomprehensible, unless the Turks see the Islamic State as a movement that they can control in the end and that is paving the way for Turkish power in the region — or unless the Turks believe that a direct confrontation would lead to a backlash from the Islamic State in Turkey itself.

The Islamic State’s Role in the Region

The Islamic State represents a logical continuation of al Qaeda, which triggered both a sense of Islamic power and shaped the United States into a threat to Islam. The Islamic State created a military and political framework to exploit the situation al Qaeda created. Its military operations have been impressive, ranging from the seizure of Mosul to the taking of Ramadi and Palmyra. Islamic State fighters‘ flexibility on the battlefield and ability to supply large numbers of forces in combat raises the question of where they got the resources and the training.

However, the bulk of Islamic State fighters are still trapped within their cauldron, surrounded by three hostile powers and an enigma. The hostile powers collaborate, but they also compete. The Israelis and the Saudis are talking. This is not new, but for both sides there is an urgency that wasn’t there in the past. The Iranian nuclear program is less important to the Americans than collaboration with Iran against the Islamic State. And the Saudis and other Gulf countries have forged an air capability used in Yemen that might be used elsewhere if needed.

It is likely that the cauldron will hold, so long as the Saudis are able to sustain their internal political stability. But the Islamic State has already spread beyond the cauldron — operating in Libya, for example. Many assume that these forces are Islamic State in name only — franchises, if you will. But the Islamic State does not behave like al Qaeda. It explicitly wants to create a caliphate, and that wish should not be dismissed. At the very least, it is operating with the kind of centralized command and control, on the strategic level, that makes it far more effective than other non-state forces we have seen.

Secularism in the Muslim world appears to be in terminal retreat. The two levels of struggle within that world are, at the top, Sunni versus Shiite, and at the base, complex and interacting factions. The Western world accepted domination of the region from the Ottomans and exercised it for almost a century. Now, the leading Western power lacks the force to pacify the Islamic world. Pacifying a billion people is beyond anyone’s capability. The Islamic State has taken al Qaeda’s ideology and is attempting to institutionalize it. The surrounding nations have limited options and a limited desire to collaborate. The global power lacks the resources to both defeat the Islamic State and control the insurgency that would follow. Other nations, such as Russia, are alarmed by the Islamic State’s spread among their own Muslim populations.

It is interesting to note that the fall of the Soviet Union set in motion the events we are seeing here. It is also interesting to note that the apparent defeat of al Qaeda opened the door for its logical successor, the Islamic State. The question at hand, then, is whether the four regional powers can and want to control the Islamic State. And at the heart of that question is the mystery of what Turkey has in mind, particularly as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power appears to be declining.




*KonstruktiveAnsätzefür das Verhältnis mit Russland*

Brigadegenerala.D. Dr.KlausWittmann,SeniorFellowdesAspen Institute Deutschland, Lehrbeauftragter der Universität Potsdam

Wie vor 30 Jahren die marode Sowjetunion benötigt auch Putins Russland, derzeit gegenüber dem Westen sich selbst isolierend und zunehmend aggressiv auftretend, "neues Denken" in der Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik als Teil seiner Modernisierung.

Der Westen und besonders die NATO sollten das durch selbstkritische Anerkennung ihres Teils der Verantwortung für die Verschlechterung des Verhältnisses in den letzten 20 Jahren erleichtern. Krim-Annexion und Krieg in der Ostukraine haben die Voraussetzungen für eine solche Entwicklung geschwächt, doch muss langfristig das ernsthafte Angebot zu kooperativer statt konfrontativer Sicherheit bestehen bleiben – unter Berücksichtigung legitimer Interessengesichtspunktesowohl Russlands als auch des Westens.

Kein Fehler der NATO, der EU oder der USA rechtfertigt Moskaus gewaltsames Vorgehen gegenüber der Ukraine. Russland sieht sich im Konflikt mit "dem Westen", doch die Interpretation seiner Handlungsweise als Reaktion auf Aktionen der USA greift zu kurz. Und die NATO-Erweiterung war nie eine Bedrohung – nicht einmal eine aktive Expansion, sondern der Drang der neubefreiten MOE-Staaten nach Westen, über dessen Gründe Moskau nachdenken sollte. Auch wenn Perzeptionen politisch wirk- mächtige Fakten sein können, geht es hier nicht lediglich um "unterschiedliche Wahrnehmungen" von Konfliktursachen, wie der russische Botschafter kürzlich in einem Rundfunkinterview feststellte.

Russland muss zurückkehren zur Achtung der Prinzipien von Helsinki und Paris: Souveränität, territoriale Integrität, Unverletzlichkeit der Grenzen, friedliche Konfliktbeilegung, Nichteinmischung, freie Bündniswahl. Das Land, das am konsequentesten auf "Nichteinmischung" beharrt, hat sich in seit Jahrzehnten nicht dagewesener Weise in die inneren Angelegenheiten seines Nachbarn Ukraine eingeschaltet. Die Minsker Abkommen müssen umgesetzt werden, und die Ukraine muss sich reformieren, aber auch imstande sein, sich gegenweitere Vorstöße der von Russland unterstützten Aufständischen zu verteidigen. Außer Frage steht bei alledem der zuverlässige Schutz aller NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten.

Doch Russland bleibt Nachbar, sogar weitgehend Teil Europas. Deshalb muss über die gegenwärtige Krise hinausgedacht werden: Nie hat es in ausreichendem Maße das

Gespräch über Russlands Platz in der europäischen Sicherheitsordnung gegeben. Die Bundeskanzlerin hat unter der Bedingung einer Rückkehr Russlands zu den vereinbarten Prinzipien eine West-Ost-Freihandelszone in Aussicht gestellt.

Diese Bereitschaft sollte auf sicherheitspolitischem Gebiet durch konkrete Vorstellungen flankiert werden. Dazu könnte seitens des Westens, vor allem der NATO, u.a. folgendes ins Auge gefasst werden: Der NATO-Russland-Rat sollte selbst in der gegenwärtigen Krise bewahrt werden, wie auch die NATO- Russland-Grundakte von 1997 mit ihren Festlegungen auf Frieden, Freiheit und Kooperation in Europa – bewahrt für bessere Zeiten.

Dann sollte der Rat zu neuer Qualität geführt werden mit der Ausweitung der Felder konformer Interessen und gemeinsamer Aktion. Die NATO könnte sich auch zu einem strukturierten Dialog mit der von Russland geführten CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) bereiterklären. Und die OSZE muss aktiviert werden.

In der Erweiterungsfrage bleibt es bei der Politik der "Offenen Tür", das entspricht Art. 10 im NATO-Vertrag. Aber zwischen "kein Veto für Russland" und einem Nach- geben gegenüber russischer Indignation wäre doch ein Mittelweg denkbar, der russische Interessen und Empfindlichkeiten mitberücksichtigt. Frühere Erweiterungsrunden wurden ja durch die Etablierung des NATO-Russland-Rats bzw. seine Aufwertung "abgefedert".

Ein zentrales Beispiel: Den Medwedjew-Vorschlag von 2008/2009 für einen umfassenden europäischen Sicherheitsvertrag, wenngleich in der Substanz bedenklich, hät- te der Westen doch viel aktiver aufgreifen sollen – als Ausgangspunkt für einen intensiven, strukturierten Dialog nicht zuletzt im NATO-Russland-Rat. Die Scheu davor auf westlicher Seite war und ist nicht angebracht. Ist nicht auch die Schlussakte von Helsinki 1975 mit ihren positiven Auswirkungen in der jüngeren europäischen Geschichte aus ursprünglich furchtsam betrachteten sowjetischen Vorschlägen hervorgegangen? Die unterschiedlichen ordnungspolitischen Vorstellungen Russlands und der NATO für den euro-atlantischen Raum sollten mit großer Offenheit und langem Atem diskutiert werden. Und im Interesse der Weiterentwicklung der europäischen Sicherheitsordnung sollte innovativ und engagiert ein neuer Aufbruch in der konventionellen Rüstungskontrolle und europäischen Vertrauensbildung betrieben werden.

Die fortwährende Bereitschaft zum Dialog ist Teil der Harmel-Philosophie der NATO: "Verteidigung und Entspannung". Wenn die russische Führung meint, die USA wollten "Russland klein halten" (Putin in seiner Neujahrsrede), so sollte sie einsehen: Respekt und Augenhöhe lassen sich nicht durch Aggression erzwingen.

Aber ein Russland, das konstruktiv zu regionalem und globalem Problemlösen beitrüge (wofür es in den letzten Jahren mit den syrischen Chemiewaffen und der Nuklearambition Irans leider nur zwei positive Beispiele gibt),statt auf Störpotential und Verhinderungsmacht zu setzen, wäre auch als Großmacht hochwillkommen.


Das Verhältnis zwischen Deutschland und Russland*

Wege aus der Vertrauenskrise




Seit dem Beginn des Ukrainekonflikts sind die wirtschaftlichen und politischen Beziehungen zwischen Deutschland und Russland in einem Zustand, der langfristig keine erfolgreiche Zusammenarbeit ermöglicht. Die EU-Sanktionen gegenüber Russland und die russischen Gegensanktionen führen zu wirtschaftlichen Verlusten auf beiden Seiten. Wie kann und soll es weitergehen? Dr. Eckhard Cordes, Vorsitzender des Ost-Ausschusses der Deutschen Wirtschaft, legte in der DGAP seine Sichtweise dar.

© DGAP/Dirk Enters

Cordes begann mit einer kurzen Vorstellung der aktuellen Wirtschaftszahlen: Jedes zehnte deutsche Unternehmen ist in Russland tätig und in „praktisch allen 80 Regionen aktiv“. In Russland sind über 250 000 Menschen bei deutschen Firmen angestellt, in Deutschland über 300 000 Arbeitsplätze vom Export nach Russland abhängig. Doch trotz dieser Kennziffern befindet sich das Handelsvolumen derzeit auf einem ähnlichen Niveau wie mit dem vergleichsweise kleinen Österreich. Diese Gegenüberstellung verdeutliche das wirtschaftliche Potenzial in Russland – welches aufgrund des aktuellen Konflikts vorerst unausgeschöpft bliebe.

Cordes sagte weiter, dass sich die deutsche Wirtschaft trotz der gefallenen Exporte und aktuellen Probleme weiterhin in Russland engagieren wolle. So würden bereits aufgebaute Kontakte und Beziehungen fortgeführt und dazu genutzt, einen Dialog zu erhalten; auch auf diese Weise könne man die Krise regulieren. Eine Vertiefung der wirtschaftlichen und gesellschaftlichen Beziehung würde langfristig zu einem sichereren Europa führen als die momentane Politik der Sanktionen. Diese sei falsch und grenze Russland weiter aus, so Cordes, ebenso wie der Ausschluss Russlands aus der G7/8. Diese Politik der Bestrafung begünstige die „Entstehung der Wagenburgmentalität“ und eine Destabilisierung in Russland; doch Europa würde hierdurch nicht zu einem sichereren Ort. Denn obwohl die Annexion der Krim ein Völkerrechtsbruch seitens Russlands sei, würden Sanktionen die Spannung zwischen Konfliktparteien nicht abbauen. Unternehmer setzten auf das Minsk 2-Abkommen und hofften, dadurch eine nachhaltige Waffenruhe im Osten der Ukraine zu erreichen – nur mit einem gemeinsamen Dialog sei eine Lösung des Konflikts möglich.

In der anschließenden Diskussion wurden die Thesen ausführlicher besprochen. Dr. Harald Kindermann, Botschafter a.D. und Generalsekretär der DGAP, moderierte.



moderated by Srecko Velimirovic .

Russia expects Serbia’s support for lifting of sanctions*

The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Aleksey Pushkov, expressed hope on Monday that Russia will have Serbia’s support when a decision on lifting the sanctions against Russia is made in January 2016.

BELGRADE – The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Aleksey Pushkov, expressed hope on Monday that Russia will have Serbia’s support when a decision on lifting the sanctions against Russia is made in January 2016.

At a meeting with Serbian Deputy Parliament Speaker Veroljub Arsic, Pushkov said that Russia also expects Serbia’s support at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Helsinki, where draft resolutions on confronting neo-Nazism and lifting the sanctions against Russia will be presented.

Puskhov noted that respect of the Minsk Agreement and a normalisation of the situation in eastern Ukraine are a priority for Russia, which is a pre-requisite for the start of the process of lifting the sanctions, the Serbian parliament said in a statement.

He said that Serbia’s candidate for the secretary general of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly can count on Russia’s support.

Serbia’s position is that all problems must be resolved through dialogue, and not through sanctions, Arsic noted.

He said that the friendly relations and the exceptional cooperation between the two countries are reflected by the fact that Russia has not recognised the independence of Kosovo-Metohija, unilaterally declared by ethnic Albanians in Serbia’s southern province.



*Turkish deputy PM condemns Kurdish ‚cantons‘ in Syria *
There have been signs that Kurdish forces have sought to "bring together cantons" in Syria, a Turkish deputy prime minister said Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc’s statement came after the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) gained control from the Islamic State (IS) of the city of Gari Spi, which borders Turkey.

*Barzani meets Abu Dhabi crown prince *
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani arrived in United Arab Emirates and met on Monday Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

*Erdogan views PYD as threat, prefers IS control in northern Syria *
Rattled by new flux of refugees fleeing the raging war between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Islamic State (IS) in the northern Syrian city of Gari Spi near the border, Turkey’s leader expressed concern over the YPG takeover of the town, implying that he would rather prefer IS control over the strategic border city.

Ein Videotipp zum Abend: VICE-Reporter mit den Peshmerga an der Front zu ISIS unterwegs.

(Feat. deutsche Hilfslieferungen – G36, MG 3, Dingo, Westen, Helme.)

Kurdistan Region clerics and scholars meet leader’s representative to Kurdistan Province *

A group of religious clerics and scholars from Iraqi northern region of Kurdistan met the representative of the Islamic Republic Leader to the Iranian northwestern province of Kurdistan.

The group of the Iraqi Kurdistan’s scholars and clerics met Ayatollah Seyyed Muhammad Hussein Shahroudi and a group of Shiite and Sunni clerics of the province.

The meeting was held within efforts to improve religious and cultural relations between Kurdistan Region and Kurdistan Province as well as more ties over holding Imam Shafei Congress next year.

The participants in the meeting reiterated these kinds of meetings are significant as efforts are being made to depict a harsh image from Islam, reiterating that religious scholars and clerics can play a significant role in defeating the Takfiri goals in Islamic communities.

Kurdistan Region Sunni clerics stated the meeting was to stress on the necessity of unity between Iranian and the Kurdish region’s scholars and well as holding Imam Shafei congress to fight against extremism and violence, emphasizing that efforts should speed up to boost unity among Muslims.



see our letter on:

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



06-14-15Gazette Islamischer Staat.pdf