Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 31/07/15 with special focus on Central Asia

Massenbach-Letter. News

· U.S. Dep. Of State – Senior Administration Officials On Counter-ISIL Coalition Efforts

· John Kornblum: Europe Needs a New Narrative

· Central Asia in a Reconnecting Eurasia – U.S. Policy Interests and Recommendations *US Rolls Out New Military Strategy

· FES:Der bewaffnete Konflikt in Syrien und seine unverhältnismäßigen Auswirkungen auf Frauen

· Russia – Iran – Turkey: Gas + Pipelines * U.S.-Greece Task Force: Transforming the Balkans

· Jordan launches war on ISIS in Iraq, Turkish warplanes hit ISIS in Syria. US, Israel involved in both ops

· U.S.-Turkey deal aims to create de facto ‘safe zone’ in northwest Syria

· Assad: Army focusing on holding most important areas

· Russia May Revive $1.6-Billion Oil-Gas Project With Syria “If military actions cease and the situation becomes stable”

Massenbach* *Alert: U.S.-Turkey deal aims to create de facto ‘safe zone’ in northwest Syria*

Turkey and the United States have agreed on the outlines of a de facto “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border under the terms of a deal that is expected to significantly increase the scope and pace of the U.S.-led air war against the Islamic State in northern Syria, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

The agreement includes a plan to drive the Islamic State out of a 68-mile-long area west of the Euphrates River and reaching into the province of Aleppo that would then come under the control of the Syrian opposition. If fully implemented, it would also bring American planes in regular, close proximity to bases, aircraft and air defenses operated by the Syrian government, and directly benefit opposition rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Operations in the targeted area would stop short of meeting long-standing Turkish demands for a full-scale, declared no-fly zone, but the area could eventually become a protected haven for some of the estimated 2­ million Syrian civilians who have fled to Turkey.

The first word of the agreement came last week, when Turkey said it had agreed to allow armed U.S. aircraft to fly out of its base at Incirlik. Turkish jets have begun flying missions into northern Syria.

Additional details, including the composition of Syrian opposition forces that are to be inserted on the ground to hold the protected area, are still being worked out, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the evolving operations.

“When areas in northern Syria are cleared of the [Islamic State] threat, the safe zones will be formed naturally,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists in Ankara on Saturday. “People who have been displaced can be placed in those safe areas.”

U.S. officials did not dispute the Turkish description and said U.S. and coalition air cover would effectively operate around the clock as Islamic State targets were located. But they said the United States would not officially designate the area — about 40 miles deep into Syria along the 68-mile stretch of border — a protected zone.

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in a statement late Sunday that “any joint military efforts” with Turkey “will not include the imposition of a no-fly zone.”

“What we are talking about with Turkey is cooperating to support partners on the ground in northern Syria who are countering ISIL,” the statement said. “The goal is to establish an ISIL-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey’s border with Syria.” ISIL is another term for the Islamic State.

NATO’s secretary general said Sunday that the alliance’s 28 members will hold consultations Tuesday in Brussels in response to a Turkish request that followed a suicide bombing in Turkey last week. The consultations are under NATO’s Article 4, allowing any member to convene a meeting when it believes its territorial integrity or security is threatened.

NATO deployed Patriot anti-missile batteries to Turkey in ­early 2013, after Turkey charged in Article 4 consultations that its citizens had been killed by Syrian government missiles fired across the border and that Syrian planes had violated its airspace.

The Obama administration has long resisted establishing Syrian safe zones, protected by U.S. and coalition air power, and has said its air operations would target only the Islamic State. The Pentagon has maintained that targeting regions of western Syria, near where the government is fighting numerous rebel and militant groups, could provoke a clash with Syrian air defenses that are centered in that area.

Turkey had previously refused use of Incirlik as a base for U.S. air attacks unless the United States agreed to establish a protected zone along the border.

But several aspects of the conflict have changed for both governments since they first formally discussed the issue late last year.

[For Turkey and U.S., at odds over Syria, a 60-year alliance falters]

Assad’s forces have lost considerable ground in the northwest, including in and around Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, to a coalition of moderate and non-
Islamic State militant forces in recent months. At the same time, the Islamic State, driven by ­Kurdish-led forces out of many of its northern strongholds to the east of the Euphrates toward the Iraqi border, began to push westward. The militants now control Syria along the border from the river to a point near the Syrian town of Azaz, north of Aleppo.

Turkey’s change of heart began about six weeks ago, after a push by the Islamic State in May to capture Azaz, the most vital border crossing for U.S.-backed moderate rebels. The offensive was kept at bay, with the belated help of limited U.S. airstrikes. Syrian rebels, who called urgently for air support at the time, complained that convoys of Islamic State soldiers had converged toward their positions without any intervention by coalition warplanes.

U.S. officials subsequently noted that those Turkish-requested strikes would have been more effective if planes could have flown from Incirlik, about 250 miles away, rather than from a faraway base in Bahrain.

[This Turkish base could be a game-changer in the war against Islamic State]

The zone now open for U.S. strikes stretches east from Azaz to Jarablus, on the Euphrates. According to Turkish media accounts, it will extend southward to the town of al-Bab, on the outskirts of Aleppo, but will not include Aleppo itself.

It was unclear whether the administration has informed the Syrian government of its new operations in the northwest. The U.S. government had indirectly warned Assad not to interfere with U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State that began in September in northern, central and eastern Syria. But those strikes were not seen as a problem, since the Syrian government had basically ceded those areas to the militants and conducted minimal operations.

Once the area is cleared, the plan is to give control to as-yet-unidentified moderate Syrian rebel groups. The United States and Turkey have differing interpretations as to which groups can be defined as “moderate.”

It would then be possible for displaced civilians to find refuge in the area, something that would go a long way toward fulfilling Turkish ambitions for a way to ease the refugee problem in Turkey.

Eliminating the Islamic State from the area under focus would be a major strategic blow to the group, depriving the militants of their last remaining points of access to the outside world. After losing control of the important border crossing of Tal Abyad to Kurdish forces in June, the Islamic State controls only two small crossings, at Jarablus and al-Rai, through which to smuggle foreign fighters. Those border towns are the next priority in the fight against the Islamic State, U.S. and Turkish officials say.

The speed with which the militants crumbled in Tal Abyad, under withering U.S. airstrikes and little in the way of ground fighting, demonstrated that air power can work against the group, U.S. and Kurdish officials said. Tal Abyad is located east of the Euphrates and the city of Kobane, where Kurdish-led forces, assisted by U.S. airstrikes and Turkish supply lines, drove out the Islamic State early this year.

The agreement will also shift the dynamics in other parts of northern Syria in ways that will work to Turkey’s advantage. Turkey has watched with alarm as Syrian Kurds have become the beneficiary of U.S. strikes east of the Euphrates.

“After the capture of Tal Abyad with significant U.S. assistance, the next step would have been the Kurds moving west of the Euphrates and taking this large amount of territory,” said Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“This helped accelerate the deal. Now you’re going to see massive aerial bombing in the region, and it will not end up in the hands of Kurds exclusively,” he said.

The head of the Kurdish group that has been benefiting from the U.S. strikes expressed concern that the plan for the zone would eventually lead to the entry of Turkish troops in the area.

Saleh Muslim, leader of Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), has frequently accused Turkey of supporting the Islamic State to counter Kurdish influence and said that any Turkish forces entering Syria would be viewed as “invaders.”

The PYD and its military wing, the YPG, are allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose bases in Iraq were hit by Turkish airstrikes early Saturday. The PKK wants to establish a Kurdish state in a region that currently encompasses parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Both the United States and Turkey have labeled it a terrorist organization.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/new-us-turkey-plan-amounts-to-a-safe-zone-in-northwest-syria/2015/07/26/0a533345-ff2e-4b40-858a-c1b36541e156_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

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and: Karen DeYoung with Washington Post.

QUESTION: I have a couple questions. One is if you can clarify a little bit about the Turks. I know that – I mean, I’m sorry, about the Kurds. I know that there have been some reports here saying that the United States is allowing the Turks to attack groups that have been the most successful against ISIS. I’m particularly referring to the Yezidis. How do you assess the PKK’s role in the anti-ISIL campaign? Have they been valuable? Do you see them as having connections at all to the Peshmerga in addition to the Syrian Kurds? And what will it mean to do without them in the fight?

And my second question is whether since these air operations will be occurring quite close to where the Syrian Government is operating, what steps are you taking to make sure that there’s no conflict between Syrian and U.S. air assets?

And finally, did I understand you to say that flights from Incirlik, strike flights would also be going to Iraq in addition to Syria?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Let me try to break that down. I just want to be really clear on a point I made just a bit earlier. If the PKK did not launch a series of attacks in Turkey, Turkey would not be attacking the PKK in the Qandil mountains of Iraq. So the triggering event here were the attacks from the PKK on Turkish soil killing a number of Turkish police officers and soldiers, and we’ve seen more since.

So that was the triggering event. And I can’t speak to the PKK’s role against Daesh. I can say if the PKK wants to open a new front with the Turks, that would really not be a smart thing to do. What I can say is that we’ve worked very closely with the Kurdish Peshmerga, which incorporates, of course, the KDP-PUK and a number of groups within northern Iraq that we’ve worked with for a number of years. And of course, Syrian Kurds in northern Syria working with and alongside in many instances Free Syrian Army groups have been very effective against Daesh. And of course, that will continue because our effort is to defeat Daesh, and that’s a goal that we share, we share with Turkey.

But again, if the PKK did not launch attacks in Turkey, Turkey would not be launching these attacks in northern Iraq. And you can go back – it’s really the first time this has happened in some years, but you go back to the 2007 to 2010 timeframe, this is a fairly constant pattern. Nobody wants to see the pattern continue. That’s why we’ve called for de-escalation. We also recognize Turkey’s right as a close friend and NATO ally, their right to self-defense.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Can I just add one thing on that, which is important to separate out the PKK from the PYD. The PKK is the designated terrorist organization in Turkey that, as my colleague has said, has in recent days launched strikes or has launched attacks on Turkish police and soldiers that has precipitated Turkish retaliation in self-defense against this designated terrorist organization.

The PYD has been the group operating in Syria, and the Turkish Government has made clear that its action is not directed against the PYD in Syria; the Turkish action is directed in retaliation at the PKK, many of which are based in military encampments in Qandil, which is mountains in northern Iraq. So it’s important to be separating these two groups and these two sets of incidents.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And Karen, in terms of the Syrian Government – and we’ve been at this now for some time, about 5,600 airstrikes. I don’t have the exact number in Syria but it’s about 40 percent or so. And from the first night of the strikes, we’ve been very clear through various channels to the Syrian Government that we were going after Daesh and that they should not come into the area in which we’re operating.

So I would assume that we’ll have a standard procedure. But really what the Turkish bases does, it basically allows us to accelerate, enhance what we’re already doing. And we’ll, of course, be working in close cooperation with the Turks in terms of how we do this and how we get set up, as my colleague, Senior Official Number Three, said.

But we’ll also be very much focused in that particular stretch of northern Syria west of the Euphrates which Turkey is particularly concerned about, and of course, as a NATO ally we share their concerns.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/07/245403.htm

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*Central Asia in a Reconnecting Eurasia – U.S. Policy Interests and Recommendations*

After 9/11, Washington’s focus shifted heavily to security, as Central Asia emerged as a critical strategic rear for U.S. and coalition military operations in Afghanistan.

Governance issues, never a primary emphasis for the United States, fell almost entirely by the wayside as Washington’s attention shifted to logistics, counterterrorism, and other forms of security cooperation. Central Asia became a crucial transit route for the supply of military goods and other supplies to Afghanistan, particularly with the opening of the Northern Distribution Network in 2009.

The Central Asian states were also important security partners, with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan offering the use of military bases on their soil and all five providing some degree of access for U.S. forces.

Today, with the winding down of combat operations in Afghanistan, U.S. policy toward the states of Central Asia is transitioning to a third era. The United States now has an opportunity to refashion its approach to the region.

In doing so, it should capitalize on trends already underway, in particular the expansion of trade and transit linkages, to help integrate Central Asia more firmly into the global economy, while also working to overcome tensions both within the region itself and among the major neighboring powers with interests in Central Asia….

While trade with neighbors helps the Central Asian states, they also stand to gain the most from the emergence of transcontinental linkages across Eurasia, which could see Central

Asia emerge as a hub at the crossroads of growing ties between Europe and Asia. A multilateral system of international transport-communication corridors would provide

Central Asia with sustainable access to global markets. The emergence and success of these corridors will depend heavily on outside powers, notably China, but also Russia, India, Iran,

Turkey, the European Union, and, to some extent, the United States. Foreign governments and development banks will provide the financing for new infrastructure, such as roads,

railways, energy pipelines, and electricity grids, that connect Central Asia to global markets, and can collaborate to promote the institutional “soft infrastructure” that remains among

the biggest obstacles to trade across Eurasia. These projects, and the trade connections underpinning them, could become a platform for increased cooperation among the major

outside powers, as well as among the Central Asian states themselves.

Conversely, one of the greatest obstacles to the emergence of this more connected, more prosperous Eurasia is possible competition and rivalry among these outside powers. Efforts

to craft in Central Asia a sphere of influence of one (or more) of the major regional powers would be a recipe for keeping the region divided and cut off from the benefits of

globalization. The United States is well placed in this regard since, as a non-Eurasian power, it is never going to be in a position to assert domination over Central Asia. Elites in Central

Asia understand that a more engaged, visible United States does not threaten their sovereignty; indeed, most of them would like to see a United States that is more invested in

Central Asia in part because a U.S. presence helps insulate them from the geopolitical ambitions of others.

Engagement with Central Asia must, however, also be consonant with the interests of the United States itself. Throughout the long campaign in Afghanistan, U.S. engagement with

Central Asia was predicated on the national security imperative of defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda, and ultimately securing the U.S. homeland from future attack. While

counterterrorism will remain a piece of Washington’s continued engagement with Central Asia, especially given concerns about the spread of the Islamic State to the region, security

no longer provides a sufficient rationale for devoting substantial resources to Central Asia when Washington faces a host of challenges elsewhere in the world.

Though not a Eurasian power, the United States nevertheless maintains important interests in the region. The five states of Central Asia sit at the nexus of Washington’s most

significant foreign and security policy challenges: Afghanistan/Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran. The United States’ ability to achieve its strategic goals in all of these areas will depend

in no small part on its ability to effectively manage its relations with the Central Asian states. A stable, prosperous Central Asia fully integrated with global trading networks is,

moreover, less likely to become a breeding ground for transnational challenges like extremism, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, trafficking, and

organized crime. Such a Central Asia is also much less susceptible to the ambitions of its larger neighbors.

Recommendations for the United States

While it is unrealistic to expect Washington to be a dominant player in the region, on the basis of our research and travels in Central Asia we are convinced that, through a more

focused strategy that plays to our comparative advantages and to the demands from the region itself, the United States, together with its partners, can help promote regional

prosperity and stability.

http://csis.org/files/publication/150507_Kuchins_CentralAsiaSummaryReport_Web.pdf

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/commonwealth_ref01.jpg

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/central_asian_common_2002.jpg

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*The Risks and Rewards of SCO Expansion*

July 8, 2015 On July 9–10, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will hold its fifteenth summit … An expanded membership will confer greater legitimacy on the SCO and yield security and economic benefits for its members. However, the risk that India and Pakistan will prevent the organization from being effective is equally great, and is leading some Chinese and Russian officials to question the wisdom of expansion. Though frequently compared to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the SCO, as described by both China and Russia, is a "partnership instead of alliance." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated that the SCO is a major component of the new, "polycentric world order," but the SCO is dominated by China and Russia … The primary focus of the SCO is the enhancement of regional security.

The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) coordinates activities, such as information sharing and confidence building, to combat the "three evils" of terrorism, extremism, and separatism … ISAF’s withdrawal will likely encourage the SCO … members are also beginning to expand cooperation on development and infrastructure issues, including resolving transnational water disputes, expanding transportation integration, and deepening cultural exchanges … The most significant development … was the finalization of the process for accepting new members, which will be chosen from current observers. Among them, India, Iran, and Pakistan have submitted applications. In June 2015 … SCO foreign ministers approved procedures for India and Pakistan to accede as full members. United Nations sanctions on Tehran will prevent Iran from becoming a full member … India and Pakistan have much to gain and little to lose from assuming full membership in the SCO. On the security side, both countries hope to pursue their interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia … For India … joining the SCO "is about increasing [India’s] stakes in Central Asia" … For both nations, the economic imperative of joining the SCO is also clear. As China continues to "march west," India and Pakistan will benefit from Beijing’s economic largesse and closer ties to energy-rich Central Asia … President Vladimir Putin stated that the SCO will work "actively on convergence between" the EEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt, in part to add legitimacy and resources to the fledgling EEU … On the security side, Pakistan offers China and the SCO a valuable partner in the fight against the "three evils." Beijing harbors significant fears that extremism in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will bleed across its own borders. The impending withdrawal of ISAF from Afghanistan has only deepened such fears. Within its own borders, China already faces a rising extremist threat from members of Xinjiang’s Uighur minority, some of whom are part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), who have lashed out at the ethnic-Han majority throughout China. Beijing’s interests in adding to the SCO’s security partners and building more extensive mechanisms for regional integration also indicate its desire to protect its economic interests in Central Asia. The expansion of the SCO will help China fulfill its economic aspirations in both Central and South Asia. In Central Asia, Beijing has pursued a raft of bilateral investment deals and continues to put in place or promise greater multilateral expansion, including the Silk Road Economic Belt and Central Asia–China Gas Pipeline.

These opportunities promise China greater access to Central Asian energy exports and to reduce its dependence on oil imports passing through the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca … Russia fears that the expansion of the SCO could vault China into the driver’s seat in Central and South Asia … While expansion may hinder the organization’s ability to act decisively, it will give the SCO the opportunity to revolutionize itself into a more comprehensive institution capable of connecting and integrating a broad swath of Asia. The question remains whether China and Russia will share the spotlight with its new partners in this new, more diverse organization.

http://www.cfr.org/international-organizations-and-alliances/risks-rewards-sco-expansion/p36761

Russian Analytical Digest No. 169: Pivot to Asia

30.06.2015 … outlines how Moscow is expanding its relations with North Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Pakistan, as well as deepening its partnership with China, noting that a question remains: will Russia’s growing economic dependence on China eventually translate into a junior status in the politico-strategic realm … details how Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt intersect in Central Asia, arguing that while Russian and Chinese national interests do not coincide in this respect, currently there is more overlap in their national identities around counteracting the West … focuses on the efforts to develop joint economic projects and coordinated operations against transnational crime between Russia and certain Southeast Asian countries, suggesting that the extent of these relations will depend on greater funding and future developments in their respective core regions …

– The Intersection of Russia’s “Turn to the East” and China’s “March to the West … Central Asia is where Xi Jinping’s “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB) starts winding its way from the western reaches of China across Asia and into Europe. It is also where the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of Vladimir Putin becomes Asian, rather than the Europe centered union of the Russian Federation and Belarus. While China and Russia have overlapping interests in Northeast Asia – both opposed to a “color revolution” in North Korea and the extension of the U.S. alliance system much closer to their border – and Xi’s “Maritime Silk Road” – crossing the Indian Ocean – poses quite distant risks for Russia’s interests in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Southwest Asia, it is in Central Asia where their two, major frameworks for reorganizing Asia have the greatest potential for colliding. The recent rhetoric from both sides of harmonious complementarity must be subjected to close scrutiny …

The Ukraine crisis from March 2014 did not transform Sino–Russian relations or Russia’s “turn to the East,” but it did tilt the balance further in China’s direction … With the end of the heavy military presence of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan, the U.S. presence in Central Asia is also receding, refocusing Moscow and Beijing on their own role there and in stabilizing Central Asia from the spillover of an expanded conflict …

Central Asia is, arguably, where Chinese and Russian national interests are most at odds with each other. For a quarter century, they have viewed each other warily, but insisted that they were cooperating closely and that the SCO is a model of harmony. Now they are both asserting regional initiatives to strengthen their position in this region, but at the same time claiming to be joining forces more than ever before. It is doubtful that this combination can be sustained unless both sides remain fixated on their struggles with the United States and its allies … http://www.css.ethz.ch/publications/pdfs/Russian_Analytical_Digest_171.pdf

Gesamtdokument:

http://www.css.ethz.ch/publications/DetailansichtPubDB_EN?rec_id=3332

IDSA – Modi’s Visit to Central Asia

July 06, 2015 Prime Minister Modi’s forthcoming visit to the Central Asian States could prove a smart strategic and diplomatic feat by paving the way to overcome several predicaments that have so far stymied India’s role in the region … India’s stakes go beyond the energy and security aspects. As Central Asia gets de-Europeanized, there is a major power rivalry afoot. The region is already getting swamped by the Chinese as well as by extremist forces. China has pushed for the interlocking of economic and security interests in Central Asia. It has finally broken a century and half of Russian monopoly in the region. It is China that now controls the flow of goods and services to and from the region. China’s presence and influence have not invoked any “Great Game” fear

Central Asian Republics are excited about China’s “One Road One Belt” (OBOR) initiative; they hope that it would revive the legendary Silk Route marvel. The West has questioned Russia’s economic agenda in Central Asia, but remains silent on China’s drive. In fact, it sees OBOR as not being “mutually exclusive” to US plans for Central Asia and Afghanistan. India views the fragility of Central Asia as a source of insecurity. The region is prone to Arab-Spring-type explosions as its politico-economic parameters resemble those in West Asia. Regional leaders have firmly resisted political change, and their regimes are insulated from falling by China and Russia … The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which has links to al Qaeda, is well entrenched. Worst, even the Islamic State is heavily recruiting in Central Asia. Central Asia is located next to the world’s most unstable region – Af-Pak. The region’s borders with Afghanistan are extremely porous for militants as well as for those engaged in drug trafficking and weapons proliferation. It is only a matter of time before instability in the region becomes worse than the crisis in Syria and Iraq … Russia’s presence was a preferred option for India all along. But its influence in the region is waning. Russia is instead seeking convergence with China in the face of its own worsening standoff with the West. Uzbekistan is the nerve centre of Central Asia. Zahir-ud-Din Babur came from the Ferghana Valley. Cultural contacts between India and Uzbekistan are deep and they cannot be wished away. Oil-rich Kazakhstan deserves India’s immediate attention.

Turkmenistan is relevant for the TAPI pipeline, if at all it works out. Kyrgyzstan has huge hydropower potential and, like Mongolia, it is a democracy. India enjoys historical affinity with Tajikistan. The country is strategically critical for India in the context of the Af-Pak region.

For India to evolve an enduring Central Asia policy, it should foster a regional economic integration approach even if that means cooperating with China. But the main problem it faces when it comes to Central Asia is the lack of direct geographical connectivity. What has compounded this problem is New Delhi’s pursuit during the last two decades of the flawed policy of gaining access to Central Asia through the Persian Gulf. This folly in thinking persists even now. Routing through Iran and Afghanistan or via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) are important pursuits, but even the best pursued connectivity and pipelines projects like the IPI and TAPI have not seen the light of day. Of course, these options should not be foreclosed, but the delays involved in actualising them go against India’s economic interests.

To reconnect with the Eurasian market, India needs to explore the hard but natural option of seeking a direct land-link through China. This would demand steps for opening up India’s northern borders i.e., reviving the traditional Ladakh-Xinjiang axis as the natural gateway to Eurasia. The issue here is not about connectivity alone, but about interlocking the economic integration of India’s northern states with that of the Eurasian growth story … If India remains disconnected from Eurasia, it would only install greater insecurity and fears of encirclement vis-à-vis China. To overcome India’s geographical isolation from Central Asia and to increase India’s stakes in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Modi should articulate this point … India should view the SCO and BRICS from a positive perspective of restoring its lost linkages with Eurasia …

http://idsa.in/idsacomments/ModisVisittoCentralAsia_pstobdan_060715.html

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Der Wettlauf um Zentralasien nimmt an Dynamik und Intensität zu

Kazakhstan – Water pp. 3, 12, 15ff

http://csis.org/publication/central-asia-reconnecting-eurasia-kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan – … ‘s geographic position … makes Kyrgyzstan a potentially valuable transit state for certain Pipeline projects … p. 31 zu CAREC-Corridor Water pp. 4, 7ff (Fergana Valley), 13, 15, 30 http://csis.org/publication/central-asia-reconnecting-eurasia-kyrgyzstan

Tajikistan – … ‘s difficult geography contributes to its concerns over instability and its fears of being left out of Eurasia’s ongoing reconnection … sees opportunities in the expansion of its hydro-power sector … Water pp. 4ff, 23, 26ff http://csis.org/publication/central-asia-reconnecting-eurasia-tajikistan

Turkmenistan -Water pp. 3ff

http://csis.org/publication/central-asia-reconnecting-eurasia-turkmenistan

Uzbekistan – … is also main regional water consumer, a key player in Central Asia’s water management challenges … Water pp. 2ff, 16ff, 24, 42 http://csis.org/publication/central-asia-reconnecting-eurasia-uzbekistan

Background: CSIS – Eurasia Initiative

http://csis.org/program/eurasia-initiative

… 29.05.2015: Central Asia’s Future: Three Powers, Three Visions … http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/central-asias-future-three-powers-three-visions/

… 13.05.2015: Conference: Central Asia in a Reconnecting Eurasia … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsgoDDdqoVU

… 12.05.2015: Central Asia in a Reconnecting Eurasia: U.S. Policy Interests and Recommendations … http://csis.org/publication/central-asia-reconnecting-eurasia

Congressional Research Service –

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests March 21, 2014 … In late January 2014, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that the governments of the Central Asian states continue to be concerned about regional instability following the drawdown of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

He suggested that Central Asian militants currently harbored in Afghanistan and Pakistan would continue to pose a threat to the Central Asian region, but sources of internal regional instability would probably remain more of a threat. Such instability includes uncertain political succession contingencies, endemic corruption, weak economies, ethnic tensions, and political repression.

Regional cooperation remains stymied by personal leadership rivalries and disputes over water, borders, and energy … In some regions of Central Asia, such as Uzbekistan’s portion of the Fergana Valley, some Uzbeks kept Islamic practices alive throughout the repressive Soviet period, and some now oppose the secular-oriented Uzbek government. Islamic extremist threats to the regimes may be fueled somewhat by economic distress among sections of the population. Heavy unemployment and poverty rates among youth in the Fergana Valley are widely cited by observers as making youth more vulnerable to recruitment into religious extremist organizations …

In November 2013, the EU announced a new development program for Central Asia with funding of one billion euros over the period 2014-2020. The EU program calls for the largest amount of assistance to be devoted to democratization and sustainable economic growth … January 2014, the EU’s Special Representative to Central Asia stepped down, and the responsibilities were assumed by officials in the European External Action Service. Some observers raised concerns about this lower-level official engagement with Central Asia … China greatly increased its energy investments in Central Asia, including in oil and gas fields and pipelines. According to some observers, China’s energy investments in Central Asia may soon eclipse Russia’s … China had worked in Central Asia more than 2,100 years ago to establish the silk road to Europe, and was endeavoring since the Central Asian states gained independence to re-vitalize the silk road as a priority area of China’s foreign policy … called for the Central Asian governments to share information with China on economic policies and for greater cooperation between the SCO and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Community in order to strengthen a “silk road economic belt” … called for finishing road interconnections between the Pacific Ocean and Baltic Sea ports …

The increased U.S. and NATO presence in Central Asia and Afghanistan since the early 2000s may have delayed China’s objective of becoming the dominant Asian power. Some observers suggest that after the drawdown of U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan in 2014, there may be greater competition between Russia and China for influence in the region. This competition had previously been set aside to some degree as both powers were focused on monitoring and limiting the scope of U.S. and NATO regional influence, according to these observers. China may seek to gain greater influence in Central Asia to counter a U.S. pivot to Asia, which it considers to be a containment policy … …

The United States and others have urged the regional states to cooperate in managing their water resources … Regional cooperation remains stymied by personal leadership rivalries and disputes over water, borders, and energy … On the one hand, the Central Asian states have wrangled over water-sharing, border delineation, trade and transit, and other issues:

Tajikistan’s relations with Uzbekistan have been problematic, including disagreements about water-sharing, Uzbek gas supplies, the mining of borders, border demarcation, and environmental pollution … In late 2010, Uzbekistan began a transit slowdown and other economic measures to pressure Tajikistan to halt building the Roghun power plant … In February 2014, Uzbekistan sentenced four citizens to 15-18 years in prison on charges of spying for Turkmen intelligence on water-supply, border security, and other issues … Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan possess the bulk of the region’s water resources, but in recent years both countries have suffered from droughts.

Despite the region’s development potential, the challenges of corruption, inadequate transport infrastructure, punitive tariffs, border tensions, and uncertain respect for contracts and entrepreneurial activity have discouraged major foreign investment … Cotton-growing has contributed to environmental pollution and water shortages, leading some observers to argue that cotton-growing is not suited to the largely arid region.

Tajikistan has alleged that Uzbekistan delays rail freight shipments, purportedly to pressure Tajikistan to halt construction of the Roghun hydro-electric power dam on the Vakhsh River, which Uzbekistan fears could limit the flow of water into the country … https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33458.pdf

EUISS – Recalibrating EU-Central Asia relations

05 June 2015 The current reassessment of the EU’s 2007 Central Asia strategy [Ich erinnere daran, das war eine deutsche Ratspräsidentschafts-Initiative! J.B.]– in conjunction with the recent appointment, on 15 April, of an EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Central Asia – signals a renewed interest in a region that, although not central to EU foreign policy, increasingly hosts strategic challenges which also have implications for Europe.

The EU remains Central Asia’s most important trading partner, and the past eight years have seen a significant upgrading of the EU’s political relations with the five Central Asian republics. At the same time, a shifting geo-strategic environment – marked by growing Chinese and Russian engagement, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and concerns over the rise of Islamic extremism – has led to a realignment of regional influences and interests.

For the EU and its member states, this requires not only (re)assessing bilateral and regional relationships, it also requires Brussels to take into account the changing geopolitical framework of which EU policy is a part … The Silk Road Economic Belt, as part of a broader Chinese strategic vision, makes Central Asia an integral part of Beijing’s attempts to boost its economic ties with the West … The US is also currently reviewing its approach towards Central Asia so as to take into account the changing geopolitical conditions, as well as the implications of the military drawdown in Afghanistan. The American approach, symbolized by its own New Silk Road strategy, is centered on fostering security, stability and institutional reform, and encouraging the growth of civil society. This project will ensure that Washington continues to pay a moderate level of attention to the region, whilst the recent decision to maintain current troop levels well into 2016 indicates its enduring commitment to ensuring stability in Afghanistan – and, by extension, Central Asia …

The 4,000 Central Asians estimated to have travelled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) further proves that tackling extremist interpretations of Islam is a distinctively cross-border challenge … When it comes to programmatic aspects of Europe’s engagement, however, the EU and its member states must decide which format – regional, bilateral or select groups of member states – is best suited to each particular subject area and commit the necessary resources … http://www.iss.europa.eu/publications/detail/article/recalibrating-eu-central-asia-relations/

High-Level International Conference on the implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” (2005-2015) 6-7 June 2015 in Dushanbe.

http://waterforlifeconf2015.org/eng/

Statement by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Opening Ceremony … Here in Central Asia, and far beyond, pressures on water resources are building. Yet water also has the power to connect. It can be a source of cooperation – and from that cooperation even greater good can flow.

Bringing people together around how they might share a scarce and precious resource opens the door to bringing them together around wider issues of peace and security. Here, we can prove that true. The countries of this region are interconnected by shared water resources. Yet these resources are limited. Strains will only increase as populations grow, standards of living rise, and climate change accelerates. I will never forget my visit five years ago to the Aral Sea. It is one of the worst manmade environmental disasters on earth … It is crucial to reach consensus over the management of trans-boundary water resources in Central Asia. The United Nations … is committed to supporting Central Asian countries find durable and sustainable solutions, in close cooperation with the rest of the UN family. Climate change is intensifying the need for us to act …

http://waterforlifeconf2015.org/eng/statement-by-the-un-secretary-general-at-the-opening-ceremony-of-the-high-level-international-conference-on-the-implementation-of-the-international-decade-for-action-water-for-life-2005-2015/

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* FES:Der bewaffnete Konflikt in Syrien und seine unverhältnismäßigen Auswirkungen auf Frauen*

*Die syrische Revolution ist nun in ihrem vierten Jahr, doch kaum jemand nennt sie noch so.*

Das syrische Regime scheute keine Mühen, den friedlichen Aufstand, der Freiheit und Würde einforderte, in einen bewaffneten Konflikt zu verwandeln. Der Grund war, dass es befürchtete, die Erfüllung der berechtigten Forderungen des Volkes könnten in der Konsequenz zum Ende seiner über 40-jährigen autoritären Herrschaft führen.

Was als Aufstand für Freiheit und Menschenrechte und gegen eine brutale Diktatur begann, hat sich rasch zu einem furchtbaren bewaffneten Konflikt entwickelt. Ursache dafür waren, neben anderen Faktoren wie der unkontrollierten Lieferung von Waffen an verschiedene Konfliktparteien und dem Fehlen konkreter internationaler Reaktionen, die notorischen Unterdrückungsmechanismen des Regimes.

Zurzeit kontrollieren drei bewaffnete Hauptakteure Territorien und Ressourcen: Das von Russland und dem Iran unterstützte Assad-Regime, bewaffnete oppositionelle Milizen mit unterschiedlichen Graden an Organisation und finanzieller Unterstützung sowie der selbst ernannte „Islamische Staat“. Gleichzeitig werden Millionen syrischer Zivilist_innen mit den unaussprechlichen Folgen des Konflikts alleine gelassen: Sie tauchen nicht in den Nachrichten auf, sitzen nicht am Verhandlungstisch und werden an keinen Entscheidungen beteiligt.

Mit mehr als 200.000 Toten und vier Millionen Flüchtlingen verschärft dieser Konflikt die schon fragile Situation der ganzen Region. Frauen und Mädchen sind schrecklichen Tragödien ausgesetzt und erleiden systematische Ungerechtigkeiten. Auch die langfristigen Konsequenzen der Gewalt und der Militarisierung treffen sie schwer und überproportional.

Während der Konflikt andauert und sich in immer neue Regionen ausbreitet, werden wir Zeug_innen davon, wie die Gesellschaft sich in einen primitiven Zustand zurückentwickelt. Durch die Weiterverbreitung von Waffen, den Zusammenbruch der Justiz und die Abwesenheit von Rechtsstaatlichkeit entsteht eine überbordende Gewaltkultur, die Frauen ihrer Rechte beraubt und ihre hart erarbeiteten sozialen Errungenschaften zunichte macht.

Die systematische Diskriminierung von Frauen im Gesetz und im Alltag, dazu eine Kultur, die ihre Herabsetzung im Rahmen von Traditionen erlaubt, während ihre physischen und psychosozialen Bedürfnisse vernachlässigt werden, hat syrische Frauen schon seit Jahrzehnten geschwächt und benachteiligt.

Als der Aufstand gegen das Assad-Regime begann, waren Frauen an der Spitze dieser Bewegung und das setzte sich während des Umbruchs fort. Mit der Eskalation der Gewalt „verschwanden“ diese Frauen dann nach und nach. Entweder im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes durch Internierung, Tötung und Vertreibung oder implizit, indem ihnen ihre Rechte auf Freizügigkeit, Bildung und Arbeit vorenthalten wurden.

Jene Frauen, die in Syrien geblieben sind, leiden unter den Konsequenzen des Blutvergießens insbesondere in fünf wichtigen Bereichen:

Die weit verbreitete Verwendung von Waffen

In seinem Kampf gegen den Aufstand wendete das syrische Regime eine Reihe von Maßnahmen an: Es entließ verurteilte extremistische Gewalttäter aus den Gefängnissen und machte gezielt Jagd auf Friedensaktivist_innen, Anwält_innen und politische Schlüsselfiguren, die zu unbewaffneten Protesten aufgerufen hatten, um zivilgesellschaftliche und rechtliche Reformen zu fordern. Solche Handlungen, in Verbindung mit aggressiver Repression, Missbrauch, Folter und dem Einsatz von Propaganda, resultierten in einer wachsenden Verbreitung von Waffen unter Zivilisten. Diese Waffen dienten einerseits als Werkzeuge der Aggression oder der Selbstverteidigung und wurden andererseits zu einem Mittel, um das Recht in die eigene Hand zu nehmen.

Und obwohl auch Handfeuerwaffen auf Frauen einen verheerenden Effekt haben, da sie zumeist die Opfer und nicht die Täter von Verbrechen sind, die mit solchen Waffen verübt werden, bleibt doch die größte Gefahr der massive Gebrauch von Sprengkörpern. Seit Beginn des Aufstands 2011 starben 53 Prozent aller Zivilisten durch Sprengkörper und als Ergebnis der Verdopplung des Einsatzes solcher Waffen durch das Assad-Regime im Jahr 2014 kamen 35 Prozent aller Opfer (76.000 von geschätzten 220.000 Toten) allein in diesem Jahr ums Leben. Fast die Hälfte aller Opfer von Explosivwaffen, die es zwischen 2011 und 2013 weltweit gab, verlor ihr Leben in Syrien. Besonders dramatisch ist die Situation bei Mädchen: 74 Prozent der Todesopfer in dieser Gruppe starben durch Sprengkörper, 17 Prozent durch den Gebrauch von Handfeuerwaffen.

Neben der Zahl an Todesopfern haben Sprengwaffen in bewohnten Gebieten auch erhebliche Auswirkungen auf die Krankenversorgung, da notwendige Infrastruktur, wie Krankenhäuser, zerstört werden. Ihr Einsatz führt außerdem zur generellen Einschränkung der Bewegungsfreiheit. Das trifft vor allem im syrischen Kontext zu, wo Angriffe auf Gesundheitseinrichtungen und dessen Personal durch die verschiedenen Kriegsparteien zu einem üblichen Mittel geworden sind. Eine Veröffentlichung der Nichtregierungsorganisation Physicians for Human Rights vom 18. Juni dieses Jahres zeigt, dass alleine im Mai 2015 mindestens 15 unterschiedliche Angriffe auf Gesundheitseinrichtungen gemeldet wurden.

Für Frauen bedeutet der fehlende Zugang zu Angeboten der Geburtshilfe oftmals ein Todesurteil, zumal in Gegenden, in denen die Müttersterblichkeit bereits von vorneherein sehr hoch ist. Aktuelle Informationen zur Müttersterblichkeit in Syrien sind nicht verfügbar, aber die UNO-Unterstützungsmission im Irak (UNAMI) meldete, dass 80 Prozent der Müttersterblichkeit dort durch einen verbesserten Zugang zu Gesundheitsversorgung während der Schwangerschaft, der Geburt und der Wochenbettperiode hätten verhindert werden können.Mit Sicherheit sind ähnliche, wenn nicht schlimmere Zahlen auch auf Syrien anwendbar.

Es ist darüber hinaus wichtig anzumerken, dass die Überlebenden von Sprengstoffattacken an Langzeitfolgen wie Behinderungen, psychologischen Schäden und dadurch bedingt an sozialer und wirtschaftlicher Exklusion leiden. Das betrifft Frauen in besonderem Maße in einer Gesellschaft, in der sie ohnehin weniger Möglichkeiten und mehr Beschränkungen erfahren und ihre Handlungsfreiheit im Vergleich zu Männern sowieso schon begrenzt ist.

Das Versagen der Rechtsstaatlichkeit

Im Verlauf des bewaffneten Konflikts ist die sowieso schon heikle Rechtsstaatlichkeit komplett zusammengebrochen. Das geschah zuerst, als das syrische Regime die Justiz mittels einer Kombination verfassungswidriger Gesetze und militärischer Schnellgerichte in ein Unterdrückungswerkzeug verwandelte. Und das geschah auch danach, als das Regime den berüchtigten Sicherheitsdiensten unbegrenzte Machtbefugnisse übertrug, die stolz sind auf ihren furchtbaren Ruf in Sachen Folter, Missbrauch und dafür verantwortlich zu sein, dass die Besten und Klügsten auf Nimmerwiedersehen verschwinden.

Dieses Versagen der Rechtsstaatlichkeit führte dazu, dass Waffen und Gewalt noch mehr Macht über jene erhielten, die selbst keinen Zugang dazu haben (Frauen, Kinder, ältere Zivilist_innen, Menschen mit Behinderung) oder die keine Gewalt anwenden wollen (wiederum Frauen, Pazifist_innen etc.), was sie marginalisiert, machtlos und ohne Zugang zu ihrem Recht zurücklässt.

Seit der Staat es völlig aufgegeben hat, seine Bürger_innen zu schützen und für Gerechtigkeit und Sicherheit in der Gesellschaft zu sorgen, sind Waffen zur einzigen Quelle von Macht und Gesetz geworden. Da diese grundsätzlich nur für Männer verfügbar sind, blieben syrische Frauen ohne Macht und Schutz und wurden von aktiven Inhaberinnen von Rechten zu Objekten, die den Schutz von Männern brauchen, was männliche Stereotypen bekräftigte, die Männern wie Frauen schaden.

Auch führte die Tatsache, dass syrische Frauen ihre Nationalität nicht an ihre Kinder weitergeben können, zu tausenden von Fällen, in denen Frauen nicht vor Gewalt fliehen oder sich aus andauernder Gewalt in Sicherheit bringen konnten, weil ihre nicht-syrischen Kinder andere Visa und Einwanderungsbestimmungen für die Nachbarländer haben als sie selbst.

Diese Bedrohung verstärkt sich noch dadurch, dass die diskriminierenden Familienstandgesetze Frauen kein Sorgerecht über ihre Kinder einräumen und ihnen auch nicht das Recht zubilligen, über deren Lebensgrundlagen ohne die Zustimmung des Vaters und in dessen Abwesenheit die eines seiner männlichen Verwandten oder eines Richters zu entscheiden.

Schließlich setzen auch Traditionen Frauen viele Grenzen, wenn es darum geht außerhalb des Hauses zu arbeiten. Die weite Verbreitung von Waffen und der Einsatz von Sprengkörpern in bewohnten Gebieten erschweren die Bewegungsfreiheit von Frauen zudem erheblich. Diese Einschränkungen werden absolut, wo sexuelle Gewalt zur Kriegswaffe wird. Die eigenen vier Wände werden so de facto zum Gefängnis.

Die Befähigung von Frauen setzt das Wahrnehmen und die Kriminalisierung von genderbasierten Taten voraus und braucht einen ganzheitlichen Ansatz, um die fehlende Strafverfolgung der Verbrechen zu bekämpfen, die von allen beteiligten Gruppen an der Macht begangen werden. Um mit diesen Verbrechen umzugehen, muss über die reine Strafverfolgung hinaus eine Kultur der Reform, der Entschädigung und Rehabilitierung etabliert werden. Nur ein Ansatz im Rechtswesen, der die Opfer in den Mittelpunkt stellt, wird den Raum für Rehabilitation, soziale und psychosoziale Unterstützung, Befähigung und Wachstum für Männer wie Frauen ermöglichen.

Kriegswirtschaft und neue finanzielle Belastungen für Frauen

Der Syrien-Konflikt ist ein weiteres Beispiel dafür, wie wenig die Gewalterfahrungen von Frauen von den neuen Rollen getrennt werden können, die eine neu entstehende Kriegswirtschaft ihnen diktiert.

Vor dem Aufstand hatten syrische Frauen trotz großer Benachteiligung durch Gesetze und Traditionen Männer bei den sekundären und tertiären Bildungsabschlüssen überflügelt. Das allerdings führte nie zu einer größeren Partizipation an Entscheidungsprozessen, obwohl Frauen einen großen Anteil der bezahlten und fast ausschließlich die gesamte unbezahlte Arbeit erledigen. Laut dem syrischen Statistikbüro waren 2011 nicht mehr als 16 Prozent der formal arbeitenden Bevölkerung Frauen, dabei stellten sie 50 Prozent der Arbeitskräfte in der Landwirtschaft (allerdings großen Teils unbezahlt und für männliche Familienangehörige, denen das Land und das Einkommen gehört) und 68 Prozent der im Dienstleistungssektor Arbeitenden (der am niedrigsten entlohnten Industrie des Landes) während sie in Parlament (14,2 Prozent), Justiz (13,38 Prozent) und in der akademischen Welt (20 Prozent) unterrepräsentiert blieben.

Die bewusste Auswahl von Zivilist_innen und Wohngebieten als Angriffsziele von Bombardements und ähnlich zerstörerischen Mitteln durch das syrische Regime führten zu einer weitrechenden Zerstörung der Infrastruktur, während gleichzeitig der enorme Anstieg der Militärausgaben und der darauffolgende Zusammenbruch traditioneller Einkommensquellen und der lokalen Währung zur Ausbildung eines Kriegshandels führten, der klassische männliche Konstruktionen erzwang und zu einer Kriegswirtschaft führte. Das brachte für Frauen eine Reihe neuer Belastungen als Haushaltsvorstände einerseits und hauptsächliche Betreuerinnen einer großen Anzahl von Kindern, Senior_innen und Waisen andererseits. Dadurch wurden ihre Rechte auf Arbeit, Bildung und Freizügigkeit fast vollständig ausgehebelt.

Mit 12,2 Mio. Menschen, die humanitäre Unterstützung brauchen, 7,6 Mio. Menschen, die innerhalb des Landes gewaltsam vertrieben wurden, und 4 Mio. registrierten Flüchtlingen (Statistik des UN-Amtes für die Koordinierung humanitärer Angelegenheiten, März 2015) und nur 15 Prozent der benötigten Mittel vor Ort (1.135.217.169 US$ erhalten, 7.426.692.851 US$ benötigt) ist Syrien zu einem Paradebeispiel für die Feminisierung von Armut geworden. Frauen bilden die Mehrheit armer Menschen nicht allein aufgrund fehlender Einkommen und Arbeitsmöglichkeiten sondern auch aufgrund des fehlenden Zugangs zu Produktivressourcen und Benachteiligungen im Recht und seiner Praxis aufgrund ihres Geschlechts.

Partizipation

Die Präsenz von Frauen in der Politik und als Entscheidungsträgerinnen in Regierung und gesetzgeberischen Strukturen führt dazu, dass neue politische Prioritäten und neue Themen auf die politische Agenda gesetzt werden. Die geschlechtsspezifischen Anliegen, Werte und Erfahrungen von Frauen finden so Berücksichtigung und machen neue Perspektiven auf politische Mainstream-Themen möglich. Das gilt auch für bewaffnete Konflikte, wie unter anderem die Resolution 1325 des UN Sicherheitsrats bereits im Jahr 2000 deutlich gemacht hat.

Syrische Frauen haben gezeigt, dass sie über weitreichende Fähigkeiten verfügen, wenn sie mit den entsprechenden Freiräumen und Wahlmöglichkeiten ausgestattet sind. Im Januar 2014 fanden syrische Frauen unterschiedlicher politscher Lager und Hintergründe zusammen, um die „Initiative syrischer Frauen für Frieden und Demokratie“ zu gründen. Ihr Ziel ist es, sich an einem Friedensprozess zu beteiligen, um das sofortige Ende der Kampfhandlungen zu erreichen, die Belagerung von Wohngebieten zu beenden, politische Gefangene freizulassen, die effektive Beteiligung von Frauen auf allen Ebenen der Entscheidungsfindung sicherzustellen sowie im Verhandlungsprozess und in einer Übergangsperiode zu ermöglichen. Sie haben außerdem angeboten, eine Beobachterinnen-Delegation zu den Genf-II-Verhandlungen zu entsenden, um sicherzustellen, dass die Forderungen und Erfahrungen syrischer Frauen dort respektiert werden.

Das von der Initiative veröffentlichte Dokument erwies sich als das ausgewogenste, am meisten inkludierende, und an den Interessen von Zivilist_innen orientierte Dokument seit Beginn des syrischen Aufstands. Nichtsdestotrotz haben es die UN-Gesandten für Syrien, einer nach dem anderen, bis heute nicht geschafft, ihrer versprochenen Unterstützung Taten folgen zu lassen. Bis heute nehmen syrische Frauen an den formalen Verhandlungen nicht teil.

Frauen spielen auch bei den oppositionellen Gruppen nur eine marginale Rolle und ihre Anliegen bleiben nebensächlich. Diese Marginalisierung hat verheerende Konsequenzen: das Fehlen von Gender-Aspekten und die Abwesenheit der Erfahrungen von Frauen in den entstehenden Politikvorschlägen, die Betonung von Bewaffnung und Militarisierung anstelle von Entwicklung, Konfliktlösung und Wiederherstellung des Friedens.

Fazit

Ein nachhaltiger Frieden in Syrien kann ohne die aktive Beteiligung von Frauen und die Berücksichtigung ihrer Sichtweisen auf allen Ebenen der Entscheidungsfindung nicht erreicht werden.

Wir können es uns nicht leisten auf eine Lösung des Konflikts zu warten, um erst im Anschluss seine verheerenden Konsequenzen für Frauen einzudämmen. Es ist zwingend, dass alle Seiten damit aufhören, die effektive Beteiligung von Frauen auf allen Ebenen zu gefährden, sei es bei den Verfassungs- und Gesetzgebungsorganen, temporären oder permanenten lokalen Gremien, der Justiz, örtlichen Gerichten, dem Rechtsvollzug und den Polizeibehörden. Nationale und internationale Organisationen müssen sich den Problemen von Frauen annehmen und sich ihre Erfahrungen zunutze machen. Sie müssen effektive Maßnahmen ergreifen, um Frauen zu unterstützen und ihre Rechte wiederherzustellen, damit sie vollwertig und substantiell teilhaben können, sei es als Individuum oder als Gruppen oder Initiativen. Zu nicht weniger ruft die UN-Resolution 1325 auf, die alle Konfliktparteien drängt, Frauen in die Begrenzung und Lösung bewaffneter Konflikte einzubeziehen.

Etwas Positives sei zum Schluss vermerkt: Das letzte Jahrhundert hat bewiesen, dass Frauen, im Unterschied zu Nationen, schnell und stetig voranschreiten, wenn sie nicht länger durch Gewalt daran gehindert und von Wahlmöglichkeiten ausgeschlossen werden. Syrische Frauen werden den großartigen Beispielen von Frauen in Ruanda, Bosnien, Ost-Timor, Palästina, Liberia, Afghanistan, Sudan und Südsudan folgen, wo unzählige sich für ein Ende der Gewalt in ihren Ländern eingesetzt haben und sich über die Grenzen von „Rassen“, Ethnien, Religionen und politischen Lagern hinweg zusammengeschlossen haben. Ihr gemeinsames Ziel: Das Ende des Militarismus, des Extremismus und der Ungerechtigkeit.

Autorin: Laila Alodaat
übersetzt aus dem Englischen von Dirk Ludigs

Über die Autorin

Laila Alodaat ist eine syrische Menschenrechtsanwältin mit Schwerpunkt Internationales Recht in bewaffneten Konflikten. In ihrer Arbeit hat sie sich auf die internationale Rechenschaftspflicht und den Schutz von Zivilist_innen und marginalisierter Gruppen spezialisiert. Sie ist außerdem Trainerin für das Thema internationale Menschenrechte und hat zu verschiedenen Konflikten gearbeitet, darunter Syrien, Libyen, Irak und Pakistan. Zurzeit arbeitet sie am Krisenreaktionsprogramm der Internationalen Frauenliga für Frieden und Freiheit (IFFF) und ist außerdem die Vorsitzende des „Syria Justice and Accountability Centre“.

http://fes.de/gender/infobrief/fokus/?open=2

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat *US Rolls Out New Military Strategy*

WEITZ, Richard

Last week, the Pentagon released the latest iteration of the National Military Strategy (NMS) of the United States.

Although the text acknowledges that Russia has contributed to security in select areas such as counter-narcotics and counterterrorism, the document complains that Russia’s actions are undermining security directly and through proxy forces.

This latest version of the NMS, an update from 2011, recognizes that Russia does not want a direct military conflict with the United States or its NATO allies and that the United States needs “to engage Russia in areas of common interest” while trying to persuade Moscow to behave more in accordance with international law.

In addition to concerns about Russia, the document expresses alarm about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and sponsorship of terrorism, North Korea’s dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technologies, and China’s claims to the South China Sea and numerous islands.

Furthermore, the document highlights the threat from violent extremist organizations (VEOs), which is evolving. Whereas Al-Qaida was more centralized and more inclined to engage in only targeted acts of violence, the Islamic State group has allowed many other groups to align for inspirational rather than ideological considerations and more inclined to random acts of violence. The Pentagon says that the U.S. will build local and regional networks in response to combat the Islamic State.

The new NMS offers a lengthy discussion regarding “hybrid warfare,” placing it in the middle a continuum of types of conflict ranging from the one extreme of state conflict to the other extreme of non-state conflict. The goal of hybrid conflict is to create ambiguity, seize the initiative, and paralyze the adversary. It achieves this through a blend of conventional and irregular forces, and through a mix of traditional military means and asymmetric systems.

The last major focus of the strategy document is the diffusion of U.S. military advantages. Globalization has enabled the spread of new technologies, while groups and individuals have greater access to information and can gather and act upon that information quickly. States are using information sharing and technological innovation to develop their own advanced military capabilities. This development is only partly related to Russia, such as when Russian defense firms sell missiles and other weapons to China, Iran, and other potential military adversaries.

The current version of the NMS drops the formulation of the 2011 text that identifies four important ways the U.S. military exercises security leadership in the international arena—as a “facilitator, enabler, convener, and guarantor.” Nonetheless, the 2015 NMS reiterates support for deploying US Joint Forces in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East in order to promote regional stability. The U.S. global military posture will seek to balance forward deployed U.S. military with more centrally available enabling assets based in the United States.

Foreign partnerships are an important tool that the United States uses to counterbalance state and non-state threats. In the case of VEOs, the Pentagon will limit its support to “select combat forces, enabling technologies, and training in support of local partners,” but it wants those foreign countries under attack to supply “the majority of forces necessary to restore and secure their homelands.” The U.S. will enable other countries to perform their international security roles more effectively by bolstering their capacities.

In the case of Russia, NATO is the critical partner since it “provides vital collective security guarantees and is strategically important for deterring conflict, particularly in light of recent Russian aggression on its periphery.” The U.S. military is committed in support of NATO with exercises, training and the prepositioning of U.S. military equipment in states near Russia.

Yet, foreign partners are considered vital but not essential. Like other U.S. government documents, the latest National Military Strategy says that “While we prefer to act in concert with others, we will act unilaterally if the situation demands.”

Richard Weitz is Director and Senior Fellow at Center for Political-Military Analysis of Hudson Institute.

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*Russia to Stay Key EU Gas Supplier Despite Iran’s Comeback*

Russia will remain Europe’s main gas supplier despite Iran’s high potential, the secretary general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) said.

© AP Photo/ Vahid Salemi

Iran to Increase Oil Production Despite OPEC Position (http://sputniknews.com/business/20150723/1024975023.html )

VIENNA (Sputnik) — Iran is in a good position to meet the growing gas needs of the European Union, but Russia will remain the main EU supplier, the secretary general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) said Friday.

"Iran and the European Union have already engaged in negotiation that involved several options for the export [of gas] to the European Union…. Of course, this does not mean that Iran intends to substitute Russia for its exports to Europe," Seyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli told reporters.

He added that Russia remained the main gas supplier to Europe, but noted that Iran could partially meet the growing EU energy demands both through pipeline supplies and liquefied natural gas deliveries.

Adeli said the demand for natural gas in Europe is set to increase after 2020, with European gas imports to double by 2040.

Russia will satisfy approximately half of Europe’s gas imports over the next 30 years, Adeli said.

© AP Photo/ Ebrahim Noroozi

Asian Refineries Prolong Contracts With Iran That May Quadruple Oil Export (http://sputniknews.com/business/20150511/1021992835.html )

Earlier in July, the UN Security Council approved a resolution to lift the international sanctions against Iran in exchange for guaranties of the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program.

On Thursday, Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia said international sanctions imposed on Iran’s oil and gas sector are expected to be lifted in October or November.

According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, Europe’s gas pipeline imports in 2014 from Russia and Iran totaled 147.7 and 8.9 billion cubic meters respectively. Overall natural gas proved reserves at the end of 2014 stood at 32.6 and 34 trillion cubic meters in Russia and Iran respectively.

GECF is an international governmental organization established to coordinate and strengthen cooperation between its member states that together accounted for 67 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves.

http://sputniknews.com/business/20150724/1025010502.html

LUKoil in Talks With Iran Over Return to Country’s Energy Projects

http://sputniknews.com/business/20150723/1024970232.html

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Is the Turkish Stream Pipeline Stalled or Frozen?

GRIVACH, Alexei

There has been a lot of speculation in Russian and foreign media recently about whether the Turkish Stream gas pipeline will be considerably reduced in scale or postponed. And to be sure, there is cause for concern.

A Russian-Turkish intergovernmental agreement to build the pipeline has not been signed. Gazprom has canceled a number of South Corridor infrastructure orders (South Corridor is a system of pipelines designed to deliver gas to Turkey and Europe across the Black Sea). Its subsidiary in charge of the pipeline’s undersea section has terminated the contract for laying the first leg of the pipeline with Saipem. In addition, a memorandum has been signed on building two additional North Stream pipelines, and talks on the German route for stepped-up gas deliveries to Europe, including Southeastern Europe, have gained momentum.

Russia’s main goal is to have infrastructure capable of delivering between 50 and 60 billion cubic meters of gas to South Europe and Turkey (which are currently supplied via Ukraine) by January 1, 2020, when Gazprom’s 11-year transit contract with Ukraine’s Naftogaz is due to expire. The Turkish Stream and related infrastructure projects in Europe are an option that emerged a mere seven months ago to replace South Stream, which was killed off by the Europeans.

But it is still premature to say that the project faces an all-round crisis. It shouldn’t be forgotten that large-scale initiatives of this kind require a lot of preparatory and organizational work. The “negative” news stories about the Turkish Stream that appeared in the last few weeks are not related to one another. A legally binding contract with Turkey could not be signed because the ruling party lost its parliamentary majority and the right to form a government in the June elections. In fact, now there is no one in Ankara to sign a contract with. The Turkish political system needs to find a new point of equilibrium, while the parliamentary parties must either form a coalition government or hold snap elections. Things will clear up in early August after the 45-day deadline for coalition talks expires. As I see it, Turkey is vitally interested in both getting direct Russian gas supplies without any transit risks and in strengthening its role as an energy transit state.

The fact that the European leg of the project does not depend on Ankara’s wishes is another matter entirely. It’s a prerogative of Europe, which has been applying unprecedented political pressure on Russia-sponsored projects, meaning that the risks are also very high. Russia, therefore, has been considering the possibility of delivering gas to Southeastern Europe via the northern route, although for Europe itself it would be preferable to develop infrastructure in the Balkans and this would be promoted by Russia delivering gas to the region across the Black Sea.

The Saipem situation looks more like a business dispute between customer and contractor. The contractor likely demanded too much compensation for a six-month delay following the scrapping of the Bulgaria-led South Stream (supposed to kick off in late 2014) and its replacement by the Turkish Stream. When Gazprom eventually gave the go-ahead, Saipem demanded additional compensation. Given that there is no urgent need to lay the pipe, the customer decided to fire the contractor, especially since it signed a contract for the second leg of the pipeline with Switzerland’s Allseas last year. Technologically, there is no difference between the two, and thus it will be Swiss pipe that will carry gas to Turkey.

The Balkans, Hungary, Austria and Italy will require between 30 and 40 billion cubic meters of gas a year. To ensure delivery, Russia will need another two Black Sea pipelines in addition to the first one. But for the gas to make it to market, infrastructure must be built in Europe, primarily on the Balkan Peninsula, which has practically no gas infrastructure at present. South Stream, the turn-key project with Gazprom funding infrastructure construction, has been killed by the intervention of the US and EU. The US and the European Commission will actively interfere with the Turkish Stream infrastructure project, although the individual EU countries (Greece, Hungary and Austria) and EU candidates (Macedonia and Serbia) are certainly keen on both receiving investment and transit payments and on strengthening their energy security.

The situation being what it is, it would be too rash to stake everything on the Turkish Stream. Hence the different transit options, including the delivery of gas from the Turkish and Greek border to the target markets, as well as deliveries to Baumgarten, Austria (the main gas distribution hub in Southeastern Europe) via the Baltic Sea, Germany and the Czech Republic.

The situation is made more complicated and confusing by the Iranian nuclear deal, which provides for the lifting of the international sanctions and thus opens the door for Iranian gas deliveries to European markets, primarily in the southeast. On the one hand, Iran has major untapped gas reserves that were inaccessible for European buyers because of sanctions. On the other, they cannot be brought to the European market overnight. It’s a project that may take decades, requiring investment in production and transportation as well as the building of trade ties and confidence. There are too many question marks on this route. But the main question for the Europeans is how are they going to develop the infrastructure to import gas from Iran and not let Russian gas in without violating their own competition laws and WTO rules?

Alexei Grivach is the deputy director general for gas issues at the National Energy Security Fund.

http://valdaiclub.com/europe/79681.html

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Middle East

*Jordan launches war on ISIS in Iraq, Turkish warplanes hit ISIS in Syria. US, Israel involved in both ops*

DEBKAfile Special Report July 24, 2015, 11:08 AM (IDT)

F-16 warplane in action against ISIS

The Middle East woke up Friday, July 24, to two new full-fledged wars launched by Jordan and Turkey for cutting down the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as is forces advanced on their borders. The United States and Israel are involved in both campaigns. Jordanian armored, commando and air forces are already operating deep inside Iraq, while Friday morning, Turkey conducted its first cross-border air strike against ISIS targets in Syria. Clashes between Turkish troops and Islamic fighters erupted at several points along the border. Both governments also conducted mass arrests of suspected Islamists. The Jordanian police picked up ISIS adherents, while 5,000 Turkish police detained 250 Islamist and outlawed Kurdish PKK suspects in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Saniurta. Jordan Friday shut down its only border crossing with Iraq.

Earlier this week, Turkey permitted US warplanes to us the Incirlik air base in the south for bombing missions against ISIS, and Israel handed over to Jordan 16 Cobra combat helicopters and assured Jordan of air force cover for its anti-ISIS operation.
Read more about this new chapter in the war on ISIS in the debkafile report of Thursday, July 23.

In the first publicized Israeli military hardware transaction with an Arab nation, Israel has handed over “around 16 Cobra” combat helicopters in support of Jordan’s war on the Islamic State. This was confirmed Thursday, July 23, by a US official close to the transfer. It was also the first time US-Jordanian-Israeli military cooperation in the struggle against ISIS was publicly disclosed.

“These choppers are for border security,” said the unnamed US official. debkafile’s military and counter-terror sources disclose that the Cobras are needed for a large-scale Jordanian aerial-commando operation launched in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, which borders on the Hashemite Kingdom. This operation is designed to carve out a security belt tens of kilometers deep inside Iraq as a barrier against Islamic State’s encroachment.
Amman approached Washington for combat helicopters to back the operation and was told that the US is short of these items and would turn Israel to pitch in. The US first provided mechanical overhauls for the aircraft before they were incorporated free of charge in Jordan’s existing Cobra fleet.

The transfer was announced while US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was touring the Middle East. He arrived in Amman Tuesday, July 21,after talks in Israel, and visited Baghdad unannounced Thursday, July 23 for an update on the war on ISIS.

The mounting Islamist threat to Jordan is coming now from two directions – the Iraqi province of Anbar and Syria. ISIS forces have grabbed positions in southern Syria near the intersection of the Jordanian, Iraqi and Syrian borders. They have also moved up to the eastern Syrian town of Abu Kamal on the Iraqi border and, since mid-May, have gradually detached small groups from the captured central Syrian town of Palmyra and quietly built up positions in the south near Jabal Druze.
This buildup has been tracked by US, Jordanian and Israeli surveillance.

The Islamist domestic threat to the Hashemite Kingdom is no less acute. Jihadist sleeper cells have been planted in Jordan ready to strike strategic targets for a reign of terror to coincide with the onset of external Islamic State attacks staged from Iraq and Syria.

Our military sources report that US-Israeli-Jordanian cooperation is channeled through the US Central Command Forward-Jordan from its headquarters north of Amman. It is staffed by US, British, Jordanian, Saudi and Israeli officers working together to defeat ISIS.

http://www.debka.com/article/24763/

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

John Kornblum: Europe Needs a New Narrative

An interview with John Kornblum, American diplomat and businessman and former US ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. Interviewer: Matthew Luxmoore.

MATTHEW LUXMOORE: You have argued that Europe needs to find another narrative, a narrative that makes the Vladimir Putin challenge clear. What do you mean by this?

JOHN KORNBLUM: All big events are defined on the basis of a story, the narrative which tells what it is all about. In Ukraine, we have lost that narrative. Russia has quite skillfully established the legend that the West was too aggressive after the end of the Cold War. That we should have understood Russian sensitivities, and that we should have given them time to digest things. And that Putin’s aggression is a justifiable reaction to Western tactics. The Russians have succeeded with their narrative because many in the West misunderstood from the beginning what the real challenge with Russia would be. This group argued that we should have abandoned NATO and set up a new “mutual security” system with Russia. They believed that we threatened Russia by placing NATO almost directly on its borders.

The truth is that the West essentially disarmed after 1992. We did make Russians like Putin uneasy, not because we were threatening them militarily but because we did what we said we were going to do. We extended open and free societies and markets all the way up to the Russian border. That was the threat, the threat of democracy.

Russia has traditionally viewed security as a zero sum game. That is why since the 1950s, and perhaps even before, they argued that Europe should be coordinated on the basis of mutual security agreements – not shared security, like NATO, but mutual security. But you know what mutual security is? It means spheres of influence: “I define my security the way I want to and you define yours and then you leave me alone.” The Eurasian Union is a classic example of this sort of system.

Putin defines Russia in imperialist terms. This means that Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan will be consigned to Russian control; like reconstituting large parts of the Soviet Union. They have more or less given up on the Baltic states for the time being. But the area of contention right now is the area that runs down to the Black Sea, including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia. They want these nations to be part of their sphere of influence, period.

So how do we win the narrative, in your view, and ensure that the European Union stays unified? What strategy do you propose?

We need to abandon efforts at mutual security such as the OSCE “Eminent Persons“ exercise and instead actively sell our view of civil society and democratic values. The reasoning is simple: it works. Western countries, especially those in the core European-American alliance, have over the past 500 years developed the most pragmatic, most just and most successful system of values ever invented. We have dealt with some of the most difficult challenges of human society – the relationship of the individual to the state, the concepts of justice, fairness and tolerance – and we have built these into our society more than any other system has. George Bush approached it as a crusade. Barack Obama treats it almost like a religion. I think neither the Bush nor the Obama approach is the right one. The right one is simply to say: “This works”. And this is essentially what we said to Europe in the 1990s. If you, Poland, if you, Hungary, if you, Romania want to become a member of the European Union – you just take these things that work and you apply them.

So you think there is a clear formula for success, a kind of Wilsonian set of principles that’s universalisable and works for every country?

Pragmatism is the word. It can be helpful to most countries, but that does not mean that every country has to have a Westminster style democracy. It means that countries need to understand why a lot of these principles work and try to apply them.

You say the system works, but it is not resonating at the moment with countries like Russia. If we aim to spread what some call a Washington consensus, do you think these are problems we can overcome?

The radical new element is that the system is not being spread by any government. It is being spread by technology. That is the interesting thing. A similar process overwhelmed the old order in the 19th century. The industrial revolution brought the steam engine and the telegraph. Go to any major corporation or government ministry and you will find it is so linked into global data networks and exchanges that it is hardly independent any more. Take Volkswagen. It has a global network that will blow your mind, run within the Volkswagen system but operated by individuals all over the world.

This phenomenon is a new form of meritocracy. Not because of any democratic principles but because it destroys the monopolies. Think for a second about the social monopolies which have been weakened over the past 20 years – libraries, newspapers, doctors or radio broadcasting. You do not need them anymore. Up until 15 years ago, our modern Western industrial society was run on the basis of benign monopolies; not people trying to control us. Rather, the simple fact that if you wanted books you needed a library. If you wanted a good education you needed a university – you do not need a university any more.

So countries like Russia are trying to fight a system whose triumph is inevitable? It seems there are competing ideas that have mass support in such societies, with Putin’s Russia as one example.

Let us go back for a second to the difference between narratives. Our narrative should be a positive, self-confident one, saying that our goal after 1990 was to extend democracy, free markets and open societies as far as we could. And we did this based on a combined, three-pronged strategy: NATO enlargement to give countries security, EU enlargement to give them a social, political and economic community, and strengthening the OSCE so that we would have an all-European forum in which all nations, including Russia, could put forward their concepts of security.

In addition, we offered the Russians the NATO-Russia Founding Act, a whole series of arrangements including a NATO-Russia council. We did something similar with Ukraine, though less extensively. We think we did everything we should have done, but what we neglected in the process was to make clear that our goal was not a classic security system inherited from the cold war, but a social and value system. And that this social and value system has succeeded beyond our hopes. It now reaches the Russian border.

So by the time of the most recent EU enlargement in 2007 we had done what we said we were going to do. We established a democratic system which goes from Finland and Estonia on the Russian border all the way round to Alaska on the Pacific. We have a globe-spanning community of people, almost a billion strong (I added it up one time), and we should be extremely proud of that. There is no reason to be defensive about it and say we somehow pushed the Russians into something.

Though there are crises, and what we are seeing currently in the European Union has caused concern. How would you explain the recourse to more nationalist parties that we are witnessing?

There is societal-technological change going on and the EU is not flexible enough to deal with it. So people are angry. The danger is not that we will have the Third Reich back. That is the other narrative. We will not have a collapse of the EU, but we could have some great instability and some great complications. And one of Europe’s weaknesses is that it is a “good-weather prosperity” kind of place – as long as the weather is good and there is prosperity, it looks wonderful. When you bump into challenges it looks less good. So that is where we are now.

Of course there will be crises. All societies have crises. The United States has been faced with both economic and political crises over the past ten years. And a democratic society has more debates and more crises than a controlled authoritarian one. But somehow, we always come out ahead.

Looking back to the start of the Ukrainian crisis, a lot of people criticise the EU for not having given enough concrete incentives to Kyiv. What is your view on that?

I think that is true and they should absolutely act differently now with Georgia. Georgia has been doing exactly what it is expected to do for the past four or five years, now it wants to signal its intent to be on a NATO membership track. And NATO is letting them down.

I know that Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine want to be part of NATO and the EU. So we have three countries, including one major country, that want to become members of western institutions. And the western institutions are afraid even to let them in the front door. So we definitely need a different strategy and need to stop worrying about making the Russians mad.

So how should we act towards Russia?

I have dealt with the Soviet Union and Russians for many years. In my experience, you are more successful when you are firm in your convictions and clear about your goals. They take reasonableness as capitulation. That sounds like a stereotype, I know, but it does work. At the same time we are in a very confrontational situation right now, and finding the right strategy will be difficult.

Russia feels threatened by the fact that we have built this community all the way up to its borders. What we should say is “yes, of course we threaten them, we know we do”. Our system does indeed threaten them. Right now we just have to do what we are doing and understand that we are not going to control Russia and it is not going to return to some kind of partnership arrangement. We simply have to have a kind of Cold War containment towards them.

Though it is more of a hot war at the moment…

It is a hot war. They are actually shooting each other. There needs to be good diplomacy to change that. I am not sure I have seen good diplomacy yet, but you have to keep up the pressure. That is an important short-term issue, but there are also longer-term issues. First and foremost, we need a policy for the so-called Near Abroad, which we do not have. The EU does not know if it is willing to offer Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova membership. I think they should put the perspective on the table. But that does not mean they will be members tomorrow. That means you start a process that may extend far into the future.

You have lived in Germany for over 50 years and you have often praised Germany’s role in Europe. What do you think that role entails, especially at the moment?

I think Germany is evolving towards a stable leadership role. Not leadership in the way the United States leads, or even how the British or French used to, with big initiatives. Germany’s leadership has always been through osmosis. In the past weeks Germany has taken over the main role as western interlocutor with the Russians. Nobody would have ever thought that would happen. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the one who is carrying the dialogue. Even Obama cannot talk to Putin.

Of course there are reasons to be critical of the Germans. They should be spending more on defence, they should show more solidarity to the Baltic states – but overall their behaviour over the past 50 years has made them the most respected country in Europe. And they are handling it pretty well.

John Kornblum is an American diplomat, former US ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Matthew Luxmoore is a freelance journalist who has written for The New Republic, Evening Standard and the Kyiv Post.

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Serbien

moderated by Srecko Velimirovic

U.S.-Greece Task Force: Transforming the Balkans*

While the past decade has witnessed remarkable progress in stabilizing the Western Balkans and positioning the region on the ladder to NATO and EU membership, significant work still needs to be accomplished in order to fully secure the peninsula as a component part of the Euro-Atlantic community. Working in tandem, the United States and Greece can move this process forward as the two long-standing allies share the same objectives of political stabilization, durable security, economic development, and international institutional integration for the entire Balkan region. A collaborative bilateral initiative by two key policy institutes in both countries, Center for Strategic and International Studies in the United States and the Hellenic Centre for European Studies (EKEM) in Greece, will help promote this process by establishing a U.S.-Greece Task Force consisting of two Working Groups, one based in Washington D.C. and one in Athens.

U.S.-Greece Task Force: Objectives

· Assemble policy experts, regional specialists, security and foreign policy analysts, NGO representatives, business leaders, and other interested parties to create a durable network of expertise committed to developing the U.S.-Greek partnership in working more effectively in the wider Balkan region.

· Alert the Washington policy community, the NGO sector, and business leaders to specific opportunities and obstacles facing the Western Balkans in the region’s drive toward democracy, the rule of law, market economics, regional security, and international institutional integration.

· Promulgate practical policy recommendations for American and Greek policymakers and innovative approaches in the Balkans and within international fora on the basis of Task Force discussions and findings.

· Publish Task Force papers and recommendations and disseminate them to a wider audience in the United States and in Europe.

Reports

CSIS-EKEM Policy Report Number FourAssessing Human Security in the Western Balkans

Nov 5, 2010

CSIS-EKEM Policy Report Number ThreeRelinking the Western Balkans: The Energy Dimension

Sep 23, 2010

CSIS-EKEM Policy Report Number TwoConfronting Unconventional Threats

Apr 30, 2010

CSIS-EKEM Policy Report Number OneRe-linking the Western Balkans: The Transportation Dimension

Mar 12, 2010

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Kurdistan

*Assad: Army focusing on holding most important areas*

Reuters

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday the army had been forced to give up areas in order to hold onto more important ones in its fight with insurgents, and the scale of the war meant the military faced a manpower shortage.

In a remarkably frank assessment of the strains afflicting the Syrian military after more than four years of conflict, Assad said the type of war confronting Syria meant the army could not fight everywhere for risk of losing vital ground.

"Sometimes, in some circumstances, we are forced to give up areas to move those forces to the areas that we want to hold onto," Assad said in a televised speech. "We must define the important regions that the armed forces hold onto so it doesn’t allow the collapse of the rest of the areas."

Assad has absorbed a series of battlefield defeats since March. He lost most of the northwestern province of Idlib to an insurgent alliance including the Al-Qaeda-backed Nusra Front, and important areas of the southern region along the border with Jordan to mainstream groups of the "Southern Front."

In addition, ultra-hardline ISIS insurgents seized the central city of Palmyra from the Syrian military in May.

The Syrian government’s territorial control stands at no more than 25 percent of the country, with the rest divided among an array of armed groups including ISIS, other rebel groups and a well-organized Kurdish militia, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war. But the state-held area is home to the majority of the population.

Assad said increased support from states backing the rebels – including Turkey – was the reason for recent setbacks that had created "a state of despair" among Syrians. Syria is in a war funded by the richest and most powerful states, he said.

But Assad struck a defiant tone, saying there would be no compromise solutions, and he dismissed the view that Syria was heading toward partition into areas run separately by the Damascus government and armed groups fighting him.

"Everything is available (for the army), but there is a shortfall in human capacity," Assad said. "Despite that, I am not presenting a dark picture."

Assad said an amnesty announced yesterday for men at home and abroad who have dodged military service would encourage thousands of conscripts who wanted to join the army but held back because of penalities slapped on them.

Military reversals for Assad have ever more reduced his control beyond the main population centers of western Syria that comprise the cities of Damascus, Homs, Hama, and the coastal region forming the heartland of his Alawite sect.

In the assessment of many diplomats and analysts, Assad has been forced to forgo some far-flung parts of the country to focus efforts on protecting more defensible areas in the west.

Some diplomats say that Iran, his main regional ally, has advised him to retrench.

The army still, however, has footholds in the northeast, the east, and the south, in addition to Syria’s second city Aleppo.

Assad said the idea behind giving up territory was to allow for later counter-attacks. "From a military point of view, holding to this area, or that patch, would lead to the recovery of the other areas."

The government’s military setbacks have triggered renewed pledges of support from Assad’s main regional allies, the Shiite Islamist government of Iran and Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the Syrian army.

Assad spoke for the first time publicly about Iranian military suppport, saying Tehran’s role was limited to the provision of military experts. He also for the first time publicly credited Hezbollah for its "important" role.

Hezbollah is playing a central part in an ongoing offensive to drive insurgents from the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Western officials have said the military pressure on Assad could pave the way to a political deal that would see Assad step down as demanded by the United States and other Western states.

Syria’s conflict began as a street uprising against four decades of authoritarian rule by the Assad family.

The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is due to address the Security Council next week on consultations he has held with combatants and other parties involved in the war.

But Assad stuck to the position that any political proposal for resolving the war must be based on "eliminating terrorism" – a broad-brush reference to rebels arrayed against him.

Assad said there were "positive" changes in Western attitudes towards Syria’s conflict – a reference to the U.S.-led air strike campaign against ISIS. But he faulted the West because, he said, states were still classifying militants fighting him as revolutionaries rather than "terrorists."

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Jul-26/308348-syrian-president-says-he-supports-dialogue-to-end-civil-war.ashx

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*Russia May Revive $1.6-Billion Oil-Gas Project With Syria* “If military actions cease and the situation becomes stable.”

According to the executive director of the Russian Union of Gas and Oil Industrialists, Russian oil and gas companies may revive contracts worth a total of $1.6 billion with Syria if investment risks are eliminated and the country becomes stable.

Syria Hopes Russia to Co-Finance New Thermal Power Plant Construction

DAMASCUS (Sputnik) – Russian oil and gas companies may revive contracts worth a total of $1.6 billion with Syria if investment risks are eliminated and the country becomes stable, the executive director of the Russian Union of Gas and Oil Industrialists told RIA Novosti.

“If military actions cease and the situation becomes stable in Syria, Russian companies that have frozen their work because of the civil war will be ready to renew their activity within a short period of time in realizing projects that were signed before the crisis with an overall amount of no less than $1.6 billion,” Gissa Guchetl said in an interview.

Last week, Guchetl had a meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader Halqi and Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Suleiman Abbas in Damascus, during which the Syrian side expressed interest in Russian extraction companies supplying crude oil and other oil products to Syria. The sides also discussed cooperation with Russian and Chinese companies to boost extraction in national fields located in Syrian-government-controlled safe areas.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011 as government forces loyal to President Assad fight several opposition and radical Islamist militant groups, including Nusra Front and Islamic State.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Syrian conflict has claimed at least 320,000 lives and made over 12 million homeless.

http://sputniknews.com/business/20150727/1025084037.html

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see our letter on:

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

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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

07-05-15 CSIS -Kuchins_CentralAsiaSummaryReport_Web.pdf

07-28-15 Senior Administration Officials On Counter-ISIL Coalition Efforts.pdf

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