Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 04/09/15

Massenbach-Letter. News

· Joschka Fischer: Europe’s Migration Paralysis * As tragedies shock Europe, a bigger refugee crisis looms in the Middle East

· Papst: Seligsprechung Melki – als Hoffnung für die Christen*„Die Seligsprechung von Bischof Melki ist eine Gabe von Papst Franziskus an die Kirche im Nahen Osten, an die syrisch-katholische Kirche.“

· Empfang zu Ehren des scheidenden Botschaftsrates Palästinas, Herrn Abdullah Hijazi – Rückblick auf Jahrzehnte diplomatischer Arbeit – Ein Dokument

· Russia gearing up to be first world power to insert ground forces into Syria * Russia Could Sell Mistral-Designed Helicopters to Potential Mistral Buyer

· The New Ice Curtain * Cooperation along the new Silk Road

· Berliner Zeitung: Kommentar zur Flüchtlingswelle : Wir müssen den Realitäten ins Auge schauen

Massenbach* Egypt sends Assad secret arms aid, including missiles, with Russian funding*

DEBKAfileExclusive ReportAugust 30, 2015, 11:58 AM (GMT+02:00)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi has begun supplying Bashar Assad with arms, including missiles, after concluding a secret deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his consent to pick up the tab, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal. The first batch of short-range Egyptian-made surface missiles has reached the Syrian forces fiercely battling rebels for weeks for the recovery of the strategic town of Zabadani without breaking through (See picture showing missile with Egyptian factory markings.)

It is not clear if the Egyptian missiles have also been passed to the Hizballah forces fighting with the Syrian army, considering that El-Sisi and Hizballah are at daggers drawn.

Our sources also reveal that the Egyptian arms consignments are freighted from Port Said to the Syrian port of Tartus by Ukrainian cargo vessels. These ships are today the most popular means of transport for clandestine and Black Market arms freights across the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas.

Sums and quantities are yet to be determined, but Western intelligence sources report that Ukrainian vessels called in at Egyptian ports at least three times from July 22 to Aug. 22 and sailed off to Syria laden with weapons.

It is a deal that may affect the fate of the Assad regime from five, often conflicting, perspectives:

1. By providing Assad with an additional source of weapons, Cairo is reducing his dependence on Iran. This suits the Syrian ruler very well at this time, because he is fully aware of Tehran’s latest steps to draw Gulf rulers and Moscow into supporting a plan for ending the Syrian war, by installing a provisional government in Damascus and so easing his exit.

2. A certain parting-of-the ways has developed between Moscow and Tehran on how to terminate the Syrian conflict. By sending Assad arms, Cairo casts its vote for Moscow’s perspective in preference to Tehran’s.

3. El-Sisi is now diametrically opposed on Syrian policy to the GCC led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who are patrons of the rebel movement dedicated to toppling Assad.

4. He is also on the opposite side to Israel and Turkey. Israel backs the rebels fighting in southern Syria to create a barrier against the encroachment of Hizballah and Iranian Al Qods Brigades up to its northern border and the Golan. Turkey and the US have reached terms on Syrian policy. Saturday, Aug. 30, Turkish jets carried out their first air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State, as part of its deal with the US.
5. The Russian-Egyptian understanding on the Syrian question is a signpost that clearly marks the way to deepening military and strategic relations between Moscow and Cairo.

Taking the lead on a resolution of the Syrian question, the Kremlin staged a discussion last Tuesday, Aug. 18, with three Arab visitors: Jordan’s King Abdullah, UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Egyptian president. It was led by Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of Middle East Affairs, and followed by individual tête-à-têtes between Putin and each visitor in turn.

The Russian and Egyptian leaders did their best, according to debkafile’s Moscow sources, to draw the Jordanian and UA rulers over to their pro-Assad policy, or at least accept common ground for a measure of cooperation. In effect, Putin and El-Sisi were out to convince Jordan and the US to back away from the Syrian rebel cause and the Saudi line. Their future actions may indicate how far they succeeded.

Arab sources: First Russian officers in Syria

DEBKAfile August 30, 2015, 3:20 PM (IDT)

Russian army officers have arrived in Damascus and Jablah in the Latakia district, where they are building a new military base on the Mediterranean coast, Arab sources reported to the Al Watan newspaper Sunday. Under the caption: “Russian Army Engages in Syria,” they also revealed, “Russia has begun to supply Damascus for the first time with satellite imagery… a decision that will turn the military situation on its head.” Neither report is confirmed from other sources.

Russia gearing up to be first world power to insert ground forces into Syria
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 1, 2015, 9:35 PM (GMT+02:00)

Russian airborne troops for Syria

Despite strong denials from Moscow, Russian airborne troops are preparing to land in Syria to fight Islamic State forces. The surprise attack on Monday, Aug. 31, by ISIS forces on the Qadam district of southern Damascus, in which they took over parts of the district – and brought ISIS forces the closest that any Syrian anti-Assad group has ever been to the center of the Syrian capital – is expected to accelerate the Russian military intervention.

Moscow is certainly not ready to endanger the position of President Bashar Assad or his rule in Damascus, and views it as a red line that cannot be crossed. If Russia intervenes militarily in this way, Russia will be the first country from outside the Middle East to send ground forces into the Syrian civil war.

debkafile’s military sources report that discussions by the Russo-Syrian Military Commission, which was established last month in Moscow to coordinate the intervention, accelerated during the last few days.

Our intelligence sources point out that the concerted activities of the commission are taking place amid the nearly complete paralysis of the US Central Command-Forward-Jordan (CCFJ), where operations against the rebels in southern Syria, including those holding positions across from Israel’s Golan, are coordinated. Officers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel are attached to the CCFJ.

Most of the operations of the CCFJ have been halted due to a conflict that erupted between the Syrian rebels and the U.S. Central Command, CENTCOM. The US military is opposed to the rebels cooperating with Al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Al-Nusra front, while the rebels claim that this cannot be avoided fir they are to defeat the forces of Bashar Assad and Hizballah.

The paralysis of the CCFJ is spurring the Russians to try to show that their “central command” for Syria is operating without any difficulties.

In recent weeks, the Russians have taken four military steps related to Syria:

1. On Aug. 18, six of Russia’s advanced MIG-31 Foxhound interceptor aircraft landed at the Syrian Air Force’s Mezze Airbase, which is the military section of Damascus international airport. After the fighters landed, they were immediately followed by giant Russian Antonov AN-124 Condor cargo planes carrying 1,000 of Russia’s 9M133 Kornet anti-tank missiles.

The advanced jets are intended to serve as air support for the Russian units that arrive in Syria.

2. Before the Russian planes landed in Damascus, Moscow reached an agreement with Washington for the removal of NATO’s Patriot missile batteries from Turkey. The removal was carried out gradually during the month of August, thus preventing the possibility that NATO Patriot missiles could hit Russian fighters carrying out operations in Syrian airspace.

3. During the last week of August, a large number of Russian troops, mostly logistical teams whose job is to lay the groundwork for the arrival of the combat units, arrived in Syria. The troops were seen in Damascus and in Jablah district of Lattakia province, where the Russian forces are building a military base.

4. Our intelligence sources also report that Moscow has started to supply Damascus with satellite imagery of the ground situation on the different fronts.

debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that all of these preparatory steps by Moscow for the introduction of ground forces are being carried out in coordination with Washington and Tehran.

The more that the three capitals tighten their coordination in support of Assad, the sooner the Russian intervention is expected to take place.

Russia Could Sell Mistral-Designed Helicopters to Potential Mistral Buyer

Moscow plans to offer Kamov Ka-52K helicopters to a country interested in purchasing the two Mistral warships which France originally built for the Russian Navy, the Kommersant newspaper reported, citing anonymous sources.

Drastic Times: French Defense Chief Attempts to Sell at Least One Mistral to Malaysia?

The Ka-52K rotorcraft are specifically tailored for the amphibious assault ships. Russia built a total of four machines to serve on the Mistrals before the arms deal was cancelled in August.

No nation has formally confirmed its decision to buy the helicopter carriers but many speculate that Brazil, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates are contemplating adding the amphibious assault ships to their fleet.

A source told the daily that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sis discussed the Mistrals with Vladimir Putin while on a visit to Moscow last week.

"Sisi expressed interest in the possibility of buying the helicopter carriers from the French but it was a purely theoretical interest. … Obviously, they need financial assistance from a third party to purchase the ships," the source added but declined to comment on whether Russia could serve as a creditor.

Earlier, reports emerged that Saudi Arabia could buy the two Mistrals which would likely be docked in Egypt. The oil kingdom views the amphibious assault ships as a means to project its own power in the region. They could also become part of the joint Arab force project which was recently unveiled by Riyadh and Cairo.

Regardless of who will buy the two Mistral, France will have to discuss the matter with Russia since Moscow has power to veto such a transaction. Meanwhile, the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol built under a $1.3 billion deal are docked at a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire.


Deal Cancelled: What Paris Will Do With Russia’s Mistrals? (32)


Russian Military to Receive Mistral-Designed Ka-52K Attack Helicopters

France’s Refund for Mistral Contract Termination Under 1Bln Euro

Egypt Emerges as Front-Runner in Mistral Warship Sweepstakes

Iran — a Stumbling Block for Russia and the Gulf Countries?

31 august 2015


In May 2015, the Russian government removed political and legal barriers to the sale of the S-300 missile system to Iran, paving the way for a commercial agreement and subsequent delivery. This highly controversial decision led to extensive commentary from many different stakeholders, including the governments of the US, Israel, Iran, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Russian and GCC commentators are well-acquainted with the Iranian and Western views regarding this decision. However, Russian and GCC commentators are comparatively uninformed about each other’s perspectives regarding this key development due to the nascent nature of relations between the two. This report aims to remedy this communication lacuna by furnishing readers with Russian and GCC perspectives on the issue, delivered by researchers specializing in Gulf strategic issues.

The views expressed below represent the views of the authors, and they do not necessarily represent the views of the institutions to which they are affiliated, or of their respective governments.

Institute of Oriental studies, Russian Academy
of Sciences

A Russian Perspective

Elena Melkumyan and Andrew Derbenev, Russian Academy
of Sciences

The modern world is going through a difficult transition regarding international stability. What will be the new world order? Time will tell. However, it is already clear that in the formation of the principles of its organization, the most important factor will be the historical experience of nations and peoples, in which their idea of a just and secure world order has led to the development of criteria for the identification of threats and methods to counter them.

The security of states in the Middle East lies at the junction of the interests of all powers in the region. Russia, as a member of the UN security Council, closely monitors the conditions of a turbulent environment, especially in what are complex national and religious communities. Russia’s focus is on points of common interest, and the long-term prospects for the sake of preserving security.

Iran’s interest in Russian air defense systems is largely due to its geographical proximity to sources of current threats, and it may be the beginning of a dialogue among the Islamic countries to establish in the Middle East their own missile and air defense systems.

The contract between the Russian Federation and Iran concerning the delivery of Russian S-300 was signed in 2007. It was suspended in 2010 in the context of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran developing its nuclear program. At that time, President Medvedev, who was the key figure in the Russian hierarchy, was trying to ameliorate relations with Western partners after the Georgian crisis. Iran responded by filing a US $4 billion international arbitration suit against Russia in Geneva.

Iran’s President Rouhani with Russia’s President
Putin at a meeting in September, 2014

In April 2015, President Putin lifted a ban on supplying Iran with these sophisticated systems. Explaining this step, he said that Iran is “demonstrating very high flexibility and clearly wishes to reach a compromise on this nuclear program, which is why Moscow lifted its own ban”. Russian authorities insisted that the missile system is exclusively defensive.

The Russian government’s willingness to justify the decision sparked condemnation from Israel and concern from Western states and Iran’s Arab neighbors. In his statement, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov declared on 13 April 2015, immediately after the publication of Presidential Order: “the S-300 has exclusively defensive characteristics; it cannot be used against any country and cannot be a threat to anyone’s security, including Israel.”

Lavrov, in a radio interview with Sputnik, tried to downplay the impact of the sale of the S-300 to Iran. Lavrov declared: “The S-300 cannot be used for protection against nuclear weapons”, “The S-300 is only good for protection against non-strategic missiles, and against air strikes.”

However, he then clarified that, with the S-300: “those who want to deliver a strike at Iran will have to think at least twice before doing it.” Lavrov continued: “The developments in Yemen and the rest of the region point to huge risks. We don’t want Iran to become another target for the illegitimate use of force.”
Antey-2500 SAM

The critical attitude of different countries to the agreement forced the Russian authorities to speak about refraining from the immediate delivery of the system. The TASS news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry official, Sergei Ryabkov, a deputy foreign minister as saying: “It is more important that a political and legal decision, which opens up such a possibility, is taken”. Yevgeny Lukyanov, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, confirmed: “The decision on delivering S-300 to Iran has been taken but the realization of the project will take some time.”

Russia has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 anti-ballistic missiles instead of the less powerful S-300. According to the company that makes Anteys, Almaz-Antey, the Antey-2500 can engage missiles travelling at 4500 meters per second, with a range 250 km (150 miles). The S-300 missiles have a 125-miles range.

Russian-Iranian relations in the military field have a long history. Russia, together with China, became the main suppliers of weapons to Islamic Republic when the Western countries refused to develop military ties with it after the Islamic revolution.

Iran is the main strategic ally of Russia in the Middle East. The two countries have similar positions concerning important regional issues: they support the Asad regime in Syria, they criticize air strikes against ISIL in Syria without coordination with the official powers of this country, and they are against the use of force in Yemen.

Russia does not participate in maintaining security in the Gulf region. The Arab Gulf states consider the USA as a main ally in security cooperation and as a guarantor of regional stability. The commitment of the United States to the security of the region includes a range of areas such as presence of thousands of American military personal, numerous military common exercises every year, missile defense, maritime security, cyber security, and border security. The Arab countries together with the USA are participating in the fight against terrorism. They are preventing the flow of foreign fighters and financing to conflict zones, as well as countering the evil ideology of ISIL.

REUTERS / Grigory Dukor
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends
a meeting with Saudi Defence Minister Prince
Mohammad Bin Salman, June 18, 2015

The Russian potential for playing a significant role in defensive arrangements in the Gulf region is quite problematic. First of all, there is the lack of Russian involvement in such matters historically. Russia is interested in selling weapons and military techniques to the Arab Gulf states, but it is difficult for Russia to compete with Western countries in the field of arms sales. This explains the willingness of Russia to develop military cooperation with Iran. It may encourage the Arab states of the Gulf region to strengthen ties with Russia in the military field and sign new contracts on weapons delivery to maintain balance with Iran.

Russia has a complicated situation on the global level due to Western sanctions against it, caused by the Ukrainian crisis, and this explains why the Russian establishment is trying to increase its cooperation with its traditional partners, one of them being Iran. It is not only important for Russia politically, but it also has a commercial value. In 2014 Russian foreign arms sales totaled US $15 billion.

After the lifting of sanctions from Iran, Russia will try to prevent the development of a relationship between Iran and the USA, and it will increase its own cooperation with Iran not only on the bilateral level, but in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Iran will become a member with the help of Russia.

A GCC Perspective

Omar Mahmood, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies

The future of many states in the Middle East today is uncertain. Terrorism and civil conflicts within states have spread far and wide. The GCC view these threats with increasing caution, with many states having already been the target of terrorism and external interference. While many of these problems are rightfully attributed to the political systems within many of the states in the Middle East, such as the rampant corruption and fragile social fabrics, the extent of Iran’s belligerence should not be underplayed.

Nations like China and Russia have historically played a limited role in the region, apart from a few instances, and have for the most part benefited from the US presence and its effects on the global economy; especially in regards to the export of oil. While there are recurring talks of the supposed US drawdown and changing regional dynamics, Russia does have the chance to play a bigger and more effective role in the region.

Recently, Saudi Arabia signed a commitment with Russia to invest up to US $10 billion on various projects, and as part of the agreement, Russia too will invest in the Saudi Arabian market. Russian trade and economic commitments with other GCC states have also increased over the last few years. In 2014 alone trade between Russia and the United Arab Emirates grew to over US $2 billion. Just last year Bahrain signed a number of MOUs with the Russian federation. Bahrain’s Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman AlKhalifa also recently asked Russia to move closer to its allies (Arab states) in the region and to increase its cooperation with them.

While there are clearly many positives and advantages to this relationship, it is also quite a complicated and potentially problematic one due to Russia’s relations with Iran. The GCC states view Iran and its actions in the region as a destabilizing factor. Iran’s support for Bashar Al-Asad (with Russian backing), its support of terrorist proxies throughout the region, and its interference in the affairs of other states has greatly accentuated the problems that the region faces today.

This brings us to the issue of the potential sale of the S-300 (SA-20) systems and the recent news of the antey-2500 (SA-23) to Iran. While the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has stated that the sales of these missiles are intended only for defensive purposes, many in the region are clearly concerned. From an Arab point of view, and unfortunately for Iran, in the international arena actions do speak louder than words and Iranian actions throughout the region bring about doubts as to the ways such a system could be used.

Xinhua/Noufal Ibrahim
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid
Al-Hamad Al-Sabah attend a joint news
conference in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on
Feb. 19, 2014

The S-300 and antey-2500 have ranges from 150 km to 2500 km effectively covering key and vulnerable areas of the GCC. It should also be noted that these are mobile systems, and in the event of a conflict, could potentially be placed at strategic points affecting all commercial movement of aircraft. The strategic placement of these systems, such as on Lavan Island, Abadan and Sirik for example, would cover major GCC cities and energy infrastructure.

These defensive missile systems, in addition to Iran’s continually growing arsenal of short and medium range ballistic missiles, together pose a huge and tangible threat to the security of the GCC. The GCC states would be forced to counter such measures by increasing their own buildup of advanced military equipment. Unfortunately, in a region which already faces such destabilizing forces, an arms race would further increase the risks of a potential conflict.

An issue which has truly plagued relations between Iran and many of its neighbors since the Iranian Revolution and still today is its open and active support for various terrorist designated groups and proxies all over the region. In 1981, a group named the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain attempted to carry out a coup, which the authorities successfully thwarted, resulting in the arrest of many of its members The government of Bahrain accused Iran of being behind the plot, with plenty of evidence [1].

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly accused Iran of interfering in their affairs and of supporting groups who wish to overthrow the monarchies. In fact, some Iranian officials have gone as far as to claim Bahrain as Iran’s 14th province. Furthermore, Hezbollah associate groups in the GCC states have carried out a multitude of attacks since the 1979 revolution. Saudi Hezbollah and Hezbollah Al-Kuwait have attempted and successfully conducted a series of attacks against Saudi government and security personnel [2]. Iran has continuously worked to undermine the Bahraini and Saudi governments behind the scenes by trying to influence portions of their Shia communities. Bahrain has also accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps of training its citizens to carry out attacks against the state [3]. The most well-known attack orchestrated by a proxy of Iran on the GCC was the Khobar Tower bombings, which killed Saudi civilians and US Servicemen and injured hundreds of citizens. These are just a few incidents in a long list of terrorist related activity either directly or indirectly sponsored by Iran.

In March of 2014, Jordan and Russia signed a US $10 billion agreement to build the first nuclear power plant in Jordan. This is another entry point for Russia in to the region with a country that has excellent relations with the GCC states. Currently Jordan faces an uncertain future with the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the influx of refugees due to the policies of Iran’s proxy governments in Syria and Iraq. Just recently, Jordanian officials discovered and countered a terrorist plot carried out by an individual with links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps [4]. This growing tide of terrorism and instability can potentially not only end a such a lucrative deal between the two states, but can also pose a substantial risk to the region if this project does go ahead.

Russia and the GCC have a common concern regarding the threat of terrorism. Russia has itself been victim to a number of terrorist attacks in its cities and with its servicemen in neighboring states, mainly in the Caucuses. Furthermore, Russia today faces an increased risk, especially from those who have left Russia and other former Soviet states to take part in the on-going conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Many of these individuals will return back with new battle experience and a further cause of agitation against Russia due to their perceived policies and relations with Iran. Recently, it has also emerged that Iran has been directly sponsoring and arming the Taliban in Afghanistan. According to Afghan officials Iran has increased its supplies of weapons and ammunitions and is also recruiting and training their fighters, which poses major security risks to the already troubled nation [5]. Tehran too has been known to host senior Al-Qaeda figures in the past, in what could only be seen as a strange relationship of convenience [6].

While Russia does wish to increase its sales of military equipment to the GCC states and wider Arab world, as it has recently agreed to do with Egypt, it will not be able to replace the United States anytime soon. Furthermore, while the GCC states have shown a clear willingness to deal with and increase cooperation with Russia, Russia’s continued support of Iran, while it engages in un-neighborly actions, could isolate it. It should be noted that in the public arena in the wider Arab world due to Iran’s actions and Russia’s staunch support of it, the view of Russia has drastically suffered.

REUTERS / Morteza Nikoubazl

Russia should take advantage of its good relations with Iran and seek to influence it to play a positive role rather than the negative one it has played up to now. Currently, Russia too finds itself in an increasingly isolated position in the world, especially with Western sanctions against it, due to its actions in Ukraine. In the Middle East and the GCC, it has an opportunity to increase and better its position both financially and politically, as has already been occurring, though there is plenty of room for these ties to grow.

The GCC states would like to see a new approach from Russia regarding its policies in the Middle East. Up to now there have been some clear misunderstandings and misperceptions between both sides regarding their intentions. The Russian-Iranian relationship will always be a tricky matter when it comes to the GCC and while Russia can try to maintain cordial ties with all states in the region, it cannot eat the cake and have it too as long as the region continues to be in turmoil. Russia should keep in mind and take seriously the view of the GCC states in many of these matters and should understand the negative effects that any misuse of Russian sold weaponry by Iran could have on the region and this nascent relationship. There is plenty of room for cooperation and coordination to grow between the GCC and Russia, especially when it comes to economic trade and issues related to terrorism, though it remains to be seen how the finally completed nuclear deal with Iran further affects this relationship.


Papst: Seligsprechung Melki – als Hoffnung für die Christen*

„Die Seligsprechung von Bischof Melki ist eine Gabe von Papst Franziskus an die Kirche im Nahen Osten, an die syrisch-katholische Kirche.“

Seligsprechung des syrisch-katholischen Bischofs Mar Flavian Michael Melk – RV

30/08/2015 09:00

Papst Franziskus erinnerte am Sonntag auch an die Seligsprechung des syrisch-katholischen Bischofs Mar Flavian Michael Melki (1858-1915). Er wurde am Samstag in der Wallfahrtskirche Notre-Dame-de-la-Delivrance im libanesischen Harissa selig gesprochen.

„Im Kontext einer schrecklichen Verfolgung gegen die Christen, wurde er der unermüdliche Verteidiger der Völkerrechte, und forderte alle dazu auf fest im Glauben zu bleiben.“

Der syrische Bischof war im Zuge der Verfolgungen des Osmanischen Reichs gegen Armenier und andere christliche Minderheiten ermordet worden. Papst Franziskus erinnerte daran, dass diese Seligsprechung Hoffnung allen verfolgten Christen spenden soll. An dem feierlichen Seligsprechungsgottesdienst nahmen mehrere Patriarchen und Oberhäupter der Ostkirchen aus dem Libanon, Syrien und dem Irak teil. Der syrisch-katholische Patriarch Ignatius Yousef III. Younan stand dem Gottesdienst vor. Er zeigte sich äußerst dankbar:

„Es ist ein unbeschreiblicher Trost, denn in diesen schwierigen Zeiten – für das Leid, das wir ertragen, die Massaker, die im Irak und in Syrien stattfinden, die Menschenrechtsverletzungen, die gegenüber den vielen Christen, welche flüchten mussten oder entführt wurden, begangen werden. Für uns ist das ein Zeichen der Hoffnung und der Gnade des Herren."

Der Präfekt der vatikanischen Heiligsprechungskongregation, Kardinal Angelo Amato, verlas das Seligsprechungsdekret. Er stellt nochmals klar, dass viele Christen auch heute in Nahost und andernorts den „Untergang einer menschlichen Gesellschaft und eines friedlichen Zusammenlebens“ erleiden:

„Heute, wie auch vor hundert Jahren, senkt sich die Dunkelheit über die antike christliche Zivilisation. Die Gläubigen werden diskriminiert, verfolgt, gejagt, ermordet. Ihre Häuser werden nicht mit dem Blut des Osterlammes gekennzeichnet um gerettet zu werden, sondern mit dem roten N (für Nazareni, Christen) gekennzeichnet, als Zeichen ihrer Verurteilung. Wie vor hundert Jahren zur Zeiten der Verurteilung des Märtyrers Bischof Melki wird den Christen jede Freiheit verboten. Sie sind gezwungen ihre Heimat zu verlassen oder zu konvertieren oder zu sterben. In Wahrheit dominiert der Tod souverän im Geist und in den versteinerten Herzen der Täter. Sie ertragen die Freiheit und die Brüderlichkeit der christlichen Zivilisation, die Nächstenliebe, die Gerechtigkeit und die Hilfsbereitschaft.“

Melki, 1858 in einem kleinen Ort bei Mardin in der heutigen Südosttürkei geboren, war Bischof der syrisch-katholischen Diözese Djezireh. Er wurde Mitte August 1915 zusammen mit weiteren Priester und Laien von muslimischen Angreifern festgenommen. Als sie den geforderten Übertritt zum Islam verweigerten, seien sie gefoltert, erschlagen und erschossen worden. Die blutüberströmte Leiche Melkis sei in den Tigris geworfen worden, so Amato. Heute bräuchten die Christen im Nahen Osten Solidarität, das Gebet und unsere konkrete Präsenz.

„Das ist wichtig. Die Seligsprechung von Bischof Melki ist eine Gabe von Papst Franziskus an die Kirche im Nahen Osten, an die syrisch-katholische Kirche. Es ist sein Geschenk an die Menschen der Welt die menschlichen Werte und die christlichen Werte dieses Helden von Christus, die dem Seligen Melki zugeschrieben sind, bekannt zu machen. Es soll Mut verbreiten und den erniedrigten Brüdern, die unter den täglichen Unterdrückungen leiden, Hoffnung schenken.“

(rv/kap 30.08.2015 no)


Empfang zu Ehren des scheidenden Botschaftsrates Palästinas, Herrn Abdullah Hijazi –

Rückblick auf Jahrzehnte diplomatischer Arbeit – Ein Dokument

Rede des Generalsekretärs der Deutsch-Arabischen Gesellschaft, Dr. Harald M. Bock am 31. August 2015 in Berlin

„Wir verabschieden heute einen Diplomaten aus Palästina: Abdullah Hijazi,

einen Diplomaten, der vier Monate nach der Ausrufung des grenzenlosen Staates Israel in dem Teil Palästinas – in Nablus – geboren wurde, den die UNO Ende November 1947 für Palästina vorgesehen hatte.

In dieser Stadt machte Abdullah 1968 auch sein Abitur. Im selben Jahr, also zwei Jahre nach Gründung der Deutsch-Arabischen Gesellschaft, kam er zum Studium nach Deutschland, nach Leipzig. Einen palästinensischen Pass konnte ihm seine Heimatbehörde nicht ausstellen, Abdullah kam 1968 als Jordanier (denn erst zwanzig Jahre später 1988 hatte der jordanische König zu Gunsten eines noch zu gründenden Staates Palästina seinen Anspruch auf Westjordanien aufgegeben) in den Teil Deutschlands, der in der „WELT“ als Bindestrich-Staat apostrophiert wurde. Der sogenannte Jordanier begann mit seinen Studien im sogenannten demokratischen Deutschland.

Die Hauptstadt der sog. DDR hatte den westlichen Teil Berlins sieben Jahre zuvor durch eine Mauer isoliert und sich selbst damit von der in ihrem Selbstverständnis freien Welt getrennt.
Bekanntlich hatten die in dem östlichen Deutschland lebenden Deutschen mit dem Ruf „Wir sind das Volk“ diese für die Ewigkeit errichtete Mauer im November 1989 eingerissen. Immerhin hielt die doch länger als das sog. Tausendjährige Reich…..“ (Forts. siehe Anlage)


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Kommentar zur Flüchtlingswelle :

Wir müssen den Realitäten ins Auge schauen

Mit der Flüchtlingswelle kommt eine Jahrhundertaufgabe auf uns zu.
Foto: dpa

Von Karl Doemens

Wären die Politiker ehrlich, müssten sie sagen: Die Flüchtlingswelle stellt eine Jahrhundertaufgabe dar. Wir müssen uns ihr stellen. Aber es kommen auch neue Härten auf uns zu. Doch so redet Kanzlerin Merkel nicht.

Wer in diesen Tagen aus dem Sommerurlaub nach Deutschland zurückkehrt, der findet sich in einer neuen Realität wieder. Griechenlandkrise, Landesverrat und NSA-Spähattacken – das alles war gestern. Die öffentliche Wahrnehmung wird nun von einem einzigen Thema beherrscht: dem Flüchtlingsstrom aus Syrien, dem Balkan und Afrika.

Die Bilder, die sich damit verbinden, sind nicht leicht in Einklang zu bringen. Auf der einen Seite wecken fremdenfeindliche Aufmärsche, brennende Notunterkünfte und die rechte Hetze im Netz beklemmende Erinnerungen an schlimmste Zeiten. Auf der anderen Seite manifestiert sich in Willkommensfeiern, Hilfsangeboten ganz normaler Bürger und Solidaritätsbekundungen von Prominenten in beeindruckendem Ausmaß die Mitmenschlichkeit einer Zivilgesellschaft, die sich dem braunen Pöbel entgegenstellt. Eigentlich kann man stolz sein, in diesem Land zu leben.

Gleichwohl bleibt ein Unbehagen. Es ist nicht sehr lange her, dass über Ausländer, Integration und den Islam ganz anders diskutiert wurde. Ein Boulevardblatt warnte vor einer „Asyl-Lawine“ und polemisierte gegen „Gier-Griechen“. Nun wirbt es mit dem Button „Refugees welcome! Wir helfen“. Bei ARD und ZDF werden in bester erzieherischer Absicht täglich sympathische, gebildete Flüchtlinge gezeigt, die dem Tod in Aleppo entronnen sind und nun als Apotheker oder Arzt arbeiten wollen. Selten fehlt der Hinweis, dass wir angesichts der demografischen Entwicklung und des Fachkräftemangels auf Zuwanderung angewiesen sind.

Das alles stimmt. Und doch ist es nicht die ganze Wahrheit.

09-02-15 Iran + Russia= Reset.pdf
09-02-15 Iran a Stumbling Block for Russia and the Gulf Countries.pdf
08-31-15 Rede des DAG Generalsekretärs Harald Moritz Bock zum Em pfang zu Ehren des scheidenden Botschaftsrates Palästinas Herrn Abdullah Hijazi.pdf