Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 16/10/15

Massenbach-Letter. News – Stefan Aust (Die Welt): Angela Merkel, Kanzlerin ohne Grenzen

· Syria’s Kurds Are Contemplating an Aleppo Alliance with Assad and Russia “The Kurds are the only force on the ground that will back Western efforts against the Daesh, so keeping them in the U.S. camp would seem to be crucial.”

· Syria’s French Connection * Valdai: Russians in Syria: Fervour After Syndrome * Obama Cancels Syrian Train-and-Equip Program

· Syrischer Patriarch: Die Islamisten sind zu clever * How Moscow Plans to Crush ISIL, Bring Peace to Middle East *Saudi-Arabien gibt Widerstand gegen Russland auf

· planet e. | Sendung vom 18.10.2015Flucht vor dem Klimawandel

Constructing a New Syria: Dealing with the Real Outcome of the “ISIS War “The legacy of the fighting can be dealt with through anything other than a massive reconstruction project.” | Massenbach-Letter.NEWS Sep 11, 2015

Massenbach* Syria’s Kurds Are Contemplating an Aleppo Alliance with Assad and Russia*

Fabrice BalancheThe Kurds are the only force on the ground that will back Western efforts against the Daesh, so keeping them in the U.S. camp would seem to be crucial-

October 7, 2015: The PYD will not hesitate to cooperate with Damascus and Moscow in the north if Turkey and the United States continue prohibiting the unification of Kurdish enclaves.

Despite repeated Russian statements to the contrary, Moscow’s most pressing goals in Syria are safeguarding Bashar al-Assad’s regime and expanding its own military presence on the Mediterranean coast, and it can meet these goals even if Damascus and its allies are unable to regain territory outside the Alawite heartland. Yet if Vladimir Putin wants to be at the center of the Syrian chessboard, he will need to push his pawns further into the country’s interior. In particular, Aleppo could be his next target because all of the war’s major players are currently vying for control of the key northern metropolis. Losing the city would be a major political and strategic setback for Assad, weakening his regime in future negotiations.

Currently, the Syrian army still controls a third of Aleppo, which is connected to the rest of the government-controlled zone by a narrow road. But this corridor is being squeezed by the Daesh/ISIS on the east and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra on the west. To win the battle for Aleppo, Assad will therefore need to cooperate with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian franchise of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PYD is eager to connect its cantons around Kobane and Afrin and open a corridor to Sheikh Maqsoud, the Kurdish district of Aleppo. An October 1 al-Monitor interview with PYD leader Salih Muslim suggests that the group may be seeking a strategic alliance with Assad and Russia in order to achieve that goal.


Aleppo is a city divided along sectarian and social lines. When the war began, more than two-thirds of its 2.5 million residents were Sunni Arabs, followed by Kurds (20-25%, many of them Arabized) and Christians (10%, about half of them Armenian). The city also had a small Turkmen community hailing from the Azaz area, as well as tens of thousands of Alawites — mainly civil servants and military personnel from the coastal region.

View a larger version

But the main cleavage in Aleppo is social, not sectarian — between the urban and rural population, which partly means between the rich and the poor. Western districts have been populated by urban dwellers for several generations, while the eastern neighborhoods and the Kurdish area are informal settlements hosting rural dwellers. The original urban residents despise the rural people who have come to settle there, accusing them of attempting to ruralize (inrifyeh) the city, which in their view would effectively destroy Aleppo.

As for the rural camp, clan solidarity in the eastern and northern districts remains as strong as it was in the countryside. Local authorities have also delegated police power to clans that suffered heavy losses when the rebels besieged Aleppo in July 2012 (e.g., the Berri clan). Meanwhile, rebels from the countryside have found a good home in the informal eastern district settlements, but they have clashed with Kurdish militias in Sheikh Maqsoud and met with hostility from the formal, wealthy districts that supported the Syrian army against the rural invasion.

Outside Aleppo, the main division in rural northwestern Syria is between Arabs and Kurds. Religious minorities were virtually absent from this area before the war, and today there are only four Shiite localities (al-Fua, Kefraya, Zahra, and Nubl, all surrounded by rebels), a small Druze community in Jabal al-Summaq (which is keeping a low profile), and a Christian village, Yacoubiyah (now abandoned). Afrin and Kobane districts are fully Kurdish, and there are numerous Kurdish villages between these two strongholds (though most of them were given Arabic names during the Baathist epoch of Arabization, like the Turkish villages around Azaz).

In the first months of the uprising, the regime lost control of most of the northwest, and the population remains hostile to Assad with the exception of the Shiite and Christian enclaves. Regime forces managed to keep some strategic towns (Idlib, Jisr al-Shughour, and Ariha) until spring 2015 thanks to heavy troop concentrations, as well as fissures within the opposition. But once various rebel factions unified into the "Army of Conquest" (Jaish al-Fatah), Assad was no longer able to control cities in Idlib province, and Aleppo is now almost completely surrounded.

View a larger version


Given the hostile environment in the northwest, Assad has chosen the scorched-earth option to overcome the insurgency. Shelling rebel districts in Aleppo is designed to scare civilians into isolating the fighters, so that they can be removed as in Homs. Over time, the population in the city’s eastern districts has declined from more than one million to tens of thousands. Yet this counterinsurgency strategy based on shelling and expulsions has failed because the rebels have captured all the surrounding small towns of Idlib province and now pose a serious threat to the Syrian army in Aleppo.

The army has also been forced to fight Daesh forces threatening its land and air connections. Kuwaires military airport has been under siege for months and may suffer the same fate as Abu Duhur and Tabqa, where Daesh fighters slaughtered Alawite military personnel and widely disseminated footage of their deeds on the Internet.

Therefore, one of the priorities for ongoing Russian airstrikes will likely be to support Assad’s forces in relieving this base by directly hitting Daesh forces. This would also help justify the intervention as a whole, which Moscow has publicly depicted as a counterterrorism campaign targeting ISIS. Yet Putin may go further in the Aleppo area, striking Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, the two pillars of Jaish al-Fatah, which are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. That could be enough to give the rebels some new redlines: for example, "cease all offensives on the regime-held parts of Aleppo or else." But recapturing the entire city and its environs would require closing the Turkish border so that the rebels can no longer receive logistical support. That duty could be entrusted to the Kurds, who have already connected their eastern border enclaves into a territory they call "Rojava."

To be sure, Turkey has told the PYD that it cannot expand this territory further west than Kobane, seemingly ruling out a bridging move toward Afrin. Any such Kurdish offensive might also break the PYD’s strategic agreement with the United States, which does not want the group to seize Jarabulus and Azaz. Yet it is difficult to believe that the Syrian Kurds will stick to the status quo in the Aleppo area indefinitely. Many of them believe they are at an historic moment and are intent on seizing the opportunity to build a state by unifying all Syrian Kurdish territories. Because they consider the area between Afrin and Kobane to be historically Kurdish, they believe it should join the Rojava.

View a larger version

Recent declarations by the PYD’s leader not only reiterate these Kurdish goals, but also signal that the group is willing to ally with regime and Russian forces in order to meet them. As he told al-Monitor, "We will fight alongside whoever fights Daesh." Again, Turkey has prohibited the PYD from advancing on western Kobane as if it is a Daesh territory, and the Turkish project of establishing a buffer zone in this area interferes with the Kurdish Rojava project. Yet Salih Muslim cast doubt on the efficacy of this prohibition: "Should Turkey attempt to intervene, then they will. Russia has a joint defense agreement with Syria. They will prevent Turkish intervention not to defend us [Kurds] but to defend Syria’s border."

Meanwhile, on September 27, PYD forces from Sheikh Maqsoud cut the only road between Aleppo and Turkey through Azaz. Does the group seek to open a road to Afrin, and will it cooperate with the regime to do so? Kurdish forces have already helped the Syrian army and Hezbollah on two fronts: surrounding rebel forces in east Aleppo and rescuing the encircled Shiite towns of Zahra and Nubl. Hezbollah is currently negotiating with the opposition on evacuating the area’s other Shiite villages (Kefraya and al-Fua) in exchange for the release of rebel fighters; a ceasefire is in place, and some 10,000 civilians have already left. Once that process is complete, Hezbollah will have more free hands to help with Nubl and Zahra.

More broadly, looming political uncertainty in Turkey and the expanding Russian presence in Syria may prompt the Kurds to gamble on making a move, perhaps even goaded on by Moscow. In that scenario, the Kremlin — not Washington — would be Ankara’s most indispensable interlocutor for curbing Kurdish ambitions. As for Assad, he knows that his legitimacy as president of Syria depends on controlling not only Damascus, but also Aleppo, because contemporary Syria has been built on the union of these cities within the same state.


Western leaders have two options for responding to Russia’s intervention and its attendant ripples: do nothing and pray that Syria becomes Putin’s Afghanistan, or play by his rules and secure their own place in shaping the future Syrian peace process. In either case, they need to acknowledge that the PYD will not hesitate to ally with Russia and Assad if that is its only path to a continuous territory in the north. Syrian Kurds have been told repeatedly that the West will not allow them to gain more territory, and they fear a potential anti-Kurdish offensive backed by Turkey, so for now they are looking favorably on the Russian intervention. Moscow may not be able to help Assad reconquer the entire north, but it could certainly prevent the Sunni Arab rebellion from threatening an expanded Kurdish Rojava.

Accordingly, the United States and its partners face a decision: maintain the ban on Kurdish expansion or support the PYD’s bid to join Afrin with Kobane. The latter course would help weaken ISIS by cutting off its access to Turkey. Moreover, the Kurds are the only force on the ground that will back Western efforts against the Daesh, so keeping them in the U.S. camp would seem to be crucial.

Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute. The original maps adapted for this article were created by him.


US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia joins new military alliance

Syrian children walk past debris while heading to school on the second day of the new school year on October 6, 2015 in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane.

Oct. 12, 2015 | 08:37 AM


BEIRUT: Syria’s leading Kurdish militia and several Arab rebel groups that have fought alongside it have formalized their alliance in a new group called the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The formation of the alliance comes after Washington said it was abandoning a plan to train and equip rebels to fight ISIS and could provide the U.S. with a new partner in the battle against the jihadist group. The alliance was announced in a statement published online by a spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

"The sensitive stage through which our country Syria is passing and the rapid developments on the military and political front… require a united national military force for all Syrians, including Kurds, Arabs and Syriacs and all others," the statement said.

The alliance includes several Syrian rebel groups that have backed the YPG in battles against ISIS, including the mostly-Arab Burkan al-Furat group.

Groups representing Arab tribes and Syriac Christians are also listed as participating in the new force.

Washington has already partnered with the YPG to battle ISIS in parts of northern Syria, with the U.S.-led coalition providing Kurdish forces with air cover as they fought the extremists on the ground.

But the growing strength of the YPG has rattled neighbouring Turkey, which considers the group a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party.

And the strong ties between Washington and Syria’s Kurds have also caused resentment among other Syrian rebel groups who have lobbied for U.S. air support and weapons.

The YPG has had several successes in ousting ISIS from areas of northern Syria, backed by groups like Burkan al-Furat.

In January, they pushed ISIS out of the border town of Kobane after four months of fighting and heavy U.S.-led airstrikes.

And in June, they seized the key town of Tal Abyad from the militants, depriving them of a main transit point on the way to their de facto Syrian capital Raqa.

Much of the Syrian opposition has regarded the Kurds with suspicion because of the careful line they have walked since the uprising began in March 2011.

Despite years of repression by Damascus, they declined to take up arms against the regime and have instead focused on building autonomous governance in Kurdish-majority regions.


How Moscow Plans to Crush ISIL, Bring Peace to Middle East*

Russia has enough geopolitical and military resources to defeat Islamic extremists in Syria. If ISIL is crushed, then it will facilitate peace-building throughout the entire Middle East, according to Andrei Sushentsov, a political scientist from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

With its precision airstrikes, Russia has caught ISIL flat-footed, surprising Western intelligence agencies and military analysts by its ability to get maximum results with minimum effort, Sushentsov said.

© AP Photo

I’m Gonna Run From You: Some 250 Tunisian ISIL Fighters Flee From Syria Amid Russian Airstrikes

Furthermore, Russia’s airstrikes in Syria have shown the effectiveness of its weapons and communications equipment. Partially, it’s because Russia wants to show everyone, including Middle Eastern countries, the market value of its arms to attract future buyers for the Russian arms industry.

But most importantly, by carrying out a successful military campaign in Syria, Russia showed the world that it can be totally independent when it comes to waging wars in the 21st Century, the political analyst explained.

"Russia asserted itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Middle East, a nation able to conduct effective expeditionary military operations. Until now, only the United States showed it could relocate its troops so far from national borders… By launching cruise missiles at ISIL positions from ships in the Caspian Sea, Russia has firmly showed its force in the region," Sushentsov said.

Russia Has Two Strategies to Fight ISIL

In essence, the fight against ISIL in Syria is an issue of Russian national security. The presence of militants hailing from the North Caucasus and Central Asia among ISIL means that Russia might soon face an increasing number of well-trained terrorists crossing into Russian territory. That’s why Moscow understands that from a strategic point of view it’s much better to defeat ISIL militants in the Middle East than fight them on its own soil several years down the road, the political scientist explained.

© AP Photo/ Rased News Network via AP

ISIL to Shift Recruitment Focus to Caucasus, Central Asia, Indonesia

Russia might have two strategies in Syria. The first one will be limited in time, scale and require from Russia a minimum amount of resources. Under this strategy, Russia will focus on wiping out ISIL infrastructure without attempting to get rid of all individual terrorists running around the Syrian Desert. However, this means eventually terrorists could come back and once again pose a threat to the Syrian government and the international community.

Moscow is interested in having the government of Bashar al-Assad in power for Syria to remain Russia’s ally. With al-Assad in Syria, Russia can expand its naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea and work on selling gas to Israel and Cyprus via Syrian territory.

That’s why Russia has a second strategy which is to wipe ISIL completely off the face of the Earth. This strategy is a lot harder and its objectives are harder to achieve. To pull it off, Russia will have to work closely with Syria, Iran and Iraq and avoid the infiltration of extremists into its own territory.

If Russia manages to completely destroy ISIL it will be an "incredible achievement" that will facilitate peace-building in the Middle East and make Syria and Iran faithful allies of Moscow. Peace will finally come into the lives of millions of Syrians and Iraqis and the refugee crisis in Europe will begin to subside.

It would be much better if the entire international community would come together in the fight against ISIL; however, even without the participation of Western nations, Russia can manage to defeat the terrorist group, Sushentsov concluded.

Obama Cancels Syrian Train-and-Equip Program*

President Barack Obama abruptly halted the U.S. effort to find and build a moderate Syrian opposition force on Friday after more than one year and a $500-million budget had failed to produce any significant cohort or gains in the conflict.

Instead, the Defense Department will focus on training a small group of Syrian leaders in Turkey, with a promise to provide U.S. air cover to their units when they head back into the fight, and to send additional arms and equipment to those units already showing progress inside Syria. Obama administration officials said Friday they still want local forces to fight the Syrian conflict — and that U.S.-trained Syrians were to engage and fight the Islamic State, but not Syrian state military forces of President Bashar al-Assad.


Syrischer Patriarch: Die Islamisten sind zu clever

Patriarch Ignatius Youssif Younan mit Papst Franziskus. – EPA

10/10/2015 16:46

In Syrien ist dieser Tage von den Kampfhandlungen der russischen Streitkräfte zu hören, gleichzeitig gewinnt der Islamische Staat (IS) im Norden des Landes wieder an Grund. Was das für die Familien dort bedeutet, insbesondere die Christen, darüber sprach Radio Vatikan am Rande der Synode mit dem syrisch-katholischen Patriarchen Ignatius Joseph III. Younan.

Papst Franziskus hatte am Mittwoch bei seiner Generalaudienz an die Familien erinnert, die aus dem Irak und Syrien fliehen. Patriarch Younan war auf dem Petersplatz, als der Papst seine Worte sprach. Er selbst weist bei der Synode auf das Leiden der Christen seiner Heimat hin. „Unsere Familien befinden sich in Ländern, wo es Verfolgung und Bürgerkrieg gibt. Unser Kampf ist ein Kampf um die blanke Existenz. Ich spreche nicht von Familien, Individuen, Paaren, sondern von unserer kulturellen Familie, von unserem syrischen Erbe, das droht, zu verschwinden. Tausende Familien wurden bereits von ihrem Land fortgejagt und wir wissen nicht, wann und ob sie jemals zurückkehren werden. Wir stehen vor einer großen Herausforderung des Überlebens und nur Gott kann uns hier helfen und ein Wunder geschehen lassen.“

Die Flucht habe auch Auswirkungen auf das Innenleben der Familien, viele würden voneinander getrennt, Teile der Familien gingen ins Ausland, andere blieben zurück. „Die Migration bringt solche Trennungen mit sich. Für uns kam dieser Exodus plötzlich, wir wissen nicht, wie wir die Familienmitglieder wieder zusammenbringen können, sie haben sich auf die ganze Welt verteilt.“

Seit Tagen bombardiert die russische Armee zur Unterstützung des syrischen Präsidenten Assad Stellungen von Aufständischen. Der syrisch-katholische Patriarch sieht die militärische Lösung als einzige Option. „Sie kann nicht ausbleiben, denn diese Menschen haben weder Verständnis für einen Dialog noch die Versöhnung oder einen wirklich demokratischen Prozess. Das sage ich insbesondere den westlichen Ländern, denn man kann nicht mit jemandem verhandeln, der dich umbringen will. Man muss sich und die eigene Familie verteidigen. Wie Sie wissen wurde vor über drei Monaten im Zentrum von Syrien der Priester Jacques Murad entführt und mit ihm 200 Christen. Sie befinden sich in Al-Qaryatayn, im Zentrum des Governatorats Homs. Und was können wir tun? Sie müssen sich zum Islam konvertieren, Steuern zahlen. Das sind Abwege, die der Westen ignoriert."


Stefan Aust (Die Welt): Angela Merkel, Kanzlerin ohne Grenzen*

Wie kann Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel verkünden, es läge nicht in unserer Hand, wie viele Flüchtlinge zu uns kommen? Moralisch verbrämt wird hier ihr Nichtstun als Politik ausgegeben.

Angela Merkel gilt als die mächtigste Frau der Welt. In der Flüchtlingsfrage gibt sie sich machtlos: Ihre These, es läge nicht in unserer Hand, wie viele Flüchtlinge zu uns kommen, ist ebenso falsch wie gefährlich. Dieser Satz setzt fort, was die Kanzlerin schon seit Wochen in verschiedenen Varianten sagt. Es ist ein politischer Offenbarungseid. Moralisch verbrämt, wird hier Nichtstun als Politik ausgegeben.

Dabei ist es vor allem Medienpolitik; Öffentlichkeitsarbeit einer Kanzlerin, die Probleme lieber aussitzt, als sie zu lösen. Das ist bequemer und auch populärer. Hässliche Fernsehbilder sind schlecht für das Image. Ob deren Vermeidung auf mittlere Sicht besser ist, wird sich herausstellen; wahrscheinlich schneller, als der Kanzlerin lieb ist.

Weder Deutschland insgesamt noch die Kanzlerin im Besonderen sind schuld an den Kriegen und Katastrophen unserer Zeit – und damit auch nicht Ursache für die Flüchtlingsströme in Richtung Deutschland. Aber es gibt auch so etwas wie Katalysatoren für Massenbewegungen, zumal im Neuland des Internets. Schon vor 26 Jahren löste – auch ohne Internet – ein gestammelter Satz Günter Schabowskis am 9. November 1989 ein Trabbi-Rennen Richtung Bornholmer Straße aus.

Jetzt sind die Welcome-Luftballons von München und die großzügigen Gesten der Kanzlerin an die Flüchtlinge der Welt – millionenfach online verbreitet – gleichsam ein Freifahrtschein ins Gelobte Land. Dort warten dann Zelte oder Massenunterkünfte, ist endloses Schlangestehen vor improvisierten Behördenschaltern angesagt, entsteht untätige Nähe zu den ebenfalls geflüchteten Gegnern aus der Heimat, wird die Eingliederung in eine fremde Welt verlangt.

Die Flüchtlinge suchen hier Frieden, Sicherheit und Ordnung – und landen in überfüllten Aufnahmelagern mit gesteigertem Konfliktpotenzial.

Naive Ansage der Kanzlerin

Keine Frage – gerade das muss immer wieder betont werden: Politisch Verfolgte müssen Asyl bekommen, Kriegsflüchtlingen muss eine sichere Heimstatt gewährt werden können. Aber die ebenso schön klingende wie naive Ansage der Kanzlerin, es gebe beim Asyl keine Obergrenze, führt den Artikel 16 ad absurdum, weil sie die Realität ausblendet. Allzu viel des Gutgemeinten ist der Feind des Guten.

Das Dublin-Verfahren, das die Grenze an den äußeren, ärmsten Rand Europas verlegte, ist faktisch außer Kraft gesetzt. Damit hat Deutschland keine gesicherte Außengrenze mehr. Aber ein Staat ohne Grenzen gibt sich selbst auf.

Statt Konsequenzen zu ziehen, versteckt Angela Merkel sich hinter der von ihr immer wieder erwähnten 3600 Kilometer langen deutschen Grenze, die angeblich sowieso nicht zu sichern sei. Sie skizziert die Schimäre eines Stacheldrahtzaunes, hinter dem Frauen und Kinder aus Kriegsgebieten von Wasserwerfern zurückgejagt werden.

Sie gibt die Grenze frei – und wundert sich, wenn die Kolonnen der Flüchtlinge immer größer werden. Und diese bestehen mehrheitlich nicht aus syrischen Frauen und Kindern, wie im Fernsehen vorwiegend gezeigt, sondern aus jungen Männern aller Herren Länder, die – verständlicherweise – aus den politisch und wirtschaftlich verrotteten Regionen dieser Welt nach Deutschland emigrieren wollen.

Ausgerechnet Peter Altmeier

Nach vorsichtigen Schätzungen dürften das in diesem Jahr deutlich mehr sein, als die Bundeswehr zur Hochzeit des Kalten Krieges Soldaten hatte: eine halbe Million.

Die Kanzlerin fabuliert davon, dass Deutschland die Ursachen der Fluchtbewegung beseitigen muss, was zu Deutsch bedeuten würde, die Kriege etwa im Nahen Osten zu beenden, wofür man ihr und uns nur viel Glück wünschen kann. Das Beispiel Kundus hat gerade gezeigt, wie erfolgreich etwa die Freiheit am Hindukusch zu verteidigen ist.

Dass jetzt ausgerechnet Peter Altmaier, die Allzweckwaffe im Kanzleramt, noch tatkräftiger agieren soll als Innenminister de Maizière, der ja immerhin über einen erstklassigen Sicherheitsapparat verfügt, bleibt unerfindlich. Der düpierte Verfassungsminister fügt sich. Die zuständigen Behörden werden de facto mal schnell dem Kanzleramt unterstellt. Bei den multiplen Rechtsbrüchen der letzten Tage und Wochen fällt das kaum noch auf.

Eine Regierungserklärung im Fernsehinterview bei Anne Will zeigt die Abgehobenheit. Ich, die Moral und das Volk: Hier sitze ich, ich will nicht anders. Beeindruckend und beängstigend zugleich.


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* planet e. | Sendung vom 18.10.2015 – Flucht vor dem Klimawandel.

Mit bis zu 350 Millionen Klimaflüchtlingen rechnet die UN bis 2050 weltweit. Menschen verlieren ihre Lebensgrundlage – durch Klimawandel und andere Umwelteinflüsse.

Hilfsorganisationen schätzen die aktuelle Zahl der Klimaflüchtlinge weltweit auf mindestens 25 Millionen Menschen. Aufgrund von Naturkatastrophen, Wüstenbildung und Verkarstung fliehen mehr Menschen aus ihrer Heimat als wegen politischer Konflikte.

Dass Menschen in ihrer Heimat nicht mehr leben können, haben auch die westlichen Industriestaaten mit zu verantworten. Der Klimawandel sorgt für Dürren, steigende Meeresspiegel und Sturmfluten. Fruchtbares Land wird zweckentfremdet, Wasser den Bauern entzogen, Fischgründe ausgebeutet. "planet e." hat im Senegal und in Bangladesch nachgeforscht: Warum müssen Menschen ihre Heimat verlassen? Wo gehen sie hin – und welche Perspektiven haben sie?

Koko Warner von der UN-Universität Bonn versucht genau das herauszufinden. Sie ist regelmäßig in Bangladesch vor Ort. Dort trifft sie Familien, die aus Überschwemmungsgebieten in die Slums der Hauptstadt gezogen sind. Diese Menschen haben es besonders schwer – weil sich verändernde Umweltbedingungen nicht als Asylgrund akzeptiert sind.

Überschwemmungen sind aber nicht nur ein Problem in Asien. Auch die Westküste Afrikas ist bedroht – so verschwinden im Senegal ganze Dörfer und Felder im Meer. Offiziell gilt der Senegal als "sicheres Herkunftsland" – dabei haben die Menschen hier mit zahlreichen Problemen zu kämpfen, die nicht hausgemacht sind.

Die Küstengewässer sind leergefischt, weil die Regierung die Fischereirechte an europäische und japanische Firmen verkauft hat, die mit riesigen Trawlern auf Fangzug gehen. Die zahlreichen Fischerdörfer sterben nach und nach aus. Riesige Ländereien werden an internationale Konzerne verpachtet – oft wird dann Öl produziert, ebenfalls für die Märkte der Industrienationen. Dabei wird der ganzen Umgebung Wasser entzogen. Kleinbauern sitzen auf ausgetrockneten Äckern und kämpfen um die letzten Brunnen. Menschen verlassen den Senegal – im letzten Jahr kamen rund 1000 Senegalesen nach Deutschland – dieses Jahr werden es deutlich mehr sein.

****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Syria’s French Connection

October 8, 2015 … Even France — which has been the most consistent critic of the Assad regime ever since the early days of the Syrian uprising — appears to be coming around on a post-war role for Assad, but with a bit of a twist. France 24 reported this week that the French government may be open to a position or title for Assad, but one that is merely symbolic and deprived of any real authority … That the French are reportedly reappraising their previously implacable view on Assad is a bit surprising, especially while Paris pushes for official U.N. condemnation of the Syrian government’s use of barrel bombs against rebel strongholds. Paris has repeatedly linked the military tactics of the Assad government to the upheaval now plaguing the country, and, unlike Russia, considers it unlikely that Mr. Assad could ever again unify all Syrians under a single flag. "[W]e’re convinced that as long as Assad has power, it will not be possible to get the necessary unity in Syria because of the crimes he has committed," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in a recent interview in Morocco. The Western world would do well to listen to the French on this matter. Paris has a sordid and complicated imperial history with Syria, dating back to the end of World War I. This wouldn’t be the first time that the French play kingmaker in the Levant, and they are well aware of just how difficult it is to maintain unity of purpose among the country’s various sects, tribes, and regions …

Russia and Iran: "Frenemies"? … The two governments share a common client in the war-torn country, but do they share interests? … "Beneath this pomp and triumphalism … some observers believe the picture is more complicated.

One hypothesis holds that Russia’s intervention is in fact partly motivated by a quiet rivalry with Iran for primacy within the pro-Assad camp. While Moscow’s alliance with Damascus, which dates back to the Cold War, is older than Tehran’s, since the outbreak of the Syrian war Iran’s substantial paramilitary and financial support for the Assad regime has seen its influence in Syria skyrocket, to the point that it is viewed by many as the new de facto master of the country. When a ceasefire agreement was brokered between rebels and loyalist militants in the Qalamoun and Idlib regions in August, for example, it was Tehran, not Damascus, that negotiated on the latter’s behalf. One Russian diplomat previously based in Damascus told Der Spiegel Tuesday that these developments had made Assad wary of the Islamic Republic, and grateful today to see Moscow reasserting its status." Turkey is in serious trouble … "Turkey is theoretically powerful enough, with U.S. backing, to withstand the threats from both ISIS and the PKK. But it’s not clear the government has the domestic support it needs to do so. This is the crux of my worries: At another time, most Turks would, however grudgingly, have stood behind the government — even at the cost of life and liberty — for the sake of their own security. That no longer seems to be the case in today’s political climate" … "Although Ankara wants to make the issue again a NATO crisis, reactions by the alliance are far from meeting Ankara’s expectations. In short, Russia tested the limits of Turkey’s rules of engagement that also apply to NATO. The Western alliance that found it adequate to apply its Article 4, calling for consultations instead of Article 5 that calls for action when a Turkish jet is downed — which didn’t react to the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and that couldn’t take any deterrent position vis-a-vis the events in eastern Ukraine — will find it hard to do anything more than issuing warnings."

EU-ISS Ukraine’s other war

18 September 2015 Ukraine is fighting two wars simultaneously. The most obvious is the hybrid conflict in the east, fuelled and sustained by Russia. But while the ‘hot phase’ in this arena is over, at least for now, Ukraine is also engaged in a war against itself. It is locked in a struggle against its own dysfunctionality and endemic levels of corruption which will affect millions, from low-level policemen and fire inspectors to oligarchs and leading politicians. And while Ukraine can cope with the existence of an almost frozen conflict in the Donbas, there is no possibility of accepting the status quo with regard to the latter war … Ultimately, without the political determination to carry out reforms, the country could quickly face a situation in which its own domestic situation becomes an even greater threat than the war in the Donbas. If allowed to ferment, the unhealthy cocktail of Ukraine’s messy politics may eventually become a Molotov cocktail …

Putin’s Crooked Road to Damascus

SEP 30, 2015 … The consequence is a country divided between loyal and disloyal, patriotic and unpatriotic – that is, between those who toe the party line and those who refuse. If the polls are accurate, the loyal and obedient are a clear majority – at least so far. This explains support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and for Putin’s intervention in Syria. If the US cannot accept this, it merely proves that America insists on hegemony, whether in Europe, through NATO, or in the Middle East … Such logic is bolstered by Putin’s self-interested reinterpretation of history, which justifies the 1939 Winter War against Finland, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, and the 1979 Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. The Attorney General’s Office has even been occupying itself with a ludicrous retrospective analysis of the decision in 1954 to transfer Crimea from the jurisdiction of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to that of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Worryingly, the same analysis is being carried out on the legality of the independence of the Baltic states after the collapse of the Soviet Union … Where will all this lead? Just as in the Soviet era, today’s rulers equate themselves with the state. The state is then reduced to the leader’s inner circle and the top echelon of the financial and political elites, secure in their power because ordinary citizens have been duped into an uncritical and extreme form of nationalism. Putin’s embattled opponents can safely predict a long period of political, economic, and intellectual stagnation – certainly until the parliamentary election next year and the presidential election two years later. The stagnation will probably last into the following political cycle, too. But it cannot last forever: at some point, the regime’s survival will require offering the public something other than nationalism and nostalgia. The question is whether Putin, now deepening Russia’s involvement in yet another foreign military adventure, understands this.


John Kornblum: German Reunification – A Job Still Unfinished

“…. Still today, Germans project onto others their own feeling of being somewhat damaged goods. Outsiders are expected to understand that their behavior will be judged by Germans’ own sense of inadequacy. When issues of morals and principle enter the equation, Germans’ inability to make clear statements of right or wrong becomes the operating principle.

Ironically, such restraint, while sometimes frustrating to non-Germans, is also an important key to the respect Germany now enjoys. Germany has for centuries been faced with the task of integrating across a complex cultural and political geography. And it has learned with great sorrow the lessons of overreaching.

Understanding this background makes it easier to appreciate why a stable U.S. leadership role in Europe continues to be essential to Germany’s further evolution. As the tragedies of the conflict in Ukraine and the refugee crisis have demonstrated, the end of the Cold War was just the beginning of a long period of painful readjustment to the realities of a new millennium. But even some highly respected experts seem to find it difficult to understand the U.S. stake in helping manage the Atlantic world as the deeper conflicts of the past rise to the surface.

But the job will not be America’s alone. As the current crises in Russia and the Middle East demonstrate, neither Germany’s global economic reach nor its moral authority can be sustained if the country does not also share responsibility for building a new sort of Western community based on global rather than only Atlantic considerations.

One of Germany’s biggest tasks will be to enlist Europeans in an ongoing effort to help the United States understand the continuing relevance for U.S. interests of America’s role as a European and even a Eurasian power. The success of this effort will be the squaring of the circle from over half a century ago. It is now Germany’s turn to help the United States appreciate the realities of power in post–Cold War Europe, rather than the other way around.”



Middle East

Erfolg für Putin: Saudi-Arabien gibt Widerstand gegen Russland auf *

Deutsch Türkische Nachrichten | 12.10.15, 09:22

Die militärische Stärke Russlands hat nun auch Saudi-Arabien zum Einlenken gebracht. Der neue saudische Verteidigungsminister vereinbarte mit Russlands Präsident in Moskau, dass beide Länder in Syrien kooperieren wollen.

In der Syrien-Krise haben Russland und Saudi-Arabien trotz Meinungsverschiedenheiten überraschend eine engere Abstimmung vereinbart. Präsident Wladimir Putin traf am Sonntag in Sotschi mit dem neuen saudischen Verteidigungsminister Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud zusammen, der Russland zum zweiten Mal binnen weniger Monate besuchte. Saudi-Arabien unterstützt Rebellengruppen, die gegen den syrischen Präsidenten Baschar al-Assad kämpfen, und sieht die russischen Luftangriffe deshalb mit großem Misstrauen.

Der saudische Außenminister Adel al-Dschubeir sagte nach dem Treffen, sein Land trete für einen Dialog zwischen Regierung und Opposition in Syrien und eine Übergangsregierung ein. Damit haben auch die Saudis den Plan aufgegeben, Assad sofort stürzen zu können. Das werde letztlich zum Abdanken Assads führen. Russlands Außenminister Sergej Lawrow sagte nach dem Treffen, dass die beiden Seiten darin übereinstimmten, ein terroristisches Kalifat zu verhindern.

Al-Dschubeir sagte auch, Russland habe saudische Befürchtungen zerstreut, dass es sich in Syrien zu eng mit dem Iran abstimmen werde. Moskau habe versichert, dass es allein um den Kampf gegen die Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat (IS) gehe.

Mit diesem Schwenk hat sich offenbar auch in Saudi-Arabien die pragmatische Richtung durchgesetzt: Erst vor wenigen Tagen hatten hochrangige Geistliche zum Heiligen Krieg gegen Russland aufgerufen. In der theokratischen Monarchie tobt nach dem Tod des Königs ein Machtkampf. Doch offenbar ist es den Pragmatikern gelungen, die Geistlichen zu überzeugen, dass ein Heiliger Krieg gegen die russische Armee nicht von besonderen Erfolgsaussichten gekrönt sein würde.

Damit hat Russland eine breite Allianz für seine Operationen in Syrien geschmiedet: Mit dem Iran und dem Irak kooperieren die Russen ebenso wie mit China. US-Präsident Barack Obama und Israel werden informiert. Frankreich unterstützt Russlands Vorgehen ausdrücklich. Am Sonntag fand eine zweite Videokonferenz zwischen russischen und amerikanischen Militärs statt.

Militärisch kommen die Russen offenbar nach zwischenzeitlichen Schwierigkeiten wieder besser voran: Die iranische Nachrichtenagentur Fars berichtet von Erfolgen in der El Grabh Ebene. Offenbar steht die syrische Armee kurz vor der Autobahn Latakia-Aleppo und der türkischen Grenze. Die Iraner berichten außerdem von einem Sieg der syrischen Armee über den IS beim Luftwaffenstützpunkt Deir Ezzur, wo es 120 Tote unter den IS-Kämpfern gegeben haben soll. Der arabische Sender al-Arabiya berichtet von syrischen Erfolgen bei Hama.

Putin sagte laut Interfax, er wolle sich nicht in religiöse Konflikte einmischen, sondern sei lediglich daran interessiert, die staatliche Ordnung in Syrien wiederherzustellen.

In Großbritannien streuten Militärs im Daily Star das Gerücht, das Kampf-Jets der Royal Air Force ab sofort mit Luft-Luft-Raketen zu bewaffnen seien. Die Piloten hätten die Erlaubnis, russische Jets über Syrien abzuschießen, wenn sie bedroht würden. Die Regierung in London dementierte umgehend. Moskau bestellte, wie Reuters meldet, dennoch den britischen Militär-Attaché ein, um Aufklärung zu erhalten. Das iranische Fernsehen berichtete sehr unaufgeregt über den Vorfall.

Riyadh, Moscow join hands against ‚terrorist caliphate‘

Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to discuss steps to establish a peace process in war-torn Syria.

The deputy crown prince voiced Saudi Arabia’s keen interest in realizing the peaceful aspirations of the Syrian people and reiterated its support to solve the Syrian crisis in accordance with the resolutions of the Geneva 1 conference.

Speaking after the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said both countries were willing to cooperate in Syria and wanted to prevent the formation of a “terrorist caliphate”.

Lavrov said: “On both sides, as far as I can tell, there is an understanding that today’s meeting can advance our cooperation.”

Lavrov acknowledged that Saudi Arabia had “concerns” about Russia’s aims but said it was targeting only extremists, including Daesh and Jabhat Al-Nusra, a group linked to Al-Qaeda.

“We expressed our concerns that these operations could be regarded as an alliance between Iran and Russia,” said Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.

“But in the conversation, our Russian friends explained to us that the main aim is the fight with Daesh and terrorism,” he added.

The meeting on the sidelines of the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi also discussed bilateral ties, Lavrov added.

Al-Jubeir, who appeared alongside Lavrov, said Riyadh is concerned over military operations in Syria and that Riyadh wants to find common grounds with Russia to guard unity of Syria. Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom would increase cooperation with Russia to fight “terrorism.”

Al-Jubeir said Riyadh wants to see a transitional government in Syria, which will eventually lead to the end of the Bashar Assad regime.

Russia expressed readiness to increase military cooperation with Saudi Arabia on Syria
Earlier, Putin said Russia would not deploy ground troops to Syria. “We are not planning on doing this (conducting a ground operation), and our Syrian friends know about this,” Putin said speaking to the state-run Rossiya-1 channel. He also said Russia does not want to get involved in an inter-religious war in Syria.

Putin brushed off criticism by the US-led coalition that the Russian air force was not providing it with sufficient advance notice prior to conducting strikes.

“I want to draw attention to the fact that nobody has ever warned us in the planning and beginning of operations of this kind,” Putin said. “But we did.”

Arab News October-12-2015




“Russians in Syria: Fervour After Syndrome”

© RIA Novosti

Russia’s Su-24 aircraft takes off from Syria’s Hmeimim airbase.

The Russian operation in Syria is an indisputable milestone in the country’s political development. For the first time in over a quarter of a century, the Kremlin is officially conducting a high-scale military operation abroad, motivated not by peacekeeping and "peace enforcement", but by strategic reasons.

The "Afghan syndrome" is history. After the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, Moscow has been showing an idiosyncratic attitude towards such military and political campaigns, watching the United States repeat the Soviet blunders with a slight sense of malevolence.

Why the turn? The Ukrainian collision perceived in spring 2014 as another leap towards a new capacity of Russia’s global influence transformed into another fixation of the country’s regional status. Its pinnacle was the Minsk Process – a marshy and laborious diplomatic marathon foredoomed to losses.

Russian leaders figured that Ukraine was prospectless in terms of its role in international affairs. Leading Western states were eagerly propping up the model where the pivotal, if not sole, subject of negotiations with Moscow was settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. The Middle East, despite its hopelessness, is a much more topical issue. It stands on the crossing of strategic lines, rather than on the sideline offshoot to a dead end, like Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s political intuition has panned out. He took the opportunity to break the gridlock, forcing others to react to Russia’s initiative, not the other way around. This knack of the Russian leader has been demonstrated on many occasions throughout the years of his presidency – both on the international and home arena.

By destroying chemical weapons on Moscow’s insistent advice, Damascus gave up the "tool of last resort", protection in case the survival of not only the regime, but also of everyone deeming it the lesser evil would be at stake. Ditching it in such a situation would not be a very decorous act. However, the originally moderate reaction of the West (ambiguously negative) and the overt presence of some mutual understanding with the West paves way for assumptions that the operation has chances for success. I remind that no one had originally been giving countenance to the feasibility of the proposals on chemical weapons.

The Islamic State is indeed an enemy of Russia; weakening it is crucial for our security in any case. Yet, Moscow entered the civil war siding with Bashar al-Assad and his adherents. It can be called a war on terror, but there is no alternative to backing the formally legal government against its enemies. In essence, John Kerry voiced Washington’s acknowledgement that immediate resignation of the Syrian president is no longer on the agenda. However, Russia should be prepared for a sharp flare up of accusations of war with all enemies of Assad, not only ISIS. For the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, for instance, it is not just a fiasco of their policy, it is humiliation.

Moscow’s actions are technically akin to the role the NATO coalition played in Libya in 2011. NATO provided aerial cover for the rebels, who took advantage of the air strikes to turn the campaign around. Of course, the difference is that Russia sides with a regular and quite capable army. Besides, a coalition was formed. Iran and Iraq have united their forces with Russia in Syria; add to that the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. It is a serious regional bloc that, we assume, will stay intact after the end of the campaign. There is another side of the coin – Russia risks being pulled into the center of a religious war.

Russian officials swear that a ground operation was out of the question. There are no reasons to doubt their words, but it is hard to rule out unforeseen turns of the events. For example, the desire to revenge the losses (especially if they, as it is customary in the ISIS ranks, are ritual) may become a mechanism getting it bogged down deeper and deeper.

Should no contingencies occur, success would consist in achieving a tipping point in the operation and in toppling the progress ISIS made in the last months. Russia’s positions in the region will be strengthened, Moscow will break from the Ukrainian quagmire and act on a much wider operational expanse. Revival of old Syria is unreal, but Assad’s fixation on a certain territory, which will also serve as a Russian platform in the Middle East, is executable.

The Middle East has entered a period of change, which will continue regardless of ISIS‘ fate. The military scenario, successful or not, should be accompanied by intensive diplomacy, bearing in mind that intricate conflicts are solvable, yet such specific wars are won behind the negotiation table just as often (if not more often) than on the battlefield.

Should the run of events divert from the expected course, i.e. the Libyan scenario, and instead follow the Iraqi or, worse, the Vietnamese one, Russia will run into huge internal and external problems.

On the other hand, the last two years, since the autumn of 2013, when the Ukrainian struggle around the EU association erupted, Russia has been living in the atmosphere of a military and political fervour. But this fervour, the social mobilization and the agenda it generates substitutes all other matters. In particular, the need to develop a new model of socio-economic development to replace the one exhausted before the crisis and now falls a long way short of the situation that took a twist. And despite the incessant mantras about national interests and the concordance between foreign policy and domestic demands, the geopolitical achievements are becoming intrinsically valuable.

Of course, the topic of ridding the world of the plague called the Islamic State is a lot more attractive than the lackluster discussions about the need to raise the retirement age. But substitution of one topic by another endlessly will not work out.

Fyodor Lukyanov is Academic Director of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, Research Professor at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Editor-in-Chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal.

This is an abridged version of the article, published in Russian in Ogonyok magazine.


Gazprom reduziert Pläne für Pipeline Turkish Stream*

Deutsch Türkische Nachrichten | 07.10.15, 10:36

Russland hat seine ehrgeizigen Energiepläne mit der Türkei deutlich reduziert. Die vorgesehene Gaspipeline Turkish Stream durch das Schwarze Meer soll statt aus vier nur aus zwei Röhren bestehen, sagte der Chef des Staatskonzerns Gazprom, Alexej Miller, am Dienstag russischen Agenturen zufolge in St. Petersburg.

Damit halbiere sich die Gesamtkapazität der Leitung auf rund 32 Milliarden Kubikmeter pro Jahr. Als Grund nannte Miller den Ausbau der Ostsee-Pipeline Nord Stream zwischen Russland und Deutschland. Hier sollen zwei weitere Röhren 2019 in Betrieb gehen.Turkish Stream gilt als Nachfolgeprojekt der South-Stream-Pläne, die 2014 infolge eines Streits der EU mit Russland gescheitert waren. Mit der Pipeline will Russland das wichtige Transitland Ukraine umgehen, beide Länder hatten sich immer wieder über Zahlungen gestritten. Turkish Stream soll vom russischen Küstenort Anapa durch das Schwarze Meer und die Türkei bis nach Griechenland weitergebaut werden, so die dpa. Ein verbindliches Abkommen zwischen Russland und der Türkei soll nach Bildung einer neuen Regierung in Ankara erfolgen. Die Türkei wählt am 1. November ein neues Parlament. Die russisch-türkischen Beziehungen hatten sich zuletzt wegen des Syrienkonflikts verschlechtert.

Mehr zum Thema:

Wegen Erdogan: Russland stoppt Bau von Pipeline Turkish Stream
Turkish Stream und Co.: Gut für Europa, schlecht für die Ukraine?Baubeginn bei TANAP: Türkei positioniert sich als europäische Energiedrehscheibe



moderated by Srecko Velimirovic

Vucic asks Greece not to vote for KiM in UNESCO*

BELGRADE – Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic spoke on the phone with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday and asked Greece not to vote in favor of Kosovo’s UNESCO membership, the government’s media relations office said in a release.

In a long and constructive conversation, the two prime ministers expressed their opinions on the migrant crisis and agreed that it was necessary to coordinate the policies on this matter more frequently. The conversation also touched on the topic of promotion of economic cooperation.

"The two prime ministers also discussed the regional issues, particularly concerning Kosovo-Metohija. Prime Minister Vucic asked Prime Minister Tsipras for Greece not to vote for Kosovo’s admission into UNESCO," the release states.

Vucic and Tsipras agreed that the friendship between Serbia and Greece was a foundation for the future economic and political ties between the two countries.


1. EU leaders to discuss offshoring asylum reception centres – 12/10/2015 09:09:04

09-04-15 Cordesman_Constructing_A_New_Syria CSIS.pdf