Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 27/11/15

Massenbach-Letter. News

· From our Russian news desk:NATO meets as Russia confirms one of two pilots dead after jet shot down – as it happened

· Berliner Journalistenpreis "Der lange Atem 2015" vom JVBB verliehen- Keynote: Alexander Fritsch, Vorsitzender

· The Water Wars Waged by the Islamic State * Assad-Stausee

· How We’re Welcoming Syrian Refugees While Ensuring Our Safety -‎ by Amy Pope, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.

· STRATFOR: How the Migrant Crisis Could Accelerate a Grexit

· OPEC to stay the course despite fears of $20 oil

· Montenegro Says NATO Membership Could Come Soon

Massenbach* The Fear of the Other Europe

Refugees are a natural byproduct of revolution. Stripped of status and security in the throes of political change, the masses will tend to sacrifice a life of familiar faces, customs and places and flock to foreign lands in search of simple things: a place to live, earn and provide for their kin in peace.

But in that search for the path of least physical and political resistance, migrants cannot avoid disturbing the peace along the way. Their names, clothes, accents, languages and religions — everything that gives them a sense of place and belonging at home — make them "the other" in the eyes of their new hosts and thus undeserving of the rights and privileges of those with whom they are expected to assimilate.

For the many who end up in Europe, assimilation will instead occur in the ghettos, where migrants already pushed to the fringes of society cling to rose-tinted memories of the life they left behind, widening a chasm in which radical ideas can fester for generations.

These are the conditions that threaten to radicalize and mobilize migrant offspring in France, Belgium and elsewhere. These were also the conditions endured by waves of displaced Goths who flooded the Roman Empire to flee their Hun invaders and of the millions of Eastern Europeans whose identity cards could scarcely keep up with the borders changing beneath their feet in the fervor and confusion of the world wars (the great "migration of nations," as Polish-born writer Aleksander Wat named it). In each mass migration, identities were lost, traded or hijacked along the way. As deeper phobias develop and moral restraint wears away, inventive and often dangerous schemes are developed to "solve" the problem of "the other." In 1926, the League of Nations had the idea to relocate former czarist emigres from Russia to the interior of Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, an offer only briefly taken up by a few hundred Cossacks who warned their countrymen that a persecuted life in Europe, or even suicide, was still preferable to the exotic dangers they encountered in malaria-infested jungles. For the Third Reich, it was the ideological pursuit of lebensraum, or living space, through aggressive territorial expansion and genocide that would be framed in Nazi propaganda as an answer to Germany’s post-World War I travails.

Europe Struggles to Find Its Balance

If refugees are a product of revolution, then the product of mass refugee flows is often a blend of economic stress and ethnic nationalism, the foundation of many transformative geopolitical events in our time. It would therefore be prudent to think through the deeper consequences of the large numbers of migrants fleeing lawlessness in the Middle East for a European Union that was sliding into an existential crisis before the most recent wave of migrants even showed up.

Over the past century, Europe has swung dramatically between two poles. After taking a destructive leap into ethnic nationalism, years of industrial-scale killings exhausted Europe to the point that states developed the extraordinary will to sacrifice their national sovereignty for the sake of avoiding conflict and pursuing prosperity in a union of European states. Europe’s storied past, in a sense, would be overcome only by pushing nationalism under the rug and focusing on making money instead. That worked only until the promise of prosperity was crushed in the financial crisis of the early 21st century.

As economic pain grew from south to north and west to east on the Continent, the Euroskeptics calling for taking care of one’s own before bailing out the distant relatives in the union gained popularity and strength at the expense of the Europeanists advocating an ever-closer union. Whether the message came from the right or the left or from the creditors or the debtors of the crisis, the idea was the same: When livelihoods are threatened, a state must look after its own interests before making sacrifices for the other. Even before Syrians, Libyans and Afghans began arriving en masse on European shores, the European Union was struggling with the idea that Germany shared the identity and fate of Greece. The suggestion, then, that a German taxpayer would now have to make sacrifices for a Syrian on the run was simply a bridge too far.

The Paris attacks did not send Europe into an entirely new direction; they catalyzed the long-running and arguably inevitable trend of European fragmentation. The debate over borders — lines that distinguish one’s own from the other — is a logical flashpoint. As part of the European Union’s efforts to forge a common European identity, the Schengen Agreement was designed to eliminate physical borders, a policy anchored in the bloc’s foundational principle of allowing free movement of Europeans across national boundaries. But as more countries from the farther reaches of the Continent joined, fears grew of Balkan peoples straining social welfare systems and bringing crime into the core of Europe. The influx of refugees from the Middle East only deepened European disillusionment with Schengen as Syrians, Libyans and other migrants took advantage of weak border controls in the Balkans to make their way north. In the wake of the Paris attacks, the potential for militants to camouflage themselves in migrant flows only reinforces Europeans‘ paranoia over the security of their borders.

While lengthy, sophisticated and ultimately ineffectual debates over Schengen were taking place in Brussels, the countries on the front lines of the migrant crisis took matters into their own hands. Hungary and Slovenia built fences, and border controls were reimposed throughout the Schengen zone. No one was about to wait around while Brussels tried to come up with a 28-member consensus on how to deal with the problem. The danger now is that as Greece continues to funnel refugees northward, as Hungary and Slovenia shut off their non-Schengen neighbors to the south with fences, and as the Carpathian Mountains create physical difficulties for rerouting to the east, a bottleneck will develop in the Balkans. Already, some Balkan countries are trying to cherry-pick which refugees they will accept based on nationality and religion. This is a region where numerous unsettled issues from the 1990s can spark ethnic riots that a distracted Europe will have trouble containing.

As the Schengen pillar of the European Union comes crashing down, logically we should give the foundation of the European Union — France and Germany — a closer inspection. The European Union, after all, is a form of grand compromise between Paris and Berlin whereby they put aside their historical competitive impulses along the North European Plain and economically tether themselves to each other as a form of mutual containment. An economically stagnant France is more likely to identify with its southern Mediterranean roots as it grows more alienated from its economically healthier European peers to the north. Both France and Germany will face elections in 2017. In France, the nationalist and Euroskeptic currents underpinning Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front and Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right Republicans are likely to continue strengthening as economic stresses persist and as security concerns overwhelm the state. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s voice is already being drowned out by her more Euroskeptic Cabinet members and coalition partners who are showing less inhibition as they assert German rights in violation of pan-European interests.

Elsewhere in Europe, the United Kingdom is in the process of negotiating additional distance between itself and its European peers, creating political space for Poland to also go down a reverse-integration path. The Dutch have recently put forth an idea to create a mini-Schengen of culturally like-minded states with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria, a grouping that harkens back to the Holy Roman Empire of the late 18th century. The fact that European elite are comfortable openly discussing a break-up into smaller blocs of culturally and historically harmonious entities and the ejection of more awkward elements such as Greece should not be taken lightly. Indeed, the debate over a "Grexit" is bound to resurface as a politically fragile Athens continues to struggle to implement reform. Germany’s irritation will reverberate throughout the eurozone once again as Greece tries to leverage the growing number of refugees bottled up within its borders to negotiate a more lenient bailout timeline with its creditors. Only this time, the term Grexit and proposals to form new blocs is no longer taboo.

A Cycle of Division

A divided Europe will not necessarily replicate the horrors of the early 20th century. History will rhyme, however, at the intersection of several trends running in parallel. The splintering of Europe overlays the erosion of central authority within the Sykes-Picot borders in the Middle East — borders that the Europeans created to divide the region and tighten their colonial grip. With those territories in prolonged conflict, the weakening of those regimes and the radical ideologies borne out of power vacuums will risk drawing a minority of European Muslims into battle while driving migrants into the heart of Europe, accelerating Europe’s path toward fragmentation.

As the core powers of Europe become more skeptical of the benefits of the European Union, compromises on issues ranging from migration to bailout policies will become elusive. A resurgent Turkey will leverage its position as the migrant gateway to Europe to exact concessions from the West while reassuming its imperial responsibilities in northern Syria and Iraq. Russia will use European divisions to its advantage as it tries to temper a Western encroachment in its former Soviet space even as it remains just as susceptible as the Europeans to the ethnic frictions and security threats emanating from mass migrant flows.

The global hegemon, by definition, will find itself at the center of this oddly familiar set of challenges afflicting Eurasia. The United States already shoulders most of the burden in extending a security buffer against Russia in Central and Eastern Europe and in trying to put a lid on conflicts in the Middle East. But an even bigger challenge may not have fully registered on Washington’s radar: the darker side of a Europe willing to re-embrace nationalism in response to a fear of the other.


From our Russian news desk:NATO meets as Russia confirms one of two pilots dead after jet shot down – as it happened

· US and France call on Turkey and Russia to prevent escalation

· Turkey says its jets have shot down a warplane near Syrian border

· Russia says an SU-24 fighter jet was shot down over Syria

· One jet pilot and marine from rescue helicopter dead, says Russia

· Putin’s spokesman calls it ‘a very serious event’

· Turkey releases radar images of the jet over its airspace

· NATO to hold extraordinary council meeting on Turkey’s request

On the right: Source Turkish Government –


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* How We’re Welcoming Syrian Refugees While Ensuring Our Safety -‎ by Amy Pope, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.

White House Blog.


Get the details on how the United States is responding to the Syrian refugee crisis.

The President’s number one priority — and my focus every day — is the safety and security of the American people. At the President’s direction, bolstered by a global coalition of 65 partners, we are taking the fight to ISIL — working together to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group.

The tragic event in Paris last week was a horrific attack on humanity, but we have always said that defeating an enemy as dangerous and determined as ISIL will be a long fight. Now, even as we intensify our efforts in coordination with our partners to take ISIL out, we cannot turn our backs on those most threatened by the terrorist group.

The refugees that have captivated so much attention in the wake of Friday’s attack are fleeing precisely the type of senseless slaughter that occurred in Paris. To slam the door in their faces — to decide not to help when we know that we can help — would be a betrayal of our values. It would be un-American.

That’s why, once it was concluded that we can do it safely, the President announced a plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year. We remain steadfastly committed to that plan because it is consistent with our values and our national security.

We are going to do the right thing in the right way — protecting the American people even as we provide refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Here’s how:


· Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States, including the involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense.

· All refugees, including Syrians, are admitted only after successful completion of this stringent security screening regime, which includes all available biographic and biometric information vetted against a broad array of law enforcement and intelligence community databases to confirm identity and ensure safety.

· This screening process has been enhanced over the last few years to ensure we are effectively utilizing the full scope of our intelligence community to review each applicant.

· Mindful of the particular conditions of the Syria crisis, Syrian refugees go through additional forms of security screening. We continue to examine options for further enhancements for screening Syrian refugees, the details of which are classified.

Focus on the Most Vulnerable

· The Administration’s emphasis is on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians — particularly survivors of violence and torture, those with severe medical conditions, and women and children — in a manner that is consistent with our national security.

In the days since the attack on Paris some have taken the narrow view that protecting Americans from ISIL mandates that we turn our back on those most at risk to the terrorist group — the men, women and children forced to flee their homes and families, their schools and communities. The Administration rejects the flawed view that we can’t ensure our own safety while also welcoming refugees desperately seeking their own safety. The truth is: America can and must do both.

‎Amy Pope is Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security

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

Barandat* STRATFOR:How the Migrant Crisis Could Accelerate a Grexit .

Stratfor laid out on Nov. 11 the potential dangers of Slovenia closing its borders to migrants, establishing a barrier across the heavily transited Balkan migration corridor.

Two days later, a terrorist attack in Paris led to a hardening of attitudes across the Continent.

In response, the Slovenian government announced Nov. 19 that it would no longer allow economic migrants — those who are not from war zones such as Syria and Afghanistan — to enter its territory.

The announcement caused a chain reaction back along the migration route as Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia, anticipating a backlog forming in their territories, swiftly closed their own borders. This has left many migrants stranded along the route, powerless to move forward and now unable to backtrack.

Stratfor previously outlined the impact of this development — namely, the implications of migrants stranded in the Balkans, a traditionally fractious area with low tolerance and capability when it comes to feeding extra mouths. And now the first snows have begun to fall, heralding the onset of a harsh Balkan winter. Beyond the immediate plight of the migrants, however, there is a very real possibility that the burden of additional displaced persons could enflame still-simmering ethnic disputes in the region. And there are implications farther south: Another bottleneck in the immigration route could have far-reaching effects on Greece, which is situated at the migrants‘ entry point to Europe.

The primary route of migrant travel that developed this year began with the short crossing from the Turkish mainland to various nearby Greek islands — Lesbos, Chios or Kos — on flimsy makeshift craft. From these islands, migrants make their way to Athens by ferry before traveling by land to Thessaloniki and up to the border with Macedonia. But the closing of the Macedonian border and its reinforcement with physical barriers seals the obvious exit point for these migrants. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees announced that the flows of new migrants are expected to increase, even in the winter months. This confounds previous expectations that the cold would inhibit migration. Second, Greece has proved unable to restrict the flow of migrants into its territory: Beyond the fact that it is hard to build a fence around an island, the government in Athens has so far had little incentive to stem the flow.

There is now the potential for large numbers of migrants to end up stuck in Greece. This could have severe repercussions for the ruling Syriza government. The leftist Syriza party has a much more humanitarian attitude toward migrants than previous Greek administrations did. Instead of making Greece more inhospitable to newcomers in the style of its predecessors, Syriza has been doing the reverse, putting an end to draconian legislation and releasing migrants from detention camps. Increasing numbers of migrants will increase anti-immigrant sentiment, which could easily turn the population against Syriza and its coalition partners. The coalition has already seen its majority cut to just three seats over the past week, thanks to the departure of two parliament members protesting reforms undertaken by the government at the behest of Greece’s creditors.

This weakening plays into the broader movement toward political radicalism in Greece. Since 2009, when Athens revealed the full extent of its economic woes, the country has been locked in a vicious cycle in which it receives bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that come attached to strict austerity reforms. The reforms create antipathy among the populace, undermining the establishment parties and empowering radicals. This in turn leads to more confrontations with Greece’s creditors. This was the pattern that led to the empowerment of Syriza in January, and to six months of confrontation until Syriza’s bluff was called in July, when it showed itself unable to follow through and leave the European Union — partly because it had not received a clear mandate from the people to do so. Therefore, Syriza had no choice but to adopt the reforms demanded by its creditors and was somewhat co-opted into the perceived establishment in the process.

Stratfor did not expect Greece to leave the eurozone in the confrontation of 2015, mainly because a majority of Greeks wanted to remain in the currency bloc, but with each of these cyclical confrontations a Grexit grows nearer. The latest reforms that Syriza has adopted have already been met with resistance, both from the rebel parliament members and the population itself, which undertook a general strike on Nov. 12. Syriza may be able to use the costs of these migration flows as bargaining chips in its ongoing negotiations with creditors, requesting more leeway as a result of these unforeseen circumstances. But with the Syriza party now seemingly part of the establishment and connected with the austerity reforms, an opportunity has opened up on the political scene for a radical party that might become the figurehead of Greek rebelliousness.

The growth of anti-migrant sentiment across Europe is helping to empower the right, which traditionally takes a harder line against migrants, and Greece has the potential to experience the same phenomenon. Up to now, Greece’s right-wing parties have been fairly subdued, partly as a result of dark national memories of military dictatorship in the 1970s. Nevertheless, this confluence of events could benefit the far right, which is pontificating a combination of rebelliousness, anti-austerity and anti-immigration sentiments. To complicate matters, the Syriza government is in a coalition with one of Greece’s right-wing parties, the Independent Greeks. Though this party has somewhat tempered its excesses since being in government, others are as ardent as ever. Golden Dawn, a far-right party that received 7 percent of the vote in September’s election, could well be placed to take advantage of these difficult circumstances. Given that Golden Dawn is extremely Euroskeptic, such a development would surely bring Greece much closer to the exit from the European Union that the country has been moving toward for the past six years.



Die Tabqa-Talsperre, auch ath-Thawra-Damm, Sadd al-Furat oder Euphrat-Staudamm (arabisch ‏سد الفرات‎, DMG Sadd al-Furāt); ist eine Talsperre am Euphrat im Gouvernement ar-Raqqa in Syrien. Samt dem durch sie entstehenden Stausee, dem Assadsee (französisch Lac el-Assad, arabisch ‏بحيرة الأسد‎, DMG Buḥayrat al-ʾasad), zählt sie als die größte des Landes.
Die Talsperre dient der Stromerzeugung in einem Wasserkraftwerk mit einer Leistung von 800 bis 1000 Megawatt. Der Strom wird bis nach Aleppo geliefert. Außerdem dient die Talsperre der Bewässerung von Feldern entlang des Flusses bis zur irakischen Grenze.
Die Talsperre wurde von März 1968 bis 1974 mit sowjetischer finanzieller und technischer Hilfe errichtet. Ab 1973 aufgestaut wurde er schließlich von Präsident Hafiz al-Assad, nach dem der Stausee benannt ist, 1993 eingeweiht. Der Assadsee ist Syriens größter See mit einer maximalen Kapazität von 11 Kubikkilometern. Die Fläche des Stausees beträgt nach verschiedenen Quellen 610, 625, 630, 674 oder sogar 810 oder 817 km². Er ist 80 km lang, durchschnittlich 8 km breit und fasst ca. 12 Milliarden Kubikmeter. Ein großes Netzwerk von Kanälen verwendet Wasser aus dem Assadsee, um die Ländereien auf beiden Seiten des Euphrates zu bewässern. Zusätzlich versorgt der See die Stadt Aleppo mit Trinkwasser und unterstützt die Fischindustrie. Die Ufer des Assadsees haben sich zu wichtigen ökologischen Zonen entwickelt. Wegen Wasserknappheit kann der See oft nicht vollständig gefüllt werden, wodurch die geplante elektrische Leistung nicht erreicht wird und auch die vorgesehenen Flächen nicht bewässert werden können.
Der Staudamm befindet sich bei ath-Thawra, etwa 35 km westlich der Stadt ar-Raqqa und 120 Kilometer östlich von Aleppo. Der frühere kleine Ort Tabqa ist Teil der neuen, mit breiten Straßen angelegten Stadt Ath Thawra geworden, die von Vertriebenen aus den Überschwemmungsgebieten gegründet wurde. Er ist ein 60 m hoher und – mit Nebendämmen – 4,5 km langer Erdschüttdamm. Nach dem Bauwerksvolumen ist er einer der größten der Erde; er liegt etwa auf Platz 25. Als Hochwasserentlastung dient ein 250 m langes Überlaufbauwerk mit zwei Öffnungen.

Der Bau der Tabqa-Talsperre führte 1974/75 fast zu einem Krieg mit dem Irak, weil dieser sich von der Wasserzufuhr abgeschnitten fühlte. Zusätzlich hält die Türkei mit dem Atatürk– und dem Keban-Staudamm Wasser zurück.
Der Assad-See überschwemmte eine Reihe wichtiger archäologischer Fundstellen, darunter das bronzezeitliche

Dies ist ein Auszug aus dem Artikel Assad-Stausee der freien Enzyklopädie Wikipedia. In der Wikipedia ist eine Liste der Autoren verfügbar.



Middle East

The Water Wars Waged by the Islamic State.

The Islamic State’s use of natural resources to achieve its strategic goals is nothing new. Oil, one of the group’s biggest sources of funding, plays an especially important role in its calculations — something the countries fighting the Islamic State are increasingly coming to realize. And they have begun to adjust their target sets accordingly. The United States and France, for example, have begun to launch airstrikes against the group’s oil trucks and distribution centers, hoping to hamper its ability to pay for its military operations.

But what is less talked about, although no less important, is the Islamic State’s use of water in its fight to establish a caliphate. Its tactics have brought water to the forefront of the conflict in Iraq and Syria, threatening the very existence of the people living under its oppressive rule. If the Islamic State’s opponents do not move to sever the group’s hold over Iraqi and Syrian water sources — and soon — it may prove difficult to liberate the region from the Islamic State’s hold in the long term.

An Age-Old Conflict

Civilizations have long battled for access to water and founded their empires around great rivers. Historians believe that the ancient Sumerian city of Ur was favored by the empires that followed for its abundance of water and its proximity to the Persian Gulf. Other accounts say the city’s inhabitants abandoned it amid severe droughts and the drying up of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Today, drought and low rainfall compete with the manmade disaster of terrorism to destroy the same, once-fertile swathe of land stretching along the two rivers.

Governments and non-state actors alike have used water as a weapon for centuries. While the number of full-blown wars over water resources has been lower than one might expect, given how critical water is to any population’s survival, smaller conflicts have been numerous, destructive and deadly. The Middle East has fallen prey to this competition in recent years as states and groups have increasingly shifted from simply cutting off water supplies for a short period of time to diverting water flows or completely draining supplies in an attempt to threaten or coerce consumers.

The Islamic State is no exception. Since the group began expanding its territorial claims in western Syria, it has used water as a tool in its broader strategy of advancing and establishing control over new land. True, the Islamic State has also (and perhaps more visibly) targeted strategic oil and natural gas fields in both Syria and Iraq, but a close look at the group’s movements clearly indicates that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers hold a central role in its planning. Recognition of the Islamic State’s intention to organize its new caliphate around the Tigris-Euphrates Basin may prove helpful in the long-term fight against the group.

In 2012, the Islamic State emerged from the power vacuum created by the Syrian civil war and made its presence known in the western city of Aleppo. It had little in common with Syria’s other rebel groups, which were primarily focused on fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al Assad for regime change. Instead, the Islamic State was a terrorist organization with a clear agenda and strategy: It wanted to build an Islamic caliphate that would, from its perspective, follow the truest form of Islam as decreed by the Prophet Mohammed. Over the following year, the group moved quickly and decisively, cutting a path through Syria and toward Iraq, capturing the key towns of Maskana, Raqqa, Deir el-Zour and al-Bukamal — all of which are positioned along the Euphrates River.

The Iraqi front didn’t look much different; the Islamic State easily captured the river towns of Qaim, Rawah, Ramadi and Fallujah, two of which (Rawah and Ramadi) gave the group direct access to two of Iraq’s major lakes, Haditha Dam Lake and Lake Tharthar. Meanwhile, the Islamic State pursued a similar strategy along the Tigris River, successfully capturing Mosul and Tikrit and attempting to seize other towns and cities along the way. In Iraq the goal was Baghdad, from which the group could rule a caliphate encompassing Syria and Iraq. While the oil and natural gas fields it seized along the way were a means for the group to threaten military forces and make money, the bodies of water and infrastructure were a means to hold the entire region hostage.

Historically, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have been an important source of contention between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The lack of cooperation and coordination between these countries on sharing the mighty rivers has led to a failure to regulate their use and an overconsumption of resources. Consequently, any and all activity by upstream nations regarding the water resources carries the risk of agitating tensions with downstream countries. With no regional coordination and poor security along the rivers themselves, terrorist groups — including the Islamic State — have been able to use water as both a target and a weapon. Not only have they destroyed water-related infrastructure such as pipes, sanitation plants, bridges and cables connected to water installations, but they have also used water as an instrument of violence by deliberately flooding towns, polluting bodies of water and ruining local economies by disrupting electricity generation and agriculture.

Since 2013, the Islamic State has launched nearly 20 major attacks (as well countless smaller assaults) against Syrian and Iraqi water infrastructure. Some of these attacks include flooding villages, threatening to flood Baghdad, closing the dam gates in Fallujah and Ramadi, cutting off water to Mosul, and allegedly poisoning water in small Syrian towns, to name just a few. Most of these operations are aimed at government forces, designed to fight the military by using water as a weapon against them, though some targeted water infrastructure to disrupt troop movements. Such efforts also often have the added benefit of enhancing recruitment efforts; by allowing water to flow to towns sympathetic to the Islamic State’s cause, or even by simply doing a better job of providing necessary services, the group can attract more men and women to its ranks.

With water at the core of its expansionist strategy, the Islamic State has also ensured that bodies of water and their corresponding infrastructure have moved to the forefront of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The control of major water resources and dams has, in turn, given the Islamic State a firm grip on the supplies used to support agriculture and electricity generation. Mosul Dam, for example, gave the Islamic State control over 75 percent of Iraq’s electricity generation while it was in the group’s possession. In 2014, when the group shut down Fallujah’s Nuaimiyah Dam, the subsequent flooding destroyed 200 square kilometers (about 77 square miles) of Iraqi fields and villages. And in June 2015, the Islamic State closed the Ramadi barrage in Anbar province, reducing water flows to the famed Iraqi Marshes and forcing the Arabs living there to flee. While coalition and government forces in both countries have managed to recapture some key water sites, the threat of further damage persists.

At the same time, governments and militaries have used similar tactics to combat the Islamic State, closing the gates of dams or attacking water infrastructure under their control. But the Islamic State’s fighters are not the only ones hurt by these efforts — the surrounding population suffers, too. The Syrian government has been repeatedly accused of withholding water, reducing flows or closing dam gates during its battles against the Islamic State or rebel groups, and it used the denial of clean water as a coercive tactic against many suburbs of Damascus thought to be sympathetic to the rebels.

Finding a Regional Solution

Because of its importance to both electricity generation and agricultural production, water has the power to run or ruin an economy. And since bodies of water often extend beyond any one country’s borders, history shows that the competition for water resources can often only be settled peacefully through regional cooperation. Before Iraq and Syria deteriorated, and groups like the Islamic State arose, countries around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers had only each other to contend with. And in late 2010, the leaders of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan appeared to be on the verge of making progress toward setting up an integrated economic region. The countries‘ leaders called for regionwide cooperation on tourism, banking, trade and other sectors, and could have laid the foundation for further agreements on the distribution of shared natural resources like water. Though ambitious, the ideas and sentiments behind the proposals had the power to transform the region.

But politics prevailed, as is so often the case, and in less than a year the moment was lost. Had Turkey, Iraq and Syria taken the opportunity to act while political conditions were favorable, they would have found it easier to collectively tackle the Islamic State’s advance later on. Bodies of water could have been labeled regional commons and thus the collective responsibility of all parties, ensuring swifter reactions by the governments involved to protect the water and associated infrastructure from terrorism. This, in turn, would have better protected the people and areas surrounding the rivers and lakes in the region. Of course, it is easy to look back and lament actions not taken, but the point remains that there is still a chance for these countries to come together and start working collectively to protect the water resources they share.

There is no doubt that the Islamic State has a very clear strategy, one that extends even beyond Syria and Iraq and into the wider region. The group has established bases throughout North Africa, following a similar path of controlling key resources and using them as weapons against the populations and governments it seeks to coerce or destroy. It is time that nearby states and the international community re-examine what they know about the Islamic State’s tactics and formulate a new plan of action. Forces fighting the Islamic State must look at the region as a single integrated basin and bring bodies of water — and by extension, the populations dependent on them — to the forefront of their strategies. Water has always formed the core of civilizations; the Middle East — not to mention an Islamic State caliphate — is no different.




OPEC to stay the course despite fears of $20 oil.

OPEC is determined to keep pumping oil vigorously despite the resulting financial strain even on the policy’s chief architect, Saudi Arabia, alarming weaker members who fear prices may slump further towards $20.

Any policy U-turn would be possible only if large producers outside the exporters‘ group, notably Russia, were to join coordinated output cuts. While Moscow may consult OPEC oil ministers before their six-monthly meeting next week, the chances of it helping to halt the price slide remain slim.

"Unless non-OPEC say they are willing to help, I think there will be no change," said a delegate from a major OPEC producer. "OPEC will not cut alone."

When the exporters‘ group last met in Vienna in June, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi and those from other wealthy Gulf states could barely hide their jubilation.

OPEC’s historic decision in November 2014 – to pump more oil and defend its market share against surging rival suppliers – was working, they proclaimed as crude traded near $65 per barrel. Six months later, it has hit $45, down from as much as $115 in the middle of last year.

Now some member states are talking about a return to twenty-dollar-oil, last seen at the turn of the millennium. They point to Iranian confidence that international sanctions on its economy will be lifted by the end of the year.

"Iran is announcing its production is going to increase as soon as they lift the sanctions and we need to do something. We (OPEC) cannot allow going into a war of prices. We need to stabilise the market," Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio del Pino said on Sunday. Asked how low prices could go next year if OPEC failed to change course, he said: "Mid-20s."

Goldman Sachs said this year it saw a possibility of crude going even below $20 because of the huge global oversupply, a strong dollar and a slowing Chinese economy.

Most analysts doubt the Iranian sanctions will be lifted before next spring under its nuclear deal with world powers, but sooner or later its output will rise.


Already the collapse in prices has partly achieved OPEC’s goals. It has boosted global demand and curbed growth in supplies of U.S. shale oil, which is relatively expensive to produce. Non-OPEC supply is also expected to fall for the first time in almost a decade next year as struggling producers cut back on capital spending.

But the world is still producing much more oil than it needs. Russian output has unexpectedly set new records and global stocks are ballooning.

Even the finances of Saudi Arabia, which led OPEC’s policy shift, are under more strain. Standard & Poor’s rating agency forecasts its budget deficit will rocket to 16 percent of GDP in 2015 from 1.5 percent in 2014.

Riyadh describes this year’s deficit as manageable. However, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Monday it believed the pressure was so high that the Saudi government would be forced either to devalue its dollar-pegged currency or cut oil output.

Such a cut would mean executing an about-face that many rivals would interpret as a strategy failure. Keeping the taps open while hoping for a longer-term payoff still appears to be the choice of Riyadh and its wealthy Gulf allies – Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.


Oil fiscal break-even prices:

OPEC oil supply/demand balance


Russia may attend informal consultations with OPEC before the Vienna meeting on Dec. 4 but there is little likelihood Moscow will change its stance and work with OPEC on cutting output, sources said.OPEC kept policy unchanged at the June meeting apparently with no major dissent. But this time, the opposition from OPEC hawks and poorer members, such as Venezuela, is more visible and the criticism is getting stronger.

"I don’t think anything will happen because the Saudis do not want to reduce production. They are shooting themselves in the foot. And they are shooting everyone else," said a second OPEC delegate, who asked not to be named.

Illustrating the growing divisions, OPEC was unable to agree in November on an update of its Long-Term Strategy. Iran and Algeria, in comments on a draft OPEC document seen by Reuters, suggested the group should resume defending prices and controlling supply through quotas for member states.

But even some of those in OPEC who support such steps see little chance of their being agreed. "I believe that OPEC will not reach an agreement to control production rates and the Saudis will stand by their strategy," said a third OPEC delegate. "No quotas will reached."

OPEC ditched quotas when it set its overall output target at 30 million barrels per day for 2012. This has been exceeded all this year, driven by record Saudi and Iraqi output. According to OPEC figures, production was 31.38 million bpd last month.

Ministers might consider raising the ceiling to 31 million bpd to accommodate Indonesia, which pumps about 900,000 bpd and is rejoining OPEC after a seven-year break, delegates say.

A big unknown for 2016 is how much extra oil Iran can produce quickly. Gulf OPEC delegates predict a modest 100,000-200,000 bpd, while Tehran says it could pump another 500,000 bpd within a few months of the lifting of sanctions.

"At present, I can’t see any indication that Saudi Arabia will seek to alter its market-share oriented strategy," said David Fyfe, head of research at trading firm Gunvor. "The resilience of the strategy will be tested over the next 12-18 months by any production increases that emerge from Iran, Iraq and Libya."




moderated by Srecko Velimirovic


Montenegro Says NATO Membership Could Come Soon


The Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that membership in NATO and the EU is the government’s "strategic foreign policy objective."


Vucic: Military neutrality, improved cooperation with NATO

Vucic: It is important to improve relations with NATO

Serbia will now control our entire airspace


Nikolic to attend Yalta-Potsdam-Helsinki-Belgrade conference


Guskova: Serbia’s NATO membership would erode good Relations

Former German minister of defence : Serbia must decide between Russia and EU


Berliner Journalistenpreis "Der lange Atem 2015" vom JVBB verliehen.

Journalistenverband Berlin Bandenburg

Am Dienst, den 24. November 2015, hat der JVBB zum neunten Mal den Berliner Journalistenpreis „Der lange Atem“ verliehen. Die Veranstaltung fand wie in den Vorjahren in der Berliner Akademie der Künste am Pariser Platz statt.

Der President des American German Business Club Berlin, Udo von Massenbach, war an dem denkwürdigen Abend zugegen. Die Rede des Vorsitzenden des DJV Berlin folgt im Anschluss an diesen Bericht .

„Der lange Atem“ zeichnet Journalistinnen und Journalisten aus, die sich besonders beharrlich mit einem gesellschaftlich relevanten Thema befasst haben.

Der Tagesspiegel-Redakteur Jost Müller-Neuhof erhielt den ersten Preis für seinen hartnäckigen Kampf um Akteneinsicht bei staatlichen Institutionen. Die Verleihung durch den Journalistenverband Berlin-Brandenburg JVBB fand am Abend vor 250 Gästen aus Medien, Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur statt.

Der zweite Preis ging an Hajo Seppelt für seine außerordentlichen Recherchen zu „Doping in der Leichtathletik“. Seine Dokumentarfilme in der ARD führten kürzlich zur Suspendierung des russischen Leichtathletikverbandes durch den Weltverband. Mit dem dritten Preis wurden Jörg Göbel und Christian Rohde (Frontal21/ZDF) für ihre langjährige Verfolgung des Themas „Missstände in der deutschen Lebensmittelproduktion“ ausgezeichnet.

Die Preise in Form künstlerisch gestalteter gläserner Skulpturen wurden vom JVBB zum neunten Mal vergeben. Sie sind außerdem mit 3.000, 2.000 und 1.000 Euro dotiert. Der unabhängigen Jury unter dem Vorsitz von Dagmar Engel (Deutsche Welle) gehören acht prominente Journalistinnen und Journalisten an. Als Ehrengast nahm mit einem Grußwort Berlins Bürgermeisterin Dilek Kolat teil.

In der Laudatio von Christoph Schwennicke (Cicero) heißt es über den Träger des ersten Preises: „Jost Müller-Neuhof macht sich scheinbar in erster Linie um die Pressefreiheit und unser Rechercherecht als Journalisten verdient. In Wahrheit aber macht er sich um das informationelle Wohl der Allgemeinheit, aller Bürgerinnen und Bürger, verdient. Und damit um einen wesentlichen Kern unserer Demokratie, unserer offenen Gesellschaft.“

Der zweite Preisträger, Hajo Seppelt, wurde von Stephan-Andreas Casdorff (Der Tagesspiegel) gewürdigt: „Wer dreimal nominiert war für den ‚Langen Atem‘, weil er immer wieder neues Material recherchiert, das sogar die Welt bewegt – der hat fraglos die Ausdauer, die einen herausragenden Journalisten auszeichnet. Und hat ganz gewiss den Preis verdient.“

Zu den Trägern des dritten Preises, Jörg Göbel und Christian Rohde, sagte Laudatorin Jutta Kramm (Berliner Zeitung): „Die Preisträger zwingen uns hinzuschauen. In drastischen Bildern beleuchten sie die skandalösen und oft rechtswidrigen Zustände in der deutschen Agrarindustrie. Sie schonen uns Zuschauer nicht – nicht mit den Bildern und auch nicht mit ihren Ansprüchen. Sie verderben uns den Appetit. Es ist beharrlicher Journalismus. Investigativ, zäh, unaufgeregt und aufrüttelnd zugleich.“

11-25-15 The Syrian Conflict.pdf