Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 01/01/16

Massenbach-Letter. News – HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016 ! –

· Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin – Flüchtlinge in Deutschland : Angela Merkel führt uns hilflos ins Chaos – Kommentar E. Körting, SPD-Berlin

· Syria: New Faces in an Old Conflict * DEBKAfiles Analysis: Assad again controls Damascus thanks to Russian air strikes and intelligence.

· The United States: Progress and Promise in Latin America

· Central Asia ‘Gas’ : Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan – Russia – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India – Pipelines – Security.

· The United States: Progress and Promise in Latin America

· Al Jazeera: The Christians of the Middle East

è Weihnachten im Irak ist eine ziemlich triste Angelegenheit. „Wir feiern unter Tränen, schweigend“, sagt uns der Patriarch Louis Sako per Telefon aus Bagdad. „Wir wollen nicht Weihnachtsbäume, sondern Rechte! Unsere Christen haben angesichts der Bedrohung alles verlassen müssen, aber diese Bedrohung wird einmal enden. Ich bin sicher, dass die Dörfer in der Ninive-Ebene und bei Mossul bald befreit werden; dann können die Christen zurückkommen und feiern.“ Von einem Sturm zur Rückeroberung der Millionenstadt Mossul, die von der Terrorgruppe „Islamischer Staat“ gehalten wird, ist allerdings derzeit weit und breit nichts zu sehen. Zwar hat der „Islamische Staat“ in den letzten Monaten hier und da Territorium eingebüßt, doch die schlagkräftige Bodentruppe, die ihm Mossul wieder entreißen könnte, existiert im Moment einfach nicht.

è „Ich habe kein Recht, die Leute daran zu hindern, dass sie das Land verlassen – das ist eine persönliche, familiäre Entscheidung. Aber wirklich, ich hoffe, dass alle hierbleiben, denn hier ist unsere Identität.http://de.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/12/26/irak_%E2%80%9Ewir_wollen_nicht_weihnachtsb%C3%A4ume,_sondern_rechte!%E2%80%9C/1196940 – Louis Raphaël I. Sako, zuvor Louis Sako, (* 4. Juli 1948 in Zaxo, Irak) ist als Patriarch von Babylon Oberhaupt der chaldäisch-katholischen Kirche. Zuvor war er Erzbischof von Kirkuk. —

Massenbach* The United States: Progress and Promise in Latin America

Summary

This year has brought many foreign policy challenges for the United States, particularly throughout Eurasia and the Middle East as conflicts in Syria and Ukraine drag on. But Washington has also seen numerous gains closer to home. The United States has normalized its ties with Cuba, Venezuela’s anti-U.S. ruling party was defeated in parliamentary elections, and Latin American economies that are integrated with the United States generally performed better those that are not. As Washington seeks to advance its geopolitical position in the region even further in 2016, it will likely achieve some measure of success, though certain constraints will prevent it from being able to fully shape Latin America around its interests.

Analysis

Several significant developments occurred in Latin America in 2015 that had an important impact, whether direct or indirect, on the United States. Chief among them was the formal normalization of ties between the United States and Cuba on July 1. The two re-established diplomatic relations and put in place plans to eventually reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington. This diplomatic coup marked the culmination of a gradual warming of ties that had been taking place since late 2013, when U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, on the sidelines of Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Bilateral talks then began in 2014 on a variety of issues, including the release of political prisoners, the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the U.S. embargo on Cuba, while restrictions on travel and tourism began to ease.

One of the most important driving forces behind the U.S.-Cuba normalization was the political and economic evolution taking place in nearby Venezuela. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was one of Cuba’s biggest political and financial backers and a vocal critic of U.S. policies in the region. Under his rule, Venezuela began sending its oil to Cuba in exchange for the employment of tens of thousands of Cuban technical specialists, including security, intelligence and military advisers, as well as doctors and teachers. But Chavez’s death in 2013 and a subsequent, steep decline in global oil prices placed tremendous pressure on Venezuela. Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Maduro, has struggled to maintain the country’s internal stability and external relationships ever since.

It is likely no coincidence that Cuba, a longtime dependent of Venezuela, began to more actively pursue a relationship with the United States as the fortunes of its primary patron worsened. Meanwhile, the downturn in Venezuela’s outlook has worked in the United States‘ favor. Caracas is home to one of the few remaining anti-U.S. governments in Latin America, and its position has declined in the past few years, as shown by the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s stunning loss to an opposition umbrella group during the country’s Dec. 6 legislative elections. Though the party and Maduro still have a hold on the executive office for now, the embattled president could face a referendum against his rule in mid-2016. At the very least, he will be far more constrained than his openly anti-U.S. predecessor was in his ability to rule Venezuela.

The U.S. gains over the past year have not been limited to Cuba and Venezuela. For example, Argentina’s presidential election in late November replaced the leftist Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with the pro-business Mauricio Macro. Though not strictly a move toward the United States, Macri’s victory will probably set Argentina on a more cooperative path with its foreign creditors during negotiations over defaulted bonds, and the new leader has already begun to pursue more open trade and investment policies.

Meanwhile, Colombia — a strong U.S. ally — made considerable progress in its negotiations with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known by its Spanish acronym, FARC. The United States has long supported these talks, though it has had some reservations on specific issues such as granting amnesty to FARC members, some of whom are currently in U.S. jails. All signs point to a formal deal between Bogota and the FARC being wrapped up in 2016, which would increase stability in the country.

More broadly, Latin America’s economic performance over the past year has generally favored countries that are closely integrated with the United States, including Mexico, Central American states and Pacific Alliance members (Colombia, Peru and Chile). More left-leaning countries, such as Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador, have seen negative or negligible growth. These trends upset the political balance in many of these countries and made some Latin American states more willing to cooperate economically with the United States.

Greater Gains Lie Ahead

And so, in Latin America, 2015 proved to be a rewarding year for the United States in many respects, and several of its successes will likely see even further progress in the coming year. That said, not all news will be good news for Washington: Despite the formal normalization of ties with Cuba, the United States is unlikely to fully lift its embargo on the country in 2016 since the move would require congressional approval in an election year. At the same time, the Venezuelan opposition’s latest win will not mean that Caracas suddenly becomes friendly with the United States, though deeper economic cooperation between the two is a possibility if Venezuela’s financial climate continues to deteriorate. Elsewhere in Latin America, major powers such as Brazil and Argentina will seek closer trade ties with the United States to buoy their sluggish economies. Again, though, political constraints and cultural differences will keep this from translating into the full adoption of a U.S.-style open economic system.

Still, in spite of these potential roadblocks, the United States will likely strengthen its already advantageous position in Latin America in 2016, even as it encounters difficulties elsewhere in the world.

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/united-states-progress-and-promise-latin-america

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Assad again controls Damascus thanks to Russian air strikes and intelligence.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis December 26, 2015

The Russian air strike that Friday, Dec. 25, killed Zahran Aloush, founder of the most powerful Syrian rebel group Jaysh al-Islam and his deputy, gave President Bashar Assad a big break in the Syrian war, thanks to his powerful backer, Vladimir Putin.

This grave loss will accelerate the breakup of Syrian rebel strongholds in and around Damascus. It will also hasten the evacuation under a UN-sponsored ceasefire of at least 2,000 rebels from the Damascus region. Less noticed, was the UN plan to remove at the same time several thousand ISIS fighters from the Syrian capital and transport them to their Syrian headquarters. The latter project has not been trumpeted for good reason: It implies UN recognition of ISIS as a party in the Syria war.
For nearly five years, the war seesawed back and forth, with neither the Syrian army nor the insurgents gaining the upper hand for long, even after Tehran threw its Lebanese proxy, Hizballah, into the fray to bolster Assad’s army.

Interventions by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan and Israel were too trifling and hesitant to tilt the balance in favor of the anti-Assad insurgent militias. Weapons supplies were inferior and tardy and kept the rebels heavily outgunned by the Syrian army’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets, and helpless against the Iranian-made barrel bombs dropped by the Syrian air force.
The Obama administration was the architect of this uneven support strategy, going so far as to constrain the rebels’ other foreign backers against giving them the resources for carrying the day, aside from local victories.

This strategy had the effect of prolonging the vicious conflict – until it was cut short by two events:
1. In the summer of 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant arrived in full force to capture the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, scattering seven Iraqi armed divisions to the four winds, and grabbing their sophisticated American weapons, along with their arsenals, that were crammed with good American tanks, armored personnel carriers, and an assortment of surface, antitank and antiair missiles.

Part of this booty was diverted to ISIS Syrian headquarters in Raqqa.

2. A year later, in late September 2015, President Vladimir Putin embarked on a massive buildup of Russian military strength in Syria – notably, his air and missile forces – for direct intervention in the war.

In contrast to President Barack Obama, who sought to keep his hand on the conflict by a complicated system of dribbling arms to select Syrian rebel groups, Putin went all out with massive military and strategic backing to assure the Syrian ruler and his Iranian ally of victory.

The Russian strategy is now becoming evident (To whom? Finally. UvM): It is to drive the rebels out of the areas they have captured around the main cities of Latakia, Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Hama and the capital, Damascus, giving them two options: join the opposition front around the table for negotiating an end to the war, or total eradication – even though Moscow and Washington have yet to agree which of the rebel militias belong around that table.

According to Moscow’s scale of priorities, the fight against the Islamic State must wait its turn until after Bashar Assad’s authority as president is fully restored and his country returns to his army’s control.

But on the way to this objective, Putin has run up against a major impediment: the failure of Iranian, Shiite militia, Hizballah and Syrian army ground forces keep up with his pace. The plan was for Russian air strikes and missiles to clear rebels out of one area after another and for pro-Assad ground troops to storm in and take over.

But these troops are proving too slow to press the advantage given them by the Russians.

Last week, the Russians decided to use their intelligence assets to speed things up. They borrowed an Israeli counter-terror tactic to start targeting key rebel chiefs for liquidation.
The death of the Jaysh al-Islam commander as the result of a Russian airborne rocket strike on Friday was an intelligence feat rather than a military one. Just as Israel last Sunday used its clandestine assets in Damascus to precisely target the Hizballah-Iranian arch terrorist Samir Quntar at his home in the Jaramana district, so the Russians directed their agents on the ground to mark the secret meeting of Jaysh al-Islam commanders at Marj al-Sultan at the precise moment for taking them down.

This blow to the rebel movement, plus the mass-evacuation of its fighters from the Syrian capital, are major steps towards bringing the Syrian capital back under the control of the Syrian dictator.

http://www.debka.com/article/25112/Assad-again-controls-Damascus-thanks-to-Russian-air-strikes-and-intelligence

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin – Flüchtlinge in Deutschland : Angela Merkel führt uns hilflos ins Chaos

von Ehrhart Körting

Der Rechtsstaat ist in Gefahr. Die Bundeskanzlerin hat ihn in der Flüchtlingskrise teilweise außer Kraft gesetzt, die Verwaltung hat wochenlang versagt.

Die meisten Flüchtlinge kommen aus Gebieten mit einem völlig anderen Verständnis von Grundwerten und Demokratie. Sie kommen mit einer völlig anderen Vorstellung von Solidarität und öffentlichem Eigentum zu uns. Und sie haben Familienvorstellungen und ein Frauenbild, das uns schaudern lässt.

Ein Gastbeitrag des ehemaligen Berliner Innensenators.

Außer der Sprechblase „Wir schaffen das“ ist von der Bundeskanzlerin wenig Konkretes zur Integration von Hunderttausenden Bürgerkriegsflüchtlingen und weiteren Hunderttausenden Armutsflüchtlingen gekommen. Wie viele es tatsächlich derzeit sind, wissen wir nicht. Allein diese Aussage offenbart einen Offenbarungseid des Staates.

Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, ein gut durchorganisierter Rechtsstaat, ist innerhalb von Monaten von einer gut-meinenden, aber hilflos handelnden Bundeskanzlerin Merkel in einen Staat verwandelt worden, in der ein Teil der rechtsstaatlichen Organisation aus falsch verstandener Humanität außer Kraft gesetzt wurde.

Wir wissen nicht, wie viele Flüchtlinge sich in Deutschland aufhalten, wie viele nur durchgereist sind. Wir kennen nur den Großteil der Namen. Zigtausende aber oder noch mehr leben in unserem Land ohne Registrierung, ohne Anmeldung, ohne Namen, ohne Adresse.

Die staatliche Organisation der Bundesrepublik Deutschland hat zigtausendfach versagt und das nicht nur einen oder mehrere Tage, sondern wochenlang. Unsere Bundespolizei hat nach Haushaltsplan rund 40.000 Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter. Es war nicht möglich, diese so einzusetzen, dass ein geordneter Zustrom von Bürgerkriegsflüchtlingen und Armutsflüchtlingen stattfand. Soweit die Bürgerkriegsflüchtlinge und die Armutsflüchtlinge zur Registrierung verteilt wurden, werden sie nach dem Königsteiner Schlüssel (einer Mischung aus Finanzkraft und Einwohnerzahl) auf die Bundesländer verteilt.

Wirtschaft wird Löhne niedrig halten

Das bedeutet: wo schon viele Menschen sind, in den Ballungsgebieten, kommen die meisten hin. Die Wohnraumversorgung in vielen dieser Ballungsgebiete ist schon bisher höchst problematisch. Diese Probleme werden durch hohe Zahlen von Flüchtlingen verschärft. Ein Konzept zur Entzerrung oder ein effektives Konzept zum kurzfristigen Bau bezahlbarer Wohnungen ist von der Bundesregierung nicht vorgelegt worden.

Die Arbeitsplatzfrage wird die nächste Katastrophe offenbaren. Entgegen aller Schönrederei ist der Großteil der Flüchtlinge in unseren Arbeitsmarkt nicht kurzfristig integrierbar. 50 oder mehr Prozent der Kommenden verfügen über eine unzureichende Bildung für unsere Arbeitsmarktbedürfnisse. Sie werden ein Heer der Arbeitslosen bilden, das von der Wirtschaft begrüßt wird.

Die Wirtschaft wird dieses Heer benutzen, um Löhne niedrig zu halten oder den Mindestlohn nach unten zu drücken. Ein Konzept der Bundesregierung zur Beschäftigung dieses Heers von Nochnichtqualifizierten, sei es durch öffentliche Beschäftigung oder durch Anreize für die Wirtschaft zur Einstellung nichtqualifzierter Arbeitskräfte, ist bisher nicht vorgelegt worden. Und völlig vernachlässigt wird die demokratische und kulturelle Integration. Zwar sollen Deutsch- und Integrationskurse angeboten werden. Das aber reicht offenkundig nicht aus.

Die meisten Flüchtlinge kommen aus Gebieten mit einem völlig anderen Verständnis von Grundwerten und Demokratie. Sie kommen mit einer völlig anderen Vorstellung von Solidarität und öffentlichem Eigentum zu uns. Und sie haben Familienvorstellungen und ein Frauenbild, das uns schaudern lässt.

Das ist übrigens alles nicht in erster Linie eine Frage der Religion der meisten Flüchtlinge, des Islam, sondern eine Frage der Mentalität in den Herkunftsländern. Ein Konzept zur Erziehung "Verantwortliches Leben in einem freien und demokratischen Staat" ist nicht einmal angedacht.

Schon auf die ersten Alarmzeichen wird durch unseren Staat nicht reagiert, es werden keine notwendigen Stoppsignale auch gegenüber Flüchtlingen gesetzt, obwohl Artikel 2 der Genfer Flüchtlingskonvention genau dies vorsieht: "Jeder Flüchtling hat gegenüber dem Land, in dem er sich befindet, Pflichten, zu denen insbesondere die Verpflichtung gehört, die Gesetze und sonstigen Rechtsvorschriften sowie die zur Aufrechterhaltung der öffentlichen Ordnung getroffenen Maßnahmen zu beachten."

Ein Mantel der falschen Nächstenliebe

Hilflos sieht unsere Administration zu: Flüchtlinge, die in den sie transportierenden Zügen die Notbremse ziehen, um sich der Registrierung zu entziehen. Flüchtlinge, die christliche Mitflüchtlinge aus den Erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen mobben, so dass sie Kirchenasyl suchen. Flüchtlinge, die sich von Frauen nicht das Essen geben lassen, weil Frauen unrein seien. Flüchtlinge, die in den Notunterkünften der Turnhallen nicht nur rauchen, sondern ihre Zigaretten auf den Holzfußböden ausdrücken. Es geht mir nicht darum, individuelles Fehlverhalten von Flüchtlingen anzuprangern.

Es geht mir darum, dass unser Rechtstaat nicht dagegen vorgeht. Wenn wir den Rechtsstaat mit einem Mantel der falschen Nächstenliebe, aus falsch verstandener political correctness außer Kraft setzen, verlieren wir ihn. Unsere Politiker und unsere Medien sind voll von Verständnis für schwierige Einzelschicksale von Flüchtlingen. Das kann ich nachvollziehen. Nicht nachvollziehen kann ich das Verschweigen von Problemen. Wer sie verschweigt wie die Bundeskanzlerin, produziert im Ergebnis Rechtsradikalismus und den Abbau des Rechtstaates.

Der Autor ist SPD-Politiker und war in Berlin von 1997 bis 1999 Senator für Justiz und von 2001 bis 2011 Senator für Inneres.

Von 1992 bis 1997 war er Vizepräsident am Verfassungsgerichtshof des Landes Berlin. 1997 wurde er als Nachfolger von Lore Maria Peschel-Gutzeit als Justizsenator in den Senat des Regierenden Bürgermeisters Eberhard Diepgen gewählt. Nach der Abgeordnetenhauswahl 1999 schied er aus dem Senat aus, übernahm jedoch bei der Neubildung des Senats am 16. Juni 2001 unter dem Regierenden Bürgermeister Klaus Wowereit das Amt des Senators für Inneres und wurde auch nach den Wahlen vom 21. Oktober 2001 und 17. September 2006 jeweils in dieses Amt berufen.

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Die Genfer Konvention muss reformiert werden.

…..Dass hier Menschen aus anderen Kulturkreisen mit fremden Mentalitäten und Sozialisierungen kommen, wird mit der Forderung quittiert, das Grundgesetz (und wohl auch das Strafgesetz) stünde nicht zur Disposition. Gesellschaftliche Normen werden durch langjährige Sozialisierung in Familie, Schule und praktisches Erpoben im Jugendalter verinnerlicht. Sie werden nicht befolgt, weil sie in Gesetzen stehen, sondern sie stehen in Gesetzen, weil sie als verbindlich und gerecht empfunden werden. Grundrechte müssen in der Unmündigkeit eingeübt werden, bevor sie mündig ausgeübt werden. Diese Sozialisierung findet in den ersten 15 bis 20 Lebensjahren statt. Nahezu alle Flüchtlinge sind älter. Wer Polizisten als willkürlich, Richter als bestechlich erlebt hat, wird schwer Vertrauen zum Rechtsstaat fassen. Wer Solidarität primär in der Familie, im Clan oder in vorgegebenen Klientel- und Patronage-Netzwerken erlebt hat, wird im Konfliktfall eher auf Familienbande als auf den Schutz der Gesetze setzen. Wem als Kind eingeprägt worden ist, dass Gott unmittelbar Lebensregeln offenbart hat, der wird sich mit Toleranz schwer tun. Wir sollten nicht vergessen, welche Kämpfe und wie lange es unsere eigene Gesellschaft gekostet hat, liberal, skeptisch und tolerant zu werden. Wir können den Wandel, der sich bei uns in vielen Generationen vollzogen hat, nicht von Zuzüglern in wenigen Wochen einfordern.

Wenn Deutschland tatsächlich Zuwanderung braucht, dann sollte Deutschland diesen Prozess nach dem normalen Aufenthaltsgesetz steuern – so, wie dies alle klassischen Einwanderungsstaaten tun. Dann sollten wir nicht die Sonderregelungen für Flüchtlinge zugrunde legen und vorgeben, eine ungesteuerte Flut sei die gezielte Bewässerung, die wir schon lange ersehnt haben.

Jeder Vergleich mit den 12 Millionen Flüchtlingen, die die Bundesrepublik Deutschland nach 1945 aufgenommen hat, geht am Kern der Sache vorbei: Damals kamen Menschen, die noch wenige Monate zuvor im selben Staat gelebt hatten. Flüchtlinge aus der DDR waren Angehörige desselben Volkes. Ebenso schief ist der Vergleich mit Flüchtlingszahlen in der Türkei oder Jordanien: Dort leben Flüchtlinge eben nicht in Aufnahmezentren, erleben keine Willkommenskultur und Integrationsangebote, sondern leben in Notunterkünften: strikt abgetrennten Zeltstädten ohne Perspektiven, ohne Arbeits- oder Fortbildungsmöglichkeiten.

………..Niemand kennt die genaue Zahl der Flüchtlinge, die seit Jahresbeginn nach Deutschland gekommen sind. Was wir dringend benötigen, sind nicht nur Statistiken über Zahlen und Herkunftsländer; wir brauchen konkrete Angaben zu Motiven und Erwartungen, beruflichen Qualifikationen und Sprachkenntnissen unter den Flüchtlingen. Was erwarten sie von Deutschland, kommen sie direkt aus einem Kriegsgebiet, aus UNHCR-Lagern oder aus Drittländern? Wie groß ist das Potenzial von Flüchtlingen, mit denen wir noch rechnen müssen? Wir brauchen ein nüchternes, detailliertes Lagebild mit zuverlässigen Abschätzungen über künftige Fluchtbewegungen. Nur so können wir aus passiver Reaktion zu einer vorausschauenden, pro-aktiven Politik finden.

Bislang gibt es hauptsächlich zufällige Bilder und sporadische Interviews; oft sind diese darauf angelegt, Emotionen zu erzeugen…..Wo bleiben verlässliche Analysen über künftiges Migrationspotenzial, repräsentative Fallstudien über Motive, Wege, Schleusernetze und Tarife? Eine Aufklärung der Kommunikation der Flüchtlinge mit ihren Herkunftsländern würde ein Bild mit hoher Tiefenschärfe liefern. Weshalb verfügen wir hier nicht einmal über elementare belastbare Fakten?

Die Hauptaufgabe liegt darin, den Flüchtlingszuzug langfristig steuerbar und kontrollierbar zu machen. Wir brauchen eine Politik, die nachhaltig ist und die wir langfristig durchhalten können.

………..Schon die Entscheidung, das eigene Land zu verlassen und sich auf den Weg nach Deutschland zu machen, sollten wir beeinflussen können. Aufklärungskampagnen können hier helfen. Letztlich werden sich Fluchtbereite nicht von Worten oder Absichtserklärungen beeindrucken lassen. Was zählt, sind Fakten und Bilder, die der Willkommenskultur die ebenso notwendige Abschiebe- und Abgrenzungskultur entgegensetzen.

Das Potenzial ist gigantisch. Syrien hatte 25 Millionen Einwohner; davon leben 5 Millionen in UNHCR-Lagern, 8 Millionen sind Binnenflüchtlinge. Afghanistan hat 35 Millionen Einwohner, darunter 5 Millionen junge Männer zwischen 12 und 25; für 75 Prozent von ihnen ist die Suche nach Arbeit und damit Lebensgrundlage die Hauptsorge; 98 Prozent halten es für geboten, dass Frauen sich verschleiern. Pakistan hat fast 200 Millionen Einwohner, der Irak, 36 Millionen, der Iran 80 Millionen. Ägypten mit seinen 100 Millionen Einwohnern hat wachsende Probleme mit der Lebensmittelversorgung und der öffentlichen Sicherheit. Bürgerkriege toben im Jemen (40 Millionen), im Südsudan (12 Millionen), in Somalia (12 Millionen), in Libyen (6 Millionen), in Mali (16 Millionen), in Nigeria (180 Millionen); Regionalexperten bezeichnen die Konflikte im und um den Kongo als die tödlichsten in ganz Afrika. Wenn Menschen aus diesen Ländern zu uns gelangen, werden sie keine Rückführung zu befürchten haben. In diesen Ländern wird aufmerksam beobachtet, wie leicht man über die Balkanroute als Flüchtling Aufnahme in Deutschland findet – einem Land, in dem das Durchschnittseinkommen bis 100 mal so hoch ist wie in diesen Ländern. Wie viele werden versuchen, auf diesem Weg eine bessere Zukunft zu finden?

Die Absurdität des gegenwärtigen Verfahrens liegt darin, dass Deutschland Flüchtlinge anzieht, sie unterbringt und Erwartungen auf ein Bleiberecht weckt, nur um dann absehbar einen Großteil von ihnen wieder zur Ausreise aufzufordern bzw. zu zwingen. Die Erfolgschancen erzwungener Rückführungen liegen bei etwa 20 Prozent. Selbst ohne geringste Aussicht auf Anerkennung als Asybewerber oder Flüchtling lohnt es sich, zunächst auf deutsches Territorium zu gelangen. Bis ein vollzugsreifer Abschiebungsbeschluss vorliegt, können Jahre vergehen. Sind Flüchtlinge erst einmal hier, sind sie gegen ihren Willen kaum wieder außer Landes zu bringen. Notfalls steht der Weg in die Illegalität und auf den Schwarzmarkt offen. Denjenigen, die faktisch bleiben, winken Lebensbedingungen, die im Vergleich zu ihren Herkunftsländern paradiesisch erscheinen müssen. Für Menschen, die von weniger als 20 Dollar im Monat haben leben müssen, ist das „menschenwürdige Existenzminimum“ Deutschlands das Paradies.

Die Genfer Flüchtlingskonvention vom 28. Juli 1951 gibt den rechtlichen Rahmen für Flüchtlinge vor. Sie entstand unter dem Eindruck der gewaltigen Bevölkerungsbewegungen nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg. Sie war rückblickend angelegt und beschränkte sich auf Vorgänge vor 1951 in Europa. Das VN-Protokoll zur Rechtsstellung von Flüchtlingen vom 31. Januar 1967 hat die zeitlichen und räumlichen Beschränkungen dieser Konvention aufgehoben und sie damit universalisiert, ohne den ursprünglichen Wortlaut zu verändern…….( continued see attachment)

http://www.cicero.de/berliner-republik/fluechtlingskrise-fragen-und-fakten/60295

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

Barandat* Syria: New Faces in an Old Conflict

Forecast

  • The Saudis and their allies will step up their involvement in the Syrian conflict.
  • The differing goals and interests of the war’s participants will continue undermining the fight against the Islamic State and raising the risk of the conflict worsening.
  • An effective negotiated solution to the Syrian civil war will remain the greatest threat to the Islamic State.

Analysis

An end to the Syrian conflict is nowhere in sight, and more countries are being drawn into the fray. Responding to U.S. pressure and keen to have more influence on the direction of the Syrian civil war, the Saudis are attempting to coordinate a deployment of troops on the ground in Syria alongside their allies.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the creation of an Islamic military coalition during a surprise news conference in the early hours of Dec. 15 in Riyadh. The coalition, consisting of 34 countries, seeks to coordinate anti-terrorism operations against groups like the Islamic State. Later that day, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the deployment of ground troops, especially special operations forces, to fight the Islamic State is still a possibility. These announcements follow a Nov. 30 statement from the United Arab Emirates, which said it is willing to participate in any international effort demanding a ground intervention to fight terrorism.

Several other states — most notably, the United States and Turkey — also want to see the deployment of Arab forces in Syria. Under fire for a perceived lack of progress in the war against the Islamic State, the White House is keen to draw additional forces into the region. The United States has already called on its NATO allies, including Italy and Germany, to step up their contributions to the fight. However, the Pentagon is especially eager to see greater regional involvement, principally in terms of ground forces, as it tries to avoid further entangling itself in risky ground wars in the Middle East.

For Ankara, the addition of Arab forces to the mix would be a welcome development because it would help legitimize Turkey’s involvement in Syria in the eyes of Arab neighbors that have accused it of neo-Ottoman designs in the region. The Turks are also deeply concerned by the enhanced Russian and Iranian presence in Syria and thus seek additional cover in operations that involve a wider international coalition.

A Force Divided

Nevertheless, as Arab states become more involved in the Syrian civil war, they could undermine any attempt at a united front against the Islamic State in Syria. For one thing, the announced Islamic anti-terrorism coalition appears far from united. Officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan have already denied accepting an invitation to join the coalition. Additionally, the coalition membership list bears some glaring omissions, including major Islamic countries such as Iran as well as Syria itself.

The raging war between the Syrian government and the rebels has consistently undermined the global effort against the Islamic State, often superseding the fight against the Islamic State in terms of effort and support from the main backers of both sides. These divisions have culminated in a tense standoff in northern Aleppo, where heavy Russian deployments and operations have effectively blocked a planned Turkish-American operation against the Islamic State in the Azaz corridor. Moreover, Iran has supported Damascus by warning against any foreign intervention in Syria without the direct invitation of, and coordination with, the Syrian government. For Tehran, the presence of Saudi forces on the ground in Syria would be particularly alarming. Given that Iran is already a significant contributor of forces to the conflict on the side of the Syrian government, the risk of it clashing with the Saudi and allied forces will significantly increase.

Additionally, hostilities between the Turks and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units just across the border in Syria further undermines the prospects of a joint effort against the Islamic State. To the east of the Euphrates in Syria, where the United States has recently deployed some 50 special operations forces to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces in their drive toward Raqqa, the deployment of more Arab forces could arouse suspicion within the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces. This is especially true given recent alleged Arab-Kurdish ethnic strife over key northern Syrian towns such as Tal Abyad.

There is also the question of whether the Saudis and their Gulf Cooperation Council partners would even be able to amass a significant force to deploy to Syria under the best circumstances. The Saudis and their Gulf allies are already heavily committed in Yemen, and although they would be able to deploy ground forces in smaller numbers, they would naturally look to their other key Arab allies for support. Egypt and Jordan are prime candidates — Egypt for its large and powerful army, and Jordan for its geographic position and well-trained forces. Indeed, Egypt and Jordan launched a new exercise Dec. 18 in Egypt with the express purpose of being ready for any joint mission to support stability and security in the region. Both states have also received ample economic and financial assistance from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and are keen to maintain those lucrative ties.

However, given Cairo’s own domestic rebellions and enmity with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s natural position has been to side with the Syrian government in its war against the rebels, a position that has further frayed its relationship with Turkey. Egypt is also increasingly looking to strengthen its diplomatic and military ties with Russia, another power suspicious of any military operations carried out in Syria without coordination with Damascus. For instance, Stratfor has learned that the Egyptians are keen to avoid any role in Syria that helps lead to a wider negotiated solution merging the moderate rebel landscape with Syrian loyalist forces.

The Saudis are working hard to change these circumstances and align Egypt’s position with their own. Through the Egyptian-Saudi Coordination Council, the Saudis have tightened relations with Egypt through a number of economic projects and are looking to repair Egyptian-Turkish ties with a joint meeting of the three states set for Jan. 5.

Jordan, on the other hand, has operated more closely with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States in their efforts to bolster the rebels in Syria, particularly the Free Syrian Army rebels of the southern front. However, the Jordanians have been careful and measured (to the frustration of the rebels) in their support as Amman continues to fear a sudden and destabilizing collapse of the Syrian government, which could give extremist forces opportunities to act out amid the chaos.

The wildly divergent goals and interests of regional and global actors continue to play out in the Syrian civil war, and while more nations look to ramp up their contributions against the menace of the Islamic State, their disparate positions will continue to undermine the broader effort. Core participants in the conflict are fixated primarily on enemies other than the Islamic State. The overwhelming focus of the rebels and the Syrian government remains on each other, even as both continue to fight the terrorist group. Most Russian airstrikes continue to hit rebel forces other than the Islamic State, Turkey’s primary combat operations are currently geared against the Kurdistan Workers‘ Party, and Iran’s principal operations in southern Aleppo face off against units of the Free Syrian Army and the Islamist groups of Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. In this light, though any additional force against the Islamic State could increase the pressure against it, the greatest threat to the extremist group is an effective negotiated solution to the Syrian civil war, however unlikely it may be at the moment.

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/syria-new-faces-old-conflict

IS verliert wichtigen Staudamm in Syrien.

Water resources management in Syria.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Barada river, shown here in Damascus in 2009, is the only notable river flowing entirely within Syrian territory

Water resources management in Syria is confronted with numerous challenges. First, all of the country’s major rivers are shared with neighboring countries, and Syria depends to a large extent on the inflow of water from Turkey through the Euphrates and its tributaries. Second, high population growth and urbanisation increase the pressure on water resources, resulting in localized groundwater depletion and pollution, for example in the Ghouta near Damascus. Third, there is no legal framework for integrated water resources management. Finally, the institutions in charge of water resources management are weak, being both highly centralized and fragmented between sectors, and they often lack the power to enforce regulations. Water resources policies have been focused on the construction of dams, the development of irrigated agriculture and occasional interbasin transfers, such as a pipeline to supply drinking water to Aleppo from the Euphrates. There are 165 dams in Syria with a total storage capacity of 19.6 km³.[1] Demand management through metering, higher tariffs, more efficient irrigation technologies and the reduction of non-revenue water in drinking water supply has received less emphasis than supply management. The government implements a large program for the construction of wastewater treatment plants including the use of reclaimed water for irrigation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_resources_management_in_Syria ******************************************************************************************************************

Russia – India Strategic Ties: Indian Prime Minister’s Visit to Russia.

During Prime Minister Modi’s visit vital decisions could be taken in the areas of military-technological cooperation and nuclear power sector as well as regarding the humanitarian ties.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to Russia on 23rd -24th December, 2015 will be a significant event for India-Russia relationship. Russia was the first country with whom India established a strategic partnership in the year 2010 during the 11th Russia-India Summit. India and Russia further developed their relationship to a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership” status, indicating a mutual desire to emphasize the exceptional closeness of ties. In today’s complicated and changing geopolitical situation both countries have wisely diversified their foreign policy options, but have been careful not to abandon a mutually beneficial partnership and trust between two great Nations built up over decades.

In 2000 Russia became the first country with which India institutionalized the practice of stand-alone Annual Summits. The bilateral summit between India and Russia takes place every year alternately in Moscow and in New Delhi. The forthcoming summit will be the 16th annual bilateral summit. During the Summit there will be full-fledged discussion on various issues and concerns related to India-Russia bilateral relationship. The leaders of the two countries are expected to discuss and sign a number of important bilateral agreements, review the entire range of India-Russia bilateral ties and also lay down a broad agenda to be followed for the coming year for strengthening the strategic partnership between India and Russia.

Brief Historical Background

The Soviet Union consistently gave India valuable political, diplomatic and strategic support bilaterally as well as at international fora. India received Soviet diplomatic backing and material support and the confidence provided by the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation. In 1950s India received from the Soviet Union generous assistance for its industrialization process as well as support in the areas of defence, space and atomic energy. Some of today’s globally competitive public sector companies in India such as Bharat Heavy Electrical limited (BHEL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), as well as the steel industry in India were set up with Soviet support and cooperation. The Soviet Union helped India in many ways to become more self-reliant and was India’s true partner.

Present-day Relationship

Today, India-Russia relationship has many positive dimensions to provide fresh impetus to their cooperation and friendship. Cooperation in the defence sector is still the strongest link. Even today around 50% of the defence equipment used by the Indian armed forces is of Russian origin. India and Russia have similar views on many international issues. But trade & economic ties remain the weakest link in Indo-Russian cooperation. Both sides have expressed their intention to improve the trade cooperation in the coming years. It is expected that as soon as the International North South Corridor (INSTC) will start operating fully, this aim might be achieved faster. But there is still a number of challenges that need to be resolved. After the stringent visa regulations have been eased to a certain extent, the dynamic private sector in both countries was able to connect with each other more. Nonetheless, Indo-Russian cooperation can be boosted up even further if people to people contact can be increased and cultural as well as educational linkages can be enhanced.

There are two schools of thought regarding Indo-Russian relations; one considers the relationship with Russia significant for India while the other feels that when Russia is expanding its relationship with countries like China and Pakistan, India should not be shy in developing its ties with United States and other Western powers. However, there is the consensus among these two groups of experts that Russia is indeed a great partner of India and bilateral links need to be maintained.
The forthcoming 16th Annual Summit will reflect how India and Russia continue to value each other’s steadfast friendship. During Prime Minister Modi’s visit vital decisions could be taken in the areas of military-technological cooperation and nuclear power sector as well as regarding the humanitarian ties. India-Russia cooperation and friendship remain unaffected by any global developments. The meeting and discussion that will take place in Moscow between Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi will further strengthen the framework for cooperation between India and Russia.

Dr. Nivedita Das Kundu, Ph.D., International Relations, is Senior Research Advisor, United Service Institution of India, New Delhi.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club’s, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

http://valdaiclub.com/news/russia-india-strategic-ties-indian-prime-minister-s-visit-to-russia/

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India: Premier Makes Surprise Visit To Pakistan

December 25, 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise stopover in Pakistan on Dec. 25 to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a spokesman at the Pakistani prime minister’s office said, Reuters reported. The spokesman also said the two leaders would discuss bilateral issues, including the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Modi was on his way home after a visit to Russia. He stopped off in the Afghanistan capital Kabul earlier on Dec. 25. Modi and Sharif resumed high-level contacts with a brief conversation at climate change talks in Paris last month, part of reconciliation efforts between the two countries.

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/india-premier-makes-surprise-visit-pakistan

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

Turkmenistan: State Company Begins Surveying Work For TAPI Pipeline

September 6, 2015.

Turkmenistan has begun engineering and surveying work on the TAPI pipeline that would carry natural gas to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, state media said, Dawn.com reported Sept. 6. Actual construction of the pipeline, which would ship up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually starting in 2018, is expected to begin in December. Turkmen state company Turkmengaz will lead the consortium for the $10 billion project. The four countries have long planned the project to meet growing energy needs, but administrative issues and unrest in Afghanistan have so far delayed its realization.

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/turkmenistan-state-company-begins-surveying-work-tapi-pipeline?topics=282

*Turkmenistan Spearheads a New Pipeline Project*

December 15, 2015

Summary

Turkmenistan has some of the largest natural gas reserves in the world, but as a landlocked country it has struggled to transport its reserves to market. Now, however, Turkmen leaders are hoping a new pipeline will expand the country’s export options. On Dec. 13, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari met in Turkmenistan to break ground on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. More than 25 years in the making, 1,800 kilometers (about 1,100 miles) long and costing an estimated $10 billion, the pipeline is scheduled to begin operations in late 2019 and will have a capacity of 33 billion cubic meters per year. After years of developing domestic fields and seeking to diversify its exports, Turkmenistan has taken a leading role in pushing the project forward.

Turkmenistan’s domestic production is rapidly approaching levels that outstrip its current export capacity. Though the country previously exported the bulk of its natural gas to Russia, it now exports nearly two-thirds (45 bcm) to China. The rest is split between Iran (9 bcm), Russia (9 bcm) and Kazakhstan (0.5 bcm). Turkmenistan is eager to diversify its export options even further, and its options to do so are through TAPI or through the more controversial planned Trans-Caspian pipeline. Because of advancements in political, financial and security areas over the past year, Turkmenistan is betting on TAPI.

Analysis

Unlike the Trans-Caspian Pipeline, which targets the European Union, the TAPI project targets emerging markets such as India and Pakistan, both of which are set to receive 14 bcm of natural gas per year from Turkmenistan. Afghanistan, which is not a major consumer at present and which will receive only 5 bcm annually, is rapidly approaching an energy crisis as deforestation creates a supply shortage. Less than a third of the Afghan population is connected to the electricity grid, and up to 85 percent of total primary energy consumption comes from biomass fuels — at the household level, firewood alone comprises 65 percent of total consumption. Thus, the government has made non-biomass supply options, such as natural gas, a priority in its efforts to improve energy access throughout the country.

For its part, Pakistan needs to meet a nearly 6 percent annual supply growth rate if it hopes to meet projected demand for 2020 (50 bcm) — an increase largely attributed to demand for compressed natural gas in the automobile sector.

Last but not least is India, which is expecting 6.8 percent annual growth until 2021, when it is expected to reach more than 180 bcm. Both India and Pakistan are forecast to have an increasingly large and prosperous population. After years of increasing its production at the Galkynysh natural gas field and improving the connectivity of its domestic distribution network, Turkmenistan is well poised to ramp up production to meet growing Indian and Pakistani demand.

In October, Turkmengaz reached a framework agreement with Japanese firms Mitsubishi, Chiyoda, Sojitz, Itochu and JGC to boost overall production at Galkynysh to 95 bcm by 2018 for the TAPI pipeline. Moreover, in stark contrast to previous attempts to get the project underway, Berdimukhammedov, Turkmenistan’s president, has this time actively pushed the leaders of the destination countries to move the project forward. These countries are often at odds with one another, but Turkmenistan is able to manage disputes through its supply of natural gas to the countries. Meanwhile, it has been relatively easy to convince countries with impending demand growth to cooperate in a pipeline project from the world’s second-largest natural gas field.

Paying for the Project

The Asian Development Bank has active projects in all three destination countries to help build out the necessary infrastructure. Early on in the project, it helped provide feasibility assessments to attract financial institutions‘ interest in the project. Furthermore, the bank’s Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund has outlined the terms of providing 2 percent of the required financing for consortium partner Afghan Gas Transit.

TAPI has undergone several iterations in the process to attract outside investment over the years, but in October the project was given impetus when Turkmengaz took on a leadership role and bought an 85 percent stake in the project. The investment is a testament to Turkmenistan’s recent prioritization of TAPI as a way to diversify exports and to expand the development of the Galkynysh field. The remaining 5 percent stakes in the project are doled out to the destination countries, with stipulations. Because of Afghanistan’s limited financial resources, it must raise 3 percent of its own financing (about $300 million) before the Asian Development Bank will provide the rest. If it cannot raise the funds, the Afghan government will forfeit its stake in the project, which may cause delays as investors search for another stakeholder. Similar restrictions have not been placed on Pakistan or India.

Despite the restrictions on funding, the consortium of Turkmengaz, Afghan Gas Transit, Pakistani Inter State Gas Systems and Indian GAIL needs now to raise only about 30 percent of the $10 billion necessary to begin construction. The favorable economic status of the project as well as Turkmengaz’s proactive commitments indicate it is capable of securing financing for the remainder of its stake. Even so, the firm may seek foreign partners to help fund the remaining 70 percent of the project. Although Turkmenistan may seek to attract foreign partners, the likelihood that it will offer up equity stake in the natural gas source field will depend on how desperate it is for financing and how much is needed. As of the groundbreaking, the Islamic Development Bank has announced its interest in providing financial backing for Turkmengaz, while Pakistan claims China may help finance its portion through its $46 billion investment project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The Security Factor

The TAPI consortium’s ability to attract foreign financing will be linked to explicit security considerations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And even with the substantial amount of funding that has already been committed, the single most important factor during the development and construction phase of the project will be the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Turkmenistan has petitioned support from the United States and NATO to help protect the pipeline. But although Pentagon officials have expressed their interest in working with Turkmenistan, they have indicated it will be difficult to do so because of the country’s official policy of neutrality.

Instead, much of the security for the project is coming from the Afghan and Pakistani governments themselves. Turkmenistan, after all, has frequently coordinated with the political and security leadership in both countries, and Afghanistan has already pledged to allocate 5,000-7,000 security forces, likely from the Afghan National Army, to protect construction crews working on its portion of the pipeline. Pakistan, too, has committed to ensuring security during construction, specifically in Balochistan. And though, so far, there are no clear plans for security once TAPI is up and running, at that point there will be less of a security risk for the underground pipeline.

Ultimately, to protect the pipeline during construction, the consortium will need to engage with local power brokers — not an insurmountable task. Typically, projects that bring value into a country face less opposition than those seeking to exploit resources for export, so the local Taliban elements will likely tolerate the project as long as their strategic interests are not threatened. Indeed, TAPI is unlikely to attract the ire of local tribal leaders unless it partners with Western investors.

Though there are lingering security and financial obstacles to TAPI, they are all manageable. After more than two decades of planning, coordinators of the project have made significant progress on security and financing, and the pipeline has now entered its initial construction phase. If all goes as planned, within a matter of years Turkmenistan will be able to significantly diversify its natural gas exports.

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/turkmenistan-spearheads-new-pipeline-project?topics=282

Security Is a Priority for the TAPI Pipeline.

December 16, 2015

Turkmenistan has some of the largest natural gas reserves in the world, but as a landlocked country it has struggled to transport its reserves to market. Now, however, Turkmen leaders are hoping a new pipeline will expand the country’s export options. On Dec. 13, leaders from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India met in Turkmenistan to break ground on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. More than 25 years in the making, 1,800 kilometers (about 1,100 miles) long and costing an estimated $10 billion, the pipeline is scheduled to begin operations in late 2019 and will have a capacity of 33 billion cubic meters per year.

Even with the substantial amount of funding that has already been committed, the single most important factor during the development and construction phase of the project will be the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Turkmenistan has petitioned support from the United States and NATO to help protect the pipeline. But although Pentagon officials have expressed their interest in working with Turkmenistan, they have indicated it will be difficult to do so because of the country’s official policy of neutrality.

Instead, much of the security for the project is coming from the Afghan and Pakistani governments themselves. Turkmenistan, after all, has frequently coordinated with the political and security leadership in both countries, and Afghanistan has already pledged to allocate 5,000-7,000 security forces, likely from the Afghan National Army, to protect construction crews working on its portion of the pipeline. Pakistan, too, has committed to ensuring security during construction, specifically in Balochistan. And though, so far, there are no clear plans for security once TAPI is up and running, at that point there will be less of a security risk for the underground pipeline.

Ultimately, to protect the pipeline during construction, the consortium will need to engage with local power brokers — not an insurmountable task. Typically, projects that bring value into a country face less opposition than those seeking to exploit resources for export, so the local Taliban elements will likely tolerate the project as long as their strategic interests are not threatened. Indeed, TAPI is unlikely to attract the ire of local tribal leaders unless it partners with Western investors.

https://www.stratfor.com/image/security-priority-tapi-pipeline

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Kazakhstan’s Energy Sector Will Find Relief, Eventually

Forecast

  • Low energy prices, flat production, project delays and aging fields will continue to plague Kazakhstan’s energy sector in 2016.
  • These difficulties will force the Kazakh government to continue downsizing its state energy firm to keep it afloat financially.
  • However, a series of projects that will be in development in 2016 could give Kazakhstan a boost in production and exports by the end of the year and into 2017. These developments will not solve the energy sector’s overall problems stemming from low energy prices, but they will give Kazakhstan a slight reprieve.

Analysis

As in neighboring Russia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, energy revenues are the lifeline of the government and economy in Kazakhstan. Energy revenues make up some 40 percent of the government’s budget. The country reveled in the high energy prices of the past decade and in the amount of foreign involvement in its energy sector, where foreign firms took on the heavy costs of tapping difficult reserves. Until recently, with the exception of the 2008-2009 recession, Kazakh GDP growth has exceeded 6 percent each year since the country’s energy sector boom began in 2000.

But the past two years have been tough on the Kazakh energy sector; the profits of state energy firm KazMunaiGas and its subsidiaries have declined as their expenses have risen. The biggest blow to KazMunaiGas has been the low oil prices seen since mid-2014. Approximately 80 percent of KazMunaiGas‘ revenues come from the sale of oil, natural gas and refined products, and low energy prices have shrunk the company’s profits by more than 75 percent during the past year and a half.

Low oil prices, however, are not the Kazakh energy sector’s only problem. Oil and natural gas production in Kazakhstan have remained flat during the past four years, despite the government’s plan to increase production by between 2 and 8 percent each year. Kazakhstan produces 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 19 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Nearly 40 percent of this energy production comes from two large fields, Tengiz and Karachaganak, which were launched by major Western firms over the past two decades. The Western-led consortia for Tengiz and Karachaganak have refused to move forward with production expansion plans because of low energy prices and the Kazakh government’s financial pressures on the projects.

Kazakhstan’s third-largest Western-led project, Kashagan, was intended to be the country’s beacon of hope for increasing production. Considered one of the five largest oil fields in the world with an estimated 35 billion barrels, Kashagan was initially slated to start production in 2005 and ramp up to more than 1 million bpd by 2015. However, production at the notably difficult field, which is afflicted with treacherous weather conditions, spats between the consortium members and extremely high sour gas content, did not begin until 2013. At the end of 2013, leaks caused by the corrosive properties of the sour gas were found in the pipeline system, and the entire project stopped production yet again. The Kazakh government has tried to pressure Kashagan’s consortium to work faster to get the field producing. Meanwhile, the cost of the project, which was initially set at $10 billion, has soared to $46 billion and could exceed $60 billion.

Kazakhstan’s other major problem in trying to boost energy production and revenues is that the remaining 60 percent of oil produced comes from aging fields from the Soviet period that are mostly run by KazMunaiGas or its subsidiaries. According to a Stratfor source, most of these Soviet-era oil fields not only are in sharp decline, but also can only be profitable if oil prices are above $60 per barrel.

All of these issues have led Kazakh GDP to grow by slightly less than 1 percent in 2015. The government estimates it will grow by 2 percent in 2016 as long as oil prices are above $40 per barrel. In recent weeks the government has been holding economic stress tests in case oil prices fall to $30 or even $20 a barrel, though it is not clear what the government could do to mitigate such losses.

These problems have also led the state energy firm and its subsidiaries to start looking for alternative sources of cash. KazMunaiGas‘ debt is $18 billion, half of which is due in 2016. The company has lofty plans for investment next year, which many Kazakh analysts believe will be financed with new debt or delayed. The Kazakh government has announced that it will try to privatize shares of KazMunaiGas and its subsidiaries over the next few years. The company is already floating shares or ownership of more than a hundred subsidiaries, 51 percent shares in the big three Kazakh refineries, and all of its foreign assets except offices in London, Beijing and Moscow. In September, KazMunaiGas sold half of its shares in Kashagan to the Kazakh state wealth fund, Samruk-Kazyna, for $4.7 billion with the stipulation that it would buy the shares back between 2018 and 2020, when the company’s financial burden is lighter.

Although 2016 looks to be just as rough for Kazakhstan’s energy sector as the past two, several developments could start to turn things around toward the end of next year and going into 2017. First, the Kashagan consortium and Kazakh government are fairly sure that the megafield will start producing in December 2016, after all the pipes have been replaced. Though it will take years for the consortium members to start reaping profits from their investments, the Kazakh government is expected to make billions in taxes and other financial obligations each year the project is producing.

Second, the Kazakh government is pressing Chevron to make a decision in April 2016 to start expanding production at the Tengiz oil field — something the Kazakh government has lobbied the Chevron-led consortium running Tengiz to do for years. Increasing production at Tengiz would bring in another estimated $34 billion in investment and create tens of thousands of jobs. An expansion at the Tengiz field would occur in anticipation of the completion of the next phase of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium oil pipeline, which would run from Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. The pipeline expansion is expected to be complete by the end of 2016 and will double the pipeline’s capacity from 700,000 bpd to 1.4 million bpd.

Lastly, in 2016 Russia and Kazakhstan are set to launch the Eurasia Project, which involves Russian firms sharing technology with KazMunaiGas during the next six years to help the company drill deeper into its aging fields. This is expected to nearly double the Kazakh energy firm’s drilling capabilities. Costs will remain high at Soviet-era fields, but new drilling technology will extend their usefulness.

Overall, 2016 will be a bleak year for Kazakhstan’s energy sector and for the country more broadly. However, developments are on the horizon that could help alleviate the financial pain caused by continued low energy prices.

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/kazakhstans-energy-sector-will-find-relief-eventually

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DAESH – Iraq

ISIS employs thousands of foreign workers to keep its oil flowing.

Posted on December 28, 2015

BAGHDAD, IRAQ NOVEMBER 12: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) A Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) satellite view of the Baiji North Oil Refinery on November 12, 2015 in Baghdad, Iraq.

Fires and dark plumes of smoke seen pouring from the Hamrin Mountains near the Baiji North Oil Refinery and oil fields in Iraq. Various heat sources are visible throughout the mountain range.

ISIS employs thousands of foreign workers to keep its oil flowing

Posted on December 28, 2015 | By Joshua Cain

Satellite captures bombed ISIS refinery

Image 1 out of 57

BAGHDAD, IRAQ NOVEMBER 12: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) A Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) satellite view of the Baiji North Oil Refinery on November 12, 2015 in Baghdad, Iraq. Fires and dark plumes of smoke seen pouring from the Hamrin Mountains near the Baiji North Oil Refinery and oil fields in Iraq. Various heat sources are visible throughout the mountain range. (Photo by USGS/NASA Landsat/Orbital Horizon)

According to an Iraq Oil Report story published Monday, the Islamic State militant group at one point employed thousands of workers to keep crude pumping from rudimentary wells captured in the oil fields of Iraq and Syria. http://www.iraqoilreport.com/news/armed-intel-u-s-strikes-curtail-oil-sector-17473/

The new report, which details ISIS oil operations that were previously reported to bring in as much as $50 million per month, says records obtained in a U.S. raid on the group show that close to 2,000 workers helped the militants pump cheap crude from more than 200 wellheads across the region.

About 1,600 of those workers came from other countries, with global layoffs in the oil industry and competitive salaries offered by ISIS helping the group’s recruiting efforts, U.S. State Department officials told Iraq Oil Report.

The records released by the U.S. government also show that despite a stepped-up air-strike campaign against ISIS oil infrastructure throughout 2014, the group was still able to keep the crude flowing. Some facilities targeted in air strikes were brought back online after just a few days.

Many wellheads remained operable despite being damaged — natural pressure kept the crude bubbling out of the ground, and workers resorted to open-pit mining to keep some wells producing.

The desperation to maintain the flow of oil was warranted — a State Department official told Iraq Oil Report that the new records show oil revenue making up nearly half of the group’s profits.

U.S. officials told Iraq Oil Report that the total revenue ISIS received from oil production, at most $40 million per month, was lower than previous estimates. The story also noted that, according to sources from across the region, the group fetched between $10 and $20 per barrel for its oil.

Using those figures, Iraq Oil Report estimated ISIS production would have to reach about 70,000 barrels per day at its peak. Some experts questioned that number, which would rival the output of some of the largest producers in oil fields like the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.

http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/12/28/isis-employs-thousands-of-foreign-workers-to-keep-its-oil-flowing/#36739101=0

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Turkey faces full-scale armed conflict in Kurdish regions: expert

The Turkish and US leaderships will have to forget about Syria soon as the civil war in the Kurdish-populated regions of southeastern Turkey will gain momentum, an expert predicts.

Turkey may be on the verge of a civil war that will destabilize the situation in the country for years ahead, Semyon Bagdasarov, director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia, told TASS on Wednesday.

"The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) wanted to enlist Russia’s support very much because a true civil war has broken out in southeastern Turkey. The Kurds need external support," Bagdasarov said commenting on a visit to Moscow of Selahattin Demirtas, a co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish HDP party, Tass reported.

"As for Russia, it should have clear understanding that it should support the national liberation movement of the Kurdish people, including the HDP, if it wants to influence Turkey’s stance," the Russian expert went on to say.

According to Bagdasarov, the civil war in the Kurdish-populated regions of southeastern Turkey will gain momentum. "The Turkish and US leaderships will have to forget about Syria soon," he stressed.

"The thing is that today the Iraqi government met a delegation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Turkey) and promised to supply it with weapons. The situation in the region is turning into a full-scale armed conflict, and Turkey is becoming the object of a civil war, which will destabilize the situation in the country for years ahead," Bagdasarov claimed.

http://www.kurdpress.com/En/NSite/FullStory/News/?Id=12168#Title=%0A%09%09%09%09%09%09%09%09Turkey%20faces%20full-scale%20armed%20conflict%20in%20Kurdish%20regions:%20expert%0A%09%09%09%09%09%09%09

DEBKAfiles: The battles in N. Syria will determine the fate of the peace process.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis December 21, 2015

The US-Russian plan, approved by the UN Security Council as the lever for activating a political process towards ending the five-year Syrian war, can only go so far towards its objectives. The process is not capable of halting the fighting or removing Bashar Assad from power; just the reverse: progress in the talks is heavily dependent on the state of play on the battlefields of the north while the Syrian dictator’s ouster is a fading issue.

The limitations and obstacles facing the UN-endorsed US-Russian plan are summed up here by DEBKAfile’s analysts:

1. The understanding reached by the Obama administration and the Kremlin in the past month was first conceived as a stopgap measure. It was never intended to bring the calamitous Syrian war to an end or remove Assad, but rather to provide a pretext to account for the expansion of Russia’s ground operation and gloss over America’s military deficiencies in the Syrian conflict. Taking it as carte blanche from Washington, President Vladimir Putin felt able to announce Saturday, Dec. 19, that “the Russian armed forces have not employed all of their capability in Syria and may use more military means there if necessary.”

2. President Barack Obama has stopped calling for Assad’s removal as the condition for ending the war and is silent on the expanding Russian military intervention. Obama and Putin have in fact developed a working arrangement whereby Putin goes ahead with military operations and Obama backs him up..

3. Almost unnoticed, on Dec. 17, the day before the Security Council passed its resolution for Syria, all the 12 US warplanes that were deployed a month earlier at the Turkish air base of Incirlik for air strikes in Syria were evacuated. This happened at around the same time as Russia deployed to Syria its Buk-M2-SA-17 Grizzly antiaircraft missile systems. The presence of this system would have endangered American pilots had US air strikes over Syria not been halted. The upshot of the two evidently coordinated moves was the US withdrawal of most of its military resources for striking the Islamic State forces in Syria and the handover of the arena to the Russian army and air force.

4. In another related development, Friday, Dec. 18 the German intelligence service, BND, leaked news that it had renewed its contacts with the Assad regime’s intelligence services and German agents were now visiting Damascus regularly. The import of this change is that Berlin no longer relies on US intelligence briefings from Syria and, rather than turn to Moscow, it prefers to tap its own sources in the Syrian capital.

5. Washington and Moscow are still far apart on the shape of the transitional government mandated by the Security Council resolution

The Obama administration wants Assad to hand presidential powers over the military and of all security-related and intelligence bodies to the transitional government, which is to be charged with calling general and presidential elections from which Assad will be barred.
Putin won’t hear of this process. He insists on a transitional government being put in place and proving it can function before embarking on any discussion of its powers and areas of authority.
The two presidents agree that the transition will need at least two years, overlapping the Obama presidency by about a year and dropping the issue in the lap of his successor in the White House.

6. The US and Russia don’t see to eye to eye either on which Syrian opposition organizations should be represented in the transitional government and which portfolios to assign them. On this question, both Washington and Moscow are at odds with the Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, which back some of the organizations labeled as terrorist by Moscow.

7. But it is abundantly clear that the Obama administration is ready to wash its hands of the Syrian rebel movement and most of all, abandon Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to give the Russians an open remit.

On Saturday, Dec. 19, Putin turned the screw again on Erdogan when he said he had no problem with the Turkish people, adding, “As for the current Turkish leadership, nothing is eternal.”

In support of Moscow, Obama meanwhile leaned hard on the Turkish president in a telephone conversation, to remove Turkish forces from northern Iraq. Ankara responded that Putin’s comment was not worth a response and denied hearing of any such US request.

Ankara may be feigning ignorance but it must realize by now that Moscow and Washington have joined forces to push the Turkish military out of any involvement in northern Syria and Iraq.

8. This US-Russia collaboration against Turkey is having a dramatic effect on the war in northern Syria along the Turkish border. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report it opened the door to the secret deal between Washington and Moscow to divide the areas of influence in northern Syria between them – essentially assigning the Kurdish enclaves north of the Euphrates river and bordering on Iraq to American influence (see map), and the areas west of the Euphrates up to the Mediterranean to Russian control. This deal (first revealed by DEBKA Weekly 688 on Dec. 4) effectively squeezes Turkey out of any role in the Syrian conflict.

9. The ongoing battles in northern Syria near the Turkish border will have a greater impact in shaping the future of Syria and its unending conflict than any UN resolution. Participating in the fighting at present is a very big mixed cast: Russia, the Kurdish YPG militia, most of the important rebel groups, including radical Sunni organizations tied to Al Qaeda, such as the Nusra Front and Ahram al-Sham, Iran and Shiite Hizballah, and the Islamic State.
It is only when one of these forces gains the upper hand in this free-for-all, that there will be progress toward a political solution on ending the war.

http://www.debka.com/article/25099/The-battles-in-N-Syria-will-determine-the-fate-of-the-peace-process

Al Jazeera: The Christians of the Middle East.

From Syria to Iran, Palestine to Egypt, stories from the region’s Christian minority.

http://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2015/christians-of-middle-east/index.html?utm_source=Al+Jazeera+English+Newsletter+|+Weekly&utm_campaign=9852aa6f66-weekly_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e427298a68-9852aa6f66-211181761

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see our letter on:

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

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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

12-27-15 The Christians of the Middle East – Al Jazeera.pdf

12-23-15 Flchtlingspolitik – Die Genfer Konvention muss reformiert werden _ Cicero O.pdf

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