Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 11.03.16

Massenbach-Letter. News – Stefan Aust: Der Fluch der Alternativlosigkeit – Merkels Politik hat die Ränder radikalisiert, zugunsten der AfD.

“With weather improving by the day in the Aegean Sea, the influx of migrants will only increase, and so too will pressure on Germany.”

· Routen nach Österreich: Schlepper weichen bereits aus

· [GALLUP] Economic Issues Are Trump’s Strong Suit Among Republicans

· Geopolitical Futures (George Friedman): Briefing – The Future of Russia’s Involvement in Syria * DEBKAfile-Turkey and Saudi Arabia hit back for the Obama-Putin Syrian pact.

· STRATFOR: What Modern Syria Can Learn From the Ottomans * Putin’s Newest Satellite State – Armenia

· STRATFOR: The Real Reason for EU-Turkey Negotiations

· Al Monitor: Water wars intensify between Egypt, Ethiopia * Will the Democratic Republic of Congo be Egypt’s newest ally in dam disputes?

· Vatikan/Jemen: Papst ist schockiert über Terror in Aden – Mord an vier Missionarinnen der Nächstenliebe und weiteren zwölf Menschen in einem Altenheim im Jemen.

Massenbach*Geopolitical Futures (George Friedman): Briefing: The Future of Russia’s Involvement in Syria.

Despite concerns from Western powers, the Kremlin’s military operations will likely stay limited.

A cessation of hostilities may be formally in place in Syria, but fighting, airstrikes and maneuvering among world powers have far from halted. Last week, we wrote that the new ceasefire in Syria, or in diplomatic-speak, the much less binding “cessation of hostilities,” will not last. On Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance is concerned about a “significant Russian military buildup” in Syria. Moscow has indeed committed more planes, air defense systems, weapons and personnel to the Syrian conflict over the past months. However, for both strategic and financial reasons, Russia’s military intervention in Syria will likely remain limited.

Strategic Goals in Syria
Moscow’s aims, like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s own objectives at this stage in the conflict, do not include helping the Syrian regime regain control of the entire country. Syria, like Iraq, no longer exists as a sovereign and unified entity.

Instead, Russia has three aims in Syria. First, the Kremlin wishes to improve its bargaining position when negotiating with the U.S. over Ukraine and European security issues. By becoming a significant player in the Syria conflict, Moscow hopes to become indispensable for Washington, thus allowing the Kremlin to make its own demands in other theaters that are critical for Russian national security.

Second, Moscow wants to ensure the survival of its long-time ally Assad and guarantee his regime will be the most powerful of the factions or mini-states that emerge out of Syria’s ashes. The relationship with Assad is strategically significant for Russia due to Syria’s position south of Turkey, one of Russia’s traditional rivals in the Black Sea region. Moreover, Russia’s only current naval facility in the Mediterranean is located in Assad-held territory.

Third, Russia aims to weaken the Islamic State and limit the organization’s ability to pose a threat to Moscow, especially when it comes to Russian citizens who have joined its ranks. Russia’s security services fear both terrorism and the impact militants returning home could have on long-running conflicts in the North Caucasus, a strategic region Moscow has fought two wars to control since the fall of the Soviet Union and still struggles to fully subdue.

Military Operations in Syria

Russian support has helped turn the tide in favor of the Assad regime. Nevertheless, the Russian “buildup” Stoltenberg has referred to does not constitute a significant shift in Russia’s involvement in the conflict. In large part due to Russian assistance, Assad’s forces have made progress in achieving the regime’s three primary strategic objectives: securing the Alawites along the coast, maintaining control over the territory connecting Damascus and Aleppo, and creating strategic depth to defend this core territory.

The air campaign is the centerpiece of Russia’s strategy in Syria. Airstrikes are the primary avenue Moscow uses to boost the position of the Syrian regime as Russian aircraft support Syrian ground offensives. Russian cargo planes also at times drop aid to government troops that are cut off from supply lines.

In November, Russia’s air grouping in Syria involved 69 aircraft. This was a force sufficient for defending Assad’s troops and helping them make some gains. However, it was ultimately a support force. Over the past three months, Russia has deployed even more aircraft and enhanced its logistical capabilities in the country, but the number of new deployments has been relatively modest. At the Humaymin air base in Latakia province, Russia doubled the number of Su-34s from four to eight. In early January, four Sukhoi Su-35S multirole fighter aircraft were deployed to the same base. Overall, Russian state media reported in early February that there were over 70 aircraft and about 4,000 personnel at Humaymin. A new Pantsyr air defense system arrived at the base in February.

Moreover, at al-Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, there are now four Russian Mi-35 helicopters, four Mi-24s and one Mi-8/17 — twice the amount of attack helicopters previously believed to be based at the location. It is likely therefore that the Russians now have over 80 aircraft in Syria. This is an expansion of Russian activity, but not a game-changer for Moscow’s involvement in the conflict.

Russia’s military involvement in Syria has required it to both boost its logistical capabilities on the ground and deploy air defense systems to protect its personnel and equipment. In early December, a Pentagon official confirmed that Russia deployed operational S-400 air defense missiles in the Latakia area, and that the Russians were working on improving their facilities in the region. That same month, reports emerged that Russian forces were working to develop the runway and fortify al-Shayrat air base. Moreover, in early February the Russians were able to deploy both personnel and air defense systems to the Kuweires air base in Aleppo.

While the air campaign is the main focus of Russia’s support for Assad, Moscow’s involvement is not limited to airstrikes. Since September, there have been repeated, yet limited, reports of artillery units and Russian T-90 tanks deployed in Syria. At the same time, there are unconfirmed reports of Russian officers overseeing some joint operations with Syrian government troops, Hezbollah and other forces.

Russian Limitations

Despite its strong public support for the Syrian regime and the commitment of advanced air assets and other weapons and equipment to the conflict, Russia’s options in Syria remain significantly limited.

The first constraint the Kremlin faces is the inability to increase military capabilities due to public opposition. As Dr. George Friedman wrote in December, defeating the Islamic State with merely airstrikes is not possible. A large coalition of ground troops working together is needed, and even such a coalition would struggle to effectively eliminate the threat from IS.

Russia, like the U.S., faces a public that is wary of ground interventions. The independent Levada Center conducted a survey in late January and found that 59 percent of Russians support the continuation of the air campaign in Syria. However, Russian policymakers are highly aware that a messy and bloody entanglement, especially one involving ground troops, could alienate Russian voters, many of whom remember the Soviet Union’s costly intervention in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Russians are supportive of an air campaign with low attrition, but any options involving a commitment of troops and higher attrition rates could quickly sway public opinion.

The second limitation is financial. In mid-February, Russian paper Vedomosti reported that sources said the Defense Ministry’s overall budget will be cut by 5 percent, but that the cuts will not impact operations in Syria and will mostly affect procurement and weapons research programs. Nevertheless, any cuts to the defense budget, which was originally declared immune to planned budget amendments, signal that falling energy prices are increasingly putting pressure on Russia’s expenditures. In this environment, Russia would struggle to find funding for a significantly larger intervention in Syria.

The third and most significant limitation for Russia is its own geopolitical position. Involvement in Syria gives the Kremlin influence and a seat at the table with leading Western powers during discussions about the Mideast’s future. But at its core, Syria is a secondary issue for Moscow. Russia’s primary geopolitical challenge comes from the area to the west of its border, in the Baltic states, Belarus and Ukraine. Even when Syria is in the headlines and Russian ministers are rushing to meetings on the fight against the Islamic State, their true policy priorities are what happens in Kiev and NATO’s activities in eastern Europe.


As Stoltenberg pointed out, Russia is indeed boosting its involvement in Syria. But Russia’s commitment to the conflict is still relatively limited, and will remain so due to Moscow’s strategic and financial concerns. The country’s participation in talks on the future of Syria and the cessation of hostilities furthers its strategic goals by allowing the Kremlin to enhance its negotiating position with Washington. At the same time, intensive Russian airstrikes and Syrian regime activities in the weeks leading up to the formal cessation of hostilities puts the alliance in a relatively good position tactically. Russian jets have carried out some airstrikes following the onset of the ceasefire, though at a much lower rate than previous weeks. Moscow, therefore, is pursuing its aim of protecting the Syrian regime while also in large part adhering to its pledge to international partners. Russia will remain a player in the Syrian conflict, but like their counterparts in Washington, Russian decision-makers are opting to largely avoid entanglements on the ground and thus maintain their relatively limited involvement.


Turkey and Saudi Arabia hit back for the Obama-Putin Syrian pact.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 5, 2016.

Headline of last issue of Turkey’s Zaman before government takeover.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have taken separate steps to break free from Washington’s dictates on the Syrian issue and show their resistance to Russia’s highhanded intervention in Syria. They are moving on separate tracks to signal their defiance and frustration with the exclusive pact between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin which ostracizes Riyadh and Ankara on the Syrian question.

Turkey in particular, saddled with three million Syrian refugees (Jordan hosts another 1.4 million), resents Washington’s deaf ear to its demand for no-fly zones in northern and southern Syria as shelters against Russian and Syrian air raids.

Last year, President Reccep Erdogan tried in desperation to partially open the door for a mass exit of Syrian refugees to Europe. He was aghast when he found that most of the million asylum-seekers reaching Europe were not Syrians, but Muslims from Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, in search of a better life in the West. Most of the Syrians stayed put in the camps housing them in southern Turkey.

Even the Turkish intelligence agency MIT was hard put to explain this setback. According to one partial explanation, organized crime gangs of Middle East dope and arms smugglers, in which ISIS is heavily represented, seized control of the refugee traffic heading to Europe from Libya, Iraq and Syria.
This human traffic netted the gangs an estimated $1 billion.
Turkey was left high and dry with millions of Syrian refugees on its hands and insufficient international aid to supply their needs. No less painful, Bashar Assad was still sitting pretty in Damascus.

Finding Assad firmly entrenched in Damascus is no less an affront for Saudi Arabia. Added to this, the Syrian rebel groups supported by Riyadh are melting away under continuing Russian-backed government assaults enabled by the Obama-Putin “ceasefire” deal’

The oil kingdom’s rulers find it particularly hard to stomach the sight of Iran and Hizballah going from strength to strength both in Syria and Lebanon.
The Turks threatened to strike back, but confined themselves to artillery shelling of Syrian areas close to the border. While appearing to be targeting the Kurdish YPD-YPG militia moving into these areas, the Turkish guns were in fact pounding open spaces with no Kurdish presence. Their purpose was to draw a line around the territory which they have marked out for a northern no-fly or security zone.
Saturday, March 5, President Erdogan proposed building a “new city” of 4,500 square kilometers on northern Syrian soil, to shelter the millions of war refugees. He again tried putting the idea to President Obama.

The Saudi Defense Minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman put together a more high-risk and comprehensive scheme. Its dual purpose is to hit pro-Iranian Hizballah from the rear and forcied the two big powers to treat Riyadh seriously as a player for resolving the Syrian imbroglio.

The scheme hinged in the cancellation of a $4 billion Saudi pledge of military aid to the Lebanese army, thereby denying Hizballah, which is a state within the state and also dominates the government, access to Saudi funding. But it also pulled the rug from under Lebanon’s hopes for combating ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which have grabbed a strip of Lebanese territory in the northern Beqaa Valley.

The Saudi action, by weakening the Lebanese military and its ability to shore up central government in Beirut, risks tipping Lebanon over into another civil war.
The London Economist commented that this Saudi step against Lebanon seems “amateurish.” Under the young prince (30), “Saudi Arabia sometimes acts with bombast and violence that makes it look like the Donald Trump of the Arab World,” in the view of the magazine.

But the Saudi step had a third less obvious motive, a poke in the eye for President Obama for espousing Iran’s claim to Middle East hegemony. Resentment on this score is common to the Saudi royal house and the Erdogan government.
As a crude provocation for Washington, the Turkish president ordered police Friday, March 4, to raid Turkey’s largest newspaper Zaman, after an Istanbul court ruling placed it under government control.

The newspaper released its final edition ahead of the raid declaring the takeover a "shameful day for free press" in the country. A group of protesters outside the building was dispersed with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

Zaman is owned by the exiled Muslim cleric Felhullah Gulen, who heads the powerful Hizmet movement, which strongly contests Erdogan government policies. A former ally of the president, the two fell out years ago. In 1999, after he was accused of conspiring to overthrow the government in Ankara, Gulen fled to the United States.

Today, the exiled cleric runs the Hizmet campaign against the Turkish president from his home in Pennsylvania, for which he has been declared a terrorist and many of his supporters arrested.

The takeover of Zaman was intended both as a blow by Ankara against Muslim circles opposed to the Erdogan regime and as an act of retaliation against the United States, for harboring its opponents and sidelining Turkey from Obama administration plans for Syria.

Oddly enough, the Turkish president finds himself in a position analogous to Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, who is at war with the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement which enjoys Obama’s support.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has his own dilemmas. Struggling to keep his balance while walking a tight rope on the Syrian situation between Israel’s longstanding ties with Washington and handling the Russian tiger lurking next door, he is in no hurry to welcome Erdogan’s determined overtures for the resumption of normal relations.
Turkey is in trouble with both major world powers and, after living for five years under hostile abuse from Ankara, Israel does not owe Erdogan a helping hand for pulling him out of the mess.


STRATFOR: What Modern Syria Can Learn From the Ottomans.


By Toba Hellerstein

The quagmire that is contemporary Syria is as infinitely complex as it was when it emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Its medley of cultures and ethnicities coexisted peaceably under the sultans, but the European powers that inherited the land after World War I were unfamiliar with — and uninterested in protecting — Syria’s unique brand of pluralism. Decades of autocratic rule followed. Today, the warring factions that populate the Syrian battlefield speak to the unraveling of Syria’s once-cohesive society, but the lessons of the Ottoman Empire remain. Moving forward, those lessons may be the best hope for turning a failed state into a nation at once unified and diverse.

After centuries of Ottoman rule, Syria emerged from World War I in an entirely new form. Under the Ottomans, the area known today as Syria hadn’t been a single entity but rather a collection of "wilayats," or provinces, that at times included areas of modern-day Lebanon and Israel. Nor was the population homogenous. The wilayats of Ottoman Syria each comprised an array of ethnicities, cultural identifications and economic structures. After 400 years of rule under the Ottomans, certain particularities of the political system became ingrained. In modern-day Syria before the civil war, cities were divided into culturally distinct quarters: one where you would find the Armenians, another populated by Assyrians. I especially remember the Kurdish markets, where vendors would come dressed in their bright colors to sell fruits and vegetables from the countryside.

In fact, the way in which Syria was governed reinforced the autonomy of these distinct ethnic and religious communities. The Ottomans enforced a policy of pluralism, intended to appease different nations and quell the rise of nationalist movements, in which Jews, Christians and Muslims were all empowered to assert their own identities and therefore had no need to vie for power. Each religious community, known as a "millet," had a representative in Istanbul and was allowed to organize its own affairs, including its people’s education, social services and charities and even some of the legal standards by which they lived. The millet controlled all internal disputes such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the distribution and collection of taxes. The residue of this community-specific system remained in modern Syria; for example, everyone knew you went to the Armenian quarter to get your silver.

After World War I, however, the European powers divided up the land once ruled by the defeated Ottoman Empire. To be sure, the Europeans had been gradually infiltrating the Middle East for years, enjoying the tax breaks and security ensured by capitulation contracts between their governments and the Ottomans. But after the war, European powers negotiated clear partition lines defining their spheres of influence in the region. The resulting, secret agreement, named for the British and French diplomats who negotiated it, Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot, was signed in spring of 1916. The borders drawn within Sykes-Picot didn’t respect the history of the region or the political concerns of the groups within it. Instead, the agreement focused on divvying up the Middle East between the British and the French. In fact, the way in which this agreement broke up the Middle East makes it relevant to a number of post-WWI conflicts. France was determined to remain a power in the Middle East, and through the French Mandate it ultimately controlled southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The population in what had been Greater Syria was artificially divided and at times displaced.

Under the French Mandate, life in Syria changed dramatically. The autonomy that groups had enjoyed under the Ottomans greatly diminished as the French centralized the government and restricted newspapers and political activity. In addition, France pursued a divide-and-rule policy under which some minority groups enjoyed newfound privilege and others watched their freedoms disappear. The French favored minorities, particularly the Christian Maronites, to protect themelves from the Sunni majority. Even though Syria claimed independence in 1944, the new government adopted the autocratic bent of the French officials it had displaced, and the new rulers marginalized minorities such as the Shiites, Kurds, Assyrians, Druze and Armenians. The invasive Syrian intelligence services, the Mukhabarat, became a prominent fact of life for the Syrian people, for whom the country’s independence brought little relief.

Modern Realities

Now, five years into Syria’s civil war, some of the same historical challenges persist in the region. Syria remains an arena in which world powers battle for influence and an array of religious and ethnic communities make their homes. Prior to the war, Syrians‘ varied cultural heritage was a source of great national pride. Today, that diversity has become a source of violence. When Syria’s political structure transforms at the end of the war, these groups will vie for power within the new system, which, like the former French colonial rule, may well be characterized by centralization and oppression. But there is another option. The new Syrian government could instead take its cues from its pre-World War I rulers, empowering various communities through autonomy and possibly even partition.

Even President Bashar al Assad embodied some of the Ottoman respect for minority groups. Under al Assad’s rule, the arbitrary division of ethnic and religious groups into modern states was balanced by his consideration for the needs of these communities. I saw this firsthand in Damascus, where I befriended some U.N. peacekeepers who escorted Druze students from Syria to Israel and back every summer, just so that they could visit their families across the border. The small Jewish community that remained in Syria was also allowed to visit family in Israel.

Going forward, a new Syria must embrace the same pragmatism. Its leaders will have to accommodate the varied ethnic and religious groups whose presence there long predates the rise of the modern state and whose claim to the land draws on cultural heritage over and above legal right. The borders drawn by the Sykes-Picot agreement a century ago may well have outlived their usefulness — if ever they were useful — and rethinking them in light of deeper social and political realities could be the beginning of an effective, lasting resolution to Syria’s war.


From our Russian news desk:see attachments.

àPutin’s Newest Satellite State – Armenia. ß (see att.)


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* [GALLUP] Economic Issues Are Trump’s Strong Suit Among Republicans.

Economic Issues Are Trump’s Strong Suit Among Republicans
Republicans believe Donald Trump would be better than his main GOP rivals in handling the economy and budget deficit as president, but view Trump as comparatively weaker for having the right temperament and being a true conservative.

Read Article


Die nächsten Landtagswahlen : Bis zum deutschen Trump.

Die Umfragen vor den Landtagswahlen kündigen Großes an: Eine Verschiebung in der politischen Landschaft mit grundlegend veränderten Verhältnissen.

Eine Zeit wie Weimar? Ein Kommentar. von Stephan-Andreas Casdorff.

Zäsur – oft darf man dieses Wort in der Politik ja nicht benutzen. Sonst nutzt es sich ab. Aber wenn man die Umfragen vor den jetzt kommenden Landtagswahlen betrachtet, dann kommt es einem in den Sinn. Hier kündigt sich Großes an: übergeordnet über alle drei Bundesländer hinweg eine Verschiebung in der politischen Landschaft mit grundlegend veränderten Verhältnissen in unseren Parlamenten. Mit links wie rechts mehreren Parteien und daraus folgend der Notwendigkeit von Koalitionen aus mehr als zwei Partnern, weil es sonst zum Regieren nicht reicht. Italienische Verhältnisse, könnte man sagen. Oder: eine Zeit wie Weimar.

Woher das kommt? Dazu ein Blick auf die bisher sogenannten „Großen“.

Die SPD ist auf einem Opfergang. Sie leistet fast überall und stets gute Arbeit, ist zuverlässig als Koalitionspartner. Aber sie verliert und verliert. Im Bund steht sie mit mehr als 23 Prozent im Vergleich zu den Ländern noch gut da; strukturell ist sie eigentlich schon unter 20 Prozent, sinkend. 18 Prozent wären mancherorts schon ein schönes Ergebnis.

Warum nicht zu erwarten ist, dass die AfD schwächer wird

Das hat mit vielem zu tun, mit Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, mit der Linken, den Grünen, der AfD. Alle zehren von der SPD: Linker als die Linken kann sie nicht sein, grüner als die Grünen und zugleich schwärzer als sie auch nicht, und wenn es um die Kleinbürger geht, ist die AfD eine Alternative. Die liegt ja in Teilen schon vor der SPD. Und doch darf sie nicht anders werden, als sie ist, nicht anders als regierungsstark und regierungstreu und gut sozialdemokratisch. Die SPD muss sich in der Mitte halten, weil sie an den Rändern nur noch mehr verlieren kann. Das ist ihre Rolle: das gut funktionierende Scharnier in Koalitionen, ob sie führt oder nicht.

Die CDU ist aber auch auf einem Opfergang. Sie macht nach Jahren moderater Politik bis hin zur eigenen Unkenntlichkeit jetzt wieder christlich-demokratische und christlich-soziale und zahlt den Preis dafür. Neben ihr, rechts der Mitte, ist die AfD aufgekommen. Dass die AfD rasch schwächer wird, ist nicht zu erwarten. Wenn nämlich richtig ist, dass das europäische Flüchtlingsthema größer ist als die deutsche Wiedervereinigung – dann ist es nicht morgen und nicht übermorgen beendet. Zumal es auch nicht nur von Flüchtlingen handelt, sondern von Nation und Identität und Integration und dem Bild der Gesellschaft der Zukunft. Das alles zusammengenommen wird Jahre der Debatte erfordern, gar provozieren, und Jahre politisch in unterschiedlichen Phasen und Ausprägungen wirksam bleiben.

Die CDU aber kann nicht mehr zurück und nicht weiter nach rechts rücken, wenn sie sich nicht aufs Neue beschädigen will. Was zugleich bedeutet, dass sie wohl nie mehr die 40 Prozent früherer Zeiten schaffen wird, in aller Regel in den Ländern nicht einmal mehr deutlich über 30. Die Globalisierung mit ihrer Differenzierung schlägt sich jetzt in unserem Parteiensystem nieder. Aber konnten wir anderes erwarten? Wir sind bisher nur länger als andere verschont worden.

Noch ein Wort zum Wort „Weimar“. Richtig, Geschichte wiederholt sich nicht, und unsere Demokratie ist stark. Aber die Anfälligkeit von Demokratien für Anti-Etablierte ist geblieben und die Faszination, die Wutbürger auslösen können, auch. Was, dies als Letztes, ein Blick über den Atlantik lehrt. Unser Donald Trump kann noch kommen.


Stefan Aust: Der Fluch der Alternativlosigkeit.

Hessen gab einen Vorgeschmack: Die kommenden drei Landtagswahlen werden massive Wählerwanderungen weg von der Mitte mit sich bringen. Merkels Politik hat die Ränder radikalisiert, zugunsten der AfD.

Die Deutschen, so meinte einst Alexander Kluge, haben sich ihre Geschichte schon manchmal anders vorgestellt – es fanden aber immer gerade keine Wahlen statt. Jetzt gibt es Wahlen, in drei Bundesländern am selben Sonntag – und stellen sich die zur Urne aufgerufenen Deutschen ihre Geschichte anders vor? Vielleicht. Aber nutzen ihnen die Wahlen etwas? Sehr vielleicht. Oder auch nicht.

Das Ergebnis ist offen, auch wenn die Wählerwanderungen nach rechts und links unverkennbar sind. In der Mitte wird es dünn, das haben auch die Kommunalwahlen in Hessen gezeigt. Und das könnte der Wir-schaffen-das-Kanzlerin echt zu schaffen machen. Oder ihr einen Scheinsieg bescheren. Fangen wir von vorne an:

In den Bundesländern Baden-Württemberg, Rheinland-Pfalz und Sachsen-Anhalt darf gewählt werden. Verschiedene Parteien stehen zur Auswahl. Vor allem eine verhältnismäßig neue: die AfD. Das heißt: "Alternative für Deutschland". Und der Gründer, ein eher liberal-konservativer Wirtschaftsprofessor, hat von ihrer Wahl abgeraten. Die Partei sei ein Monster, das zum Leben erweckt zu haben ihm heute ziemlich peinlich sei.

Die AfD gilt inzwischen als recht rechtsradikal, was sicher auch nicht gänzlich aus der Luft gegriffen ist. Dabei war das am Anfang gar nicht so gedacht, jedenfalls nicht von Herrn Lucke. Eine bürgerliche Professoren-Partei, die den Euro-Strom aus Deutschland in Richtung Griechenland stoppen wollte.

Verwirrung an allen Grenzen

Kanzlerin Merkel lieferte ihnen dafür eine Steilvorlage. Die Rede von der "Alternativlosigkeit" ihrer Politik, eine politische Anmaßung sondergleichen, rief eine Alternative geradezu herbei. Zumal sich die angebliche Alternativlosigkeit bald auf andere Bereiche der Politik ausdehnte – und sich als alternativlose Sackgasse herausstellte.

Es war der 4. September 2015, an dem Angela Merkel in einer großen humanitären Geste eine Schleuse öffnete, die wieder zu schließen sich ganz Europa inklusive der Kanzlerin gegenwärtig abmüht. Die Folgen sind nicht klar: Schweden, Dänemark und die Balkanstaaten schließen ihre Grenzen.

Griechenland kann und will die Außengrenzen nicht sichern, wird überlaufen von Kriegsflüchtlingen aus Syrien und dem Irak, unter die sich zahlreiche Migranten aus aller Herren Länder mischen. Sie verstehen nicht, warum die Balkanstaaten sie nicht wie gewünscht durchwinken, denn sie wollen ja alle nach Deutschland, das seine Grenze zu Österreich immer noch betont offen hält.

Verwirrung an allen Grenzen, und die Kanzlerin wiederholt in ihrer Regierungs-Talkshow bei Anne Will auf dem Sofa immer wieder ihren Plan, der vor allem darin besteht, was andere für sie tun sollen, damit sie nicht zurückrudern muss: Griechenland soll die Außengrenzen Europas schützen, die Türkei die Flüchtlinge aufnehmen, indem sie die Grenze nach Syrien humanitär offen hält und die Grenzen nach Europa humanitär schließt.

Großkoalitionärer Eintopf

Kein Wunder, dass das kaum noch jemand im In- und Ausland versteht. Die Wähler schon gar nicht. So spiegeln die Umfragen vor der Dreiländer-Wahl am kommenden Sonntag die Ratlosigkeit wider.

Einziger Fixpunkt scheint in Baden-Württemberg, einst Stammland der CDU, der grüne Ministerpräsident Kretschmann zu sein, der, obwohl grün, den Bezug zur Wirklichkeit noch nicht ganz aufgegeben zu haben scheint. Dabei wird er wohl mehr Wähler hinter sich bekommen als die CDU, bei der es um den Spitzenkandidaten Wolf recht einsam werden dürfte.

Die FDP schafft ein leichtes Comeback; vielleicht ist es die Sehnsucht, aus dem regierungsübergreifend großkoalitionären Eintopf von Rot-Rot-Grün-Schwarz für eine Partei zu stimmen, die Vernunft und Rechtsstaat noch nicht ganz aus dem Parteiprogramm getilgt hat.

Würfeln oder zu Hause bleiben

Die gute alte SPD scheint dafür ziemlich den Bach hinunterzugehen. Die Horrorvorstellung: Mit einem guten Dutzend Prozentpunkten möglicherweise hinter der AfD zu landen. Da rennen die Wähler nach allen Seiten davon. Kein Wunder, wenn man mit seiner Stimme für die SPD im Bund eine CDU-Kanzlerin, in Thüringen einen Linken und in Baden-Württemberg einen Grünen zum Ministerpräsidenten gewählt hat. Da kann der treue SPD-Wähler auch gleich würfeln oder eben zu Hause bleiben.

Peinlicher Sieger des Kuddelmuddels dürfte die "Alternative für Deutschland" werden, deren Wähler sich vor allem aus zwei Gruppen zusammensetzen: Jenen, die aus Protest gegen die aktuelle Politik der ganz, ganz großen Koalition zeigen wollen, dass Alternativlosigkeit doch nicht ohne Alternative ist. Und die anderen, die einfach rechts, ausländerfeindlich und möglicherweise noch viel mehr sind.

Die NPD soll ja klugerweise gerade verfassungsrechtlich aus dem Verkehr gezogen werden, was zur Folge haben dürfte, dass die rechten Splitter sich jetzt hinter der AfD vereinigen können – denn die fischt munter am rechten Rand. Petry Heil! ruft da der verzweifelte Wähler, der in Anbetracht dieser Entwicklung den Zynismus noch nicht ganz aufgegeben hat.

Und wenn am Wahlabend dann überall nur noch eine große Koalition der Verlierer aus geschwächter CDU und zerrupfter SPD zustande kommen kann, wird Angela Merkel das in ihrem nächsten regierungsamtlichen Talkduett als Erfolg verkaufen. Ihre Partei, heilfroh an der Macht zu bleiben, wird ihr weiter gehorsam folgen. Aber die Probleme, sie werden weiter existieren, und die Gesellschaft an den Rändern wird sich weiter radikalisieren.

Wählen und Abwählen

Die Behauptung der Alternativlosigkeit der eigenen Politik produziert unschöne Alternativen. Dabei sollte Politik in den Parlamenten diskutiert werden, kontrovers und streitlustig. Dort, wo die von den Bürgern gewählten Abgeordneten sitzen, die ihren Wählern und ihrem Gewissen folgen sollen – und nicht vordringlich der Fraktionsdisziplin. Wenn sich die Diskussion in die Talkshows und auf die Straße verlagert, wird deutlich, dass etwas faul ist im Staate Deutschland.

Dann zeigt sich, dass die Parteien nicht mehr den Willen des Volkes repräsentieren, sondern vor allem das individuelle politische Sendungsbewusstsein oder das Machtstreben von Berufspolitikern. Eine ungute Mischung, zusammengehalten von parteipolitischem Opportunismus.

Aber das Wichtige an der Demokratie ist ja nicht das Wählen von Politikern oder Parteien – sondern das Abwählen derselben. Es wird spannend, bei der Dreiländerwahl, ausgerechnet am 13. März. Aber es ist ja kein Freitag.


Die Presse, Wien: Routen nach Österreich: Schlepper weichen bereits aus.

Das Bundeskriminalamt registriert eine zunehmende Beliebtheit der Wege über Bulgarien und Ungarn. Nachrichtendienste befürchten auch eine Renaissance des gefährlichen Seewegs.

08.03.2016 | 10:53 | (

Die – unter anderem von Österreich orchestrierte – Schließung der sogenannten Westbalkan-Route für Flüchtlinge und Migranten dürfte zu großen Änderungen der Tätigkeiten von Schlepperorganisationen führen. Darauf deuten "Presse"-Recherchen sowie ein Bericht des ORF-Radios hin. Auf den Punkt gebracht geht es um folgende Entwicklungen: Während das Bundeskriminalamt in Wien bereits jetzt ein Ausweichen auf Wege über Bulgarien und Ungarn feststellt, befürchten Nachrichtendienste spätestens für den Frühling eine Renaissance des gefährlichen Seewegs über das zentrale Mittelmeer.

Mehr zum Thema:

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· Italien nimmt syrische Flüchtlinge direkt aus Beirut auf

· Flüchtlinge von Calais verteidigen ihren "Dschungel"

· Belgien führt wieder Grenzkontrollen zu Frankreich ein

· Der "neue Dschungel" von Calais muss sich bessern

· Frankreichs Ort der Schande: Das Lager für die "Unerwünschten"

· Nordeuropäer drohen mit „Mini-Schengen“

· Asyl-Verschärfung: Norwegen schiebt ab

· Russland stoppt Rücknahme von Asylwerbern

· Schweden will bis zu 80.000 abgelehnte Asylwerber abschieben

· "Schwarzer Tag": Kritik an verschärftem dänischen Asylgesetz

· So sehen Dänemarks verschärfte Asylgesetze aus

· Dänemark: Schweinefleischkonsum gegen die Islamisierung

· Dänemark: Eigentumsentzug bei Flüchtlingen

Nach der Abriegelung der mazedonisch-griechischen Grenze nehmen die Schleppungen über die Grenzzaunländer Bulgarien und Ungarn wieder zu, sagte Gerald Tatzgern vom Bundeskriminalamt im Ö1-Morgenjournal am Dienstag.

"Die Schlepper versuchen, ihr Geschäft nicht zu verlieren", sagte der Leiter der Zentralstelle zur Bekämpfung der Schlepperkriminalität. Sie seien in großen Flüchtlingslagern, etwa in der Türkei, aktiv. "Hier funktionieren die Schleppungen nicht nur nach Griechenland, sondern auch nach Bulgarien, wo wir verstärkt Aktivitäten feststellen", sagte Tatzgern. Es gebe in der Balkanregion Hunderte Schleppernetzwerke aus jeweils 10 bis 15 Personen, die die Weiterreise durch die einzelnen Staaten organisieren.

Abschreckung sinnvoll

Österreich setze daher auf eine intensivere Zusammenarbeit mit Griechenland und der Türkei. Dort wolle die Polizei mit einer neuen Schlepperbekämpfungseinheit zusammenarbeiten. Sinnvoll seien auch die Abschreckungskampagnen wie jene in Afghanistan, glaubt Tatzgern.

Da der Kontrolldruck an Land beständig steigt, könnte nach Ansicht von Nachrichtendiensten der überhaus gefährliche Seeweg von Nordafrika nach Südeuropa, insbesondere nach Italien, wieder attraktiver werden. Entsprechende Lagebilder wurden erst kürzlich von Europol und dem Heeresnachrichtenamt (HNaA) des Bundesheeres erstellt. Im Vorjahr kamen auf diesem Weg "nur" 150.000 von insgesamt etwa einer Millionen Menschen. Dieses Verhältnis könnte sich auf Grund der erschwerten Reisebedingungen an Land wieder ändern. Dabei kamen im Vorjahr geschätzte 3500 Personen bei der Überfahrt durchs Mittelmehr um.

Wird Ägypten neue Schlepperhochburg?

Derzeit gibt es Hinweise darauf, dass sich Schlepperorganisationen intensiv auf eine lukrative Saison 2016 vorbereiten – und zwar in Ägypten. Da die chaotische politische Lage in Lybien und die verstärkten militärischen Ambitionen des Westens dort auch für die Netzwerke unangenehm werden könnten, scheint man zumindest Teile des Geschäfts ins Nachbarland zu verlagern. Nach Angaben aus Sicherheitskreisen bringe das ein weiteres Problem mit sich: Die Behörden in Kairo hätten sich – was internationale Zusammenarbeit betrifft – bisher alles andere als kooperativ gezeigt. Insgesamt soll der "Markt" für Schleppungen über das Mittelmehr im Vorjahr 1,5 Mrd. Euro an Erträgen gebracht haben.

Wie bedeutend die Schleppernetzwerke für das Fortkommen von Flüchtlingen und Migranten sind, zeigt eine aktuelle Analyse von Europol. Demnach haben 90 Prozent der in Europa ankommenden Personen zumindest ein Mal die Dienste einer illegalen Organisation in Anspruch genommen. Dienste, die sich diese immer häufiger erst im Nachhinein bezahlen lassen: Durch Ausbeutung und das langfristige Abzahlen der Schulden.

In Österreich wies zuletzt das Bundeskriminalamt darauf hin, dass in Sachen Kriminalität derzeit jene Personen besondere Probleme machen würden, die hierzulande mit dem Schritt in die Unterwelt versuchen, ihre Schulden bei den Organisationen zu bezahlen.

>> Aktuelle Europol-Analyse zur Schlepperkriminalität

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

Barandat* Al Monitor: Water wars intensify between Egypt, Ethiopia.
Walaa Hussein for Al-Monitor

See attached article.

Will the Democratic Republic of Congo be Egypt’s newest ally in dam disputes?
Ayah Aman

See attached article.


Middle East

STRATFOR: The Real Reason for EU-Turkey Negotiations.

With weather improving by the day in the Aegean Sea, the influx of migrants will only increase, and so too will pressure on Germany.

The official topic of the long-awaited summit between the European Union and Turkey on March 7 was the migration crisis in Europe. But while the heads of government of EU members and their Turkish counterparts are debating ways to reduce the influx of asylum seekers in Europe, the issues at stake are actually broader, ranging from the European Union’s relations with Russia to the evolution of the war in Syria. EU leaders agreed to work out the details of the measures discussed Monday with Turkey before the next European Council summit, which will take place March 17-18.

Turkey and the European Union are negotiating a deal according to which Ankara would take back migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands. The European Union, in turn, would redistribute among member states most of the Syrian asylum seekers currently in Greece and some of those in Turkey. The focus on Syrian nationals is important because they represent roughly half of the migrants reaching Greek shores. If the European Union manages to restrict the flow of only those asylum seekers coming from Syria, its migration burden would drop by half.

However, there is little reason to believe that any agreements could be enforced. The European Union has pushed for months to introduce a plan to relocate asylum seekers across the Continent, but most member states have ignored it. Having failed to redistribute those asylum seekers currently in Greece and Italy, it is unlikely that member states will agree to accept even more migrants from Turkey. Some migrants may even refuse to be sent to countries they feel are undesirable. The most Germany and the European Union can hope for at this point is that a small number of EU members will accept more asylum seekers.

It is also unlikely that Turkey will accept the deal as is. During the summit on Monday, the Turkish delegation requested more money in addition to the 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) the European Union promised to give Ankara last year — only a small fraction of which has actually been delivered. More important, Turkey requested the faster implementation of a visa-free regime for Turkish citizens visiting Europe and the acceleration of accession talks to the Continental bloc. Ankara is well aware that both topics are controversial for some EU members, which is revealing of the fact that Turkey’s goal extends way beyond visas or EU accession.

Turkey’s tough negotiating stance is linked to the war in Syria. Ankara has been pushing for years for the introduction of a no-fly zone south of the Syria-Turkey border and an associated safe zone in northern Syria. But Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Syria makes a no-fly zone by the United States and the European Union too dangerous without Moscow’s participation. Neither the United States nor Europe wants to risk a war with Russia, which actively supports the loyalist forces in Syria. During Monday’s summit, Turkey and the European Union discussed the possibility of a joint endeavor to establish humanitarian safe areas inside Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and requested "a more visible NATO presence" at the Turkey-Syria border, the next best thing to the safe zone.

Turkey is therefore using the migration crisis to pressure the European Union to reach an accommodation with Russia. Still, Europe will find it hard to mend its ties with Moscow. Europe has been applying economic sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. Though some EU members have spoken against the sanctions, Germany has so far managed to keep the bloc united, and the different packages of sanctions have been extended every time they have expired. But this system is becoming harder to maintain. The most meaningful group of sanctions expires in late July, and unanimity is required to extend them. This means that it would require the veto of only a single country to prevent the punitive measures from being continued.

Some of the weakest links in the sanctions chain are the countries affected most by the migration crisis. Nations such as Italy, Greece and Hungary have expressed a desire for the quick lifting of sanctions. Those countries have major trade and energy ties with Russia, which means that easing sanctions could benefit them in multiple ways. Despite their rhetoric, however, Rome, Athens and Budapest have so far stuck to the official EU line that links sanctions to the fulfillment of the Minsk agreement. But these are the countries to watch when it comes to forecasting the continuation of the sanctions regime.

The German government has some influence when it comes to preventing a rebellion against sanctions. Greece’s creditors are currently debating whether to disburse the next tranche of the bailout program, and Athens is counting on German support to receive the money, which reduces the possibility of Greece voting against sanctions. The Italian government is about to reach a deal with the European Commission to tolerate a higher structural deficit, and German support will be essential. Hungary, in turn, may decide to protect its political ties with Poland (which wants to keep a tough stance on Russia) and support a new round of punitive measures against Russia. These factors suggest that another extension of sanctions is probable. But it also makes an agreement with Russia on the situation in Syria — and even on the situation in Ukraine — more difficult.

This complicates matters for Germany. Berlin needs to keep the European Union united and to reduce the arrival of migrants. If sanctions against Russia are lifted, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe would feel betrayed by the European Union and insecure about their future. Should sanctions be kept, Moscow would delay any moves to cooperate with Europe and Turkey on Syria, which in turn would make more people escape from the war and seek asylum in Europe. Berlin probably thinks that the second scenario is more likely, which explains Germany’s demand for Greece to build more reception centers for asylum seekers and for Turkey to take back some of the economic migrants. But with weather improving by the day in the Aegean Sea, the influx of migrants will only increase, and so too will pressure on Germany.




Saudi Arabia and the United States: Common Interests and Continuing Sources of Tension.

· Strong Ties, But with Significant Tensions

Building a Stronger Relationship

Improving Mutual Public and Policy Level Understanding of the U.S.-Saudi Strategic Partnership

· Making the U.S.-Saudi strategic partnership transparent and developing public understanding

· Explaining Saudi Arabia and Islam

· Explaining the joint fight against Islamic extremism and terrorism

Developing a Common Understanding of the Strategic and Economic Impact of Energy Interdependence

Dealing with Iran as a Broad Gulf and Regional Security Threat

· Iran’s nuclear programs

· Iran’s missile build-up

· Conventional and Asymmetric Deterrence and Defense

· The struggle for regional influence

· Working towards a common approach

Dealing with the Threat Posed by the Mix of Ethnic, Sectarian, Islamist Extremist Threats; Ongoing Fighting; and Longer-term Instability in Syria

· The success of efforts to halt the fighting – a “cessation of hostilities

· The failure of peace and ceasefire efforts and continued civil war: If the civil war continues – driven by Russian intervention and Iranian and Hezbollah support

· Offering a peace and recovery plan that will aid all elements in the struggle

· Dealing with the Threat Posed by the Mix of Ethnic, Sectarian, and Islamist Extremist Threats; Ongoing Fighting; and Longer-term Instability in Iraq

· Dealing with the Threat Posed by the Civil War in Yemen

· Improving Coordination in Counterterrorism, Counterinsurgency, and Countering Violent Islamic Extremism

· Dealing with Emergence of the Kurds as a Major Element in the Security of Syria and Iraq

· Dealing with the Broader Regional Forces of Instability that Led to the “Arab Winter,” that Already Affect Key Regional Powers like Egypt and Libya, and Now Threaten the Stability of Other States

· Better Defining the U.S. and Saudi/Gulf Strategic Partnership and Relationship

· Improving Cooperation in Developing and Coordinating Security Forces, Force Plans, Arms Choices, Training, and Contingency Plans – Bilaterally and on a GCC-wide/Arab Alliance Basis

The United States and Saudi Arabia have been strategic partners during most of the postwar era. In broad terms, the United States and Saudi Arabia have cooperated closely in shaping Gulf and regional security during most of the more than 70 years since President Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy on February 20, 1945. This partnership is even more important today than in the past, given the complex mix of threats posed by Iran, ISIS, civil war, and political upheavals. At the same time, it faces significant issues, and both sides need to make significant adjustments to make it more effective.

Strong Ties, But with Significant Tensions

Saudi Arabia strongly backed the United States against the former Soviet Union, and both states supported each other during their respective confrontations with Nasser, in supporting Afghan opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and in dealing with crises in Iraq and Yemen. They backed Iraq against Iran when Iran threatened to defeat Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, and then fought as allies against Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia depends on the United States for both most of its arms and for training and support. The Kingdom now has U.S. military advisory missions for its regular forces, its National Guard, and the counterterrorism and internal security forces in the Saudi Ministry of the Interior. U.S. government estimates indicate that Saudi Arabia placed $86 billion worth of new arms orders during 2007-2014, and $60.2 billion came from the United States.

There have, however, always been tensions as well. U.S. ties to Israel, and Saudi ties to the Palestinians, divided the two states during each of the Arab-Israel conflicts and the oil embargo in 1973. Energy has both united and divided the two countries – uniting them the moment the flow of energy exports out of the Gulf are threatened and dividing them, to some degree, when oil prices are high. Their level of cooperation has also varied with time. For example, the United States declared “twin pillars” in the Gulf when Britain left the region in the early 1970s, but gave its ties to Iran priority until the fall of the Shah in 1979.

Saudi Arabia initially opposed the Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel. The events of 9/11 created tension until Saudi Arabia also came under attack by Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and both countries became close partners in fighting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia warned the United States against the risks of invading Iraq in 2003, although it quietly allowed the United States to use its air space for recovery missions, and provided other facilities. Since that time, Saudi Arabia has seen Iraq cease to be a major strategic buffer against Iran and come under growing Iranian influence. It has also felt that the United States has failed to act decisively in dealing with Assad and the Syrian civil war, allowed Iranian influence to grow in Iraq, and accepted an uncertain nuclear agreement with Iran.

Differences in religion, culture, and political systems have been a continuing source of tension and misunderstanding. Americans who know the Kingdom understand its level of progress, have Saudi friends, and find it easy to live there, but most Americans have a limited understanding of Saudi history and culture and the progress it has made. A far larger number of Saudis have studied and lived in the United States, but most Saudis have a limited understanding of the United States. For most people in both countries – and the United States and the Kingdom are tied together by common interest and not by common understanding…

Read the full report here:


Vatikan/Jemen: Papst ist schockiert über Terror in Aden –

Mord an vier Missionarinnen der Nächstenliebe und weiteren zwölf Menschen in einem Altenheim im Jemen.

Mutmaßliche Dschihadisten haben am Donnerstag in der jemenitischen Hafenstadt Aden ein von den Mutter-Teresa-Schwestern betriebenes Seniorenheim angegriffen und 16 Menschen ermordet, alles Mitarbeiter. Wie die Behörden des arabischen Landes mitteilten, erschossen vier bewaffnete Männer zunächst einen Wachmann, stürmten dann das Gebäude und töteten dort arbeitende Schwestern, Pflegekräfte, Fahrer und Köche. Zwei der ermordeten Ordensfrauen stammten aus Ruanda und je eine aus Kenia und Indien. Die Oberin entging dem Massaker, weil sie sich verstecken konnte.

Nach Angaben des Apostolischen Vikars von Süd-Arabien, Bischof Paul Hinder, hatten die Schwestern in Aden mehrmals Drohungen erhalten. Sie hatten dennoch beschlossen zu bleiben, weil das Teilen schwerer Lebenssituationen zu ihrer Spiritualität gehöre.1998 waren bereits einmal im Jemen drei Missionarinnen der Nächstenliebe ermordet worden.

(rv/dw 05.03.2016 gs)

Papst bezeichnet ermordete Ordensschwestern als Märtyrerinnen Franziskus hat die vier in Jemen ermordeten Mutter-Teresa-Schwestern als Märtyrerinnen bezeichnet. Beim Angelusgebet beklagte er, dass solche Taten keine Schlagzeilen machten. Die Schwestern seien nicht nur Opfer ihrer Angreifer geworden, die sie getötet hatten, sondern auch Opfer der Globalisierung der Gleichgültigkeit. Vermutlich Dschihadisten hatten am Donnerstag in der jemenitischen Hafenstadt Aden ein von den Mutter-Teresa-Schwestern betriebenes Seniorenheim angegriffen und die Schwestern sowie 12 weitere Mitarbeiter ermordet. Weiterhin offen ist das Schicksal eines indischen Salesianers, der möglicherweise von den gleichen Tätern entführt worden ist. Die Generalleitung des Ordens in Rom stehe in ständigem Kontakt mit den örtlichen Behörden, hieß es. Man hoffe, Pater Tom Uzhunnalil SDB „bald wieder in die Arme schließen zu können“.

Hier mehr dazu in Text und Ton (Link:



see our letter on:

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



02-1-29-16 Cordesman_Saudi_Arabia.pdf

03-04-16 Water wars intensify between Egypt, Ethiopia – Al-Monitor.pdf

03-04-16 Will the Democratic Republic of Congo be Egypt’s newest ally in dam disputes-Al_Monitor.pdf

03-01-16 Putin’s Newest Satellite State – Armenia.pdf

03-08-16 migrant_smuggling__europol_report_2016.pdf