Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 20.05.16

Massenbach-Letter. News

· Kühl, C. (FRS): Makroökonomische Steuerung in der EU – Zwischen nationaler und supranationaler Ohnmacht

· Water and Insecurity in the Levant –

· Armenia, Azerbaijan and a Dangerous Conflict

· Pope Francis: Official schedule for Armenia visit in June

· Deutsche Energiewende: Zielverfehlungen in Sicht

· Barandat: WATERINTAKE 2/2016

· Baubeginn der Transadria-Pipeline in Thessaloniki

Pope Francis: Official schedule for Armenia visit in June.

Massenbach* George Friedman: Armenia, Azerbaijan and a Dangerous Conflict

SummaryThe conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has been simmering since 1994. The area may seem of limited importance, but the Caucasus has strategic value to surrounding powers like Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The Caucasus is both strategic and volatile. The northern or High Caucasus is under Russian control, but includes Muslim regions like Chechnya and Dagestan, where stability is a relative term. The southern Caucasus is made up of former Soviet republics, independent only since the fall of the Soviet Union. Armenia is said to be the oldest Christian polity. Azerbaijan is majority Shiite. The majority of Azeris (a Turkic people) live in northwestern Iran and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is an Azeri. Georgia, which went to war with Russia in 2008, is Christian and, worth noting, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin….

This is a region where memories are long and tempers can be short. Each country’s claim and resentment has a degree of legitimacy. The land ranges from arid plains to high and snowy mountains. It is a place where wars go on for a very long time because the terrain makes it very difficult for any wars to reach a conclusion. This is particularly true with these three states and the multitude of clans that live there….

The Caucasus was important for strategic reasons. It blocked Turkish and Persian access to the Russian heartland. Since the Soviet withdrawal, the region has had its traditional internal quarrels, but outside powers have also manipulated the region and sought to spread their influence. The Turks have a long-standing dispute with the Armenians over the latter’s charge of genocide after World War I. The Iranians unsuccessfully sought to increase their influence in Azerbaijan, which is as secular as Iran is religious. And Russia feuded with Georgia over small regions such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia… For the Russians, holding the High Caucasus is a strategic imperative, but one built on the volcanos of Chechnya and Dagestan. To assure that it is secure in the north, Russia has to keep the south in balance and counter Turkish and Iranian – and above all American – influence.

For the Iranians, Azerbaijan is a threat and opportunity. It is a threat because it can be used as a base against Iran…

For Turkey, Armenia is an enemy with which it cannot reach accommodation on its terms. With the Russians there, it cannot effectively undermine the regime. So its relations with Azerbaijan become critical. While Azerbaijan is largely Shiite and Turkey mostly Sunni, there are ethnic Turkic as well as linguistic links between the two people. Azerbaijan is a key partner for Turkey, although the Azerbaijanis play Americans, Russians, Iranians and Turks against each other to maintain freedom of action.


Pope Francis: Official schedule for Armenia visit in June.

From our Russian news desk:see attachments.

Turkey-Azerbaijan – Not Only Energy Affair “….Today, these Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are passing through a new test with the deterioration of relations between Ankara and Moscow after 24th November 2015. The aircraft crisis seems to affect the position of Turkey not only in the South Caucasus, but in Central Asia as well. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not want to be forced to prefer one or another partner between Turkey and Russia. Staying in between two allies is harder for them than for any other country. Especially, Russia’s increasing military presence and activities in Armenia in recent months and opening new credits on buying Russian military equipment by Erevan wonder Azerbaijan more, and pushes Baku to keep close military and economic ties with its northern, geographically natural and strategic neighbor.

A peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict seems to be delayed due to this military up-building in the South Caucasus and diminishing political trust between not only direct parties of the dispute but also possible and necessary mediators, Russia and Turkey. On the other hand, Baku demonstrates solidarity and shares Ankara’s concerns on its energy needs and tries to overcome this tension with a possible mediation in Turkey-Russia crisis. Time will show soon whether the “realpolitik” made a comeback again in Turkish-Russian relations, beginning not only in the Middle East politics, but also in the South Caucasus because of the region’s close neighborhood to both actors.”

The Karabakh Dimension of the Russian-Turkish Crisis. “….Relations between Turkey and Armenia are already tense. They are burdened by many historical problems, the genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I above all. The countries have no diplomatic relations. Turkey openly supports Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict and maintains a transport and communication blockade against Armenia, which it imposed in the early 1990s….the Caucasus region was within the orbit of tensions between Russia and Turkey, exacerbated by differences in Ankara’s and Moscow’s approaches to developments in Syria and Iraq. This is particularly true of Armenia. It is the only country in the region that neighbors the Middle East, is a strategic ally of Russia and a member of the CSTO, which, in accordance with bilateral and multilateral agreements, is obliged to provide assistance in the event of external aggression. Russia’s 102nd Military Base, the closest to the Syrian conflict zone, is stationed on the territory of Armenia, and includes, among other things, an air component (Armenian Erebuni Airport is home to a squadron of Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters)…. It is not improbable that the Russian-Turkish crisis will affect Russia’s position in holding up the precarious balance in its relationship with Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding the Karabakh conflict. Moscow is unlikely to harbor any illusions about the sympathies of the Azerbaijani authorities and the public in relation to the crisis between Russia and Turkey.

The mounting Russian-Turkish crisis has had a direct impact on the Armenian internal political situation, causing anxiety among politicians and the public at large. The polarization of positions of proponents of various vectors of Armenia’s foreign policy orientation is growing. The public debate about the country’s stance towards the crisis that is unfolding between Moscow and Ankara is remarkable for its wide range of opinions. Nevertheless, Yerevan’s official position on the Karabakh issue remains steadfast…..Russia is demonstrating a determination to defend its interests in the faraway Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, which is thousands kilometers away, so any renewal of the armed conflict behind its back in its near-abroad countries will hardly be ignored. A new round of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh can be perceived by Moscow as a direct result of Turkey’s intrigues, even if Turkey, in fact, has nothing to do with it…..Regardless of the catastrophic deterioration of the situation in the Middle East and surrounding regions, the main military and political factors that support a relative truce and deter Azerbaijan from resuming large-scale hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh continue to have an effect.

First of all, the matter at hand is the relative balance of the military potential of the conflicting parties, as well as the agreed position of the OSCE Minsk Group, which has not been affected by the tensions between Russia and the West. Therefore, should Azerbaijan resume large-scale hostilities, it will fail to win a swift victory, while the losses in case of a probable defeat (amidst an unambiguously negative and coordinated reaction from the international community) will be disastrous. However, this does not eliminate the possibility of escalating border clashes, but the prospects for the unleashing of a full-scale war seem to be virtually brought to naught.

Alongside this, the resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh is unlikely to align with the interests of the parties to the Russian-Turkish crisis. Russia, being involved in the conflict in Ukraine and Syria and content on the whole with the current status quo in the Caucasus region, has no interest in triggering another conflict on its southern border. It should also be noted that Russia has obligations to Armenia in the sphere of mutual defense and security…..In contrast to Syria and Iraq, the Caucasus region offers Russia a better military-strategic starting environment and more motivation to respond.”

More: Countering the threats from the Middle East.

A Modest Proposal for Nagorno-Karabakh. Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to meet for peace talks. (Vatican Radio)

The purpose of the meeting is to reinforce the cease-fire regime that followed April’s fighting, the worst in decades in Nagorno-Karabakh. The governments in Armenia and Azerbaijan have apparently slipped back into a tense standoff, and neither side seems to be budging in the peace process. However, pressure will likely come to bear at the meeting for the adoption of a U.S. initiative to install special equipment to register violations at the line of contact in Karabakh.Installing the monitoring equipment not only would be a step toward avoiding a resumption of intense fighting, but it would also discourage the artillery duels.

Armenia and Karabakh have been open to the idea. Russia, too, has been receptive, even suggesting that Germany, the current OSCE chair, be in charge of installing the equipment. Azerbaijan, though, has flatly rejected it. The country has reason to be more reluctant to the concept; it is the only party at the table overtly involved in the contact-line skirmishes. While Nagorno-Karabakh is heavily dependent on Armenia for its disputed status, the forces on the contact line are technically not Armenian. From this perspective, Azerbaijan sees the monitoring system idea as an attempt by Armenia and its ally, Russia, to impose upon it. Azerbaijan would, of course, prefer not to have a system in place that puts more potential liability on it than on the other parties in the conflict.

Moscow, on the other hand, with its overture to Germany and its leadership in talks with both Armenia and Azerbaijan in the past month, is looking increasingly conciliatory toward the West over the disputed territory. Russia is possibly looking to somehow preserve the role of the West in the process, while Moscow attempts to play grand mediator among all sides. But any grand bargain facilitated by Moscow would require extracting concessions from Azerbaijan while also figuring out how to pacify Armenia into accepting a deal. Neither prospect seems currently possible. So Moscow instead will likely try to show the West that it can keep the peace, at least for now.


Pope Francis: Official schedule for Armenia visit in June.

Radio Vatikan-Die Stimme des Papstes und der Weltkirche.

Gedenken und Ökumene: Programm der Papstreise nach Armenien.

Das Gedenken des Völkermordes an den Armeniern und eine ökumenische Erklärung: das sind die thematischen Höhepunkte der dreitägigen Papstreise nach Armenien vom 24. bis zum 26. Juni diesen Jahres. Der Vatikan stellte das ausführliche Programm an diesem Freitag vor.

Nach dem Empfang in Jerewan wird der Papst als erstes die katholische Kathedrale besuchen, dort beten und vom Katholikos – dem Haupt der Kirche – begrüßt werden. Der Papst wird abends den Präsidenten der Republik besuchen und danach im Palast des Präsidenten Vertreter von Staat und Gesellschaft treffen.

Der Denkmalskomplex von Zizernakaberd steht am Samstag als erstes auf dem Programm, dort wird des Völkermordes von 1915 gedacht. Anschließend begibt sich Papst Franziskus nach Gjumri, um dort auf einem Platz die Messe zu feiern. Nachmittags wird Franziskus dort die armenisch-orthodoxe Kirche besuchen, anschließend auch die armenisch-katholische Kirche dort. Nach der Rückkehr nach Jerewan wird es dort ein ökumenisches Treffen auf dem Platz der Republik geben.

Der Sonntag beginnt für Papst Franziskus mit einer Begegnung mit den katholischen Bischöfen des Landes in der Stadt Etschmiadsin, etwa 20 Kilometer von Jerewan entfernt. Dort wird er ebenfalls in der örtlichen Kathedrale einer armenisch-apostolischen (also orthodoxen) Göttlichen Liturgie beiwohnen. Das Mittagessen wird ebenfalls ökumenisch, danach wird der Papst Förderer der Kirche in Armenien treffen.

Anschließend wird der Papst gemeinsam mit den Vertretern der anderen christlichen Kirchen eine gemeinsame Erklärung unterzeichnen.

Zum Abschluss seiner Reise begibt sich Papst Franziskus zum Gebet in das Kloster Khor Virap, das am Fuß des Berges Ararat liegt, in Sichtweite zum Nachbarn Türkei. Danach geht es zurück nach Rom, wo der Papst am Abend zurück erwartet wird.

(rv 13.05.2016 ord)

Geopolitical Futures logo

Above you can see a map of the world from Russia’s point of view. Sometimes the most powerful graphics are not those with special effects or provocative statistics, but rather are those that change your perspective. This is one such map.

The days of the Soviet Union are over and are not about to return. The U.S. is the world’s most powerful country, and unlike during the days of the Cold War, it has no peer. Russia, however, is still a formidable regional power, one that has made headlines in recent years for its military actions in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. Much of the coverage you’ll read about Russia centers on President Vladimir Putin – his skill as a leader and the extent to which many Russians love and admire their leader and their country.
When you look at this map, a few things immediately jump out. Russia is truly a vast country, but its capital, Moscow, is located in the west of the country, as is St. Petersburg. The majority of Russia’s territory may be Asia, but Russia’s core is the area between the Ural Mountains and the border with Europe. Looking south, more natural buffers appear. Kazakhstan is still squarely within Russia’s geographic sphere of influence, but mountain ranges and harsh terrain separate Russia from China, India, and much of South Asia. Meanwhile the Caucasus Mountains serve as the natural buffer between Russia and the Middle East.

The map also reveals two of Russia’s most significant strategic vulnerabilities. The first is that Russia is very much a land-based power. St. Petersburg is an important port, but it is located on the far western border of Russia, and any Russia naval assets have to pass through hostile waters to reach anywhere important. The importance of the Black Sea and the inevitability of conflict with Turkey immediately comes into view. The Black Sea is Russia’s only avenue to access the Mediterranean, and Turkey, the gatekeeper of the Bosporus, sits astride the territory Russia must traverse to exit the Black Sea. To the far east, Russia borders the Pacific Ocean, but that is far away from Russia’s core, and a massive naval force facing the Pacific cannot help Russia with its larger vulnerability: the North European Plain.

The North European Plain is the invasion superhighway of Europe. It begins in France and Germany, extends through Poland and the Baltics, and continues straight to Moscow. There are no significant natural barriers on this flat plain, making it ideally suited for the movement of tanks and massive numbers of soldiers. The one barrier that Russia could use to strengthen itself is to push to the Carpathian Mountains, extending the limits of Russian power, but such a move would still not mitigate threats coming from the plain. The view from Russia makes the acquisition of strategic depth a fundamental imperative for Moscow’s survival. That was the strategy of the Soviet Union, and before its collapse in 1991, Russia dominated the lands between Moscow and the Carpathians and Eastern Europe because of this weakness.

This in turn illustrates why Ukraine is not just of passing interest to Russia. This is a national security issue of fundamental importance. Russia can no more give up Ukraine and allow the presence of hostile forces there than the U.S. could give up Texas or China could give up its buffer regions.

Russia has a long, complex history, rich with war, art, revolution and culture. But the place to look to understand how and why Russia behaves the way it behaves is this map. The first step towards empathetic and objective analysis is to put yourself in the shoes of those who you are trying to understand and see how the world looks from their point of view.


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Deutsche Energiewende: Zielverfehlungen in Sicht.

Bei vielen ökologischen Teilzielen der deutschen Energiewende bleibt die tatsächliche Entwicklung hinter dem eigentlich notwendigen Zeitplan zurück – zum Teil deutlich. Fortschritte werden vor allem dort erzielt, wo über ein Förderinstrument hohe Subventionen gewährt werden. Wo ein solches Instrument fehlt oder Zuschüsse und Anreize (zu) gering ausfallen, zeichnen sich Zielverfehlungen ab. Zu bemängeln ist, dass für die Bereiche Wirtschaftlichkeit und Versorgungssicherheit keine quantifizierbaren Zielgrößen formuliert sind.

Wenn man den Zwischenstand der Energiewende mit einem Satz beurteilen müsste, könnte dieser lauten:

Deutschland hat sich wohl zu viel in zu kurzer Zeit vorgenommen.

Wir sehen vor allem vier limitierende Faktoren: Kosten, physikalische Grenzen, das verfügbare Zeitbudget sowie die politische Machbarkeit.

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




März – April -Mai


… ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States. Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it …

The Obama Doctrine, TheAtlantic, April 2016 Issue

UN and World Bank announce members of joint high-level panel on water

22.04.2016 … appointment of 10 Heads of State and Government, as well as two Special Advisors … co-chaired by the Presidents of Mauritius and Mexico …

-Ameenah Gurib, President of Mauritius (Co-Chair)

-Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico (Co-Chair)

-Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

-Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh

-János Áder, President of Hungary

-Abdullah Ensour, Prime Minister of Jordan

-Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands

-Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa

-Macky Sall, President of Senegal

-Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan

-Han Seung-soo, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (Special Advisor)

-Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of State for the Environment of Peru (Special Advisor)

see more:

Iran’s May oil exports set to surge nearly 60 percent from a year ago.

May 18, 2016 … Iran’s oil exports are set to surge in May, climbing nearly 60 percent from a year ago, with European shipments recovering to about half of pre-sanction levels, according to a source with knowledge of the country’s crude lifting plans.

This shows Tehran is regaining market share at a faster pace than analysts had projected as it battles with Saudi Arabia for customers by cutting its prices …

Saudi Arabia will feel the surge in Iranian exports most keenly as it struggles for regional supremacy with Iran, with the oil market becoming a key battleground …

Saudi Arabia plans to boost production in the coming months to squeeze the Iranians … Loadings for China, Iran’s biggest customer, were nearly 840,000 bpd in April and more than 620,000 bpd are planned for May. Iran’s sales to Europe, including Turkey, are also rising fast …

Turning crisis into success in Germany

May 13, 2016 … In short, moderate political forces still enjoy the support of more than 70 percent of Germans … The enduring strength of Germany’s political center probably reflects the country’s remarkable economic success, which it has sustained for more than a decade, even as most of the rest of Europe has faced serious challenges. It owes this outcome partly to the euro …

More fundamentally, Germany has benefited from the extraordinary culture of consensus that it developed in the post-World War II period, with social partners and political parties showing a remarkable ability to compromise. A fairly wide territorial distribution of economic activity, together with strong local governments and civil-society organizations, has contributed further to a general sense of contentment—a sense that is absent in much of the world nowadays.

Now, however, as the refugee crisis fuels populism and political polarization, the foundations of Germany’s success appear to be under threat … Whether this approach will endure, and bring about successful integration, will depend on both the Germans and the refugees. The refugees will have to accept the rule of German law, even if in some cases it does not make sense to them. Both the new arrivals and German residents will need to balance respect for diversity in lifestyles with the understanding that, in a secular democracy, the same laws apply to everyone …

The successful integration of the refugees will also depend on economic growth … While the demographic inflow could become a large net benefit for Germany in the long run, it remains a burden in the short term … If Germany can integrate the refugees, it will send a powerful message to nihilists and extremists everywhere.

It would show that, with a strong economy, active civil society, and the rule of secular law, religious differences, cultural tensions, and labor-market challenges can be overcome. This is a message that the world needs now more than ever.


Middle East

Der Sykes-Picot-Komplex – Warum es sinnlos ist, den Nahen Osten von seinen „Ursünden“ her zu denken. Und warum die Europäer ruhig Pläne schmieden sollten.

16.05.2016 … Das Sykes-Picot-Abkommen, das sich am 16. Mai 2016 zum 100.

Mal jährte, gilt heute vor dem Hintergrund scheiternder Staat im Nahen Osten mehr denn je als historischer Scheidepunkt. Als Ursünde gewissermaßen, auf die sich sämtliches Ungemach, das über die Region hereingebrochen ist, zurückführen lässt … Die Tendenz, die Zeitgeschichte des Nahen Ostens in ein Vor-und-Nach-Sykes-Picot zu teilen, ist übrigens nicht nur in der arabischen Welt verbreitet, sondern auch in Europa oder den USA. Von „künstlichen“ Grenzen ist die Rede, welche die „natürliche“ und kulturelle Geografie des Nahen Ostens außer Acht ließen – und damit die Saat der Zwietracht säten. Dieser Vorwurf ist oft zu hören, wenn es um die Trennung Palästinas vom historischen „Großsyrien“ geht, aber auch im – aktuellen Kontext – von Syrien und Irak. Die Grenze, die das Zweistromland trennte und die der selbst ernannte „Islamische Staat“ kürzlich aufhob, um damit Sykes-Picot für „beendet“ zu erklären … Die Grenzen des Nahen Ostens „wie wir ihn kennen“ sind eben nicht allein das Resultat von Sykes-Picot.

Man könnte sogar lang darüber diskutieren, wie nachhaltig Letzteres die politische Geografie der Region überhaupt prägte. Weil das Osmanische Reich nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg unterging, haben viele vergessen, wie sehr osmanische Verwaltung und Bevölkerungspolitik den Nahen Osten gestaltete.

Die Wilayate und Sandschaks, wie die Provinzen und Distrikte der Osmanen hießen, gibt es zwar heute nicht mehr, aber auch sie haben regionale und historische Identitäten geprägt. Viel schwerwiegender ist allemal das Erbe des Konfessionalismus, den die europäischen Kolonialmächte gewiss nicht erfunden haben, auch wenn sie ihn manchmal machtpolitisch für sich nutzten.

Dieser Konfessionalismus verband sich einerseits mit der islamischen Herrschaftsideologie der Osmanen, diente aber auch verwaltungsökonomischen Interessen. Seine Spuren sind ohne Zweifel tiefer als die von Sykes-Picot … Es dient keineswegs der Ehrenrettung, sondern der historischen Verortung jenes Sykes-Picot-Abkommens, wenn man sich schließlich fragt, was geschehen wäre, wenn die Entente-Mächte die Araber nicht „verraten“ hätten … Die Idee eines souveränen Staates hat nur dann einen Wert, wenn sie mit Inhalten gefüllt wird und nicht bloß in Widerstandsrhetorik schwelgt. Was heute Staaten im Nahen Osten sind (und was keine), wird sich in Zukunft nicht daran entscheiden, welche Grenzen auf den Landkarten gezogen werden, sondern daran, was Regierende bereit sind, für ihre „Staatsbürger“ zu tun.

Die Idee eines souveränen Staates hat nur dann einen Wert, wenn sie mit Inhalten gefüllt wird und nicht bloß in Widerstandsrhetorik schwelgt. Und wenn ein Staat sich das Recht herausnehmen will, einer zu sein, soll er zeigen, dass er dessen würdig ist. Sykes hin und Picot her: Die Interessen der europäischen Mächte im Nahen Ostens sind – vom Partikularinteresse der Allianz mit Israel einmal abgesehen – viel zu groß, zu unspezifisch und zugleich zu widersprüchlich um Politik im Stil von damals zu betreiben.

Es geht nicht mehr um Ölquellen, Tabakmonopole, Banknoten-Emissionsrechte oder das Privileg, die Heiligen Stätten der Christenheit zu protegieren.

Es geht um Sicherheit, „Stabilität“ und Flüchtlinge. Allerdings bleibt der Nahe Osten nicht nur Nachbar, sondern natürliche Einflusszone für die Europäer, was im Übrigen auch umgekehrt der Fall ist. Der Nahe Osten liegt heute nicht mehr an der Arterie eines weltumspannenden Imperiums, sondern er ist ein stetig wachsendes Problemkind der Globalisierung.

Die Europäer sollten also keinen Sykes-Picot-Komplex ausleben und sich selbst einreden: Wir haben uns einmal an der Region versündigt, also halten wir uns fortan heraus. Es wäre wünschenswert, dass sie nicht in den Hinterzimmern von Whitehall, sondern ganz öffentlich Pläne schmieden. Sie sollten Szenarien zu Ende denken und erklären, wie sie sich die Zukunft des Nahen Ostens vorstellen und welchen Preis sie bereit sind, für die Verwirklichung der Pläne zu zahlen. Sie sollten zudem deutlich machen, nach welchen Kriterien sie künftig ihre Verbündeten auswählen wollen und welche „Grenzen“ sie bereit sind zu ziehen …




Water and Insecurity in the Levant –

Around the world it is easier to find examples of cooperation than of conflict.

Even in the Middle East, the water cooperation between Jordan and Israel is an important model.

A Water Pump with a Green Fish Sculpture

The Middle East is the most water-stressed region in the world and climate change is about to make the problem worse. If the area’s states hope to avoid water-driven instability, argue Ido Bar and Gerald Stang, they’ll have to join together and address a host of technical, political and security problems at both the local and regional levels.

By Ido Bar and Gerald Stang for European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS)

05-12-16 PROD00403870 – Deutsche Energiewende – Zielverfehlungen.pdf
05-12-16 Kühl, Carsten – Makroökonomische Steuerung in der EU – Zwischen nationaler und supranationaler Ohnmacht.pdf
05-16-16 WATERINTAKE 02_2016.pdf