Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 10.06.16

Massenbach-Letter. News

· CDUDas Ende einer Volkspartei.

· Brexit and European energy policy – the case for engagement

· Valdai Club: Status Quo in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Is Detrimental to Russia and Its Allies.

· Radio Vatikan: Armenien – Hoffen auf Friedensstifter Papst

· Why Russia Is Boosting Defenses on Its Western Borders

· Trusted Assad aide (Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban) reportedly invited to Washington

· US Army War College Quarterly: Is Nation Building A Myth? America’s Foreign Policy Challenge

· U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue Outcomes of the Strategic Track

· Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses: Time to Rejuvenate the India-Russia Partnership

From our Russian news desk. A round-up in Russian policy in Central Asia-Greater Middle East-Europe. (see attachment)

Nick Butler: Don’t count on an orderly transition to a low carbon world.

Massenbach*Brexit and European energy policy – the case for engagement.

By Anna Dedhar, Nick Butler

“On the current opinion polls, the UK will vote to remain part of Europe on June 23. But that is not enough. Once the current crazy exchange of threats and fears is over, there needs to be a serious engagement so the key policies can be shaped by British experience and skills as well as those of other member states.

A vote to remain should not be a vote for the status quo, or for a Europe in which Britain is a reluctant, whining member who stays only under sufferance. Europe can do more and Britain can help to lead the process.”

With a few honourable exceptions, the debate on British membership of the EU has so far consisted of a contest between the outs and the half outs – that is, those who want Britain to leave completely and those prepared to stay only if the country is protected from further incursion by immigrants or European policy makers. The other approach – active engagement to change and improve what happens – has barely been articulated. In several areas positive engagement is much needed and offers substantial benefits. Energy policy is a good place to start.

The EU has only limited competence when it comes to energy policy. The mix of fuels and the tax system under which they are traded remain matters of national choice. That isn’t likely to change. It would be a waste of time to try to force France to accept fracking or to tell the Germans that they are going to have to keep nuclear power. Any attempt to centralise such emotive decisions will fail.

In any case it is unnecessary. What matters is that European citizens have safe and secure supplies of energy when they need it at a price they can afford and that the different energy policies of the 28 member states contribute to the progressive reduction of emissions which is a clear common policy objective.

Those three objectives – energy security, competitiveness in a world where energy prices can influence employment as well as living standards, and environmental protection – are not always easy to combine. But there are things European countries working together could and should do that would help.

Security would be improved if supplies were diversified – so an accident or some act of political hostility by one supplier could easily be resolved by the provision of supplies from elsewhere. Emergency stocks could be held collectively – a much cheaper solution than expecting 28 different countries to each keep stocks of their own. And, most important of all, infrastructure could be built to ensure that no individual state is isolated, and that back up networks especially for the supply of gas and electricity are available to everyone. The European Commission has talked and written a good deal about the last point but nothing has happened. Diversity has been promoted as a concept but German policy in particular now seems to be working to strengthen the role of Russian gas supplies, which will benefit Germany at the expense of the common good.

As a result, in a period when imports are growing as production of oil and gas from the North Sea declines, Europe’s energy supplies are becoming less secure year by year.

In terms of competitiveness current policies are not working. Electricity prices across Europe, with the exception of France, are materially higher than those in the US because of the cost of subsidised renewables. Gasoline prices for both business and ordinary consumers are also higher because petrol is used as a way of extending the tax base. In the UK almost 80 per cent of the pump price motorists pay is accounted for by taxes.

On the environment, the European approach has been to set targets – for instance for emissions reductions. Many such targets are regularly missed – even Germany will not meet its own 2020 targets because of continued support for coal-fired power generation. The gap between targets and performance undermines the credibility of public policy generally. The greatest contributor to the reduction in emissions is low growth and austerity – a pyrrhic victory bought at the price of high unemployment and social dislocation.

None of this is a reason for writing Europe off, or for giving up on the objectives. European policy could and should be much more practical and productive. Let’s take three practical suggestions.

  • First, the key infrastructure links should be built – particularly to areas such as the Baltic states which remain uncomfortably dependent on the energy networks of the old Soviet era Comecon economy (the communist version of Europe’s common market). European structural funds should be combined with the proposed Juncker investment fund in a way that would materially help the local economy. The proposed lines linking the Baltic states to western Europe are not the only important project but they are a symbol of what could be done and would represent a confirmation of Europe’s commitment to the full integration of its eastern member states.
  • Second, Europe should proceed step by step with the development of an ultra-high voltage grid which could eventually be connected across the continent. The Chinese have mastered the technology – why can’t Europe do the same? A new grid would allow power to be moved over long distances with minimal losses. The greatest beneficiary would be the renewables sector, where production is often located at a long distance from the main centres of consumption. A grid that could access supplies from all areas would reduce the costs of intermittency arising from the fact that the sun does not shine all the time and the wind does not blow continuously. In particular, a strong grid would remove the burden of maintaining high-cost back-up supplies in the form of power stations usually fired by gas which are used for only a fraction of the day.
  • Third, and perhaps most important of all, Europe could refocus its response to climate change away from self-indulgence. A clean, carbon-free Europe is irrelevant if other parts of the world remain dependent on energy sources that produce high levels of emissions. Climate change does not recognise national boundaries. The key challenge for the next 20 years is to find a way of enabling the world’s poorer countries to raise living standards without creating a global environmental disaster. India, and other emerging economies, cannot afford high-cost renewables as an alternative to coal. They need energy supplies that are simultaneously low cost and low carbon. The scientific and engineering challenge of achieving that should be at the heart of European policy.

None of these are impossible goals. But they are not being achieved. Current European policies are too rigid. Britain has a long history in energy development and trade and great strengths in technology and science but the UK government has stepped back from the development of energy policy in Europe because anything that requires co-operation has been seen as toxic in the narrow terms of the country’s political debate. That means that the potential gains are lost and the real possibilities of progress are left out of the debate at a moment when as the former UK prime minister Gordon Brown argues in his new book, Leading not Leaving, “people need to hear a positive message about what Europe can deliver for them”.

On the current opinion polls, the UK will vote to remain part of Europe on June 23. But that is not enough. Once the current crazy exchange of threats and fears is over, there needs to be a serious engagement so the key policies can be shaped by British experience and skills as well as those of other member states.

A vote to remain should not be a vote for the status quo, or for a Europe in which Britain is a reluctant, whining member who stays only under sufferance. Europe can do more and Britain can help to lead the process.


From our Russian news desk:see attachments.

Valdai Club: Status Quo in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Is Detrimental to Russia and Its Allies.

Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a key foreign policy priority for Russia. As seen from Moscow, the main threat is a resumption of hostilities, a local conflict and its prospective escalation into a regional war involving third countries, primarily Russia and Turkey.

But yet another threat – the foot-dragging on conflict resolution that weakens Russia’s positions in the South Caucasus – is no less serious. Aware of its weakness, Yerevan seeks to shift to Moscow the responsibility for safeguarding the results of its victory in the 1991-1994 conflict and starts to fret when Russia fails to do so. Azerbaijan feels that it is becoming an increasingly important regional player who is ready to defend its interests militarily even if this means spoiling relations with Russia. The situation is made even more complex by the Turkish factor (Moscow’s relations with Ankara deteriorated sharply in late 2015). All these factors taken together make the situation increasingly unstable and unpredictable as the status quo grows more fragile.

Russia is eager to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as is evidenced by a series of Moscow’s diplomatic initiatives in recent years. After being approved by other members of the Minsk Group, they form the framework of the settlement process. But Moscow lacks the “golden share” in the political process. As long as the parties are not ready to accept a settlement, no one is able to influence them. The best thing that can be done in this case is to deter Baku and Yerevan from resuming hostilities.

In this context, the Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan were bilateral confidence-building and military transparency measures. Despite a series of military incidents in recent years and the armed clashes in April 2016, it is clear that on the whole the Russia-mediated system of military and political checks and balances does work, considering that Baku is not after a big war even though it is beginning to use force to indicate its political interests and disagreement with the status quo. The existing military balance between the parties and Russia’s military guarantees to Armenia make a big war improbable, although isolated military incidents cannot be ruled out.

Another reason why Russia is in no hurry to curtail its defense cooperation with Azerbaijan is that it forms the backbone of multifaceted cooperation between the two countries. With the backbone gone, Baku will have to look for solutions to its problems, including in Nagorno-Karabakh, in circumvention of and opposition to Russia. An example of this kind of policy in the Caucasus is Georgia under Saakashvili. A big war would draw closer (rather than vice versa), if Azerbaijan chose to join the anti-Russian camp. It is for this reason that Moscow is averse to alienating Baku.

Russia would stand to gain from the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict rather than from its freeze. The status quo is detrimental to Russia’s ally, Armenia. Given its maximalist stance on conflict settlement, Yerevan is slowly falling behind its opponent, while growing increasingly irritated by actions taken by Russia which, in its view, should solve Armenia’s problems. Armenia has no common border with Russia or an access to the sea; it is being blockaded by Turkey and is geographically cut off from the key regional transport and energy infrastructure. These and other factors are leading to an economic slowdown. Even its membership of the Eurasian Economic Union will not solve the problem. The Armenian economy will grow slowly, pushing up the economic emigration index. The lack of settlement is compounding its regional isolation and emerging as the main impediment to its long-term development.

Given this tendency, where will Armenia’s economy and population be by 2050? The current trends indicate that the status quo will be substantively less favorable than it is now. The problem is that the elites and the public in Armenia do not see the opening of borders, legalization of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), normalization of relations with neighbors and accession to regional transit projects as a sufficient prize and incentive to sign at least a document on the basic aspects of settlement pursuant to the Madrid Principles. As a result, Yerevan’s defense of the postwar status quo (territorial gains in exchange for isolation) is dooming it to a slow stagnation and weakening in the context of historical regional rivalry.

Like Yerevan, Baku is bogged down in an intractable military conflict and is as radical as its opponent. But as distinct from Armenia, Azerbaijan has preserved even-keel relations with all its neighbors. Baku has cooperative relationships with Russia and Iran, its influence is evident in Georgia, and it has formed a tandem with Turkey. Long-term economic and demographic prospects are more favorable for Azerbaijan than Armenia, even if we factor in low oil prices. Azerbaijan is a hub of most regional transit projects – railway, road, and pipeline. Finally, Baku is slowly getting a military edge over both Armenia and the NKR. The public is inspired by the military clashes in April and the loss of life sustained doesn’t seem unjustified. Azerbaijan feels confident enough to periodically test the NKR’s and Armenia’s readiness to defend what they gained during the 1991-1994 war. Annual small-scale military clashes and the adjustment of the line of contact may become a new element of the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh. But the existing state of affairs cannot suit Russia.

Even though many international conflicts cannot be solved politically, it is extremely important for Moscow to find a formula that would make it possible to wrap up the confrontation in Nagorno-Karabakh to everyone’s satisfaction. The status quo is increasingly fragile and fraught with a permanent threat of a local or regional war, something that is weakening Russia’s hand in the South Caucasus and eroding the CSTO and EAEU unity. By settling the conflict Russia would remove the perpetual threat of war in the Caucasus, strengthen its influence in the region, bolster its ally, Armenia, and involve Azerbaijan in closer cooperation.

The key objective in this sense is to restore Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s confidence in the Madrid Principles, whose implementation would make it possible to achieve a balance of benefits and costs for all parties to the conflict. In other words, there will be no losers. Baku will return to areas surrounding the NKR and bring back the refugees. Yerevan will emerge from the regional isolation and will legalize the NKR. Both countries will normalize relations and close the last chapter of their Soviet past. It’s a tall order for Moscow, but the results would considerably surpass anything Russia could do to achieve peace in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Andrey Sushentsov is Programme Director, Foundation for the Development and Support of the Valdai International Discussion Club; head, Vneshnyaya Politika (Foreign Policy) Agency; Associate Professor, MGIMO University.

Radio Vatikan: Armenien – Hoffen auf Friedensstifter Papst

Armenien: Hoffen auf Friedensstifter Papst Vom 24. bis zum 26. Juni bereist der Papst Armenien, ein Land, in dem „der erste Völkermord des Jahrhunderts stattgefunden“ hat, wie der Papst selbst sagte. Auch der Deutsche Bundestag hat letzte Woche das Massaker der ottomanischen Truppen 1915 an den christlichen Armeniern in einer Bundestagsresolution als Völkermord gebrandmarkt. Die Türkei als Nachfolgerin des Osmanischen Reichs sprach von einer historischen Fehlentscheidung des deutschen Parlaments. Umso wichtiger in diesen Tagen der aufflammenden Diskussion ist jedoch der Geist der Versöhnung, den man sich von der Papstvisite in dem Land verspricht, so Nareg Naamo, der Rektor des päpstlichen armenischen Kollegs in Rom. „Und der Papst wird ja auch einen Friedensbesuch abstatten, nicht nur in Armenien, sondern in den kommenden Monaten auch in Georgien und in Aserbaidschan, zwei Länder, die keine guten Beziehungen zu Armenien haben – insbesondere Aserbaidschan. Deshalb erhoffen wir uns von diesem Besuch viele Früchte….“ (rv) Hier mehr in Text und Ton

(Link: )

Why Russia Is Boosting Defenses on Its Western Borders.

June 6, 2016 As negotiations over Ukraine continue, Moscow is sending a message to the West.

Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s first chancellor, once advised never to believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied. Denials – and especially denials of government leaks – are carefully formulated and often designed to send a message to foreign capitals. This proved especially relevant in Russia last week.

Russian media reported details of Russian troop movements to the country’s western borders. On June 2, Dmitry Peskov, official spokesman of Russian President Vladimir Putin, denied that Russia is deploying forces close to the Belarusian border, saying, “to talk about reinforcing some force on the border with Belarus would be a great exaggeration.”

This statement is significant first and foremost because Peskov did not deny that troops are moving to Russia’s western borders, merely that Russian ally Belarus is not the focus of the movement. Moreover, this report and the subsequent formal denial come at a time when Russia is engaged in a complex negotiation with the U.S. and Germany over the future of Ukraine and Moscow’s relationship with Europe.

Moscow is employing a dual negotiating tactic. It is seeking to show foreign governments that it remains a credible military threat when it comes to Ukraine. But Russian officials are also working to appear conciliatory and have shown a willingness to aid Western powers when it comes to issues like Syria. The ultimate aim of this tactic is to create a split within the West over its approach to Russia, while also incentivizing Western governments to provide concessions on key areas, like the future status of Ukraine.

Russia is signaling, directly and indirectly, that it retains the capability to pose a military threat to Ukraine. Moscow is doing this by boosting forces along its western edges, but limiting its deployments to a level that does not pose an immediate threat to NATO countries’ security.

Local reports regarding possible deployments began surfacing in late April, as photos and activist probes into a possible expanded Russian military presence in Bryansk Oblast emerged online. On June 3, Russian news agency Interfax reported that a source said the 28th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade from Yekaterinburg is in the process of being redeployed to Klintsy in Bryansk, about 25 miles from Belarus and approximately 31 miles from Ukraine. At the same time, the 23rd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade is reportedly being redeployed from Samara to Valuyki in Belgorod Oblast, about 12 miles from the Ukrainian border.

The most recent reports came after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in early May that Russia is forming three new military divisions (a Russian military division consists of about 10,000 troops). Two divisions will be placed in the country’s Western Military District and one in its Southern Military District. Therefore, Russia, formally and informally, is making it clear that it is in the process of boosting forces along its western and southwestern borders.

These kind of troop movements have happened before. In 2014, at the height of tensions in Ukraine, NATO estimated that Russia had deployed about 40,000 troops near its borders with Ukraine. Nevertheless, the recent reports of new and redeployed forces in the area are important because they play a role in Russia’s ongoing negotiations with the U.S. and Germany.

Until recently, Berlin and Washington largely agreed on how to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Both countries pushed for sanctions and boosting NATO’s defenses, especially in Poland and the Baltic states. At the same time, both were committed to politically and financially supporting Kiev’s Western-oriented government.

But as we outlined last week, the German position is shifting. Faced with a referendum on whether Britain will leave the EU on June 23, banking troubles in southern Europe, and its own economic woes in the form of an export crisis, Berlin is looking for ways to ease tensions with Moscow.

Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen, said on June 2 that discussions over lifting sanctions have come “too early,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been openly talking about a “step-by-step” lifting of sanctions. In addition, a report in German weekly Spiegel indicated that even Merkel’s office is beginning to shift its stance on Moscow and looking to ease some sanctions in return for some progress in Ukraine.

Ukraine is strategically significant for Berlin, but not as important as maintaining the cohesion of the EU. With some EU countries, like Greece and Hungary, preferring a friendlier stance toward Russia, and with the bloc experiencing its own crises, Germany is opting to prioritize Kiev less.

This compromise, however, is bound to antagonize German allies like Poland, who see Russia as a direct threat to their security interests. Moreover, Moscow and Berlin are highly aware that Germany can make concessions only if Russia does not become very aggressive militarily. Russian military aggression would force Berlin, due to pressure domestically and from NATO, to side against Russia and set aside potential economic or political concessions.

The U.S. position is more firm than Germany’s. The U.S. has a strong interest in preventing Russian interference in Central and Eastern Europe, and unlike Berlin, Washington can provide significant military assistance to the region. Nevertheless, the U.S. position when it comes to Ukraine has been shifting over the past months as well.

The U.S. is continuing to rely on Russia as a partner in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, as well as cooperating with Moscow on a range of issues, from Iran to terrorism. Moreover, while the U.S. and NATO have been boosting troop numbers and deploying weapons and supplies to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the U.S. does not wish to trigger a conflict with Russia by providing significant military assistance to Ukraine or permanently deploying forces to the country.

The U.S. aims to deter Russia, but it is also seeking stability in the region. As a result, the U.S. is open to finding a compromise over Ukraine and is more willing than Germany to bargain hard for a deal. But it is also more committed to boosting the defenses of NATO allies in the region.

Therefore, Russia is moving some troops to its western borders to remind the West that Moscow can pose a threat to the region and thus improve its position in negotiations with the U.S. However, Moscow is opting to limit the size of these deployments and remain ambiguous about their status in order to avoid derailing its rapprochement with Germany and prospects for an easing of European sanctions.

In Geopolitical Futures’ forecast for 2016, we wrote that there will be a settlement in Ukraine, whether formal or informal. At this stage, as a delicate game of deployments, denials, military coordination and never-ending rounds of diplomatic summits plays out, Russia is aiming to undermine the cohesion of the West and ultimately come to an agreement that would ensure the neutrality of Ukraine.

Turkey’s Shifting Policy on Syria.

June 8, 2016 Over the past few days, Ankara has seemed to relax its stance on Syrian Kurds.

Turkey is in the midst of a major shift in its policy on Syria. Ankara has long opposed the Syrian Kurds because it sees them as affiliates of the Turkish Kurdish separatist movement, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But now it has reached a compromise with Washington, in which it is willing to accept a role for the Democratic Party of Syria (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), in the fight against the Islamic State. The Turks will continue to view the Syrian Kurds as enemies. For now though, their relationship with the Americans and the threat from the Islamic State is a higher priority for them.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on June 7 claimed that Washington had guaranteed that Syrian Kurdish forces would not retain a presence west of the Euphrates River after U.S.-led operations against IS were over. Speaking to state-owned broadcaster TRT Haber, the top Turkish diplomat remarked: “If the YPG wants to give logistical support on the east of the Euphrates then that is different. But we do not want even a single YPG militant to the west [of Euphrates] especially after the operations. The U.S. has given a guarantee about this.”

On June 2, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that his country was assured that Arabs would lead the fight against IS in the northern Syrian area of Manbij, while the Kurds would largely play a logistical role.

It was only on May 30 that Turkey said it was ready for a joint operation with the United States against IS, but on the condition that the Syrian Kurds were not a part of it. We detected the beginning of this shift in Turkish policy when U.S. CENTCOM Commander Army Gen. Joseph Votel made a surprise visit to Turkey to ask Turkey to play a key role in the offensive against the Islamic State. Votel went to Turkey from Syria, where he had met with the PYD/YPG leadership.

Three days prior, Erdoğan hinted at a change in his country’s position when he said that Turkey had “neither the chance nor the right to turn our back on our region and the world.” He also added: “Who can say, claim or imagine that the things happening in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East have nothing to do with us?” These remarks were the first sign that Turkey was finally ready to fight IS.

The Turks had resisted U.S. pressure to play a lead role in the efforts against IS in Syria. Our view has been that Ankara would be dragged into Syria eventually, but we aren’t expecting Turkish troops to march into Syria in 2016.

The Turks cannot afford to have problems all along their periphery and a bad relationship with the Americans. Syria has been a growing challenge since it became clear that the Assad regime was not about to be toppled. But last November, Syria became far more complicated when the Turks shot down a Russian aircraft on the Syrian border.

This incident meant that Turkey had crises to its north and south. There was no way the Turks could be at loggerheads with Washington and Moscow simultaneously. Meanwhile, Turkey’s relations with Europe had also soured because of the migrant issue and because of its unwillingness to crack down on IS. A key reason the Turks have been hesitant to act against IS is the fear that doing so would empower the Syrian Kurds and by extension exacerbate the domestic Kurdish separatist movement. However, that concern became secondary to Turkey’s need to get out from under the pressures it was facing on all sides.

At the same time, IS was becoming a threat to Turkish security. The only way out was to mend relations with the Americans. The price for that was to get involved against IS. Besides, it was becoming clear that the Syrian Kurds were going to be the ground force against IS, which the Turks could not tolerate. Subjective preferences aside, the Turks also know that the Syrian Kurds are the only force right now that could strike at the heart of the IS caliphate.

The Islamist rebels that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are backing are focusing on fighting the Assad regime. Certainly the Turks do not want to insert their own troops, which would explain why they have agreed to the use of special forces. Therefore, they have gone from demanding that Arab fighters play the lead role while the Kurds act as an auxiliary force to saying they are willing to accept a Kurdish role in the fight against IS so long as the Kurds do not control any areas west of the Euphrates.

The fight against IS will not end anytime soon, so it is difficult to predict what will happen. At some point in the future, the Turks may deploy a large number of troops in this operation. They may not do this to fight IS, but they would likely do so to prevent the Syrian Kurds from enhancing the scope of Kurdistan, which is anchored in northeastern Syria.

Regardless of the fate of IS and the Kurds and the overall situation in Syria, the United States will likely get what it wants – for the Turks to play the lead role in managing war-torn Syria.


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* CDU – Das Ende einer Volkspartei.

Die CDU ist angekommen – bei desaströsen 30 Prozent in den Umfragen. Dabei hält sie allein der Rückenwind aus Bayern noch über dem SPD-Niveau. Jetzt rächt es sich, dass die Partei sich in den vergangenen Jahren zum Angela-Merkel-Verein entwickelt hat.

Jetzt ist die Peter-Tauber-Union also dort angekommen, wohin der fesche CDU-Generalsekretär sie mit schlafwandlerischer Sicherheit gesteuert hat: in den Umfragen bei 30 Prozent. Schuld daran dürfte mal wieder das uneinsichtige Schwesterchen CSU sein, deren Vorsitzender tagein, tagaus nichts Besseres zu tun hat, als der Kanzlerinnen-Partei Sand ins Getriebe zu streuen, das ansonsten mit ausreichend grünem Schmierstoff so geschmeidig laufen sollte wie die neuerdings mit Steuergeld angetriebenen Elektromobile. Letzteres übrigens entgegen der ausdrücklichen Vereinbarung im Koalitionsvertrag.

Dem weißblauen Himmel sei Dank, dass es den polternden Bajuwaren-Häuptling Seehofer gibt, sonst käme im Berliner Konrad-Adenauer-Haus noch jemand auf die Idee, sich dumme Fragen zu stellen. Zum Beispiel jene, ob die Rechnung des neuen Hausorakels Matthias Jung von der Forschungsgruppe Wahlen wirklich aufgeht. Demzufolge kann nämlich „die CDU rechts Verluste verkraften, weil sie das in der Mitte mehr als kompensieren“ könne. Was argumentativ schon deshalb bestechend ist, weil in der Logik der CDU-Führung der vermeintlich provinzielle Konservatismus des Horst Seehofer dazu führt, dass sich die Wähler in Scharen der AfD zuwenden – denn die würden ja für das Original stimmen (was ausgerechnet in Bayern nicht der Fall ist). Links der Mitte scheint dieser Glaubenssatz erstaunlicherweise aber keine Geltung zu haben, sonst käme das CDU-Zentralkomitee ja nicht auf die Idee, im grünen Milieu zu fischen. Oder wählen Grünen-Anhänger tatsächlich lieber Taubers Unisex-Union anstatt ihre eigene Stamm-Partei?

Schwarz-rot-grüne Regierung unter Merkel?

Man könnte sich aber auch fragen, ob die ach so modernen Funktionäre der Christdemokraten nicht besser beraten wären, ein bisschen häufiger auf die CSU zu hören. Denn die hält sich im Freistaat in Umfragehöhen nahe der absoluten Mehrheit – während die Union ohne den Rückenwind aus Bayern irgendwo um die 22 Prozent läge. Eine stolze Volkspartei sieht jedenfalls anders aus. Und daraus ergibt sich schon gleich eine weitere Frage: Mit welcher Koalitionsaussage wollen die Unionsparteien eigentlich in den nächsten Bundestagswahlkampf gehen, wenn es nach heutigem Stand nicht einmal mehr für die Große Koalition reicht?

Angela Merkel als präsidiale Kanzlerin einer schwarz-grün-roten Regierung, diese Vorstellung mag vielleicht noch Unionsspitzenkräfte wie Armin Laschet aus Nordrhein-Westfalen in freudige Erregung versetzen. Anderswo, insbesondere in südlicheren Gefilden der Bundesrepublik, hält sich die Begeisterung ob solcher Aussichten in Grenzen. Aber vielleicht reicht es der rundum modernisierten CDU ja auch schon, wenn sie sich den Grünen nicht wie in Baden-Württemberg als Juniorpartner andienen muss.

Die Karte Merkel ist kein Trumpf mehr

Wer sich in diesen Tagen mit CDU-Abgeordneten unterhält, bekommt vor allem große Ratlosigkeit zu spüren, teilweise auch Verzweiflung. Denn jetzt rächt es sich, dass diese Partei sich in den zurückliegenden Jahren zum Angela-Merkel-Verein entwickelt hat, der jede Volte der Vorsitzenden mitzutragen bereit war, solange deren Strahlkraft Wahlsiege versprach. Damit ist es nun vorbei, und auch die derzeitigen Versuche des Kanzleramts, die kopflose Politik der offenen Grenzen im Nachhinein als alternativloses Staatshandeln ins rechte Licht zu rücken, werden daran nichts mehr ändern können.

Der Vertrauensverlust ist da, deswegen werden auch Wohlstandsvernichtungsprogramme wie die Energiewende nicht mehr als ökologisches Heilsversprechen angenommen, sondern zunehmend kritisch hinterfragt – das Kartenhaus droht zusammenzubrechen. „Sie kennen mich“: Mit diesem Wahlkampfslogan wird die Bundeskanzlerin nicht noch einmal ins Rennen gehen können. Denn der Satz würde nach ihren Einlassungen in der Causa Böhmermann und angesichts der regelmäßigen Pilgerfahrten an den Sultanspalast in Ankara mittlerweile wie eine Drohung klingen.

Die CDU ist nicht mit sich im Reinen – und keiner weiß das besser als deren Abgeordnete, denen es immer schwerer fällt, die inhaltliche Kluft zwischen der Elite im Adenauer-Haus und der Basis im Wahlkreis zu überbrücken. Eine Volkspartei kann so nicht funktionieren. Und es spricht wenig dafür, dass es der Union auf Dauer anders ergehen sollte als der SPD. Die Sozialdemokraten sind da, wie es sich für eine Fortschrittspartei gehört, einfach nur schon einen Schritt weiter. Also am Abgrund.

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

Barandat* US Army War College Quarterly: Is Nation Building A Myth? State-Building: America’s Foreign Policy Challenge

Abstract: This article provides an overview of the domestic security environments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria today and discusses the danger new radical-inspired states pose to the United States and the international community. Ultimately, state-building remains the primary strategic means to address this new challenge. However, the world should prepare for the rise of radical-inspired states if state-building proves to be impossible.

(More: see att.)

The full issue att.


Middle East

I.R. IRAN – Fundamente der Wirtschaft

Von Dr. Mahya Karbalaii, Tehran.

posted in: Iranian Markets & Industries

Häufig wird berichtet, dass der Iran die zweitgrößte Volkswirtschaft im Mittleren Osten ist, allerdings gibt es sehr wenige Studien, die ein detailliertes Bild der iranischen Wirtschaft und ihrer Struktur aufzeigen. Die Autorin, eine profunde Kennerin, fächert in ihrem Übersichtsbeitrag die Struktur der iranischen Wirtschaft und ihre wichtigsten Bereiche auf.

Im iranischen Geschäftsjahr 1394, nach christlicher Zeitrechnung vom 21. März 2014 bis 20. März 2015, betrug das Bruttoinlandsprodukt rund 407 Milliarden US-Dollar. Trotz bestehender Sanktionen erwirtschafte das Land in dem Jahr ein Wachstum zwischen einem und drei Prozent, je nach statistischer Quelle…..

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Nick Butler: Don’t count on an orderly transition to a low carbon world

Remember the Arab Spring and the heady promise of freedom and peace in the Middle East? Many normally sensible observers were carried away by the excitement of the internet-led revolution in Tahrir Square and across the region. Now, a similarly happy transformation is promised in the energy market as the world moves away from oil, gas and coal. The transition is certainly coming but its implications will be as disruptive and dangerous as those of the Arab Spring. We should be prepared for the consequences rather than misled by wishful thinking.

The shift to a low-carbon energy system will be smooth, orderly and beneficial for most of the global economy: that is the view of a new set of papers from the Global Agenda on the Future of Oil and Gas – a group set up by the World Economic Forum, the organisers of Davos. Unfortunately, all the evidence so far points in the opposite direction. The shift may be beneficial in terms of the world’s environment, but economically and politically the result could be dramatically destructive.

Five years ago, the obsession of oil market analysts and commentators was with peak oil, meaning peak supply as finite resources were used up. The argument influenced price speculation and encouraged some companies to invest in expensive projects. Times change and now the common view is that demand will peak before supply, although there is no agreement on when that will occur.

A new contribution to the debate written for the Global Agenda group says that the transition will have many benefits for the global economy. With a diminished role for oil, energy and financial markets will become more stable. Vulnerabilities to supply disruptions and price shocks will be things of the past.

The authors of the paper, Amy Myers Jaffe, the executive director of energy and sustainability at University of California, Davis, and Jereon van der Veer, the former chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, are serious and well-respected individuals. Their expert knowledge, however, and that of most of the group of which they are part, is based on the world of the past 40 years when oil in particular has been at high tide, with demand continuously rising.

Hydrocarbon consumption across the world has risen by 80 per cent since Mr Van der Veer joined Shell in 1971. Prices have been volatile but the importance of oil, gas and coal to the global economy has never been in doubt. Companies could take risks investing in oil and gas in the confidence that the world market would keep growing; governments could allow their economies to remain dependent on oil and gas because they believed it would always generate the revenues needed to keep things going. Many came to believe that despite occasional volatility, scarcity of supply would continue to drive underlying prices upward over time.

The world described in the Global Agenda paper is very different. Oil demand peaks and then falls back to 80m barrels a day or less by 2040, with further falls to come beyond that. This is intended to be a directional projection, not a detailed forecast. I have no quarrel with the direction, but I do have three specific doubts about the anticipated pace of change and about the authors’ confident expectation of an orderly and positive transition.

First, the papers are correct in saying that the transition is coming. On the timing, however, I think they are far too cautious. Once the tipping point comes, driven primarily as the paper argues by the market penetration of electric vehicles, I don’t think it will take long for the new technologies to spread across the world. Globalisation transfers knowledge and new products very quickly and in the process reduces unit costs. We are not at the tipping point yet, but it is not that far away and once we are past it the downhill slide of oil demand could be dramatic.

Gradualists tend to believe that the embedded investment in the existing capital stock will be a sufficient drag to slow down the process of change. I don’t agree. If the new products are cheaper and more convenient they will dominate the market very quickly. Ask the makers of typewriters or fax machines.

The second point concerns the ability of the oil- and gas-dependent economies to adjust. It is not difficult to think of a dozen countries that are currently overwhelmingly dependent on oil and gas revenue and very ill prepared for this transition – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya, Venezuela, Angola, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan Kazakhstan and Mexico. In almost every case, national economies are completely centred on oil and gas with subsidiary activity dependent on subsidies of one sort or another. For all of them, the scenario painted by Global Agenda will reduce export revenue (and therefore the ability to buy imports), employment, tax revenue and the capacity for public spending.

A few well-run oil producers such as Abu Dhabi might make the transition smoothly. A few more, like Saudi, should have low enough costs to remain competitive in a shrinking oil market. But the rest are vulnerable to any downturn in demand. In addition, of course, significant parts of numerous countries from Colombia to South Africa to Indonesia live off trade in coal, which will also decline and experience intense price competition.

My third point of doubt, arising from the second, concerns the overall cost-benefit analysis. The broad assumption of the paper is that since there are more consumers than producers there must be a net gain in economic welfare. But that disregards the question of timing.

The citizens of producing countries that have come to depend on oil and gas revenue start to lose immediately. Those in importing countries gain slowly over a much longer period. In many countries, such as India, those gains are less than one might expect because prices – for instance of petrol – have been heavily subsidised. Plus, any gains must be balanced against the costs of managing new security concerns arising from the impoverishment of countries in regions that are already unstable. The sweeping assumption of the paper is that markets will be more stable, but this ignores the risk of potentially disruptive responses such as a new wave of mass migration – this time away from the oil-producing countries.

From the World Economic Forum’s lovely headquarters looking out over Lake Geneva, change can be viewed as a beneficial process. The outlook does not look so rosy if you live in the Niger Delta or in Tripoli.

What we are seeing today is a forerunner of what will happen when the transition comes. For the moment, oil demand continues to rise – although the rate of this is dangerously dependent on what happens in a single country: China. But energy supply is increasing by more than demand – particularly in natural gas. The result is weak prices, low revenue and widespread political instability. Just wait until demand starts to fall year by year.

The transition cannot be resisted and it could be very rapid. It should be recognised as a likely source of some of the greatest political instability of the coming half century. There will be winners for sure, but the losers will more evident and more dangerous. The notion of a smooth transition is a ridiculous example of wishful thinking. Remember Tahrir Square.

Russland hat weder auf das Gaspipelineprojekt Turkish Stream noch auf das South-Stream-Projekt endgültig verzichtet, wie der russische Präsident Wladimir Putin am Dienstag

in Moskau nach Gesprächen mit dem israelischen Regierungschef Benjamin Netanjahu mitteilte.

„Was Exportrouten (von Gas –Anm. d. R.) über den Boden des Schwarzen Meers anbelangt, so gibt es hier gewisse Schwierigkeiten politischen Charakters mit der Türkei. Wir haben aber weder auf Turkish Stream noch auf South Stream endgültig verzichtet. Wir benötigen nur eine klare und eindeutige Position der EU-Kommission zu dieser Frage. Bisher ist die Position zu beiden Projekten unklar“, sagte Putin.

Russlands Energiekonzern Gazprom hatte gemeinsam mit seinen europäischen Partnern den Bau der Gaspipeline South Stream mit einer Kapazität von 63 Milliarden Kubikmetern über Bulgarien nach Europa geplant. Wegen des Widerstandes der EU musste Moskau auf das Projekt verzichten und sich auf eine Gasleitung über die Türkei fokussieren. Turkish Stream liegt jedoch auf Eis, seitdem die türkischen Luftstreitkräfte im November vergangenen Jahres einen russischen Kampfjet über Syrien abgeschossen hatten.

Die EU hatte darauf bestanden hatte, dass das Projekt an die Regelungen des dritten Energiepakets angepasst wird, laut dem Pipelinebetreiber nicht gleichzeitig auch Gaslieferanten sein dürfen.

Israel agreed: Russian gas companies may develop it’s gas fields

DEBKAfile June 7, 2016, 7:18 PM (IDT)

Israel has no legal limits of the participation of Russian gas companies in developing the country’s gas fields, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday during a joint press conference with Putin.
"There was a problem limiting us in the development of gas fields with all companies, with its resolution allowing us to broaden and develop our gas fields with any company. We were able to resolve the problem, so our doors are open now to all companies from all countries that have substantial experience in developing gas fields, including Russia, of course."’s-gas-fields

COLUMN-Oil market is back in balance: Kemp – Reuters News

07-Jun-2016 14:14:51

(John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)

* Chart 1:

* Chart 2:

* Chart 3:

By John Kemp

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) – Global oil markets seem to have moved back into balance thanks to strong growth in fuel

consumption and a series of large supply disruptions in major crude producing nations.

Motorists’ soaring consumption of cheap gasoline in the United States as well as in some large emerging economies,

including India and Mexico, will help boost global oil demand by more than 1.4 million barrels per day in 2016.

Consumption had already risen by 1.8 million bpd in 2015 and is predicted to increase by well over 1.0 million bpd again next

year, marking the strongest and most sustained increase in demand since before the financial crisis.

On the supply side, U.S. oil production is expected to fall by 700,000 bpd between 2015 and 2016 as lower prices curb

onshore shale drilling.

And a lengthening list of supply disruptions from Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela and Canada among others has grown to more

than 3 million bpd.

While stocks of crude and fuels remain unusually high following heavy oversupply in 2014 and 2015 they are no longer


The shift from oversupply to market balance is evident in the relationship between nearby and deferred futures prices.

The link between timespreads, consumption, production and inventories has been established since the 1930s and is closely

watched by traders.

In general, periods of oversupply and increasing inventories are associated with a contango in futures prices, where the

price for nearby contracts is lower than for those maturing later.

Excess demand and falling stocks are normally associated with backwardation, the opposite condition, where the price for

nearby contracts is higher than for deferred dates.

Over the past 30 years, shifts in the market balance from oversupply to excess demand have normally been heralded by a

change from contango to backwardation and vice versa (

In the last six months, the degree of contango in both Brent and WTI futures has shrunk significantly, consistent with signs

of strong demand and faltering supply (

Both futures markets continue to trade in a small contango but that is consistent with a market very close to balance.

Since 2005, the “normal” condition in the crude oil market has been a small contango (between 1985 and 2004 the typical

condition was a small backwardation and the reason for the shift is controversial).

Between 2005 and 2014, the first and seventh WTI contracts traded in contango more than 70 percent of the time (reversing

the previous tendency to trade in backwardation more than 70 percent of the time).

The current contango in WTI prices at around $2.00 per barrel is not significantly different from the average contango

of $1.50 per barrel between 2005 and 2014 (

The current Brent contango at around $1.70 per barrel for the first six months is not far from the decade average of $0.73.

The risks to the supply-demand-price outlook now appear reasonably balanced which is being reflected in both spot prices

and the timespreads.

On the supply side, crude production could surprise on the upside in the next 12 months if some of the current disruptions

are resolved.

If Nigeria’s government can restore security in the delta, more than 0.5 million bpd of extra supply could return to market

relatively quickly (“Militant attacks have cut Nigerian oil output by half a million bpd”, Reuters, Jun 6).

U.S. shale production could also stabilise and start to rise again if oil prices remain at or above the $50 per barrel level.

The number of rigs drilling for oil and gas in the United States rose last week for the first time in nine months,

probably in response to the recent rise in prices.

But the bigger risk in the medium term comes from demand, which is now growing much faster than new sources of supply.

Investment in oil exploration and production have been slashed in response to the collapse in prices since the middle

of 2014.

As the cycle turns, however, significant increases in investment will be needed to replace declining output from

existing oil fields and meet the continued growth in consumption, which may require a further price increase.

By 2018, assuming the global economy avoid recession, higher prices will be needed to restrain super-fast growth in demand

and incentivise quicker growth in supply.

John Kemp

Senior Market Analyst





Trusted Assad aide reportedly invited to Washington
DEBKAfileJune 1, 2016, 6:14 PM (GMT+02:00)

One of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s most trusted aides, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, who is under US and European sanctions for complicity in his regime’s violence, is due to appear in Washington Thursday in a discussion about the ways to eliminate ISIS and Al-Qaeda sponsored by the self-styled ‚The Global Alliance for Terminating ISIS/ Al-Qaeda.‘ A source from this group claims also that Bassam Al Hussaini, the Iraqi government advisor for the Iraqi Shiite militia ‚Popular Mobilization Forces,‘ which is part of the current attack on ISIS in Fallujah, will also take part in the discussions.

This militia has taken a prominent—and many would say problematic—role in the fight against the Islamic State ISIS.

Its commander is the Iranian General Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, who is likewise under US sanction as ‚a specially designated global terrorist‘.
DEBKAfile sources could not confirm this news or the pair’s arrival from any official source in Washington, although it is a hot topic in the US capital. If true, it would mean that the Obama administration may have accepted the Assad regime’s continued rule and lined up with Moscow’s and Tehran’s insistence on keeping him in power. Even if Shaaban and Al Hussaini only take part in the discussions from afar via video conference from Damascus and Bagdad, then it will still be a first step toward this development.



moderated by Srecko Velimirovic

Djukic: Internet censorship possible, very present.

MOSCOW – Internet censorship is possible, and it is very present, Tanjug Director Branka Djukic said in Moscow Tuesday at an international forum titled "The New Era of Journalism: A Farewell to the Mainstream."

The forum, organised by the Rossiya Segodnya agency, brought together media experts from over 30 countries of the world – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, India, China, Armenia, Egypt, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and others.

Djukic addressed a panel titled "Can censorship exist in an era of total access to information?"

"A quicker and larger distribution of information does not automatically mean freedom of access to them. Control over information in new media is in the hands, the same way as it is in the mainstream, of those who aim to protect their interest and influence, and the interest does not change its face much, the face which stands behind politics and capital," the Tanjug director said.

New media are also ruled by the richest industrialists, businessmen whose interests are directly linked to governments, corporations, she said.

"Internet censorship is similar to censorship in mainstream media, with the difference that content on the Internet is not censored only by individuals, companies or governments, but also by new media players that can limit or block access to certain web pages," Djukic said.

"Even if the reasons for blocking are justified, as part of efforts to ensure general security, the security of children, prevent ideas of hatred, fascism and terrorism from spreading… the result of censorship is nevertheless the same – blocked websites or content that are considered undesirable," Djukic noted.

"The biggest Internet censor is Google, which operates in over 200 countries, and in all these countries the search giant has to obey local laws and regulations," she said….


IDSA. Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Time to Rejuvenate the India-Russia Partnership May 30, 2016 … Relations between India and Russia were up-graded from "strategic partnership" to "special and privileged strategic partnership" in 2010 …

Strong relations with Russia are a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. Russia is a longstanding, time-tested, partner … Some major issues of dissonance have appeared between the two countries over the last few years.

The first concerns the rapidly expanding ties between India and USA … a cause of serious concern for Russia … feels that India is virtually entering into a military alliance with USA …

Modi and Putin need to give much greater personal attention to building and strengthening the India-Russia partnership. This task cannot be delegated to Foreign Ministers or Foreign Offices. Prime Ministers from Nehru to Vajpayee have been the driving force behind the successful engagement with Russia. In the current scenario also, it would devolve upon Modi to take charge of bilateral ties with Russia, as he has done with several other significant partners …

Modi and Putin need to have a frank conversation about India’s growing relations with USA. Modi should make Putin appreciate that India’s expanding ties with USA are neither at the expense of Russia nor are they in any way directed against Russia or detrimental to its interests.

Strategically they are designed to provide greater political space as well as manoeuvrability for healthy relations with China. India and China have differences in several areas and China’s assertive attitude has caused increasing concern to India. On issues of strategic interest to Russia like Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Georgia, etc., India has always expressed understanding of Russian position …

Exchange of visits among reputed and established Think Tanks of the two countries needs to be stepped up. While Russia is focused on Europe and China, India is concentrating on USA, its neighbourhood, and East Asia … India’s anticipated membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at its forthcoming Summit in June

2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, will provide a valuable opportunity for the two countries to strengthen their partnership.

India’s potential participation in the Eurasian Economic Union will be a win-win proposition for all members of the grouping … The agreement during Modi’s recent visit to Iran on the construction of the Chabahar seaport, associated rail-road linkages and development of the International North-South Transport Corridor will spur ties between India and Russia as well as with Central Asia and Afghanistan …

U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue Outcomes of the Strategic Track.

At the Eighth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) June 6-7, 2016, in Beijing, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Special Representative of President Xi Jinping, and Secretary of State John Kerry, Special Representative of President Barack Obama, chaired the Strategic Track, with participation by senior officials from across both governments. The two sides held in-depth discussions on major bilateral, regional, and global issues. This round of dialogue on the Strategic Track produced the following specific outcomes and areas for further cooperation :….



see our letter on:

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




06-01-16 US Army War College Quarterly – State-Building – America’s Foreign Policy Challenge.pdf

06-01-16 US Army War College Quarterly Vol46_No1.pdf

06-08-16 Russian Policy in Central Asia-Greater Middle East – Europe – a round-up.docx