Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 13.01.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • DIW: Frauen in Führung setzen! Unternehmen sollten alle Hierarchieebenen stärker mit Frauen besetzen
  • GPF: Thinking About Propaganda
  • Russia & U.S. Presidential Elections
  • Russia & The West
  • Russia & Turkey & Iran
  • Russia & Economic Development
  • Iraq – Mosul Dam & The implications of an endless war
  • Germany : Maritime Agenda 2025
  • Former Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.) to be the director of national intelligence?
  • Radio Vatikan-Newsletter: Christen sind nach wie vor die am meisten verfolgte Glaubensgemeinschaft der Welt

Massenbach*Spitzengremien großer Unternehmen : Geschlechterquote zeigt erste Wirkung in Aufsichtsräten – Vorstände bleiben Männerdomänen /

Elke Holst, Katharina Wrohlich

Die seit Januar 2016 verbindliche Geschlechterquote für Aufsichtsräte in Deutschland zeigt eine erste Wirkung: Dem Managerinnen- Barometer des DIW Berlin zufolge waren in den unter die Quotenregelung fallenden 106 Unternehmen Ende 2016 deutlich mehr Frauen in den Kontrollgremien vertreten als ein Jahr zuvor. Ihr Anteil stieg um gut vier Prozentpunkte auf mehr als 27 Prozent. Auch in den anderen Unternehmensgruppen legte der Anteil der Aufsichtsrätinnen zu. Die Berechnungen auf Basis der Top-200-Unternehmen zeigen zudem, dass in Unternehmen, in denen der Aufsichtsrat bereits zu einem Drittel mit Frauen besetzt ist, der Anteil anschließend kaum bis gar nicht mehr steigt. Die Schere zwischen den Aufsichtsräten und Vorständen öffnet sich indes weiter, denn in letzteren ist die Dynamik nach wie vor sehr schwach: In den unter die Quote fallenden Unternehmen sind im Durchschnitt nur 6,5 Prozent Frauen in den Vorstandsetagen vertreten – noch weniger als in den DAX-30 (gut elf Prozent) und den 200 umsatzstärksten Unternehmen (acht Prozent). In den Unternehmen mit Bundesbeteiligung hat sich die Dynamik deutlich abgeschwächt – sie drohen ihre Vorbildfunktion einzubüßen. Um möglichen Gesetzesverschärfungen zuvorzukommen, sollten Unternehmen auf allen Führungsebenen für ein ausgeglicheneres Geschlechterverhältnis sorgen.
In: DIW Wochenbericht 84 (2017), 1/2, S. 3-16
http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.550243.de/17-1-1.pdf

Finanzsektor: Banken fallen zurück : Frauenanteil jetzt auch in Aufsichtsräten geringer als bei Versicherungen / Elke Holst, Katharina Wrohlich

Nach wie vor sind Frauen in Spitzengremien des Finanzsektors deutlich in der Minderheit. Dem Managerinnen-Barometer des DIW Berlin zufolge waren die Aufsichts- und Verwaltungsräte der 100 größten Banken Ende des Jahres 2016 zu gut 21 Prozent mit Frauen besetzt. Damit stagnierte der Anteil gegenüber dem vorangegangenen Jahr. Auffallend ist die geringere Dynamik nach dem Jahr 2010 im Vergleich zu den Top-100-Unternehmen außerhalb der Finanzbranche – damals nahm die Diskussion um die Frauenquote in Aufsichtsräten Fahrt auf. Bei den Versicherungen betrug der Frauenanteil in den Aufsichtsgremien gut 22 Prozent – ein Anstieg um rund drei Prozentpunkte. Erstmals seit Beginn der Erhebung des DIW Berlin im Jahr 2006 lagen die Versicherungen damit vor den Banken. Auffallend ist, dass sich Unternehmen, deren Aufsichtsräte bereits zuvor zu einem Drittel mit Frauen besetzt waren, diesbezüglich im Jahr 2016 tendenziell nicht mehr steigern konnten. Schreibt man die Entwicklung der vergangenen zehn Jahre linear fort, würde es in den Aufsichtsräten der Banken noch ein halbes Jahrhundert dauern, bis Frauen und Männer gleichermaßen vertreten sind. In den Vorständen wäre das sogar erst in über 80 Jahren der Fall. Der Frauenanteil blieb mit fast zehn Prozent bei den Versicherungen und gut acht Prozent bei den Banken insgesamt sehr niedrig.
In: DIW Wochenbericht 84 (2017), 1/2, S. 17-30
http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.550245.de/17-1-2.pdf

Unternehmen sollten alle Hierarchieebenen stärker mit Frauen besetzen : Interview mit Elke Holst

In: DIW Wochenbericht 84 (2017), 1/2, S. 31
http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.550247.de/17-1-3.pdf

Elterngeld und Geburtenrate – ein vielfach überstrapazierter Zusammenhang! : Kommentar / C. Katharina Spieß, Katharina Wrohlich

In: DIW Wochenbericht 84 (2017), 1/2, S. 44
http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.550251.de/17-1-5.pdf

Der Link zum Heft:
http://diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.550205.de

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From our Russian News Desk.

  • Most Americans ‚Don’t Believe‘ Russia Influenced US Election

The majority of Americans don’t think that Russian authorities had any influence on the outcome of the recent presidential election in the US, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said, adding that the intelligence report alleging that Russia is behind several high-profile cyberattacks which hit the US in 2016 will have "very little" impact."Most of the American public… they just don’t believe that the Russians impacted the outcome of the election. Even if it’s proven that they hacked in the systems and got John Podesta’s emails, there is not a shred of evidence, not a centile of evidence that it had any impact on how people voted and certainly not that the Russians were able to involve themselves in the election itself," he said.

Huckabee, a longtime supporter of President-elect Donald Trump, made similar statements in the past.

Opinion polls back his assessment. A poll, conducted by Politico and Morning Consult between December 15 and December 17, showed that 44% of respondents did not believe that Russia influenced the outcome of the presidential election held in November, with 25 percent unsure. According to an NBC News and Wall Street Journal survey released on December 18, fifty-seven percent of those polled did not think that Russia’s supposed cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 US presidential campaign, made any difference in the election.

However, in December 2016, the Obama administration imposed restrictive measures on Russia, ordering the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, the closure of two Russian diplomatic compounds and additional sanctions against six Russian individuals and five entities over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election in the US. Dmitry Abzalov, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Communications, told RIA Novosti that Barack Obama left a "minefield" for his successor in order to achieve two goals. "On the one hand, he is hoping to revive the tarnished reputation of the Democratic Party, which has lost presidential and congressional elections, by citing ‚Russian meddling.‘ On the other hand, he is trying to discredit the Republicans and weaken their standing ahead of the 2018 elections. He is not pursuing interests of his own country," the political analyst said.

On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified report, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering "an influence campaign" targeting the 2016 presidential election in the US. The document, titled "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections," did not provide any compelling evidence backing its assertions.

Earlier this week, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said that Barack Obama did not require "additional evidence" to impose the latest sanctions on Russia.

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201701071049352466-americans-russia-cyberattacks-election/

  • Iran’s Vision for the Ramifications of the Battle for Aleppo

(…It may be said that Iranian concerns over a possible strengthening of a Russian-Turko accord began before the Moscow Declaration, specifically during a time when Russia and Turkey opened channels of communication to reach an agreement over the evacuation of opposition fighters from Aleppo….Yet it may also pose challenges in the long run, given the increasing possibilities of disputes between Iran, and other regional and international powers involved in Syria.)

  • Expected Economic Trajectories for the Middle East in 2017

(…challenges will necessitate a speedy application of economic-reform plans catered to promoting economic growth, which will simultaneously require these states to confront the political and social movements and factions opposed to them. )

  • Russia and the West: the New Normal

(…Perhaps most importantly, this paper recommends that Western and Russian leaders initiate a dialogue focused on strategic stability and nuclear risk reduction. Dialogue should never be seen as a sign of weakness—it is essential for nuclear risk reduction to protect our citizens. Military-to-Military discussions should be at the top of the list of near-term steps to reduce risk….

Even during the darkest days of the Cold War, we maintained robust channels of communication to prevent nuclear accidents, miscalculations, or nuclear escalation. Today, nearly all of these channels have eroded, and our political and military leaders seldom talk to one another. Simply put, it is national security malpractice that today we have virtually no dialogue among our capitals on reducing nuclear risks. This must change.)

The Azerbaijani armed forces staged a new subversion along the Northeastern part of Armenian-Azerbaijani international border on the early morning hours of December 29 (2016 UvM). Three Armenian soldiers are confirmed killed, while Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense spokesperson declined to comment the operation, nor published about losses — in a long-standing practice…..

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Russischer Aktienmarkt | Neues Hoch im Osten

Der russische Aktienmarkt war einer der größten Gewinner des vergangenen Jahres. Die weiteren Aussichten sind aufgrund der neuen politischen Großwetterlage sehr gut. Sogar das Wetter hilft Gazprom und Co.

Moskau. Gelöste Stimmung auf St. Barthélemy: Auf der Antilleninsel hat Roman Abramowitsch einen exklusiven Kreis zur Silvesterparty eingeladen. Auf der Bühne spielt die amerikanische Rockband „The Killers“. Auf dem Höhepunkt springt Paul McCartney auf die Bühne und liefert mit Killers-Frontmann Brandon Flowers eine fetzige Version des Beatles-Songs „Helter Skelter“ ab. Die Zuschauer, darunter Abramowitschs Partner und Milliardärskollegen Dmitri Rybolowlew, Dmitri Pumpjanski, Leonard Blavatnik und Jewgeni Schwidler, feiern.

Sie haben allen Grund dazu: Russlands Milliardäre konnten laut Bloomberg ihr Vermögen 2016 um 34,5 Milliarden auf 192 Milliarden Dollar steigern. Der russische Aktienmarkt war einer der größten Gewinner des vergangenen Jahres. Auch Gastgeber Abramowitsch, der finanziell zu den wenigen Verlierern unter Russlands Oligarchen zählt, braucht sich nicht zu grämen. Sein wichtigstes Asset, der Stahlkonzern Evraz, konnte zuletzt von den steigenden Metallpreisen profitieren und steigerte seinen Börsenwert in London innerhalb eines Jahres auf das Dreifache.

Deutlich spartanischer, im Geiste des neuen militärischen Patriotismus, verlief die Neujahrs-Betriebsfeier bei der staatlichen Bank VTB24. Deren Topmanagement musste eine Kalaschnikow zerlegen und aus Panzerabwehrwaffen schießen, ehe die Manager zur Feldküche mit Eierkuchen und Glühwein vordringen konnten. Immerhin: Die Diskothek am Abend mit russischer Popprominenz entschädigte etwas für die Strapazen. Insgesamt kostete das Event die Retailtochter der staatlichen VTB umgerechnet bescheidene 35.000 Euro – obwohl sie laut Vorstandschef Michail Sadornow 2016 einen „Rekordgewinn“ einfuhr.

Bescheidenheit war auch bei den Betriebsfeiern der Gazprom angesagt. Denn gegenüber 2015 sind die Erträge wegen der niedrigen Gas- und Ölpreise um mehr als die Hälfte gesunken.

Trotzdem ist der Ausblick für den Monopolisten alles andere als trübe: Den Gasexport (ohne GUS-Länder) hat Gazprom auf das Rekordniveau von 179 Milliarden Kubikmeter angehoben. Zuletzt stiegen die Ölpreise, Gas wird mit einigen Monaten Verzögerung der Tendenz folgen. Und auch der Winter, der in diesem Jahr zumindest in Osteuropa härter zu werden verspricht als in den letzten Jahren, dürfte CEO Alexej Miller erfreuen. Selbst die Ukraine erwägt trotz der anhaltenden politischen Differenzen mit Russland, den Gaskauf aus dem Nachbarland wieder aufzunehmen.

Für die Entwicklung des russischen Aktienmarkts spielt die politische Großwetterlage eine wichtige Rolle.

2017 verspricht sich Moskau eine Verbesserung: In den USA kommt Donald Trump ins Amt und bringt Rex Tillerson als Außenminister mit. Der ehemalige Exxon-Mobil-Chef hat gute Beziehungen zum Kreml. Tillerson gilt als Gegner der Sanktionen, unter denen mehrere gemeinsame Projekte mit dem Staatskonzern Rosneft gelitten haben.

In Europa wächst der Druck der Sanktionsgegner ebenso. Bei der Präsidentenwahl in Frankreich gelten die Rechtspopulistin Marine Le Pen und der Konservative François Fillon als Favoriten. Beide lehnen die Sanktionen ab, Le Pen hat versprochen, die Krim als russisch anzuerkennen. „Bei einem Wechsel der herrschenden Elite in Europa sehe ich eine Chance für eine Abschwächung, aber keine Aufhebung der Sanktionen“, meint Jewgeni Boiko, Vizedekan der Politikfakultät der Finanzuni der russischen Regierung.

Opec als Marktkatalysator

Von einer solchen Abschwächung könnten vor allem der Öl- und Gassektor, die Finanzbranche und die Rüstungsindustrie profitieren. Als Verlierer hingegen ständen Unternehmen aus der russischen Landwirtschaft und des Maschinenbaus da, die von den Protektionsmaßnahmen Moskaus im Gegenzug profitiert haben.

Oligarch Roman Abramowitsch.Sein wichtigstes Aktiv, der Stahlkonzern Evraz, konnte zuletzt von den steigenden Metallpreisen profitieren und steigerte seinen Börsenwert in London innerhalb eines Jahres auf das Dreifache.

Ein weiterer Marktkatalysator ist die Opec. Die Einigung des Kartells auf eine Begrenzung der Fördermenge hat den Ölpreis schon nach oben getrieben. Wird das Überangebot an Öl tatsächlich reduziert, dann wird das Barrel auch wieder über 60 Dollar kosten. Davon würden nicht nur die großen Energiekonzerne Rosneft, Gazprom, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas und Novatek profitieren, sondern auch der russische Haushalt und der Rubel. Die Abhängigkeit der Währung vom Ölpreis ist nach wie vor extrem hoch.

Der Öl- und Gassektor habe weiteres Aufwärtspotenzial, ist Sergey Rozhenko von der Consultingagentur Arup überzeugt.

Der Energieexperte verweist auf das immer noch niedrige Kurs-Gewinn-Verhältnis russischer Aktien. Speziell Rosneft und Gazprom würden gegenüber westlichen Konkurrenten wie Statoil wegen politischer Risiken mit einem deutlichen Abschlag bewertet. Sein Favorit 2017 ist allerdings Novatek. „Perspektiven zum Wachstum bieten die Liberalisierung des Gasexports, speziell durch LNG, sowie eine Umverteilung von Marktanteilen in Russland. Bei beiden Punkten ist Novatek Spitzenreiter“, sagte er dem Handelsblatt.

Auf der sibirischen Halbinsel Jamal baut der Konzern eine LNG-Anlage und den Hafen auf. In diesem Jahr soll der Export beginnen. Verträge mit China sind bereits auf Jahrzehnte ausgelegt. Novatek habe als wesentlich kleinerer Konkurrent Gazproms mehr Wachstumspotenzial, betont Rozhenko.

Finanzbranche in den Startlöchern

Interessant sind auch andere Sektoren: Die Analysten der Promswjasbank sehen „fundamentales Aufwärtspotenzial“ für den Gesamtmarkt, nicht nur durch steigende Ölpreise, sondern auch wegen des „zu erwartenden Kapitalzuflusses“ aus dem Ausland. Den rubelorientierten Micex-Index sehen sie bei 2570 Punkten auf einem neuen Allzeithoch, den RTS bei 1530 Punkten. Nikolai Wardul, Chefredakteur der „Finanzowaja Gazeta“, verweist darauf, dass die russischen Konzerne selbst 2016 bei fallendem BIP die Gewinne um 14 Prozent gesteigert hätten, und erwartet 2017 bei nur leichtem Wirtschaftswachstum eine weitere Gewinnsteigerung um 20 Prozent. Das dürfte Anlegern, die auf Dividenden setzen, gefallen.

Anlagestrategie

Auch die Finanzbranche steht in den Startlöchern. Die Hoffnung auf Sanktionserleichterungen ist nicht der einzige Grund für den Optimismus von Sberbank, VTB und Co.: Die Inflation ist auf einem Rekordtief. Die Banken hoffen auf eine Lockerung der Zentralbankpolitik und damit auf steigende Kreditgeschäfte. Die VTB sollte von einer Zusammenlegung ihrer verschiedenen Banken profitieren. Abgeschlossen sein soll die Fusion 2018, aber die ersten Synergieeffekte seien schon im laufenden Jahr zu erwarten.

Dritte Wachstumssäule könnte der Stahlsektor werden. Nach einer langen Durststrecke sind die Preise für Industriemetalle, Kohle, Stahl und Eisenerze zuletzt gewachsen. Ob der positive Trend anhalte, hänge auch davon ab, ob die Chinesen ihre Produktion wieder anwerfen oder diszipliniert bleiben, warnte Evraz-Vorstandschef Alexander Abramow unlängst.

http://www.handelsblatt.com/my/finanzen/anlagestrategie/trends/russischer-aktienmarkt-neues-hoch-im-osten/19225214.html?ticket=ST-6599203-mvkSmVMbcNv1i7KORIT5-ap2

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Thinking About Propaganda

Propaganda speaks the language of reason, even when its goal is to mislead.

By Jacob L. Shapiro

On Jan. 6, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency released findings about Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election. One of the report’s conclusions is that Russia used “overt propaganda” in an influence campaign designed to destabilize the American election and put Donald Trump in the White House.

This type of psychological warfare is not novel. Opposing sides in conflicts have tried to use information to weaken their opponents for millennia. The advent of newspapers, radio and television increased the potential potency of propaganda to such an extent that it became one of the key instruments that nation-states used in the 20th century to achieve foreign policy goals, alongside diplomacy and military force.

The emergence of the internet and social media have cast that net even wider, and with so much concern about the potential deleterious effects of propaganda and “false news,” it is worth taking some time to understand the inherent complexity around this battlefield for hearts and minds.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines propaganda as, “The systematic dissemination of information, especially in a biased or misleading way, in order to promote a political cause or point of view.” This is a broad definition, and the line between propaganda and any kind of written or spoken material is necessarily a blurry one.

The Jan. 6 declassified intelligence report is a good example of how gray the distinction can be. The first sentence of the report’s conclusions says, “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order. …” Most of the report refrains from this kind of language and discusses the facts, but one could easily describe this opening line of what is supposed to be an objective intelligence assessment as propaganda. One man’s propaganda is another’s truth.

A policeman stands guard next to a portrait of Vietnam’s late Ho Chi Minh, right, and Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin outside a Vietnam Communist Party National Congress in Hanoi, in 2011.

One characteristic of propaganda is that it is generally wielded for foreign policy goals more successfully by authoritarian regimes than by liberal democracies.

There are two key reasons for this.

First, authoritarian regimes control all of the state’s political bodies as well as the media. In a state where freedoms of the press and expression are significantly controlled, a top-level figure like Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping can carry out an information campaign for a specific purpose and expect that all the power of the state apparatus under control of the dictator or party will participate in disseminating the message.

The Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference often avoids providing evidence to protect sources and methods, but one thing it does very clearly is identify various Russian media entities, their relationship to the government in Moscow, and how this shapes the content of their reportage.

That is not how it works in the United States. The U.S. media is not monolithic, and though each source often engages in spin, a diversity of voices and agendas exists. Individuals can choose what media sources they consume and what kind of perspective they find convincing. Diversity of sources directly weakens propaganda’s potential effectiveness.

The second reason is that when liberal democracies try to utilize propaganda for foreign policy aims, they often misjudge the relationship between the principles a liberal democracy wants to convince another group of and what that group wants for itself.

Authoritarian regimes also struggle with this, but liberal democracies have a characteristically unique challenge because proponents think not only that their principles are correct but also that anyone who opposes them is evil.

Authoritarian regimes are generally more pragmatic because their legitimacy comes from other sources besides a ballot box.

As an example, the U.S. and its leaders believe that certain truths are self-evident, and that everyone should want to embrace the political liberties liberal democracy offers. They believe that if people in other countries could see the truth, they would support a liberal democratic position.

The U.S. was effective in Eastern Europe during the Cold War because those arguments were convincing to Poles, Estonians and others. Those positions are much less effective in countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, which have long memories of Western imperialism and a general suspicion of Western motives. The U.S. learned the hard way in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam that the ideals that animate the U.S. do not always motivate others and that self-righteousness about U.S. principles is not convincing to many.

One of the ironies is that contrived liberal democratic propaganda is often most effective when its explicit content is not directed from above. The most potent kinds of propaganda liberal democracies use are the natural outgrowth of their societies.

For example, the annex to the U.S. intelligence report notes that RT’s YouTube channel has 800 million views since its creation in 2005. The report cites this as an ominous sign of the growing influence of Russian propaganda in the world. By comparison, Justin Bieber’s music video for “Sorry” has been viewed 2.5 billion times since 2015. (That Bieber, a Canadian pop star, is this popular creates its own host of concerns about the future of the world, but that is outside of the scope of this piece.)

There is a reason the Nazis banned certain kinds of music, and those living in the Soviet Union had to turn to the black market to buy Led Zeppelin or Alice Cooper albums. A Hollywood film like “Casablanca” can have a far more visceral and potent effect on the viewer than someone reading a sanctimonious article about human rights, however accurate. These products of liberal democratic societies have always been their most persuasive arguments, as opposed to the rigid control systems of authoritarian states that seek to monopolize all knowledge and experience.

Liberal democracies also often make the mistake of assuming the effectiveness of propaganda is related to how accurate the disseminated information is.

This is not how propaganda works. As Hans Morgenthau once wrote, “Virtue and truth do not prevail simply upon being communicated.” This does not mean propaganda can be outlandish. To be effective, propaganda has to satisfy some underlying political or emotional need for the person consuming it.

Nazi Germany, for example, is famous for using propaganda to legitimize the regime’s power. Nazi propaganda would not have worked if the German population hadn’t just lost a devastating war, had an embarrassing peace settlement imposed on it, had land taken away it considered part of historically German lands, and been crushed by a global depression that led to runaway inflation that made daily life bleak and hopeless. The propaganda and the need for an ideological explanation of what happened went hand-in-hand in Germany – if one of these elements had been lacking, Germany might have developed in a different direction.

To be effective, propaganda must speak to some political or societal truth. And here is a rare instance where geopolitics and metaphysics meet, because understanding why human beings feel what they feel, when combined with the ever-increasing reach of modern technology, can be a source of great power.

David Hume wrote in “A Treatise of Human Nature” that, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” What Hume meant was that the passions motivate human action, not the cold logic of reason.

Reason’s function is to make sense of the passions and to bring concrete form to the end or purpose that passions impel. Propaganda speaks the language of reason, even when its goal is to mislead. But it knows that its audience is first and foremost the passions, and not the altar of logical consistency. That is precisely what makes propaganda so dangerous, but it is also simultaneously its greatest weakness. A better explanation or a complete disjunction between how people live and what propaganda says can quickly deprive propaganda of its potency.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/thinking-about-propaganda/

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

Barandat* The New Yorker: A Bigger Problem Than ISIS?

The Mosul Dam is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people.

According to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assessment, “Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world.”

On the morning of August 7, 2014, a team of fighters from the Islamic State, riding in pickup trucks and purloined American Humvees, swept out of the Iraqi village of Wana and headed for the Mosul Dam. Two months earlier, ISIS had captured Mosul, a city of nearly two million people, as part of a ruthless campaign to build a new caliphate in the Middle East. For an occupying force, the dam, twenty-five miles north of Mosul, was an appealing target: it regulates the flow of water to the city, and to millions of Iraqis who live along the Tigris. As the ISIS invaders approached, they could make out the dam’s four towers, standing over a wide, squat structure that looks like a brutalist mausoleum. Getting closer, they saw a retaining wall that spans the Tigris, rising three hundred and seventy feet from the riverbed and extending nearly two miles from embankment to embankment. Behind it, a reservoir eight miles long holds eleven billion cubic metres of water.

A group of Kurdish soldiers was stationed at the dam, and the ISIS fighters bombarded them from a distance and then moved in. When the battle was over, the area was nearly empty; most of the Iraqis who worked at the dam, a crew of nearly fifteen hundred, had fled. The fighters began to loot and destroy equipment. An ISIS propaganda video posted online shows a fighter carrying a flag across, and a man’s voice says, “The banner of unification flutters above the dam.”

The next day, Vice-President Joe Biden telephoned Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdish region, and urged him to retake the dam as quickly as possible. American officials feared that ISIS might try to blow it up, engulfing Mosul and a string of cities all the way to Baghdad in a colossal wave. Ten days later, after an intense struggle, Kurdish forces pushed out the ISIS fighters and took control of the dam.

But, in the months that followed, American officials inspected the dam and became concerned that it was on the brink of collapse. The problem wasn’t structural: the dam had been built to survive an aerial bombardment. (In fact, during the Gulf War, American jets bombed its generator, but the dam remained intact.) The problem, according to Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi-American civil engineer who has served as an adviser on the dam, is that “it’s just in the wrong place.” Completed in 1984, the dam sits on a foundation of soluble rock. To keep it stable, hundreds of employees have to work around the clock, pumping a cement mixture into the earth below. Without continuous maintenance, the rock beneath would wash away, causing the dam to sink and then break apart. But Iraq’s recent history has not been conducive to that kind of vigilance. (for more: see att.)

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/02/a-bigger-problem-than-isis

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Middle East

The implications of Iraq’s endless war

Nick Butler| Jan 09 05:30 |

The Mosul Dam on the Tigris

The understandable focus on Syria, in particular on the horrific situation that has unfolded in Aleppo over the last few weeks, has distracted attention from the potentially more dangerous developments in Iraq.

Ten years after the execution of Saddam Hussein and five years after the official exit of American troops that was supposed to mark the end of a conflict which began with the US invasion in 2003, Iraq remains a war zone. The unrelenting bomb attacks on both military and civilian targets demonstrate the defiance of Islamist militants. As the battle to retake the strategic northern Iraqi city of Mosul – held by Islamic State forces since 2014 – comes to a head the risks are very high, with implications that will shape not only the future of Iraq itself but also the international oil market.

The last three months have seen inch-by-inch territorial gains for the Iraqi government forces with advances in the north and east of Mosul and its immediate surroundings. But the cost has been high, with 115,000 displaced civilians now living in temporary shelters or camps and widespread physical destruction. Four of the five bridges that link the two sides of the city across the River Tigris have been destroyed, in some cases in a deliberate effort to cut off supplies to Isis.

The militant fighters have not retreated passively. In October, in a classic scorched-earth manoeuvre they set fire to oil wells and to the Mishraq sulphur plant near the town of Qayyarah south of Mosul. In recent weeks they have intensified their campaign of sniper attacks and suicide bombings centred on Baghdad. Over the last two weeks, hundreds of Iraqi civilians have been killed and the main road north from Baghdad to Mosul – one of the Iraqi forces’ main supply routes – has been closed. These events brought the total of civilians killed in conflicts across Iraq in 2016 to almost 6,800 according to the United Nations.

The Iraqi government’s plan is to retake the whole of Mosul by March. The risk is that as the fighting intensifies Isis will do more damage as they scatter across the rest of Iraq and other parts of the region. Mosul lies close to the oil producing areas of northern Iraq – in Kirkuk (now under Kurdish control) and in the Kurdish region itself.
Producing facilities, oilfield workers and pipeline networks linking northern Iraq to Turkey are all vulnerable.

The Kurds are famously tough fighters but it is very hard to defend installations and pipelines that run across hundreds of miles of remote territory against a ruthless enemy prepared to use suicide bombers. The potential for an environmental disaster is clear, as is the damage that could be done to the already fragile Iraqi economy if infrastructure routes carrying oil for export were cut for any length of time.

The risks are not limited to oil. North of the city lies the Mosul Dam – one of the most important engineering projects in the region. The dam holds back some 11bn cubic metres of water. At the moment it sits in territory controlled by Iraqi government and Kurdish forces but it needs repair. A fascinating article in the latest issue of the New Yorker by Dexter Filkins spells out the challenge. The dam urgently needs significant work to manage the risk of identified weaknesses in its foundations causing a disastrous collapse. Ideally it needs to be supplemented or even replaced by new infrastructure located closer to Mosul itself – but that area is currently held by Isis.

If the dam did break it could produce an unprecedented flood tide, potentially overwhelming Mosul and a large area to the south. And, of course, Isis in retreat could try to break the dam – adding a flood to their scorched-earch approach and in the process further weakening both economic and social conditions.

The return to widespread violence in Iraq is beginning to discourage investors even in areas to the south of Baghdad that have so far been relatively immune to attack. Over the last two years Iraqi oil production backed by international funding and technology has risen from 3.2m barrels a day in 2014 to 4.8mbd in November. Now, however, there are signs that investment is slowing as the negative assessments of political and physical risk increase.

In the north, Isis may be beaten out of Mosul but there is no sign of a long-term peace – the militant fighters who survive will regroup elsewhere. There is equally little sign of a deal between the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government to share the oil revenue from exports. The result is that companies working in the Kurdish region are living on promises and are not likely to put in more capital until they have greater confidence in future returns. Hopes of Iraqi output rising to 6mbd or more look very slim.

In the short term, the security situation is all-consuming and the half promise made by the Iraqi government to Opec to cut production by 200,000 barrels a day starting this month seems to have been quietly set aside. The government is nominally standing by its stated commitment, but according to producers such as the Russian oil company Lukoil, which operates the West Qurna 2 field, no instructions to cut output have been received. The Kurdish authorities are already refusing to participate in the cutback while recently leaked documents suggest that the government in Baghdad has plans to increase short-term export capacity in the south of the country.

Iraq may be the second largest oil producer in Opec but the country’s primary concern is still the daily struggle for survival. The need for cash is the predominant driver of government policy. The dark irony is that the only force likely to produce a cut in oil production in Iraq this year is Isis.

http://blogs.ft.com/nick-butler/2017/01/09/the-implications-of-iraqs-endless-war/

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Radio Vatikan-Newsletter.

Weltverfolgungsindex 2017: Christenverfolgung steigt an Christen sind nach wie vor die am meisten verfolgte Glaubensgemeinschaft der Welt – und die Zahlen sind im Vergleich zum Vorjahr nochmals signifikant angestiegen. Dies geht aus dem neuesten Weltverfolgungsindex

(Link:

https://www.opendoors.de/verfolgung/weltverfolgungsindex-2017/weltverfolgungsindex_2017_platzierungen/

)von Open Doors hervor, den die Hilfsorganisation an diesem Mittwoch vorgestellt hat. Demnach leiden derzeit über 200 Millionen Christen unter Verfolgung. Wir haben mit dem Geschäftsführer von Open Doors, Markus Rode, gesprochen. (rv) Hier mehr in Text und Ton (Link:

http://de.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/01/11/weltverfolgungsindex_2017_christenverfolgung_steigt_an_/1285064

)

Kampf um Mossul, Irak: Werden die Christen zurückkehren können?

Im Sturm war sie 2014 von IS-Terroristen erobert worden, jetzt gestaltet sich ihre Rückeroberung durch die Armee äußerst mühsam. Eine erste Bilanz der Schäden, die der IS hinterlassen hat, spricht von mindestens 100 verwüsteten Kultstätten, die meisten davon christliche Kirchen. „In den Dörfern in der Niniveh-Ebene, die die Armee jetzt befreit, lebten einmal mehr als 120.000 Christen“, sagt uns der Priester Karam Najeeb aus dem Bistum Algosh. Die Rückeroberung gebe Hoffnung, der Anblick der verwüsteten Städte jedoch nicht. (rv) Hier mehr in Text und Ton (Link:

http://de.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/01/11/kampf_um_mossul_werden_die_christen_zur%C3%BCckkehren_k%C3%B6nnen/1284930

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Maritime Agenda 2025

Für die Zukunft des maritimen Wirtschaftsstandortes Deutschland

Langfristig angelegter Rahmen – ressortübergreifende Strategie – Stärkung des maritimen Wirtschaftsstandortes Deutschland

Das Bundeskabinett hat die vorgelegte Maritime Agenda 2025 beschlossen. Mit der ressortübergreifenden Strategie setzt die Bundesregierung einen langfristig angelegten Rahmen für eine konsequente Zukunftspolitik zur Stärkung des maritimen Wirtschaftsstandortes Deutschland, teilte das Ministerium nach der Verabschiedung mit.

Die neue maritimen Strategie beschreibt in Handlungsfeld 8:Industrielle Fähigkeiten beim Bau von Marine- und Küstenwachschiffen weiterentwickeln.

Der Schiffbau für die Marine sowie die zivilen schwimmenden Einheiten der Überwachungsbehörden an der Küste, der enge Kooperationsbeziehungen zu hunderten Zulieferunternehmen im gesamten Bundesgebiet unterhält, trägt mit rund einem Viertel zum Gesamtumsatz der deutschen Schiffbauindustrie bei. Angesichts der zunehmenden Bedeutung sicherer Seewege für die Weltwirtschaft, des sich wandelnden sicherheitspolitischen Umfeldes sowie der wachsenden Bedrohungen für die maritime Sicherheit wird die Bedeutung des Schiffbaus künftig weiter steigen. Die globalen sicherheitspolitischen Entwicklungen und der Wandel an erforderlichen militärischen Fähigkeiten führen derzeit sowohl in Teilen der westlichen Industriestaaten als auch weltweit zu einem erneuten Anstieg der Verteidigungsbudgets und zu veränderten Beschaffungsbedarfen; das gilt auch für die Deutsche Marine.

http://augengeradeaus.net/2017/01/bundeswirtschaftsministerium-fuer-ruestungsexport-von-schiffen/

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WSJ: Donald Trump to Pick Former Sen. Dan Coats for Director of National Intelligence Post

Indiana Republican’s term in U.S. Senate ended this week.

Dan Coats, then still an Indiana senator, at Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 30.

President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate former Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.) to be the director of national intelligence, a transition official said Thursday.

The national intelligence chief oversees U.S. intelligence efforts and reports to the president.

Mr. Coats served in the House of Representatives from 1981 until 1988, representing a district in Indiana. He was appointed to the Senate in 1989 to fill Vice President Dan Quayle’s seat, won two more elections and served until 1998. He was U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 and then was elected to the Senate again in 2010, serving from 2011 until his term ended this week.

He served on the Senate Intelligence Committee and was outspoken on such international issues as the nuclear talks with Iran. He also pushed legislation that would cut off funding for the Palestinian Authority, saying it amounted to paying monetary rewards for acts of terrorism.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is an umbrella intelligence department created following the investigation into the September 11 attacks in 2001. It works to ensure the country’s spy agencies are sharing information to form accurate assessments of threats to the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr. Trump is working on a plan that would restructure the intelligence office. The move was prompted by Mr. Trump’s belief that the office has become bloated and politicized, according to people familiar with the planning.

Mr. Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Thursday that no decisions had been made about changes in the nation’s intelligence framework.

The current director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, defended the agency’s work but said he is open to changes at his agency.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-to-pick-former-sen-dan-coats-for-director-of-national-intelligence-post-1483647125

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see our letter on: http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

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

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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

01-02-17 Mosul Dam_A Bigger Problem Than ISIS_ – The New Yorker.pdf

01-10-17 Iran‘ Vision – Eonomic Aspects of the Middle East.docx

01-10-17 Russia&West – Russia_Turkey_Relations – Armenia_Azerbeijan.docx

01-2017 maritime-agenda-2025.pdf

01-2017 DIW – Managerinnen -Barometer.pdf

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