WG: Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 28.3.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Madeleine K. Albright and Stephen J. Hadley: “The value of America’s global engagement is under question.”
  • Deutsche Bank Research: Ausblick Deutschland.
  • KHAMENEI’S NOWRUZ NUANCES
  • US Senator Bob Corker: Holding Iran Accountable
  • Trenin: How does Russia position itself between Iran and Israel in the Middle East?
  • CSIS – A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations
From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

Russia–Turkey Interface for Europe

Russia’s Political Agenda in the Post-Soviet Space

A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations

Is Turkey rattled by Russian-Kurdish deal?

Massenbach* Iran: KHAMENEI’S NOWRUZ NUANCES
By Mehdi Khalaji

PolicyWatch 2774
March 22, 2017

Read this item on our website.

The Supreme Leader’s two New Year’s speeches provide a valuable look at the regime’s internal dynamics as it attempts to balance economic concerns, electoral maneuvers, regional pan-Shiite issues, and the nascent policies of a new American administration.

On March 21, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered his annual Nowruz speech in the holy city of Mashhad, his most important public address of the year. In addition to setting the stage for the country’s upcoming presidential election, his remarks focused on domestic economic issues as usual, but without much of the anti-American belligerence that has colored past New Year’s speeches.

FROM THE AIRWAVES TO THE SHRINE

Since becoming Supreme Leader in 1989, Khamenei has delivered two Nowruz speeches every year. The first is a recorded address known as his "Nowruz message," which is traditionally broadcast on state television and radio immediately after the vernal equinox (March 20 this year). He usually speaks about fifteen minutes while sitting in a chair alone in a room — an understated contrast to his subsequent public speech before massive crowds in a Mashhad shrine.

In his third year as Supreme Leader, Khamenei added a new permanent component to his Nowruz messages: labeling them with short motto-like phrases. While these labels have occasionally honored historical figures, they usually emphasize ideologically loaded economic themes, whether directly or indirectly. This practice is Khamenei’s way of clarifying his economic expectations in the hope of encouraging officials and citizens to better meet them, highlighting his fixation on the country’s increasingly ailing economy.

The motto for this year’s televised Nowruz message was "Resistance Economy: Production and Employment," invoking his oft-stated policy of circumventing international sanctions by adjusting Iran’s economic practices. The address itself bluntly accused President Hassan Rouhani’s government of failing to bring its economic policies in line with the expectations of the Supreme Leader or the people: "Most of the current bitterness and difficulties are related to people’s economic problems." Khamenei did not say a word on the P5+1 nuclear deal or Iran’s relations with the West.

In sharp contrast, President Rouhani’s own New Year’s message trumpeted his government’s successful economic record. He called the recent economic growth and the decline in Iran’s unemployment rate "unprecedented" in the past twenty-five years. He did not mention any problems in that regard, instead emphasizing issues such as the "positive role of the resistance economy," the government’s ongoing implementation of the nuclear deal, Iran’s increasing proportion of non-oil exports over imports in the past two years, and Tehran’s successful "petrol diplomacy," which in his view has allowed the country to regain its previous stature in global oil and gas production.

WHY MASHHAD?

Khamenei’s second Nowruz address is typically a public speech delivered before a massive crowd at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad. This annual trip plays a ritual role in maintaining his legitimacy as Iran’s Supreme Leader, as "the leader of the Muslim world" (according to state propaganda), and as head of the regional Shiite community. Iranian rulers have long defined themselves in the latter terms as part of their self-described politico-religious role of protecting all Shiites at home and abroad — a task that includes safeguarding the frontiers of any Shiite territory (e.g., that of the affiliated Alawite regime in Syria).

Mashhad is not the main seat of the global Shiite clergy (that title goes to Qom), but it is the holiest Iranian locale for Shiites because it contains the shrine of the all-important eighth Imam, Ali Reza. Against that backdrop, Khamenei’s decision to make Mashhad the site of this major annual address — and thus the symbolic seat for his national and transnational leadership — seems well calculated. For the most part, his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini never ventured much outside Tehran following the 1979 revolution, nor made any official stays at sacred sites. Yet Khamenei lacks the charisma and natural legitimacy inherent in being the Islamic Republic’s founder, so regularly associating himself with Iran’s holiest city is the next best thing.

Indeed, selecting such a place and time for the year’s biggest speech is anything but accidental. Every year, Mashhad receives hundreds of thousands of domestic and foreign pilgrims around Nowruz for religious and recreational reasons. On March 20, Iranian tourism spokesman Mehdi Firouzan stated that more than 1.5 million pilgrims had traveled there for the 2017 holiday. For Khamenei — who is very sensitive about the number and type of people who receive him during official visits anywhere in the country — Nowruz in Mashhad is matchless because it guarantees him a massive crowd (albeit one that is not really there for his sake). It also allows the regime to carefully plan his costly annual trip in an almost theatrical way, making it look purely spontaneous while at the same time reflecting an air of almost regal grandeur absent from other speeches (this differs from his usual program when visiting other cities, where local officials encourage or force screaming crowds to run after his car when he arrives, essentially transforming the welcoming ceremony into a wild public carnival). For both symbolic and logistical reasons, then, he has consistently scheduled the speech for the first day of the New Year (March 20 or 21) since 1997.

WHAT DID HE SAY?

Given the prominence of Khamenei’s Mashhad address, he generally uses it to spell out his most pressing concerns and criticisms. Compared to his 2016 speech, this year’s address was shorter in length and much lighter in content, though a good portion of its importance lies in what was left unsaid.

Last year’s speech began with the economy, including Khamenei’s usual advice for improving people’s living conditions, becoming more self-reliant, and the like. Yet he quickly shifted to the nuclear deal, downplaying the effectiveness of diplomatic negotiations with America while warning listeners not to stray from the regime’s ideological principles and policies. He then provided an extensive account of Washington’s supposed propensity for cheating on agreements and breaking promises, outlining in detail how it purportedly did so on the nuclear deal’s terms. Indeed, the long anti-American portion of speech defiantly bashed the United States with inflammatory rhetoric, repeatedly called it the "enemy," encouraged listeners to avoid overestimating American power, and counseled them on how to resist and neutralize U.S. economic pressure.

This year, Khamenei likewise began by focusing on economic issues, calling them "the country’s top-priority problem" and providing his familiar suggestions on the matter. Yet this week’s speech diverged sharply from last year’s on two fronts.

First, Khamenei spent a fair amount of time discussing Iran’s imminent presidential election, currently scheduled for mid-May. This included heavy criticism of those citizens who took to the streets in protest of the rigged 2009 election. After his typical exhortation to boost turnout ("Enthusiastic participation of all eligible voters in the election will add to Iran’s pride, authority, and credentials"), he offered a clear warning against any new unrest: "I never intervened in an election, and I do not tell people who they should or should not vote for, but if some individuals decide to stand against…the people’s vote by making trouble, I will intervene and confront them."

Second, and most important, the Supreme Leader said little about domestic or foreign "enemies of the revolution," and nothing about America. Similar to his televised March 20 message, the March 21 address was one of the mildest in the history of Khamenei’s Mashhad speeches, marked by a striking lack of threatening, defiant, or harsh rhetoric against such enemies. His decision to refrain from saying even a word about two of his favorite topics, America and the nuclear deal, is quite meaningful. Contrary to concerns that President Trump’s harsher tone toward Iran would spur the regime to become more belligerent, Khamenei’s keynote address of the year was silent about the United States. Similarly, the speech is at least an initial sign that a firmer U.S. stance may not embolden the hardliners too dramatically or undermine the reformists. At the very least, Khamenei did not appear to boost the prospects of those hardliners opposing Rouhani in the election, and the president seems well positioned to win a second term.

Mehdi Khalaji is the Libitzky Family Fellow at The Washington Institute and author of its recent study The Future of Leadership in the Shiite Community.
THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY
1111 19TH STREET NW, SUITE 500
WASHINGTON, DC 2003

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From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

  • Russia–Turkey Interface for Europe
  • Russia’s Political Agenda in the Post-Soviet Space
  • A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations
  • Is Turkey rattled by Russian-Kurdish deal?

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Deutsche Bank Research:

Ausblick Deutschland.

Unsere wichtigsten Aussagen:

  • Deutschland: Starke Umfragedaten vs. schwache BIP-Details in Q4. Auf den ersten Blick scheint das anziehende BIP-Wachstum zum Jahresende 2016 (Q4: +0,4% gg. Vq.; zuvor: +0,1%) konsistent mit den angestiegenen Konjunkturindikatoren. Allerdings zeigt die Zusammensetzung des BIP-Wachstums (deutlicher Anstieg der staatlichen Konsumausgaben, geringe Investitionen der Privatwirtschaft) eine eher schwächere zugrundeliegende Dynamik. Die Stimmungsindikatoren (ifo, PMI) haben sich zwar sehr positiv entwickelt, aber auch hier sorgt der Blick auf die Details für Ernüchterung. Wir behalten deshalb unsere unter dem Konsens liegende BIP-Prognose von 1,1% für das Jahr 2017 bei.
  • Kerninflation: Trotz dynamischen Umfelds weiter verhalten. Steigende Energie- und Nahrungsmittelpreise haben der deutschen Inflation zuletzt spürbaren Auftrieb verliehen. In den kommenden Monaten dürfte sich dieser aber wieder beruhigen. Zwar mehren sich die Anzeichen, dass auch jenseits der direkten Preisimpulse durch höhere Rohstoffpreise ein Aufwärtstrend der Inflation in Gang kommt, gestützt durch einen an Breite gewinnenden globalen Aufschwung. Insgesamt heben wir unsere Inflationsprognose für 2017 minimal an auf 1,7% von 1,6% nach nur 0,5% in 2016. Dabei erwarten wir die Kerninflation in 2017 weiter bei gut 1%. Sollten sich die Anzeichen für den globalen Preisauftrieb bestätigen, könnte die Kerninflation aber deutlicher zulegen, insbesondere wenn in 2018 anziehende Preise Zweitrundeneffekte bei den Lohnverhandlungen nach sich ziehen sollten.
  • Deutsche Industrie: 2017 leichtes Produktionsplus – Brexit und Trumponomics belasten. Die Fertigung im Verarbeitenden Gewerbe in Deutschland nahm 2016 real um 1,4% zu (2015: +1,1%). Für 2017 erwarten wir ein Plus von 0,5%. Die schwache Investitionstätigkeit in Deutschland und vielen wichtigen Absatzmärkten, die auf eine Reihe von Unsicherheitsfaktoren zurückzuführen ist, belastet die hiesige Industrie.
  • EZB-Vorschau: Auf die Details kommt es an. Wir erwarten weiterhin, dass die EZB erst im September Aussagen zum „Tapering“ treffen wird, die dann ab Januar 2018 umgesetzt werden. Angesichts der konjunkturellen Dynamik könnte eine derartige Ankündigung auch schon im Juni kommen. Von der Pressekonferenz erwarten wir Hinweise in Richtung eines langsamen und graduellen Übergangs zu einer weniger expansiven Geldpolitik. Diese dürften aber relativiert werden, um einer Überreaktion des Marktes vorzubeugen. Spannend dürfte die neue Stabsprognose werden. Erstens könnte die BIP-Prognose für 2017 um 0,1pp auf 1,8% angehoben werden. Zweitens dürfte die Inflationsprognose für das laufende Jahr deutlich von 1,3% auf 1,7% angehoben werden. Allerdings könnte die Prognose der Kernrate um 0,1pp auf 1,1% reduziert werden. Dies würde immer noch konsistent mit einer Kernrate von über 1% in H2 2017 sein und damit die Tür zum Tapering offen halten.

http://www.dbresearch.de/MAIL/DBR_INTERNET_DE-PROD/PROD0000000000437358.pdf

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Submitted Statement of Madeleine K. Albright and Stephen J. Hadley

Committee on Armed Services United States House of Representatives

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“…the value of America’s global engagement is under question.

A substantial number of Americans feel that their lives and livelihoods have been threatened rather than

enhanced by it. They view international trade as having shuttered the factories at which they worked,

immigrants as threatening their standard of living or safety, and globalization as undermining American culture…”

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

Barandat* CSIS – A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations

March 23, 2017 The CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program and the Russian International Affairs Council are pleased to present the findings from their forthcoming report, "A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations." This project, undertaken during a period of significant tension and distrust in the bilateral relationship, brought together a bi-national group of experts to develop clear and actionable paths forward for U.S.-Russian cooperation in key areas critical to the security and prosperity of both countries … Executive Summary (Vollversion noch nicht im Netz): … In an atmosphere of geopolitical tension and mutual distrust, not only must the United States and Russia work together in the many areas where their coordination is directly critical to global security, but a broader agenda of cooperation on specific, attainable measures across different issues areas is also important for another reason: to help stabilize the relationship and buffer against conflict in the future … recommendations in … The United States and Russia should …

Economic Relations

In the near term (assuming sanctions continue): … encourage private business dialogue and regular consultation between the Russian government and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the U.S.-Russia Business Council, and U.S. businesses in Russia; Russia should take full advantage of World Trade Organization (WTO) membership to improve trade relations with the United States … U.S. Department of Commerce should consult regularly with Russia on trade policy issues …

In the long term (assuming sanctions are lifted): … create a Strategic Economic Commission to address broad policy matters and advance economic and commercial opportunity, lead trade and investments missions to one another’s countries, and develop economic ties

between Russian and U.S. cities … and the European Union should support resumption of Russian membership accession negotiations with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and should keep Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union abreast of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) developments and urge that Russia be given observer status …

Energy

… should refocus this relationship on more technical issues, in order to help depoliticize the energy sphere and bring added value to energy efficiency, fuel diversity, and sustainability …

The Arctic

In the near term: All Arctic states should exercise restraint in developing their Arctic defense postures; The United States and Russia should consider appropriate measures to ensure compliance by all states with the Polar Code.

In the mid-term…: Enhanced communication between Arctic states (both to improve collective domain awareness and to streamline search and rescue and disaster response operations); New voluntary vessel traffic rules in the Bering Strait; Finalization of a new fisheries agreement covering the northern part of the Bering Sea; Formation of a multilateral body to regulate illegal fishing; and support to scientific cooperation beyond national fisheries jurisdictions of coastal states …

Euro-Atlantic Stability

First … improve communication and prevent any accidents … that could escalate conflict; Second, to preserve hope for a political settlement, all sides should commit to negotiations in all possible formats, including the Normandy format, bilateral U.S.-Russia talks, and direct engagement between Ukraine and Russia; Third … publicly communicate that the Ukraine conflict is not the sole determinant of the U.S.-Russia relationship; Fourth, signal their explicit intention to improve relations; Fifth … clarify their approaches to relations with post-Soviet countries – even if these remain at odds, clear statements of goals and interests will be useful to all …

The Middle East

… focus on identifying areas where interests overlap and cooperation is crucial, including jointly developing plans for the physical reconstruction of Syria and coordinating policies toward the Kurdish parties; Preventing cycles of revenge in post–civil war Syria; Working now to define the possible international guarantees that could be offered in Syria; Updating previous proposals or beginning a new joint initiative to make progress on the Arab-Israeli conflict; Pursuing collaboration on Libya, Afghanistan, and regional security structures …

Strategic Stability

… Treaty obligations to limit and/or reduce armaments; Unilateral, parallel steps to signal the absence of threat (taken in the absence of legally binding treaties); … Confidence-building and transparency measures …

Cybersecurity

… Continue diplomatic and Track II discussions of cybersecurity to improve mutual understanding and attain greater clarity of concepts and approaches; Work together to combat cyber crime and the use of the Internet by terrorists; this could build momentum for the next step; Work toward the harder conversation on the strategic application of cyber weapons and norms for responsible state behavior …

Counterterrorism

… Establishing a U.S.-Russia bilateral working group focused on reducing both homegrown radicalization and the recruitment and flows of foreign fighters; Exchanging information on illicit financial flows that fuel terrorism, particularly as they relate to the illicit drug trade from Afghanistan; and facilitating bilateral Track II events related to CVE, such as community-level (district/city) exchanges on programs to counter radicalization among youths …

https://www.csis.org/analysis/roadmap-us-russia-relations-executive-summary

Video-Statement u.a: Igor Ivanov, President, Russian International Affairs Council … vormaliger RUS Außenminister. Ich empfehle zumindest diesen ausgewogenen Beitrag / Appell (Rückkehr zur Vertrauensbildung) jenseits von (purer) Propaganda ab ca. 21:15 anzuhören! Auch der sich unmittelbar daran anschließende zustimmende Kommentar von OIeg Stepanov, Director, Foreign Policy Planning Department, RUS Außenministerium unterstreicht den als politisch verbindlich zu verstehenden Charakter der „Roadmap“

https://www.csis.org/events/roadmap-us-russia-relations

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Bob Corker, United States Senator, Tennessee

Proud to Support Judge Gorsuch

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held four days of hearings to consider the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Judge Gorsuch handled himself with great integrity and professionalism during his confirmation hearings,” said Corker. “I could not be more impressed with him and am proud to support his nomination.”

In early February, Senator Corker announced his support for Judge Gorsuch following a meeting in the senator’s Capitol Hill office.

“Judge Gorsuch is an outstanding choice, and after meeting with him, it is very clear why the Senate unanimously confirmed him to the federal bench in 2006," said Corker. "Our next Supreme Court justice will have a lasting impact on the direction of our country, and I have full confidence in Judge Gorsuch’s dedication to upholding the Constitution and applying the rule of law in a fair and independent manner. I am pleased that President Trump has nominated such a well-respected and qualified individual, and I look forward to voting to confirm Judge Gorsuch as our next U.S. Supreme Court justice.”

https://i0.wp.com/corker.enews.senate.gov/images/user_images/gorsuch.jpg

Ready to Fix Our Broken Health Care System

On Friday, Senator Corker released the following statement on the American Health Care Act after speaking with President Trump on the telephone.

“I had a nice talk with President Trump,” said Corker. “At some point, on behalf of the American people, we have to resolve the issues that are driving up costs, limiting choices, and causing the individual market to spiral downward. I stand ready to work with the administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in order to fix our broken health care system.”

Holding Iran Accountable

On Thursday, Senator Corker, as well Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), led a group of more than a dozen senators in introducing bipartisan legislation to hold Iran accountable. The legislation, cosponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), expands sanctions for ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, transfers of conventional weapons to or from Iran, and human rights violations.

“This legislation demonstrates the strong bipartisan support in Congress for a comprehensive approach to holding Iran accountable by targeting all aspects of the regime’s destabilizing actions,” said Corker. “These steps will allow us to regain the initiative on Iran and pushback forcefully against this threat to our security and that of our allies.”

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How does Russia position itself between Iran and Israel in the Middle East?

March 14, 2017

On a visit to the Kremlin last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed to his host, President Vladimir Putin, Israel’s strong concerns over reports that Iran intends to establish a naval presence on Syria’s Mediterranean coast and deploy Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian forces near the Golan Heights.

This was Netanyahu’s fourth trip to Moscow in 18 months. Netanyahu and Putin maintain close relations, and frequently speak over the phone. Over the years Russian and Israeli officials have learned to understand each other well. Yet, as Putin’s spokesman said after the meeting, no decisions were taken and none had been expected.

Even as the Russian leader was welcoming the Israeli prime minister, the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla was hosting Iranian sailors who had arrived in Makhachkala, Russian Dagestan, on a friendly visit. In Syria, Russia and Iran are military allies. Russian ships engaged in a spectacular display of their newly acquired capabilities in October 2015, when they fired cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea over Iranian territory at targets in Syria. Russians operate from the air in Syria, while the Iranians and their proxies fight alongside Syrian government forces on the ground.

So, which way will Moscow go? After the capture of Aleppo last December, the focus in Syria has been on diplomacy. Russia has essentially won the war. It is now seeking to win the peace, no less difficult a task. To move ahead, Moscow first recruited Turkey as a key partner in making the Syrian opposition accept a truce and join talks about a future political settlement. It then formed a diplomatic trio with Turkey and Iran to back such talks. It also found the venue for these conversations in Astana, Kazakhstan, whose leader Nursultan Nazarbayev is a close partner of Putin.

Putin realizes full well that winning the peace in Syria involves not only finding common ground among the Syrian parties, but also engaging in a highly complex effort of give-and-take among the regional actors involved. The case of Turkey is particularly telling. In late 2015, Moscow’s policies in Syria directly collided with Ankara’s, leading to the downing of a Russian bomber by Turkey and a seven-month-long chill in relations. Last week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan followed Netanyahu to Moscow to finalize the normalization of Turkish-Russian relations. In doing so, Erdogan had to give up on his demand that Assad leave power, and he has effectively recognized Russia’s central role in Syria. Putin, for his part, took to heart Turkey’s own security concerns.

Last August, after Erdogan’s conciliatory visit to Saint Petersburg, the Russian leader gave a quiet nod to Turkey’s limited invasion of northern Syria, which aimed at preventing the formation of a Kurdish enclave along Turkey’s border with Syria. In January and February of this year, Russia’s air force bombed Islamic State targets in Al-Bab to support the Turkish assault on the city. This month, the Turkish and Russian military chiefs of staff, alongside the chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, met in Adana, Turkey to coordinate their forces’ actions. American and Russian troops are a few kilometers apart in the town of Manbij. With Washington and Moscow supporting the Kurds, both are seeking to prevent clashes between the Kurds and the Turkish and Syrian government forces.

This illustrates Russia’s main goal and its general approach. It has neither the resources nor the ambition to displace the United States as the dominant power in the Middle East—a burden that has become too heavy for the U.S. itself. Rather, Moscow seeks the position of a broker that has working relations with all relevant parties, but avoids becoming an all-out ally or adversary with respect to any of them. Conflicts can be repaired on the terms that the Kremlin finds acceptable, as with Erdogan’s Turkey. Its alliances are situational and limited, not to be compared to NATO or the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Russia’s support for President Bashar al-Assad is conditional, and its coalition with Iran is situational.

Russia treats Iran as a serious and often willful player, not to be taken lightly. There is hardly much love lost between the two. Yet, when the interests of Moscow and Tehran coincide, the two can interact productively. Working together 20 years ago, they managed, by diplomatic means, to hammer out a negotiated settlement that ended the bloody civil war in Tajikistan, which has been mostly stable ever since. In Syria, both parties shared an interest in helping Assad defend his regime against an armed opposition. But that is as far as it goes.

Russians, while not sharing Tehran’s wider regional agenda, agree that Iran needs to be part of the Syrian settlement, alongside other regional players, including the Saudis. They are probably realistic enough to understand that Tehran would want to preserve some form of a connection to its Hezbollah allies. However, the Russians also understand that an Iranian or Hezbollah military presence in Syria, particularly near the Golan Heights, would be a constant source of conflict with Israel, undermining the very political settlement Moscow is trying so hard to achieve.

Russia does not wholly accept Israeli views on Iran. In the most recent meeting with Netanyahu, held on the eve of the Purim holiday, Putin suggested that Iran deserved to be approached in a level-headed, unemotional way. However, Moscow has a history of taking Israeli security interests seriously. It has desisted from providing Damascus with S-300 air defense systems. It did not protest against Israeli strikes on Hezbollah targets inside Syria. When it brought its own air power and air defenses to Syria, it made a point of coordinating with the Israelis from the very start, to avoid incidents. So far, this has worked.

Going forward, Moscow’s interest in Syria is to legitimize its own air and naval presence in the country after a political settlement is reached. While the ceasefire is still fragile, the fight against the Islamic State is gaining momentum. The future of Syria is uncertain given that foreign forces will continue to operate in the country. After the settlement, as far as Moscow is concerned, all should leave—except for Russia, which has won basing rights from the Syrian government.

It is totally unrealistic to hope that Russia will throw Iran under the bus for the sake of a rapprochement with the Trump administration or even better ties with Israel. Russia will continue to pursue its own self-interest in the Middle East, which requires preserving working relations with all major actors, including Iran. However, Moscow is also developing a keen understanding of the delicate balances in the region which must not be disturbed. In that sense, they have a clear empathy for Israel’s situation.

http://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/68257?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkRobU9EZzRNV1kwTVRKaSIsInQiOiJ5YTBFVGpaV0xcLzI4NHhoYTBBblppdlM2YVg3dEdFc3VPQ0kwYUVjYzJOWmxWNDBpZFVaZEtRTThGV1ltUkhcL1BtSFNCT29IOUZSSUFpZ2RpSkNyZ3lYcVVmTXkxUHNPcm5OUldKMVZQT2VpdHVzVkJPU3kwVnVVRFdnNHdleFlKIn0%3D

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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

03-28-17 Russia-Turkey-US.docx

03-27-17 Is Turkey rattled by Russian-Kurdish deal.docx

03-21-17 Statement of Madeleine K. Albright and Stephen J. Hadley Committee on Armed Services United States House of Representatives Tuesday, March 21, 2017 .pdf

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