Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 06.10.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Chinese-North Korean Relations: Drawing the Right Historical Lessons
  • Augengeradeaus:Lesestoff: Chinas Basis in Djibouti
  • Radio Vatikan: China will den Graubereich der Religion ausschalten
  • Stationierungsabkommens mit Jordanien (SOFA, Status of Forces Agreement)
  • Post-ISIS Governance in Jarablus (Syria / District Aeppo): A Turkish-led Strategy.
  • Carnegie Moscow Center: Setting Conflict in Stone: Dangerous Trends in Russian-U.S. Relations
  • Launch of on-line biography of former German chancellor Willy Brandt ( German / Norwegian /English )
  • Rocker Tom Petty Dies in Hospital – LA Police .

Massenbach*Post-ISIS Governance in Jarablus (Syria / District Aeppo): A Turkish-led Strategy.

(Chatham House Project “Middle East and North Africa Programme, Syria from Within “ )

Jarabulus is a Syrian city administratively belonging to Aleppo Governorate. Jarabulus, also known as Jerablus, lies on the western bank of the river Euphrates. In the 2004 census, the city had a population of 11,570.Ethnically, the city is composed of Arabs and Turkmens.It is located north of Lake Assad, just south of the Syrian-Turkish border and the Turkish town of Karkamış.)

Turkey’s capacity to ensure the sustainability of its successes against ISIS depends largely on improving governance in Jarablus.


· The governance structure in Jarablus – following Turkey’s military intervention that drove Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from the district in 2016 – has replicated that used in other rebel-held areas in Syria, with a local council running the district. Turkey and its allies overlooked the existing local governance structure and backed a new appointed district council, which, among citizens, lacked legitimacy and created tension. The council’s inability to deliver traditional public services quickly also increased resentment towards it, resulting in widespread demonstrations that eventually toppled it in February 2017.

· The pressing need for emergency reconstruction in Jarablus has hindered Turkey’s commitment to substantial future investments there. Running the district has depended largely on short-term solutions rather than long-term planning. As a result, public services are either non-existent or of poor quality, particularly in the countryside.

· Humanitarian work in Jarablus is limited to the efforts of Turkey and organizations it approves. Syrian and international humanitarian actors cannot operate there, but they can still channel their support through approved organizations. This monopoly has increased locals’ dependence on Turkey and prevented them from raising funds to implement much-needed projects.

· Turkey’s official role and influence in governing Jarablus remains unclear, but there is a general assumption among locals that it runs the district. Thus, the failure to turn it into a successful model has created frustration towards Turkey among locals. Occasional demonstrations have been organized to protest Turkey’s perceived increased influence and its negative impact on the area.

· The absence of a comprehensive Turkish-led post-ISIS strategy has destabilized Jarablus. The lack of counter-radicalization strategies to engage with locals influenced by ISIS’s ideology, especially children, leaves them vulnerable to recruitment by radical groups. The inability of the local council to deliver services also allows such groups to use service provision to gain support and rebuild their power base. Additionally, ignoring local sensitivities contributes to ethnic tension between Arabs and Turkmen, and may lead to confrontations, which could eventually enable radicals.

· Turkey’s capacity to ensure the sustainability of its successes against ISIS depends largely on improving governance in Jarablus. To achieve this it could support the legitimacy of the most recent district council, which was formed by locals in March 2017, by enhancing its ability to govern. Short-term reconstruction initiatives should be replaced with long-term strategies such as a counter-radicalization programme to challenge ISIS’s ideology and reduce its influence. In addition, increased transparency regarding Turkey’s involvement in the running of Jarablus and its objectives, as well as the empowering of locals to govern themselves would improve the odds of Turkey achieving its goal.


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

Carnegie Moscow Center:

Setting Conflict in Stone: Dangerous Trends in Russian-U.S. Relations

Mutual lack of knowledge of the other and lack of institutional contact between foreign policy elites is promising an era of perpetual mistrust in U.S.-Russian relations.

As Moscow welcomes the new U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr., and as Russia’s new ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov is putting himself in the swim with his new job, one might hope that the current downward spiral in U.S.-Russian relations might be stopped or even reversed. However, a change of faces at the embassies can’t cure a relationship that is deeply broken and will continue to be so. President Donald Trump’s signature on the “Russian Sanctions Review Act of 2017” guaranteed that adversarial relations between the United States and Russia are set in stone for years to come.

Trump’s approval of the bill from Congress on August 2 is an indication that the relationship between the United States and Russia has room to get even worse than it is at present. Trump’s White House, albeit rather clumsily, tried to fight the sanctions. Future administrations, both Democratic and Republican, are likely to be more aggressively anti-Russian than this one.

Whatever the real political issues that divide them, there is a real danger that the institutional lack of knowledge and dialogue will worsen an already bad relationship and see opportunities for improved relations go untaken.

On the American side, the crux of the issue is that the levers of the U.S. foreign policy machine will be in the hands of members of a generation that not only considers Russia a threat to America but also knows much less about it than the politicians of the Cold War era. This lack of understanding carries more dangers than do the new sanctions.

The U.S. foreign policy elite is in the midst of a generational change. A new crop of political appointees, mostly under fifty, is replacing those who made their careers during the Cold War years. During the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, members of this generation had already begun to fill the middle levels of the bureaucracy, responsible for the strategic course of American foreign policy.

This new generation formed its view of the world at a time when the rising stars in government aimed to be specialists on issues like the Middle East, China, terrorism, or cybersecurity. Obama’s characterization of Russia as a “regional power” was a reflection of the consensus outlook of these people. For them, Russia was not to be perceived as a threat to American national security, and not a country of great interest in general.

Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election radically changed this picture. The issue is not so much what the Russian intelligence services did or did not do during the presidential campaign and what impact they may have had. The key point is that for this newly formed American foreign policy establishment—be it supporters of Hillary Clinton or more traditional Republicans from the “Never Trump” movement—Russia is understood to be a foreign power that seriously interfered with the democratic process and brought power to a man who will try to undermine the very core principles of the country they love.

Moreover, as Trump has now stolen a whole electoral cycle from them and their career development, some of them now also feel that Russia has stolen some of their best years.

Sooner or later, these men and women will be back at the helm of the National Security Council, the State Department, the Pentagon, the Treasury, and the intelligence community. But their understanding of Russia will be much more shallow than that of their Cold War predecessors, who had encountered the Soviet Union on a daily basis in every corner of the world and had to have at least limited knowledge about the primary adversary.

Though new Russia is perceived as a real threat, few of the up-and-coming stars in the foreign policy establishments of both the Democratic and Republican parties have any credible experience in Russian matters. This is why Russia will be viewed as a brazen and aggressive global actor that is consciously trying to break the liberal world order and hurt U.S. interests in every corner of the world. This Russia must be put in its place and punished in every conceivable way, through new sanctions, the supply of weapons to counter Russia in post-Soviet conflict zones, and cyber activity.

On the Russian side, an analogous process is underway. The departing Cold War–era foreign policy elite is being replaced by people who sincerely perceive the United States as Russia’s enemy, and the fight against America as part of their job—even as their national mission.

Just like their American counterparts, many of them believe that the enemy (the United States) is in a state of long-term decay, which is the real reason why it is constantly trying to hurt Russia. Clichés from the propaganda machine substitute for real knowledge about the United States.

The eventual clash between these two establishment groups, driven more by stereotypes and emotions than by knowledge or pragmatic reasoning, will be far more destructive than the current confrontation between the two countries. This systemic conflict could have especially grave consequences for Russia, as it will divert valuable resources that should have been spent on tackling domestic problems toward confronting the most powerful state in the world.

The root of the problem lies not in the systemic ideological confrontation that underlay the Cold War but in perpetual mutual misunderstanding, miscalculation, and mismanagement. On the Russian side there is profound ignorance of how Washington works. For example, at a critical moment in bilateral relations, few in the Russian government or expert community had any connections or relationships on Capitol Hill.

Only a very limited number of Russians who are not foreign intelligence agents and who are both trusted as Russian patriots and independent in outlook, have good access in Washington. This will only get worse, as the topic of Russia has gotten so toxic there. In the future, the number of channels of communication—and their quality—will fall further and only make Russian-American relations more dangerous.

Russians cannot hope for a thaw in American establishment attitudes toward their country. That is beyond the capability of even the most brilliant Russian hackers, and will probably only come about in the unlikely eventuality of a major political transformation in Russia.

But even without that, Russians will sooner or later have to start improving their poor understanding of how America’s establishment works, and making better contacts there. Whatever political path Russia chooses, the costs it is paying for this highly emotional confrontation are too high.

The goal should be to form personal contacts in Washington, and to form professional relationships that hold at least the seeds of trust and mutual respect. That would help Russians to have a better understanding of American foreign policy and allow influential Americans to understand Russia better.

This article originally appeared in Russian in Vedomosti.


What you should know:

Launch of on-line biography of former German chancellor Willy Brandt ( German / Norwegian /English).


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Radio Vatikan: China will den Graubereich der Religion ausschalten.

Die Volksrepublik China richtet derzeit ihre Religionspolitik neu aus. Am 7. September veröffentlichte Peking neue Vorschriften zum Umgang mit den Religionsgemeinschaften im Land, die ab kommenden Februar in Kraft treten sollen. Es handelt sich um die Neufassung eines älteren Regelwerkes, das bereits seit 2005 in Kraft war. Katharina Wenzel-Teuber, Herausgeberin der Zeitschrift „China Heute“, ordnet die Neuerungen im Interview mit Radio Vatikan ein. Zieht Chinas Führung die Zügel mit dem überarbeiteten Gesetz jetzt noch mehr an? Das wollte Anne Preckel zunächst von der China-Expertin wissen. (rv) Hier mehr in Text und Ton (Link:

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

Barandat*Augengeradeaus:Lesestoff: Chinas Basis in Djibouti

Die Marine der chinesischen Volksbefreiungsarmee war seit einigen Jahren immer wieder mit Kriegsschiffen vor der Küste Ostafrikas präsent, um den Kampf gegen die Piraterie zu führen – teilweise in Abstimmung mit anderen Seestreitkräften zum Beispiel in der EU-Mission Atalanta oder den überwiegend US-geführten Combined Maritime Forces in der Region.

Inzwischen hat China allerdings in Djibouti eine Militärbasis gebaut – die erste Übersee-Basis der Volksbefreiungsarmee, und es geht längst nicht mehr um die Bekämpfung der Piraterie. Die dort stationierten Soldaten führten vor wenigen Tagen ihre erste Live Fire Exercise durch

… und in dem Zusammenhang ein paar Fundstücke: Berichte, die die Bedeutung dieser chinesischen Afrika-Basis und ihren Aufbau analysieren:

Shepard Media: Analysis: Clarity emerges on China’s Djibouti base

The Print (India): China’s mega fortress in Djibouti could be model for its bases in Pakistan

Kurz gefasst: Die Mischung aus Militärlager und Festung am Horn von Afrika sieht nach der Absicht aus, eine Basis für militärische Einsätze zum Schutz chinesischer Interessen in (Ost)Afrika zu schaffen.

Angesichts der Konzentration von Militär in der früheren französischen Kolonie Djibouti – neben Frankreich vor allem die USA, die ihr Camp Lemonier als eben solche Basis nutzen – und der Bedeutung des Indischen Ozeans für die Handelsschiffart auch etwas, was Deutschland im Auge behalten sollte.

(Archivbild 2014: Gespräch von chinesischen und italienischen Soldaten im Anti-Piraterieeinsatz vor der Küste Somalias – EUNAVFOR)


Middle East

Abzug aus Incirlik komplett – Tornados sollen nächste Woche aus Jordanien starten (Nachtrag: SOFA)

Die Frage des Stationierungsabkommens mit Jordanien (SOFA, Status of Forces Agreement) war auch Thema in der Bundespressekonferenz. Dazu Michael Henjes für das Verteidigungsministerium:

Frage : Ich wollte einmal zu Jordanien und dem Umzug der Bundeswehr kommen. Herr Henjes, steht mittlerweile das Status of Forces Agreement mit Jordanien? Müssen sich deutsche Soldaten also konkret an die Scharia-Rechtsordnung vor Ort halten?

Henjes: Ich kann Ihnen dazu sagen, dass sich dieses Stationierungsabkommen bezüglich unserer Soldatinnen und Soldaten in Jordanien noch in der Abstimmung befindet.

Zusatzfrage : Was passiert also eigentlich, wenn jetzt etwas passiert? Auf welcher Grundlage wird da jetzt gehandelt, auf jordanischer Rechtsgrundlage? Warum ist das immer noch nicht ausverhandelt? Wann erwarten Sie das?

Henjes: …Die Verhandlung über das Stationierungsabkommen mit der jordanischen Seite zeichnen sich als sehr konstruktiv und auch sehr fruchtvoll ab. Das ist ein komplexer Bereich. Dafür gibt es keine Blaupausen aus anderen Missionen, die man übernehmen kann. Insofern werden wir dort mit denen intensiv über einzelne Bereiche verhandeln. Die Verhandlungen sind schon so weit vorangeschritten, dass ich von dieser Stelle aus sagen kann, dass ich eigentlich zeitnah mit einem Ergebnis rechne.

Zusatzfrage : In welchen Bereichen hapert es denn?

Henjes: … Mit Jordanien haben wir einen sehr stabilen und uns wohlgesonnenen Partner in der Region, mit dem wir sehr konstruktive (Gespräche führen).

… Es wird wirklich Punkt für Punkt durchgegangen, und das braucht seine Zeit. Ein Stationierungsabkommen kann nicht eben mal so dahingewischt werden. Ich denke, auch wenn man darauf blickt, wie lange wir für das Stationierungsabkommen mit Katar gebraucht haben, sind wir da wirklich sehr gut im Zeitplan.


*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Chinese-North Korean Relations: Drawing the Right Historical Lessons

By: James Person – September 26, 2017

(About James Person: James F. Person is the Director of the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy. Between 2007 and early 2017, he served as the founding Coordinator of the North Korea International Documentation Project at the Wilson Center. Between 2013 and early 2017, he was Deputy Director of the History and Public Policy Program. Person holds a Ph.D in modern Korean history (2013).

Person’s principal research interests include modern Korean history, inter-Korean relations, DPRK foreign relations, US-Korea relations, and the Cold War in Asia. His PhD dissertation explored the transformation of North Korea’s political, ideological, and political systems between 1953 and 1967.

Person teaches courses on modern Korean history at the George Washington University. He has appeared on CBS, CSPAN, National Public Radio, Vice News, KBS, and his interviews have appeared in Newsweek, CNN, USA Today, the LA Times, the Donga Daily, and other news outlets. He has worked as a consultant on historical documentaries.)

09-28-17 Abzug aus Incirlik komplett – Truppenabkommen steht noch nicht.pdf
09-26-17 Syria_post-isis-governance-jarablus-Chatham House.pdf
09-28-17 China will den Graubereich der Religion ausschalten – Radio Vatikan.pdf