Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 09.02.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Papst und Erdogan sprachen über Christen, Flüchtlinge und Jerusalem / Pope Francis meets Turkish president in private audience
  • The Syrian Congress in Sochi: Too Much Too Soon
  • Russian Approaches to the United States: Algorithm Change Is Overdue
  • DEBKAfile about Syria (week 01/24/18 – 02/01/18)

Massenbach* NZZ: Die deutsche Lust am Niedergang

Wer die Politik in Deutschland verfolgt, den überkommt Unbehagen.

Wo bloss sind Tatkraft und Willensstärke hin? Die Deutschen scheinen sich selbst ein Bein nach dem anderen stellen zu wollen.

Sie gefährden damit nicht nur ihren Wohlstand.

Gastkommentar. Wolfgang Bok 7.2.2018, 05:30 Uhr

Die Deutsche Bank ist das letzte deutsche Geldhaus, das noch in der internationalen Finanz-Liga mitspielen darf – wenn auch abgeschlagen auf den Abstiegsplätzen. Man sollte also erwarten, dass die Politiker einer bedeutenden Exportnation am Erhalt dieser für ihre Unternehmen wichtigen Institution interessiert sind. Aber nein: Lieber empört man sich über Bonuszahlungen für Banker. Das kommt in der deutschen Neidgesellschaft immer gut an. Hilfe kann die Deutsche Bank von der Politik nicht erwarten.

Dasselbe Spiel bei der Automobilindustrie, die noch immer jeden achten Arbeitsplatz in Deutschland stellt – und sogar gut bezahlt. Jede Ungeschicklichkeit wird zum Gross-Skandal aufgeblasen. Kein Politiker wagt es, diese für den eigenen Wohlstand so wichtige Branche gegen überzogene Anfeindungen und Auflagen, sei es aus Washington oder aus Brüssel, in Schutz zu nehmen. Man rollt sogar den roten Teppich aus für asiatische Batterie- und amerikanische Elektroautobauer. Und die Metallgewerkschaft nutzt die Gunst der Stunde, um den Einstieg in die 28-Stunden-Woche zu erstreiken. Was deutsche Produkte noch teurer macht.

Fernsolidarität statt Eigeninteresse

Sehenden Auges lässt sich Deutschland in eine europäische Haftungs-, Schulden- und Sozialunion hineinziehen. Die Grosskoalitionäre Merkel (CDU) und Schulz (SPD) feiern den drohenden Bruch mit den stets beschworenen Stabilitätsregeln auch noch als «europäisches Zukunftsprojekt».

Als gäbe es kein Morgen mehr, konzentriert sich die deutsche Politik auf das Jetzt und das Gestern.

Dass auch Emmanuel Macron in der französischen Tradition steht, wonach seinem Land keine Last zu gross ist, solange Berlin dafür bezahlt, wird dort nicht einmal zur Kenntnis genommen. Lieber empört man sich über die Amerika-first-Politik des amerikanischen Präsidenten Trump – und übersieht, dass jeder Regierungschef zunächst einmal die Interessen seines Landes vertritt. Man mag in Davos und bei sonstigen Weltkongressen den freien Welthandel beschwören; in Wahrheit ist vielen jedoch jeder protektionistische Kniff recht, um die eigene Wirtschaft zu schützen. Vor allem China kennt keine Skrupel, Märkte zu besetzen und seine Macht auszuweiten.

Woher kommt diese Ignoranz? Zunächst einmal ist Deutschland ein gutes Beispiel dafür, dass Umerziehung funktioniert. Man hat den Menschen so lange eingetrichtert, dass nationales Denken in die (braune) Katastrophe führt, dass es heute kaum mehr jemand wagt, für «nationale Interessen» einzutreten. Wer in seinem Garten eine deutsche Flagge pflanzt oder sich an Anglizismen stört, gilt bereits als Nationalist. Selbst das Wort «deutsch» ist in Deutschland zunehmend verpönt. Nicht mehr auf «deutsche Interessen» sollen Politiker schwören, sondern nur noch allgemein auf die der «Bürgerinnen und Bürger».

Das erklärt die fatale Flüchtlingspolitik der offenen Grenzen. Der Selbsthass in weiten Teilen der Gesellschaft ist so gross, dass bereits als «Rassist» gilt, wer mit Blick auf die massenhafte Zuwanderung aus arabischen und afrikanischen Ländern um die eigene nationale Identität fürchtet. Dass dieses Thema auf der Sorgenliste der Deutschen nach wie vor ganz oben steht, wird vom Establishment in Politik und Medien hartnäckig ignoriert. In den Koalitionsverhandlungen von Union und SPD wurde ersatzweise um den Familiennachzug einer kleinen Gruppen von Flüchtlingen gestritten. Dass Hunderttausende bereits anerkannte Asylbewerber und geduldete Migranten ihre Angehörigen auch dann ins Land holen dürfen, wenn sie diese nicht selbst versorgen können, spielte in der ganzen Debatte so wenig eine Rolle wie die Frage nach den Kosten.

Pirouetten auf dem Eis, bis es bricht

Als gäbe es kein Morgen mehr, konzentriert sich die deutsche Politik auf das Jetzt und das Gestern. Jedes Problem wird mit Milliarden-Zusagen regelrecht zugeschüttet. Kein Wunsch der SPD ist Kanzlerin Merkel zu teuer oder zu dirigistisch, um ihn abzulehnen, und keine konservative Position heilig, für die CDU und CSU Jahrzehnte gefochten haben. Die Politikerin, die vor zwölf Jahren als mutige Reformerin antrat und sich gerne als sparsame schwäbische Hausfrau gibt, hat einzig die eigene Machtabsicherung im Blick. Derweil bei der einstigen Volkspartei SPD Angst vor der Macht herrscht.

Allein die gute wirtschaftliche Lage, die nicht der Politik, sondern vor allem einem starken Mittelstand und einem schwachen Euro zu verdanken ist, verdeckt, dass in Deutschland nicht mehr solider regiert wird als in Ländern, auf die man gerne etwas herabschaut. Es sagt viel aus, dass ausgerechnet im italienischen Wahlkampf vor «deutschen Verhältnissen» gewarnt wird.

Dabei ist die zähe Regierungsbildung noch das kleinste Problem. Vielmehr fühlt man sich an die Volksweisheit von den Eseln erinnert, die auf dem Eis Pirouetten drehen, wenn es ihnen zu wohl ergeht. Dass das deutsche Wohlstands-Eis bereits bedenklich knirscht, nimmt zwischen Ost- und Bodensee kaum jemand zur Kenntnis. Bricht es, hat dies auch für Europa Folgen. Oder um es mit Abraham Lincoln zu sagen: Es nützt den Schwachen nicht, wenn sich der Starke selber schwächt.

Wolfgang Bok war Chefredaktor der «Heilbronner Stimme» und arbeitet heute als freier Publizist. Er lehrt an der Hochschule Heilbronn Kommunikation.

https://www.nzz.ch/meinung/die-deutsche-lust-am-niedergang-ld.1354598 ****************************************************************************************

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

  • The Syrian Congress in Sochi: Too Much Too Soon

February 2, 2018 – REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

“There is a certain disconnect between Russia’s hard power instruments and its ability to spearhead political dialogue.

These are the faultiness that Russia tried to overcome in Sochi by institutionalizing the process of constitution drafting…”

  • Russian Approaches to the United States: Algorithm Change Is Overdue

February 1, 2018 – REUTERS/Win McNamee

“..it is necessary to change drastically the algorithm — to start building relationships not on the “top-down” principle, but on the “bottom-up” principle.

It would be wrong to count on a well-disposed “non-systemic” president. We should work properly with the “system” as a whole.

Even if such work is invisible for a long time, is not always pleasant and not too effective…”

  • The Caucasian Knot / News:

Threat of economic crisis advances presidential election in Azerbaijan.

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Carnegie Moscow: THE PERILS OF CHANGE: RUSSIANS’ MIXED ATTITUDES TOWARD REFORM

DENIS VOLKOV AND ANDREI KOLESNIKOV | FEBRUARY 2018

Russians have traditionally had strong yet contrary feelings about change, both longing for and fearing the transformation of the country. In the late 1980s, the last major era of radical change when the Soviet Communist system began to fall apart, the rock singer Viktor Tsoi sang words that all of Russia knew by heart: “Change! Our hearts demand it. Change! Our eyes demand it!” Attitudes are different now. After a long period of political stability dominated by one leader, President Vladimir Putin, the March 2018 election promises only a formal imitation of change, as Putin is universally expected to win another term. But against the backdrop of renewed protests, the Russian election raises the question of what will come next for the country as its long-serving leader begins his final term.

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Papst und Erdogan sprachen über Christen, Flüchtlinge und Jerusalem / Pope Francis meets Turkish president in private audience

In a private audience on Monday, Pope Francis meets with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussing the country’s Catholic community, its hosting of refugees, and the situation in the Middle East.

Pope Francis met with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his entourage on Monday at a private audience in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

It was the first time in 59 years that a Turkish president has visited the Vatican.

A statement from the Holy See Press Office said their discussions were “cordial” and that the two men spoke about the two states’ bilateral relations.

The Holy Father and President Erdogan spoke about “the situation of the country, the condition of the Catholic community, efforts in the reception of the many refugees, and the challenges linked to this.”

They also discussed the situation in the Middle East, giving special attention “to the status of Jerusalem”.

Pope Francis and Turkey’s president, it said, highlighted “the need to promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law.”

http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-02/pope-francis-turkey-erdogan-audience.html

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*National Interest: Pakistan’s Water Crisis Is a Ticking Time Bomb

When it comes to Pakistan, President Trump’s Twitter feud with one of America’s most important partners in the fight against terrorism has dominated the news. But beneath the headlines, a massive water crisis is unfolding that has profound implications for the country’s stability and security. Rapid urbanization and conflict combined with corruption, crime and years of mismanagement have left a massive proportion of the population without access to clean water. And now, this long-festering crisis threatens to upend Pakistan’s politics.

Perhaps the strangest thing about Pakistan’s water crisis is that until recently, the country had been doing well in connecting more of its citizens to water supply and sanitation networks. From 1990 to 2015, the percentage of the country’s population with access to clean water increased from 86 percent to 91 percent. But in a reversal of what happens in most countries, almost all of this improvement occurred in rural areas—the percentage of urban residents with access to clean water actually declined from 97 to 94 percent over the same period.

Only a few other countries, most of them war-torn places like Syria and Gaza, have experienced similar reversals in providing clean water to cities. And while the causes of Pakistan’s water crisis are complex, the country’s political instability has played a key part. Pakistan is urbanizing at a rapid rate of over 3 percent annually—the highest rate in South Asia. The causes of this fast-moving urbanization are deeply troubling, with climate change and the fight against Muslim extremists acting as key drivers. Given this ever-quickening tide, Pakistan’s cities have had trouble providing basic services, including housing and water, to new urban residents.

But the problem is worse in the water sector because rampant corruption and mismanagement keeps prices high and coverage rates low. Because Pakistan’s cities can’t keep up with growing water demand from new residents, many urban-dwellers are forced to buy water from private tanker trucks. And because tankers often bring water from far away, prices are high, and tanker “mafias” raise them still further by illegally siphoning off water from municipal sources and reselling it at extortionate prices. These criminal gangs represent a serious challenge to Pakistan’s local authorities. As a Karachi official admitted, “These illegal hydrants are established by armed people, so it is very difficult for . . . staff to just dismantle them.” But authorities have also been accused of turning a blind eye to tanker mafias: no less an authority than the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court was quoted as saying, “there is someone behind the scenes at work who is minting money from [the tanker mafias].”

The result of this corruption and mismanagement is a serious and growing lack of clean water for many of Pakistan’s cities. According to figures presented to the Pakistani Supreme Court, 83 percent of water supplies in Sindh, Pakistan’s second-most-populous region, are contaminated with sewage and industrial waste, with the percentage rising to over 90 percent in Karachi, the country’s largest city and financial center. Even worse, up to 60 million people across the country may have been exposed to deadly arsenic leaking into Pakistan’s groundwater supplies. Late last year, the issue exploded into popular view when the Supreme Court ordered Sindh officials to present a plan for resolving the province’s water crisis. The Court’s Chief Justice minced no words, warning officials that “The water crisis issue in Pakistan is turning into a bomb.”

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s water bomb has multiple triggers, and if it explodes it may well send the country into an even greater political crisis. In addition to its water quality woes, Pakistan is at risk of growing water scarcity as a result of climate change, which some observers have warned could exacerbate existing insurgencies and make a military coup more likely. Nor are the consequences of a water crisis confined to Pakistan’s domestic security. During a December conference, a Chinese diplomat reportedly complained that the country’s chronic water shortages were hindering Chinese investment as part of the China—Pakistan Economic Corridor, the country’s highest-profile development project.

Pakistan’s local authorities appear to be taking the risk of water crisis seriously. Following the Supreme Court’s order, Sindh’s Chief Minister pledged to act quickly, promising residents that “It is our prime duty to take necessary measures so that people right from Kashmore to Karachi drink safe water.” But some national leaders have appeared hesitant to acknowledge the implications of water crisis for the country’s security. During a November 2017 international water conference, Sindh’s governor, who serves a representative of the central government, bafflingly stated that “Water is a very low priority” for the government. “Terrorism,” he went on to say, “is a way bigger issue than the water crisis.”

If Pakistan is to tackle its water woes, attitudes like this will have to change. For the United States, such reluctance is concerning, and adds other set of risk factors to an already difficult relationship with a volatile nuclear power. Unfortunately, Washington’s current spat with Islamabad leaves it with few good options to make the case that providing basic services, especially water, are essential to maintaining Pakistan’s security and stability. But it should try. The U.S. government’s recently-released Global Water Strategy prioritizes investment in water and sanitation as a tool to advance U.S. national interests, and can be used as a framework to help Pakistan address its water crisis. As President Trump himself acknowledged, “Water may be the most important issue we face for the next generation.”

Scott Moore is a political scientist and senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, where he studies climate change and water issues.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/pakistans-water-crisis-ticking-time-bomb-24347?page=show

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Middle East

U.S. shale surge sends warning to OPEC: Kemp – Reuters News

07-Feb-2018 12:34:38 – John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own

Chartbook: http://tmsnrt.rs/2EpmSoV

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – U.S. crude oil production is set to increase by more than 1.2 million barrels per day in 2018 compared with 2017, according to the latest short-term forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

U.S. crude production will average almost 10.6 million barrels per day (bpd) this year compared with 9.3 million bpd in 2017 ("Short-Term Energy Outlook", EIA, Feb. 6).

The forecast has been revised sharply higher from less than 10.3 million bpd at the time of the last prediction in January 2018 and 9.9 million bpd in July 2017 (http://tmsnrt.rs/2EpmSoV).

Unexpectedly rapid growth in U.S. onshore production from the Lower 48 states in recent months has caused the agency to re-benchmark its output numbers going forward.

Crude production from the Lower 48 excluding federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, mostly from shale, is expected to rise by nearly 1.25 million bpd this year.

Total U.S. liquids production, which includes natural gas liquids, is predicted to rise by 1.7 million bpd in 2018, which is exactly the same as the forecast increase in global liquids consumption.

If the forecasts prove correct, U.S. shale producers will capture all or most of the predicted growth in global oil consumption this year.

OPEC QUANDARY

Surging output from shale underscores the growing competitive threat to members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russia.

Efforts to restrain production under the cooperation framework between OPEC and non-OPEC allies risk back-firing.

The cooperating countries are already conceding market share to the shale producers, in a re-run of the situation before oil prices slumped in 2014.

If production restraint succeeds in drawing down global inventories even further, and pushes Brent significantly above $70 per barrel, the resulting shale surge and slowdown in consumption growth will intensify the danger.

The dilemma between defending prices or protecting market share has been a familiar one for OPEC for the last 40 years, and the organisation has regularly alternated between pursuing these competing priorities.

Saudi-led OPEC focused on defending prices before 2014, then switched to protecting market share between June 2014 and June 2016, before reverting to price defence from December 2016 onwards.

The price defence strategy has worked but is now starting to threaten the organisation’s market share and could become counterproductive if carried too far.

EXIT TIMING

OPEC and its allies need to start planning an exit from their production agreement with the goal of capturing at least some incremental market demand in 2018 and 2019 while preventing another slump in prices.

OPEC is focused on maintaining current production through the end of 2018, although it has promised an interim review at the next ministerial meeting in June.

But maintaining production restraint until the end of the year risks tightening the market too much and inviting another shale surge, which would repeat the events of 2011-2014.

Between 2011 and 2014, OPEC members consistently under-estimated the competitive threat from shale, until it overwhelmed them.

Maintaining output restraint for too long this time around would repeat the same mistakes that led to the subsequent slump.

OPEC and its allies must choose between an early, smooth and controlled adjustment to the cooperation agreement or risk a later and more disorderly one.

Related columns:

"U.S. oil production nears 47-year record as shale booms", Reuters, Feb. 1

"U.S. shale producers renew challenge to OPEC," Reuters, Nov. 27

"OPEC must think about exit strategy", Reuters, Oct. 25

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

The Perils of Change: Russians’ Mixed Attitudes Toward Reform.”

Carnegie Moscow: Russians traditionally have had strong yet conflicting feelings about change, ranging from longing for and fearing upheavals accompanying any transformation of the country. So in 2018, during a time many compare to the stagnant Brezhnev era, how do Russians understand the idea of change and how do they think it should come about?

The Carnegie Moscow Center and the Levada Center, an independent Russian polling organization, posed these and many more questions in a national survey, complemented by four focus groups conducted in Moscow. The results are illuminating and provide the basis for the latest article by Carnegie’s Andrei Kolesnikov and Levada’s Denis Volkov: “The Perils of Change: Russians’ Mixed Attitudes Toward Reform.”

The survey revealed a glaring paradox. Most Russians do not express a strong desire for sweeping change. They do not have in mind a specific roadmap for reforms, and they lack a clear idea of who could best carry them out. However, most Russians understand that the country cannot move forward, or even stay in place, without some change.

We hope you will enjoy the publication. You can stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for Carnegie Moscow Center newsletters and by following @DmitriTrenin and @CarnegieRussia on Twitter.

Dmitri Trenin

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01/24/18 – 02/01/18

Briefs
https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngPutin plans to end Alawite hegemony in Damascus and evict pro-Iranian Shiite militias including Hizballah

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

DEBKAfile reports that the Russian president Vladimir Putin has prepared a plan for Syria’s post-war future for presentation to the Syrian peace conference opening on Jan. 29 at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Moscow has invited 1,600 Syrian government and opposition participants. Some rebel groups have announced a boycott. DEBKAfile reports that, unless he backs down at the last moment, Putin’s plan substantially includes democratic elections took reflect the Sunni majority and grant minorities their rights, as well as the creation of the New National Syrian Army. Free elections would automatically unseat Bashar Assad. To broaden its support base, Putin conferred intensively with Riyadh and Cairo, which also gained him an indirect line to Washington. The Saudis demanded an additional clause explicitly mandating the expulsion of all foreign forces, including Iran and its proxies. Putin agreed. He proposed to put his plan before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they meet in Moscow on Jan. 29.

Briefs
https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngPutin plans to end Alawite hegemony in Damascus and evict pro-Iranian Shiite militias including Hizballah

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

DEBKAfile reports that the Russian president Vladimir Putin has prepared a plan for Syria’s post-war future for presentation to the Syrian peace conference opening on Jan. 29 at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Moscow has invited 1,600 Syrian government and opposition participants. Some rebel groups have announced a boycott. DEBKAfile reports that, unless he backs down at the last moment, Putin’s plan substantially includes democratic elections took reflect the Sunni majority and grant minorities their rights, as well as the creation of the New National Syrian Army. Free elections would automatically unseat Bashar Assad. To broaden its support base, Putin conferred intensively with Riyadh and Cairo, which also gained him an indirect line to Washington. The Saudis demanded an additional clause explicitly mandating the expulsion of all foreign forces, including Iran and its proxies. Putin agreed. He proposed to put his plan before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they meet in Moscow on Jan. 29.

Briefs
https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngPutin plans to end Alawite hegemony in Damascus and evict pro-Iranian Shiite militias including Hizballah

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

The Trump administration’s abrupt flight from understandings with Moscow on Syria left Netanyahu with a tricky agenda for his Moscow talks with Putin on Monday, Jan 29.
This about-face will be examined, with new revelations, in the coming issue of DEBKA Weekly out on Friday, Feb. 2
DEBKAfile reports exclusively that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had come away from last week’s Davos Economic Forum and his talks with President Donald Trump and European leaders with a strong impression of amity between Trump and Putin, endorsed by key European leaders, on two critical issues: that Syria’s political transition from war to peace would lead to Bashar Assad’s ouster along with the eviction of all foreign armies, including those of Iran and Hizballah. This was the essence of the "non-paper‘ drawn up by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in conjunction with Russia’s plans for Syria. Moscow planned to put this formula before the Sochi Syrian peace conference on Monday, Jan. 29. But between the end of the Davos forum on Friday, Jan. 26 and Sunday night, Jan. 28, this deal was blown sky high in Washington, just hours before Netanyahu set out for Moscow.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngNetanyahu: "We are already acting to stop Iran gaining a military foothold in Syria

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told reporters Monday evening, after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow: "Israel will not tolerate Iranian high-precision missiles [in Lebanon and Syria], and if need be, we will strike them in Lebanon." As for an Iranian foothold in Syria, Netanyahu said that Israel is at a crossroads: "Is Iran establishing a military presence there or is this process being cut short? I said to Putin that if it is not, it will up to us to do this. In actual fact, we are already taking action in this regard."

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngThe removal of Dep FBI Director McCabe caps long Trump disapproval

Andrew McCabe was forced to step down as deputy director of the FBI ahead of his retirement date in March, after being targeted most recently by Republicans for the FBI’s handling of the investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders firmly denied Monday night that the president was part of the decision-making process for McCabe’s removal. However, Trump had previously asked McCabe whom he voted for, when his wife, Dr., Jill McCabe, running as a Democrat for a Senate seat in Virginia received nearly half a million dollars in donations from a Hillary-Clinton-backed fund. He also asked how McCabe could have handled the FBI investigation against Clinton’s use of a private email service in the light of that donation. This is the subject of a Republican-led congressional committee probe.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngNetanyahu meets Putin in Moscow

On arrival in Moscow for his meeting with President Vadimir Putin, Prime Minister said in his opening remarks: "We have to stand up to murderous ideologies in a timely and forceful way.": Turning to the Russian president, he said: "That is our mission and that is what I would like to discuss with you." Speaking to reporters shortly before his departure, Netanyahu said he and Putin would discuss what he called "Iran’s relentless efforts to establish a military presence in Syria, which we strongly oppose and are also taking action against." The two leaders met outside Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center and then went in for the opening of an exhibit on the 1943 uprising at the Nazi death camp in Sobibor. Netanyahu and Putin meet and talk by phone periodically. Their last meeting was in August.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngLieberman: We won’t let Iran build a missile factory in Lebanon

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday: "We won’t allow Iran to establish a missile plant in Lebanon and we know exactly who there has a hand in the project. Speaking at a meeting of his Israel Beitenu party, Lieberman added: "The Iranian plan is transparent: It is to turn Lebanon into a giant missile base for targeting Israel, to strengthen the Hamas front in the Gaza Strip and to deepen Iran’s military involvement in Syria. We won’t tolerate the transformation of Lebanon into a missile site and I believe we still have the time and the means to achieve this." DEBKAfile: While the minister presents the threat in the future tense, the fact is that Iranian surface missiles targeting Israel are already based in Lebanon.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngNetanyahu saw Jason Greenblatt before flying to Moscow to meet Putin

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a last-minute conversation with US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt before flying to Moscow on Monday to meet President Vladimir Putin. Greenblatt spent the day with IDF units positioned on the Gaza border. He was also shown one of the recently discovered Palestinian terror tunnels.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngErdogan can’t deliver on his threats to drive out Syrian Kurdish militia

DEBKAfile exclusive: The Turkish army has so far made no progress in capturing Afrin’s regional capital or Manbij, despite Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s almost daily vow to drive the Kurdish YPG militia out northern Syria. There is plenty of shelling and few small Kurdish villages have been seized, but the Turkish invasion is held up by three factors: 1) Moscow has warned Ankara that if the Turkish army proceeds to the town of Afrin, its entry will be barred by a Russian assault; 2) Washington has warned Ankara against attacking Manbij; 3) From day one of the Turkish offensive ten days ago, the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, which was trained and prepared to spearhead the operation, was no match for the Kurdish YPG – even with artillery and air support.
Briefs
https://i0.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/arrow.pngSenior Russian delegation in Israel shortly after Putin-Netanyahu Moscow talks

DEBKAfile Special Report

Russia’s National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev, as well as deputy foreign, justice and public security ministers were due in Jerusalem Tuesday, Jan. 30. Senior military and intelligence generals were also included. They came less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sat down in the Kremlin with President Vladimir Putin. The Russian visitors are the guests of Israel’s National Security Council chief Meir Ben Shabat. They are to hold talk with their Israeli counterparts on questions relating to Iranian’s military presence in Syria and Lebanon and the amendments Israel seeks for the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, of which Russia along with the US and four other world powers were signatories.
No announcement was made on the duration of the high-ranking Russian visit.
DEBKAfile’s diplomatic sources note that it is unprecedented for a delegation of such eminence to get organized for a foreign mission in so short a space of time. Putin must have expedited it for three reasons:
He told Netanyahu that the Iranian and Syrian issues could not be settled in a single conversation and called for a thorough appraisal. To this end, he was sending a high-profile delegation to Israel for a thorough threshing-out of all their aspects.
Putin sees his chance to create daylight between Israel and Washington’s current posture in Syria which is confrontational.
Participants in the Jan 29-30 Sochi conference on Syria, which failed, were to be shown that Moscow has multiple options to pursue in Syria.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngC-of-S Eisenkott: I am confident the IDF will prevail in a war

The IDF’s Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott, sounded for the first time Tuesday as though he was addressing a potential war with Hizballah. He said: "There are many challenges facing us amidst the apparent calm on the northern border. Hizballah, in breach of UN resolutions, maintains a military presence and weapons systems and is constantly enhancing its capabilities. The IDF works day and night to stay ready and retain its deterrent strength." He went on to say: "We shall continue to advance our knowledge of the enemy and [take action] to restrain its capabilities. I am absolutely sure of our military superiority, {trust in the] the high quality of our commanders and troops and [confident in] our ability to achieve victory in the event of war."

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngRussia’s Syrian peace conference in Sochi bedeviled before it started

The Sochi peace conference on Syria was billed by Moscow as the definitive effort to bring the Syrian government and opposition together under Russian-Iranian-Turkish auspices to forge a constitution to transition the country from war to peace. Several leading opposition parties announced a boycott, and some of those who did attend some delegates refused to leave Sochi airport when they saw the Assad government’s flag and emblem. There was no delegation from Iran. Then, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov got up to speak, he was heckled by delegates who accused Moscow of killing civilians with air strikes. Other delegates stood up and shouted their support for Russia. Lavrov them told them all to sit down and let him finish speaking. They would have their chance later.

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngWashington lists 114 Russians for sanctions

The Trump administration late Monday released a long-awaited list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 "oligarchs" with ties to President Vladimir Putin, fulfilling a demand by Congress to penalize Moscow for allegedly interfering in the 2016 US election. Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who is himself on the list, told reporters on Tuesday that Moscow would like to take time to analyze the list which he described as "unprecedented" in its scope. "De-facto everyone has been called an adversary of the United States," he said.

Briefs

https://i2.wp.com/www.jmgads.com/debkanewsletter/images/arrow.pngRussia is building four new air bases in Syria, deploying another 6,000 troops

Contrary to promises, the Russian military is not pulling out of Syria, but adding four more air bases (one shared with Iran) and 6,000 more troops.
On Dec. 11, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, announced that the Russian military was to withdraw from Syria to its home bases. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that the reverse happened. A small number of units were indeed withdrawn, but they were sooner replaced, and instead of two bases – the air facility at Hmeimim and the naval installation at Tartus – four Syria air bases are being reconstructed and adapted for the use of the Russian air force.
The Tiyas Military Airbase (also known as T-4) in the Homs Governorate; Palmyra (or Tadmor) Airport provides air support for operations in eastern Syria including the Deir ez-Zour province (which Moscow has agreed to share with Iran); Hama Military Airport and Shayrat at Homs. Most of the 6,000 additional Russian military personnel are air force and special operations personnel.

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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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