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Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 19.01.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • WSJ: The Pentagon’s Fading Readiness – The first priority in a budget deal should be more money for defense
  • Is America First? by Igor Ivanov
  • German Engineering Yields New Warship That Isn’t Fit for Sea
  • FAZ: Schweigende Masse: Syrer sollen Farbe bekennen
  • DER SPIEGEL Nr. 3: EU-Parlament will Zuwanderung nach Deutschland ausweiten
  • Gewöhnung an Massenzuwanderung – Obergrenze: Wie eine Zumutung zur Norm wird

Massenbach*DER SPIEGEL Nr. 3: EU-Parlament will Zuwanderung nach Deutschland ausweiten

By Tichys Einblick

Eine Nachricht im aktuellen Spiegel überragt alle anderen: Dabei geht es um nicht weniger, als das Eingeständnis der Bundesregierung zunächst in Gestalt verschiedener Politiker wie dem Innenstaatssekretär Ole Schröder und Unionspolitikern wie Stephan Mayer und Stephan Harbarth, dass Mahner von Rechtsaußen ab heute offiziell keine Verschwörungstheoretiker mehr sind, sondern mit ihren apokalyptischen Deutschland-Gemälden offensichtlich deutsche Realität abbilden.

„Wenn jeder der über 1,4 Millionen Menschen, die seit 2015 in Deutschland Asyl beantragt haben, zur Ankerperson für neu in der EU ankommende Schutzsuchende wird, reden wir über ganz andere Größenordnungen als bei der Familienzusammenführung,“ sagte Innenstaatssekretär Ole Schröder.

Dem Spiegel zufolge haben Europapolitiker von Union und SPD im EU-Parlament Vorschlägen zugestimmt, die Zuwanderung nach Deutschland massivst auszuweiten. Hintergrund sind Änderungen, die das Europäische Parlament an Gesetzesinitiativen der Kommission zur Reform der Dublin-Regeln vornehmen will. Familienangehörige – der Begriff geht hier noch über Vater, Mutter, Kind hinaus, sollen dorthin einreisen können, wo ihre Angehörigen angekommen sind. Also vornehmlich nach Deutschland.

Besondere Sorge bereitet den Innenexperten, dass nach den Parlamentsvorschlägen „faktisch die bloße Behauptung einer Familienverbindung ausreichen“ soll: „Im Ergebnis wäre ein Mitgliedstaat, in dem sich bereits zahlreiche ‚Ankerpersonen‘ befinden, für weitreichende Familienverbände zuständig“, heißt es in dem Papier, das dem Spiegel vorliegt.

Gut, man kann vom Spiegel wohl nicht so viel Anstand erwarten, dass er angesichts der Spiegel-Berichterstattung der letzten drei Jahre vor Scham im Boden versinkt – so wie die dorthin eilenden Abonnenten-Zahlen. Erwartbar ist ebenfalls nicht, dass der Spiegel Abbitte leistet vor seinen Lesern, aber man hätte erwarten wollen, dass eben dieses Thema diese Heerscharen von Spiegel-Journalisten 24/7 beschäftigt, anstatt sich auch in dieser Ausgabe samt Titel hauptsächlich mit dem Geisteszustand eines Donald Trump zu beschäftigen. Doch diese Meldung ist dem Spiegel gerade einmal eine drittel Seite wert. Ganz verschweigen konnte oder wagte man es dann doch nicht.

Sie titeln zu Trump „Im Zeitalter von Terror und Zorn“, verunglimpfen seitenlang diesen tatsächlich merkwürdigen US-Präsidenten, anstatt dem diffusen deutschen Zorn eine journalistisch fundierte Richtung zu geben, indem sie beispielsweise endlich mal vernünftig recherchieren und anschließend die richtigen Schlüsse zu ziehen bereit sind, die sich durch leichte Bearbeitung des berühmt-berüchtigten Satzes von KGE so fassen lassen: „Dieses Land wird sich verändern. Und es wird sich ziemlich drastisch verändern. Und es wir ein schwerer Weg sein und es wird anschließend kein besseres Land mehr sein. Es wird vielleicht überhaupt kein Land mehr sein, so wie wir heute dieses Land denken und wie es Generationen vor uns gedacht haben.“ Tun sie aber nicht. DER SPIEGEL hat, das ist die gute Nachricht, eine Hammer-Story. Warum versteckt er sie? Macht sich klein? Spielt mit Trump-Theater auf der Klaviatur der Vorurteile, statt seine eigene harte Story zu feiern? Es ist wohl der Triumph des Belehrungsjournalismus über den Rest an Recherchejournalismus, der sich noch in irgendwelchen feuchten Ecken verborgen hält, unausrottbar wie Schimmel. Dreht man die Zeit 10 oder 20 Jahre zurück käme ein anderes Heft, ein anderer Titel zustande. Einer, der die Menschen aufregt und fesselt, statt zu langweilen mit Bildern, die eher an eine ganz schlechte Nachbarschaft in der Geschichte erinnern.

GroKo-Sondierung: mutlos, ratlos, planlos

Die Sondierungen der Großen Koalition sind in diesem Moment eine einzige Farce geworden. Denn die nun bekannt gewordene gewollte Reform der Dublin-Regeln konterkariert auf massivste Weise diese angeblichen und wortreich als großen Erfolg verkündeten Bemühungen von Union und SPD, den Familiennachzug zu begrenzen. Es mag martialisch klingen, aber es ist deshalb nicht weniger wahr: Von Schulz über Merkel bis Seehofer ein Betrug an Land und Volk und Bevölkerung.

Die CSU-Politikerin Monika Hohlmeier bemühte sich noch verzweifelt um irgendwie geartete Erklärungsversuche. Sie ist für die CSU innenpolitische Sprecherin der EVP-Fraktion und glaubt, dass die umstrittenen Änderungen bei der Dublin-Reform deshalb von Unions- und SPD-Europapolitikern durchgewunken wurden, „weil dieser und ähnliche strittige Punkte, wie ein neuer erweiterter Familienbegriff in der sogenannten Qualifikationsrichtlinie, gemeinsam im Paket mit anderen für die Union wichtigen Änderungen verabschiedet worden seien.“

Wie soll man das verstehen? Man hat sich reinlegen lassen? Man wurde überrumpelt? Von wem? Und was wird man dagegen tun? „Wir setzen darauf, dass der Rat vor allem beim Familienbegriff noch Änderungen durchsetzt“, wünscht sich Hohlmeier. Allerdings sind der Vorgang und die Reaktionen so einzigartig in ihren Folgen für Deutschland, das „Wünsche“ und Hoffnungen hier ganz sicher nicht das Mittel der Wahl sein können.

„Als Argument für die stärkere Betonung der Familienkomponente wird zudem angeführt, dass Asylbewerber, die bereits Familienangehörige in der EU haben, sich am Ende ohnehin nicht davon abhalten lassen, dorthin zu reisen.“ Schreibt der Spiegel. „Um diese so genannte Sekundärmigration zu unterbinden, könne man Familien auch gleich zusammenführen. Das sei am Ende effektiver und weniger kostspielig. Zudem bleibe es dabei, dass die Staaten mit EU-Außengrenzen, also vor allem Italien und Griechenland, weiterhin für die Sicherheitschecks der Migranten zuständig seien. Auch offensichtliche Wirtschaftsflüchtlinge dürften nicht weiterreisen.“

Also die Steigerung des Merkelschen: „Jetzt sind sie halt da“ in „dann sollen sie halt alle kommen“?

Muss man das noch kommentieren? Der Brocken, den das EU-Parlament dem Rat hingeworfen hat, ist in seiner Dimension geradezu irre, wenn man den Begriff Irresein hier verwenden mag, der beim Spiegel für einen Donald Trump reserviert scheint. „Deutschland setzt nun darauf, dass der Rat die Vorschläge des Parlaments verhindert. Derzeit ist offen, wann die Verhandlungen mit dem Rat beginnen.“ Man hat also noch Hoffnung. Man setzt auf irgendetwas. Tun will hier wohl niemand mehr etwas.

Das ist das Scheitern deutscher Politik für Deutschland. Eine Selbstaufgabe. Und Merkel, Schulz und Co wussten es vorher. Sie wussten es vor den Wahlen, sie wussten es vor den Sondierungen, wenn ausgerechnet der Spiegel jetzt bekannt gibt: „Der ständige Vertreter Deutschlands bei der EU, Reinhard Silberberg, machte in einem Kabel an Kanzleramt und Außenministerium bereits Anfang Dezember klar, was für Deutschland auf dem Spiel steht: Vor dem Hintergrund der Parlamentsvorschläge werde ‚gerade jetzt eine starke Ratsposition benötigt’“, mahnt er in seinem Drahtbericht.“

Martin Schulz erklärte gerade gegenüber der FAZ: „Erstmals in der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik steht Europa im Zentrum eines möglichen Koalitionsvertrags“. In der Flüchtlingspolitik wies der SPD-Vorsitzende gegenüber der Zeitung die Darstellung zurück, wonach seine Partei eine Obergrenze akzeptiert habe. Natürlich nicht, wie auch, wenn längst andere Pläne beschlossen wurden. In der Sondierungsvereinbarung sei lediglich festgestellt worden, dass in den zurückliegenden Jahren – außer 2015 – jeweils 180.000 bis 220.000 Flüchtlinge nach Deutschland gekommen seien. Eine Festlegung für die Zukunft bedeute das nicht.

Nein, natürlich nicht. Wozu auch, wenn sich nationale Regierungen mal wieder über Brüssel zu dem „zwingen“ lassen, was sie zuhause nicht durchzusetzen wagen?

Sie gestatten eine persönliche Bemerkung? So empört, so zornig war ich wohl noch nie.

https://www.tichyseinblick.de/kolumnen/der-sonntagsleser/der-spiegel-nr-3-eu-parlament-will-zuwanderung-nach-deutschland-ausweiten/

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

Is America First? by Igor Ivanov ( President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998–2004) )

“For the American people, America is first. For Russian people, it is Russia that comes first. This was the case long before the Trump administration came to power, and it will remain so after this administration leaves. History demonstrates that this factor is not an obstacle to cooperation, provided that the parties respect each other’s legitimate interests and are guided by the long-term interests of universal security….

Is this a totally hopeless situation? It is certainly not.

In my capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, I took part in the organization and hosting of President George W. Bush’s first official visit to Russia in May 2002. A Joint Declaration of the Presidents of Russia and the United States was signed as a result of the visit and read: “We are partners and we will cooperate to advance stability, security, and economic integration, and to jointly counter global challenges and to help resolve regional conflicts.” This statement appears dubious today, against the backdrop of the profound crisis in U.S.–Russia relations. Nevertheless, if we look beyond the current differences, which are situational to some extent, we will see that the two countries can, and must, be partners in the fight against terrorism, in nuclear non-proliferation, in settling regional conflicts and in addressing many other problems related to the security of the two states and of the world in general. Concrete facts illustrate that this is possible even in the current complicated situation… Everything is possible when there is political will!…”

– Seven Debates over the Fourteen Points – Woodrow Wilson…by Andrey Kortunov, ( Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member )

“…one hundred years after the Fourteen Points, the economic foundation of global politics has still not been destroyed. Today, the inextricable link between development and security is even more evident than it was in 1918, and problems of incomplete socioeconomic modernization are often behind the unexpected bursts of irrationality and archaism in the foreign policies of individual states.

We perceive economic rationality differently than our ancestors did one hundred years ago. However, the economic basis of rationality has not gone anywhere and is unlikely to go anywhere in the foreseeable future.

But the coalitions of those who are for and those who are against global universalism have changed, and in a very significant way. The old Marxist theory that “the workers have no fatherland” had not panned out by the outbreak of the First World War. Today, it is the blue collar workers who form the main social base of nationalism and right-wing populism. On the other hand, the attitude of business to globalization is more than ambiguous and is determined by economic sector, size, geographical location and a number of other factors. An even more complex alignment of forces is developing in civil society….

There are no significant forces in the world today that would deny the system of international legal norms that has developed over the past one hundred years in principle. Disputes about how to interpret legal norms and the direction in which they should develop will naturally continue, but rejecting legal universalism is out of the question. Nothing suggests that the global legal space will split in the near future regional or bloc-based, “Western” and “non-Western,” “liberal” and “post-liberal” international legal systems. They are just as likely to appear as a new, post-liberal multiplication table or post-liberal higher mathematics.

What is more, over the past decades, many areas that were once solely the subject of domestic legislation, or were not regulated at all, have become the subject of international legal regulation….”

· The Caucasian Knot:

· Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh criticize law on payments to wounded soldiers

· Rights defenders criticize Armenia’s MoJ for high mortality in jails

· In Stavropol Territory, village council head accused of recruiting fighters for IS

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Syria’s future is female: Syria Deeply and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) partnered to create Syria’s Women: Policies and Perspectives, a project that aimed to challenge stereotypes and generalizations about the impact of war on Syrian women and their role in the country’s future.

We provided new perspectives on the role of Syrian women in education, peacebuilding, media, preserving cultural heritage, politics and the economy. We also covered underreported issues related to violence against women and barriers to women’s advancement to foster a nuanced and comprehensive understanding among the public and policymakers working to change these realities.

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Tichys Einblick: Gewöhnung an Massenzuwanderung – Obergrenze: Wie eine Zumutung zur Norm wird

…Ein Papier des Ministeriums der Justiz aus Rheinlandpfalz, „Landesrecht Online“, dass jetzt erst viral wurde, das vom OLG Koblenz 1. Senat für Familiensachen stammt mit Entscheidungsdatum 14.02.2017. Dort nämlich heißt es zum Thema unerlaubte und strafbare Einreise in die Bundesrepublik Deutschland: „Die rechtsstaatliche Ordnung in der Bundesrepublik ist in diesem Bereich jedoch seit rund eineinhalb Jahren außer Kraft gesetzt und die illegale Einreise ins Bundesgebiet wird momentan de facto nicht mehr strafrechtlich verfolgt.“….

https://www.tichyseinblick.de/daili-es-sentials/obergrenze-wie-eine-zumutung-zur-norm-wird/

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*WSJ: The Pentagon’s Fading Readiness – The first priority in a budget deal should be more money for defense

For all the talk over a showdown with North Korea, few are asking: Do the less than 1% of Americans in the armed forces have the most lethal weapons and best training to defend the country? There is reason to wonder, and Congress has an opportunity to shore up the military as the world grows more dangerous.

Congress is trying to reach a budget deal to extend government funding that expires this month. One issue are the caps on defense spending under the 2011 Budget Control Act, which tried to force Congress to do something about the deficit by threatening automatic cuts. This has imposed useful discipline on non-entitlement spending, but the military has been hit harder than domestic accounts.

***

A U.S. Army soldier works on an M1A2 tank during a joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea in Paju, South Korea, April 15, 2017.

The military is operating at a high tempo in multiple theaters, even as funding has dropped and become more erratic. The Congressional Research Service says the Defense Department has operated under continuing resolutions, which are stopgap measures that limit spending flexibility, for more than 36 months since 2010. Compare that with fewer than nine months in the preceding eight years.

This means fewer resources for equipment maintenance and soldier training. Some of this could have contributed to the Navy’s collisions in the Pacific last year that killed 17 sailors. The Navy’s investigation revealed that training practices failed—for instance, crew members “were not familiar with basic radar fundamentals.” Ships are deployed at sea more often and for longer. A prescient 2015 Government Accountability Office report found that ships based in Japan had “no dedicated training periods” as a result of the deployment pace.

A mere five of 58 brigade combat teams in the Army are prepared to “fight tonight,” according to the House Armed Services Committee. And—levity moment—by one account half of the Air Force’s aircraft major weapons systems would be eligible for an antique license plate in Virginia. The Air Force is also short about 2,000 pilots, up from 1,500 roughly a year ago, and the deterioration of equipment can lead to an exodus of talent.

Of note is a precipitous increase in Class A flight mishaps, which inflict $2 million in damage to aircraft or loss of life. The Marine aviation Class A mishap rate has been rising above the historical norm. The Navy’s rate is better but both suffered fatal accidents last year, including an October crash of a Navy trainer jet that killed both pilots.

The forces behind these tragedies vary but an ominous trend is reduced flying hours for pilots, which is in large part a function of funding. General Joseph Dunford explained to Congress why this metric is essential.

“On a day-to-day basis you may not be able to see the difference between” a pilot flying 30 hours a month and a pilot with 15. But in the event of an in-flight emergency, “the pilot that has 30 hours will immediately feel much more comfortable and confident in their ability to deal with an anomalous situation, be able to control their physiological response. And you and I may never find out about that incident. On the contrary if the pilot has 15 hours a month we may very well find out about it because it’s a Class A mishap.”

The political shame is that money to address these problems is being held hostage in a left-right crossfire. Democrats are trying to extract a dollar more in domestic spending for every new dollar deployed to the military. A faction on the right complains about runaway federal spending.

Both are taking the wrong hostage. Democrats may not appreciate the reminder but the U.S. still has to defend itself no matter the funding for food stamps. The GOP can rile up voters about federal debt, but the main fiscal problems are entitlements, which won’t be touched in a budget deal.

It’s true that defense would help its case by not wasting money through procurement fiascoes like the F-35 fighter. Yet continuing resolutions have made waste more pronounced by forcing the military to spend only on the most pressing problems and delay the rest. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer put it memorably when he said that thanks to inefficiencies since 2011 “we have put $4 billion in a trash can, poured lighter fluid on it, and burned it.”

***

The 2011 budget deal served a purpose but by now it is eroding America’s defenses. We’d prefer if Congress increased money for defense and reformed entitlements, but that isn’t going to happen this year. The fallback should be a deal for two years of increased spending for budget clarity. Last year’s defense authorization suggested a $700 billion top line: More than $46 billion for fixing up aircraft and $16 billion for mitigating “critical munitions shortages,” among other priorities.

U.S. military dominance isn’t inevitable, and there are ample signs it is eroding. A spending deal won’t correct every Pentagon dysfunction, but the services need more political and financial support. The result without it will be more risk for the men and women of the military and less security for the other 99% of Americans.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-pentagons-fading-readiness-1516058242?mod=nwsrl_review_outlook_u_s_&cx_refModule=nwsrl

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*Massenbach’sRecommendation*

German Engineering Yields New Warship That Isn’t Fit for Sea

Navy refuses to commission frigate after it failed sea trials; critics cite fiasco in conception and execution

BERLIN—Germany’s naval brass in 2005 dreamed up a warship that could ferry marines into combat anywhere in the world, go up against enemy ships and stay away from home ports for two years with a crew half the size of its predecessor’s.

First delivered for sea trials in 2016 after a series of delays, the 7,000-ton Baden-Württemberg frigate was determined last month to have an unexpected design flaw: It doesn’t really work.

Defense experts cite the warship’s buggy software and ill-considered arsenal—as well as what was until recently its noticeable list to starboard—as symptoms of deeper, more intractable problems: Shrinking military expertise and growing confusion among German leaders about what the country’s armed forces are for.

A litany of bungled infrastructure projects has tarred Germany’s reputation for engineering prowess. There is still no opening date for Berlin’s new €6 billion ($7.2 billion) airport, which is already 10 years behind schedule, and the redesign of Stuttgart’s railway station remains stalled more than a decade after work on the project started. Observers have blamed these mishaps on poor planning and project management, which also figured in major setbacks for several big military projects.

Sources: staff reports; German Defense Ministry (cost estimates) Photos: Ann-Kathrin Fischer/Bundeswehr (F-122); Carsten Vennemann/Bundeswehr (F-125)

But experts say military efforts have also been hampered by the lack of a strategic vision for Germany’s armed forces, resulting in vague, hard-to-execute briefs. Before the frigate project foundered, a contract to build a new helicopter hit snags, costs for a new rifle overran and an ambitious drone project simply failed to get off the ground.

German military procurement is “one hell of a complete disaster,” said Christian Mölling, a defense-industry expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “It will take years to sort this problem out.”

The naval fiasco, on a project with a €3 billion price tag, is particularly startling since Europe’s largest exporter relies on open and secure shipping lanes to transport its goods.

Above, the construction site of the Stuttgart 21 railway station project, which is long overdue. Below, part of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport under construction in Schönefeld last year. Also way behind schedule, it still has no opening date. Photo: Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

Photo: FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE

The F-125 frigate program was supposed to deliver Germany’s four largest military ships of the postwar era, fitted with cutting-edge software allowing high operability with a skeleton crew.

But after the ship failed sea trials last month, naval officials refused to commission it. The German Navy said the Baden-Württemberg’s central computer system—the design centerpiece allowing it to sail with a smaller crew—didn’t pass necessary tests. The Kieler Nachrichten, a daily in the German Baltic fleet’s home port of Kiel, has reported problems with its radar, electronics and the flameproof coating on its fuel tanks. The vessel was also found to list to the starboard, a flaw a project spokesman says has been corrected. The Baden-Württemberg is now set to return to port next week for an “extended period,” the navy said.

A spokesman for Thyssenkrupp, the lead company on the project, said it still planned to deliver the ship this year. “The frigate-class 125 is a newly designed, technically sophisticated ship with highly complex new developments—including new technologies,” the spokesman said. “Delays can never be completely ruled out.”

A spokesman for the military procurement office said it was levying financial penalties from Thyssenkrupp for late delivery, but he declined to provide further details.

Even if the ship can be fixed, however, some naval experts worry it would struggle to defend itself against terrorist groups supplied with antiship missiles. And in the face of a Russian naval buildup in the Baltic Sea, it lacks its predecessor’s sonar and torpedo tubes, making it a sitting duck for submarines.

Those failings, they say, result from Germany’s military brass never settling on a defined brief for the vessel.

When planning began in 2003, naval staff wanted an all-rounder that could tangle with Russian destroyers in the Baltic and serve as a base for humanitarian missions in tropical waters. Then, in 2005, they decided the ship didn’t need all of its predecessor’s heavy weaponry and should focus more on attacking enemies on land, including by ferrying marines into combat. Given Russia’s aggressive stance in the Baltic Sea, naval experts say that now appears to have been a miscalculation. The ship’s great weight—already almost twice that of the frigate model it is replacing—makes adding further weapons very difficult.

“These problems stem from Germany not having a strategic vision for its military,” said Ronja Kempin, defense-industry expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

The Russian ‚Thyphoon‘-class nuclear submarine Dmitrij Donskoj plowing through Danish waters in July on its way through the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg. Photo: SARAH CHRISTINE NOERGFAARD/SCANPIX DENMARK/EPA

Defense experts say the frigate fiasco also shows the navy, German military engineers and the government’s defense-procurement body, after years without big projects to manage, has lost the expertise to bring these to fruition.

“Too complicated, too ambitious, too badly managed.” Marcel Dickow, a weapons-procurement expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, said of the frigate. “They threw money at the project without thinking it through.”

The spokesman for Germany’s military procurement office said while the ship project posed an “enormous challenge” for the contractors, ​its design specifications were “unambiguous and precise.” He added that the contractors have to solve outstanding problems with the vessel. “The [German military] will not take over the ship until all acceptance trials have been successfully completed,” he said.

German military spending is now rising rapidly to meet the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s agreed commitment of 2% of gross domestic product. The defense budget is set to climb to €38.5 billion in 2018 from €37 billion in 2017 and €35.1 billion in 2016.

‘There’s a whole generation of German engineers who haven’t worked on a major defense project. It’s not that they lost this skill; they never learned it.’

—Christian Mölling, German Council on Foreign Relations

But this growth follows years of fiscal attrition that have degraded the government’s capacity to manage ambitious military projects. And while German firms like Heckler & Koch AG and Rheinmetall are market leaders in rifles, tanks and howitzers, competence in larger, more complex systems has eroded during the lean years.

”There’s a whole generation of German engineers who haven’t worked on a major defense project,” said Mr. Mölling, the defense expert. “It’s not that they lost this skill; they never learned it.”

Engineering graduates shun weapons manufacturers in favor of “sexier” employers like conglomerate Siemens AG or car maker BMW AG, which offer better pay and career prospects, according to Mr. Mölling.

Likewise, defense companies have failed to attract the graduates needed to develop sophisticated new systems that are increasingly centered on software, said Sandro Gaycken, a director at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin.

Berlin could have bought warships from U.S., U.K. or French shipyards, but the government chose German bidders to buoy employment at German shipyards, according to Ms. Kempin, the defense expert.

Kiel-based naval engineer Lothar Dannenberg, who wasn’t involved directly in the frigate project, blamed its failures largely on what he said was the incompetence of the procurement office. “We were left shaking our heads,” he said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-engineering-yields-new-warship-that-isnt-fit-for-sea-1515753000

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FAZ: Schweigende Masse: Syrer sollen Farbe bekennen

Wir sprechen für die Mehrheit, die die Nase voll hat“, sagt der Mann. Er ist ein vornehmer Herr, stammt aus einer einflussreichen Familie von Alawiten, der Bevölkerungsgruppe des syrischen Machthabers Baschar al Assad. Er möchte nicht, dass sein Name mit solchen Äußerungen verbunden wird. Denn er lebt in Syrien, dort sind solche Unmutsbekundungen gefährlich. Er fürchtet sich vor den Männern des Geheimdienstes. „Sie können mich jederzeit holen“, sagt er. Und seine Aktivitäten könnten ihn in Assads Kerker bringen – oder gar das Leben kosten.

Christoph Ehrhardt

Korrespondent für die arabischen Länder mit Sitz in Beirut.

Der Mann ist Teil einer Gruppe, die sich zusammengetan hat, um das Morden in Syrien zu beenden und den Hass zu überwinden. Ihre Mitglieder kommen aus verschiedenen Teilen der syrischen Gesellschaft. Es sind Stammesführer, einflussreiche Vertreter der alawitischen Elite, Angehörige alter, einflussreicher sunnitischer Familien aus Damaskus oder Aleppo. Sie haben – auf beiden Seiten – Angehörige durch den Krieg verloren, ihre Häuser oder Firmen wurden zerstört. Sie sind frustriert über die ergebnislosen Genfer Gespräche. Sie gehen einen anderen Weg: Die schweigende Mehrheit der syrischen Gesellschaft soll aus der Sprach- und Tatenlosigkeit geführt werden. Es handelt sich um jene Menschen, die das Assad-Regime ebenso ablehnen wie die von islamistischen Milizen dominierte Opposition. Sie werden das „graue Syrien“ genannt. Dieses graue Syrien soll Farbe bekennen.

Sami Khiyami, früherer Botschafter des Assad-Regimes in London und einflussreicher Vertreter des Damaszener Bürgertums, sagt: „Ich glaube, dass die Lager von Regierung und Opposition zusammen nur etwa ein Drittel der syrischen Bevölkerung ausmachen.“ Und beide Seiten hätten kein wirkliches Interesse an einem Ausgleich. „Die Lösung der Krise in Syrien muss aus der Gesellschaft kommen“, sagt Moustafa Kayali, ebenso ein Vertreter der Initiative, der zu einer alten sunnitischen Familie aus der Großstadt Aleppo gehört. Dutzende führender Persönlichkeiten der Gesellschaft fördern die Initiative, die auch von mehreren europäischen Regierungen unterstützt wird. Sie wurde nun in Rom einer kleinen Gruppe von Journalisten und Experten vorgestellt.

Gleichberechtigte Bürger

Den Kern der Initiative bildet ein Verhaltenskodex für friedliche Koexistenz. Er soll die Syrer als gleichberechtigte Bürger zusammenbringen, die Konflikte zwischen den Bevölkerungsgruppen überwinden und die Basis eines neuen Gesellschaftsvertrages sein. Khiyami denkt sogar schon an einen „Rat der Weisen“, der auf der Basis des Schriftstücks eine neue Verfassung ausarbeiten soll. „Keine Seite ist unschuldig“, heißt es im vierten der insgesamt elf Artikel. Daher müsse jede Seite ihre Vergehen gegen die Bevölkerung zugeben. Der Krieg bringe weder Sieger noch Besiegte hervor, sondern nur Verlierer, heißt es weiter in dem Kodex. Er stellt sich gegen kollektive Schuldzuweisungen. „Die Verantwortlichkeit ist individuell“, heißt es. Niemand solle für die Verfehlungen anderer aus seiner Religions- oder Bevölkerungsgruppe verurteilt werden.

Der Text wendet sich weder direkt gegen das Regime noch gegen dessen Gegner. Seine Verfasser heben immer wieder hervor, es handle sich nicht um eine politische, sondern um eine gesellschaftliche Initiative. Sie wollen sich auch nicht von den Genfer Gesprächen oder dem von Assads Alliierten in Moskau initiierten „nationalen Dialog“ vereinnahmen lassen.

Doch dürfte die Initiative weder Assad gefallen noch vielen Vertretern der bewaffneten Opposition. Das Regime will sich nicht verändern. Assad macht keinen Hehl daraus, dass er einen militärischen Sieg anstrebt – und erwartet. Im August hielt er vor Diplomaten und Funktionären des Außenministeriums eine programmatische Rede, in der von Versöhnung, Ausgleich oder Schuld auf beiden Seiten nicht die Rede war. Im Angesicht Hunderttausender Toter, Millionen von Vertriebenen und zerstörten Städten sagte Assad: „Wir haben die besten unter unseren jungen Menschen verloren und eine Infrastruktur, die uns über Generationen viel Geld und Schweiß gekostet hat. Aber im Gegenzug haben wir eine gesündere und homogenere Gesellschaft bekommen.“

Die graue Masse wird von beiden Seiten missachtet

Assad nutzen die Angst und das Misstrauen der Minderheiten gegenüber den Sunniten. Er inszeniert sich als ihr Beschützer vor den radikalen Islamisten der Opposition. Die alawitischen Führer der Initiative sagen, ihre Leute und die anderen Minderheiten seien nicht Schutzbefohlene, sondern Geiseln des Regimes. Sie wollen das ändern. Würden aber die Alawiten oder die Christen ihre Furcht vor den Sunniten verlieren, wäre Assad eines seiner wirkungsvollsten Herrschafts- und Mobilisierungsinstrumente beraubt. Mehrere der alawitischen Führer sind offenbar im Visier des Geheimdienstes. „Die Bedeutung meiner Familie schützt mich“, sagt einer. Aber er ist sich nicht sicher, wie lange und wie weit dieser Schutz reicht. Das Regime stützt sich überdies auf ein kunstvoll geknüpftes Netz von Abhängigkeiten, welche die konfessionellen Grenzen überschreiten. Moustafa Kayali spricht von einer „Koalition der Korrupten“. Ein Gesellschaftsvertrag, wie er und seine Mitreiter ihn anstreben, würde das Ende des Regimes bedeuten.

Auf Seiten der Assad-Gegner gibt es zahlreiche Profiteure des Krieges, die nicht an einem Ende der Gewalt interessiert sind. Die islamistischen Hardliner dürften andere Vorstellungen von einem zukünftigen Syrien haben als die Verfasser des Verhaltenskodex. Das „graue Syrien“ spielt kaum eine Rolle. Auch liberale Vertreter der Assad-Gegner blicken auf diese Menschen der schweigenden Mehrheit herab, die sie als Opportunisten ansehen. Die Opposition setzte eher auf die militärische Schlagkraft salafistischer Milizen. Eine westlich orientierte, ranghohe Vertreterin der Assad-Gegner sagte vor einiger Zeit auf die Frage, ob man nicht immer mehr Menschen mit Äquidistanz zu Assad und seinen Feinden verprelle, je offener man sich mit den Islamisten verbünde: „Menschen mit Äquidistanz spielen für unseren Kampf keine Rolle.“

Das Misstrauen der Alawiten gegenüber den Sunniten ist auch nicht aus der Luft gegriffen. Noch immer werden die Alawiten von sunnitischen Predigern beschimpft und als Abtrünnige verachtet, die schlimmer seien als die „Ungläubigen“. Solche Feindbilder sind älter als der Krieg. Doch sie haben sich im Zuge des Mordens immer tiefer eingebrannt.

Die Angst vor Islamisten obsiegt bisher

Es stellt sich die Frage, wie die Gruppe hinter dem Verhaltenskodex erreichen will, dass ihre Forderungen Wirklichkeit werden, wenn der Wandel, für den sie eintritt, so eng mit Krieg und Machtwettbewerb verknüpft ist. Jene, die im Ausland leben, werben offen für ihre Sache. Die Führer der Alawiten wollen im Verborgenen für die Initiative eintreten. Wie viele Menschen sie letztlich erreichen, lässt sich schwer feststellen. Reicht ihr gesellschaftliches Gewicht aus, um unter ihren Anhängern eine „kritische Masse“ zu mobilisieren? Unter Experten und Diplomaten herrschen daran erhebliche Zweifel. „Ich wünschte, das Regime und die Opposition hätten die Courage und das Format dieser Leute“, sagt ein erfahrener Diplomat. „Aber was soll das Vehikel sein, mit dem sie ihre Forderungen durchsetzen?“ Es treffe zu, dass viele Syrer das Regime ebenso ablehnten wie die Opposition, sagt er. „Die Mehrheit wird allerdings so lange stumm und untätig bleiben, bis sie eine greifbare machtpolitische Alternative zu Assad und dem Regime sieht.“ Solange es diese nicht gebe, würden die Menschen ihre stillschweigende Unterstützung des Präsidenten nicht aufgeben. „Nicht, weil sie das Regime nicht hassen, sondern weil die Angst vor den Islamisten obsiegt.“

Das „graue Syrien“ stärker in den Blick zu nehmen sei ein vernünftiger Ansatz, sagt eine Expertin, die seit Jahren in diskrete Vermittlungsinitiativen eingebunden ist. „Die Haltung der Assad-Gegner gegenüber diesen Leuten war extrem kurzsichtig“, sagt sie. „Ohne echte politische Unterstützung von außen haben solche Initiativen allerdings keine Chance“, fügt sie an. Würde es gelingen, Russland für ein solches Projekt zu gewinnen, sähe die Sache anders aus. „Zumindest sendet die Initiative ein wichtiges Signal aus“, sagt die Expertin. Die gängigen Feindbilder und Erzählungen der Konfliktparteien würden erschüttert. Ein Vertreter der Initiative bemüht das Bild von einem Felsblock, der das Regime darstelle. Man müsse viele kleine Löcher bohren, sie mit Wasser füllen und auf den Winter warten. Der Frost werde dann Risse ins Gestein fressen. Der vornehme alawitische Führer drückt es noch etwas vorsichtiger aus: „Wir tun das alles, um Hoffnung auf Hoffnung haben zu können.“

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/eine-initiative-will-den-schweigenden-syrern-eine-stimme-geben-15402358-p2.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_1

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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

01-16-18 Ivanov_Is America First.pdf

01-16-18 Tichys_Einblick_Obergrenze_ Wie eine Zumutung zur Norm wird.pdf

01-17-18 FAZ_Eine Initiative will den schweigenden Syrern eine Stimme geben.pdf

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Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 12.01.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • What Does 2018 Have in Store for the Kremlin?
  • In Syria, an Attack on Russia’s Narrative
  • Pope to Diplomatic Corps: Uphold human rights, defend family

  • ‚Water war‘ escalates between Egypt, Sudan
  • Wasserdiplomatie im Mittleren Osten
  • Iran’s Regime at War With Itself

Massenbach*’Water war‘ escalates between Egypt, Sudan

January 8, 2018 … 2018 has been a negative year for Egyptian-Sudanese relations … The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project has contributed to friction in Cairo-Khartoum relations. Egypt sees the project as a major threat to its water interests, while Sudan views it as a valuable opportunity. In November 2017, Cairo officially declared that technical negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia had failed … the Nile’s water supply remains a source of much disagreement between Cairo and Khartoum. According to Sudanese state-owned media, the Egyptian military has since deployed its forces to waters off the coast of the disputed Halayeb triangle border area, where Cairo has also sent warplanes. Although not a new conflict, Egypt and Sudan’s territorial dispute at the border area has recently escalated … Sudan banned the importation of Egypt-sourced agricultural products, and President Omar al-Bashir accused Cairo of arming rebels in Darfur … Egypt fired back, pointing to the residence of several Muslim Brotherhood members in Sudan. In the grander regional picture, Egypt and Sudan find themselves on opposite sides of an increasingly polarized Sunni Arab world … what recently brought the tension in Cairo-Khartoum relations to an entirely new level was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Sudan last month … Cairo’s concern is that Sudan will use greater military might and diplomatic leverage from Ankara to step up pressure on Sisi with respect to both the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project and the Halayeb triangle border area. Beyond such strategic factors, which leave Egypt concerned about Turkey’s new foothold in the Red Sea, officials in Cairo see Sudan as facilitating Erdogan’s "neo-Ottoman" and pro-Muslim Brotherhood foreign policy ambitions, which do not sit well with Egypt and other Arab states … Among the numerous lingering tensions between Cairo and Khartoum, the future of the relationship between these two Nile countries — once close allies — will largely depend on water issues … a future in which fast-paced demographic and environmental changes exacerbate food security and other vital interests of nation-states, leading to more "water wars."

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/01/egypt-sudan-tensions-nile-river-turkey-island-red-sea.html

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

  • What Does 2018 Have in Store for the Kremlin?

“….Numerous critics of Vladimir Putin in the West would argue that this picture of the world in 2018 is one-sided, dogmatic, antiquated and misleading. They would also insist that Russia itself contributed a lot to many problems that the international community has to deal with in 2018 and beyond. Finally, they are likely to maintain that this vision is meant to justify the current Russia’s foreign policy and security posture, to keep the Russian political system intact and to put on a back burner all the badly needed economic and social reforms.

However, a more productive approach might be in trying to single out particular bits and pieces of this vision, which could constitute a basis for a substantive, albeit very limited, dialogue between Russia and the West on the fundamentals of the emerging world order. Even if this dialogue in any format starts this year, it is unlikely bear fruits anytime soon. Nevertheless, to understand Russia’s true concerns, fears, perceptions and expectations remains important, no matter how archaic, biased, opinionated or self-serving these might appear in the eyes of Russia’s critics….”

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In Syria, an Attack on Russia’s Narrative

It has been less than a month since President Vladimir Putin declared a successful end to Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war and announced the imminent withdrawal of Russian forces from the country. Not even a fortnight later, Islamist militants conducted a deadly mortar attack against Russian forces in Syria.

The Syrian civil war is not over, and it won’t be anytime soon. The short-term damage to Russia’s public relations campaign is acute. But far more important is whether Russia is getting dragged into its very own Middle Eastern morass, and what this means for the various forces competing for power in Syria.

On Jan. 3, Russian business daily Kommersant reported that an Islamist mortar attack on Hmeimim air base on Dec. 31 had knocked out four Su-24 bombers, two SU-35S fighters and a military transport aircraft. Russia’s Defense Ministry disputed the specifics of the Kommersant report but not the attack itself. The ministry said that the base had come under mortar fire from a “mobile militant subversive group” and that two Russian soldiers had been killed in the attack.

At this point, it is hard to know for sure the extent of the damage at Hmeimim. Kommersant is generally a reliable source of information and has little reason to fabricate this story. In addition, at least one Russian war reporter posted photographs on social media purported to show the damaged aircraft, though it is not yet possible to confirm their authenticity. If we accept for a moment that the reports are true, it was a highly destructive attack. We don’t know how many aircraft Russia has stationed at Hmeimim currently, but at the height of Russia’s Syria intervention in 2016, it had about 70 aircraft and 4,000 personnel at the base. Recently, Russia’s defense minister said 36 aircraft had returned to permanent bases in Russia. If Kommersant’s reporting is correct, that would mean at least 20 percent of Russia’s air assets at the base – and half of its SU-35S fighters stationed there – were damaged.

The extent of the damage is important for establishing the degree of the damage done to Russia’s image, but for that information we will have to wait. Either way, we can say for sure that the attack occurred and took Russian forces by surprise. Russia’s Defense Ministry has already announced that Russia will expand the security zone around the base and that Russian troops will now be responsible for its security – not Syrian troops, as had been the case. Whichever version of events – or combination of them – is true, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a major blow to Russia’s carefully crafted image. A few more incidents like this one will make it very difficult for Russia to pretend that its Syria intervention has achieved its goal.

Lost in the focus on this attack are the numerous other military operations Russia has undertaken in Syria just this week. Earlier on Jan. 3, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that an Mi-24 helicopter crashed near Hama military airfield, killing both pilots. Meanwhile, on the same day, Reuters reported that Russian air assets supported a Syrian army assault on a rebel group just east of Damascus. Putin did not set a date for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria when he announced victory last month, and recent activity on the ground hardly suggests that Russia will be pulling the bulk of its forces out anytime soon. If anything, Russia will now have to demonstrate that it can finish a job it said was already done.

The question now becomes what the future of Syria looks like. Russia has tried to engineer a diplomatic solution that effectively locks in the status quo. At the moment, none of the entities competing for influence in Syria can gain an upper hand. The problem for Russia is that no one, except perhaps the Syrian Kurds, is interested in maintaining the status quo. The status quo does not suit Iran, which wants to see the full restoration of the Bashar Assad regime and Damascus’ resumption of its role as Iranian proxy and linchpin in Iran’s dream to project power to the Mediterranean. It also does not suit Turkey, which just this past week lent its support to the creation of the “National Army,” a 22,000-strong force that will reportedly fight Assad, the Islamic State and the PKK Kurdish militant group but whose first target is to be Syrian Kurds in Afrin. Assad’s regime, for its part, would like to have its country back without having to kowtow to any one power, and that means keeping Russia on the ground in Syria indefinitely to help in its efforts to reconquer the country.


(click to enlarge)

What started in Syria in 2011 was a civil war. That war, in effect, was put on hold when the Islamic State emerged out of the chaos and seized territory in Syria and Iraq. With the Islamic State gone, the civil war has resumed. This is not the narrative that any of the countries involved want the world to hear. Russia and the Assad regime would have the world believe that the only thing left to do is to wipe up a few more pockets of jihadist rebels. Iran would have the world believe the threat is far more serious and justifies an increased Iranian presence. Turkey is still hoping it can somehow put the Syrian Kurds back in their box while replacing Assad with a Sunni-led government friendlier to Turkish interests. Each of these countries is using its own proxies to try to advance its own goals, and each is trying to spin the situation in a way that reflects success.

Success, however, is fleeting in this part of the world. If the Islamic State is defeated and there are just a few rebels left to mop up, how is it that one of Russia’s main bases in the region was shelled with mortars? It would appear there is more work to be done than Russia has let on. That wouldn’t be a problem if Russia hadn’t already attempted to use its Syria intervention as evidence of its power in the region and in the world. But Russia has tried to spin the Syria excursion as a demonstration of Russian power, and that makes this attack, whether or not it damaged the aircraft in question, a distressing omen for Moscow. Russia went into Syria when its economy was in dire straits due to lower than expected oil prices and when Putin’s credibility was suffering after the Ukraine revolution in 2014. The Russian government needs to leave Syria with a victory to bring back to the Russian people. The more remote that possibility appears, the more this intervention has the potential to backfire.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/syria-attack-russias-narrative/****************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Pope to Diplomatic Corps: Uphold human rights, defend family

http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/pope-to-diplomatic-corps–uphold-human-rights–defend-family.html

http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/pope-francis-to-diplomatic-corps–full-text.html

,,,,,,It is also important for the various peace initiatives aimed at helping Syria to continue, in a constructive climate of growing trust between the parties, so that the lengthy conflict that has caused such immense suffering can finally come to an end. Our shared hope is that, after so much destruction, the time for rebuilding has now come. Yet even more than rebuilding material structures, it is necessary to rebuild hearts, to re-establish the fabric of mutual trust, which is the essential prerequisite for the flourishing of any society. There is a need, then, to promote the legal, political and security conditions that restore a social life where every citizen, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation, can take part in the development of the country. In this regard, it is vital that religious minorities be protected, including Christians, who for centuries have made an active contribution to Syria’s history.

It is likewise important that the many refugees who have found shelter and refuge in neighbouring countries, especially in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, be able to return home. The commitment and efforts made by these countries in this difficult situation deserve the appreciation and support of the entire international community, which is also called upon to create the conditions for the repatriation of Syrian refugees. This effort must concretely start with Lebanon, so that that beloved country can continue to be a “message” of respect and coexistence, and a model to imitate, for the whole region and for the entire world. …

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*Chance für Wasserdiplomatie im Mittleren Osten: Israelische Meerwasserentsalzungstechnologie als Lösung?

04.01.18 … Bei der Suche nach einem Verständnis für diese „Wasserfrage“ im Mittleren Osten stößt man auf Widersprüchlichkeiten und unterschiedliche Darstellungen historischer Entscheidungen. Einmal damit begonnen, wird es leicht zur Irrfahrt. Man wird die Wasserfrage in dieser Region ebenso wenig ignorieren können, wie Auseinandersetzungen und Verteilungskonflikte in anderen Hotspots auf dem Globus. Aber hier könnte eine Lösung machbar sein. Es gibt technologische Alternativen zu den ansonsten umstrittenen Grundwasserressourcen und gute Vorschläge renommierter und einflussreicher Institute. Für die Umsetzung ist aber eine Politik der Annäherung unabdingbar …

http://www.lebensraumwasser.com/?p=7472

GreenBiz: 5 trends that will guide the flow of water strategy in 2018 January 3, 2018 … We are ready to pivot from solely focusing on water footprint stewardship to embracing a more expansive view of water strategy and how it aligns with — and supports — business growth. This pivot will result in a shift from a mindset on water risks to one that prioritizes abundance. A holistic water strategy would include innovation in technologies, business models, funding and financing and partnerships (across industry sectors). A focus on abundance means mobilizing stakeholders within and outside the world of water to harness our collective skills and capabilities to finally solve the wicked problem of water … the concept of abundance suggests that we can creatively mobilize our resources to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene … 1. Expect new business models … 2. Get ready to welcome outsiders … 3. Prepare for expanded democratization of actionable water information … 4. Look for new funding and financing strategies across the value chain … 5. And … the rise of conference fatigue …

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/5-trends-will-guide-flow-water-strategy-2018

DFG fördert Forschungsprojekt zu globalen Wasserkreisläufen

03.01.2018 Die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) fördert die Forschergruppe „Understanding the Global Freshwater System by Combining Geodetic and Remote Sensing Information with Modelling Using Calibration/Data Assimilation Approach“ (GlobalCDA) … Ziel sei es, die Wasserflüsse und Wassermengen auf den Kontinenten der Erde besser zu quantifizieren und somit ein tieferes Verständnis der globalen Wasserkreisläufe zu gewinnen …

https://www.euwid-wasser.de/news/wirtschaft/einzelansicht/Artikel/dfg-foerdert-forschungsprojekt-zu-globalen-wasserkreislaeufen.html

http://www.goethe-university-frankfurt.de/69777472/001

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Iran’s Regime at War With Itself

The old guard is a dying breed, and its allies lack the ability to address the problems of governance.

Public agitation in Iran has many wondering about the fate of the almost 40-year Islamic republic. As evident from the way in which the latest wave of protests has been contained, popular unrest is unlikely to bring down Iran’s clerical regime. That said, the demonstrations underscore a political economic problem in the Shiite Islamist state. Before it can truly address its economic problems, it needs to sort out the war that the regime is having with itself.

Jan. 8 marks one year since the death of Iran’s most influential cleric and former president, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Normally, we at GPF do not pay much attention to individual political leaders since they matter only so much when it comes to geopolitics. But in this case, there is a strange development: Reportedly, President Hassan Rouhani has ordered a review of the investigation into Rafsanjani’s death. Rafsanjani, a founder of the Islamic republic, was found dead in his pool. The explanation given was that the octogenarian leader died of cardiac arrest, but the reports that surfaced in recent weeks quoting family members say his body had unusually high radiation levels.

It is strange (to say the least) that this inquiry into Rafsanjani’s death comes at a time when Iran’s political establishment is trying to move past serious unrest. This story is emblematic of the struggles within the clerical regime, which have only gotten worse over the past decade. These internal differences are being exacerbated by the public uprising. Just as Rouhani’s opponents tried to take advantage of the unrest to weaken the president, his faction appears to be trying to use Rafsanjani’s death as a countermove – among many others.

Though many see Rafsanjani as a symbol of a corrupt political elite, many others see him as a symbol of political moderation. Rafsanjani left an indelible mark on the country’s political system. He was a close associate of the founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the uprising against the shah. After the revolution, Rafsanjani held several pivotal positions in the regime.

Khomeini appointed him to the Council of the Islamic Revolution, which existed from January 1979 to July 1980 with the purpose of transitioning the country from the monarchy to the Islamic republic. During this same period, Rafsanjani also served as interim interior minister. In 1980, he was elected speaker of parliament, a position he held for nine years. When Khomeini died, Rafsanjani played a key role in the succession of the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Then, from 1989 to 1997, Rafsanjani served two consecutive terms as president.

In 1989, he also assumed the chairmanship of the powerful Expediency Council, which was created to mediate between parliament and the Guardian Council (a 12-member clerical entity with oversight of legislation and the power to vet candidates for public office) and later granted supervisory authority over all three branches of government. Rafsanjani held this position until his death. In addition, from 1983 until his death he served as a member of the popularly elected Assembly of Experts, an 86-member clerical body responsible for electing the supreme leader, holding him accountable and removing him, if and when necessary. From 2007 to 2011 he served as the chairman of the assembly.

Rafsanjani is best known for being the father of the pragmatic conservative camp within Tehran’s political establishment. In this way, he had one foot in the camp of the hard-line clerical establishment and the other in the reformist trend that came to prominence under his successor, former President Mohammad Khatami.

Deeply cognizant of the public mood, as well as the strength of the hard-liners who have dominated the Islamic republic, Rafsanjani long sought to strike a balance between the two sides. His power began to fade after he lost a re-election bid against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005. Four years later he sided with the reformists who claimed foul play in the elections in which former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi lost to Ahmadinejad.

The uprising known as the Green Movement that followed the controversial election forced Rafsanjani to return to trying to find some balance between the liberal and conservative camps. However, he had made enough enemies on the right that, despite his positions on the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, his influence continued to wane. His last major accomplishment was supporting the 2013 election of his protege, the current president, Rouhani, who has emerged as the de facto leader of the pragmatic conservatives and their reformist allies.

It is important to note that these categories – pragmatic conservatives, ultra-conservatives and reformists – are no longer coherent blocs; rather, they represent broad coalitions containing multiple factions. The Iranian political establishment has been losing its coherence, especially since the intra-conservative rifts that emerged during the Ahmadinejad presidency (2005-13). In other words, the regime is fast approaching an impasse (if it hasn’t reached it already) where it cannot continue to expect that it will maintain social stability without undergoing substantial political economic reforms. The regime must evolve to preserve itself.

The current supreme leader, at age 78, is near the end of his career. The Islamic republic has had only two supreme leaders – Khomeini and Khamenei – and most of the founders are dead. The only prominent survivors are Khamenei, Rouhani and the 90-year-old Guardian Council chief, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. The political fragmentation coupled with the inability of the state to provide for the needs of a growing and increasingly younger population make succession all the more difficult. The tug of war between the republican and theocratic components of the hybrid regime and the disproportionate power wielded by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps further complicate matters.

The old guard is a dying breed, and its allies lack the ability to address the problems of governance. This has enabled Rouhani to get aggressive in pushing for economic reforms. Just this week he criticized religious organizations for not paying tax. On Jan. 9, he made an even more profound remark, according to a statement published on the presidency’s website: “The problem we have today is the gap between officials and the young generation. Our way of thinking is different to their way of thinking. Their view of the world and of life is different to our view. We want our grand-children’s generation to live as we lived, but we can’t impose that on them.”

Rouhani and his allies understand that the problems are not just economic; they are also political. The threat to the Islamic republic comes not from protesters but from the disagreement within the regime on how to govern the country of 80 million. The contradiction hardwired into its political system threatens its long-term stability. Iran’s political problems are catching up with it at a time when it was hoping to consolidate the geopolitical gains it has made over the years during the meltdown in the Arab world.

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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

01-10-18 What Does 2018 Have in Store for the Kremlin.pdf

01-08-18 Pope Francis addresses diplomatic corps Full text – Vatican News.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 05.01.18

Massenbach-Letter. News – IRAN –

  • Syria – Russia – Iran
  • India-China
  • Brookings: The changing role of America’s military: A debate
  • National Security Strategy (NSS) – A New National Security Strategy for a New Era

My rec. for more about Iran: http://mahya.pro/archives/category/iran-economy-in-brief

Massenbach*WSJ:Trump and Syria After Islamic State

Will the U.S. concede a strategic victory to Russia and Iran?

ByThe Editorial Board

The upper house of the Russian Parliament this week approved a 49-year extension on its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, another sign of Vladimir Putin’s strategic gains from his intervention in Syria’s civil war. As the last Islamic State strongholds are defeated in Syria, the big question is whether the U.S. will cede the advantage to Russia and Iran and their client Bashar Assad.

The State Department confirmed recently that Islamic State has lost 95% of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, and the flow of foreign fighters into Syria is slowing. ….

The Trump Administration hasn’t challenged Assad or Russian and Iranian-backed forces directly in offensive operations. Instead, the U.S. has tried to re-establish limited deterrence to prevent those forces from pushing into areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that oppose Assad. President Trump blew up a Syrian airfield after a chemical weapons attack in April, and the U.S. military has downed a Syrian aircraft that made incursions into SDF areas. That’s fine as far as it goes but it won’t change the balance of power in Syria.

Mr. Trump committed in October to roll back Iran’s influence in the Middle East, calling Tehran a “fanatical regime.” What he does in Syria will show if those words were meaningful, or rhetoric to mask a continuing U.S. retreat from the Middle East as tensions rise between Iran and the Sunni Gulf states.

One early sign will be what the White House decides to do with the SDF-controlled regions, which are now protected by U.S. and allied air power, similar to how the George H.W. Bush and Clinton Administration protected the Kurds of northern Iraq in the 1990s. Our sources say these safe zones could be maintained long enough to rebuild civil institutions and to train a force strong enough to challenge Assad-held areas. That may take years, but it’s worth the effort to prevent Tehran from achieving its goal of a land bridge from Tehran through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. The upper house of the Russian Parliament this week approved a 49-year extension on its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, another sign of Vladimir Putin’s strategic gains from his intervention in Syria’s civil war. As the last Islamic State strongholds are defeated in Syria, the big question is whether the U.S. will cede the advantage to Russia and Iran and their client Bashar Assad.

Another marker will be how the Trump team handles the issue of the Syrian Kurds, known as the YPG. The group has links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is a U.S.-designated terror group. The White House armed YPG fighters in May to help with the siege of Raqqa and announced in November that this aid would soon cease. If the White House doesn’t handle diplomacy with the Syrian Kurds carefully, they could cut a deal with Assad for some form of regional autonomy, which might provoke the Turks, who want to prevent a Kurdish state, into an intervention in northern Syria…..

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a Washington audience last month that the Administration is “working together with Russia on how to prevent the civil war from re-erupting.”

A key U.S. goal in Syria should be to deny Assad, Russia and Iran the strategic victory of controlling all of Syria. Only when Russia and Iran conclude that they can’t win militarily, or that the price of winning is too high, will they negotiate a genuine peace deal that allows for self-governing ethnic enclaves in Syria. The means to that end is supporting Syrian and Kurdish forces that oppose Assad and Islamic radicals. The alternative is a U.S. retreat that would allow an Islamic State comeback and perhaps a larger war in the Middle East.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-and-syria-after-islamic-state-1514500724

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MOSCOW’S MESSAGE ON IRAN HAS BEEN CAUTIOUS AND ALMOST NEUTRAL
by Anna Borshchevskaya

The Hill
January 3, 2018

The muted response to the protests may stem from Russia’s reliance on Iranian assistance in Syria and its dearth of other regional partners.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Moscow’s response to the massive anti-regime protests gripping Iran since Dec. 28 should have been predictable—a condemnation of another perceived „U.S.-led regime change.“ President Vladimir Putin’s position with this topic after all is well known. This is how Moscow characterized anti-authoritarian protests from the color revolutions in the post-Soviet space to the Arab Spring and protests against Putin himself. Yet on Dec. 31, the chairman of the Federation Council’s foreign affairs committee said that the protests in Iran are a „symptom of certain internal political processes in the country.“ To be sure, he did not dismiss „external influence“ entirely, but said, „I would not ascribe too much influence on the Iranian processes to Washington…“

Anna Borshchevskaya is the Ira Weiner Fellow at The Washington Institute.

http://thehill.com/opinion/international/367207-moscows-message-on-iran-has-been-cautious-and-almost-neutral

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                                                                                                            Policy = res publica

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  Freudenberg-Pilster  Iranians Are Mad as Hell About Their Foreign Policy

Dennis Ross

Foreign Policy

January 2, 2018

The more the regime believes that its foreign adventures threaten its internal foundations, the more likely it will be to temper its behavior.

Iran’s leaders are seemingly riding high in the Middle East. They have helped secure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Hezbollah has a stranglehold on Lebanon. The leading Shiite militias in Iraq march to their tune and have leverage over the Baghdad government. Iranian-supplied weapons, including missiles, are serving as a cheap way for the Houthis in Yemen to bleed the Saudis. Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, an expeditionary unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), appears on the front lines across the Arab world, conveying the impression that Iran and its allies cannot be defeated.

The image of Iran on the march is one the Islamic republic has sought to market and exploit. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has spoken of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq as being part of Iran’s forward defense. His close advisor Ali Akbar Velayati, while in Lebanon in November, declared the country—along with Palestine, Syria, and Iraq—as part of the Iran-led zone of resistance.

But there is a cost to Iranian expansionism, and we are now seeing it. ( for more see att.)

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iranians-are-mad-as-hell-about-their-foreign-policy 

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Politics: From Vision to Action

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 Barandat*    idsa: Post Doklam, India needs to watch China’s bullish economics led cultural embrace of South Asia 

January 01, 2018 … brought into perspective the fractured relationship between the two Asian giants on the global stage and increased fears of China’s growing unilateralism as it inexorably broadens its interests and sphere of influence, especially in South Asia … The trajectory of India-China relations in 2018 is still weighed down by news of 1,800 Chinese troops camping at Doklam, sporadic reports about the diversion of the Yarlung Tsang-po, the upper stream of the Brahmaputra river and the polluting of its waters as it enters Arunachal Pradesh, and the ‘wars’ being fought in newsrooms of both countries, with the latest salvo coming from the Chinese defence spokesperson stating “India should control its border troops” to avoid a repeat of Doklam. This warning ties in with the assessment in New Delhi of the threat of a future military confrontation with China, especially since President Xi’s message to the People’s Liberation Army at the all-important, 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was “to become a modern fighting force by 2035, the world’s best military force by 2050; and, intensify its combat readiness by focusing on how to win wars.” New Delhi has indeed read between the lines …

The impact of shrewd Chinese investments in the neighbourhood, re-energised by the grand “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) project, is steadily changing the geopolitics of the region. “Creditor imperialism” and “sharp power” are some of the many terms being used to de-scribe how China is spreading its influence.

On the ground it is increasingly evident that China, through its economic bullishness, is trying to impose itself culturally in South Asia, and this should worry India more than the military brinksmanship. Because shared culture and history have always been the links that legitimized India’s status as a natural leader of South Asia

China’s push to insert it-self culturally into South Asia and give roots to its influence beyond the economic arena can be understood through its efforts to make inroads into the“ Buddhist project in South Asia”. The Belt and Road, it has been argued, needs to be seen in this context … “OBOR – China’s spiritual project in Asia”

China is “rapidly developing a plan for a ‘Buddhist globalisation’ with its financial, political and marketing clout” … Buddhist globalisation helps Beijing push its economic projects – religious diplomacy makes it easier for China to win economic and infrastructural projects in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and elsewhere … China Pakistan Economic Corridor has seen a an influx of Chinese companies and expats into the country, making sceptics fear that apart from issues of economic viability, Pakistan will soon become a Chinese colonyIt is clear that the Chinese military is not the only threat India needs to watch out for in South Asia. China’s meticulous and bullish economic and cultural embrace will have long term implications for the region.

https://idsa.in/issuebrief/post-doklam-india-needs-to-watch-china-bullish-economics-led-cultural-embrace-of-south-asia_spandalai_010118 

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*Massenbach’s   Recommendation*

Brookings: The changing role of America’s military: A debate

2017 Dec 11

… debate addressed what kind of military the United States needs to confront current and future threats, how the U.S. military should be postured at home and around the globe, and the scope for greater burden-sharing between the United States and its allies …

https://www.brookings.edu/events/the-changing-role-of-americas-military-a-debate/

Transcript:

ALLEN, S.19 … The EU is a real threat to Russia, in the sense that as long as they remain a constant Bloc they are the counter-influence to Russia. And it’s much easier for Putin to deal with the European states in a series of bilateral relationships than ultimately as a bloc. ….But very importantly NATO is working to project stability into the Middle East and in North Africa. And this is long overdue. A couple more ways of several million migrants into Europe, and we are going to say Europe fundamentally changed forever, and NATO’s intent to try to work with countries in the Middle East and in North Africa to try to stabilize those countries so that the populations will remain home, that’s an important contribution of NATO in the future …

GHOLZ, S.25: … Modernization is an important issue for the United States, but I think the most important kind of modernization is to change the trajectory of the kind of defense spending that we have. So, we are actually spending quite a lot on defense despite the kinds of challenges and the planning problems that Mara talks about … we are still spending more on defense today than in essentially all the — in real dollars, essentially all the years of the Cold War … I would say the reason we are spending so much is because we are buying very high-end technologies, and very difficult technologies to enable us to play the away game, to constantly project power. Projecting power is super expensive, whereas being on defense, if we shifted the kinds of investment we were making to stress a defensive posture as opposed to an offensive posture, we would be able to achieve our strategic goals of defending our way of life, and even help many of our friends without spending as much as we do

DESCH, S.27: … one reservation about drones and about high technology, in general, in the American Military, is it could lead us to think that we can solve really complex international problems by shooting our way out of them. There’s a place for the use of kinetic military force, and I think there’s a big place for the use of drones in the war on terror, but we also need to understand that there are limits to what this technology will do to solve the larger underlying problems that we are facing … the road to hell is often paved with good intentions, and exhibit A, if you need an exhibit A is Iraq. If you need an exhibit B, asked if you think things are better in Libya today than they were before NATO’s intervention there. And I think well the list goes on and on. Restraint, which is not isolationism, it’s a different form of internationalism, is prudent and humble … prudence and humility were cardinal virtues, and I think I commend these cardinal virtues to the post-Cold War United States …

DESCH, S 44: … The world has changed a lot since 1991, but our policy hasn’t. In fact, you know, if you listen to my two distinguished colleagues up here you would think that there’s a no difference between the world of the Cold War, and the post-Cold War world. But I’d ask you, today after 25 years of a bipartisan policy of deep engagement in primacy, do you feel more secure, more prosperous and more free in your domestic liberty? If not, you ought to try something different …

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/fp_20171211_americas_military_transcript.pdf

About:  National Security Strategy (NSS) – A New National Security Strategy for a New Era (see att.)   *********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*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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UdovonMassenbach@t-online.de   Mail@Freudenberg-Pilster.de   JoergBarandat@yahoo.de

 

01-02-18 Dennis_Ross_TWI-iranians-are-mad-as-hell-about-their-foreign-policy.pdf
01-03-18 Moscow’s message on Iran has been cautious and almost neutral _ TheHill.pdf
12-18-17 National Security Strategy (NSS).pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 29.12.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Birgit Huetten, Brussels: The Illusion of a Ready-Made Future – Manifesto for Courage
  • Kardinal Marx erwartet Renaissance des Marxismus
  • Roland Tichy: Machen wir 2018 zu einem besonderen Jahr
  • Der Spiegel: Assads Sieg

Massenbach*The Illusion of a Ready-Made Future – Manifesto for Courage

9 November 2017 | Birgit Hütten, Guest Contributor

During his nine-month travel through the New World, French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) analyzed not just prisons but also the fabric of American life. Impressed by an apparently vital and courageous society, how would he have reacted to the reports of today about the fading American dream and the underlying reasons? Perhaps stating that “when the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness“?[1] The American dream[2] including the aspiration that children have a better life than their parents is not just fading in the United States. Many have doubts about the future and the unspoken promise of steady progress.

A number of recent studies support these concerns. Against the background of so-called disruptive technologies such as predictive intelligence, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, nanotechnology, automation, robotics and digitalization, it has been assessed[3] that in the US about 47% of the jobs are at risk. While this assessment is not undisputed, others, based on the same research methodology come to similar conclusions for other parts of the world[4]. It is particularly noteworthy, that 40% of young people around the world are concerned about their jobs being possibly automated in the next decade[5].

Despite the legitimate focus on work, the overall question appears to be whether in the future humans will be better off or not with such new technologies.

Despite the legitimate focus on work, the overall question appears to be

whether in the future humans will be better off or not with such new technologies.

(for more see attachment)

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Kardinal Marx erwartet Renaissance des Marxismus

Der Vorsitzende der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Kardinal Reinhard Marx, erwartet ein Wiedererstarken des Marxismus

und plädiert für eine Zähmung des globalen Kapitalismus.

Der „Welt am Sonntag“ sagte der Erzbischof von München und Freising: „Ich bin sicher, dass wir eine Renaissance des Marxismus erleben werden. Marx hatte in einigen Bereichen in der Analyse durchaus recht, etwa was er über die Akkumulation des Kapitals und den Warencharakter der Arbeit sagte.“

Der Kapitalismus habe in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten viele negative Folgen gehabt und zu einem massiven Gefühl der Verbitterung geführt. „Wir haben diesen Prozessen – besonders nach der Wende 1989 – freien Lauf gelassen. Johannes Paul II. hat schon 1991 gesagt: Wenn der Kapitalismus nicht die Fragen der Gerechtigkeit löst, dann werden die alten Ideologien wiederkommen. Das gilt bis heute.“

“ Nun geht es darum, ein vergleichbares globales Rahmenwerk zu schaffen. ”

Marx betonte, es sei dringend notwendig, die Idee der sozialen Marktwirtschaft weltweit umzusetzen. Deutschland habe die soziale Marktwirtschaft nach 1945 eingeführt und große soziale Erfolge erzielt. „Nun geht es darum, ein vergleichbares globales Rahmenwerk zu schaffen und Institutionen, die dafür eintreten.“ Notwendig sei eine neue Verantwortlichkeit auf der internationalen Ebene. „Das ist sehr schwierig, aber dennoch nötig. Das Pariser Klimaabkommen war ein solcher Versuch.“

Ehe nicht einfach umdefinieren

Die Ehe darf der Staat nach Auffassung des Vorsitzenden der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz nicht einfach umdefinieren. „Die Ehe sollte auf die Beziehung zwischen Mann und Frau bezogen bleiben“, sagte Marx. Sie sei eine Verbindung von Mann und Frau und auf Weitergabe des Lebens ausgerichtet; das habe bislang auch das Bundesverfassungsgericht immer so gesehen.

“ Das Kind wird zum Objekt und so verletzt es die Menschenwürde. ”

Die Ehe sei älter als der Staat und „gewissermaßen die Voraussetzung dafür, dass es den Staat überhaupt gibt“, fügte Marx hinzu. Dies bedeute keine Diskriminierung von Lebenspartnerschaften.

Im Zusammenhang mit der Debatte um Leihmutterschaft, Eizellspende und Elternschaft warnte der Kardinal davor, „dass man das Kind in solchen Debatten zum Produkt macht und dass es angeblich ein Recht auf ein Kind gibt“. Es würden Wege und Mittel eingesetzt, um dieses angebliche Recht umzusetzen. „Das Kind wird zum Objekt. Das verletzt die Menschenwürde. Niemand hat ein Recht auf ein Kind“, sagte er.

http://www.vaticannews.va/de/kirche/news/2017-12/kardinal-marx-erwartet-renaissance-des-marxismus.html

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Roland Tichy: Machen wir 2018 zu einem besonderen Jahr

Wir sind Deutschland – nach dem Scheitern der Merkel-Politik und der Schwächung unserer demokratischen Institutionen

ist 2018 das Jahr, unser Land wieder zu modernisieren und zu demokratisieren.

Sprechen wir es einfach aus, statt in uns hinein zu schweigen.

Was waren die wichtigsten Ereignisse des abgelaufenen Jahres?

Verscharrte Opfer bleiben nicht ungenannt

Eines ragt genau genommen noch aus dem Jahr 2016 bis in das kommende Jahr und entfaltet seine Wirkung über die Zeit: Die Ermordung von 12 Bürgern am 19.12. 2016 auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt vor der Berliner Gedächtniskirche. Das Entsetzen unmittelbar über die Tat fand seine Fortsetzung im Handeln der Bundesregierung: Die Opfer, so schrieben wir, sollten möglichst schnell unsichtbar werden, um die Tat und die Mitverantwortung der Bundesregierung möglichst ungeschehen zu machen. „Gebt den Opfern ein Gesicht!“, das war die Forderung, die dagegen stand. Die aus dem Blick geschafften Opfer blieben nicht ungenannt.

Im Laufe des Jahres wurde sehr schnell die organisierte Verantwortungslosigkeit deutlich, die den Täter begünstigte, ja geradezu herausfordernd gewirkt haben mag.

Es war einer der Gründe, warum die rot-grüne Landesregierung in Düsseldorf abgewählt wurde; ihr Innenminister hat die Sicherheit seiner Bürger verkommen lassen, trägt Verantwortung für die Kölner Domplatte wie für die Reisefreiheit des Berlin Mörders. Die Wähler lassen sich nicht mehr blenden.

Und gegen Ende dieses Jahres rückten die Mitverantwortung und das schäbige Verhalten der Bundeskanzlerin ins Bewusstsein: Der kaltschnäuzige Versuch, zur Tagesordnung überzugehen, kaum dass die Opfer auch nur identifiziert waren und ihre Angehörigen noch auf der Suche nach ihren Liebsten durch Klinikflure irrten.

In diesen Tagen hat Merkel ihren moralisierenden Mantel verloren, den sie sich und ihrer kurzsichtigen Politik mit der Öffnung der Grenzen 2015 umgehängt hat.

Der quälende Abschied von der Macht

Meine Prognose: Gegen Ende 2017 hat die Wirklichkeit die Inszenierung von Politik eingeholt und wird im Frühjahr 2018 die Konsequenzen fordern – Politik ist ein langsames Geschäft. Und die sich hinschleppende Koalitionsbildung ist keine – sie ist nur der langsame, quälende Abschied von der Macht. Ausgerechnet Angela Merkel, die von sich immer behauptet hat zu wissen, wann es Zeit ist zu gehen und nicht an der Macht zu kleben, hat diese Distanz zu sich selbst verloren.

Es ist gut, dass sich die FDP nicht in die Jamaika-Koalition hat einbinden lassen. Opposition ist nicht „Mist“, wie der frühere SPD-Vorsitzende Franz Müntefering meinte – Opposition macht das Wesen der Demokratie aus. Die Krise der Demokratie entsteht nicht, weil die FDP sich nicht hergeben will, das Leiden der Regierungen Merkel zu verlängern, sondern weil die Wahlverlierer unbedingt weiter regieren wollen.

So stolpert Deutschland nach der Bundestagswahl richtungs- und führungslos in ein neues Jahr. Das Ergebnis der Wahl an sich war nur für die Verlierer eine Überraschung und für viele Journalisten. Für jeden aufmerksamen Beobachter war die wachsende Distanz bis hin zur aggressiven gegenseitigen Ablehnung von Wählern und früher mal Gewählten zu spüren. Die Wahl hat diesen Prozess nicht beendet. Eines der erfolgreichsten Stücke war eine Kritik an der ZDF-Moderatorin Slomka, die schier die Beherrschung und in jedem Fall die kritische Distanz zu sich verlor, als sie Christian Lindner dafür kritisierte, dass er nicht in die seltsame „Jamaika-Koalition“ eintreten wollte. Fritz Goergen beobachtete den „Anschauungsfall des Polit-Aktivisten, der mit Journalismus nicht das geringste zu tun hat. So extrem wird nicht in jedem Fall sichtbar, wie Medien und Politik die Plätze getauscht haben.”

Medien als Propaganda-Werkzeuge

Donald Trump hatte Ende 2016 die Präsidentschaftswahl in den USA gewonnen; auch dieses Ereignis hat eine lange Linie durch das Jahr 2017 gezogen: Zunächst gab es da einige Medien, die sich gerne als Zensoren aufspielen und einen Sieg Hillary Clintons meldeten; zu oft ist der Wunsch heute Vater der Nachrichten. Im Grau des Wahlmorgens weinten Kommentatoren auf deutschen TV-Schirmen über Trumps Sieg; selten wurde so deutlich, dass nicht mehr kaltblütige bis abgebrühte Reporter die Zeitläufte so darstellen, wie sie – verdammt noch einmal – sind, sondern Angehörige einer Kaste der Bevormunder ihre eigenen Agenda vorführen und die Medien zu eilfertigen Dienstboten ihrer Belehrungsshows genommen haben.

Statt nüchtern über Trump zu berichten, sind deutsche Medien zu einer Anti-Trump-Propaganda-Maschine geworden. Zuletzt in diesen Tagen, in denen Deutschland in der UNO dagegen gestimmt hat, die US-Botschaft nach Jerusalem zu verlegen, wohin übrigens auch die Botschaft Russlands ziehen wird. Deutschland bestimmt also darüber, wohin die USA ihre Botschaften legen? Der Schwanz wackelt mit dem Hund, aber sehr gewaltig. Dabei ist Deutschland immer noch ein freies Land. Die Einschränkung der Freiheit in den Medien ist nicht Folge von Bedrohung oder Anweisung – sondern eine Art freiwillige Gleichschaltung. Das gilt auch für viele vorauseilende Verfolgungen Andersdenkender oder Regierungskritiker, denen man das Lokal verwehrt, deren Kränze entfernt und die beruflich bedroht werden. Dabei ist es so einfach: Machen wir nicht mit, machen wir den Mund auf. So einfach. So wirkungsvoll.

Verloren im Irrationalismus und in abgestandener Luft

Deutsche Politik beginnt längst, sich im Irrationalen zu verlieren. Träume werden für Realität genommen. In der Energiewende entfernt sich die Stromerzeugung durch hochsubventionierte Erneuerbare immer weiter vom tatsächlichen Bedarf. Macht nichts, wir verdoppeln den Einsatz! Wir fahren schneller auf dem Irrweg, damit wir pünktlich ans Ziel kommen! Und weil die Stromlücke absehbar immer gewaltiger wird, fordern wir neue, zusätzliche Stromverbraucher, nämlich Autos! Alles ist möglich, wenn wir es nur fest genug wollen. Zwar brauchen wir zusätzliche fossile Kraftwerke, um die erneuerbaren Stromlücken abzudecken. Aber neuerdings nennt man sie nicht mehr Kraftwerke, sondern „Netzstabilitätsanlagen“. Frank Hennig führt die verräterische Energie-Neusprech in seiner Serie „ABC von Energiewende- und Grünsprech“ vor; ein Ende der Serie ist wohl nicht in Sicht, nur wachsende Anstrengungen, die Pleite zu verschleiern.

Wichtigster Erkenntnisgewinn für 2017: Wir haben es nicht mit Einzelfällen zu tun. Studie für Studie, Talkshow für Talkshow, Interview um Interview, Reportage um Reportage wurde deutlicher: Medien, Parteien, Gewerkschaften, Stiftungen – sogar Wirtschaftsverbände arbeiten Hand in Hand an einem Abgesang auf ein Land und ein Zusammenleben, wie wir es kennen, für gut empfunden haben und für unsere Kinder so erhalten wollen, wie es uns und Millionen anderen lieb und teuer geworden ist. Die Überwachung bedient sich auch der Mitarbeiter der Jobagenturen, die ihre Klientel an Verfassungsschutzämter melden; eine Story von TE, die ausgerechnet DIE LINKE zu einer Anfrage auf Basis der Berichte des „konservativen“ Portals an die Bundesregierung veranlasste.

Verfassungsmäßige Rechte? Uninteressant. Der Bundestag schaffte es, auf seiner letzten Plenarsitzung der alten Legislaturperiode nacheinander zwei peinliche Gesetze durchzuwinken; Abstimmung kann man es nicht nennen, wenn er blind den Vorgaben der Regierung folgt wie der Dackel dem Herrchen. Mit dem Netzdurchsetzungsgesetz einem Abgesang an die Freiheit der Bürger. Das wertvolle Gut der Meinungsfreiheit wird an Privatunternehmen ausgelagert, vorbei an den Institutionen der Rechtsprechung und mit Anreizen ausgestattet, die die Bürger zur Denunziation und die begünstigen Zuckerbergs zum Löschen unliebsamer Ansichten ermuntern.

Das Grundgesetz lächerlich gemacht

Und „Ehe für Alle“ wurde insoweit „verfassungskonform“ zurecht gebügelt, dass man den Wortsinn des Grundgesetzes einfach semantisch umgedeutet hat. Nicht um die Ehe für Alle geht es, sondern um die arrogante und leichtfertige Art, mit der die Hürden niedergerissen wurden, die das Grundgesetz vor Grundsatzentscheidungen gestellt hat. Es ist nichts mehr wert. Ob der neue Bundestag, diesmal mit zwei wirklichen Oppositionsparteien, dem Parlament die verlorene Ehre zurückgibt? Die ersten Anzeichen sind ermutigend. Es gibt wieder eine Opposition.

Staatsgrenzen? Abgeschafft. Teilhabe von Bürgerinnen und Bürgern an politischen Entscheidungsprozessen? Unnötig. Sogar gefährlich!

Artikel für Artikel fügt sich so 2017 zu einem klaren Bild zusammen: Unsere politischen Eliten und Entscheider versprechen sich etwas davon, gewachsene Traditionen und Werte vakant zu stellen und durch etwas zu ersetzen, das bis hin zur Verfassungsfeindlichkeit reicht. Anders kann man es nicht mehr benennen, wenn die Regierung eines Landes, welches sie zu regieren demokratisch gewählt wurde, Land und Bevölkerung nicht mehr für schützenswert erachtet und beispielsweise zugewanderte Kriminalität einfach nicht wahrnehmen will. Wenn die Fakten unübersehbar sind, werden die Augen umso fester zugedrückt. Aber reden wir darüber. Wir reden so viel, den lieben langen Tag. Reden wir über das, was verschwiegen werden soll, lüften wir das Land wieder durch. Zugluft ist frischer als abgestandenes „Weiter wie bisher“.

So erschüttern immer neue Krisen das Land, oft getrieben von NGOs, den neuen Heiligen ohne Schein und Legitimation: Glyphosat ist so ein Thema; erinnern Sie sich noch, es tauchte im Dezember 2015 angeblich in Bier auf und dann überall. „Die Dummheit tritt hier im Gewand der Moral und der Vernunft auf die Bühne“, formulierte Wolfgang Herles im Mai 2016, noch ehe die Kampagne ihren fahrplanmäßigen Höhepunkt erreichte.

Nach dem identischen Muster verlief die Kampagne gegen Diesel Treibstoff, auch hier haben wir schon 2016 über die neuen Beutesyndikate aus „Umweltverbänden und Lobbygruppen“ geschrieben.

Wehren wir uns gegen Meinungsglyphosat

2017 war das Jahr, in dem der Diesel als erster dieser verteufelten Verbrennungsmotoren in die Hölle fuhr. Das ist nur möglich, weil das „verschwenderisch versprühte Meinungsglyphosat garantiert, dass auf dem Acker kein Kraut wächst, das nicht ausdrücklich erwünscht ist“, spottete Wolfgang Herles über Medien, die da mitmachen.

So lässt sich eine Politik, die längst den Anspruch auf Gestaltung verloren hat, von der seltsamen Melange aus Medien und NGOs vor sich hertreiben.

Der Staat verwahrlost. Seine Institutionen werden geschliffen; von Schule bis Bundeswehr, die nicht einmal mehr bedingt, sondern nur noch gar nicht mehr einsatzbereit ist.

In vielen Beiträgen haben unsere Autoren dies beschrieben, eine „politisch gewollte Staatsverwahrlosung“ vermutet Fritz Goergen.

Das sind ernüchternde Befunde. Vielfach deprimierend. Und doch: Noch sind die Grundprinzipien dieses Staates intakt. Langsam beginnt selbst in manchen Staats-Medien das Umdenken; im Internet wird weiter alternativ über Fakten berichtet und die Korrektur folgt den gefälschten oder manipulierenden auf dem Fuße, erzwingt gelegentlich schon eine Entschuldigung, wenn auch verdruckst, etwa wenn eine WDR-Chefredakteurin schnell mal einen gewählten Kanzler eines Nachbarstaats als Hitlerjungen abkanzeln will.

Berlin ist nicht Deutschland – wir sind es

Der Bundestag hat wieder eine Opposition, viele Bürger besinnen sich darauf, dass das Parteiengefüge nicht den Staat ausmacht. Sondern dass wir Bürger es sind, die es zulassen oder nicht. Noch „geht alle Macht von den Parteifunktionären aus“, schreibt Hugo Müller-Vogg. Die Abgeordneten haben es jetzt in der Hand, sich selbst vom Abnicken zum Volksvertreter zu veredeln. Erinnern wir sie daran!

Noch hat Deutschland viele visionäre Unternehmen, viele davon übrigens in der von Berlin so gescholtenen Provinz. Nicht in den Hinterzimmern der Berliner Parteien wird unser Leben bestimmt. Nicht die Politik bestimmt über unser Wohlbefinden, sondern tatkräftige Bürger und Bürgerinnen. Nicht der Staat macht uns reich, sondern die Leistungen seiner Bürger und Unternehmer.

Wir selbst haben es in der Hand, dem Treiben zuzuschauen oder sich ihm entgegenzustellen, auf die eine oder andere Art und Weise. Längst haben die Bürger Stimme und die Lacher auf ihrer Seite, wenn es Berlin zu dolle treibt.

Das Jahr 2018 wird ein sehr besonderes Jahr. Denn wir alle machen es dazu.

Ich wünsche Ihnen Gelassenheit und Heiterkeit, Geduld und Hartnäckigkeit – die besten Waffen gegen verbiesterte Funktionäre und Ideologen.

https://www.tichyseinblick.de/tichys-einblick/machen-wir-2018-zu-einem-besonderen-jahr/

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*NERC: Changing resource mix tightening reserve margins
Dec. 15, 2017 The North American Electric Reliability Corp. yesterday released its long-term system reliability assessment, concluding that an accelerated move away from coal and nuclear generation means grid operators must put additional focus on essential reliability services … creating new challenges for the North American electric grid, including declining resource adequacy as soon as next year in at least one region … Coal and nuclear retirements have outpaced conventional generation additions … Gas-fired capacity is expanding rapidly to meet the demand … Wind generation accounts for more than 10% of total installed capacity in six areas, with 14.8 GW of additions projected during the next decade. A total of 37 GW of solar additions are projected by 2022; of those, 22 GW are distributed. According to NERC, that raises "visibility concerns for system planners"… the resource mix continues to evolve in a manner that ensures the reliability and resilience of the bulk power system" …
https://www.utilitydive.com/news/nerc-changing-resource-mix-tightening-reserve-margins/513159/
Bezugsdokument
http://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/ra/Reliability%20Assessments%20DL/NERC_LTRA_12132017_Final.pdf

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Assads Sieg

Syrien. Das Regime hat den Krieg gegen die Aufständischen weitgehend gewonnen.

Die Menschen in Damaskus denken über die Zukunft nach.

Doch bis zu einem Frieden, der das ganze Land einschließt, ist es ein sehr weiter Weg.

Von Susanne Koelbl / Der Spiegel -51-2017

(for more: see attachment).

11-09-17 Birgit_Huetten_The Illusion of a Ready-Made Future – Manifesto for Courage_NETOPIA.pdf
Koelbl_Syrien-Damaskus-5117-2.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 22.12.17

Massenbach-Letter. News – Glaubenswechsel als „Nagelprobe der Religionsfreiheit“ (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz / Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland) –

  • GPF: The World in 2018. The dysfunction that will characterize the year has a decade’s worth of momentum behind it.
  • President Donald J. Trump Announces New National Security Strategy for a New Era
  • Putin’s Plan for Syria – How Russia Wants to End the War – byDmitri Trenin
  • RAND: U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East and Implications for the Army
  • Austrian National Defence Academy: Between Fact and Fakery­_ Information and Instability in the South Caucasus and Beyond”

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

  • Will Donbass Live to See the UN Peacekeepers?- Where is a Compromise to be Found?
  • Yemen after Saleh’s Death: Moscow on Standby
  • War of Interests for Peace in Syria – Iran’s Expectations of Syria’s Future
  • Caucasian News

Massenbach* Foreign Affairs Carnegie Mscow: Putin’s Plan for Syria – How Russia Wants to End the War

byDmitri Trenin

After nearly seven years, the Syrian civil war is finally winding down, and the Middle East’s various powers are looking ahead to what comes next. On November 22, the leaders of Iran, Russia, and Turkey met in the Russian resort town of Sochi to discuss Syria’s future, and on November 28, the latest round of UN-sponsored talks between representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition began in Geneva. Another round of talks in Sochi is planned for early next year.

Through military intervention and diplomatic maneuvering, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made his country into one of the major players in the Syrian conflict. Russia went into Syria in September 2015 to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) and to block an attempt at regime change by outside powers such as the United States and Saudi Arabia. More than two years later, Moscow’s military engagement has paid off. Assad’s regime has survived and ISIS has been defeated. The war is still not over, but the focus is increasingly on a future political settlement. Russia will not be able to impose this settlement alone, or even together with its allies, Iran and Turkey. But it will be as involved in the Syrian peace as it was involved in the Syrian war.

A TANGLED WEB

Among the issues now at play in Syria, the fate of Assad stands out. During the war, Moscow saw him as someone to be bailed out for the sake of preventing chaos. Now he looks and behaves like a victor, and may be thinking that he does not need the Russians as much as he used to.

Assad looks down on the opposition and wants his Baath Party to become dominant again. The Kremlin, however, understands that restoring his control over all of Syria is impossible and even undesirable, since other groups, from the Sunni opposition to the Kurds, adamantly reject this outcome. Assad may stay in power in Damascus, but the country’s political landscape has changed irreversibly. Still, Moscow has to deal with a recalcitrant Assad while taking account of the influence exerted by its other ally, Tehran.

Even without formal federalization, Syria is de facto divided into several enclaves controlled by different forces: the Assad government; anti-Assad opposition groups; pro-Turkish and pro-Iranian militias; and the Kurds. Russia has worked with many players, both on the ground in Syria and across the region, to create several de-escalation zones, where fighting has stopped and the opposition has been allowed to remain in control. Through its efforts in Astana, Geneva, and Sochi, Moscow has sought to build common ground between all of the country’s contending factions, paving the way for some form of a coalition government. Assad is reluctant to agree to genuine power sharing, and Iran has its own reservations. Thus Moscow will have to do a lot of persuading and occasionally pressuring to achieve its preferred outcome. The Russians believe, however, that a communal power-sharing arrangement akin to Lebanon’s could be a recipe for stability. 2017.

Russia insists on the territorial unity of Syria. Moscow takes a similar attitude toward Iraq, where it recently refused to support independence for Iraqi Kurdistan. In Syria as in Iraq, however, Russia favors real autonomy for the Kurds. Over many decades, Moscow has had a long-standing relationship with the Kurdish groups in the Middle East, sometimes assisting them politically and militarily. Russia is used to balancing its relations with the Kurds and with their Arab, Turkish, and Iranian neighbors, and is itself home to a small Kurdish diaspora that facilitates Russian-Kurdish contacts and lobbies for Kurdish interests. In the end, however, it is Russia’s national interest in maintaining contacts with all the relevant players that will win out.

Russia, of course, is not the only outside power in Syria. Even as Moscow supported the Assad regime with its air power, Iran and its allied militias were fighting on the ground. After the war, Tehran wants to institutionalize its presence on the ground in Syria, both to influence the future of that country and to maintain a physical link to its main regional ally, Hezbollah.

Russia understands Iran’s interests without sharing them, but it also understands Israel’s, and it seeks to strike a balance between the two. Moscow empathizes with Israel’s security concerns about the presence of armed Shiite groups too close to its border, and hopes to use the Russian diaspora in Israel for economic, financial, and technological benefit. But it cannot ignore Iran, a regional power and a neighbor that also offers opportunities in a number of areas, from arms sales to nuclear energy. Thus in Syria Russia will seek to broker a compromise between Iran and Israel based on the legitimate interests of each. Iranian Shiite allies might stay in Syria, but they will have to keep their distance from Israel.

Russia’s interaction with the United States in Syria is largely focused on military deconfliction, which is aimed at preventing incidents between the two countries’ armed forces. Moscow and Washington have also cooperated on the establishment of de-escalation zones, but the Kremlin’s diplomatic coordination with the United States is much less intense under the administration of President Donald Trump than under his predecessor, Barack Obama. In 2015 and 2016, the Russians still entertained the thought of jointly developing and implementing a diplomatic solution with the Americans. But today, thanks to waning interest in and a lack of engagement from Washington, Moscow has teamed up with the Turks and the Iranians instead.

THE LONG ROAD AHEAD

Russia realizes that with the war waning and reconstruction looming, others will begin to step forward in Syria, including China, Europe, and Japan. Moscow will seek to partner with them to secure a piece of the lucrative reconstruction effort, which will be financed by international donors. Russia’s main asset is its influence in Damascus, where it remains the prime guarantor of the Assad regime’s security. This influence may wane over time as direct threats to Assad become less relevant. But for now, with the situation in Syria likely to remain precarious for years, Russia is set to be a major player in the country for the foreseeable future.

Moscow, moreover, means to secure its own core interests in Syria, whatever the balance of political power in the country. Among these is a permanent air and naval presence in the country. Under the lease agreements signed in 2015 and 2016 with Damascus, both the Khmeimim air force base and the Tartus naval facility, which is being upgraded to a regular naval base, will stay in place for decades after the end of the war. The Syrian armed forces will continue to rely on Russian weapons and equipment, and Russian military specialists will continue to advise and train their Syrian colleagues. This will seal Syria’s role as Russia’s main geopolitical and military foothold in the Middle East.

Bringing peace to Syria will be no less difficult than winning a war there. Russia faces another uphill task, one where its assets are less compelling, and where its competitors have more resources, and its situational allies—in Damascus, Tehran, and Ankara—will seek to promote their own agendas, which are sometimes at odds with Moscow’s. Succeeding on the diplomatic front will be even harder than winning on the battlefield.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/syria/2017-12-13/putins-plan-syria

http://carnegie.ru/2017/12/13/putin-s-plan-for-syria-pub-75001?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTmpGbE5tVTRaR1l3WlRoaSIsInQiOiI5T1VVXC9jTXJFbXpBSGxTdDFBd25YdXBlRFRzc2I1UkRiSlp6Q3JvK0lpYno3K2FNbWU5SXZCMzM5NVVpbGlidmROQkdzditpWFArSU5aOTNraFwvUXFMa3c1WVBFbFg2SVdnamp2WUN0VXZDTUJ1eTdjSHZQRG5kMDNNYVlqZ1dpIn0%3D

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

  • Will Donbass Live to See the UN Peacekeepers?- Where is a Compromise to be Found?
  • Yemen after Saleh’s Death: Moscow on Standby
  • War of Interests for Peace in Syria – Iran’s Expectations of Syria’s Future
  • Caucasian News

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Research Management and Cooperation

Austrian National Defence Academy

Policy Recommendations to the 16th workshop of the PfP Consortium Study Group "Regional Stability in the South Caucasus" (RSSC) which was convened in Reichenau/Rax, Austria from 9 to 12 November 2017 under the title

”Between Fact and Fakery: Information and Instability in the South Caucasus and Beyond”. (attached)

The recommendations were prepared by Frederic Labarre and George Niculescu, RSSC co-chairs, with input from the Study Group members.

For your convenience, please find the main results and recommendations in the Executive Summary on the first page.

Kindly feel free to forward these Policy Recommendations to all interested parties.

In addition to the policy recommendations, we will prepare a comprehensive edition of the individual contributions to the workshop in the Study Group Information series published by the Austrian National Defence Academy. You can find all RSSC publications under http://www.bmlv.gv.at/wissen-forschung/publikationen/verlag.php?id=22.

Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Glaubenswechsel als „Nagelprobe der Religionsfreiheit“

Deutsche Bischofskonferenz und Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland veröffentlichen „Ökumenischen Bericht zur Religionsfreiheit von Christen weltweit“

Das Menschenrecht auf Religionsfreiheit steht nach wie vor weltweit unter Druck. Christen sind davon besonders betroffen. Darauf haben heute (15. Dezember 2017) in Berlin die Auslandsbischöfin der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Petra Bosse-Huber, und der Vorsitzende der Kommission Weltkirche der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Erzbischof Dr. Ludwig Schick (Bamberg), aufmerksam gemacht. Beide Kirchen haben zum zweiten Mal gemeinsam einen „Ökumenischen Bericht zur Religionsfreiheit von Christen weltweit“ veröffentlicht.

Der Bericht gibt einen Überblick zur globalen Lage des Menschenrechts auf Religionsfreiheit und zeigt, in welchem Maße und auf welche Weise die religiöse Freiheit von Christen in vielen Ländern und Regionen missachtet oder eingeschränkt wird. „Viele leben in Bedrängung und müssen Diskriminierung erfahren. Ihnen, unseren Schwestern und Brüdern im Glauben, gilt die besondere Solidarität der Kirchen in Deutschland. Und ich möchte gleich hinzufügen: Dieses Engagement schließt immer den Einsatz für alle Menschen ein, die um ihres Glaubens willen verfolgt werden. Unser Einsatz für die Christen ist exemplarisch, aber nicht exklusiv“, erklärte Erzbischof Schick. „Menschen müssen praktizieren können und öffentlich zeigen und bekennen dürfen, woran sie glauben und was ihnen heilig ist“, so Bischöfin Petra Bosse-Huber. „In unseren säkularisierten westlichen Gesellschaften können wir uns oft kaum vorstellen, was es bedeutet, wenn Menschen daran gehindert werden, einen Gottesdienst zu besuchen oder mit anderen die Bibel lesen und verstehen zu wollen. Aber genau das ist in anderen Teilen der Welt oft bitterer Alltag von Christen.”

Dem Ökumenischen Bericht zufolge ist die Situation von Christen im Nahen Osten nach wie vor besonders bedrängend. Aufgrund langfristiger Trends und der Auswirkungen der Terrorherrschaft des sogenannten Islamischen Staates droht in einigen Ländern ein Ende der christlichen Präsenz. Auch in Teilen Subsahara-Afrikas, etwa im Norden Nigerias, werden Christen Opfer islamistischer Gewalttäter. Daneben stehen autoritär regierte Länder (z. B. China, Vietnam und Nachfolgestaaten der Sowjetunion), die religiöse Aktivitäten der staatlichen Herrschaft unterstellen wollen und sie deshalb engmaschig überwachen und einschränken. In den zurückliegenden Jahren hat darüber hinaus Repression gegen bestimmte Religionen zur Förderung eines traditionellen religiös-kulturellen Erbes an Bedeutung gewonnen; Myanmar und Indien werden in dem Bericht als Beispiele für diesen „kulturalistischen“ Trend angeführt. Der Ökumenische Bericht richtet die Aufmerksamkeit aber auch auf Europa, wo religiöse Zeichen und Bekenntnisse zunehmend aus dem öffentlichen Bereich (z. B. aus Schulen) verbannt werden.

Schwerpunktthema des von den Kirchen vorgelegten Berichts ist das Recht, den Glauben zu wechseln und einen neuen Glauben anzunehmen. Nach den internationalen Menschenrechtskonventionen handelt es sich dabei um einen integralen Bestandteil der Religionsfreiheit. Der Ökumenische Bericht spricht von einer „Nagelprobe der Religionsfreiheit“. Bischöfin Bosse-Huber betonte die Bedeutung, die diesem Thema beizumessen ist: „In manchen islamisch/islamistisch geprägten Ländern ist jeglicher Glaubenswechsel verboten. Wenn also jemand vom Muslim zum Christ wird, dann kann dies lebensgefährlich werden.“ So könnten sich etwa im Iran Menschen dann nur im Verborgenen zur Kirche bekennen und seien dennoch in höchstem Maße gefährdet. Autor des inhaltlichen Schwerpunkts im Bericht ist Prof. Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, Professor für Menschenrechte und Menschenrechtspolitik an der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg und ehemaliger UN-Sonderberichterstatter für Religions- und Glaubensfreiheit.

Dem Ökumenischen Bericht liegt die Auswertung einer Vielzahl wissenschaftlicher Veröffentlichungen zugrunde. Auf quantitative Einordnungen wird aus methodischen Gründen weitgehend verzichtet. „Für genaue Angaben über die Zahl der weltweit verfolgten Christen ist ein weitaus komplexeres wissenschaftliches Instrumentarium notwendig, als es bislang vorgelegt wurde. Unser ‚Ökumenischer Bericht zur Religionsfreiheit von Christen weltweit‘ legt den Schwerpunkt auf die Erforschung der Ursachen von Bedrängnis und Verfolgung von Christen“, so Erzbischof Schick. Es werden „Strukturen und Kontexte der Verletzung des Menschenrechts auf Religionsfreiheit aufgezeigt, damit kirchliches und politisches Handeln die Lage der Betroffenen verbessern kann“, ergänzte Bischöfin Bosse-Huber.

Die Veröffentlichung des Ökumenischen Berichts ist Teil der breit angelegten Bemühungen beiden großen Kirchen in Deutschland, auf die Situation bedrängter Christen aufmerksam zu machen und die Betroffenen zu unterstützen. Die jährlichen Fürbitten der evangelischen Kirche am zweiten Sonntag der Passionszeit (Reminiszere) sowie der katholische Gebetstag für verfolgte und bedrängte Christen am 26. Dezember (Stephanustag) stellen wichtige Aktivitäten in den Ortsgemeinden dar. Daneben halten die Kirchen regelmäßig die Öffentlichkeit informiert, setzen sich durch direkte Interventionen bei Botschaftern und Regierungen für die notleidenden Glaubensgeschwister ein, unterstützen die unter Druck stehenden Kirchen materiell und suchen das Gespräch mit politisch Verantwortlichen in Deutschland und Europa.

Hinweise:

Die Statements von Bischöfin Bosse-Huber und Erzbischof Schick sind als pdf-Dateien im Anhang sowie unter www.dbk.de verfügbar.

Der „Ökumenische Bericht zur Religionsfreiheit von Christen weltweit“ kann unter www.dbk.de in der Rubrik „Veröffentlichungen“ bestellt oder als pdf-Datei heruntergeladen werden.

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* RAND: U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East and Implications for the Army

Regional instability and conflict have often frustrated U.S. leaders‘ aspirations to pivot away from the burdens of military operations in the Middle East in order to shift resources to other parts of the world. As the U.S. Army looks across the Middle East and North Africa in 2018, it can anticipate and should be prepared for its current involvement there to extend into the future.

There is little prospect that American military actions can resolve fundamental problems in the Middle East beyond the destruction of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL’s) would-be caliphate. However, regional conflicts, plotting by ISIL and al-Qa’ida from safe havens, or U.S. partners embroiling themselves in military operations that turn out to imperil their own security could cause the U.S. president to consider options for intervention. Therefore, it will be crucial for Army leaders to be able to play a leadership role in future deliberations about the role of U.S. military power in the region, and the Army will need to prepare and posture its forces so as to be able to deal with such contingencies when necessary.

This perspective examines threats to U.S. interests in the Middle East and factors associated with success and failure in U.S. military interventions, and offers recommendations for the Army as it prepares for future involvement in the region.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE265.html

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

– The World in 2018 –

  • The dysfunction that will characterize the year has a decade’s worth of momentum behind it. –
Summary

It’s difficult to ignore how dramatically the world has changed since 2008, when the global financial crisis shook the foundations on which the international order was built. The systems that had been in place for a generation have since begun to slowly fall apart. And though they have not yet crumbled entirely, the possibility that they will has forced many countries to imagine a world without them. Some have done so more eagerly than others.

It is little surprise, then, that the past 10 years have been marked by systemic dysfunction, massive shifts in trade processes and radical internal political changes. Change, it seems, has been the one constant. This is the context in which we enter 2018. The dysfunction that will characterize the year has a decade’s worth of momentum behind it. But only in some areas will dysfunction lead to disruption.

One such area is the Middle East. For more than 15 years, Sunni insurgents have been fighting U.S. forces there, and the wars they’ve waged have been the defining trait of the region. That is no longer the case. Now that the Islamic State has been defeated in Iraq and Syria, at least as a “caliphate” with territorial integrity, traditional powers have begun to compete for the space the jihadists have since vacated. Best positioned to win this competition is Iran, which has already begun to change the balance of power in the region.

Europe, meanwhile, is still a mess, struggling as it is with meager economic growth and social unrest. Anti-European Union and anti-immigration parties continue to gain traction in spite of some significant defeats, most notably in France. As these political battles rage on, more important cultural differences will continue to pry nations away from the EU. Poland, in particular, will force policymakers in Brussels to decide what to do with an elected government that chooses not to adhere to EU ideology. Poland and others like it will resist whatever the EU tries to do to bring them to heel.

In China, the appointment of a de facto dictator does not so much solve the country’s problems as it does confirm the threat of their existence. Beijing knows that it needs to fix its financial system, but doing so requires structural reform that will inevitably hurt the economy. Whatever the government does will test the perceived infallibility of President Xi Jinping. Central to its efforts in 2018 will be the One Belt, One Road initiative, which is meant to spur growth, create jobs and bring a semblance of prosperity to the interior as Beijing expands its influence all the way to Europe. (We doubt it will succeed in this regard.) China will continue to creep into the waters to the east, even as it figures out just what to do about North Korea.

In 2017, Russia managed to stave off domestic unrest, thanks in part to some creative fundraising to offset the losses incurred due to low energy prices. In 2018, it will use its strategic reserves to buy even more time – time it desperately needs to try to diversify its economy. It won’t be enough, though, since these kinds of changes take a generation. That won’t stop Russia from acting tough abroad, engaging in activities that are ultimately peripheral to its interests, to inflate its power in the eyes of its people. And it won’t be enough to solve Russia’s economic problems.

These and other trends are detailed in our 2018 annual forecast. Thorough as it is, the document itself might be too large for many of our subscribers’ inboxes. We have attached a PDF of the forecast for your convenience. If you would prefer to read it on our site, you can do so here. ( or attachment)

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/the-world-in-2018/

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President Donald J. Trump Announces New National Security Strategy for a New Era

Less than a year after taking office, President Donald J. Trump has unveiled a new National Security Strategy that sets a positive strategic direction for the United States that will restore America’s advantages in the world and build upon our country’s great strengths.

First and foremost, the National Security Strategy is a reflection of the President’s belief that putting America first is the duty of our government and the foundation for effective U.S. leadership in the world. It builds on the eleven months of Presidential action thus far to renew confidence in America both at home and abroad. The National Security Strategy identifies how the United States will protect its four vital national interests – the “four pillars” of the strategy: Protect the Homeland; Promote American Prosperity; Preserve Peace Through Strength; Advance American Influence. Summary and full text.

Remarksby President Trump on the Administration’s National Security Strategy
December 18, 2017

President Trump’s National Security Strategy
Press Statementby Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State
December 18, 2017

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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

12-15-17 Geopolitical Futures (GPF)_Forecast_The World in 2018.pdf

12-13-17 Dmitri_Trenin_Putin’s Plan for Syria _ Foreign Affairs.pdf

12-2017 U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East and Implications for the Army_RAND_PE265.pdf

12-2017 Between Fact and Fakery_ Information and Instability in the South Caucasus and Beyond_PfP_Policy_Paper_16RSSC_2017 Reichenau_Web.pdf

12-19-17 Ukraine_Donbass-Yemen-Syria-Caucasian News.pdf

12-18-2017 US_National_Security-Strategy-NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905-2.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 15.12.17

Massenbach-Letter. News – Make Water not War –

  • China’s Belt & Road Initiative (B&RI), also known as One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR)
  • George Friedman (GPF): What is Bitcoin?
  • EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement

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

  • Will Donbass Live to See the UN Peacekeepers?
  • The Middle East and a New Round of Escalation of the War in Yemen
  • African Union-European Union Summit: The Security – Development Nexus in a New Way

Massenbach*Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation:Make Water not War

9. Dez. 2017 Wie Israel, die Palästinensischen Gebiete und Jordanien durch Wasser-Energie-Kooperation zueinander finden könnten …

Jordanien nutzt seine 330 Sonnentage und die dünne Besiedlung großer Flächen des Landes zur Produktion von Solar-Energie. Diese wiederum exportiert das Land nach Palästina und Israel für den Betrieb von Meerwasser-Entsalzungsanlagen, denn „wir können so viel Wasser entsalzen, wie wir wollen“, betont Oded Fixler vom israelischen Ministerium für regionale Kooperation. Das aus dem Meer gewonnene Wasser kann dann wiederum nach Jordanien fließen.

Auch die Küste von Gaza könnte sich künftig als Investitionsort für Entsalzungsanlagen anbieten. Die Zeit ist reif, denn „die Kosten sind gewaltig gesunken“ … Die Vorteile für die Menschen in den drei Ländern lägen den Machern der Studie zufolge klar auf der Hand: Das Projekt könnte der Region Energie-und Wassersicherheit für die nächsten Jahrzehnte bieten. Zusätzlich könnte Jordanien sein BIP um drei bis fünf Prozent steigern …

Israel könnte durch den Import der Solarenergie seine Klimaziele erreichen und die Palästinensischen Gebiete würden ihre Abhängigkeit von Israel bei den Wasser- und Energieressourcen reduzieren. Bislang ist die Autonomiebehörde nahezu allein auf Energielieferungen aus Israel angewiesen; maximal fünf Prozent stammten aus Ägypten und Jordanien.

Doch was vielleicht viel schwerer wiegt: Die Zusammenarbeit könnte im Nahen Osten „die Spielregeln verändern“ … Natürlich beinhalte das Vorhaben ein unternehmerisches Risiko, doch das sei „marginal“ … „Untätig sein birgt ein viel schlimmeres Risiko“ …9

www.kas.de/wf/de/33.51012/

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

  • Will Donbass Live to See the UN Peacekeepers?
  • The Middle East and a New Round of Escalation of the War in Yemen
  • African Union-European Union Summit: The Security – Development Nexus in a New Way

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* What Is Bitcoin?

By George Friedman

Dec. 11, 2017 To know how it will affect the economy, we need to be able to define it

Bitcoin has transformed from an idea that some treated with great enthusiasm to an asset of strikingly growing value. It is digital currency, of which there are many others, and its price has soared in recent weeks. I will admit to not understanding what bitcoins are in principle, to the extent that I have not even been able to define my own questions. But now that I have developed some basic level of understanding, my core question is this: Is bitcoin a currency designed to facilitate commerce, or is it a commodity that has intrinsic value, which rises and falls according to supply and demand?

  • A currency can be treated as a commodity, being bought and sold to take advantage of fluctuations in its value relative to other currencies and assets. But its primary purpose is to facilitate exchange within and between societies. The alternative exchange mechanism is bartering, in which the price of a pair of shoes is defined relative to myriad other unique items, from corn to books and beyond. The problem with this is that without a common currency that provides a common and understandable valuation of each item, the process of trade, from investment to purchasing food, slows with major consequences for the economy.
  • Alternatively, a currency arises with an exchange value separate from its use value. One example is gold, whose use value is somewhat limited, while its exchange value has been much higher, providing a stable basis for commerce.

Relative stability in the price of the currency is essential. If it fluctuates wildly and consistently, then it becomes a less efficient pricing mechanism for exchange. Prices always swing up and down, but their fluctuation cannot be so great that buyers and sellers hesitate to set prices for goods and services denominated in that currency, as the currency is no longer a reliable store of value. Currencies have on occasion plunged in value, causing economic paralysis and political chaos. They rarely soar in value overnight.

There are many who argue that the contemporary currencies, not backed by a fixed amount of gold, are not stores of value. But currencies are backed by the degree to which owning the currency enables you to enter the market of the nation that issues that currency and purchase goods and services at will. It is guaranteed by the fact that its price is sufficiently stable, moving by a few percentage points relative to other currencies, and by the fact that the U.S. dollar can be turned into any item in the American economy at will and transported out of the country. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency in part because the U.S. constitutes about a quarter of the world’s economy. The dollar therefore provides access to the largest market of goods and services that have use value, and therefore exchange value.

Bitcoin has not behaved anything like a currency. The recent surge in its value creates massive uncertainties. For example, should traders postpone sales of goods and services sold through bitcoin because they might receive a higher price for the same number of bitcoins tomorrow? Should buyers put off purchases to wait for the value of bitcoin to decline? Are bitcoins, like traditional currencies, divisible into smaller denominations to allow for variations in prices? These are questions that a healthy currency doesn’t pose to its users. There are fluctuations in value but ideally not to the point that all purchases become gambles.

Bitcoin has been behaving more like a commodity. Commodity values can surge – although usually not like this – and while commodities can be bartered, in general they are not used as currencies. If it is indeed a commodity, the next question to be asked is: What commodity is it? A commodity is an object with use value. That use value creates an exchange value, which is modified by market expectations. Bitcoin’s value is determined entirely by market expectations. The dollar’s value is stated relative to goods and to other currencies. Bitcoin’s value is defined only relative to the dollar. But the key is that bitcoin as a commodity has only an exchange value. It represents no underlying object with use value.

Obviously, any object can have value if others are willing to purchase it. Some purchases may be made in bitcoins, but given the hourly fluctuation in its value relative to the dollar, it might not be prudent. It is very difficult to use bitcoin as a currency, since the price of goods valued in bitcoin is currently rising dramatically. It is precisely that dramatic rise that holds open the possibility of a decline. Many seem to have made fortunes in bitcoin. They will soon start taking their profits, to be stored in dollars or real estate. And the problem with bitcoin, unlike real estate or tungsten, is that it has no intrinsic value beyond people’s confidence, and confidence is the most volatile of things.

Commodity markets are now preparing to trade in bitcoin futures. Brokers will allow bets on anything because they are bookies and take a cut of every transaction, whether the value of the thing being traded rises or falls. Brokers create markets, and the market they are creating is for a commodity that exists only as digital code. Its value, like that of the dollar, is its ability to use bitcoins to purchase things. That depends, in the U.S. at least, on the willingness of owners of things to accept bitcoins. And that depends on bitcoin’s stability.

It is neither fish nor fowl, and its advocates argue that that’s its virtue. I have trouble seeing the virtue, but it may be there. But both pricing it as a commodity when no commodity exists and trying to make it behave as a currency seem problematic. The problem is not that it is not issued by the government, nor that it is unregulated. The problem is that it is hard to see what it is.

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*Water costs in Australia to double within 20 years

8 December 2017 Australians can expect to pay double for their water supply within 20 years unless there are big reforms, a report from Infrastructure Australia says. It says a lack of investment in ageing infrastructure, population growth in urban centres and climate change will play a part in pushing up prices … The independent statutory body has recommended privatisation of state-owned water utilities, regulatory reform and more efficient use of infrastructure to keep bills lower. However, privatisation would be unlikely to have public support and economists have shed doubt on whether it will result in lower bills … the report failed to discuss the partial privatisation of water utilities undertaken in South Australia, which had “generally unsatisfactory results” and that water privatisation in the UK, which the report held up as a successful model, had in fact been an expensive failure.

“Recent research suggests that water privatisation there has raised costs and that renationalisation is the best option.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/08/water-costs-in-australia-to-double-within-20-years-report-claims

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Idsa

The Brexit-Belt and Road Axis: India for Neighbourhood First

November 2017 (24 Oct 2017) China’s Belt & Road Initiative (B&RI), also known as One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR), depends for its success on a tacit alliance with Britain and the financial acumen of the City of London. The London-Beijing axis has likely gathered momentum with Britain’s decision to quit the European Union (EU) in June 2016 and Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, to begin the divorce process. With President Donald Trump prioritising economic revival (‘America First’), reluctant to bear the cost of European security (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), and cancelling the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade pact conceived to blunt Chinese domination—new economic and political alignments are taking shape globally. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pointedly stated that Europe must chart a course independent of the United States and the United Kingdom. The Brexit negotiations and unexpected results of the June 2017 snap polls would take London closer to the Chinese yuan and Islamic finance … developments could deepen the mutual dependence between Beijing and London, as Beijing seeks professional services to raise finances for its ambitious B&RI projects and London seeks to deepen ties with rising economies like China and India. An unstated goal of the B&RI is internationalisation of the renminbi (Chinese yuan) as an international reserve currency, which China has craved since 2009, to reduce the international monetary system’s over-dependence on the US dollar. London set up the first renminbi offshore bond market outside Asia in 2012. In April 2016, the City of London secured rights from the Central Bank of China to develop the yuan market. The B&RI could make London the centre for renminbi-denominated bonds to support infrastructure projects … this Essay will mainly focus on the respective plans of China and India for connectivity and infrastructure development outside their borders … The B&RI will encompass over 60 per cent of the world population and over one-third of the global economic output, and will embrace Africa and South America. This will spread China’s strategic influence over the globe and help it to realise its quest for a Sino-centric unipolar Asia through the establishment of an empire of exclusive economic enclaves. Critics note that while China is adding all kinds of infrastructure projects under the Belt & Road banner, it has not yet arranged or contributed the funds … The activities of two China-based international financial institutions, the New Development Bank (NDB) or ‘BRICS Bank’, sponsored by BRICS governments to support infrastructure and development in member countries, and the 57-member Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which aims to promote infrastructure-led development in Asia, could help in the spread of the renminbi … London offers access to a wide range of international investors and international financial institutions; meets international accounting and reporting standards, has credible credit ratings and transparency, and can handle complex project finance instruments. Several institutions in Europe, North America, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific have chosen London as the base for renminbi-denominated bond issuances. Despite ‘Brexit’, London will remain a hub for foreign currency business and a market in which institutional investors and multinational firms will be comfortable raising funds … London needs to develop a secondary market and long-term yield curve for renminbi-denominated bonds, provide political risk insurance for countries partnering China on B&RI projects, and issue uniform standards for ‘green financing’. A secondary market would increase the number of bonds issued and provide trading and liquidity for long-term renminbi-denominated bonds. Barring Hong Kong, London is already the largest market for renminbi-denominated debt, and leads in offshore foreign exchange trading for renminbi … China has created several sovereign equity investment funds to provide equity investment for B&R projects, such as the Silk Road Fund … Beijing has already invested over $50 billion in countries in the OBOR zone since 2013; President Xi envisages trade volumes of $ 2.5 trillion within a decade, which has triggered interest from Europe’s languishing economies … China’s economic and diplomatic expansion through Asia includes nations and waterways that India regards as its natural sphere of influence … New Delhi has warned that countries joining the Silk Road plan would be saddled with an ‘unsustainable debt burden’ for the gigantic infrastructure projects being executed and funded by Chinese companies and banks … Xi Jinping … explained, aimed to ‘connect development strategies of different countries and complement each other’s advantages … China is willing to share its development experience with all the rest of the world, but we will not intervene in other nations’ internal affairs, export our social system and development model, nor force others to accept them’ … Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is interested in the China-Mongolia-Russia corridor and the development of Siberia and the Far East, presented Moscow’s vision for economic development in Eurasia and plans to build the shortest cost-effective and efficient transport routes through Russia for delivery of goods from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Moscow is keen to integrate the B&RI with Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union. The project involves infrastructure development (transport, railways, aviation, ports and airports) through joint efforts … The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the crown jewel of the B&RI … The detailed plan prepared by the China Development Bank promises ‘free and low interest loans to Pakistan’ once the corridor begins to yield income, but urges Pakistan’s federal and local governments to share financing through issue of sovereign guarantee bonds and budget outlays … Away from the limelight, India has been quietly working to create connectivity grids, including energy, and share technology in her neighbourhood … India is uneasy about China’s dogged pursuit of the OBOR, and the influence Beijing might wield through it … In the Indian Ocean region, India has started building infrastructure to enable Mauritius to emerge as a hub for petroleum storage and bunkering … Energy ties are being firmed up with Indonesia, a large source of hydrocarbons … Myanmar has energy sources, but under an old agreement, China takes nearly 80 per cent of its gas … India is trying to become involved in LPG storage and distribution in Myanmar … New Delhi has also firmed up energy ties with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh … Nepal receives adequate power from India … In a unique act of ‘stratospheric diplomacy’, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the South Asia Satellite, a geostationary communications and meteorology satellite (GSAT-9), that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted to countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as part of his Neighbourhood First policyIndia and China are pursuing different paths to trade and energy connectivity and infrastructure development in their chosen spheres of influence. Some of these could run parallel to each other; some could intersect at some stage. The independently conceived Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) that China later added to the Belt & Road Initiative is one such project. The next B&RI summit, slated for 2019, could indicate the actual pace and progress of the most ambitious project of the 21st century.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09700161.2017.1377901

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Fact Sheet: Kunming-Singapore High Speed Rail Network

December 7, 2017

Geopolitical Monitor

The Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor, or China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor (CICPEC), is one of the six major corridors envisioned by China’s One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR). Its goal is to deepen economic links between ASEAN countries in Southeast Asia and China’s relatively underdeveloped southwest region (Yunnan, Guangxi). The plan hopes to do so by facilitating the construction of cross-border rail and road infrastructure projects, streamlining customs procedures, and harmonizing regulations whenever possible. It builds on the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area that came into effect in 2010. OBOR isn’t the only cooperation mechanism in the region; as a relative newcomer, it has slotted in with other initiatives such as the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program and the ASEAN Economic Community of 2015 (an initiative aimed at fostering greater economic integration within ASEAN itself).

This fact sheet will focus on plans to link the region with high-speed rail. The idea is not a new one – European colonial powers dreamed of linking their holdings in the 18th century, and more recently the idea of a Pan-Asian Railway Network has been floated by ASEAN and China throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Only now has the scheme become remotely possible, and even so there are still hurdles to be overcome. Some are economic: securing finance for new infrastructure projects and ensuring that new routes are profitable (along with the overriding question of who pays when they’re not); some are political: ASEAN members have various degrees of concern over ceding regional leadership to China; and some are merely technical: new rail lines must traverse vast tracts of land and navigate mountains, valleys, rivers, etc.

The Pan-Asia Railway Network has been envisioned as three possible routes, with China’s Kunming and Thailand’s Bangkok serving as two central hubs: an eastern route that runs through Vietnam and Cambodia; a western route that runs through Myanmar; and a central route that runs through Laos and Thailand before proceeding southward to Singapore via Malaysia. Of these three possible courses, it’s the central route that has seen the most substantial progress in recent years.

https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/fact-sheet-kunming-singapore-high-speed-rail-network/

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The EU and Japan are about to adopt two (potentially) ground-breaking agreements:an EU-Japan free trade agreement and the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). The SPA, policymakers in both Brussels and Tokyo cheer, will be the ‘big bang’ of bilateral relations upgrading political and security ties from too passive to very active.

In the new issue of the Asia Policy Brief, Axel Berkofsky, Professor at the University of Pavia, Italy, and Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Milan-based Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI), analyses the importance and potential outcomes of the SPA, which has been agreed “in principle” and which both sides hope to finalize by the end of the year. He argues that the adoption of the SPA would send a strong message that Europe and Japan are willing to uphold the universally established norms and values that are increasingly being challenged around the globe. (for more see attachment)

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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

12-12-17 Donbass_Yemen-African-European Summit.pdf

12-12-17 EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA)_Bertelsmann_Asia_Policy_Brief_DA_2017_03_engl.pdf