Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 13.10.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • “Rethinking Europe”- Cardinal Marx announces European Bishops‘ Conference about „Rethinking Europe“ by Pope Francis –
  • GPF: What Russia’s Middle East Strategy Is Really About
  • The Chimera of Franco-German Reform
  • Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017
  • Dominique Villepin: Multilateralism -The Antidote to Uncertainty (Speech at the DOC Rhodes Forum, on 6 October 2017)
  • DOC_Annual Report (zip)
  • Augengeradeaus: Sicherheit in Mali: Schlechte Noten von den UN
  • The dangers of populism

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

  • What Should the Gulf Crises Teach Us?
  • Qatar Сrisis: What’s Next?
  • Alexey Malashenko:The Lessons of Islamic State / Kurdistan / Rosneft
  • Russian–Saudi Relations Entering New Phase
  • Wars in the Name of Islam: What Comes Next?
  • Russia Reduces 204 Nuclear Deployed Warheads between March and September 2017
  • The Euro-Atlantic Security Formula: The Implications of NATO-Russia Relations to the Baltic Sea Region
  • Andrey Kortunov: Hybrid Cooperation: A New Model for Russia-EU Relations
  • Ivan Timofeev: Russia and NATO: A Paradoxical Crisis
  • Think-Tanks Do the Things Diplomats Cannot Do
  • The Price of Peace: The Parameters of a Possible Compromise in Donbass
  • The “Kurdish project” in Syria can be defined by three main characteristics
  • ISIS’ Extra-territorial Countermeasures Against Declining Activity
  • How is Natural Gas Driving Politics in the Middle East?

Massenbach*The Chimera of Franco-German Reform

Oct 4, 2017 In the past month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and French President Emmanuel Macron have both unveiled ambitious visions for Europe’s future.

But both leaders‘ reform agendas will require the buy-in of a German electorate that is moving in the opposite direction … In his State of the Union address, Juncker boldly outlined his ambitious vision for Europe’s future … Macron, in a speech at the Sorbonne, touched on issues ranging from defense and security to eurozone reform and Europe’s political divides … both speeches were clearly intended to frame the political debate now underway in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is trying to form a new coalition government.

Many observers had hoped that Germany’s recent federal election would open a “window of opportunity” for EU-level reforms. But it is now starting to look like that window has already closed …

The fate of any EU agenda – whether Juncker’s or Macron’s – rests with Merkel, who is unlikely to make any significant political moves … leaves the Free Democrats (FDP), who are liberal in a European sense, but also frustrated with the eurozone’s malaise.

Giving voice to German “transfer fatigue”, the FDP is adamantly opposed to any arrangement that transfers German money to underperforming member states … And besides, some deputies in the CDU, and many in its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, are sympathetic to the FDP’s positions. The third likely member in Merkel’s new coalition, the Greens, would hardly be able to counterbalance these internal forces …

To join in Macron’s European project, she [Merkel] would have to assume an entirely new role and expose herself to substantial political risks.

Germany would have to take the initiative: rather than rejecting proposals, it would have to offer its own. Such behavior can hardly be expected from a government that, beholden to the median German voter, plays it safe.

The German political center has been shifting, and it is heading in a different direction than Juncker and Macron. As a result, the eurozone’s institutional design will likely remain incomplete.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/germany-new-government-eu-reforms-by-hans-helmut-kotz-2017-10

**********************************************************************************************************************

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

  • What Should the Gulf Crises Teach Us?
  • Qatar Сrisis: What’s Next?
  • Alexey Malashenko:The Lessons of Islamic State / Kurdistan / Rosneft
  • Russian–Saudi Relations Entering New Phase
  • Wars in the Name of Islam: What Comes Next?
  • Russia Reduces 204 Nuclear Deployed Warheads between March and September 2017
  • The Euro-Atlantic Security Formula: The Implications of NATO-Russia Relations to the Baltic Sea Region
  • Andrey Kortunov: Hybrid Cooperation: A New Model for Russia-EU Relations
  • Ivan Timofeev: Russia and NATO: A Paradoxical Crisis
  • Think-Tanks Do the Things Diplomats Cannot Do
  • The Price of Peace: The Parameters of a Possible Compromise in Donbass
  • The “Kurdish project” in Syria can be defined by three main characteristics
  • ISIS’ Extra-territorial Countermeasures Against Declining Activity
  • How is Natural Gas Driving Politics in the Middle East?
  • See attachment

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Kardinal Marx spricht beim St. Michael-Jahresempfang in Berlin (10 Oct 2017) –

  • Cardinal Marx announces European Bishops‘ Conference about „Rethinking Europe“ by Pope Francis –

„Die Freiheit aushalten“

St. Michael-Jahresempfang in Berlin (v.l.n.r.): Kardinal Reinhard Marx, Vorsitzender der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier und Prälat Dr. Karl Küsten, der Leiter des Katholischen Büros in Berlin. © KNA

Der Vorsitzende der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Kardinal Reinhard Marx, hat dazu aufgerufen, Gesellschaft aktiv zu gestalten und nicht nur nostalgisch in die Vergangenheit zu blicken. Das sagte Kardinal Marx aus Anlass des St. Michael-Jahresempfangs gestern Abend (10. Oktober 2017) in Berlin.

Die Vertreter der Politik forderte er auf, Europas Einigung voranzubringen und die Flüchtlings- und Migrationspolitik weiter auch humanitär auszurichten. Ein Einwanderungsgesetz könne eine Lösung sein, aber nicht nach der Regel, dass man die Schlauesten nach Deutschland hole und die Armen alleine lasse.

Mit Blick auf aktuelle politische und gesellschaftliche Fragen erinnerte Kardinal Marx an die Enzyklika Laudato siʼ von Papst Franziskus. Der Appell, das ganze Haus der Schöpfung zu sehen und damit verantwortlich umzugehen, sei auch ein Auftrag an die Politik. „Wir dürfen die möglichen Verlierer der ökologischen Kosten der Globalisierung nicht aus dem Auge verlieren. Das Haus der Schöpfung ist dieser Planet. Für den tragen wir Verantwortung, auch für kommende Generationen.“

http://www.dbk.de/de/presse/details/?presseid=3491&cHash=d1cd167542f3acf2adc6c3fd262b4c22

************************************************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* – The dangers of populism –

  • for the energy sector –

by Nick Butler, FT.

Populism is on the march. The shift away from factual, rational analysis was evident in 2016 in the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election.

A new study from the Legatum Institute shows it is still running strong. The focus of the work is on the UK but there are obvious signs – from the German elections to the dangerous situation in Poland and Hungary – that the populist tide is flowing in many places across the developed world. For businesses accustomed to a world based on facts and hard evidence combined with the rule of law this is deeply uncomfortable. For the companies in sectors such as energy which can easily be targeted by populists it is particularly worrying.

The Legatum study identifies a shift in opinion against the open market economy which we have not seen for several decades.

The study demonstrates that the private sector is regarded with contempt and seen as exploitative of both employees and consumers.

The three words most associated with the private sector are selfish, corrupt and greedy. Profit is a dirty word, almost as dirty as the word global. People want controls on top pay and higher corporate taxes.

The desire for nationalisation of water supplies, the railways and energy companies is strong and not limited to those on the left.

Of those surveyed 76 per cent want the railways renationalised; 77 per cent want the state to take over the electricity business. These views come from the political right as well as the traditional left.

Of course the behaviour of some parts of the private sector has created and reinforced these attitudes. Ridiculous pay awards for top management – embarrassing even to the recipients; the systematic minimisation of tax payments by highly successful companies; the abuse of corporate power in negotiations with government over issues such as the contracts for new nuclear are just some of the most obvious recent examples of what has gone wrong.

These examples may be exceptions but they are very easily seen as the norm. The public reaction may be ill informed and misdirected but it cannot be ignored.

If companies fail to understand the problem they risk being overtaken by a wave which populist politicians will happily ride.

The question is what the bulk of companies can do to demonstrate that they are not greedy or exploitative. The energy sector is a reasonable place to start. The sector is full of companies which are large in scale, global, highly profitable (at least in terms of the absolute numbers), very well paid, capital rather than labour intensive, and apparently unaccountable to anyone.

Because the number of companies engaged in any particular activity is small there is an inevitable suspicion of collusion and oligopoly. In short however unfair the caricatures may be, companies operating in the sector are an easy target. Anyone who doubts that should talk to the electricity retailers who are now threatened with a new set of price controls to end “rip off pricing”.

Two initial steps are necessary. First companies have to accept that they are part of society, and that they operate at the pleasure of those they serve. Those who ignore that reality and believe they can simply maximise their own profits at the expense of the wider community are liable to be badly caught out.

Many companies half accept this line of thinking. They set standards of care and behaviour for themselves but in the new climate they will have to go further.

Those who define productivity gains, for instance, simply in terms of cutting jobs will have to begin to take on responsibility for those whose jobs are lost. The development of supply chains and an active engagement in support of the whole community in which they operate is likely to become the new and more substantive definition of the rather tired and empty dialogue around “corporate social responsibility”.

The second step concerns governance. In all the recent cases of corporate failure the missing element has been the role of boards of directors. Ryanair, Bell Pottinger, Volkswagen and all the others have well paid non executive directors but they did nothing to prevent their companies getting into trouble.

The problem is not unique to those companies. In most businesses directors have no contact whatsoever with consumers or employees and in many cases only minimal contact with shareholders. The traditional governance system is broken. To restore trust and to counter the wave of populism something better is necessary.

In the energy business boards should include genuinely independent members who understand the context in which companies are operating and the impact of their decisions.

Some companies have applied this approach – creating independent groups of local citizens and specialists to advise on operations in particularly sensitive areas. That approach should now be extended across the whole span of corporate operations.

Such groups should serve as a source of advice – warning against risks which might not otherwise be noticed, and as a source of support against irrational attacks. Many companies I am sure are simply hoping that they can keep quiet, try to avoid mistakes and visibility, and hunker down until the tide of populism passes. That is too complacent.

Populism is very dangerous and requires a systematic organised response.

https://www.ft.com/content/da60d054-454e-3a1e-828c-8c8f9965dc6b

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

Barandat* Augengeradeaus: Sicherheit in Mali: Schlechte Noten von den UN

Die Vereinten Nationen beklagen einen Verfall der Sicherheit in Mali, Einsatzort ihres größten Blauhelm-Einsatzes, an dem auch die Bundeswehr beteiligt ist. In einem Bericht für den UN-Sicherheitsrat von Ende September, der inzwischen auf der Webseite der Vereinten Nationen veröffentlicht wurde, wird vor allem der Norden des westafrikanischen Landes als Problembereich genannt, in dem die Umsetzung des Friedensabkommens mit verschiedenen bewaffneten Gruppen von Rückschlägen geprägt sei. Die UN-Mission MINUSMA werde wie die malischen Streitkräfte zunehmend Ziel von Anschlägen – und unter der verschlechterten Sicherheitslage leide vor allem die Zivilbevölkerung.

Auszüge aus dem Sicherheits-Kapitel des Berichts:

The security situation significantly deteriorated. Since mid-July, the situation in Kidal has worsened, with armed clashes between CMA and the Platform as both groups vied for control of Kidal. Meanwhile, asymmetric attacks continued against MINUSMA and international forces, notably in the Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu regions. Attacks against the Malian defence and security forces almost doubled as compared with the previous reporting period.

Violence spiked even more during the reporting period. Violent extremist groups and terrorist elements conducted 75 attacks (44 against Malian defence and security forces, 21 against MINUSMA and 10 against Barkhane), as compared with 37 attacks in the previous reporting period (23 against Malian defence and security forces, 11 against MINUSMA and 3 against Barkhane). These figures represent an increase of 102.7 per cent for all attacks. Casualty figures also increased, with 15 MINUSMA and MINUSMA-related personnel deaths (6 peacekeepers, 1 civilian personnel member and 8 contractors), another 34 injured (25 peacekeepers, 2 civilian personnel and 7 contractors). In the previous reporting period, four peacekeepers were killed and five injured. Similarly, 39 members of the Malian defence and security forces were killed and another 44 were wounded, compared with 33 killed and 54 injured in the previous reporting period. As regards international forces, no French soldiers were killed, while 17 were injured, compared with 2 injured during the previous reporting period.

Most asymmetric attacks were claimed by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims. Meanwhile, the violent extremist splinter group, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, which is currently operating in the Mali-Niger border area, seemed to be exploiting existing inter-community tensions.

On 1 June, a mortar attack against the bases of MINUSMA and the French armed forces in Timbuktu city, resulted in the death of one peacekeeper and the wounding of three Malian and eight French peacekeepers, as well as damage inside the camp. The attack was the fourth such attack in Timbuktu in four weeks. On 8 June, assailants launched 15 mortar shells at the MINUSMA camp in Kidal town, and killed four and wounded five peacekeepers in an attack on a Mission position in the city. On 18 June, 5 people died and 10 were wounded in an attack on a hotel near Bamako. On 14 August, armed assailants attacked a MINUSMA camp in Douentza, Mopti region. One peacekeeper and one member of the Malian armed forces were killed, while another peacekeeper was injured. On the same day, unidentified armed men attacked the MINUSMA headquarters in Timbuktu city. Four assailants infiltrated the compound, before being killed. Five security guards, one national contractor and one Malian gendarme died in the attack, and another six MINUSMA peacekeepers were wounded. (…)

The deteriorating security situation in Mali further negatively impacted the dire humanitarian situation. Given the limited presence of State authority and the lack of sustainable development gains in central and northern Mali, humanitarian needs persisted.

Der Bericht liefert auch einige Zahlen für die Statistik. Aussagen zu Personal und Fähigkeiten:

The force level of 13,289 military personnel comprises 40 military observers, 486 staff officers and 12,763 contingent personnel. As at 11 September, 11,273 personnel, or 85 per cent of the authorized strength, had been deployed. Women account for 2.2 per cent of military personnel. (…)

While little progress was made on force generation, important steps were taken in preparation for the deployment of key assets to improve the force’s mobility, intervention and deterrence capabilities. The advance party of the quick reaction force arrived in Mopti on 10 August, while the main body and helicopter detachment are scheduled to deploy later this year. A construction party arrived in Gao in June to begin the camp construction which would accommodate one combat convoy company, with works scheduled to be completed in October.

The deployment of at least two other combat convoy companies is planned for October and December. Progress was made in generating pledges for an explosive ordnance disposal company, a special forces company, airfield support units and armed and military utility helicopter units. The lack of armoured personnel carriers remained a major obstacle to the Mission’s operations; meanwhile some troop-contributing countries made progress in reducing their shortages. MINUSMA continues to require an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance company for Kidal.

Insufficient contingent-owned equipment and the self-sustainment capabilities of some infantry units also remain a concern. The lack of air assets compromised the Mission’s response across its area of responsibility, including in support of its protection of civilians mandate. Only three out of seven helicopter units, or six out of nine attack helicopters and four out of fourteen medium utility helicopters, are deployed or operational. The medium utility helicopter unit deployed to Kidal, which was damaged in the attack of October 2016, was unable to resume operations and is scheduled to be repatriated by the beginning of October. The military fixed-wing air transport unit based in Gao, which was damaged in the attack of November 2016, was unable to resume operations and will be repatriated. MINUSMA has deployed commercial air transport resources to address the support requirements in each location. Regrettably, the Mission lost an attack helicopter and its crew members during a crash on 26 July.

Aus dem letzten Teil ist recht klar erkennbar, was die Vereinten Nationen für ihren Mali-Einsatz für dringend geboten halten: Eine Aufstockung des Personals insgesamt – und mehr Kampfeinheiten, neben den ebenfalls knappen Aufklärungsmitteln. Alle MINUSMA-Truppen, und damit auch die Bundeswehr, dürften sich auf, sagen wir mal eine robustere Situation in Mali einstellen müssen.

http://augengeradeaus.net/2017/10/sicherheit-in-mali-schlechte-noten-von-den-un/

*******************************************************************************************************************

Middle East

What Russia’s Middle East Strategy Is Really About –

Oct. 11, 2017 Moscow’s policy isn’t about becoming a leader in the region but accumulating influence to use closer to home.

By Xander Snyder

A new balance of power is solidifying in Syria. Iran, Turkey and Russia have all played a role in the conflict there – jockeying for position and even agreeing in September to set up zones of control. But Russia in particular has deftly managed the game up to this point, and it is emerging from the Syrian civil war with a strong hand.

Ultimately, Russia’s goal is to parlay its position in the Middle East into advantages in areas that matter more to Moscow. To some degree, it has achieved this, but it’s still unclear whether its strategy will be successful enough to score Russia an advantage in the area it cares about the most: Ukraine.

Russia intervened in Syria for two reasons: to gain enough clout in the region that the U.S. would offer some concessions in negotiations elsewhere in exchange for cooperation in Syria, and to show its public that Russia is still a strong power.

Russia’s support for Bashar Assad was instrumental in preventing the regime’s demise. Now, the Islamic State is in retreat, and some version of the Syrian regime, led by Assad, will remain in power. Russia’s role in this outcome gives the Kremlin influence with the Assad regime. The regime’s biggest challenge now is eliminating what remains of the Sunni insurgency, including groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which took control of much of Idlib province from the Turkish proxy Ahrar al-Sham in July.


Turkish soldiers stand during a demonstration in support of the Turkish army’s Idlib operation near the Turkey-Syria border on Oct. 10, 2017.

Over the past week, we’ve seen two seemingly anomalous events that are part of a strategy to eliminate the Sunni insurgency.

First, King Salman of Saudi Arabia visited Moscow and signed multibillion-dollar energy deals with Russia that will involve both Russian investment in Saudi Arabia and Saudi investment in Russia. Then, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham – a group that the Saudis have been accused of backing and that, as of a few months ago, was an enemy of one of Turkey’s proxy groups – reportedly escorted Turkish officers into Idlib as Turkish reconnaissance forces surveyed the territory in preparation for a greater deployment of forces.

Both these events indicate that the Saudis may be willing to work with Russia in Syria by applying pressure on radical Sunni insurgent groups. In exchange, the Saudis will get some much-needed financial help in the form of investment deals. They will also get reassurance that Iranian influence in Syria will be limited. Turkey’s deployment in Idlib is one way of achieving this.

Russia needed to isolate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib so that Turkey could establish control of the territory as part of the de-escalation agreement that Russia, Turkey and Iran reached in September. Idlib, which is close to the Turkish border as well as Aleppo and Latakia – two key provinces for the Syrian government – is not the only territory still held by rebels, but it is the last major rebel bastion. Russia is hoping that investment deals like the one it made last week will compel the Saudis to put more pressure on the group. The Saudi regime hasn’t directly funded Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but it has looked the other way as individual Saudis gave it financial support.

Russia is cooperating with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to gain ground in the region in the short term, even though its interests don’t align with these countries’ interests in the long term.

Moscow is, therefore, establishing a balance that lets Russia play one country off the other so that no single power gains too much influence in the region.

Turkey has historically been a potential threat to Russia because Ankara controls the Bosporus, a narrow passage that, if blocked, would obstruct Moscow’s access to the Mediterranean. Iran is less dangerous to Moscow, but Russia still wants to limit Tehran’s influence in the Caucasus and prevent it from gaining too much control in Syria. Russia will thus work with both countries to make sure that they can counterbalance each other. An additional benefit of working with Turkey is that it can help isolate the remaining radical Sunni groups and prevent any interference from Saudi Arabia.

Russia’s strategy in the Middle East is to stay closer to all other players in the region than they are to one another. Russia, however, is pursuing this strategy not because it wants to be a major leader in the Middle East, but because it wants to accumulate as much influence as possible. This would allow it to offer to cooperate with the U.S. in the Middle East in exchange for concessions elsewhere. If the U.S. declines this offer, Russia will have at least made the situation more difficult for the U.S. and kept it bogged down and distracted. Russia’s main priority is Ukraine, and it perceives U.S. involvement there over the past several years as a threat. Moscow hopes that, as long as the U.S. is focused on the Middle East, it will be more willing to budge on the Ukraine issue.

Signs that a short-term alignment is emerging between Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia plays into Russia’s strategy.

All three of these countries have an interest in cooperating to a degree in Syria. Turkey needs to expand into Syria to eliminate radical Sunni insurgent threats on its border, to check Iran’s power in Syria and to keep the Syrian Kurds weak in the north. Iran wants to further limit the threat of Sunni groups in Syria and consolidate its power in Syria and Iraq. And Saudi Arabia has a financial incentive to cooperate, as it needs all the money it can get.

For Russia, however, its main focus is not in the Middle East but in Ukraine. It has so far seen success in one part of its Middle East strategy – gaining influence in an area the U.S. cares deeply about – but it remains to be seen whether this will translate into concessions on Ukraine.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/russias-middle-east-strategy-really/

*********************************************************************************************************************

*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017,

A special dedication to Dominique de Villepin, former PM of France.

About the Forum:

06 October 2017, Rhodes, Greece – DOC Research Institute (“DOC”, or the “Institute”), an independent international think tank headquartered in Berlin, announces that the 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017 “Multipolarity and Dialogue in Regional and Global Developments: Imagining Possible Futures.”
This event, traditionally a centrepiece in the DOC year, brings together leading experts from government, business, and academia to discuss pressing global issues. It runs from 06-07 October 2017.

This year’s Rhodes Forum is pleased to welcome a number of high-profile figures from Africa, including the Honourable Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria 2010-2015, and Dioncounda Traoré, President of Mali 2012-2013. They will be joined on the opening panel by Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister of France 2005-2007, Natalia Kaspersky, head of the InfoWatch Group of companies, and by Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development, Oxford University, former Vice President of the World Bank.
First convened in 2003, the Rhodes Forum brings together concerned members of the international political, business, civil society and academic communities in a spirit of dialogue and inclusivity. Every year, hundreds of participants from more than 70 countries explore the major challenges facing the world and seek concrete, applicable solutions rooted in shared values of equality, mutual respect and compassion.
Taking as its theme “Multipolarity and Dialogue in Regional and Global Developments: Imagining Possible Futures”, this year’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum also hosts two focal events: a Summit on Globalisation, Dialogue, and the Future of Democracy; and a Summit on Global Infrastructure Development Scenarios.

Panel discussions on the first day include the ‘Impact of New Technologies and Digitalisation on Society’, ‘Social Mobility and Migration: Through the Prism of Values and Cultures’, and ‘Never Again: Demands for a New Global Security Architecture’.
On the second day, discussions will include a session on ‘Alternative Economic Models – Curbing Inequality’, and the focus on migration will continue in the form of a practice-based discussion ‘Europe’s Refugee Crisis: Crisis Response from Rhetoric to Reality’.—-

Mr. Dioncounda Traoré, President of Mali 2012-2013

Le terrorisme au Mali: une affaire de tous

L’ancien président du Mali Dioncounda Traoré a prononcé ce discours au Forum de Rhodes le 6 octobre 2017

« …. Mais les djihadistes, maîtres du nord du Mali et fort de leurs conquêtes faciles ne tardèrent pas à décider d’occuper tout le Mali avant de semer la terreur dans la sous région, en Afrique, en Europe et dans le reste du monde.

Leur cible, c’est la démocratie, c’est la civilisation que nous avons en partage ; la liberté à laquelle nous sommes attachés, l’Etat comme nous le voyons, le respect des droits de l’homme.

Leur projet, n’est pas celui de mettre en relief l’islam des lumières, l’islam d’amour et de solidarité, mais un islam des ténèbres, l’islam « takfiriste » qui est celui de l’égarement contre l’islam « tanwiriste », celui de la rédemption.
L’ambition satanique de ces illuminés qui se tuent en tuant, c’est de détruire nos normes et nos valeurs parce que pour eux l’impasse et l’absurde sont le salut….°

https://doc-research.org/en/le-terrorisme-au-mali-une-affaire-de-tous/

(Comment UvM : Are these politicians part of a solution ? What are German soldiers fighting for? )

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dominique de Villepin, PM France 2005

Multilateralism: the Antidote to Uncertainty

Dominique de Villepin delivered this speech at the DOC Rhodes Forum, on 6 October 2017.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends,

Let me first tell you how pleased I am to be here with you today, and I would like to warmly thank Vladimir Yakunin for his invitation to this edition of the Dialogue of Civilizations’ Rhodes Forum. This forum is a great opportunity to enhance collective thinking on multilateral issues and solutions to the major challenges of our time.

We’ve just heard a strong voice from Africa, a continent that is dear to me because I was born there.

Africa is one of the places in the world where it is indeed possible to imagine a better future, where imagination can make the future better……

We must learn to live in a world of risks.

The mix of globalisation and multipolarity has opened an unprecedented era of uncertainties. Although we might have believed that the end of the Cold War would open an era of global governance, we are actually facing a time of global disorder. Failures of regulations have led to a capitalism of cyclical crises driven by risk and increased competition. Everywhere you look, new bubbles are appearing – real estate, sovereign debt, shadow banking, student loans, etc……

Multilateralism today is the key to managing uncertainty.

The question of our time is how to avoid uncertainty. We must give priority to politics.

In times of escalation, we cannot take the risk of frozen conflicts heating up at any moment. The first tool should be a contact group, like the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is in these small working groups, gathering goodwill and ideas, that peace is most likely to progress. These contexts bring the main actors and influencers to the table, away from the cameras and away from international pressure.

The second tool at our disposal is mediation, a role which is traditionally ascribed to the UN, and a role I believe to be the calling of France, which is able to speak to all. Even though we have seen in Libya and in Syria how extremely difficult, and how unsuccessful, this work can be, mediation remains an indispensable process. That’s why I support the efforts of French mediation carried out by President Macron, who last July gathered the Libyan leaders, Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar.

We must also give priority to regional actors and solutions. In many situations, the involvement of the international community leads to a takeover in terms of responsibility, and to a short-circuiting of regional and local voices. Look at the crises in Afghanistan or Libya, where Western interventions have allowed neighbours and regional actors to remain inactive, or have prevented them from playing a positive role. Look at all the regional powers and peace-brokers asking for more involvement and more influence, as in the case of South Africa. Dialogue and multilateral action cannot only be set up in Paris, Washington, or Berlin.

Regional organisations have a key role to play in bringing about peace. They are the natural players in terms of stabilisation and first response. The involvement of regional structures, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization headquartered in Moscow, or the ECOWAS (Community of West African States), embodies a hopeful and dynamic multilateralism. These arenas of regional integration are more and more eager to take over responsibilities….

In order to deal with systemic regional crises like in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or North Korea, we must build new international security architectures. Such architectures would prevent military escalations by setting regional security milestones, as well enabling cooperation and efficiency in the fight against terrorism, a common danger faced by us all.

Regarding Ukraine, designing a new cooperation and security architecture between Europe and Russia is essential, in accordance with the framework of the Helsinki conference that took place in 1975 and imposed a framework of a stable cohabitation.

As we notice rising tensions in Eastern Europe, evidenced by new large-scale military exercises, we need to think over our relationship with Russia by taking into account Russia’s fears and expectations. This will favour de-escalation rather than fuelling escalation. Today, promoting Ukraine’s neutrality at an equidistance from both Europe and Russia is our only tool if we want to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity and support its rebuilding process.

In the Middle East, we have to defuse an upcoming conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which would cause devastation to the region for decades. Iranian-Saudi rivalry has led to a new crisis in Qatar, which has been ostracised by its Gulf neighbours.

This is why I believe that we could promote a structure inspired by the European ECSC – a Helsinki Conference of the Middle East – gathering Iran and Saudi Arabia around oil and gas interests. The sharing of energy rents would constitute an effective factor of rapprochement, with economic cooperation today being the best shield against war.

As we witness the tragic increase in the volume of North Korean missile launches, it is imperative that we find a peaceful and multilateral way out. The first step would imply endorsement of the Russian-Chinese ‘double freeze’ proposal: a freeze of nuclear and missile testing tracked against a freeze of American and South Korean military exercises.

The second step would be to design a dedicated common security architecture gathering Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea: This would seek an alternative to war with the North Korean regime, which is looking for lasting security guarantees.

We must build peace with new responsible stakeholders. I want to stress here the role of China in organising harmonious coexistence in the future.

China needs a recognition of its new status and its need for national security in a dangerous environment.

It would be unreasonable to provoke escalations in the South China Sea, where the issue should rather be the provision of security guarantees to all parties. It would also be unreasonable to foster economic confrontation with China over investments and trade, when it is possible to build rules in common on foundation of reciprocity.

China has the keys to many regional conflicts in Asia, because of its influence and proximity. This is true with North Korea. This is also true with Myanmar.

China also has the ambition of being a responsible stakeholder for world peace. China is now the primary contributor of troops to the UN. China is now increasingly involved in regional crises like those in the Middle East.

I also want to stress the role of Russia as a crucial actor for world order. We see this with its strong involvement in the Astana process, furthering political solutions in Syria and building on local ceasefires. We also see this with Russia’s role in the east of Europe and in crises situations like North Korea.

The time has come, I believe, for a multilateral shift.

Momentum exists for a renewal of organised multipolarity.Global disorder and unpredictability call for more balance and multilateralism.

As President Macron clarified at the UN, the majority of the issues we face are global in scope. When the weaknesses of the UN are increasingly criticised, this provides momentum for addressing UN reform, especially concerning its Security Council, which, as you know, is strongly supported by France.

International influence is restructuring around regional powers, with a shift from Western to Eastern countries. We can see this with the Astana process in dealing with the Syrian Crisis, but also with initiatives from both Russia and China in reducing pressure on the North Korean issue. This has to be a good news, because we need both more and new responsible stakeholders in the world community.

I believe Europe can become a key player in this multipolar world, and the main protector of the spirit of multilateralism.

Europe has been at the forefront of the fight against climate change, with COP21…

Europe must demonstrate a way of demanding cooperation that always puts progress before sanctions. International relations are not about upholding your own moral self-image; it is about guaranteeing the security of your people. Today, multiple risks are seen at the doors of Europe: in Ukraine, in Turkey, in Syria, and in Libya. This means that Europe simply hasn’t done its job. We need to put politics first again.

We must bet on cooperation through multi-stakeholder projects if we wish to give substance to multipolarity. Such projects are the concrete core of multipolarity. They must gather both public and private actors, and be able to mobilise common will and energies.

The New Silk Road is a promising project led by Chinese authorities in response to the major challenges of global connectivity, inclusiveness, and development.

By financing and building infrastructure from Asia to Europe, but also Africa, this project is likely to develop and stabilise the countries and the regions it will cross. The most important challenge will be creating synergies and shared experience between new tools like the AIIB and old institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.

I am convinced that it is in our interests to enhance common reflection and to enhance participation with this initiative – which is providing a new vision for global development – in order to make it a shared project. That is why I created – alongside high-level former political figures – the International Marco Polo Society, aimed at raising interest in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Within this framework, we could also work towards creating the outlines of a large political, economic, and cultural partnership between Europe and Africa. We are used to seeing Africa as the continent of problems, when I think Africa can become the continent of solutions.

Such a partnership would be an opportunity to overcome a painful colonial past and to unite our efforts in the face of common imperatives: security crises, refugee crises, growth, and environmental challenges. This could also be a way of involving and leveraging the experience of high-profile former African leaders in a constructive project for future generations.

This would imply common financing and development of infrastructure that is dramatically lacking on the other side of the Mediterranean, but also promoting economic diversification as well as intercultural dialogue.

Climate change should be the essential field of multilateralism, as it has become a global security risk. From threatened islands to the shores of our continents, climate change concerns us all and its regulation cannot be the prerogative of a few powers ready to make it a priority. We need everyone’s contribution to this area, and our response to the climate change challenge must be convergent, otherwise it will not be effective.

That is why initiatives like the Paris climate agreement of 2015 must be maintained and enhanced. We must set up strong mechanisms to monitor this agreement and ensure that it will be thoroughly implemented in the coming years.

Dealing with climate change also requires innovative and sustainable financing, such as ‘green bonds’, to direct investment towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

A stable world cannot be ensured without monetary stability. This stability cannot be obtained without fostering better dialogue between the main financial institutions, as well as better cooperation between the three main world currencies: the dollar, the euro, and the yuan. This is why we might envisage the creation of a G3: a new cooperative architecture gathering governments and central banks, dedicated to dealing with crisis situations and to coordinating monetary policies.

We also need a tool to assess risk, which involves a more balanced credit-rating system. This is still dominated by American agencies. Bringing forward the emergence of Asian credit-rating capacity would be a good start towards addressing the challenges of the global economy.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

Responding to the challenges of multipolarity starts with better regulation of everything that pertains to the common goods of mankind, or that deals with human security and sustainability. A joint initiative by a few large countries in order to reflect together on the new multipolarity, on the role of states in achieving global equilibrium and peace, and on the necessary reforms to promote peace in crisis areas, would provide a useful contribution. This would also be a way of reviving the power of dialogue, which is, more than ever before, a global necessity.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

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

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

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

10-06-17 Rhodes_Forum_DOC- Multilateralism_ the Antidote to Uncertainty – Dominique de Villepin.pdf

10-07-17 Le terrorisme au Mali_ une affaire de tous – Dioncounda Traoré.pdf

10-10-17 The Arabian_Persian Gulf Countries.pdf

DOC_Annual_Report.pdf

Advertisements

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 13.10.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • “Rethinking Europe”- Cardinal Marx announces European Bishops‘ Conference about „Rethinking Europe“ by Pope Francis –
  • GPF: What Russia’s Middle East Strategy Is Really About
  • The Chimera of Franco-German Reform
  • Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017
  • Dominique Villepin: Multilateralism -The Antidote to Uncertainty (Speech at the DOC Rhodes Forum, on 6 October 2017)
  • DOC_Annual Report (zip)
  • Augengeradeaus: Sicherheit in Mali: Schlechte Noten von den UN
  • The dangers of populism

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

  • What Should the Gulf Crises Teach Us?
  • Qatar Сrisis: What’s Next?
  • Alexey Malashenko:The Lessons of Islamic State / Kurdistan / Rosneft
  • Russian–Saudi Relations Entering New Phase
  • Wars in the Name of Islam: What Comes Next?
  • Russia Reduces 204 Nuclear Deployed Warheads between March and September 2017
  • The Euro-Atlantic Security Formula: The Implications of NATO-Russia Relations to the Baltic Sea Region
  • Andrey Kortunov: Hybrid Cooperation: A New Model for Russia-EU Relations
  • Ivan Timofeev: Russia and NATO: A Paradoxical Crisis
  • Think-Tanks Do the Things Diplomats Cannot Do
  • The Price of Peace: The Parameters of a Possible Compromise in Donbass
  • The “Kurdish project” in Syria can be defined by three main characteristics
  • ISIS’ Extra-territorial Countermeasures Against Declining Activity
  • How is Natural Gas Driving Politics in the Middle East?

Massenbach*The Chimera of Franco-German Reform

Oct 4, 2017 In the past month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and French President Emmanuel Macron have both unveiled ambitious visions for Europe’s future.

But both leaders‘ reform agendas will require the buy-in of a German electorate that is moving in the opposite direction … In his State of the Union address, Juncker boldly outlined his ambitious vision for Europe’s future … Macron, in a speech at the Sorbonne, touched on issues ranging from defense and security to eurozone reform and Europe’s political divides … both speeches were clearly intended to frame the political debate now underway in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is trying to form a new coalition government.

Many observers had hoped that Germany’s recent federal election would open a “window of opportunity” for EU-level reforms. But it is now starting to look like that window has already closed …

The fate of any EU agenda – whether Juncker’s or Macron’s – rests with Merkel, who is unlikely to make any significant political moves … leaves the Free Democrats (FDP), who are liberal in a European sense, but also frustrated with the eurozone’s malaise.

Giving voice to German “transfer fatigue”, the FDP is adamantly opposed to any arrangement that transfers German money to underperforming member states … And besides, some deputies in the CDU, and many in its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, are sympathetic to the FDP’s positions. The third likely member in Merkel’s new coalition, the Greens, would hardly be able to counterbalance these internal forces …

To join in Macron’s European project, she [Merkel] would have to assume an entirely new role and expose herself to substantial political risks.

Germany would have to take the initiative: rather than rejecting proposals, it would have to offer its own. Such behavior can hardly be expected from a government that, beholden to the median German voter, plays it safe.

The German political center has been shifting, and it is heading in a different direction than Juncker and Macron. As a result, the eurozone’s institutional design will likely remain incomplete.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/germany-new-government-eu-reforms-by-hans-helmut-kotz-2017-10

**********************************************************************************************************************

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

  • What Should the Gulf Crises Teach Us?
  • Qatar Сrisis: What’s Next?
  • Alexey Malashenko:The Lessons of Islamic State / Kurdistan / Rosneft
  • Russian–Saudi Relations Entering New Phase
  • Wars in the Name of Islam: What Comes Next?
  • Russia Reduces 204 Nuclear Deployed Warheads between March and September 2017
  • The Euro-Atlantic Security Formula: The Implications of NATO-Russia Relations to the Baltic Sea Region
  • Andrey Kortunov: Hybrid Cooperation: A New Model for Russia-EU Relations
  • Ivan Timofeev: Russia and NATO: A Paradoxical Crisis
  • Think-Tanks Do the Things Diplomats Cannot Do
  • The Price of Peace: The Parameters of a Possible Compromise in Donbass
  • The “Kurdish project” in Syria can be defined by three main characteristics
  • ISIS’ Extra-territorial Countermeasures Against Declining Activity
  • How is Natural Gas Driving Politics in the Middle East?
  • See attachment

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Kardinal Marx spricht beim St. Michael-Jahresempfang in Berlin (10 Oct 2017) –

  • Cardinal Marx announces European Bishops‘ Conference about „Rethinking Europe“ by Pope Francis –

„Die Freiheit aushalten“

St. Michael-Jahresempfang in Berlin (v.l.n.r.): Kardinal Reinhard Marx, Vorsitzender der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier und Prälat Dr. Karl Küsten, der Leiter des Katholischen Büros in Berlin. © KNA

Der Vorsitzende der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Kardinal Reinhard Marx, hat dazu aufgerufen, Gesellschaft aktiv zu gestalten und nicht nur nostalgisch in die Vergangenheit zu blicken. Das sagte Kardinal Marx aus Anlass des St. Michael-Jahresempfangs gestern Abend (10. Oktober 2017) in Berlin.

Die Vertreter der Politik forderte er auf, Europas Einigung voranzubringen und die Flüchtlings- und Migrationspolitik weiter auch humanitär auszurichten. Ein Einwanderungsgesetz könne eine Lösung sein, aber nicht nach der Regel, dass man die Schlauesten nach Deutschland hole und die Armen alleine lasse.

Mit Blick auf aktuelle politische und gesellschaftliche Fragen erinnerte Kardinal Marx an die Enzyklika Laudato siʼ von Papst Franziskus. Der Appell, das ganze Haus der Schöpfung zu sehen und damit verantwortlich umzugehen, sei auch ein Auftrag an die Politik. „Wir dürfen die möglichen Verlierer der ökologischen Kosten der Globalisierung nicht aus dem Auge verlieren. Das Haus der Schöpfung ist dieser Planet. Für den tragen wir Verantwortung, auch für kommende Generationen.“

http://www.dbk.de/de/presse/details/?presseid=3491&cHash=d1cd167542f3acf2adc6c3fd262b4c22

************************************************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* – The dangers of populism –

  • for the energy sector –

by Nick Butler, FT.

Populism is on the march. The shift away from factual, rational analysis was evident in 2016 in the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election.

A new study from the Legatum Institute shows it is still running strong. The focus of the work is on the UK but there are obvious signs – from the German elections to the dangerous situation in Poland and Hungary – that the populist tide is flowing in many places across the developed world. For businesses accustomed to a world based on facts and hard evidence combined with the rule of law this is deeply uncomfortable. For the companies in sectors such as energy which can easily be targeted by populists it is particularly worrying.

The Legatum study identifies a shift in opinion against the open market economy which we have not seen for several decades.

The study demonstrates that the private sector is regarded with contempt and seen as exploitative of both employees and consumers.

The three words most associated with the private sector are selfish, corrupt and greedy. Profit is a dirty word, almost as dirty as the word global. People want controls on top pay and higher corporate taxes.

The desire for nationalisation of water supplies, the railways and energy companies is strong and not limited to those on the left.

Of those surveyed 76 per cent want the railways renationalised; 77 per cent want the state to take over the electricity business. These views come from the political right as well as the traditional left.

Of course the behaviour of some parts of the private sector has created and reinforced these attitudes. Ridiculous pay awards for top management – embarrassing even to the recipients; the systematic minimisation of tax payments by highly successful companies; the abuse of corporate power in negotiations with government over issues such as the contracts for new nuclear are just some of the most obvious recent examples of what has gone wrong.

These examples may be exceptions but they are very easily seen as the norm. The public reaction may be ill informed and misdirected but it cannot be ignored.

If companies fail to understand the problem they risk being overtaken by a wave which populist politicians will happily ride.

The question is what the bulk of companies can do to demonstrate that they are not greedy or exploitative. The energy sector is a reasonable place to start. The sector is full of companies which are large in scale, global, highly profitable (at least in terms of the absolute numbers), very well paid, capital rather than labour intensive, and apparently unaccountable to anyone.

Because the number of companies engaged in any particular activity is small there is an inevitable suspicion of collusion and oligopoly. In short however unfair the caricatures may be, companies operating in the sector are an easy target. Anyone who doubts that should talk to the electricity retailers who are now threatened with a new set of price controls to end “rip off pricing”.

Two initial steps are necessary. First companies have to accept that they are part of society, and that they operate at the pleasure of those they serve. Those who ignore that reality and believe they can simply maximise their own profits at the expense of the wider community are liable to be badly caught out.

Many companies half accept this line of thinking. They set standards of care and behaviour for themselves but in the new climate they will have to go further.

Those who define productivity gains, for instance, simply in terms of cutting jobs will have to begin to take on responsibility for those whose jobs are lost. The development of supply chains and an active engagement in support of the whole community in which they operate is likely to become the new and more substantive definition of the rather tired and empty dialogue around “corporate social responsibility”.

The second step concerns governance. In all the recent cases of corporate failure the missing element has been the role of boards of directors. Ryanair, Bell Pottinger, Volkswagen and all the others have well paid non executive directors but they did nothing to prevent their companies getting into trouble.

The problem is not unique to those companies. In most businesses directors have no contact whatsoever with consumers or employees and in many cases only minimal contact with shareholders. The traditional governance system is broken. To restore trust and to counter the wave of populism something better is necessary.

In the energy business boards should include genuinely independent members who understand the context in which companies are operating and the impact of their decisions.

Some companies have applied this approach – creating independent groups of local citizens and specialists to advise on operations in particularly sensitive areas. That approach should now be extended across the whole span of corporate operations.

Such groups should serve as a source of advice – warning against risks which might not otherwise be noticed, and as a source of support against irrational attacks. Many companies I am sure are simply hoping that they can keep quiet, try to avoid mistakes and visibility, and hunker down until the tide of populism passes. That is too complacent.

Populism is very dangerous and requires a systematic organised response.

https://www.ft.com/content/da60d054-454e-3a1e-828c-8c8f9965dc6b

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

Barandat* Augengeradeaus: Sicherheit in Mali: Schlechte Noten von den UN

Die Vereinten Nationen beklagen einen Verfall der Sicherheit in Mali, Einsatzort ihres größten Blauhelm-Einsatzes, an dem auch die Bundeswehr beteiligt ist. In einem Bericht für den UN-Sicherheitsrat von Ende September, der inzwischen auf der Webseite der Vereinten Nationen veröffentlicht wurde, wird vor allem der Norden des westafrikanischen Landes als Problembereich genannt, in dem die Umsetzung des Friedensabkommens mit verschiedenen bewaffneten Gruppen von Rückschlägen geprägt sei. Die UN-Mission MINUSMA werde wie die malischen Streitkräfte zunehmend Ziel von Anschlägen – und unter der verschlechterten Sicherheitslage leide vor allem die Zivilbevölkerung.

Auszüge aus dem Sicherheits-Kapitel des Berichts:

The security situation significantly deteriorated. Since mid-July, the situation in Kidal has worsened, with armed clashes between CMA and the Platform as both groups vied for control of Kidal. Meanwhile, asymmetric attacks continued against MINUSMA and international forces, notably in the Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu regions. Attacks against the Malian defence and security forces almost doubled as compared with the previous reporting period.

Violence spiked even more during the reporting period. Violent extremist groups and terrorist elements conducted 75 attacks (44 against Malian defence and security forces, 21 against MINUSMA and 10 against Barkhane), as compared with 37 attacks in the previous reporting period (23 against Malian defence and security forces, 11 against MINUSMA and 3 against Barkhane). These figures represent an increase of 102.7 per cent for all attacks. Casualty figures also increased, with 15 MINUSMA and MINUSMA-related personnel deaths (6 peacekeepers, 1 civilian personnel member and 8 contractors), another 34 injured (25 peacekeepers, 2 civilian personnel and 7 contractors). In the previous reporting period, four peacekeepers were killed and five injured. Similarly, 39 members of the Malian defence and security forces were killed and another 44 were wounded, compared with 33 killed and 54 injured in the previous reporting period. As regards international forces, no French soldiers were killed, while 17 were injured, compared with 2 injured during the previous reporting period.

Most asymmetric attacks were claimed by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims. Meanwhile, the violent extremist splinter group, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, which is currently operating in the Mali-Niger border area, seemed to be exploiting existing inter-community tensions.

On 1 June, a mortar attack against the bases of MINUSMA and the French armed forces in Timbuktu city, resulted in the death of one peacekeeper and the wounding of three Malian and eight French peacekeepers, as well as damage inside the camp. The attack was the fourth such attack in Timbuktu in four weeks. On 8 June, assailants launched 15 mortar shells at the MINUSMA camp in Kidal town, and killed four and wounded five peacekeepers in an attack on a Mission position in the city. On 18 June, 5 people died and 10 were wounded in an attack on a hotel near Bamako. On 14 August, armed assailants attacked a MINUSMA camp in Douentza, Mopti region. One peacekeeper and one member of the Malian armed forces were killed, while another peacekeeper was injured. On the same day, unidentified armed men attacked the MINUSMA headquarters in Timbuktu city. Four assailants infiltrated the compound, before being killed. Five security guards, one national contractor and one Malian gendarme died in the attack, and another six MINUSMA peacekeepers were wounded. (…)

The deteriorating security situation in Mali further negatively impacted the dire humanitarian situation. Given the limited presence of State authority and the lack of sustainable development gains in central and northern Mali, humanitarian needs persisted.

Der Bericht liefert auch einige Zahlen für die Statistik. Aussagen zu Personal und Fähigkeiten:

The force level of 13,289 military personnel comprises 40 military observers, 486 staff officers and 12,763 contingent personnel. As at 11 September, 11,273 personnel, or 85 per cent of the authorized strength, had been deployed. Women account for 2.2 per cent of military personnel. (…)

While little progress was made on force generation, important steps were taken in preparation for the deployment of key assets to improve the force’s mobility, intervention and deterrence capabilities. The advance party of the quick reaction force arrived in Mopti on 10 August, while the main body and helicopter detachment are scheduled to deploy later this year. A construction party arrived in Gao in June to begin the camp construction which would accommodate one combat convoy company, with works scheduled to be completed in October.

The deployment of at least two other combat convoy companies is planned for October and December. Progress was made in generating pledges for an explosive ordnance disposal company, a special forces company, airfield support units and armed and military utility helicopter units. The lack of armoured personnel carriers remained a major obstacle to the Mission’s operations; meanwhile some troop-contributing countries made progress in reducing their shortages. MINUSMA continues to require an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance company for Kidal.

Insufficient contingent-owned equipment and the self-sustainment capabilities of some infantry units also remain a concern. The lack of air assets compromised the Mission’s response across its area of responsibility, including in support of its protection of civilians mandate. Only three out of seven helicopter units, or six out of nine attack helicopters and four out of fourteen medium utility helicopters, are deployed or operational. The medium utility helicopter unit deployed to Kidal, which was damaged in the attack of October 2016, was unable to resume operations and is scheduled to be repatriated by the beginning of October. The military fixed-wing air transport unit based in Gao, which was damaged in the attack of November 2016, was unable to resume operations and will be repatriated. MINUSMA has deployed commercial air transport resources to address the support requirements in each location. Regrettably, the Mission lost an attack helicopter and its crew members during a crash on 26 July.

Aus dem letzten Teil ist recht klar erkennbar, was die Vereinten Nationen für ihren Mali-Einsatz für dringend geboten halten: Eine Aufstockung des Personals insgesamt – und mehr Kampfeinheiten, neben den ebenfalls knappen Aufklärungsmitteln. Alle MINUSMA-Truppen, und damit auch die Bundeswehr, dürften sich auf, sagen wir mal eine robustere Situation in Mali einstellen müssen.

http://augengeradeaus.net/2017/10/sicherheit-in-mali-schlechte-noten-von-den-un/

*******************************************************************************************************************

Middle East

What Russia’s Middle East Strategy Is Really About –

Oct. 11, 2017 Moscow’s policy isn’t about becoming a leader in the region but accumulating influence to use closer to home.

By Xander Snyder

A new balance of power is solidifying in Syria. Iran, Turkey and Russia have all played a role in the conflict there – jockeying for position and even agreeing in September to set up zones of control. But Russia in particular has deftly managed the game up to this point, and it is emerging from the Syrian civil war with a strong hand.

Ultimately, Russia’s goal is to parlay its position in the Middle East into advantages in areas that matter more to Moscow. To some degree, it has achieved this, but it’s still unclear whether its strategy will be successful enough to score Russia an advantage in the area it cares about the most: Ukraine.

Russia intervened in Syria for two reasons: to gain enough clout in the region that the U.S. would offer some concessions in negotiations elsewhere in exchange for cooperation in Syria, and to show its public that Russia is still a strong power.

Russia’s support for Bashar Assad was instrumental in preventing the regime’s demise. Now, the Islamic State is in retreat, and some version of the Syrian regime, led by Assad, will remain in power. Russia’s role in this outcome gives the Kremlin influence with the Assad regime. The regime’s biggest challenge now is eliminating what remains of the Sunni insurgency, including groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which took control of much of Idlib province from the Turkish proxy Ahrar al-Sham in July.


Turkish soldiers stand during a demonstration in support of the Turkish army’s Idlib operation near the Turkey-Syria border on Oct. 10, 2017.

Over the past week, we’ve seen two seemingly anomalous events that are part of a strategy to eliminate the Sunni insurgency.

First, King Salman of Saudi Arabia visited Moscow and signed multibillion-dollar energy deals with Russia that will involve both Russian investment in Saudi Arabia and Saudi investment in Russia. Then, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham – a group that the Saudis have been accused of backing and that, as of a few months ago, was an enemy of one of Turkey’s proxy groups – reportedly escorted Turkish officers into Idlib as Turkish reconnaissance forces surveyed the territory in preparation for a greater deployment of forces.

Both these events indicate that the Saudis may be willing to work with Russia in Syria by applying pressure on radical Sunni insurgent groups. In exchange, the Saudis will get some much-needed financial help in the form of investment deals. They will also get reassurance that Iranian influence in Syria will be limited. Turkey’s deployment in Idlib is one way of achieving this.

Russia needed to isolate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib so that Turkey could establish control of the territory as part of the de-escalation agreement that Russia, Turkey and Iran reached in September. Idlib, which is close to the Turkish border as well as Aleppo and Latakia – two key provinces for the Syrian government – is not the only territory still held by rebels, but it is the last major rebel bastion. Russia is hoping that investment deals like the one it made last week will compel the Saudis to put more pressure on the group. The Saudi regime hasn’t directly funded Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but it has looked the other way as individual Saudis gave it financial support.

Russia is cooperating with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to gain ground in the region in the short term, even though its interests don’t align with these countries’ interests in the long term.

Moscow is, therefore, establishing a balance that lets Russia play one country off the other so that no single power gains too much influence in the region.

Turkey has historically been a potential threat to Russia because Ankara controls the Bosporus, a narrow passage that, if blocked, would obstruct Moscow’s access to the Mediterranean. Iran is less dangerous to Moscow, but Russia still wants to limit Tehran’s influence in the Caucasus and prevent it from gaining too much control in Syria. Russia will thus work with both countries to make sure that they can counterbalance each other. An additional benefit of working with Turkey is that it can help isolate the remaining radical Sunni groups and prevent any interference from Saudi Arabia.

Russia’s strategy in the Middle East is to stay closer to all other players in the region than they are to one another. Russia, however, is pursuing this strategy not because it wants to be a major leader in the Middle East, but because it wants to accumulate as much influence as possible. This would allow it to offer to cooperate with the U.S. in the Middle East in exchange for concessions elsewhere. If the U.S. declines this offer, Russia will have at least made the situation more difficult for the U.S. and kept it bogged down and distracted. Russia’s main priority is Ukraine, and it perceives U.S. involvement there over the past several years as a threat. Moscow hopes that, as long as the U.S. is focused on the Middle East, it will be more willing to budge on the Ukraine issue.

Signs that a short-term alignment is emerging between Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia plays into Russia’s strategy.

All three of these countries have an interest in cooperating to a degree in Syria. Turkey needs to expand into Syria to eliminate radical Sunni insurgent threats on its border, to check Iran’s power in Syria and to keep the Syrian Kurds weak in the north. Iran wants to further limit the threat of Sunni groups in Syria and consolidate its power in Syria and Iraq. And Saudi Arabia has a financial incentive to cooperate, as it needs all the money it can get.

For Russia, however, its main focus is not in the Middle East but in Ukraine. It has so far seen success in one part of its Middle East strategy – gaining influence in an area the U.S. cares deeply about – but it remains to be seen whether this will translate into concessions on Ukraine.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/russias-middle-east-strategy-really/

*********************************************************************************************************************

*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017,

A special dedication to Dominique de Villepin, former PM of France.

About the Forum:

06 October 2017, Rhodes, Greece – DOC Research Institute (“DOC”, or the “Institute”), an independent international think tank headquartered in Berlin, announces that the 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017 “Multipolarity and Dialogue in Regional and Global Developments: Imagining Possible Futures.”
This event, traditionally a centrepiece in the DOC year, brings together leading experts from government, business, and academia to discuss pressing global issues. It runs from 06-07 October 2017.

This year’s Rhodes Forum is pleased to welcome a number of high-profile figures from Africa, including the Honourable Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria 2010-2015, and Dioncounda Traoré, President of Mali 2012-2013. They will be joined on the opening panel by Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister of France 2005-2007, Natalia Kaspersky, head of the InfoWatch Group of companies, and by Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development, Oxford University, former Vice President of the World Bank.
First convened in 2003, the Rhodes Forum brings together concerned members of the international political, business, civil society and academic communities in a spirit of dialogue and inclusivity. Every year, hundreds of participants from more than 70 countries explore the major challenges facing the world and seek concrete, applicable solutions rooted in shared values of equality, mutual respect and compassion.
Taking as its theme “Multipolarity and Dialogue in Regional and Global Developments: Imagining Possible Futures”, this year’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum also hosts two focal events: a Summit on Globalisation, Dialogue, and the Future of Democracy; and a Summit on Global Infrastructure Development Scenarios.

Panel discussions on the first day include the ‘Impact of New Technologies and Digitalisation on Society’, ‘Social Mobility and Migration: Through the Prism of Values and Cultures’, and ‘Never Again: Demands for a New Global Security Architecture’.
On the second day, discussions will include a session on ‘Alternative Economic Models – Curbing Inequality’, and the focus on migration will continue in the form of a practice-based discussion ‘Europe’s Refugee Crisis: Crisis Response from Rhetoric to Reality’.—-

Mr. Dioncounda Traoré, President of Mali 2012-2013

Le terrorisme au Mali: une affaire de tous

L’ancien président du Mali Dioncounda Traoré a prononcé ce discours au Forum de Rhodes le 6 octobre 2017

« …. Mais les djihadistes, maîtres du nord du Mali et fort de leurs conquêtes faciles ne tardèrent pas à décider d’occuper tout le Mali avant de semer la terreur dans la sous région, en Afrique, en Europe et dans le reste du monde.

Leur cible, c’est la démocratie, c’est la civilisation que nous avons en partage ; la liberté à laquelle nous sommes attachés, l’Etat comme nous le voyons, le respect des droits de l’homme.

Leur projet, n’est pas celui de mettre en relief l’islam des lumières, l’islam d’amour et de solidarité, mais un islam des ténèbres, l’islam « takfiriste » qui est celui de l’égarement contre l’islam « tanwiriste », celui de la rédemption.
L’ambition satanique de ces illuminés qui se tuent en tuant, c’est de détruire nos normes et nos valeurs parce que pour eux l’impasse et l’absurde sont le salut….°

https://doc-research.org/en/le-terrorisme-au-mali-une-affaire-de-tous/

(Comment UvM : Are these politicians part of a solution ? What are German soldiers fighting for? )

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dominique de Villepin, PM France 2005

Multilateralism: the Antidote to Uncertainty

Dominique de Villepin delivered this speech at the DOC Rhodes Forum, on 6 October 2017.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends,

Let me first tell you how pleased I am to be here with you today, and I would like to warmly thank Vladimir Yakunin for his invitation to this edition of the Dialogue of Civilizations’ Rhodes Forum. This forum is a great opportunity to enhance collective thinking on multilateral issues and solutions to the major challenges of our time.

We’ve just heard a strong voice from Africa, a continent that is dear to me because I was born there.

Africa is one of the places in the world where it is indeed possible to imagine a better future, where imagination can make the future better……

We must learn to live in a world of risks.

The mix of globalisation and multipolarity has opened an unprecedented era of uncertainties. Although we might have believed that the end of the Cold War would open an era of global governance, we are actually facing a time of global disorder. Failures of regulations have led to a capitalism of cyclical crises driven by risk and increased competition. Everywhere you look, new bubbles are appearing – real estate, sovereign debt, shadow banking, student loans, etc……

Multilateralism today is the key to managing uncertainty.

The question of our time is how to avoid uncertainty. We must give priority to politics.

In times of escalation, we cannot take the risk of frozen conflicts heating up at any moment. The first tool should be a contact group, like the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is in these small working groups, gathering goodwill and ideas, that peace is most likely to progress. These contexts bring the main actors and influencers to the table, away from the cameras and away from international pressure.

The second tool at our disposal is mediation, a role which is traditionally ascribed to the UN, and a role I believe to be the calling of France, which is able to speak to all. Even though we have seen in Libya and in Syria how extremely difficult, and how unsuccessful, this work can be, mediation remains an indispensable process. That’s why I support the efforts of French mediation carried out by President Macron, who last July gathered the Libyan leaders, Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar.

We must also give priority to regional actors and solutions. In many situations, the involvement of the international community leads to a takeover in terms of responsibility, and to a short-circuiting of regional and local voices. Look at the crises in Afghanistan or Libya, where Western interventions have allowed neighbours and regional actors to remain inactive, or have prevented them from playing a positive role. Look at all the regional powers and peace-brokers asking for more involvement and more influence, as in the case of South Africa. Dialogue and multilateral action cannot only be set up in Paris, Washington, or Berlin.

Regional organisations have a key role to play in bringing about peace. They are the natural players in terms of stabilisation and first response. The involvement of regional structures, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization headquartered in Moscow, or the ECOWAS (Community of West African States), embodies a hopeful and dynamic multilateralism. These arenas of regional integration are more and more eager to take over responsibilities….

In order to deal with systemic regional crises like in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or North Korea, we must build new international security architectures. Such architectures would prevent military escalations by setting regional security milestones, as well enabling cooperation and efficiency in the fight against terrorism, a common danger faced by us all.

Regarding Ukraine, designing a new cooperation and security architecture between Europe and Russia is essential, in accordance with the framework of the Helsinki conference that took place in 1975 and imposed a framework of a stable cohabitation.

As we notice rising tensions in Eastern Europe, evidenced by new large-scale military exercises, we need to think over our relationship with Russia by taking into account Russia’s fears and expectations. This will favour de-escalation rather than fuelling escalation. Today, promoting Ukraine’s neutrality at an equidistance from both Europe and Russia is our only tool if we want to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity and support its rebuilding process.

In the Middle East, we have to defuse an upcoming conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which would cause devastation to the region for decades. Iranian-Saudi rivalry has led to a new crisis in Qatar, which has been ostracised by its Gulf neighbours.

This is why I believe that we could promote a structure inspired by the European ECSC – a Helsinki Conference of the Middle East – gathering Iran and Saudi Arabia around oil and gas interests. The sharing of energy rents would constitute an effective factor of rapprochement, with economic cooperation today being the best shield against war.

As we witness the tragic increase in the volume of North Korean missile launches, it is imperative that we find a peaceful and multilateral way out. The first step would imply endorsement of the Russian-Chinese ‘double freeze’ proposal: a freeze of nuclear and missile testing tracked against a freeze of American and South Korean military exercises.

The second step would be to design a dedicated common security architecture gathering Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea: This would seek an alternative to war with the North Korean regime, which is looking for lasting security guarantees.

We must build peace with new responsible stakeholders. I want to stress here the role of China in organising harmonious coexistence in the future.

China needs a recognition of its new status and its need for national security in a dangerous environment.

It would be unreasonable to provoke escalations in the South China Sea, where the issue should rather be the provision of security guarantees to all parties. It would also be unreasonable to foster economic confrontation with China over investments and trade, when it is possible to build rules in common on foundation of reciprocity.

China has the keys to many regional conflicts in Asia, because of its influence and proximity. This is true with North Korea. This is also true with Myanmar.

China also has the ambition of being a responsible stakeholder for world peace. China is now the primary contributor of troops to the UN. China is now increasingly involved in regional crises like those in the Middle East.

I also want to stress the role of Russia as a crucial actor for world order. We see this with its strong involvement in the Astana process, furthering political solutions in Syria and building on local ceasefires. We also see this with Russia’s role in the east of Europe and in crises situations like North Korea.

The time has come, I believe, for a multilateral shift.

Momentum exists for a renewal of organised multipolarity.Global disorder and unpredictability call for more balance and multilateralism.

As President Macron clarified at the UN, the majority of the issues we face are global in scope. When the weaknesses of the UN are increasingly criticised, this provides momentum for addressing UN reform, especially concerning its Security Council, which, as you know, is strongly supported by France.

International influence is restructuring around regional powers, with a shift from Western to Eastern countries. We can see this with the Astana process in dealing with the Syrian Crisis, but also with initiatives from both Russia and China in reducing pressure on the North Korean issue. This has to be a good news, because we need both more and new responsible stakeholders in the world community.

I believe Europe can become a key player in this multipolar world, and the main protector of the spirit of multilateralism.

Europe has been at the forefront of the fight against climate change, with COP21…

Europe must demonstrate a way of demanding cooperation that always puts progress before sanctions. International relations are not about upholding your own moral self-image; it is about guaranteeing the security of your people. Today, multiple risks are seen at the doors of Europe: in Ukraine, in Turkey, in Syria, and in Libya. This means that Europe simply hasn’t done its job. We need to put politics first again.

We must bet on cooperation through multi-stakeholder projects if we wish to give substance to multipolarity. Such projects are the concrete core of multipolarity. They must gather both public and private actors, and be able to mobilise common will and energies.

The New Silk Road is a promising project led by Chinese authorities in response to the major challenges of global connectivity, inclusiveness, and development.

By financing and building infrastructure from Asia to Europe, but also Africa, this project is likely to develop and stabilise the countries and the regions it will cross. The most important challenge will be creating synergies and shared experience between new tools like the AIIB and old institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.

I am convinced that it is in our interests to enhance common reflection and to enhance participation with this initiative – which is providing a new vision for global development – in order to make it a shared project. That is why I created – alongside high-level former political figures – the International Marco Polo Society, aimed at raising interest in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Within this framework, we could also work towards creating the outlines of a large political, economic, and cultural partnership between Europe and Africa. We are used to seeing Africa as the continent of problems, when I think Africa can become the continent of solutions.

Such a partnership would be an opportunity to overcome a painful colonial past and to unite our efforts in the face of common imperatives: security crises, refugee crises, growth, and environmental challenges. This could also be a way of involving and leveraging the experience of high-profile former African leaders in a constructive project for future generations.

This would imply common financing and development of infrastructure that is dramatically lacking on the other side of the Mediterranean, but also promoting economic diversification as well as intercultural dialogue.

Climate change should be the essential field of multilateralism, as it has become a global security risk. From threatened islands to the shores of our continents, climate change concerns us all and its regulation cannot be the prerogative of a few powers ready to make it a priority. We need everyone’s contribution to this area, and our response to the climate change challenge must be convergent, otherwise it will not be effective.

That is why initiatives like the Paris climate agreement of 2015 must be maintained and enhanced. We must set up strong mechanisms to monitor this agreement and ensure that it will be thoroughly implemented in the coming years.

Dealing with climate change also requires innovative and sustainable financing, such as ‘green bonds’, to direct investment towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

A stable world cannot be ensured without monetary stability. This stability cannot be obtained without fostering better dialogue between the main financial institutions, as well as better cooperation between the three main world currencies: the dollar, the euro, and the yuan. This is why we might envisage the creation of a G3: a new cooperative architecture gathering governments and central banks, dedicated to dealing with crisis situations and to coordinating monetary policies.

We also need a tool to assess risk, which involves a more balanced credit-rating system. This is still dominated by American agencies. Bringing forward the emergence of Asian credit-rating capacity would be a good start towards addressing the challenges of the global economy.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

Responding to the challenges of multipolarity starts with better regulation of everything that pertains to the common goods of mankind, or that deals with human security and sustainability. A joint initiative by a few large countries in order to reflect together on the new multipolarity, on the role of states in achieving global equilibrium and peace, and on the necessary reforms to promote peace in crisis areas, would provide a useful contribution. This would also be a way of reviving the power of dialogue, which is, more than ever before, a global necessity.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

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

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

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

10-06-17 Rhodes_Forum_DOC- Multilateralism_ the Antidote to Uncertainty – Dominique de Villepin.pdf

10-07-17 Le terrorisme au Mali_ une affaire de tous – Dioncounda Traoré.pdf

10-10-17 The Arabian_Persian Gulf Countries.pdf

❣Re: yay! it’s never too late

Greetings,

It’s never too overdue to read some interesting info here message

Thanks for your consideration, President-AGBC-Berlin

From: udo von massenbach-wordpress [mailto:]
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:55 AM
To: mg@ggpartner.de
Subject: Porky the pug.

This is going to be a really unpopular opinon, but honestly if you do yourself a favor and buy one or two defensive items it’s not that bad. Not to mention part of the reason he gets to murder your team with his ult, is because you let the game drag out that long.

If you’re aggressive take objectives, push towers, keep checks on Go-Kong’s free farm, and win team fights, you should have no problem with him snowballing.

So craft a Golden Protector with Health + power (Seriously everyone should have a Golden Protector Of Focus with Health Crystal + Power Shard) and laugh as his illusions to pitiful damage to you, and his autos + Q do a lot less.

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

wow! take a glance at that

Hello friend,

Take a look at what I’ve just found! It’s fantastic! Take a look http://www.alshaibany.com/pop.php?UE93aWRlMDU2YmVsdUBwb3N0LndvcmRwcmVzcy5jb20-

Regards, President-AGBC-Berlin

Reproduction is prohibited other than in accordance with the copyright notice, which forms part of these terms and conditions. All trade marks reproduced in this website which are not the property of, or licensed to, the operator are acknowledged on the website. Unauthorised use of this website may give rise to a claim for damages and/or be a criminal offence.

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 06.10.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

**********************************************************************************************************************

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

Carnegie Moscow Center:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared in Russian in Vedomosti.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What you should know:

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

www.willy-brandt-biografie.de

www.willy-brandt-biografi.com

www.willy-brandt-biograpy.com

************************************************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

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

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

http://de.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/10/03/%E2%80%9Echina_will_den_graubereich_der_religion_ausschalten%E2%80%9C/1339120

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

Barandat*Augengeradeaus:Lesestoff: Chinas Basis in Djibouti

https://i1.wp.com/augengeradeaus.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/20140922_EUNAVFOR_China_PLNA.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://augengeradeaus.net/2017/09/lesestoff-chinas-basis-in-djibouti/

*******************************************************************************************************************

Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zusatzfrage : In welchen Bereichen hapert es denn?

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

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

http://augengeradeaus.net/2017/09/abzug-aus-incirlik-komplett-tornados-sollen-naechste-woche-aus-jordanien-starten/

*********************************************************************************************************************

*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Chinese-North Korean Relations: Drawing the Right Historical Lessons

By: James Person – September 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 29.9.17 – corr.

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Wall Street Journal: German Results Reflect European Unease Over Identity, Economy.
  • What Merkel’s Election Win Means for Germany – Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

    Bloomberg
  • Shapiro-Valdai: RUSSIA–US RELATIONS AND THE FUTURE OF SYRIA
  • Buchempfehlung – Recommendation: “KRIEG UND CHAOS IN NAHOST: EINE ARABISCHE SICHTvon Aktham Suliman
  • GPF: Syria’s Shattered Future
  • Chatham House: Examining How the South Caucasus Is Responding to Trump
  • President Donald Trump is tearing down a central pillar of his administration’s infrastructure plan.

Massenbach-Letter-NEWS (blog): ( )

Massenbach* Wall Street Journal: German Results Reflect European Unease Over Identity, Economy.

  • Rise of Alternative for Germany party comes at cost to Germany’s long-established parties –

Sept. 24, 2017 5:35 p.m. ET

BERLIN—Germany’s election result confirms the overriding trend of European politics in the past year: the crumbling of the Continent’s established parties in the face of voter anxiety over economics and identity.

Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats were projected to come in first Sunday with around 33% of the vote, their lowest share of the post-World War II era. The center-left Social Democrats were projected to win just under 21%, their worst result since the prewar era. Germany’s two long-dominant parties, which have governed together in a “grand coalition” since 2013, lost support to an array of opposition groups including the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany.

The fragmented vote mirrors this year’s elections in other Continental European countries including France and the Netherlands. Established parties have suffered steep losses, especially on the center left, and voters have turned to upstarts on the nationalist right, the anticapitalist left or the liberal center.

The upheavals partly reflect the fallout of a decade marked by economic, security and immigration crises that have tested the cohesion of the European Union. The future direction of the EU and its major nations is now up for grabs in a fluid contest between internationalists and nationalists, incumbents and insurgents.

The outcome makes it likely that Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, will become more difficult to govern. Long and difficult negotiations are now expected between Ms. Merkel, the left-leaning Greens, and the pro-business Free Democrats. An unwieldy coalition may struggle to agree on the major challenges facing the European Union’s most populous nation, from immigration to its scandal-hit auto industry to how to stabilize the euro currency zone.

Ms. Merkel has governed for 12 years as a pragmatic centrist. She is likely to come under pressure from many in her conservative party to shift to the right, to address concerns about immigration and security that helped drive support for the Alternative for Germany, known by its German initials AfD.

Conservative leaders elsewhere in Europe, including the Netherlands, Austria and the U.K., have adopted tougher policies and rhetoric on immigration to fend off populist challengers to their right. Ms. Merkel didn’t do that during the German election campaign, and she conceded Sunday night that she had paid a price. “We didn’t manage to fully assuage the concerns that people have” about illegal immigration and the security of external borders, she said in a post-election televised debate with other German party leaders.

The AfD, which won close to 13% nationwide, thrived particularly in Germany’s economically disadvantaged east, where it was the most popular party among male voters. “That’s consistent with a broader trend of radical-right parties connecting with those groups in many countries,” says Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent, U.K.

The election showed that Germany is becoming more like other European countries, where nationalist, antiestablishment parties are often significantly stronger than the AfD.

For decades, Germany’s taboos against nationalist rhetoric have kept far-right parties out of the national parliament. Support for the AfD rose during the campaign despite its controversial views on history. Leading candidate Alexander Gauland said Germans “have the right to be proud of the achievements of German soldiers in two world wars.”

Related

· Merkel Wins but Loses Ground

· Vote Puts Merkel in a Tough Spot

· German Nationalists Gain a New Voice

· Recap: German Election

· See the Latest Results

The party’s program calls for less guilt about Germany’s past, including toning down Germany’s focus on remembering the Holocaust, a position that drew condemnation from Jewish groups. “The election result is a sign that old social norms against perceived extremism in Germany are weakening,” said Mr. Goodwin.

Most AfD voters appear to have backed the party as a reaction against what is widely viewed as stifling consensus of the grand coalition. Only 31% of AfD voters backed the party out of “conviction,” while 60% voted for it out of “disappointment” with other parties, according to an exit poll for state broadcaster ARD.

The AfD reached a peak of around 15% support in opinion polls last year, boosted by the migration crisis of 2015-16 in which around a million refugees and other migrants from the Middle East and South Asia came to Germany. But the party’s support fell to around 8% this year as the migration crisis faded. The AfD’s popularity rose again during recent weeks’ election campaign, however, in part a reflection of the lack of apparent disagreement between established parties.

The Social Democrats’ failed candidate for chancellor, Martin Schulz, denounced Ms. Merkel on state TV for erasing all policy differences between them. The consensus-seeking chancellor’s “systematic refusal of politics” alienated voters and boosted the AfD, Mr. Schulz said. Ms. Merkel denied the charge.

Rising support for fringe parties was widely predicted in Germany four years ago after Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats formed their second grand coalition with the Social Democrats. That bipartisan government, critics warned, would give voters who strongly oppose Ms. Merkel nowhere to turn to but the extremes.

Ms. Merkel remains personally popular with about two-thirds of German voters, even though her party’s share of the vote declined. She has no clear successor. That suggests that the Christian Democrats, one of the parties that has shaped modern Europe, may suffer further erosion after her fourth and what is expected to be her final term.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-results-reflect-european-unease-over-identity-economy-1506288918?shareToken=st114dc1fb018a46d3b159c748e59796fb

**********************************************************************************************************************

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

  • Turkey and Germany: Souring Relations between Strategic Allies
  • How China and India Can Keep the Peace in Ukraine
  • Integrating Migrants in the Interests of Security and Development
  • What Awaits Syria?
  • Is Iraq’s Kurdistan Facing Economic Isolation Post-Independence Referendum?
  • How Is Iran’s Rouhani Government Trying to Strengthen the Nuclear Deal?

************************************************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* What Merkel’s Election Win Means for Germany – Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

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

Barandat*President Donald Trump is tearing down a central pillar of his administration’s infrastructure plan.

The president told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that he doesn’t favor public-private partnerships to finance public works, the WSJ’s Ted Mann and Siobhan Hughes report, throwing talks over new federal spending on highways, ports and other infrastructure into a new light. One lawmaker says the president pointed to one signature example of private investment, the Indiana toll road, as an example of a failed public-private partnership. Lawmakers say Trump told them he believes such partnerships are “more trouble than they’re worth.” The administration has been pressing such investment as a way to leverage federal spending—and to help turn management of infrastructure over to states and private companies. Mr. Trump’s new view may upend the administration’s strategy, but it also may make it easier to strike a deal with congressional Democrats who are leery of privatization.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-trump-calls-public-private-infrastructure-partnerships-more-trouble-than-theyre-worth-1506471610?mod=djemlogistics

General Electric Co.’s efforts to take its locomotive production local may be running off the rails.

GE is in danger of losing a $2.5 billion deal to sell diesel locomotives to Indian Railways, one of its company’s largest industrial contracts ever and a linchpin of GE’s hopes to win business in far-flung markets by investing heavily in local operations. The WSJ’s Thomas Gryta, Ted Mann and Rajesh Roy report the jolt to the contract, and GE’s broader strategy of localized manufacturing, follows a political shake-up in India that brought in a new railways minister who apparently decided to have the railroad turn entirely to electric locomotives. Executives at GE have met with the minister to try to keep the deal together. Terminating the deal would be a bitter result for GE, which has already started building a factory 600 miles from Delhi. It also signals the hurdles for India as officials talk about improving dilapidated infrastructure in a country where changing political winds can derail progress.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-india-a-big-ge-deal-goes-off-the-rails-1506378906?mod=djemlogistics

*******************************************************************************************************************

Middle East

Chatham House: Examining How the South Caucasus Is Responding to Trump

Armenia

Anahit Shirinyan

As the world tries to decipher what Trump presidency means for the global world order and security in Europe, the same questions are asked in Armenia. The US continues not to have a clear-cut policy towards the South Caucasus, and Trump’s tenure is unlikely to change this. Instead, Washington’s relations with Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku are likely to remain an undertone to the larger dynamics of US relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as developments in the Middle East. In this context, some potential pitfalls might affect the overall geopolitical environment in which Armenia operates with implications for Armenian foreign policy.

Neighbourhood collisions

While in theory Yerevan would benefit from improved Washington-Moscow ties, this argument does not hold if that improvement were a result of a transaction where Russia’s power projection in its ‘near abroad’ limits the sovereignty of the post-Soviet states. Conversely, further deterioration of US-Russia (and Western-Russia) relations would continue to constrain the manoeuvring space for Armenia’s foreign policy. As Russia’s economy declines as a result of sanctions, the oil price and a failure to reform, Armenia’s economic performance will slide with it……

Azerbaijan

Zaur Shiriyev

Despite the Azerbaijani elites’ preference for Hillary Clinton due to her first-hand experience in the South Caucasus region, the Azerbaijani government was not overly worried by a Republican win. US–Azerbaijan relations had been more prosperous under the Bush administration, and it was perceived that Republicans had a better understanding of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict because Washington re-energized the resolution process. The main question mark over Trump was his anti-Muslim rhetoric, and the unpredictability of his approach towards Iran, Russia and the other post-Soviet countries.

Baku’s attitude towards the new administration has grown more positive as US–Azerbaijan tensions have gradually decreased since Trump’s inauguration. Previously human rights issues had cast a shadow over the relationship, culminating in a bipartisan sanctions bill that would make Azerbaijan accountable on human rights issues. While the Azerbaijan Democracy Act of 2015 was never passed, it created concern among political elites…..

Georgia

George Mchedlishvili

Georgia is the only truly pro-Western and democratic country of the South Caucasus three. In some aspects of democratization, such as transparency and corruption, Georgia ranks better than some new EU member states. Its pro-Western foreign policy orientation endears Georgia to the US and Europe, but also renders it a target of Moscow’s wrath, since Putin’s Russia is committed to derailing any of its neighboring states from a western quest.

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election sent Georgia into disquiet. For Tbilisi, Washington is the main counterbalance to Russia and decisive American engagement is the most efficient guarantor (more even than NATO) of Georgia’s very existence.

Trump’s lack of international policy experience, rendered him a distinctly second-best choice from Georgia’s standpoint (although the same was said of Barack Obama against John McCain in 2008)…..

Continue reading:

https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/examining-how-south-caucasus-responding-trump?utm_source=Chatham%20House&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8610491_Publication%20Alert%20Anahit%20Shirinyan%20Zaur%20Shiriyev%20George%20Mchedlishvili%20EC%2024082017&dm_i=1S3M,54JWB,NUT9SM,JNZQK,1#

*********************************************************************************************************************

*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Syria’s Shattered Future

Editor’s Note: This Deep Dive was adapted from a piece originally produced for the Valdai Discussion Club, an institute devoted to analyzing Russia’s place in the world. The full version can be accessed here.

Summary

It’s useful to look at the past to predict the future. Little that happens in the world is truly new, and lessons can be learned from the way things transpired before. So, in trying to picture Syria’s future, observing the events that shaped present-day Lebanon is a useful exercise. Lebanon is much smaller than Syria, and its ethnic groups were more evenly proportioned before its civil war. Even so, in 1975, it went to war – and at war it stayed for 15 years. We expect Syria’s civil war – which is already midway through its sixth year – to last at least as long.

Lebanon’s post-war years haven’t exactly been peaceful either. Syria’s will be worse. The U.S. and Russia are working under the public supposition that Syria can be put back together once the fighting stops. They want a lot of the same things: to defeat the Islamic State and al-Qaida, then to build a new political system in the country. But Russia also wants to destroy any other rebel group fighting the Syrian regime, which Russia maintains is the legitimate government in the country, while the U.S. wants to form a new political system that is democratic and that excludes President Bashar Assad. They’re both likely to be disappointed. Syria is a broken country, and no amount of diplomatic handwringing or bombing is going to put it back together.

Demographic Chaos

The reason is simple: ethnic and sectarian chaos. The single-largest population group within the country is Sunni Arabs, whose main political forces are the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Free Syrian Army (not counting the large number of Sunnis who still support the Assad regime). The U.S. and Russia will not accept a political system built around either of the first two forces, and the Free Syrian Army is too weak to defeat the radical Islamists or the Assad regime.

It is impossible to know the exact demographic breakdown of the country today because of the fighting and migration, but before the war, roughly 68 percent of Syria was Sunni. Of that, 10 percent was Kurdish and the rest was Arab. Alawites made up another 11 percent of the total population. We can assume that the country remains divided between three groups: Alawites, Syrian Kurds and Sunni Arabs. The Alawites are loyal to Assad; the Syrian Kurds are loyal to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG; and the Arabs are divided – some Islamist, some champions of Assad, and all competing for influence.


(click to enlarge)

The Assad regime, the Alawites and other minorities that Assad protects will never consent to democracy in Syria. To do so would open those communities to certain reprisal by Sunni Arab forces should they come to power. The same is true of the Syrian Kurds, who, despite being the smallest and newest Kurdish population in a Middle Eastern country, have secured a de facto state for themselves and are taking as much territory as they can to try to lend strategic depth to their indefensible position on the border with Turkey. Even if an agreement emerged that all sides agreed to, the system would collapse just as the U.S.-backed political system in Iraq collapsed.

Many of the areas dominated by Sunni Arabs are in the desert, in cities hugging the Euphrates River. Attacking these cities is difficult: It requires long supply lines through the desert, which invites the kind of guerrilla tactics at which IS excels. Similarly, the Alawite stronghold on the coast is mountainous and thus very defensible. Little suggests that these dynamics will change soon.

The most likely scenario is that Syria will eventually be divided into three main areas. The first area will be controlled by the remnants of the Assad regime, which will maintain authority over the major cities and the coastal strongholds that are the Alawites’ core territories. The second area will be the Syrian Kurdish territories. There are two main pockets of Syrian Kurds: an isolated and small group in Afrin canton and a larger group in northeastern Syria, which before the breakout of war had significant natural resources and decent farmland. The Syrian Kurdish territories are on a relatively flat plain and are vulnerable to attack, both from IS and from Turkey, which has thus far not attacked the Syrian Kurds besides the occasional artillery shelling.


(click to enlarge)

The third area will be a lawless swath of Sunni Arab territory. The precise names of the groups and the ideologies they employ are almost impossible to track, but they will be fighting each other for supremacy in these areas, as well as launching opportunistic attacks against Assad forces and Syrian Kurdish forces. Fighters will continue to move across the porous Iraq-Syria border and will increasingly put pressure on neighboring countries.

IS, al-Qaida and the Power of Ideas

This Sunni Arab territory deserves a closer look, specifically at the future of jihadist forces not just in Syria but throughout the region. The Islamic State and al-Qaida are the most substantial of these forces today, but this will not always be the case. Eventually, IS and al-Qaida will lose their strongholds. They will melt back into the civilian population until foreign forces leave. Another group may arise in their place, or they may regenerate their fiefs and even try to grab more land to the south, greatly straining two Sunni Arab countries that have thus far stayed out of the fray: Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They will not be able to stay on the sidelines forever.

At its height of IS expansion, the lands it controlled amounted to roughly 50,000 square kilometers (19,500 square miles), roughly the size of Croatia. Taking into account the sparsely populated deserts and other areas where IS can operate with relative freedom, even though it is not directly in control, this territory expands to approximately 250,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Great Britain.

The U.S. State Department boasts on its website that U.S. coalition partners have recaptured 62 percent of IS territory in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria. In war, such statistics are meaningless. What matters is not the size of the territory but whether that territory is strategically important. So far, anti-IS forces in Syria and Iraq have not conquered enough territory from the Islamic State to cripple its ability to operate.

The Islamic State’s core territory is the stretch of land from Raqqa to Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. The most recent Syrian census, done in 2004, estimated that close to half a million people lived in these two cities alone. In recent weeks, this territory has come under serious threat. Syrian Kurdish forces have closed in on Raqqa, and despite the Islamic State’s diversionary attacks, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have advanced methodically on the city. Meanwhile, the Russia-backed Syrian army has been making gains of its own. Syrian government forces crossed into Raqqa province at the beginning of June, and more important, they have begun an offensive into eastern Syria targeting Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin.


(click to enlarge)

All evidence seems to indicate that the Islamic State has chosen to retreat from Raqqa to reinforce its position in Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin. The SDF has made progress in Raqqa, but notably, it left the main highway heading east out of the city open. For months, reports have said IS fighters were leaving the city. When IS convoys have attempted to head west, Russia has made a point of targeting them, but there seems to be a coordinated effort between U.S. and Russian allies on the ground to push IS into a smaller area in eastern Syria that will eventually be attacked head on.

This would all seem to suggest that the defeat of the Islamic State is nigh. That would be a premature judgment. The hallmark of the Islamic State’s military capabilities has been its ability to avoid costly defeats. IS routinely retreats from positions it knows it cannot defend, regroups and then launches new attacks where its enemies are unprepared for them. If it turns out IS cannot protect its territory against the approaching forces, the most likely course of action is that IS fighters will withdraw or blend into the civilian population and give up the city without a fight. For all of the Islamic State’s religious bravado, it has shown itself to be pragmatic in its approach to war, and it would be out of character for it to make a suicidal stand against incoming forces. IS uses suicide bombs for offensive purposes; it does not view suicide in defense as any more noble than defeat.

Even if the physical caliphate is destroyed, the Islamic State’s ideology will persist in a region that is ripe for recruitment. The attacking armies are united in their opposition to IS but will find little in the way of a common cause if the Islamic State’s territorial integrity is broken. They will instead take to fighting among themselves, opening up new spaces for IS to capitalize on and return. The forces will eventually have to withdraw from formerly IS-held territories to attack al-Qaida and other targets in Syria as well, which will mean IS can bide its time. The Islamic State is playing a long game, and its religious ideology can and will preach patience to the faithful. It will not conceded defeat.

Al-Qaida’s position in Syria is more tenuous than the Islamic State’s, and as a result, al-Qaida is not seen as an equal threat and has been able to fly much more under the radar than its territorially focused offshoot. In Syria, the group has changed its name several times (the latest incarnation is Tahrir al-Sham), but it would be a mistake to call it anything but what it is: al-Qaida in Syria. Al-Qaida in Syria has tried to forge connections with other Syrian rebel groups and has captured fiefdoms of its own outside of Aleppo and Idlib. It has fewer fighters than IS, but like the IS fighters, they are extremely capable and have proved much more successful on the battlefield than any of the moderate Syrian rebel groups.

Al-Qaida is surrounded, however, by Syrian government forces. It is only a matter of time before the regime turns its attention to the group. The U.S. has said repeatedly that it plans to solve the IS problem before targeting al-Qaida, and one reason it can afford that approach is that it knows Assad and Russia view al-Qaida, which is closer to the heartland of the regime, as their more pressing problem. Once the Assad regime focuses the bulk of its forces on al-Qaida’s territories in and around Idlib, al-Qaida will gradually have to retreat and blend into the civilian population. The operation to retake these areas will come with mass executions and purges of all suspected al-Qaida sympathizers and collaborators.

The result is that likely in the next one to three years, the entities in Syria currently known as the Islamic State and al-Qaida will be dislodged from full control of their possessions. But the problem is not defeating these groups or taking their lands; with sufficient manpower and foreign support, these groups’ grip over their territories can be loosened if not broken entirely for a time. The problem is that unless a foreign force occupies these territories, the groups will reconstitute themselves and recapture the land they lost. And there is no country in the world whose strategic interests are served by holding territory in the middle of the Syrian and Iraqi deserts indefinitely.

Fighting groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida takes place on two levels. The first is the military level. Tactical difficulties stand in the way of victory, but they can be overcome. The second level, however, is the realm of ideas. That radical Islamist ideology has a force of its own is indisputable at this point. For whatever reason – the lack of economic opportunity, the history of colonial oppression, whatever – this ideology has given meaning and organization to a generation of people.

In this sense, then, the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the myriad other groups that have sprouted up out of the power vacuum left by the civil war are unbeatable, because it is impossible to defeat an idea. This is a civil war between Muslims in the Middle East. The religious wars of Europe around the time of the Enlightenment each took decades if not centuries to play out before a somewhat stable system of political entities emerged. (And even this system eventually became so unbalanced that in the 20th century it twice brought the entire world into war.) There is no reason to expect that the Muslim wars will take less time than that, nor is there reason to believe that the U.S. or Russia or any outside power will be able to subdue these forces with the right combination of coalition fighters.

The best that can be achieved is containing these forces where they are. For the U.S., preventing their spread south into countries it counts among its allies is of prime importance. For Russia, preventing their spread north into the Caucasus is the bigger priority. Either way, the two sides share an interest in keeping these religious wars confined, as much as possible, to the deserts of the Middle East, rather than the streets of Manhattan or the subway stations of St. Petersburg.

Smoke billows in the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 3, 2017, as Syrian Democratic Forces battle to retake the city from the Islamic State

When it comes to Syria, then, the U.S. and Russia are already working together even if they don’t include each other in their coalitions. The tacit coordination in the Raqqa and Deir el-Zour offensives is evidence enough of that. Neither wants to see radical Islamism spread into its spheres of influence. Neither wants or has the forces available to commit to conquering radical Islamism in Syria and Iraq – and policing the territories after the fact. The U.S. and Russia do not see eye to eye on the legitimacy of the Assad regime, but the U.S. does not have the luxury of pushing for Assad’s downfall; what would arise in his place might be far worse. The U.S. will continue to search for partners to keep IS in a cage, and Russia will continue to prop up Assad as he eventually moves on to targeting al-Qaida. And while Russia and the U.S. continue to butt heads in other parts of the world, in this part of the world, they will quietly work, perhaps not quite together, but still in pursuit of a similar goal.

Great Power Politics

But the Syrian civil war will not stay contained in Syria. Even if the U.S. and Russia succeed in keeping radical Islamism bottled up in the country, Syria has become a battleground for proxies supported by countries around the Middle East. Here, too, Russia and the U.S. share an overarching goal, but occasional disagreements may arise. The only way this could be derailed is if both sides fail to put their Cold War rivalry behind them.

The balance of power in the Middle East mattered during the Cold War – when the region was responsible for a much greater share of global oil production than it is today, and when the balance of power in all regions mattered. The region’s wars were not just local; they were between the U.S. and the USSR. But those days are over. Now, Russia is back to Soviet-era levels of oil production. The U.S. has become one of the top oil producers in the world and no longer depends as much on the Middle East. And despite U.S.-Russia tensions since the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, there is no current conflict between the two that has the same weight as the Cold War.

Russia in 2017 is smaller, weaker and less ideological than its Soviet predecessor. This does not mean Russia has given up its position as a global power, but it does mean that a region like the Middle East is less important than it once was. Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia – all former Soviet lands – are far more important for Russia’s continued power. What the Middle East offers, however, is a chance to distract the U.S. from interfering in the regions where Russia cannot afford to lose influence, as well as the potential to inflate the price of oil – Russia’s top export – by hampering Middle East producers.

The U.S., meanwhile, has been desperately searching for a way out of the Middle East since 2007. The Bush administration tried to end the Iraq War with the overwhelming force of the troop surge, which had no lasting effect. The Obama administration tried to do as little as possible, and when it did act, its policy was largely incoherent. The Trump administration now seems to be contemplating a kind of surge of its own, which is sure to be ineffective. If Russia wanted to take over management of the Middle East and its crises, the U.S. would welcome it. The point is that the Middle East is no longer a battleground for world power. It is an annoyance that neither Russia nor the U.S. particularly wants to face.

The main threat for the U.S. is that a country or group of countries will come to dominate the entire region. Besides the threat of Islamist terrorism, the U.S. views IS and its sister groups as potential unifiers of the Sunni Arab world against the United States. It also views these groups as a direct threat to the countries the U.S. depends on to maintain a balance of power in the region, particularly Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Egypt is an economic basket case with an active IS insurgency of its own in Sinai. That Jordan has gone this long unscathed is a minor miracle. According to the U.N. refugee agency, Jordan has received over 650,000 Syrian refugees since 2011 – and those are just the registered ones. Syrian nationals now make up more than 20 percent of Jordan’s population. Saudi Arabia has built the legitimacy of its political system on all the generous services that petrodollars can buy. The decline in oil prices and the kingdom’s diminished share of global production have already manifested in significant cuts to social services and to the privileges of the royal family. Saudi Arabia is a breeding ground for the types of Islamist ideologies that have broken Syria and Iraq apart, and the Islamist groups want little more than to control the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The U.S. upended the regional balance of power in 2003, and in recent years it has tried to re-establish it on the backs of four states: Turkey, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel is too small to balance against Turkey and Iran, which makes Saudi Arabia a crucial part of the equation. Without the Saudis, the region devolves into a contest between the Turks and the Iranians, and Turkey has the edge in military strength, economic heft and geography. It would win out in the long term. The U.S. and Turkey have been allies for many decades, and Turkey is a NATO member, but Turkey is strong and growing stronger, and more and more it is disagreeing with Washington on major issues of national interest. Turkey is not yet strong enough to challenge the U.S. on these issues, but that time is coming. When it does, the U.S. will want to be sure that the Turks cannot dominate the Middle East unimpeded.

This is another area where the interests of Russia and the U.S. converge. Turkey and Russia have a long history of war between them. The most recent major incident between them was in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft over northern Syria. They have since resolved the dispute, but relations remain uneasy and complicated. As Russia weakens and Turkey rises, Turkey will start to challenge Russian influence in the Caucasus and the Balkans, areas that for Russia hold greater strategic significance than any country in the Middle East.

This is why Russia and the U.S. have both, to varying degrees, reached out to Syria’s Kurds. In March, the Syrian Kurds said Russia had agreed to build a base in northern Syria and to send military personnel to train the YPG. Russia’s Ministry of Defense disputed this depiction, saying it was setting up a “reconciliation center.” Whatever it is called, the construction is a symbol of closer relations.

The U.S., for its part, has come to rely on the Syrian Kurds as the largest ground force in Syria that is both able and willing to take on the Islamic State directly. The Obama administration tacitly supported the Syrian Kurds, but the Trump administration went a step further in May when it announced that it would supply them with weapons to fight the Islamic State.

Russian and U.S. support has not gone unnoticed in Turkey’s capital. In the same way that Ukraine is of fundamental importance to Russia, or that Cuba is to the U.S., the Kurdish issue is crucial for Turkey. It is also the one issue that could significantly complicate Turkey’s rise to power. The Kurds in Syria are not the problem – at least, they are not the only problem. The issue is that Kurds, with all their separatist ambitions, make up about 18 percent of Turkey’s population – about 14 million people – and most of them live in the southeastern part of the country near Syria. The Kurds are not a monolithic group; the roughly 29 million to 35 million Kurds in the Middle East speak different languages, have different tribal and national loyalties, and even have different religious faiths. But Syria’s Kurds are closely related to Turkey’s Kurds. In Turkey’s eyes, the YPG is the same level of strategic threat as IS or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party militant group, or PKK.

Both the U.S. and Russia have an interest, then, in preventing Turkey from intervening in Syria in any capacity beyond fighting the Islamic State. For one thing, Turkey is anti-Assad, and the rebel groups with which it is closest are ideologically incompatible with the U.S. and Russia. For another, Turkey would try to destroy the Syrian Kurdish statelet that has popped up during the war for fear that the spirit of independence might spread into Turkey’s own Kurdish region in the southeast, which has seen more and more clashes in the past two years between the PKK and Turkish security forces. The stronger both the Syrian Kurds and the Assad regime are, the harder it will be for Turkey to extend its power into the Levant, and the greater the balance against Turkey in the region will be as its strength grows over the next two decades.

Iran is another part of the equation, and here the intersection of U.S. and Russian interests is more complicated. The U.S. signed the nuclear deal with Iran because it needed Iran’s help to contain Islamic State forces in Iraq, but the U.S. also does not want to see Baghdad and the Shiite parts of Iraq become de facto provinces of Iran. The Americans need Iran’s help – and over the long term need Iran as a counterweight to Turkish power – but they will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. They will block any attempt by Iran to establish regional dominance, just as they would stop Turkey from forming a unified Sunni Arab force.

Russian relations with Iran have historically been fraught, but at the moment they are positive. This is in part because Iran supports the Assad regime and views every group in the region that is not Sunni as a potential proxy group. Iran’s Shiite proxies, such as Hezbollah, are also important for keeping up the fight against the Islamic State. Unlike the U.S., Russia is not too concerned with Iran’s westward expansion. It would not, however, tolerate Persian influence in the Caucasus any more than it would accept Turkish influence there.

The U.S. and Russia are not in total agreement in the Middle East, but their disagreements are not close to reaching the scale of the Cold War. And they both share a desire to limit the spread of Islamist ideology and to prevent any country or group in the Middle East from rising to challenge their interests. They will continue to compete in some ways – supporting groups in Syria that are fighting groups the other supports, for instance – but they ultimately want the same thing: for the Middle East’s problems to stay in the Middle East.

Syria’s immediate future, then, is bleak and will be marred by more years of war and Islamist insurgency. IS and al-Qaida will suffer defeats but will not be defeated. Turkey will rise. Saudi Arabia will fall. Iran will scheme. The Kurds will fight. And neither the U.S. nor Russia will be able to wash their hands of the region as this chaos unfolds.

The U.S. and Russia took different routes to Syria – the U.S. through the war on terror and a botched invasion of Iraq, Russia through a revolution in Ukraine and an unexpected drop in oil prices – but both are there to stay. They are at odds in many parts of the world, especially in Eastern Europe. But in the Middle East, they will work side by side – if not together – to eliminate IS and al-Qaida and prevent the emergence of any dominant regional power. The U.S. and Russia face different challenges from an unstable Middle East and will disagree over many of the particulars, but at the broadest level they will be working toward the same goal: a predictable balance of power. The Cold War is over, but for great powers, the world is a small place. The U.S. and Russia cannot help but run into each other.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/syrias-shattered-future/

· My comment: “A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle That Shaped the Middle East” a book worth reading.

https://www.amazon.de/Line-Sand-Britain-Struggle-Paperback/dp/B007Y5WVH4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506510899&sr=1-1&keywords=line+in+the+sand

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Buchempfehlung -Recommendation: “KRIEG UND CHAOS IN NAHOST: EINE ARABISCHE SICHTvon Aktham Suliman

NEUERSCHEINUNG(15. Juni 2017)

KRIEG UND CHAOS IN NAHOST: EINE ARABISCHE SICHT

»Weder wüstengelb, noch himmelblau: Blutrot war die eigentliche Farbe von Bagdad im Jahr 2003, denn das Zeitalter des gesichtslosen Todes war angebrochen«

Aktham Suliman


Millionen Menschen auf der Flucht, auch zu uns nach Europa. Blinde Gewalt überall, auch bei uns in Europa. Krieg, Flucht und Terror drohen überhandzunehmen. Was ist nur zwischen dem Westen und dem Nahen Osten in den letzten Jahren passiert? Dieses Buch ist ein Aufschrei gegen Befreiungs-, Demokratisierungs-, Präventiv-, Schutz-, Anti-Terror-, Pro-Frühlings- und Wie-Auch-Immer-Kriege in Nahost. kurzum: gegen den Dritten Weltkrieg. Mit viel Sachverstand, Gefühl und Ironie richtet der ehemalige Al-Dschasira-Korrespondent einen speziellen, arabischen Blick auf die Entwicklungen der letzten 25 Jahre im Orient. Der Autor zeichnet die unsichtbare Verbindungslinie zwischen dem Islamischen Staat, dem Arabischen Frühling, dem Irakkrieg, den Angriffen vom 11. September 2001 und dem Zweiten Golfkrieg. Er versucht das Muster hinter den „Dingen“ zu erkennen und nimmt dabei seine Leser mit auf eine spannende analytische, journalistische und biografische Reise; von Berlin bis nach Damaskus, Bagdad und Kairo mit – auch für den Autor selbst – überraschenden Ergebnissen.
>> Bestellung: Nomen Verlag

Aktham Suliman, Jahrgang 1970, ist ein deutsch-syrischer Nahostexperte und Journalist. Als er im Sommer 2012 aus Protest gegen zunehmend tendenziöse Berichterstattung seinen Job beim weltbekannten arabischen Nachrichtensender Al-Dschasira nach über 10 Jahren kündigte, schrieb der Focus: »Mr. Al-Dschasira geht.« Einem breiten deutschen Publikum wurde er durch seine Teilnahme an TV-Diskussionsrunden und Talkshows zu Nahost-Themen bekannt. Er studierte Publizistik, Politologie und Islamwissenschaft und lebt als freier Autor in Berlin.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

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

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

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

09-26-17 Turkey_Germany,China_India_Peace_Ukraine, Migrants,Syria,Kurdistan,Iran.pdf

08-2017 Shapiro_GPF_Valdai-Valdai Paper -No_73 – Russia-US Relations and the Future of Syria .pdf

08-24-17 Examining How the South Caucasus Is Responding to Trump _ Chatham House.pdf

Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 29.9.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Wall Street Journal: German Results Reflect European Unease Over Identity, Economy.
  • What Merkel’s Election Win Means for Germany – Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

    Bloomberg
  • Shapior-Valdai: RUSSIA–US RELATIONS AND THE FUTURE OF SYRIA
  • Buchempfehlung – Recommendation: “KRIEG UND CHAOS IN NAHOST: EINE ARABISCHE SICHTvon Aktham Suliman
  • GPF: Syria’s Shattered Future
  • Chatham House: Examining How the South Caucasus Is Responding to Trump
  • President Donald Trump is tearing down a central pillar of his administration’s infrastructure plan.

Massenbach* Wall Street Journal: German Results Reflect European Unease Over Identity, Economy.

  • Rise of Alternative for Germany party comes at cost to Germany’s long-established parties –

Sept. 24, 2017 5:35 p.m. ET

BERLIN—Germany’s election result confirms the overriding trend of European politics in the past year: the crumbling of the Continent’s established parties in the face of voter anxiety over economics and identity.

Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats were projected to come in first Sunday with around 33% of the vote, their lowest share of the post-World War II era. The center-left Social Democrats were projected to win just under 21%, their worst result since the prewar era. Germany’s two long-dominant parties, which have governed together in a “grand coalition” since 2013, lost support to an array of opposition groups including the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany.

The fragmented vote mirrors this year’s elections in other Continental European countries including France and the Netherlands. Established parties have suffered steep losses, especially on the center left, and voters have turned to upstarts on the nationalist right, the anticapitalist left or the liberal center.

The upheavals partly reflect the fallout of a decade marked by economic, security and immigration crises that have tested the cohesion of the European Union. The future direction of the EU and its major nations is now up for grabs in a fluid contest between internationalists and nationalists, incumbents and insurgents.

The outcome makes it likely that Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, will become more difficult to govern. Long and difficult negotiations are now expected between Ms. Merkel, the left-leaning Greens, and the pro-business Free Democrats. An unwieldy coalition may struggle to agree on the major challenges facing the European Union’s most populous nation, from immigration to its scandal-hit auto industry to how to stabilize the euro currency zone.

Ms. Merkel has governed for 12 years as a pragmatic centrist. She is likely to come under pressure from many in her conservative party to shift to the right, to address concerns about immigration and security that helped drive support for the Alternative for Germany, known by its German initials AfD.

Conservative leaders elsewhere in Europe, including the Netherlands, Austria and the U.K., have adopted tougher policies and rhetoric on immigration to fend off populist challengers to their right. Ms. Merkel didn’t do that during the German election campaign, and she conceded Sunday night that she had paid a price. “We didn’t manage to fully assuage the concerns that people have” about illegal immigration and the security of external borders, she said in a post-election televised debate with other German party leaders.

The AfD, which won close to 13% nationwide, thrived particularly in Germany’s economically disadvantaged east, where it was the most popular party among male voters. “That’s consistent with a broader trend of radical-right parties connecting with those groups in many countries,” says Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent, U.K.

The election showed that Germany is becoming more like other European countries, where nationalist, antiestablishment parties are often significantly stronger than the AfD.

For decades, Germany’s taboos against nationalist rhetoric have kept far-right parties out of the national parliament. Support for the AfD rose during the campaign despite its controversial views on history. Leading candidate Alexander Gauland said Germans “have the right to be proud of the achievements of German soldiers in two world wars.”

Related

· Merkel Wins but Loses Ground

· Vote Puts Merkel in a Tough Spot

· German Nationalists Gain a New Voice

· Recap: German Election

· See the Latest Results

The party’s program calls for less guilt about Germany’s past, including toning down Germany’s focus on remembering the Holocaust, a position that drew condemnation from Jewish groups. “The election result is a sign that old social norms against perceived extremism in Germany are weakening,” said Mr. Goodwin.

Most AfD voters appear to have backed the party as a reaction against what is widely viewed as stifling consensus of the grand coalition. Only 31% of AfD voters backed the party out of “conviction,” while 60% voted for it out of “disappointment” with other parties, according to an exit poll for state broadcaster ARD.

The AfD reached a peak of around 15% support in opinion polls last year, boosted by the migration crisis of 2015-16 in which around a million refugees and other migrants from the Middle East and South Asia came to Germany. But the party’s support fell to around 8% this year as the migration crisis faded. The AfD’s popularity rose again during recent weeks’ election campaign, however, in part a reflection of the lack of apparent disagreement between established parties.

The Social Democrats’ failed candidate for chancellor, Martin Schulz, denounced Ms. Merkel on state TV for erasing all policy differences between them. The consensus-seeking chancellor’s “systematic refusal of politics” alienated voters and boosted the AfD, Mr. Schulz said. Ms. Merkel denied the charge.

Rising support for fringe parties was widely predicted in Germany four years ago after Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats formed their second grand coalition with the Social Democrats. That bipartisan government, critics warned, would give voters who strongly oppose Ms. Merkel nowhere to turn to but the extremes.

Ms. Merkel remains personally popular with about two-thirds of German voters, even though her party’s share of the vote declined. She has no clear successor. That suggests that the Christian Democrats, one of the parties that has shaped modern Europe, may suffer further erosion after her fourth and what is expected to be her final term.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-results-reflect-european-unease-over-identity-economy-1506288918?shareToken=st114dc1fb018a46d3b159c748e59796fb

**********************************************************************************************************************

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

  • Turkey and Germany: Souring Relations between Strategic Allies
  • How China and India Can Keep the Peace in Ukraine
  • Integrating Migrants in the Interests of Security and Development
  • What Awaits Syria?
  • Is Iraq’s Kurdistan Facing Economic Isolation Post-Independence Referendum?
  • How Is Iran’s Rouhani Government Trying to Strengthen the Nuclear Deal?

************************************************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* What Merkel’s Election Win Means for Germany – Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

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

Barandat*President Donald Trump is tearing down a central pillar of his administration’s infrastructure plan.

The president told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that he doesn’t favor public-private partnerships to finance public works, the WSJ’s Ted Mann and Siobhan Hughes report, throwing talks over new federal spending on highways, ports and other infrastructure into a new light. One lawmaker says the president pointed to one signature example of private investment, the Indiana toll road, as an example of a failed public-private partnership. Lawmakers say Trump told them he believes such partnerships are “more trouble than they’re worth.” The administration has been pressing such investment as a way to leverage federal spending—and to help turn management of infrastructure over to states and private companies. Mr. Trump’s new view may upend the administration’s strategy, but it also may make it easier to strike a deal with congressional Democrats who are leery of privatization.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-trump-calls-public-private-infrastructure-partnerships-more-trouble-than-theyre-worth-1506471610?mod=djemlogistics

General Electric Co.’s efforts to take its locomotive production local may be running off the rails.

GE is in danger of losing a $2.5 billion deal to sell diesel locomotives to Indian Railways, one of its company’s largest industrial contracts ever and a linchpin of GE’s hopes to win business in far-flung markets by investing heavily in local operations. The WSJ’s Thomas Gryta, Ted Mann and Rajesh Roy report the jolt to the contract, and GE’s broader strategy of localized manufacturing, follows a political shake-up in India that brought in a new railways minister who apparently decided to have the railroad turn entirely to electric locomotives. Executives at GE have met with the minister to try to keep the deal together. Terminating the deal would be a bitter result for GE, which has already started building a factory 600 miles from Delhi. It also signals the hurdles for India as officials talk about improving dilapidated infrastructure in a country where changing political winds can derail progress.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-india-a-big-ge-deal-goes-off-the-rails-1506378906?mod=djemlogistics

*******************************************************************************************************************

Middle East

Chatham House: Examining How the South Caucasus Is Responding to Trump

Armenia

Anahit Shirinyan

As the world tries to decipher what Trump presidency means for the global world order and security in Europe, the same questions are asked in Armenia. The US continues not to have a clear-cut policy towards the South Caucasus, and Trump’s tenure is unlikely to change this. Instead, Washington’s relations with Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku are likely to remain an undertone to the larger dynamics of US relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as developments in the Middle East. In this context, some potential pitfalls might affect the overall geopolitical environment in which Armenia operates with implications for Armenian foreign policy.

Neighbourhood collisions

While in theory Yerevan would benefit from improved Washington-Moscow ties, this argument does not hold if that improvement were a result of a transaction where Russia’s power projection in its ‘near abroad’ limits the sovereignty of the post-Soviet states. Conversely, further deterioration of US-Russia (and Western-Russia) relations would continue to constrain the manoeuvring space for Armenia’s foreign policy. As Russia’s economy declines as a result of sanctions, the oil price and a failure to reform, Armenia’s economic performance will slide with it……

Azerbaijan

Zaur Shiriyev

Despite the Azerbaijani elites’ preference for Hillary Clinton due to her first-hand experience in the South Caucasus region, the Azerbaijani government was not overly worried by a Republican win. US–Azerbaijan relations had been more prosperous under the Bush administration, and it was perceived that Republicans had a better understanding of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict because Washington re-energized the resolution process. The main question mark over Trump was his anti-Muslim rhetoric, and the unpredictability of his approach towards Iran, Russia and the other post-Soviet countries.

Baku’s attitude towards the new administration has grown more positive as US–Azerbaijan tensions have gradually decreased since Trump’s inauguration. Previously human rights issues had cast a shadow over the relationship, culminating in a bipartisan sanctions bill that would make Azerbaijan accountable on human rights issues. While the Azerbaijan Democracy Act of 2015 was never passed, it created concern among political elites…..

Georgia

George Mchedlishvili

Georgia is the only truly pro-Western and democratic country of the South Caucasus three. In some aspects of democratization, such as transparency and corruption, Georgia ranks better than some new EU member states. Its pro-Western foreign policy orientation endears Georgia to the US and Europe, but also renders it a target of Moscow’s wrath, since Putin’s Russia is committed to derailing any of its neighboring states from a western quest.

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election sent Georgia into disquiet. For Tbilisi, Washington is the main counterbalance to Russia and decisive American engagement is the most efficient guarantor (more even than NATO) of Georgia’s very existence.

Trump’s lack of international policy experience, rendered him a distinctly second-best choice from Georgia’s standpoint (although the same was said of Barack Obama against John McCain in 2008)…..

Continue reading:

https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/examining-how-south-caucasus-responding-trump?utm_source=Chatham%20House&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8610491_Publication%20Alert%20Anahit%20Shirinyan%20Zaur%20Shiriyev%20George%20Mchedlishvili%20EC%2024082017&dm_i=1S3M,54JWB,NUT9SM,JNZQK,1#

*********************************************************************************************************************

*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Syria’s Shattered Future

Editor’s Note: This Deep Dive was adapted from a piece originally produced for the Valdai Discussion Club, an institute devoted to analyzing Russia’s place in the world. The full version can be accessed here.

Summary

It’s useful to look at the past to predict the future. Little that happens in the world is truly new, and lessons can be learned from the way things transpired before. So, in trying to picture Syria’s future, observing the events that shaped present-day Lebanon is a useful exercise. Lebanon is much smaller than Syria, and its ethnic groups were more evenly proportioned before its civil war. Even so, in 1975, it went to war – and at war it stayed for 15 years. We expect Syria’s civil war – which is already midway through its sixth year – to last at least as long.

Lebanon’s post-war years haven’t exactly been peaceful either. Syria’s will be worse. The U.S. and Russia are working under the public supposition that Syria can be put back together once the fighting stops. They want a lot of the same things: to defeat the Islamic State and al-Qaida, then to build a new political system in the country. But Russia also wants to destroy any other rebel group fighting the Syrian regime, which Russia maintains is the legitimate government in the country, while the U.S. wants to form a new political system that is democratic and that excludes President Bashar Assad. They’re both likely to be disappointed. Syria is a broken country, and no amount of diplomatic handwringing or bombing is going to put it back together.

Demographic Chaos

The reason is simple: ethnic and sectarian chaos. The single-largest population group within the country is Sunni Arabs, whose main political forces are the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Free Syrian Army (not counting the large number of Sunnis who still support the Assad regime). The U.S. and Russia will not accept a political system built around either of the first two forces, and the Free Syrian Army is too weak to defeat the radical Islamists or the Assad regime.

It is impossible to know the exact demographic breakdown of the country today because of the fighting and migration, but before the war, roughly 68 percent of Syria was Sunni. Of that, 10 percent was Kurdish and the rest was Arab. Alawites made up another 11 percent of the total population. We can assume that the country remains divided between three groups: Alawites, Syrian Kurds and Sunni Arabs. The Alawites are loyal to Assad; the Syrian Kurds are loyal to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG; and the Arabs are divided – some Islamist, some champions of Assad, and all competing for influence.


(click to enlarge)

The Assad regime, the Alawites and other minorities that Assad protects will never consent to democracy in Syria. To do so would open those communities to certain reprisal by Sunni Arab forces should they come to power. The same is true of the Syrian Kurds, who, despite being the smallest and newest Kurdish population in a Middle Eastern country, have secured a de facto state for themselves and are taking as much territory as they can to try to lend strategic depth to their indefensible position on the border with Turkey. Even if an agreement emerged that all sides agreed to, the system would collapse just as the U.S.-backed political system in Iraq collapsed.

Many of the areas dominated by Sunni Arabs are in the desert, in cities hugging the Euphrates River. Attacking these cities is difficult: It requires long supply lines through the desert, which invites the kind of guerrilla tactics at which IS excels. Similarly, the Alawite stronghold on the coast is mountainous and thus very defensible. Little suggests that these dynamics will change soon.

The most likely scenario is that Syria will eventually be divided into three main areas. The first area will be controlled by the remnants of the Assad regime, which will maintain authority over the major cities and the coastal strongholds that are the Alawites’ core territories. The second area will be the Syrian Kurdish territories. There are two main pockets of Syrian Kurds: an isolated and small group in Afrin canton and a larger group in northeastern Syria, which before the breakout of war had significant natural resources and decent farmland. The Syrian Kurdish territories are on a relatively flat plain and are vulnerable to attack, both from IS and from Turkey, which has thus far not attacked the Syrian Kurds besides the occasional artillery shelling.


(click to enlarge)

The third area will be a lawless swath of Sunni Arab territory. The precise names of the groups and the ideologies they employ are almost impossible to track, but they will be fighting each other for supremacy in these areas, as well as launching opportunistic attacks against Assad forces and Syrian Kurdish forces. Fighters will continue to move across the porous Iraq-Syria border and will increasingly put pressure on neighboring countries.

IS, al-Qaida and the Power of Ideas

This Sunni Arab territory deserves a closer look, specifically at the future of jihadist forces not just in Syria but throughout the region. The Islamic State and al-Qaida are the most substantial of these forces today, but this will not always be the case. Eventually, IS and al-Qaida will lose their strongholds. They will melt back into the civilian population until foreign forces leave. Another group may arise in their place, or they may regenerate their fiefs and even try to grab more land to the south, greatly straining two Sunni Arab countries that have thus far stayed out of the fray: Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They will not be able to stay on the sidelines forever.

At its height of IS expansion, the lands it controlled amounted to roughly 50,000 square kilometers (19,500 square miles), roughly the size of Croatia. Taking into account the sparsely populated deserts and other areas where IS can operate with relative freedom, even though it is not directly in control, this territory expands to approximately 250,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Great Britain.

The U.S. State Department boasts on its website that U.S. coalition partners have recaptured 62 percent of IS territory in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria. In war, such statistics are meaningless. What matters is not the size of the territory but whether that territory is strategically important. So far, anti-IS forces in Syria and Iraq have not conquered enough territory from the Islamic State to cripple its ability to operate.

The Islamic State’s core territory is the stretch of land from Raqqa to Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. The most recent Syrian census, done in 2004, estimated that close to half a million people lived in these two cities alone. In recent weeks, this territory has come under serious threat. Syrian Kurdish forces have closed in on Raqqa, and despite the Islamic State’s diversionary attacks, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have advanced methodically on the city. Meanwhile, the Russia-backed Syrian army has been making gains of its own. Syrian government forces crossed into Raqqa province at the beginning of June, and more important, they have begun an offensive into eastern Syria targeting Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin.


(click to enlarge)

All evidence seems to indicate that the Islamic State has chosen to retreat from Raqqa to reinforce its position in Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin. The SDF has made progress in Raqqa, but notably, it left the main highway heading east out of the city open. For months, reports have said IS fighters were leaving the city. When IS convoys have attempted to head west, Russia has made a point of targeting them, but there seems to be a coordinated effort between U.S. and Russian allies on the ground to push IS into a smaller area in eastern Syria that will eventually be attacked head on.

This would all seem to suggest that the defeat of the Islamic State is nigh. That would be a premature judgment. The hallmark of the Islamic State’s military capabilities has been its ability to avoid costly defeats. IS routinely retreats from positions it knows it cannot defend, regroups and then launches new attacks where its enemies are unprepared for them. If it turns out IS cannot protect its territory against the approaching forces, the most likely course of action is that IS fighters will withdraw or blend into the civilian population and give up the city without a fight. For all of the Islamic State’s religious bravado, it has shown itself to be pragmatic in its approach to war, and it would be out of character for it to make a suicidal stand against incoming forces. IS uses suicide bombs for offensive purposes; it does not view suicide in defense as any more noble than defeat.

Even if the physical caliphate is destroyed, the Islamic State’s ideology will persist in a region that is ripe for recruitment. The attacking armies are united in their opposition to IS but will find little in the way of a common cause if the Islamic State’s territorial integrity is broken. They will instead take to fighting among themselves, opening up new spaces for IS to capitalize on and return. The forces will eventually have to withdraw from formerly IS-held territories to attack al-Qaida and other targets in Syria as well, which will mean IS can bide its time. The Islamic State is playing a long game, and its religious ideology can and will preach patience to the faithful. It will not conceded defeat.

Al-Qaida’s position in Syria is more tenuous than the Islamic State’s, and as a result, al-Qaida is not seen as an equal threat and has been able to fly much more under the radar than its territorially focused offshoot. In Syria, the group has changed its name several times (the latest incarnation is Tahrir al-Sham), but it would be a mistake to call it anything but what it is: al-Qaida in Syria. Al-Qaida in Syria has tried to forge connections with other Syrian rebel groups and has captured fiefdoms of its own outside of Aleppo and Idlib. It has fewer fighters than IS, but like the IS fighters, they are extremely capable and have proved much more successful on the battlefield than any of the moderate Syrian rebel groups.

Al-Qaida is surrounded, however, by Syrian government forces. It is only a matter of time before the regime turns its attention to the group. The U.S. has said repeatedly that it plans to solve the IS problem before targeting al-Qaida, and one reason it can afford that approach is that it knows Assad and Russia view al-Qaida, which is closer to the heartland of the regime, as their more pressing problem. Once the Assad regime focuses the bulk of its forces on al-Qaida’s territories in and around Idlib, al-Qaida will gradually have to retreat and blend into the civilian population. The operation to retake these areas will come with mass executions and purges of all suspected al-Qaida sympathizers and collaborators.

The result is that likely in the next one to three years, the entities in Syria currently known as the Islamic State and al-Qaida will be dislodged from full control of their possessions. But the problem is not defeating these groups or taking their lands; with sufficient manpower and foreign support, these groups’ grip over their territories can be loosened if not broken entirely for a time. The problem is that unless a foreign force occupies these territories, the groups will reconstitute themselves and recapture the land they lost. And there is no country in the world whose strategic interests are served by holding territory in the middle of the Syrian and Iraqi deserts indefinitely.

Fighting groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida takes place on two levels. The first is the military level. Tactical difficulties stand in the way of victory, but they can be overcome. The second level, however, is the realm of ideas. That radical Islamist ideology has a force of its own is indisputable at this point. For whatever reason – the lack of economic opportunity, the history of colonial oppression, whatever – this ideology has given meaning and organization to a generation of people.

In this sense, then, the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the myriad other groups that have sprouted up out of the power vacuum left by the civil war are unbeatable, because it is impossible to defeat an idea. This is a civil war between Muslims in the Middle East. The religious wars of Europe around the time of the Enlightenment each took decades if not centuries to play out before a somewhat stable system of political entities emerged. (And even this system eventually became so unbalanced that in the 20th century it twice brought the entire world into war.) There is no reason to expect that the Muslim wars will take less time than that, nor is there reason to believe that the U.S. or Russia or any outside power will be able to subdue these forces with the right combination of coalition fighters.

The best that can be achieved is containing these forces where they are. For the U.S., preventing their spread south into countries it counts among its allies is of prime importance. For Russia, preventing their spread north into the Caucasus is the bigger priority. Either way, the two sides share an interest in keeping these religious wars confined, as much as possible, to the deserts of the Middle East, rather than the streets of Manhattan or the subway stations of St. Petersburg.

Smoke billows in the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 3, 2017, as Syrian Democratic Forces battle to retake the city from the Islamic State

When it comes to Syria, then, the U.S. and Russia are already working together even if they don’t include each other in their coalitions. The tacit coordination in the Raqqa and Deir el-Zour offensives is evidence enough of that. Neither wants to see radical Islamism spread into its spheres of influence. Neither wants or has the forces available to commit to conquering radical Islamism in Syria and Iraq – and policing the territories after the fact. The U.S. and Russia do not see eye to eye on the legitimacy of the Assad regime, but the U.S. does not have the luxury of pushing for Assad’s downfall; what would arise in his place might be far worse. The U.S. will continue to search for partners to keep IS in a cage, and Russia will continue to prop up Assad as he eventually moves on to targeting al-Qaida. And while Russia and the U.S. continue to butt heads in other parts of the world, in this part of the world, they will quietly work, perhaps not quite together, but still in pursuit of a similar goal.

Great Power Politics

But the Syrian civil war will not stay contained in Syria. Even if the U.S. and Russia succeed in keeping radical Islamism bottled up in the country, Syria has become a battleground for proxies supported by countries around the Middle East. Here, too, Russia and the U.S. share an overarching goal, but occasional disagreements may arise. The only way this could be derailed is if both sides fail to put their Cold War rivalry behind them.

The balance of power in the Middle East mattered during the Cold War – when the region was responsible for a much greater share of global oil production than it is today, and when the balance of power in all regions mattered. The region’s wars were not just local; they were between the U.S. and the USSR. But those days are over. Now, Russia is back to Soviet-era levels of oil production. The U.S. has become one of the top oil producers in the world and no longer depends as much on the Middle East. And despite U.S.-Russia tensions since the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, there is no current conflict between the two that has the same weight as the Cold War.

Russia in 2017 is smaller, weaker and less ideological than its Soviet predecessor. This does not mean Russia has given up its position as a global power, but it does mean that a region like the Middle East is less important than it once was. Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia – all former Soviet lands – are far more important for Russia’s continued power. What the Middle East offers, however, is a chance to distract the U.S. from interfering in the regions where Russia cannot afford to lose influence, as well as the potential to inflate the price of oil – Russia’s top export – by hampering Middle East producers.

The U.S., meanwhile, has been desperately searching for a way out of the Middle East since 2007. The Bush administration tried to end the Iraq War with the overwhelming force of the troop surge, which had no lasting effect. The Obama administration tried to do as little as possible, and when it did act, its policy was largely incoherent. The Trump administration now seems to be contemplating a kind of surge of its own, which is sure to be ineffective. If Russia wanted to take over management of the Middle East and its crises, the U.S. would welcome it. The point is that the Middle East is no longer a battleground for world power. It is an annoyance that neither Russia nor the U.S. particularly wants to face.

The main threat for the U.S. is that a country or group of countries will come to dominate the entire region. Besides the threat of Islamist terrorism, the U.S. views IS and its sister groups as potential unifiers of the Sunni Arab world against the United States. It also views these groups as a direct threat to the countries the U.S. depends on to maintain a balance of power in the region, particularly Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Egypt is an economic basket case with an active IS insurgency of its own in Sinai. That Jordan has gone this long unscathed is a minor miracle. According to the U.N. refugee agency, Jordan has received over 650,000 Syrian refugees since 2011 – and those are just the registered ones. Syrian nationals now make up more than 20 percent of Jordan’s population. Saudi Arabia has built the legitimacy of its political system on all the generous services that petrodollars can buy. The decline in oil prices and the kingdom’s diminished share of global production have already manifested in significant cuts to social services and to the privileges of the royal family. Saudi Arabia is a breeding ground for the types of Islamist ideologies that have broken Syria and Iraq apart, and the Islamist groups want little more than to control the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The U.S. upended the regional balance of power in 2003, and in recent years it has tried to re-establish it on the backs of four states: Turkey, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel is too small to balance against Turkey and Iran, which makes Saudi Arabia a crucial part of the equation. Without the Saudis, the region devolves into a contest between the Turks and the Iranians, and Turkey has the edge in military strength, economic heft and geography. It would win out in the long term. The U.S. and Turkey have been allies for many decades, and Turkey is a NATO member, but Turkey is strong and growing stronger, and more and more it is disagreeing with Washington on major issues of national interest. Turkey is not yet strong enough to challenge the U.S. on these issues, but that time is coming. When it does, the U.S. will want to be sure that the Turks cannot dominate the Middle East unimpeded.

This is another area where the interests of Russia and the U.S. converge. Turkey and Russia have a long history of war between them. The most recent major incident between them was in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft over northern Syria. They have since resolved the dispute, but relations remain uneasy and complicated. As Russia weakens and Turkey rises, Turkey will start to challenge Russian influence in the Caucasus and the Balkans, areas that for Russia hold greater strategic significance than any country in the Middle East.

This is why Russia and the U.S. have both, to varying degrees, reached out to Syria’s Kurds. In March, the Syrian Kurds said Russia had agreed to build a base in northern Syria and to send military personnel to train the YPG. Russia’s Ministry of Defense disputed this depiction, saying it was setting up a “reconciliation center.” Whatever it is called, the construction is a symbol of closer relations.

The U.S., for its part, has come to rely on the Syrian Kurds as the largest ground force in Syria that is both able and willing to take on the Islamic State directly. The Obama administration tacitly supported the Syrian Kurds, but the Trump administration went a step further in May when it announced that it would supply them with weapons to fight the Islamic State.

Russian and U.S. support has not gone unnoticed in Turkey’s capital. In the same way that Ukraine is of fundamental importance to Russia, or that Cuba is to the U.S., the Kurdish issue is crucial for Turkey. It is also the one issue that could significantly complicate Turkey’s rise to power. The Kurds in Syria are not the problem – at least, they are not the only problem. The issue is that Kurds, with all their separatist ambitions, make up about 18 percent of Turkey’s population – about 14 million people – and most of them live in the southeastern part of the country near Syria. The Kurds are not a monolithic group; the roughly 29 million to 35 million Kurds in the Middle East speak different languages, have different tribal and national loyalties, and even have different religious faiths. But Syria’s Kurds are closely related to Turkey’s Kurds. In Turkey’s eyes, the YPG is the same level of strategic threat as IS or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party militant group, or PKK.

Both the U.S. and Russia have an interest, then, in preventing Turkey from intervening in Syria in any capacity beyond fighting the Islamic State. For one thing, Turkey is anti-Assad, and the rebel groups with which it is closest are ideologically incompatible with the U.S. and Russia. For another, Turkey would try to destroy the Syrian Kurdish statelet that has popped up during the war for fear that the spirit of independence might spread into Turkey’s own Kurdish region in the southeast, which has seen more and more clashes in the past two years between the PKK and Turkish security forces. The stronger both the Syrian Kurds and the Assad regime are, the harder it will be for Turkey to extend its power into the Levant, and the greater the balance against Turkey in the region will be as its strength grows over the next two decades.

Iran is another part of the equation, and here the intersection of U.S. and Russian interests is more complicated. The U.S. signed the nuclear deal with Iran because it needed Iran’s help to contain Islamic State forces in Iraq, but the U.S. also does not want to see Baghdad and the Shiite parts of Iraq become de facto provinces of Iran. The Americans need Iran’s help – and over the long term need Iran as a counterweight to Turkish power – but they will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. They will block any attempt by Iran to establish regional dominance, just as they would stop Turkey from forming a unified Sunni Arab force.

Russian relations with Iran have historically been fraught, but at the moment they are positive. This is in part because Iran supports the Assad regime and views every group in the region that is not Sunni as a potential proxy group. Iran’s Shiite proxies, such as Hezbollah, are also important for keeping up the fight against the Islamic State. Unlike the U.S., Russia is not too concerned with Iran’s westward expansion. It would not, however, tolerate Persian influence in the Caucasus any more than it would accept Turkish influence there.

The U.S. and Russia are not in total agreement in the Middle East, but their disagreements are not close to reaching the scale of the Cold War. And they both share a desire to limit the spread of Islamist ideology and to prevent any country or group in the Middle East from rising to challenge their interests. They will continue to compete in some ways – supporting groups in Syria that are fighting groups the other supports, for instance – but they ultimately want the same thing: for the Middle East’s problems to stay in the Middle East.

Syria’s immediate future, then, is bleak and will be marred by more years of war and Islamist insurgency. IS and al-Qaida will suffer defeats but will not be defeated. Turkey will rise. Saudi Arabia will fall. Iran will scheme. The Kurds will fight. And neither the U.S. nor Russia will be able to wash their hands of the region as this chaos unfolds.

The U.S. and Russia took different routes to Syria – the U.S. through the war on terror and a botched invasion of Iraq, Russia through a revolution in Ukraine and an unexpected drop in oil prices – but both are there to stay. They are at odds in many parts of the world, especially in Eastern Europe. But in the Middle East, they will work side by side – if not together – to eliminate IS and al-Qaida and prevent the emergence of any dominant regional power. The U.S. and Russia face different challenges from an unstable Middle East and will disagree over many of the particulars, but at the broadest level they will be working toward the same goal: a predictable balance of power. The Cold War is over, but for great powers, the world is a small place. The U.S. and Russia cannot help but run into each other.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/syrias-shattered-future/

· My comment: “A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle That Shaped the Middle East” a book worth reading.

https://www.amazon.de/Line-Sand-Britain-Struggle-Paperback/dp/B007Y5WVH4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506510899&sr=1-1&keywords=line+in+the+sand

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Buchempfehlung -Recommendation: “KRIEG UND CHAOS IN NAHOST: EINE ARABISCHE SICHTvon Aktham Suliman

NEUERSCHEINUNG(15. Juni 2017)

KRIEG UND CHAOS IN NAHOST: EINE ARABISCHE SICHT

»Weder wüstengelb, noch himmelblau: Blutrot war die eigentliche Farbe von Bagdad im Jahr 2003, denn das Zeitalter des gesichtslosen Todes war angebrochen«

Aktham Suliman


Millionen Menschen auf der Flucht, auch zu uns nach Europa. Blinde Gewalt überall, auch bei uns in Europa. Krieg, Flucht und Terror drohen überhandzunehmen. Was ist nur zwischen dem Westen und dem Nahen Osten in den letzten Jahren passiert? Dieses Buch ist ein Aufschrei gegen Befreiungs-, Demokratisierungs-, Präventiv-, Schutz-, Anti-Terror-, Pro-Frühlings- und Wie-Auch-Immer-Kriege in Nahost. kurzum: gegen den Dritten Weltkrieg. Mit viel Sachverstand, Gefühl und Ironie richtet der ehemalige Al-Dschasira-Korrespondent einen speziellen, arabischen Blick auf die Entwicklungen der letzten 25 Jahre im Orient. Der Autor zeichnet die unsichtbare Verbindungslinie zwischen dem Islamischen Staat, dem Arabischen Frühling, dem Irakkrieg, den Angriffen vom 11. September 2001 und dem Zweiten Golfkrieg. Er versucht das Muster hinter den „Dingen“ zu erkennen und nimmt dabei seine Leser mit auf eine spannende analytische, journalistische und biografische Reise; von Berlin bis nach Damaskus, Bagdad und Kairo mit – auch für den Autor selbst – überraschenden Ergebnissen.
>> Bestellung: Nomen Verlag

Aktham Suliman, Jahrgang 1970, ist ein deutsch-syrischer Nahostexperte und Journalist. Als er im Sommer 2012 aus Protest gegen zunehmend tendenziöse Berichterstattung seinen Job beim weltbekannten arabischen Nachrichtensender Al-Dschasira nach über 10 Jahren kündigte, schrieb der Focus: »Mr. Al-Dschasira geht.« Einem breiten deutschen Publikum wurde er durch seine Teilnahme an TV-Diskussionsrunden und Talkshows zu Nahost-Themen bekannt. Er studierte Publizistik, Politologie und Islamwissenschaft und lebt als freier Autor in Berlin.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

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

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

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

09-26-17 Turkey_Germany,China_India_Peace_Ukraine, Migrants,Syria,Kurdistan,Iran.pdf

http://a%20href= For more local news from India, visit Bloombergquint.com

Bloomberg the Company & Its ProductsBloomberg Anywhere Remote LoginBloomberg Anywhere LoginBloomberg Terminal Demo Request

Support

Americas+1 212 318 2000

EMEA+44 20 7330 7500

Asia Pacific+65 6212 1000

Company Bloomberg London About Careers Diversity and Inclusion Philanthropy and Engagement Sustainability TechCommunications Press Announcements Press ContactsFollow Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Instagram

Products Bloomberg Terminal Execution and Order Management Data and Content Financial Data Management Integration and Distribution Bloomberg TradebookIndustry Products Bloomberg Government Bloomberg Law/BNA Bloomberg Big Law Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Media Bloomberg Markets Bloomberg Technology Bloomberg Pursuits Bloomberg Politics Bloomberg Opinion Bloomberg Businessweek Bloomberg Live Conferences Bloomberg Mobile Bloomberg Radio Bloomberg Television News BureausMedia Services Bloomberg Media Distribution Advertising

Support

Americas+1 212 318 2000

EMEA+44 20 7330 7500

Asia Pacific+65 6212 1000

MENU

Sign In Subscribe


What Merkel’s Election Win Means for Germany



Trump: Ready to Use ‚Devastating Force‘ Against N. Korea



How Macro Trader Novogratz Became a Bitcoin Convert



Trump Said to Unveil 35% Individual Tax Rate



U.S. Sees ‚Four or Five‘ Ways to Resolve N. Korea Crisis



Novogratz Says Bitcoin Is a Bubble, But You Should Own It



China Blocks WhatsApp in Latest App Crackdown: NYT



Trump to Release ‚Very Powerful‘ Tax Plan Tomorrow



3 Charts: Bitcoin’s Plunge Good for Gold and China’s Yuan



Senate Kills the Graham-Cassidy Bill



China Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea

What Merkel’s Election Win Means for Germany

2:42 PM EDT
September 25, 2017 Share on FacebookShare on Twitter

Share on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Google+E-mailShare on TwitterShare on WhatsApp

Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg discusses the outcome of the German election with Bloomberg’s Emma Chandra on „Bloomberg Markets.“ (Source: Bloomberg)

Most Recent Videos

How Merkel’s Election Win Could Impact the Euro

Full Show: Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas (09/25)

Full Show: Surveillance (09/25)

Full Show: What’d You Miss? (09/25)

What Merkel’s Election Win Means for Germany

September 25, 2017

Germany Goes On, as in the Past, Says Anton Boerner
17:38 – Anton Boerner, head of German Export Association, talks about what German election results mean to the nation, markets, and the European Union. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller on „Bloomberg Markets.“ (Source: Bloomberg)

  • September 25, 2017

    How German Elections Could Complicate ECB Tapering

  • September 25, 2017

    AfD in Bundestag Hugely Important, Says Zettelmeyer

  • September 25, 2017

    Goldman’s Kukies Says Merkel Has One Coalition Choice

Terms of Service Trademarks Privacy Policy ©2017 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved
Careers Made in NYC Advertise Ad Choices Website Feedback Help

08-2017 Shapiro_GPF_Valdai-Valdai Paper -No_73 – Russia-US Relations and the Future of Syria .pdf
08-24-17 Examining How the South Caucasus Is Responding to Trump _ Chatham House.pdf