US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

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13.01.2019

"France weighs its Syria presence, cooperation with Russia"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/russia-france-syria-kurds-turkey.html

Der begonnene Rückzug der USA aus Syrien habe Frankreich veranlasst, die eigene Syrienstrategie zu überdenken, berichtet Igor Delanoe. "After President Donald Trump said in December that US troops were to leave Syria 'very soon,' a French military source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that this situation would create a critical problem for France’s special forces in Syria. 'It’s not only about logistics. Should they leave, we will have to figure out what to do in a relatively short lap of time.' French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on a French TV channel Jan. 10, 'France will militarily withdraw from Syria once a political agreement is reached.' This remark has significance. First, French officials rarely comment on the military presence of France in Syria as there is no legal basis for intervention in the Arab republic. Second, Le Drian, who served as defense minister under President Francois Hollande, commented on military affairs while serving as minister of foreign affairs. All this raises the question of what would happen if a political road map is set in Geneva tomorrow and if, in the meantime, the Islamic State is able to retake control of a sizable chunk of Syrian territory. Would the French troops leave anyway?"

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11.01.2019

"Intel: How the Syria pullout highlights Pentagon-Bolton tensions"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/intel-syria-pull-out-highlight-pentagon-bolton-tension
s.html

Der begonnene Abzug von US-Truppen aus Syrien deutet Al-Monitor zufolge darauf hin, dass es zwischen dem Pentagon und "Falken" wie dem Nationalen Sicherheitsberater John Bolton Spannungen gebe. Bolton hatte zuletzt auf recht strengen Bedingungen für einen Truppenabzug aus Syrien bestanden. "Bolton’s insistence that the United States still stop the re-emergence of the Islamic State and Iranian-backed proxies in Syria could frustrate military planners trying to interpret Trump’s withdrawal order. The circumstances could prove especially difficult, experts say, as Washington faces a partial government shutdown with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan only 10 days into his new job. (...) alarm bells are ringing in the Pentagon that the new secretary might not be able to get around Bolton’s views on Syria, which are far more hawkish than Trump’s. A former US official told Al-Monitor that former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis 'had a unique level of credibility and juice' to defy Bolton, and that few people in the Defense Department have anything good to say about Bolton."

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09.01.2019

"Iranians slam new EU sanctions as JCPOA hangs in balance"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/iran-european-union-sanctions-reactions-assassinations
.html

Die EU hat wegen angeblicher Aktivitäten des iranischen Geheimdienstes auf europäischem Boden Sanktionen gegen Offizielle der iranischen Regierung verhängt. Auf iranischer Seite mehren sich nun Al-Monitor zufolge die Stimmen, die auf die europäischen Maßnahmen zur Rettung des Atomabkommens nicht länger warten wollen. "(...) signs of frustration are already appearing not just from the country's hard-liners. On the sidelines of his meetings with Indian officials, Zarif noted that while working with the Europeans, Iran won’t wait for them to enforce the SPV and will instead turn to what he called 'traditional partners' — namely India, China and Russia. Kayhan, a hard-line daily affiliated with the office of the supreme leader, found the EU announcement to be a validation of its previous predictions that, unlike what the Iranian government assumes, Europe will tighten the noose around Tehran's neck rather than help it enjoy the dividends promised by the JCPOA. (...) In a critical piece, moderate daily Khorasan also slammed Europeans for pushing Iran into a corner instead of accelerating the implementation of the stalled SPV. Javan, a conservative paper close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, likened Europe to a cow that has given Iran 'the kick rather than the milk.'"

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06.01.2019

"Saudi Arabia gets US missile defense boost despite Khashoggi uproar"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/saudia-arabia-us-missile-defense-boost-khashoggi.html

Trotz der zum Teil scharfen Kritik an Saudi-Arabien im US-Kongress habe das Weiße Haus eine Modernisierung saudi-arabischer Raketenabwehrsysteme im Wert von fast 200 Millionen US-Dollar bewilligt, berichtet Jack Detsch. "Under the commercial deal approved by the State Department in December, Saudi Arabia will receive $195 million in upgrades to improve its Patriot PAC-3 defenses, including a guidance system that increases its ability to intercept ballistic missiles able to evade US-made radars. (...) A State Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor on background that Trump had indicated the United States would remain a 'steadfast' partner for Saudi Arabia, despite tensions over the war in Yemen and Khashoggi’s death. (...) The deal to bolster Saudi Arabia’s missile defenses comes as leading senators sought to block other US weapons sales to the kingdom after Khashoggi’s death. In the wake of the killing, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, aimed to suspend all US arms sales to Riyadh except ground-based missile defenses."

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04.01.2019

"Turkish army brass at odds over military operation in Syria"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/turkey-syria-some-in-army-oppose-new-operation-against
-kurds.html

Im türkischen Militär gebe es offenbar Widerstand gegen eine neue Offensive in Syrien, berichtet Fehim Tastekin. Zwei Kommandeure seien aufgrund ihrer Einwände von ihren Posten abgelöst worden. "Deniz Zeyrek, a columnist for Sozcu and a seasoned defense and diplomacy writer, summarized their objections in three points: - The threat Turkey now faces is different from what we encountered in the Euphrates Shield and Afrin operations. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) today receives substantial support from the United States. They are better equipped and trained. - The international support Turkey received for its two earlier operations is no longer available. Both the United States and Russia are sending mixed messages. Climatic and topographic conditions could work against our goal of minimal casualties. - The United States is trying to task Turkey with a war against the Islamic State. Turkey is not required to fight IS far from its border. Until now, the top military ranks had kept quiet on their differences of opinion, but over the past days retired officers have voiced unease with the government’s Syria policy."

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29.12.2018

"Are Turkey, Syria squaring off in response to US decision?"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/12/us-troops-withdrawal-syria-opposition-turkey-military.
html

Auch Mohammed al-Khatieb erläutert mögliche Auswirkungen des angekündigten Rückzugs der USA aus Syrien auf die komplexen Machtverhältnisse und Konfliktlinien im Land. "The Syrian rebels hope the US withdrawal will speed up their movement east of the Euphrates, but at the same time, they fear losing the strategic al-Tanf area at the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle. This is where opposition fighters are deployed under the umbrella of the US-led international coalition against IS. (...) Turkey is trying to avoid a clash with Russia and Iran and gain more approval from them to keep the cease-fire standing in rebel-held Idlib, to proceed with forming the Syrian Constitutional Committee and most importantly to prevent a deal between the Syrian regime and the SDF — which looks to be happening now. The SDF wants to avoid losing its areas of control to the Turks and the Syrian opposition."

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19.12.2018

"US diplomats shaken by Trump decision to exit Syria"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/12/us-state-department-syria-trump-withdraw-isis-iran.htm
l

US-Präsident Trump hat mit seiner Ankündigung des Truppenabzugs aus Syrien offenbar auch die eigenen Diplomaten überrascht. Eine Rücknahme der Entscheidung werde diesmal von vielen Experten ausgeschlossen, berichtet Laura Rozen. "(...) US officials, speaking not for attribution, and Syria experts who consult with the US administration said that this time they believe Trump’s decision is real, and will not be reversed by a bureaucracy that has urged him to keep US forces in Syria longer. 'This time it’s real and truly catastrophic,' a US official, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. 'The president is just done' and said 'leave.' Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria came in the wake of a phone call between him and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday in which Erdogan said Turkish forces could finish off IS remnants and other terrorist groups, Syria experts said."

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10.12.2018

"US erects observation posts to avert war between Turks, Syrian Kurds"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/12/us-three-observation-posts-turkey-syria-border.html

Das US-Militär habe an der syrisch-türkischen Grenze mindestens drei Beobachtungsposten errichtet, berichtet Amberin Zaman. Ziel sei offenbar, einen offenen Krieg zwischen den kurdischen Verbündeten in Syrien und dem NATO-Partner Türkei zu verhindern. "(...) the observation posts make it less likely that Turkey will risk confrontation with US forces. The presence of coalition observers also makes it harder for Turkey to claim that the YPG is the aggressor. But they won’t necessarily be around forever. Ryan noted, 'The coalition does not define an observation post as a permanent structure by military means … everything is based on revolving battlefield assessments and can change as the mission dictates.' But ultimately, it’s the commander in chief, US President Donald Trump, who calls the shots."

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03.12.2018

"Intel: Why experts are pessimistic about Yemen peace deal"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/12/intel-yemen-peace-talks-griffiths-un-houthi-saudi.html

Die Erfolgsaussichten der geplanten Friedensverhandlungen zwischen den Kriegsparteien in Jemen werden von vielen Experten offenbar skeptisch beurteilt. "Even if the peace deal succeeds, experts aren’t convinced it will last. 'Yemen has a Humpty Dumpty problem,' Gregory D. Johnsen, a former member of the UN panel of experts on Yemen, told the Associated Press. 'It’s broken and I don’t think anybody, no matter how much money they pour into the country, will be able to put it back together again — and certainly not anytime soon.'"

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29.11.2018

"Can Turkey mediate Russian-Ukrainian conflict on the Black Sea?"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/turkey-mediate-conflict-black-sea-russia-ukraine.html

Die neue Krise zwischen der Ukraine und Russland vor der Küste der Krim wird von den Anrainern des Schwarzen Meers mit zunehmender Sorge beobachtet, schreibt Yekaterina Chulkovskaya. Die Türkei habe angesichts der Kriegsgefahr bereits eine Vermittlung angeboten. "(...) the crisis between Russia and Ukraine could also bring some benefits for Turkey. Turkish historian Ilyas Kemaloglu believes that the situation opens huge opportunities for Ankara. 'Turkey is the only country in the region that has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, and is also strong and active in the international arena. Ankara has a chance to prove itself in the diplomatic sphere.' Turkey is one of the few countries that has managed to keep good relations with both Russia and Ukraine after the Crimean crisis and conflict in eastern Ukraine. Ankara did its best not to take sides: Although Turkey doesn’t recognize the annexation of Crimea, at the same time it didn’t join anti-Russian sanctions."

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09.11.2018

"Intel: Why the US thinks designating Houthis as terrorists could help peace in Yemen"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/intel-washington-houthi-yemen-terrorism-talks.html

Die US-Regierung erwägt einem Bericht der Washington Post zufolge, die Huthi-Rebellen in Jemen offiziell als "Terrororganisation" einzustufen. "Designating the Houthis as terrorists would make it illegal for US citizens to provide money or other material support to the group. It’s not clear, however, that a movement that originated in northern Yemen in the early 1990s enjoys many Western linkages. (...) 'I think it points to an overall viewpoint that if enough pressure is applied, the Houthis will start behaving the way the US, Saudis, and others want them to,' a former UN consultant told Al-Monitor. Strategic differences: Even as the United States debates designating the Houthis, it has long taken a different approach in Afghanistan, opting not to label the Taliban as a terror group in order to salvage peace talks. (...) Some experts thought the move signals a continued US willingness to go along with Saudi policy in Yemen. 'I think it’s just [a] reflexive anti-Houthi/Iran approach, or more accurately just a copy-paste of Saudi [talking points],' one former US official told Al-Monitor. 'It has huge humanitarian consequences if true.'"

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04.11.2018

"Saudi Arabia ignores Trump administration on Yemen"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/saudi-arabia-ignores-trump.html

Saudi-Arabien habe den amerikanischen Aufruf zu einem neuen Waffenstillstand in Jemen nicht nur ignoriert, sondern die Luftangriffe in den letzten Tagen sogar weiter verschärft, schreibt Bruce Riedel. "(...) the Saudis have escalated their airstrikes on Sanaa and Hodeidah instead. The capital and the main port have been heavily pounded by the Saudi coalition since Pompeo and Mattis spoke. (...) The crown prince is well aware that he is the potential fall guy if his war is perceived to be a failure. The crown prince is counting on the Trump administration to stick with him given the blank check it has provided for Saudi Arabia in the last two years. The Khashoggi affair will fade away, and the president will never take serious action regarding the war. So far he has been right."

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29.10.2018

"What's behind Russia’s 'wait and see' approach on Khashoggi killing?"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/10/russia-khashoggi-ksa-turkey-us.html

Russlands Reaktion auf die Ermordung des Journalisten Jamal Khashoggi sei bisher auffällig zurückhaltend ausgefallen, schreibt Maxim A. Suchkov. Moskau wolle offenbar das gute Verhältnis zu den Saudis nicht unnötig belasten und sich nicht in einen Streit zwischen Regionalmächten einmischen. "Even if Moscow sees the Khashoggi case as a mixture of possible opportunities that may or may not be taken advantage of, the bottom line is the incident turned out to be a heavily politicized issue that regional heavyweights will be using for leverage with the United States and each other. Political relationships in the region can be easily broken and then mended in most unexpected ways — and the other way around. Hence the dominant logic is if your interest vis-a-vis the region is strong and long-term, such as that of Russia, you would be wise to stay clear of incidents where you gain more with all parties by not interfering."

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17.10.2018

"Can Russia make a positive change in Libya?"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/10/russia-libya-haftar-peace-settlement.html

Der russische Politikwissenschaftler Grigory Lukyanov erläutert den Umfang des russischen Engagements in Libyen und besteht darauf, dass es für die angebliche Errichtung eines russischen Militärstützpunkts keine Belege gebe. "The rumors about the Russian military base in Libya have been circulating for two years and have not been factually proven. These rumors create conditions for journalists and experts to make far-fetched hypotheses about Russian military facilities appearing not only in Tobruk but also in Benghazi. Given the size of the city and the way information flows there, it is hard to keep events of such scale clandestine. Had Russia deployed troops there, locals would have noticed and reported it a long time ago. (...) Military presence does not fall under the scope of interests and principles of Russian policy in North Africa and particularly in Libya. (...) The Libyan resolution currently needs innovative, alternative approaches, and Russia can be helpful in this regard. As a country that has stayed outside the conflict during the last few years, it is thus able to become an appealing agent of change providing benefits for anyone interested in the actual reconciliation in Libya."

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17.10.2018

"Is Erdogan aiming to end Turkey’s dream of EU membership?"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/10/turkey-is-erdogan-aiming-to-end-eu-membership-bid.html

Semih Idiz hält es für möglich, dass Präsident Erdogan ein Referendum durchführen lassen könnte, um einem türkischen EU-Beitritt eine endgültige Absage zu erteilen. "This has in fact been a hobby horse for Erdogan for some time now. He even called on Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 to help Turkey join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization so that Ankara could end its bid to join the EU. Although Erdogan has called for an EU referendum in the past, he has not acted on this to date, leading many to assume that he is only engaging in political rhetoric. Given the right alignment of factors in Turkey and Europe, though, Erdogan’s repeated calls for a referendum could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially since he has been courting nationalist quarters as much as religious ones to shore up his domestic support base."

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09.10.2018

"Disappearance of Saudi journalist puts Erdogan in difficult situation"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/10/turkey-saudi-arabia-khashoggi-erdogan-difficult-situat
ion.html

Semih Idiz erläutert, warum die Beziehungen zwischen der Türkei und Saudi-Arabien in der Vergangenheit bestenfalls als kühl und pragmatisch eingeschätzt werden konnten. Das Verschwinden des saudi-arabischen Journalisten Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul könnte nun zu einer offenen diplomatischen Krise zwischen beiden Ländern führen. "Ankara is clearly angry that the Saudi regime selected Turkey to carry out an operation such as this, fully aware that this was bound to leave Turkey in a difficult position domestically and internationally. (...) Diplomatic observers expect Turkey to recall its ambassador in Riyadh and expel the Saudi Consul General in Istanbul in the coming days, depending on how this affair pans out. The potential for this to turn into a full-blown crisis between the two countries also remains on the cards. Meanwhile, Khashoggi's Turkish friends seem determined to see that this matter is not swept under the carpet for the sake of diplomatic expediency."

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01.10.2018

"Erdogan in Germany: A controversial but successful visit"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/09/turkey-erdogan-germany-visit-has-been-achievement.html

Präsident Erdogan kann nach Ansicht des türkischen Kolumnisten Cengiz Candar ein positives Fazit seiner "kontroversen" Staatsvisite in Deutschland ziehen. Erdogan habe erkannt und geschickt genutzt, dass die Bundesregierung in ihrer Türkei-Politik eine realpolitische Strategie verfolge. "Erdogan was aware of this overriding principle of German realpolitik. With that awareness, he insisted for a red carpet welcome with military honors and the opportunity to open a mosque in Cologne; this allowed him to parade as the leader of the Muslim world, something he was denied in Germany a year ago. He returned to Turkey without committing himself to improve the human rights and democracy record of his country. In the light of all this, was he successful at the end of his controversial visit? In a word, yes."

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28.09.2018

"As Gaza despairs, Hamas has one option left: intifada"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/09/israel-plestinians-egypt-hamas-fatah-mahmoud-abbas-gaz
a-idf.html

Shlomi Eldar schreibt, dass der Versöhnungskurs zwischen Hamas und Fatah gescheitert sei. Der Vermittler Ägypten werde dies bald offiziell bestätigen. Insider befürchteten nun, dass die Hamas nun erneut eine Konfrontation mit Israel suchen und eine entsprechende Reaktion herausfordern könnte. "'We have returned to the exact same spot we were in three months ago, but this time there is no plan in the offing that provides a bit of hope for an arrangement,' an Israeli security source noted on condition of anonymity. 'Now we are reaching the moment of truth.' It seems likely that this time, Israel will be forced to make a historic decision after years of delay: Either resign itself to counting round after round of war games planned by Hamas to save its regime, or take action to bring it down."

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26.09.2018

"Turkey, Germany try to turn new page in name of mutual interests"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/09/turkey-germany-move-to-let-bygones-be-bygones.html

Semih Idiz schreibt, dass die Entwicklung in Syrien die erneute Annäherung zwischen Deutschland und der Türkei vorantreibe. Dies werde auch beim Deutschlandbesuch des türkischen Präsidenten Erdogan deutlich werden. "Dogacan Basaran from the Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies maintains that the current spate of high-level Turkish-German contacts should be seen in this context. 'The international situation is speeding up the Turkish-German reconciliation. Developments in Idlib in particular and the prospect of a new flood of refugees are also forcing Ankara and Berlin together,' he wrote in an article for the pro-government daily Yeni Safak. (...) Not surprisingly, Syria is one of the topics Erdogan is expected to concentrate on in his talks with Steinmeier and Merkel, and he is also likely to push for German support for the reconstruction of Syria. Turkey says it is vital for stabilizing the Idlib region in particular, so that a safe environment can be secured not just for the 3.5 million Syrians already there, but also for those who are in Turkey or Europe."

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19.09.2018

"Russia gives Turkey one last month for solution in Syria"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/09/turkey-syria-russia-allows-one-last-month-for-idlib.ht
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Mit der jüngsten Einigung zur Einrichtung einer Pufferzone in Idlib habe Russland der Türkei praktisch einen Monat Zeit gegeben, um die radikalen Gruppen in der syrischen Provinz davon zu überzeugen, den Bedingungen der demilitarisierten Zone zuzustimmen und ihre schweren Waffen abzugeben, schreibt Metin Gurcan. Nach dieser Frist könnte demnach eine von Ankara unterstützte russische Kampagne zur Bekämpfung der Gruppen beginnen, die sich diesen Bedingungen widersetzen. "It will be interesting to see how Ankara tries to persuade Idlib radical groups — above all, HTS — to get on board with the Putin-Erdogan agreement. It appears Ankara has offered these options: - If they want to remain in Idlib they will give up their guns and demobilize. - If they don’t want to give up their guns, they will have to leave Idlib. - Those who refuse to give up their guns but still want to remain will then be expected to join the National Liberation Front, fully supported by Turkey in the Jarablus/al-Rai/al-Bab triangle. If there are groups that reject all options, Ankara will then be expected to provide Russia with intelligence and logistics to conduct targeted operations against them. It's now understood that the Idlib operation, instead of being a high-paced, short-term operation, will drag on for eight to 10 months at a low tempo with occasional targeted attacks while negotiations continue."

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18.09.2018

"What Putin-Erdogan deal means for Idlib"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/09/russia-turkey-idlib-deal-sochi.html

Maxim A. Suchkov berichtet über Einzelheiten und mögliche Konsequenzen der Einigung zwischen Präsident Putin und Präsident Erdogan über die Einrichtung einer Pufferzone in der syrischen Idlib-Provinz. "The deal, however, if it indeed can be branded as such, is a significant but just initial serious step in settling the complex matter Idlib has grown into over the last few years. The juice is definitely worth the squeeze here but multiple challenges — military and diplomatic alike — remain. Most important is the question as to how long Moscow can be successful in continuing to restrain President Assad’s attempt to extend his government's control over the territory and whether Ankara delivers on its own commitments that are many, fine and security-sensitive. Finally, there are questions over how politically and militarily 'surgical' both will get trying to separate the 'moderate wheat' from the 'radical chaff' without endangering Syria’s security in the long run, by trying to assimilate the latter into the former, but also without hurting the civilians in the immediate term."

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11.09.2018

"Iran eyes major role in post-war Syria via reconstruction"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/09/iran-syria-reconstruction-russia-china-belt-road-initi
ative.html

Iran will seinen Einfluss in Syrien durch eine führende Rolle beim Wiederaufbau des Landes sichern, schreibt Hamidreza Azizi. Dabei verfolge Teheran mit dem Rekonstruktionsprojekt konkrete wirtschaftliche, geopolitische und militärische Ziele. "Economically, it's closely linked to Iran’s plans to overcome the negative effects of the US sanctions that were re-imposed after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal. (...) Syria’s reconstruction could provide the Iranian private sector and particularly SMEs with an opportunity not only to get involved in profitable business activity abroad, but also to make new connections with other international firms that may take part in that process. (...) On the geopolitical level, Iran seems to be trying to build upon its influence in Iraq and Syria and its close ties with China to introduce itself as a key component of China’s BRI, providing an alternative route for Beijing to establish a land corridor connecting Asia to the Mediterranean and further to western Europe. (...) As for the military aspect of Iran’s reconstruction plans for Syria, Iran seeks to preserve its military influence without perpetuating its direct military presence in the country, as doing so would prompt a backlash not only from the United States and Israel, but probably also from Iran’s close wartime ally Russia."

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10.09.2018

"Why did Putin disregard his Turkish partner?"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/09/turkey-putin-disregarded-his-turkish-partner.html

Der Türkei ist es bei den Gesprächen mit Russland und Iran in Teheran nicht gelungen, die erwartete Offensive gegen die Rebellenhochburg Idlib in Syrien zu verhindern. Nach Ansicht von Cengiz Candar bestätigt dies den Eindruck der derzeitigen internationalen Isolation des Landes. Nun müsse sich Ankara auf eine neue Flüchtlingswelle und eine Konfrontation mit der dschihadistischen Rebellengruppe Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) einstellen. "The best Putin could do for Erdogan after the Tehran summit was to direct the offensive to Idlib in stages, so his Turkish partner could gain a little more time. However, even for that, the difficulty lies in the area where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is concentrated. The jihadi organization, with its 10,000 or more fighters, holds ground adjacent to the Turkish border from Jisr al-Shughour to the Bab al-Hawa crossing point between Syria and Turkey. It extends for 35 kilometers (21 miles) and controls the passage of humanitarian aid crossing Turkey and reaching into Idlib. As long as the Syrian regime and its main Russian and Iranian allies are adamant about removing the jihadi element from Idlib, there are the following hard realities: Russia and Iran will impose the Assad regime's control on borders, including Idlib's border with Turkey. This cannot be realized unless Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is removed from Idlib. Refugees will flee toward Turkey, and so will jihadis; a humanitarian disaster would be almost impossible to prevent."

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13.08.2018

"Iran readjusts its Syria strategy amid Russia’s changing role"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/08/iran-syria-golan-heights-russia-israel-shiite-groups-u
s.html

Hamidreza Azizi von der Shahid Beheshti University in Teheran erläutert die Hintergründe der veränderten Strategie Irans in Syrien. Ein wichtiger Teil der Neuausrichtung sei der Rückzug pro-iranischer Milizen aus dem Süden des Landes. "(...) it seems that Iran itself is in a process of redefining its role in Syria, which has mostly been derived from the impression that the end of the war is close and now is a time to focus on safeguarding Iran's interests through political and diplomatic measures. In this vein, Iran is shifting its strategy from playing an active military role toward more actively participating in the diplomatic frameworks regarding Syria. (...) All in all, it could be said that the recent withdrawal of Iranian and pro-Iran forces from southern Syria has more to do with Iran updating its Syria strategy and adapting it to be in line with the new political and military developments, rather than a decision to leave Syria due to Russian or Israeli pressures."

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12.08.2018

"Saudi Arabia’s diplomacy has costs"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/08/saudi-arabia-diplomacy-costs.html

Saudi-Arabien hat seit der Thronbesteigung von Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud und dem Aufstieg von Kronprinz Mohammed bin Salman eine ganze Reihe von außenpolitischen Entscheidungen getroffen, die dem Königreich nach Ansicht von Bruce Riedel geschadet haben. "With rare exceptions the Saudis have lurched from one poor decision to the next; the Canada caper is the latest. The erratic diplomacy is hurting the kingdom. The first tough decision of the new leadership is still their worst, to intervene in the Yemeni civil war. (...) The blockade of Qatar was also intended to produce a quick Saudi victory. The Qatari emir was excommunicated from Wahhabi Islam and was then to be deposed. As in Yemen, the Saudi leadership had no concept of how to implement its decision; Riyadh and its allies had a goal but no serious scheme to achieve it. (...) The Saudi decision to expel the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh, freeze trade ties and withdraw 15,000 Saudis from Canadian schools and hospitals in response to the Canadian foreign minister protesting the detention of female critics is another poor call by the Saudi leadership."

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06.08.2018

"US hopes new sanctions fuel Iran protests"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/08/us-hopes-iran-sanctions-fuel-protests.html

Die US-Regierung hofft Laura Rozen zufolge, dass die neuen Sanktionen gegen den Iran die Proteste gegen das Regime weiter anfachen werden. Das Gesprächsangebot der USA erscheine unter diesen Umständen für einige Experten allerdings unglaubwürdig. "Iranian American analyst Amir Handjani also questioned whether the Trump administration would actually be willing to make a new deal with the Iranian regime it is trying to destabilize. 'There is an inherent contradiction in saying we want to sit down with the Iranians and cut a better deal with them, while at the same time encouraging more unrest and havoc inside Iran,' Handjani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a member of the board of directors of RAK Petroleum, told Al-Monitor by email. 'Either it's poorly thought out diplomatic strategy at best or a disingenuous attempt for rapprochement with Tehran at worst,' Handjani said. 'It's doubtful that Rouhani will sit down with Trump unless the administration clarifies its position and then backs its rhetoric with concrete, tangible steps.'"

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31.07.2018

"Why is Europe underplaying its hand on Iran?"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/07/iran-jcpoa-nuclear-sanctions-us-europe-eu-swift-board.
html

Die Bemühungen der EU, europäische Unternehmen davon zu überzeugen, trotz drohender US-Sanktionen weiter Geschäfte mit dem Iran zu machen, haben Axel Hellman zufolge bisher kaum Erfolg. Dies liege zum einen an der Machtposition der USA, zum andern aber auch an der zögerlichen Haltung der europäischen Regierungen. "Take, for instance, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the messaging system that facilitates global cross-border financial transactions. (...) Come Nov. 4, the US Treasury will require the network to once again disengage Iranian banks. This would deal a severe blow to European attempts to salvage the nuclear deal. (...) Yet Europe has much more leverage to protect SWIFT than European officials appear to acknowledge. To begin with, SWIFT — which is located in Belgium — falls under European jurisdiction and, as its management has made clear, answers to European laws. (...) According to one key EU diplomat who spoke with Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, what is striking about the looming US sanctions is that they do not even need to be enforced — the mere possibility of getting caught in the crosshairs of the US Treasury seems to be enough for businesses to stand back. Businesses, in this sense, often act on a general perception of risk, leading to over-compliance. To credibly respond to such premature moves by the private sector, European governments and the EU need a firmer posture and signaling. On this, SWIFT is case in point."

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30.07.2018

"Syria's Idlib emerges as Achilles heel in Russia-Turkey partnership"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/07/turkey-russia-syria-astana-on-verge-of-collapse-due-to
-idlib.html

Die von vielen Beobachtern erwartete Offensive syrischer Regierungstruppen gegen die letzte verbliebene Rebellenprovinz Idlib würde die Allianz zwischen Russland und der Türkei ernsthaft auf die Probe stellen, schreibt Fehim Taştekin. "Another important factor is that all the anti-Russia Northern Caucasus fighters have assembled in Idlib. Russia was hoping from the outset to settle its accounts with these homegrown enemies away from home territory. (...) Turkey’s claim of sponsorship of armed groups in Idlib is forcing Ankara to choose between bad and worse options. Turkey's sponsorship aspirations in Idlib are also proving difficult to achieve due to the clandestine efforts of the Islamic State to find openings for its affiliates in Idlib; the growing strength of al-Qaeda-associated groups; and escalating clashes between all these factions. (...) The current rulers of Idlib are among the most irreconcilable and fanatic factions of the war, making the likelihood of an operation a strong possibility."

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24.07.2018

"Russia zeroes in on returning Christians to Syrian homes"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/07/russia-christians-syria.html

Russland will den Westen Anton Mardasov zufolge durch einen verstärkten Fokus auf die Rückkehr christlicher Flüchtlinge zur Kooperation beim Wiederaufbau Syriens bewegen. "Russia and the West are already coordinating their efforts to return refugees home and even to start the reconstruction process. For instance, the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholics are restoring Christian churches and monasteries across the country. (...) Up to a point, Moscow has touted the idea of protecting Christians for domestic consumption. Christianity is the largest religion in the country; as much as 75% of the population identify as Christian, mainly Russian Orthodox. Yet once it became clear that the course of the war had tilted toward the Assad regime, Russia began actively voicing the importance of protecting Christians in its foreign relations. (...) Damascus, which publicly guarantees the rights of Christians and other religious minorities, is likely to start relying on the refugee factor more intensively. As for the countries hosting Syrian refugees, Assad will probably push for their participation in the reconstruction. However, it's still not clear whether Syrian Christians actually want to return to their war-torn homeland."

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09.07.2018

"Israel prepares for Assad’s return to the border"

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/07/israel-syria-iran-lebanon-hezbollah-bashar-al-assad-id
f.html

Der Vormarsch der Assad-Verbündeten im Südwesten Syriens könnte Ben Caspit zufolge dazu führen, dass die syrische Seite der Golanhöhen bald wieder von Regierungstruppen besetzt werden wird. Sollte der Iran dabei außen vor bleiben, sähe man dies in Israel nicht nur als schlechte Nachricht: "As of this moment, while Israel is not sure if this is really good news, at least it is not bad news either. More and more voices in the security system are saying that Assad even heralds a form of hope for the return of the old order and some kind of stability, along the lines of 'Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.'"

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