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5. November 2014, 13.11 Uhr:

Teherans Haushaltssorgen

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Und der Ölpreis fällt und fällt und fällt. Das sind ganze schlechte Nachrichten vor allem für den Iran, der mindestens 110 USD pro Barrel benötigt, um langfristig seinen haushalt einigermaßen stabil zu halten, einen Haushalt, der auch immense Zahlungen an die Verbündeten im Libanon, Syrien, dem Jemen und Irak einschließt. Denn im Ölkrieg der gerade herrscht, sitzt, anders als an allen Fronten, Saudi Arabien am etwas längeren Hebel und kann, zumindest eine Zeitlang, mit Preisen von 80 USD leben:

Am Montag kündigte Saudi-Arabien an, den Ölpreis zu senken, und zwar gezielt für die Vereinigten Staaten, den wichtigsten Kunden und Konkurrenten des Königreichs. Die Nachricht löste eine Schockwelle aus. An der New Yorker Rohstoffbörse Nymex fiel der Preis für ein Fass (159 Liter) Öl der Sorte West Texas Intermediate (WTI) erstmals seit 2012 unter die Grenze von 80 Dollar. Am Dienstagmorgen kostete der Stoff noch 77 Dollar, 27 Prozent weniger als im Juni. Die Kurse von Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP und Total brachen ein. Nun sind heftige Preisausschläge für Rohöl nichts Ungewöhnliches. Seit ein paar Wochen jedoch befindet sich der Preis im freien Fall.

5. November 2014, 10.39 Uhr:

Wie der Islamische Staat stark wurde

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Eine unbedingt sehenswerte Dokumentation von Frontline: The Rise of ISIS.

4. November 2014, 20.06 Uhr:

Obamas Alliierte

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

In den Krieg gegen den Islamischen Staat zieht die US-Administration nicht nur mit den üblichen bewährten Alliierten wie Saudi Arabien oder Qatar, deren Führung ständig darum bemüht ist, Differenzen zwischen sich und dem Khalifat zu erklären, die faktisch kaum existieren, also etwa die Frage zu beantworten, warum Kreuzigungen und Steinigungen in Saudi Arabien wesentlich moderater seien als in Raqqa oder Mosul; diesmal haben sie die USA auch mit allerlei schiitischen Milizen verbündet, die unter Schirmherrschaft des Iran stehen und vor Ort gegen ihre Gegner in einer Weise wüten, die sich auch nur graduell vom IS unterscheidet:

The Khorasani Brigade is a relatively recent addition to the network of Shiite militias in Iraq – and despite a similar sounding name, has no connection to the Khorasan Group, the alleged al Qaeda-affiliated organization that was the target of U.S. airstrikes in Syria in September. The Khorasani Brigade is just one of dozens of similar militias that are essentially running their own show in parts of the country. These Shiite militias are supplied with weapons and equipment from the central government in Baghdad, which is now being assisted by a U.S.-led military alliance in its fight against the Islamic State.

These militias’ actions will only exacerbate Iraq’s existing sectarian tensions. The country is no stranger to sectarian violence: Its Shiite population suffered for decades under the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein, and after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 the country spiraled into a cycle of revenge violence, culminating in a bloody civil war in 2006 and 2007. Many accused the largely autocratic rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of fueling sectarian flames.

While the Iraqi central government has virtually no formal authority over the militias, who act as a law unto themselves, some key politicians in Baghdad have strong alliances to individual militias. In October, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appointed Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban – a prominent member of the Badr Organization, a Shiite political group that controls one of the largest and most infamous militias – as interior minister.

2. November 2014, 11.36 Uhr:

Es kaum abwarten können

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

In Europa und den USA können sie es kaum abwarten:

According to The Wall Street Journal, the three companies have already entered preliminary talks for offering iPhones and spare parts in Iran. American companies have not been officially part of the Iranian market since the 1979 hostage crisis.

The recent talks between Iran and the 5+1, which have also entailed direct talks with U.S. officials, are opening new doors for these companies, and they appear more than ready to use them.

Boeing has announced that it has already entered into agreements with Iran for the sale of airplane spare parts, which is their first official agreement since 1979.

Boeing and GE have been allowed by special permission from the U.S. Treasury to enter into agreements with Iran for the sale of spare parts. That permission came after an interim deal was reached between Iran and the 5+1 last November in Geneva.

2. November 2014, 01.17 Uhr:

Grund zur Freude

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Hussein Ibish über die Wahlen in Tunesien:

At a time when Arabs and Middle East watchers are desperately in need of some good news, the Tunisian election is, thankfully, providing a bumper crop. The trend in much of the rest of the region is bad in several cases, desperately so. But Tunisia is demonstrating, along several crucial axes, how Arab societies can, indeed, move forward in a positive direction and a constructive manner. (…)

But there isn’t anything unique in Tunisia that sets it apart from all other Arab states, including its proximity to Europe; decades of progressive, secular dictatorship; and relative homogeneity and prosperity. These factors are often cited to explain Tunisian exceptionalism.

There isn’t any reason particularly to believe in Tunisian exceptionalism though. True enough, Tunisians have continued to show the way forward, and this election is perhaps the biggest single expression of that regional moral and political leadership the country has developed. And, true enough, that all Arab states have unique features that set them apart from all the others.

But if Tunisians can achieve this kind of political accomplishment, which is routine in much of the world but unheard of and indeed revolutionary in the Arab world, why not see it as a bellwether for the future of the region? Why on earth would anyone want to (and it is a choice) assume that Tunisia is uniquely able to construct a democracy while the rest of the Arab world is consigned to long-term, or even permanent, incapability? It’s at least as plausible that Tunisia is demonstrating how democracy really works in the Arab world, and that this example will be followed, with modifications, elsewhere, given time.

After a summer of ISIS, the Gaza war, the further collapse of Libya and Yemen into chaos, and so many other regional nightmares, it would be both irrational and foolish not to embrace Tunisia’s accomplishment as at least as much of a representative of the Arab present, and the potential Arab future, as any of these nightmares.

1. November 2014, 19.58 Uhr:

Kein Plan, keine Strategie, keine Vision, aber ganz viel Mikromanagement

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Wie die Obama Administration ihren Krieg gegen den IS führt, beschreibt Daily Beast in einem erhellenden Artikel, der alles bestätigt, was man seit August befürchtet hat: Dass es nämlich weder einen Plan, noch eine Strategie noch eine Vision gibt, weshalb inzwischen nicht nur hochrangige Militärs, sondern selbst der Chef des Pentagons das Weiße Haus ganz offen kritisieren.

Derweil rückt im Irak der IS weiter vor und in Idlib in Syrien, liefern sich Einheiten der FSA schwere Gefechte mit dem Islamischen Staat und der Al Nusra Front - ohne dass sie irgendwelche Unterstützung erhielten. Ganz scheint es, eine einzige Regel dominiere, ja nichts zu unternehmen, das den Iran verärgern könnte, denn, wie Lee Smith treffend schreibt, die Nahoststrategie des Weißen Hauses  laute “détente with Iran and a cold war with Israel".

“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.

Other gripes among the top Pentagon and military brass are about the White House’s decision not to work with what’s left of the existing Syrian moderate opposition on the ground, which prevents intelligence sharing on fighting ISIS and prevents the military from using trained fighters to build the new rebel army that President Obama has said is needed to push Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into a political negotiation to end the conflict.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel himself is among the critics of Obama’s strategy in Syria. Hagel wrote a memo last week to Rice warning that Obama’s Syria strategy was unclear about U.S. intentions with respect to Assad, undermining the plan. (…)

Many military officials, including at CENTCOM’s headquarters in Tampa and its air base in Qatar, from which the ISIS air campaign is run, are barred even from communicating with Syrian opposition representatives unless those rebels are on a White House/State Department approved list. Many Syrian opposition leaders complain that Free Syrian Army brigades fighting ISIS now are offering help in making the strikes against ISIS effective but are getting no response from the administration.

The international coalition against ISIS, led on the U.S. side by retired Gen. John Allen and State Department official Brett McGurk, is working with Sunni tribes in Iraq to coordinate against ISIS. But it is not working with the corresponding tribes on the Syrian side of the mostly nonexistent Iraq-Syria border. ISIS has slaughtered hundreds of these tribesmen in eastern Syria who refused to yield to the group’s demands.

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army, largely written off by the White House, has been suffering heavy losses to ISIS as well as to the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, which has opened up a third fighting front against the FSA in Idlib and other cities. FSA brigades that have been vetted by the U.S. government, including the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and Harakat Hazm, have seen their non-aggression pact with al-Nusra disappear. (…)

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that there is no military solution to the Syria crisis and said the U.S. is reaching out to Russia and Iran, among others, to seek a new political negotiation. Syrian National Coalition President Hadi al Bahra told The Daily Beast last month that there is no genuine interest in a new political process in the West, which he described as being “in a coma.”

“There have been so many things said on Syria that were not delivered,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Nobody thinks the president really wants to do anything on Syria. Even currently serving officials realize that you cannot bomb your way out of this and you need to have a plan for a political solution, but we don’t have it. There needs to be a fully thought out strategy with a political dimension that involves the opposition. If you don’t do that, you can’t solve this problem.”

1. November 2014, 00.46 Uhr:


von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Die Wahlergebnisse in Tunesien stehen jetzt fest:

Secular party Nidaa Tounes has been officially declared the leader in Tunisia’s legislative elections after the High Independent Authority for Elections’ full release of the vote figures early Thursday morning. With 85 seats in the National Constituent Assembly, Nidaa’s victory marks the first time a party with a secularist platform has been democratically elected to power.

Islamist party Ennahdha, who claimed a sweeping 89-seat majority in Tunisia’s first democratic elections in 2011, was widely predicted to take the lead in the 217-seat assembly this year. The party finished with 65 seats this year, or 31.79%, compared to Nidaa Tounes’s 39.17%. Nidaa’s success comes as a surprise to many, although early indicators of the upset win have long manifested themselves in slashed approval ratings for Ennahdha.

Following the two leading parties in the NCA are millionaire Slim Riahi’s Free Patriotic Union (UPL) with 16 seats, the leftist Popular Front with 15 seats, Afek Tounes with 8 seats, and a combination of other parties comprising 24 seats.


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