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5 Central Asia:


Posted on on December 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Dr. Josef Ostermayer is Chancellery Minister, in Chancellor Faymann’s office, since December 16, 2013, but also Federal Minister for Arts and Culture, Constitution, and Media and thus the face of Austria on many issues – he perhaps is now the third most important person in government.

From 2008 to 2013 Josef Ostermayer had been active as State Secretary for Media and Coordination at the Federal Chancellery. Prior to taking over his new position, he was Head of Office at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT).

Now he speaks for the government on such touchy topics like the upcoming Islamic Law – the Austrian Law that will not allow outside funding of Islamic cultural activities in Austria. The law will close at the end of this school year a Saudi funded school in Vienna that was found using school-books defaming Jews and generally advocating disorder. Ostermayer announced today that the spokesman for the Islamic Community of Austria (the IGGiOE) will not have the Veto right on these issues that Sunni Muslim Mr. Fuat Senac seems to claim for himself. Besides, he is not backed by Austria’s Shiite Muslims as well.

We had the honor of attending this week two events where Minister Ostermayer announced the year-end government funding forward- looking cultural programs.

Oh well, there will always be those that will criticize expenditures without having the vision of the important positive aspects of there expenditures.

The two events weres

A. Monday December 22, 2014 at the Federal Chancellery at Ballhausplatz 2, 1010 Wien, in the Kongressaal (the Congress Hall),
an announcement about “THE NEW VIENNA CONGRESS.”

B. Tuesday December 23, 2014 at the Museum of Natural History, at Maria-Teresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, in the new Mammuth Hall,
“Plans for the Museum of Natural History for the years 2015-2020.”

I will start from the latter.

The Museum is in one of two Symmetric old buildings situated on the sides of Empress Maria-Theresa Monument with the modern Art Culture Complex on one side, and the old Imperial Palace on the other side. The symmetric building is the Museum of Art History.

The collection was started 1750 by the husband of Maria-Theresa – Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine and the Natural Museum founded in 1889 is today one of the richest in exhibits in the World with 30 million objects and 750,000 visitors per year, but the Mammuth Hall exhibit, recently established with Russian help, to be shown until March 2, 2015, includes Copies of Siberian findings, is too new to be mentioned in the floor plan – but figures on this year’s Christmas Card of the Museum. In the list of future events I found of interest the lecture to be given January 14, 6:30 PM by Ursula B. Goerlich on “Mammuth, Man, and Permafrost.”

The Minister explained the programs the museum plans for 2015 and then announced that considering the 125th anniversary since the museum was established, there will be a new digital planetarium and there is going to be funding of research and cooperation with other institutions on Planetary-, Bio-, and Human-, Science. Further, Directors from the Museum told us that further finances will come from the Mellon Foundation of the US, and the fact that halls of the second floor will be turned into further research areas for the use of local and foreign young people, with equipment to be acquired for these activities under a five year plan. The Vienna University will be involved in this as well – “and we are proud of it.”

I chose to start with this activity first because it shows elements similar to what we consider a much deeper project regarding a Model for a “Vienna Congress II.” The common elements are in our opinion:

– involvement of the Chancellor and his office;
– Minister Ostermayer’s hands-on involvement;
– end of year budget outlays;
– cooperation with Russia;
– a role for the University of Vienna;
– accent on youth;
– an offer to work with other EU States.


Looking at –… (map there) – The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries, but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other off and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution. France lost all its recent conquests, while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west and 40% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

The Congress of Vienna, 1 November 1814- 8 June 1815
The system established in 1815 in Vienna lasted amazingly until 1814 – a neat 100 years.

By 1914 we saw the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires fall apart, a new Nationalism appeared and the new Colonial Empires started evolving economic power. Seemingly there was a need for a new rearrangement of power and like 100 years earlier it seemed that war was the way to achieve this. Just note – this is the half-time of the 200 years since The Vienna Congress.

This year – 2014 – we kept commemorating the 100 years since the eruption of WWI. In this scheme of things WWII was just a continuation of WWI as that war was not settled fully and an unhappy Germany with its Austrian sister having been left out of Colonial riches, wanted to see a global reset – and got it in 1945 though not according to their original intent.

Now, 2014, we have again a situation where some show unhappiness with their lot. Putin’s Russia, now a small economy, brings up memories of past physical greatness, Egypt – the natural hegemon of the Arab Muslim World is in trouble and what some thought mistakenly that it was going to be an Arab Spring, turned rather into a throw back to the dark ages of religious wars.
Then the US seems to want to wash its hands from the old allies and to reset for new ones – starting with those in East Asia and perhaps eventually Turkey and Iran. In this scenario it seems that the Russian-Ukrainian clash might lead to unexpected consequences and Austria that had heavily invested in Russia, would like to bring Russia back to the fold, and wishes to find a way to revive the spirit of the Vienna Congress of exactly 200 years ago.

Here comes the great idea that rather then calling for governments to send emissaries to Vienna for a renewed Congress, in this year of many other forward looking global events – like the Global Climate meetings and the effort on Sustainability aiming at the Global Environment and a Global Sustainable Economy based on a concept of Sustainable Energy for All that has its headquarters in Vienna, why not create a think-tank enclave of young people from Civil Society just for the European Space and ask them to figure out how their generation would like to live in harmony. The hope being that having this as an ongoing operation – an enclave of bright young people producing ideas and concepts with doable propositions – that will then be made public – and hopefully generate a movement that might then push governments to positive action.

So, on December 22, 2014, I found myself sitting in the hall where the 1814-1815 first enclave took place – the one that we call THE VIENNA CONGRESS. Minister Ostermayer, supported by Secretary of State in the Economy Ministry with oversight on Science, Technology, and Research Dr. Harald Mahrer  harald.mahrer at who is also President of the Julius Raab Foundation established to promote ideas that help maintain old values; Actor Harald Krassnitzer who is actively involved with Civil Society and was picked as a leader of this budding idea  www.moritzauer at he shuttles between Wuppertal (Germany) and Tirol (Mieming; and FASResearch Activist whose target is to reinvent media Dr. Harald Katzmair also picked for his involvement with civil Society  www.Harald.Katzmair at .

Rather then summarizing what was said – I will try to present the event as it unfolded.

MINISTER OSTERMEYER: Chancellor Faymann and him discussed a year ago what to do about the anniversary of the Vienna Congress.
It was decided not to have just a commemoration but rather a look to the future. The challenge is how to bring young people from all over Europe committed to stay 30 days and discuss how they want to see their future evolve. They will have to come up with doable propositions. The event will happen in July 2015. Katzmair and Mahrer will present details. The concept was agreed also as part of the coalition negotiations – so it is bi-partisan or non-partisan so far as the government is concerned.

Mr. KRASSNITZER: The 1815 Congress was just an event but came up with 125 points that led to a revision of Europe under internationalism. It led to an order that exploded in 1914. So where is Europe now? Where does our travel go now? It is no more just National and European – it has become Global. This new century needs a new dialogue – we will have 150-160 young people plus from Russia and others. The outcomes will be presented to the European Parliament. A RELOADING – A RENAISSANCE – Culturally based.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We all have the feeling that Europe is stuck – and we must discuss the direction we want to develop.
It will be a rediscovery of what Europe was intended to be – not really just springing new ideas. This is how he sees it – but acknowledges that some might see this differently. The intent of this Congress will be – What tools exist for next generations to move on?
How do we get these 150 young people that will be able to discuss this – and in a short time come up with proposals for actions that are arrived at by consensus?

Mr. KRASSNITZER: There are other living platforms – like the Peace Platform for Europe, and we believe that the 21st Century will lead Europe to Free Life – like no need of Passports. The Peace Project needs to have present conflicts removed – those because of cultural differences that we forgot to deal with when dealing with the Economic Project.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We did not discuss the alternatives of how Europe should evolve. Alternatives are Democratization or re-Nationalism. He is President of a Communities Foundation (Gemeinde Stiftung) that is not a one-time thing – but a base for future follow-ups. He addresses the Minister that he hopes the Government will back this. So, what I heard here is that Mr. Katzmair is approaching the government to make clear that this exercise will have follow-ups.

MINISTER OF STATE MAHRER: This is what the Government wants – the establishing of a European model. That is why we invite people from the other Europe as well.

Why is Austria a base for such discussion? Good neighboring has to be our future.
The Government made available 300,000 Euro and an additional 300,000 Euro will come from the Private Sector.

Now for the Q & A time:

Q: How will you find the youth and what will be their age? Russia and others – very interesting. What about 40 year olds?
With 7 million unemployed – how do you bring this into your politics?

A. from Minister Ostermayer: There is a Youth Forum. On the Agenda of the youth is youth unemployment. There is a Peace Project, there is the issue of Travel Freedom – we really have no recipe book.

– he said.
The 150 people will meet for 30 days here. We will then make sure they continue the story in their own countries.

Among the organizers of this election process will be:
– The Network of The European Youth Council,
– The Network of The Forum Alpbach,
– The help of Franz Vranitzky and the Yoyh-Karlprize Aachen social network
all these will be involved. We want most participants to be from Civil Society not to get a selection of Socialists and Christian Democrat networks. We prefer unaffiliated thinkers that were not yet indoctrinated by old ideas.

Where are we? What do we think? Three weeks of day and night of this is a first. Up to now such mind storms lasted only 3-4 days with maximum a 5th day thrown in.

The University of Vienna has its own Jubilee next year. With all this coming to Vienna next year – it is all very attractive.
We hope for a positive dialogue between the political and social platforms.

Q FROM A RUSSIAN JOURNALIST – It brought the following answer:

The age group – 18 to 28 and Russia is a very important part of this dialogue. WE ARE CONVINCED THAT EUROPE WITHOUT RUSSIA IS UNTHINKABLE. The extent of the Europe we envision includes eastwards Kazakhstan. So we have many cultures and there must be solutions to new conflicts.

The Location – A Schloss near Vienna was mentioned but I did not note it correctly and did not get yet to check on it.
the time is June-July 2015.

Q FROM AN AUSTRIAN JOURNALIST (I think from the Falter): What about the young people that were not born in Europe?
The strong influence from the Arab Space. Will such be invited as observers, but will those born in Europe be part of the discussion? It is not about language – it is about living together.

A. The people elected to be participants will include representatives of immigration.
Mr. Katzmair: The renaissance involved the Islamic Culture with the Greco-Roman Europe.
Minister Mahrer: There are hundreds of thousands young people social entrepreneurs in Europe.

Q. On the Islamic Law in Austria.

A. The Vienna Congress did forbid slavery and it talked of Human Rights. Yet now, 70 years since the end of WWII and the official end of Nazism, 60 years after the Austria State Treaty and we encounter negative attitudes. So, this is part of our trying to learn from history and see how the young look to the future. The young who not exactly remember the past.

There are four aspects to the Islamic Law Issue. These include the demand their communities to be run according to their own law and want the Islamic organization to be recognized as in charge of carrying them out. They want the creation of an Islamic religious faculty and want to be funded by interested outsiders.


Posted on on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Fishman Space in BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, near Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100,

The main purpose of DanceMotion USA, a cultural diplomacy program run by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the State Department, is to send American artistic troupes abroad. Yet the program also benefits New Yorkers directly by having  American companies bring back a foreign one for a free, collaborative stay and performance here of several weeks – sometimes at dance camps out-of-town i.e. in Maine.  Eventually a new program is born and it is shown at the Brooklyn BAM which is now blessed o have also the  Fisher Building (Fishman Space) next door. These visits have proven to say the least – interesting. The New York Times prefers to say illuminating.

At the BAM Fishman Space on Thursday, David Dorfman Dance which is based at the BAM, back from a four-week tour of Turkey, Armenia and Tajikistan, teamed up with the Korhan Basaran Company from Istanbul, augmented by two Armenian dancers – Karen Khatchatryan and Davit Grigoryan. 

The program was not one with pieces from each of the performing triangle’s previous repertory.  Mr. Dorfman and Mr. Basaran went all the way,  joining forces for an hour-long  joint program titled – “Unsettled” with a  chosen theme of  “reconciliation.”   It was remarkable how well the two companies, both packed with powerful dancers did merge.

The work teemed with groups pushing and shoving, but it did not set one troupe against the other. The sharpest contrast — in the opening moments and in two later face-off duets — was between the choreographers: Mr. Basaran, tall, with a tendency to collapse inward, and Mr. Dorfman, squat, always hurling his energy out. Yet the aesthetic kinship between them was also apparent in eruptive rhythms and labile emotions.

The music, composed and played live by Sam Crawford, Liz de Lise, Jesse Manno and Timothy Quigley, beguilingly blended Western and Middle Eastern styles and instrumentation. It borrowed the folk song “Sari Gyalin” (or “Sari Gelin”), which in Turkish, Armenian and English versions laments the failure of love across ethnic divides.

A few scenes — for example, a forced march — could be read as specific allusions to the bloody history between Turks and Armenians, but much of the work’s tension was cannily translated into the power dynamics of the choreographic process. In its strongest segment, Evrim Akyay, a slinky Turkish dancer with a menacing presence, directed the motions of an ingenuous American, Kendra Portier, as if in rehearsal for this show. The more he yelled at her in Turkish and slapped her around, the brighter her smile. Though, the power of that scene was squandered as Ms. Portier turned to audience members and implored them to move closer together, vocalizing her needs in dancerly double entendres (“I need to be moved”).  Similarly, another scene swerved from infantile humor to a sharp evocation of the coercion in making people say they’re sorry, only to end with weeping on the ground. A shrewd point about forced reconciliations got belabored in a manner that was itself coercive.

Still, it is to the credit of all involved that “Unsettled,” after a celebratory group dance, had the honesty to remain unsettled. What resonated was a moment before the end, when Mr. Dorfman, having failed to force his friendship on Mr. Basaran, took a line from the folk song and allowed it to expand into a humble question for everyone: “Oh tell me please, what can I do?”


This reporting of mine follows a review in the New York Times and a feeling that many in the audience, including myself, had that though seeing a piece that historically dealt with the Armenian – Turkish relations that included an attempt at genocide, actually today the topic is the Israeli Palestinian conflict and it was obvious that to untrained ears Turkish, Armenian, or Arab music – seem all the same – and thus a presence in the air – reference was being made to the Middle East as if there were some generic to it.

The performances at the BAM went on Thursday – Friday – Saturday evenings, but then there was also a performance Saturday afternoon that I attended because it had also a follow up discussion with TV link to Istanbul and questions via the internet from London, Ankara, Germany and some other places.

On a question about the collaboration we heard an answer that said – in a month we become one but in some things where there were differences we become States.

Before the TV land internet links the conversation was according to the natural language of the speaker with a sometime translation into English – then from Ankara came the notion that something that was said in Armenian needed also Turkish translation. Fair enough.

On the I AM SORRY piece: “Children can easily apologize to each other – forget and forgive.”  As he got older, the comment went on, he felt he needed more – the words alone mean less.

Then he saw The Planet of the Apes – they have the capacity of forgive & forget – but we do not have that capacity anymore.


Posted on on March 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Ukraine: the view from China.

by: Nicu Popescu, senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris, where he deals with the EU’s eastern neighbourhood and Russia-
now he extended it to China and the Asian States Former members pf the Soviet Union. China being the mirror Image to the EU with similar interests regarding the States that emerged from under the Russian leadership of the USSR.

Posted by EUobserver March 22, 2014.

With every new major international crisis – be it the Arab Spring, the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, recurrent emergencies in Africa, or the current Ukrainian-Russian tensions – it does not take long for diplomats and observers to start wondering ‘what does China think’. It is increasingly frequent during such crises for China to be put in the spotlight and expected to have a position on events and regions on which, until recently, Chinese opinions were barely worth a footnote. This is also true for the Crimean crisis. A few days into the crisis, the Russian foreign ministry announced that the Chinese and Russians shared “broadly coinciding points of view” on the situation.

Looking at China for comfort is driven by many factors. The rise of Chinese power is just one. In international public opinion China is often seen as a sort of ‘swing’ power, capable of tipping the political balance between entrenched political warriors whose preferences are already well known. On a crisis like the one in Crimea – which elicits completely different narratives from Russia, on the one hand, and the EU and US on the other – the Chinese are seen by some as a potentially less subjective or biased source of opinions. In this sense, China can offer surprises. After the 2008 Russia-Georgian war the Chinese maintained public politeness towards Russia but, in private, were clearly against the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia – thereby helping Central Asian countries resist alleged Russian pressures to recognise the independence of those entities.

Hence the rush by Russia to claim Chinese support for its actions in Ukraine – as an effort to claim greater legitimacy for its military invasion of a post-Soviet state. However, the claim that China is on Russia’s side is spurious.

China and the EU

The Chinese approach to the situation in Ukraine is driven by competing pressures. Its overall approach to the post-Soviet space is quite similar – or rather parallel – to that of the European Union as it is based on two equally important pillars: an evident desire to have good relations with Russia and a strong interest in not seeing the resurgence of a Russian empire and in supporting the independence of post-Soviet states. The difference here is that, for the EU, the Eastern Partnership states are of primary importance while, for China, the Central Asian countries are. In this respect, Brussels’ and Beijing’s interests and views regarding the post-Soviet states are both close and complementary. China would also like to see Central Asia become a higher priority for the EU – and it has been in principle favourable to the EU’s Association with countries like Ukraine.

Even their toolboxes are not dissimilar in that they mainly rely on political dialogue and economic integration. The EU offered Russia and other post-Soviet states trade integration. Russia has de facto, though not formally, rejected the offer which has been on the table for over a decade. China made a similar offer: it proposed the creation of a Free Trade Area within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, but Russia has refused that too. And now China is suggesting the creation of a ‘Silk Road Beltway’ through Central Asia as a vehicle for economic integration.

In both cases, Russia refused to go along with EU and Chinese initiatives, preferring to launch its Customs Union. The problem is that the Russian-led Customs Union would complicate the existing trade relations between the EU, China and the post-Soviet countries. This is not irrelevant since the EU is the biggest trading partner for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan – while China is the biggest trading partner for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

As is the case for the EU approach to Russia, it is not uncommon for China’s binary objectives (having good relations with Russia and supporting the independence of post-Soviet states) to clash each and every time Russia tries to assert its influence through economic, political or even military coercion. The Chinese think the crisis in Ukraine as a “headache” . It creates new problems in their relations with Russia since they cannot say either yes or no to their request for diplomatic support.

China and Ukraine

The Chinese strongly disapprove the Russian military intervention in Ukraine at several levels. Russia is an opportunistic supporter of the principle of state sovereignty: it resists military or political interventions in Kosovo, Iraq, or Syria, but practices such interventions in Georgia and Ukraine, while piling up pressure on other post-Soviet states. China is more consistent in its respect of sovereignty as it does not support or practice open military interventions, though it can still be tough with its neighbours.

The easy recourse by Russia to military means of power projection is also worrying for the Chinese with regard to Central Asia. It is not unimaginable that a country like Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan face a messy succession when their current ageing leaders have left the political stage. The question from a Chinese perspective is then: if such an intervention can take place in Ukraine, why should it not happen in Kazakhstan, too, provided there is a pretext for that?

There also are a number of Ukraine-specific reasons for China to be less than enchanted with Russia’s military behaviour. To begin with, China has just engaged in a 10 billion USD project to build a deep-water port in Crimea, the function of which would be to redistribute cargo flows from the East to Europe. Any uncertainty in Crimea thus affects this project, especially in the event of a de facto secession.

China also had a general preference for Ukraine to have closer links with the EU. The Chinese are inclined to think that Ukraine was moving closer to the EU, even under Yanukovich. They believe that the main debate within Ukraine was on how fast – and Yanukovich was in favour of a slower path. Yet, the direction towards the EU was still clear for the Chinese. In fact, a Ukraine embedded in a free trade area with the EU and with an improved business climate could offer extra advantages to Chinese business, especially if the new ‘silk road’ project takes shape. Ukraine would then give China a direct inland access to the European market.

On the other hand, while the strategic objectives of China overlap significantly with those of the EU, Beijing strongly rejected the tactics of the Ukrainian revolution. On that, China’s view is much closer to Russia’s: the overthrow of an autocratic regime by popular protesters is not something to its liking. And Yanukovich’s attempts to supress the Kiev revolt Tiananmen-style were also unlikely to provoke Chinese ire. Just like Russia, China hoped the 21 February agreement between the opposition and the President, giving him a lease of political life until December, would hold. Suspicion of US meddling is another factor bringing Russian and Chinese tactical views of the situation closer to one another.

In sum, sympathy with the European strategic interests in the post-Soviet space coupled with sympathy with the Russian assessment of the tactics of the revolution. None of these instincts is likely to be expressed in public. The China-Russia relationship is hidden under a much thicker layer of smiles, politeness and hypocrisy than the Russia-EU relationship – which often slides into impolite and ‘frank’ exchanges.

Chinese president Xi Jinping, over the phone with American president Obama, has “urged for a political and diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis” says XinHua news agency. However, Chinese interests in Eastern Europe remain too small for Beijing to take an open and vocal stance – at least for now, and as long as Russia’s aggressive actions do not reach into Central Asia.

Nicu Popescu and Camille Brugier, EUISS Alert, March 2014.



Posted on on January 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Poet Rumi, a Secular Islam meeting in Florida, an Iranian-American businessman Freydoon Khoie is campaigning for a new Muslim World.

Secular Islam
The only way to save Islam is to build Secularist Muslims Societies in Muslim Countries
A summit was held a few months ago in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA to promote a “secular version of Islam“. This Summit was an international forum spearheaded by Muslim secularists and was organized and sponsored by the Center for Inquiry in partnership with the International Intelligence Summit.

Many who attended issued a declaration at the end of the summit. While many of the clauses of that declaration are in tune with Islam and its teachings, there were others that clearly are based on faulty and presumed premises (e.g. submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights). The fact is that mainstream Muslims do not believe that any of it’s teachings violate human rights – rather Islam came and through its principles and teachings, it protected the weak, elevated the status of women, lay down rules for protection of minorities in Muslim lands and many other such principles.

The text of the declaration issued by the “Muslim Secularists” read as follows:

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to:

Reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women; protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence; reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims; and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid structures of orthodoxy like it is practiced in Iran.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine; to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens; and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must choose for themselves.



I was born in April 1949, to a middle class family in Iran and raised in Tehran. I really believe that being an entrepreneur is in one’s genes as I realized my love for business, independence and hard work at a very early age of 14, when I dropped out of high school and started working in number of fields until I started my first serious business at age 23 by forming IPC Engineering company in 1972 and quickly built my engineering team to design, and build industrial projects in Iran’s golden age when the whole country was under construction. By 1975, I had 34 staff and $1,280,000 revenue which was a serious money in those days. To qualify for bigger projects, I formed joint venture partnerships with couple of American companies and visited the United States for the first time. Upon arriving in New York, I could not believe the vast difference between America and Iran. After few months and in my second visit, I decided to set up a branch office in Los Angeles to use it as the source of technology and knowhow and trading, but only two years later the national catastrophe in the body of so called Islamic revolution hit my beloved Iran and devastated everything that was good and lovely and replaced it with utter ugliness, terror and violence and destroyed our chances and hope of building a new, modern, industrialized and civilized Iran. The rest is history and our country has continued to decline ever since.

Now reluctant to return my country under the tyrannical regime, I formed Sood Industries in Los Angeles, and started my CNC machine tools business. The Registered Trade Mark was FreeMax Precision Machine Tools. By 1990, we had expanded into PC business, and we were selling IBM PCs to our customer base in California to CAD/CAM software sector which was a bundling strategy with our CNC machine tools to capture greater market share, and this led me into computer business which I took it one step further and decided to build my own PC brand and since East Asia was the place to go for cheap labor, I picked Singapore as our production base. By now, I had sold my IPC company in Tehran and had become an international entrepreneur.

In 1990, I established IMI Electronics in Singapore and started building IMI Computers into a global PC brand. Our principle activities involved the assembly, packaging, marketing and sales and distribution of microcomputer-based products as well as application specific products such as point-of-sale terminals and network systems. IMI’s broad product lines were distributed under “IMI” brand, through a wide network of appointed distributors and dealers to more than 38 countries around the world.

With $53 million confirmed orders for 1994 and projected sales of $80 million for 1995 and growing sales subsidiaries in Europe, Middle East, and our own East Asian markets, Australia and Iran, the company was attacked by a $2 billion conglomerate IMI PLC., ( a UK based Company) alleging Trade Mark infringement and after a protracted legal tussle and plenty of dirty tricks by them, we lost the and I learned a great lesson in trade mark protection. I restructured the company under UBIQ Computers and relocated our operations to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Brisbane, Australia and a year later in 1997 I sold the company and started planning my next move.

In 1997, having been away from Iran for 24 years, I decided to go back and explore business opportunities. The arrival experience was horrific. Finding my flourishing and rapidly progressing country of 1975 in a state of utter repression, poverty, depression, chaos and criminality was much painful but still I was hoping to find a way to help our people in any way possible. In my first month, I realized that the national car – Paykon – had no air conditioning and people in the heat of Tehran’s horrible summer were suffering. My quick research indicated that there was a niche market which I jumped on the opportunity and few months late I formed Neekon Automotive in Tehran, and invited Japanese Sanden Corporation to design an application specific A/C for Paykon and in matter of months I launched an aggressive marketing campaign and started selling our A/Cs, but just as I was warned by friends, the corrupt elements in the government owned Iran Khodro, the manufacturer of Paykon, attacked my company, demanding that I should give them our technology, and making all kinds of threats that if I refuse they will prevent us doing business. I could not believe my eyes that bunch of thugs and criminals were actually in charge of our greatest industries like Iran Khodro, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Commerce that so blatantly and openly acted like communists and crushed private sector initiatives. After couple of years of confrontations I realized that everything said about this regime was true and the only solution for saving Iran was and is a total abolition of the Islamic Republic Constitution and removal of the state from power and establishing a new, multi-party, secular and modern democratic political system. So I closed down my businesses and decided to relocate to Dubai in the year 2000 right after our son was born.

I found Dubai to be absolutely the best of both worlds. A wise and forward looking leadership, tolerant and open minded had turned Dubai into a model state for all Muslim countries as center of excellence. The first thing I did was to establish Maxam Publishing House to produce two monthly English business magazines: The Middle East Entrepreneur and Digital Executive, and decided to get settled in this beautiful, business friendly, corruption free, dynamic country and since then I have built number of companies that form the Khoie Group today. Having identified the construction boom in Dubai and UAE, I formed such companies as Khoie Power, Khoie Trading, Khoie Properties, Khoie Education, Khoie Industries, and Khoie Media with variety of ventures and projects in the service of community and by 2011 we reached our $1 billion market valuation and growing.

In the meantime, like all other nationalist Iranians, I have been watching with deep concern the disastrous mismanagement of our country and her continued social and economic decline and political isolation and I have lend my support to the progressive green movement and other pro-democracy forces seeking change and reform in Iran to put an end to the mullah’s tyrannical rule and establish a secular, liberal democratic political system in which individual liberties, free market and peace are guaranteed to all citizens.


He posted:

Our 21st Century Challenge for Iran
It is impossible to reform and stop oppression, corruption and terrorism in Iran because the regime structure is originally designed to survive on corruption and it is rotten from its rootsIran’s 1979 Revolutions was more or less something like Russia’s Communist Revolution of 1917 in which Lenin and his partners in crime promised the poor workers and peasants that they had nothing to lose but their chains and the whole world to gain.
Read more
Khamnei’s Islamic Republic of Horror
What was the Original Intention of the 1979 Revolution in Iran? What are the Function and Purpose of a Government?It is refreshing to re-visit Ayn Rand when she wrote over seventy years ago about the function and purpose of government: “If physical force is to be barred from social relationships,
Read more
Pro-Democracy Iranians are shocked to see that President Obama seems to be Harsher to Members of Congress than to Khamnei’s terrorist regime
The White House’s threat to veto a bi-partisan Iran sanctions bill, which was introduced today in the Senate is confusing everyoneA bipartisan group of Senators has introduced carefully considered legislation intended to increase sanctions to prevent Khamnei’s terrorist to build nuclear weapon and stop its gross and brutal Human Right violations,
Read more
Bible translation into Persian language completed after 18 years of work
This is without a doubt the best thing that has happened to the faithful people of Iran since the first translation of the Bible into Persian language in early ChristianityI have studied the Holy Bible, Quran, Avesta and other Holy books for over 38 years and as a Christian I am convinced that God has a clear and specific plan for the faithful people of Iran
Read more
Voltarian Muslims and Hyper-maniac Hezbollah
How the few hired radical Islamist mercenaries are destroying the good name of IslamThe millions of innocent Muslims who involuntarily left their homeland to escape extremist Mullahs’ tyranny and oppression and migrated to such liberal and advanced economies like France, Britain, Germany, Holland, and other western and northern European countries
Read more
How Egypt is showing the Path of ‘how to’ achieve a True Democracy in the region
Only a Benevolent force can transform primitive states into a genuinely Liberal Democratic oneIt is a sheer naiveté to imagine that old nations like Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and others like them, could become liberated states overnight by so called Islamist revolutions
Read more
Giving ‘Democracy’ a Bad Name
Turkmenistan Votes in First Ever Multi-Party Legislative Polls!!!Turkmenistan, located on the north east border of Iran, was part of the Persian Empire. The Turkmen people were originally pastoral nomads and some of them continued this way of life up into the 20th century, living in transportable dome-shaped felt tents.
Read more
Pluralism: a key challenge of the 21st century – Kofi Annan
“If diversity is seen as a source of strength, societies can become healthier, more stable and prosperous.”In a speech at the Global Centre for Pluralism, in May 2013 Kofi Annan discusses the challenges of governing plural societies, promoting inclusive democracy in Iran, Kenya, and the moment at which Syria’s deadly conflict could have been averted:
Read more


Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

Jal?l ad-D?n Muhammad Balkh?, also known as Jal?l ad-D?n Muhammad R?m?, and more popularly in the English-speaking world simply as Rumi, was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic.




Rumi – Quotes
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

? Rumi
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”

? Rumi

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”

? Rumi

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

? Rumi
“What you seek is seeking you.”

? Rumi
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

? Rumi
“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

? Rumi
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”

? Rumi
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”

? Rumi
“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

? Rumi
“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”

? Rumi
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

? Rumi
“Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.”

? Rumi
“Knock, And He’ll open the door
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”

? Rumi
“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live. Destroy your
reputation. Be notorious.”

? Rumi
“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”

? Rumi
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”

? Rumi

Secular Islam
The only way to save Islam is to build Secularist Muslims Societies in Muslim Countries
A summit was held a few months ago in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA to promote a “secular version of Islam“. This Summit was an international forum spearheaded by Muslim secularists and was organized and sponsored by the Center for Inquiry in partnership with the International Intelligence Summit.

Many who attended issued a declaration at the end of the summit. While many of the clauses of that declaration are in tune with Islam and its teachings, there were others that clearly are based on faulty and presumed premises (e.g. submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights). The fact is that mainstream Muslims do not believe that any of it’s teachings violate human rights – rather Islam came and through its principles and teachings, it protected the weak, elevated the status of women, lay down rules for protection of minorities in Muslim lands and many other such principles.

The text of the declaration issued by the “Muslim Secularists” read as follows:

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to:

Reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women; protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence; reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims; and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid structures of orthodoxy like it is practiced in Iran.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine; to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens; and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must choose for themselves.

The declaration obviously was critiqued by many Muslim organizations. Your thoughts and analysis on the declaration are welcome.



Posted on on March 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Kerry Comes to Turkey With Rebuke of Its Leader Over Zionism Remark.

Published by New York Times on-line already: March 1, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey — Secretary of State John Kerry chastised Turkey’s prime minister on Friday for recently {that was the Wednesday talk at the Alliance of Civilizations” meeting in Vienna’s Presidential Rooms} calling Zionism a “crime against humanity,” a comment that could frustrate Mr. Kerry’s desire to see an improvement in estranged Turkish-Israeli relations.

When Mr. Kerry set off on Sunday on a nine-nation trip, his plan was to use his visit in Turkey to consult on trade, the crisis in Syria and other Middle East issues.

But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a United Nations forum in Vienna that the international community should consider Islamophobia a crime against humanity “like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism.”

The next day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel described Mr. Erdogan’s remarks as a “dark and false statement.”

By Friday Mr. Kerry was faced with the task of trying to discourage another outburst from the Turks and salvaging some chance of an improvement in ties between Turkey and Israel — the first a moderate Muslim-majority nation and important NATO ally, and the other the principal United States ally in the Middle East.

The Americans’ sternest message to the Turks was conveyed before Mr. Kerry’s plane even landed by a senior State Department official who spoke under ground rules that he not be identified by name.“This was particularly offensive,” the official said, referring to Mr. Erdogan’s comments. “It complicates our ability to do all of the things that we want to do together.”

Once in Ankara, Mr. Kerry initially approached the issue somewhat indirectly. Noting that he had attended a memorial event earlier in the day for a Turkish security guard who had been killed trying to stop suicide bomber at the American Embassy, Mr. Kerry said that this selflessness should inspire a “spirit of tolerance.”

“And that,” Mr. Kerry added, “includes all of the public statements made by all leaders.”

But in response to a question at a news conference with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Mr. Kerry was more direct.

“Obviously, we not only disagree with it. We found it objectionable,” Mr. Kerry said of Mr. Erdogan’s statement, noting that he planned to raise the matter Friday evening with the prime minister. The comments by Mr. Davutoglu suggested that it might not be an easy discussion.

The foreign minister insisted Turkey was not hostile to Israel and that the downturn in relations was Israel’s fault, referring to a 2010 episode in which eight Turks and an American of Turkish descent were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the lead ship of a pro-Palestinian activist flotilla that was trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

“If Israel is expected to hear positive comments from Turkey, I believe they need to revise their attitudes not only toward us but also toward the settlements in West Bank and the people of the region,” he added.

During the 1990s, Turkey and Israel enjoyed close cooperation in ties that were nurtured by the secular Turkish military and the Israeli national security establishment, Dan Arbell, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, wrote last year.

Relations began to deteriorate after Mr. Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 and Turkey adopted a more assertive regional posture, which often involved sharp criticism of Israel’s policies. Ties between the countries reached a low point with the deadly Gaza flotilla confrontation.

American officials said they would like to find some way to foster an improvement in Turkish-Israeli relations, which the official on Mr. Kerry’s plane described as “frozen.”

“We want to see a normalization, not just for the sake of the two countries but for the sake of the region and, frankly, for the symbolism,” the official said. “Not that long ago you had these two countries demonstrating that a majority Muslim country could have very positive and strong relations with the Jewish state.”

On Friday night, Mr. Kerry dined at Mr. Erdogan’s residence. The session began inauspiciously when Mr. Kerry apologized for being a little late because of his lengthy discussions with Mr. Davutoglu.

Mr. Erdogan, who seemed irritated, said that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Davutoglu “must have spoken about everything, so there is nothing left for us to talk about.”

“There’s a lot to talk about,” Mr. Kerry said. “We actually didn’t talk about everything.”

According to a State Department official, the Turkish prime minister and Mr. Kerry discussed the gamut of Middle East issues, including the recent meeting in Rome on the Syria conflict, the situation in Iraq, Iran and the prospects for reviving the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

American officials did not provide details on the exchange regarding Mr. Erdogan’s Zionism comments or whether the Turkish prime minister believed they had in any way been excessive.

The two men, the State Department official said, had a “frank discussion of the prime minister’s speech in Vienna and how to move forward.”

A version of this article appeared in print on March 2, 2013, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Kerry Comes to Turkey With Rebuke of Its Leader Over Zionism Remark.


The first page of the google of  Recep Tayyip Erdo?an:

Recep Tayyip Erdo?an is the 25th and current Prime Minister of Turkey, and the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, which holds a majority of the seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Wikipedia
  1. News for Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    1. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan under fire for Zionism remarks ?- 1 day ago
      Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, is facing a chorus of international criticism after branding Zionism “a crime against humanity”
  2. Recep Tayyip Erdogan | World news | The Guardian › World news

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan 15 Feb 2013: Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the Republican People’s party, warns that PM is driving Turkey towards constitutional

  3. Recep Tayyip Erdo?an this page

    Aslen Rizeli olan Recep Tayyip Erdo?an 26 ?ubat 1954’te ?stanbul’da do?du. 1965 y?l?nda Kas?mpa?a Piyale ?lkokulu’ndan, 1973 y?l?nda ise ?stanbul ?mam

  4. Recep Tayyip Erdo?an Haberleri – Haber, Haberler this page

    Aslen Rizeli olan Recep Tayyip Erdo?an 26 ?ubat 1954’te ?stanbul’da do?du. 1965 y?l?nda Kas?mpa?a Piyale ?lkokulu’ndan, 1973 y?l?nda ise ?stanbul ?mam

  5. Recep Tayyip Erdo?an – Hurriyet Daily News

    3/1/2013 12:00:00 AM | | ISTANBUL – Anatolia News Agency. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s wife, Emine Erdo?an said… Category: INTERNATIONAL

  6. Recep Tayyip Erdogan – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan – is the world’s leading English-language Website for real-time news and analysis of Israel and the Middle East.

  7. US condemns Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan for ‘offensive…/article3703042.ece

    1 day ago – Official said comments by Recep Tayyip Erdogan describing Zionism as a ‘crime against humanity’ could harm Turkish-US relations.

  8. Turkey PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan under fire for anti-Zion remarks…/turkey-pm-receptayyiperdoga

    2 days ago – The United Nations, the United States and Israel have all condemned Turkey’s prime minister for calling Zionism a “crime against humanity”


Posted on on February 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Our original posting of February 20, 2013 is right here, but now we have also the moderator’s evaluation of the meeting he chaired.

David Ignatius is aware of all sort of misgivings regarding the organizers of the meeting and we can add that there was no interest in having media that you cannot control present at the event – so in effect the David Ignatius comments are the first material we got now to digest.


European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Iran last week to show flexibility at this month’s talks between Tehran and six world powers aimed at defusing tensions over the Iranian nuclear program.

The five permanent U.N. Security Council members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – and Germany will meet with Iran in Kazakhstan on February 26 for the latest round of talks in a 7-year-old attempt by the six powers to end the decade-long nuclear standoff with Tehran.

“We hope that Iran will come to this negotiation with flexibility and that we can make substantial progress,” Ashton told the 15-nation Security Council during a meeting on the United Nations’ cooperation with regional organizations.

“We’re engaging in intensive diplomatic efforts to seek a negotiated solution that meets the international community’s concern about the Iranian nuclear program,” she said.

Ashton has been taking part in and coordinating the so-called P5-plus-one group’s fitful negotiations with Iran.

The Islamic Republic has faced four rounds of U.N. sanctions and more draconian EU and U.S. sanctions due to its refusal to halt its enrichment program as demanded by the Security Council. Ashton said the EU was committed to continuing a dual-track strategy of combining pressure with dialogue.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is serious about those talks and expects the other side to be serious and forthcoming so that the next round of negotiations … in Kazakhstan would lead to positive and fruitful results,” an Iranian statement replied.

In his annual State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama said world powers were united in their desire to use diplomacy to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons, though he left a door open to non-diplomatic avenues like force.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said Iran was “counting on there being positive and constructive steps made to resolve this problem at the upcoming meeting.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that the six powers were ready to respond if Iran came to the talks prepared to discuss “real substance.”

The presumably future Head of the Pentagon, Chuck Hagel, is also known as ready to pursue an attempt at a  negotiation process with Iran.


20 February 2013 – 5:00pm
Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazaee joins former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering for a discussion moderated by award-winning journalist and author David Ignatius.

Since diplomatic relations were severed in 1980, the U.S.–Iran relationship has faced a towering legacy of mistrust, conflict, and missteps.

Hopes of breaking the decades-long impasse were raised four years ago when President Barack Obama offered Iran America’s hand of friendship if Tehran “unclenched its fist.”

In the interim, the United States has led the international community in putting in place the most comprehensive sanctions against Iran, while Iran has accelerated its nuclear program, bringing the long embattled relationship to the brink of conflict.

As the current confrontational course becomes increasingly dangerous, are the two nations on the road to war? Or is a political solution possible?

Iran’s highest-ranking official in the United States, Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee, joins former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering for a candid discussion on the future of U.S.-Iran relations, moderated by award-winning journalist and author David Ignatius.


Mohammad Khazaee Mohammad Khazaee is Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations. From 2002 to 2007, he was Vice Minister for International Affairs and President of the Organization for Economic and Technical Assistance in Iran’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. Concurrently, he served as Governor of the OPEC Fund, Alternate Governor of the Islamic Development Bank, and a board member of the Iran-Misr (Iran-Egypt) Development Bank. Previously, he represented Iran at the World Bank (1988 to 2002) and served as a Member of Parliament (1981 to 1988).

Thomas R. Pickering In a diplomatic career with service in each of the major continents, Thomas R. Pickering reached the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service, retiring as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in 2000. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan. He also was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Most recently, he was appointed by Secretary of State Clinton to lead the Accountability Review Board probing the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

David Ignatius David Ignatius (moderator) is an associate editor and award-winning columnist for The Washington Post. He is also creator and co-moderator of “PostGlobal,” an online conversation about international affairs at He has written eight novels, including Body of Lies, which director Ridley Scott adapted into a film. He has received numerous honors, including the Legion of Honor from the French Republic, the Urbino World Press Award from the Italian Republic, and a lifetime achievement award from the International Committee for Foreign Journalism.


4:30-5:00 pm: Registration
5:00-6:30 pm: Discussion

This program is part of Asia: Beyond the Headlines, a series of conversations with leading policy makers and thought leaders about the critical issues facing the United States and Asia.


Iran at the New York Asia Society – points from the pen of the Moderator David Ignatius.

On Iran, a deal only in principle

Posted by David Ignatius on February 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, took questions this week at an unusual forum hosted by the Asia Society. Critics argued that the forum was simply an opportunity for Iranian propaganda, but as moderator of the discussion, I thought it made an important, if somewhat discouraging, point: There isn’t yet sufficient trust on either side for a broad agreement.

The discussion took place a week before the next negotiating session between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations, scheduled for Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan. Khazaee’s stance might be described as forthrightly ambiguous. That is, he suggested a deal can be imagined in principle but cautioned that the environment isn’t conducive for making it happen in practice.

For example, when I asked whether Iran was ready to endorse a framework for resolving the nuclear issue that might involve caps on Iranian enrichment and export of existing stockpiles of enriched material, Khazaee answered “yes and no,” and then explained what he meant.

The “yes” part was that Iran was prepared to be flexible on such details as the level at which it enriched uranium and the size of the stockpile it maintained, so long as its basic right to enrichment was recognized. But the “no” involved the atmosphere in which such an agreement might be reached. “The point is … the mistrust that exists between the two countries. As soon as one side says something … [the other side] says there is a hidden agenda.”

Khazaee elaborated on a statement last week by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, that he won’t negotiate under pressure. The Iranian ambassador clarified that removal of sanctions wasn’t a precondition for negotiations and that there was no “red line” against diplomacy with the United States and the other P5+1 countries. But he insisted: “More pressure can only beget more distrust, leading Iran, in turn, to lose hope in a negotiated settlement.”

Thomas Pickering, a former senior U.S. diplomat who took part in the discussion, saw in Khazaee’s comments a positive sign that the supreme leader was still open to talks and prepared to be “reasonable,” as Khazaee quoted him saying. But Pickering argued that because of the deep suspicions on both sides, any U.S.-Iranian discussions should begin with “small steps” rather than a grand bargain.

It’s always useful when officials answer questions in a public forum, and I suspect that many in the audience came away encouraged that progress can be made in the negotiations. But Khazaee is a diplomat, and as his boss, the supreme leader, said bluntly in his statement last week: “I’m not a diplomat, I’m a revolutionary.”

The problem is that it’s hard to negotiate agreements with revolutionaries. That may be especially true if they feel there is a gun pointed at their head. A diplomat might compromise, but a revolutionary could well say: Go ahead, pull the trigger.


Posted on on February 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

After the briefing at the US Mission to the UN I crossed the street to the UN proper and found out that the UN had two extraordinary activities that day:

(1) The Launching of an International Year of Water Cooperation in the morning followed by a Press Conference at the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.

(2) The Launching of the United Nations Children’s Tour in the Visitor’s Lobby – to which all accredited Journalists and media affiliates were invited.

The second event was easy to reject – this because of the fact that the invitation sounded exclusive and then because we always thought that the UN was established in order to do serious business and we never liked the idea that it is being turned by its leaders into a tourist trap.

Oh well! This left the first activity which looked suspicious as well. What is it WATER COOPERATION?

As I was looking for a particular journalist I found my way to the Water Cooperation Press Conference and watched three presentation by three people – The UN Ambasssador from Hungary, Mr. Csaba Korosi, a science specialist for UNESCO Ms. Ana Persic, and Mr. Paul D. Egerton the World Meteorological Organization (Headquartered in Geneva) Representative in New York.

I understood that the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2013 as International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010 following a request by Tadjikistan that is short of water and has disputes with its neighbor Uzbekistan. Instead of looking at the political dispute and at the shortage of water in that dry part of central Asia, the UN gave the lead to the issue to UNESCO which is running UN Water – a project that looks at the importance of water in general. So what we got was a scientific presentation of climate change, droughts and tsunamis. Instead of having an Ambassador from n Asian dryland we got the Ambassador from Hungary and presentations on the importance of water for poverty reduction. We heard of Climate Security and catastrophic weather, of migration and water vulnerability – BUT WHAT ABOUT COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UZBEKS and the TADJIKS? What about international water-sharing laws and agreements?

Yes, from our experience we know that WMD does terrific scientific work as they did when we needed them to prepare information on climate change for the IPCC – but they are not a political organization – not even UNESCO can push for COOPERATION between governments, so what was this event about.

I decided to bring up what I learned just last week from the Brahmah Chellaney presentation at the Asia Society, and which I posted as:

Asia is poorer in water then Africa, and China’s Tibetan Plateau dominates Asia water supply and could impact all other States. Professor Brahma Chellaney of New Delhi publicizes these problems in his books. Posted on on February 9th, 2013

My question was about the Water-Hegemony of China because of the fact that most of the rivers originate on the Tibetan Plateau and China does not care to make water agreements with its neighbors. India is a victim of such disputes with China and the development of the whole region will stop because of lack of water and of agreements to share the water.

The answer came crystal clear – the studies will be prepared by scientists and not political people – that will be up to the governments. Let us say that if the UN is not ready to accept the task of getting countries together there is no sense in talking of cooperation – just another example that the UN cannot step up to the plate.


And The Revealing Inner City Press Report: UN’s Water Year Is All Wet, Distinguishing Science & Politics, Tajik Sponsors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 – The year of 2013 is the year of many things, but according to the UN General Assembly it is the International Year of Water Cooperation, credited to a request by Tajikistan in 2010. Inner City Press covered that 2010 hoopla, here.

At the UN on Monday Inner City Press asked at the inevitable UN press conference about the Tajik – Uzbekistan water and dam dispute, and if the press conference panel’s singling out of Tajikistan for praise didn’t constitute taking sides in this dispute. Video here, from Minute 22:13.

The World Meteorological Organization’s Paul Egerton replied that WMO and UNESCO, whose Ana Persic was also on the panel, are both scientific organizations. “The starting point is to focus on scientific and environmental issues,” he said. “There may be discussions at the high political level, in the UN Security Council or other venues, of the political issues.”

But water cooperation is, of course, a “political” issue.

Witness the Nile Basin and an agreement signed by seven countries but not by Egypt or Sudan. Can UNESCO solve this? The Security Council seems unlikely to get involved on the Nile, much less the Uzbek – Tajik conflict.

Inner City Press began by thanking the panelists on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access. Also on the panel was Hungary’s Permanent Representative Csaba Korosi, who told Inner City Press that “we as member states cannot decide on behalf of other member states to sort out their bilateral problems.”

But that is precisely what the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter purports to do. Sudan, North Korea, Eritrea and others would like what Csaba Korosi said to be true. But it is not.

Csaba Korosi went on to say that the International Year of Water Cooperation is also “to raise awareness of solutions” and is about the “SDGs and the post 2015 development agenda.”

But isn’t everything?

Still, his answer at least acknowledged that these are political problems, and not only scientific. Now who will solve them? Watch this site.


Posted on on November 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The solution to Gaza is back to Syria!

says Tariq Alhomayed of Asharq Alawsat based in London, November 17, 2012

Unfortunately, there is now a race between the wars in our region, which means, every war serves to overshadow  another war.

In other words, these wars are nothing more than a headlong rush. Therefore, what is happening in Gaza now is an escape forwards, especially in the hope of [Syrian President] Assad, or at least ensures that the costs to topple him, will be higher for all. The greatest architect of such wars is Iran, for instance by means of unmanned drone Ayoub and the countless attempts on the Sinai Peninsula.

Since the front line in the Golan Heights  is not moving fast enough for Assad and Iran. they have chosen to move to the the Gaza strip, since it can explode in flames much quicker and will also be easier for Israel to react.

For Israel, the Gaza Strip is like a punching bag that can be used for training and muscle building, and if succeeded they would kill several birds in one shot.

In Gaza, Tel Aviv is able to crush Hamas and expose Egypt and Mursi  who will, in any case, become the biggest loser of this fight, no matter what he does. — If Mursi wins politically, he loses his popularity and vice-versa – if the Egyptian President fails to achieve any political wonder that shows his cleverness. — However,  he does not really have a choice.

As for Israel, an attack on the Gaza Strip is a strong message to Assad and it supports Iran, especially if it should come to an Israeli attack on Iran. Also, an enlarged attack on the Gaza Strip enhances the chances of Netanyahu in the upcoming elections.

But what about Syria? Well, the best solution for the war – or the air strikes – to end the Gaza Strip, is to return to the topic of Syria.

After all, those responsible for the downing of the homemade rockets from Gaza are fully aware that there is no power balance. The sole purpose was to save Assad, whose days are numbered, his successor is already waiting around the corner for him! It is also a war to distract the Arab actors – and we have seen today, how they outdo each other.

The Arabs cannot  therefore present a fundamental question: Who ignited the Gaza front? And why now? This is an essential issue, especially since [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah calls the Arabs to put pressure on the U.S. to put an end to the aggression. Why does Nasrallah not  demand the backers of Iran in the Gaza Strip to stop plunging Gaza into the unknown? Why has he and Iran not demanded from Assad to end the violence against the Syrian people? It is all about outdoing  each other, and everybody is involved.

What I am saying is: Who knows what will happen?

The spirits could quickly turn against the sorcerer’s apprentice: If the Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including Hamas, do not want to continue to fight because they cannot or if Israel does not want to continue the aggression, because it believes much was achieved already on various  levels. As for Egypt’s Mursi,  he is not n the position to solve that problem, however this is what the the international community wants.

Therefore, the best way to leave Gaza as soon as possible, is to turn back to Syria, since it is a spark which was ignited by Assad. The spirits should turn against the sorcerer’s apprentice, especially since everyone is already convinced of the threat posed by the Assad regime, and the need to overthrow it. The solution to Gaza is the return to Syria, and the acceleration of the fall of the criminal regime of the tyrant of Damascus.

The author is editor of the London-based newspaper “Asharq Alawsat” .
We picked this up in German and there it was as follows:

Die Lösung für Gaza – zurück zu Syrien!

Von Tariq Alhomayed, asharq alawsat, 17.11.12

Unglücklicherweise gibt es in unserer Region mittlerweile so etwas wie ein Wettrennen der Kriege, das heißt, jeder Krieg dient dazu, einen anderen zu überdecken. Mit anderen Worten sind diese Kriege nichts anderes als eine Flucht nach vorn. Daher ist auch das, was gerade im Gazastreifen passiert, eine Flucht nach vorn, vor allem in der Hoffnung, [den syrischen Präsidenten] Assad zu retten oder zumindest sicherzustellen, dass die Kosten dafür, ihn zu stürzen, für alle höher sein werden. Der größte Architekt solcher Kriege ist der Iran, so etwa mittels der unbemannten Ayoub-Drohne und der ungezählten Versuche auf der Halbinsel Sinai.

Als die Front in den Golanhöhen sich für Assad und den Iran nicht schnell genug bewegte, haben sie sich an die Gaza-Front gehalten, da diese viel schneller in Flammen gesetzt werden kann, weil das auch für Israel einfacher ist.

Für Israel ist der Gazastreifen wie ein Sandsack, den man für Training und zum Muskelaufbau nutzen kann, während durch einen Erfolg im Gazastreifen mehrere Fliegen mit einer Klappe geschlagen würden. Im Gazastreifen ist Tel Aviv in der Lage, die Hamas zu zerschlagen und Ägypten und Mursi bloßzustellen, der in jedem Fall der größte Verlierer dieses Kampfes sein wird, egal, was er tut. Denn wenn Mursi politisch siegt, verliert er seine Popularität und umgekehrt – falls dem ägyptischen Präsidenten nicht irgendein politisches Wunder gelingt, dass seine Cleverness zeigt. Doch er hat nicht wirklich eine Wahl. Was Israel betrifft, so ist ein Angriff auf den Gazastreifen eine starke Botschaft an Assad und stutzt dem Iran die Flügel, vor allem, wenn es zu einem israelischen Angriff auf den Iran kommen sollte. Vor allem anderen vergrößert ein Angriff auf den Gazastreifen die Chancen Netanyahus bei den anstehenden Wahlen.

Was ist nun aber mit Syrien? Nun, die beste Lösung dafür, den Krieg – oder die Luftangriffe – im Gazastreifen zu beenden, ist es, zum Thema Syrien zurückzukehren. Denn wer immer auch für den Abschuss der selbstgemachten Raketen aus dem Gazastreifen verantwortlich ist, war sich dessen vollkommen bewusst, dass es kein Gleichgewicht gibt. Der einzige Zweck war, Assad zu retten, dessen Tage gezählt sind; seine Absetzung wartet schon um die Ecke auf ihn! Es ist auch ein Krieg, der die arabischen Akteure ablenken soll – und wir haben heute gesehen, wie sie einander überbieten.

Die Araber konnten daher eine fundamentale Frage nicht stellen, die da heißt: Wer hat die Gaza-Front angezündet? Und warum jetzt? Dies ist eine essentielle Frage, vor allem, da [Hisbollah-Chef] Hassan Nasrallah die Araber dazu aufruft, Druck auf die USA auszuüben, um der Aggression ein Ende zu setzen. Warum also verlangt Nasrallah nicht von den Hintermännern des Iran im Gazastreifen, damit aufzuhören, den Gazastreifen ins Ungewisse zu stürzen? Warum haben er und der Iran nicht von Assad verlangt, die Gewalt gegen das syrische Volk zu beenden? Es geht hier nur darum, einander zu überbieten, und alle machen mit.

Was ich sagen möchte, ist: Wer weiß schon, was passieren wird? Die Geister könnten sich schnell gegen den Zauberlehrling richten: Wenn die bewaffneten palästinensischen Gruppen im Gazastreifen, einschließlich der Hamas, nicht weiter kämpfen wollen, weil sie es nicht können; wenn Israel seine Aggression nicht weiter fortsetzen möchte, weil es glaubt, dass es schon viel erreicht hat, und das auf verschiedenen Ebenen. Und was das Ägypten Mursis betrifft, will oder kann es diese Krise nicht ertragen, noch möchte die internationale Gemeinschaft das.

Daher ist der beste Weg so schnell wie möglich Gaza zu verlassen und sich Syrien zuzuwenden, da das Feuer aus und in Gaza das Ergebnis eines Funkens ist, der von Assad entzündet wurde. Nun mögen sich also die selbstgerufenen Geister gegen den Zauberlehrling wenden, besonders, da ohnehin alle von der Bedrohung überzeugt sind, die das Assad-Regime darstellt und von der Notwendigkeit, es zu stürzen. Die Lösung für den Gazastreifen ist die Rückkehr nach Syrien und die Beschleunigung des Sturzes des kriminellen Regimes des Tyrannen von Damaskus.

Der Autor ist Herausgeber der in London erscheinenden Zeitung „asharq alawsat“.


Asharq Al-Awsat
The leading Arabic international paper

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, Printed simultaneously on four continents in 14 cities.
Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan- Arab and international affairs, offering its reader’s in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab World.

Asharq Al-Awsat was the first Arabic daily newspaper to execute satellite transmission for simultaneous printing in a number of major cities worldwide, and is currently the only newspaper to own the Arabic copyright of renowned international syndicates; The Washington Post, USA Today and global viewpoint.

Progressive and comprehensive, Asharq Al-Awsat is the preferred daily Arab- language newspaper, with its readership penetrating all socio-economic groups. Famous for conducting in-depth interviews with prominent and influential personalities alike, Asharq Al-Awsat’s news team provide their world wide readers with objective and impartial news coverage, thus cementing the journalistic integrity of the newspaper.

Because of its unrivaled style Asharq Al-Awsat continues to out perform every regional or local Arabic daily newspaper, and this success is attributed to its dedicated and experienced team of skilled journalists, editors and columnists combining editorial talent, professionalism, years of journalistic knowledge and the motivation for news reporting.

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Going to the English postings of „asharq alawsat“ we picked up later the additional article by the same author – that amazes us.
In effect this second article expresses clearly the idea that the author thinks Israel is trying to back now al Assad as it thinks it benefits from the Middle East chaos that the Arab create in effect by themselves. The author is thus not a friend of Israel as the first article seems to imply.
The intricacies of the Middle East intrigue shall never end wondering us.
Israel trying to save al-Assad!
By Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed
Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that position. Mr. Alhomayed has an acclaimed and distinguished career as a Journalist and has held many key positions in the field including; Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, Managing Editor of Asharq Al-Awsat in Saudi Arabia, Head of Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper’s Bureau-Jeddah, Correspondent for Al – Madina Newspaper in Washington D.C. from 1998 to Aug 2000. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs including: the BBC, German TV, Al Arabiya, Al- Hurra, LBC and the acclaimed Imad Live’s four-part series on terrorism and reformation in Saudi Arabia. He is also the first Journalist to conduct an interview with Osama Bin Ladin’s Mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a BA degree in Media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, and has also completed his Introductory courses towards a Master’s degree from George Washington University in Washington D.C. He is based in London.
Previous Articles
Why has Jordan been abandoned?
A source of condemnation, not pride
Mursi and Hamas in a predicament
The solution to Gaza…return to Syria!
Syria and Israel…Encore
Syria: What a historic day!
Erdogan…the new Ottoman Sultan!
A Christian leader of the Syrian opposition
Al-Assad: Secularist who will “live and die” in Syria
Living with Obama for another four years?
What is now clear from the Israeli military response – even if this is a limited one – against the al-Assad forces in the Golan Heights is that Israel is trying to save Bashar al-Assad and is working to drown the region in an ongoing state of chaos. This is in order to complicate the Syrian crisis, which in turn would prevent critical decisions being taken to hasten the toppling of the tyrant of Damascus.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, we have seen the possible scenarios regarding al-Assad’s response – which are completely expected and contain nothing new – including setting fire to Lebanon, drowning Turkey in refugees, attempting to exploit Turkey’s Alawite community, as well as embroiling Jordan in the crisis and drowning it in refugees, dragging Iraq into the crisis via the gateway of sectarianism, and before all else, playing the sectarian card in Syria itself. However last but not least, we now see al-Assad involving Israel.

Of course, it is the al-Assad regime that is responsible for all this; it tried to provoke Turkey but failed, in the knowledge that if the Turkish army took action and reached the heart of Damascus it would find Arab support and cover. Al-Assad tried, and continues to try, to provoke Jordan, but Amman, for its part, continues to practice self-restraint. Al-Assad did what he did in Lebanon, whilst Beirut remains steadfast, however what is strange is that with the first al-Assad provocation towards Israel, Tel Aviv took action and responded!

We describe this as “strange” because what al-Assad has done recently in the Golan Heights – which have been quiet for nearly 4 decades – is precisely what Saddam Hussein did during the occupation of Kuwait. He launched “Scud” missiles at Israel in order to drag it into the crisis and “shuffle” the cards. At the time, then US President George Bush Senior confronted Israel and obliged it to exhibit self-restraint and not involve itself in the crisis surrounding the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Today, al-Assad is doing the same thing with Israel, and along the same line as Saddam Hussein. The issue does not require an abundance of intelligence to realize that al-Assad is trying to escape forward. In this case, why is Israel getting involved now and trying to save al-Assad by serving his interests? Why now, when we are witnessing quick and dramatic progress in the Syrian file, as well as military advancement in Damascus and political development at the level of the Syrian opposition which is now united, not to mention the positive international position towards this unity, which signals that al-Assad’s days are truly numbered? We say that this is “strange” because it is bizarre that al-Assad’s allies in this crisis should include Iran, Hezbollah and Israel! Of course, each party has their own motives, however these are destructive motivates that demonstrate the threat this tripartite represents to our region, not to mention al-Assad himself!

Al-Assad wants to drown the entire region in chaos; whilst Tel Aviv would have no objection in seeing the Syrian crisis last for decades and set fire to the entire encompassing region. Israel has no problem with Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon drowning in chaos, for the weaker Arab states become, the stronger Israel gets. This is what Tel Aviv wants, even with regards to Egypt. For so long as we Arabs our facing problems we have created with our own hands, Israel will not hesitate to pour fuel on the fire.

Therefore, it is imperative for there to be an effective diplomatic Arab stances towards the Israeli actions, as well as on the part of the international community, particularly the US and Britain. This is in order to see a similar position taken as that taken by George Bush Senior towards Israel during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Israel must not be allowed to “shuffle” the cards of the Syrian revolution and allow al-Assad the opportunity to extend the life of his regime whose collapse is inevitable.


Posted on on November 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification


The International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) has emerged as an important global gathering of scientists, field workers, industry, government, CSOs, international development aid agencies and other stakeholders from over 60 countries concerned about land degradation in the drylands, and their sustainable use and development.
The program combines plenary lectures and panels, parallel sessions, workshops, field trips and social events. The four day conference provides an opportunity for a diverse group of experts, policy makers and land managers to consider a range of theoretical and practical issues associated with combating desertification and living sustainably in the drylands.
The 4th DDD conference will focus on the outcome of Rio+20 (UN Conference on Sustainable Development – UNCSD) and consider the science required for implementing the UNCSD recommendations relevant to drylands and desertification. Local case studies will be highlighted alongside success stories from around the world with an emphasis on indicators of progress. Additional sessions will be held considering a broad range of topics associated with sustainable living in the drylands and means to address desertification, as well as achieving the target of zero net rate of land degradation.


Posted on on May 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Agencies, Russian Federation Hold Civic Forum for Sustainable Development.

The first Civic Forum for Sustainable Development addressed sustainable development issues in the Russian Federation and Central Asia, conserving natural resources for future generations while meeting the needs of the current generation, and the roles of business, civil society and government in sustainable development. The meeting was organized as a contribution to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) process.

The Forum, which took place on 25 May 2012, in Moscow, Russian Federation, was convened by the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), among other UN agencies. It brought together over 100 participants from civil society, business and government from seven countries.

Three reports were presented at the Forum: the Institute for Sustainable Development’s report “Towards a Green Economy in Russia;” the UN interagency report “From Transition to Transformation: Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Europe and Central Asia;” and UNEP’s Green Economy report. The two UN reports were formally launched in Russian at the Forum.

“Towards a Green Economy in Russia,” presented by Vladimir Zakharov, Institute for Sustainable Development, addresses sustainable development issues in Russia.

“From Transition to Transformation” examines challenges in former Soviet republics to integrate policy processes to achieve social equity, environmental protection and economic growth. It calls for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, investing in green jobs and health, and establishing social protection floors. [Publication: From Transition to Transformation: Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Europe and Central Asia] [Publication: Green Economy] [UNEP Press Release] [UNICEF Press Release]


Posted on on February 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Besuch von UNO-Generalsekretär Ban Ki-moon in Österreich
Foto: Dragan Tatic/HBF

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Defense Minister Norbert Darabos in the Austrian President’s working room.
Actually, the Ban Ki-moon visit to Vienna was a very serious event – both for the UN and for Austria  –  but you would not know this by reading the Austrian papers.  All what was reflected in these papers was the OPERA BALL where the UN Secretary-General and his wife  Lady Ban Soon-taek were guests of the Austrian President Heinz Fischer and his wife Margit. ( Ban Ki-moon met Yoo Soon-taek in 1962 when they were both high school students. Ban was 18 years old, and Yoo Soon-taek was his secondary school’s student council president. Ban Ki-moon married Yoo Soon-taek in 1971. )
Mr. Ban was South Korea’s Ambassador to Vienna  in 1998 and his career was linked with Austria since then.
In 1980 Ban became director of the United Nations’ International Organizations and Treaties Bureau, headquartered in Seoul.  In 1992, he became Vice Chairman of the South-North Joint Nuclear Control Commission, following the adoption by South and North Korea of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  He was  appointed National Security Advisor to the President in 1996. Much of this had to do with the nuclear arms subject.

Following the nuclear thread, Mr. Ban was appointed Ambassador to Austria and Slovenia in 1998, and a year later he was also elected as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom) at the UN in Vienna. During the negotiations, in what Ban considers the biggest blunder of his career, he included in a public letter a positive statement about the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, not long after the United States had decided to abandon the treaty. To avoid anger from the United States, Ban was fired by President Kim Dae-jung, who also issued a public apology for Ban’s statement.[1]

Ban was unemployed thus the only time in his career and was expecting to receive an assignment to work in a remote and unimportant embassy.[1] In 2001, during the 56th Session of the United-  Nations General Assembly, the Republic of Korea held the rotating presidency of the General Assembly and  Ban’s career was saved as he was selected to be the chief of staff to his mentor who became then UN general assembly president – Han Seung-soo – Foreign Minister of South Korea and future Prime Minister. In 2003, incoming president Roh Moo-hyun selected Ban as one of his foreign policy advisors. { this from – Warren Hoge (2006-12-09). “For New U.N. Chief, a Past Misstep Leads to Opportunity”The New York Times. }

{we posted on Han Seung-soo several times – see please and specifically the book review –… Mr. Tibor Toth is the Executive Director of CTBTO and the Swedish Foreign Minister(yes – this time it is not a speling mistake – it is Australians not Austrians)

In 2004, Ban replaced Yoon Young Kwan as foreign minister of South Korea under president Roh Moo-hyun, and his popularity in Korea saw an upturn when talks began with North Korea.  Ban became actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relationships.  In September 2005, as Foreign Minister, he played a leading role in the diplomatic efforts to adopt the Joint Statement on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue at the Fourth Round of the Six-party talks held in Beijing.  We wrote about this in – 

Mr. Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006, he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. Ban was initially considered to be a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of South Korea, however, he was able to travel to all of the countries that were members of the United Nations Security Council, a maneuver that turned him into the front runner.

On 13 October 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly by beating Mr. Shashi Tharoor from India, the in-house Under-Secretary General in charge of the UN Communications and Information Services, and officially succeeded Kofi Annan on 1 January 2007. Ban has led several major reforms regarding peacekeeping and UN employment practices. Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on Darfur, where he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan; and on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with former U.S. President George W. Bush. Ban has received strong criticism from OIOS, the UN internal audit unit, stating that the secretariat, under Ban’s leadership, is “drifting into irrelevance”.

In 2011, Ban ran unopposed for a second term as Secretary-General. On 21 June 2011, he was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly and therefore will continue to serve until 31 December 2016.

Austria, in its turn at the Security Council, was a strong backer of its old friend Mr. Ban. As Austria is an imporant contributor to UN military deployment in the Middle East, and as host to UN agencies working on Nuclear power and on nuclear non-proliferation, it is only natural to continue a close relationship with Mr. Ban. Further, as host to the largest UN presence outside New York, Austria is always ready to bring to Vienna newly established UN organizations and task forces – the more the better.

We already posted the “verbatim of the open interaction between Austria and this visit of the UNSG, now we want to say that it is totally disingenious to say that the main reason of the UNSG visit to Vienna was the Opera Ball where he had to compete for attention with the strange visitors that were brought to the Ball by builder Richard Luegner. Actually, the Vienna trip by the UN was caused by Austria taking over more of the UN focal interaction with the Arab world.

There were several activities that went on in Vienna parallel this week:

On one track there was the 15 year celebration of the preparation for the CTBTO Prepcom and bi-lateral discussions on the way hence that includes the opening of the Vienna office for disarmament (UNODA). Hungarian Mr. Tibor Toth is the Executive Director of CBTBO, and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt came for this meeting. Link to press release on UNIS website:

Another track deals with the eventual disengagement from the war in Afghanistan and the fight against the opium trade based in Afghanistan.   Mr.  Ruslan Kazakbaev, Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic , came also to Vienna. The Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, Afghanistan and Central Asia were the topics the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, H.E. Mr. Lamberto Zannier, talked about with Mr. Ban. The Armenian Foreign minister was also in town.

The third meeting of the Paris Pact partners meeting brings together Ministers and representatives from more than 55 countries as well as from international organizations and regional partners. The participants came to discuss problems related to the trafficking of opiates from Afghanistan and look at ways to block financial flows from the illicit drug trade, prevent diversion of precursor chemicals needed to produce heroin, reduce drug abuse and how regional initiatives can help combat drugs from Afghanistan.

But the main reason for this trip was to have a serious of bilateral meetings that dealt with the events in Syria. This was really a Syria in Vienna series with the Foreign Ministers of Russia and France in town.

It seems that nobody wants at this moment to see a regime change in Syria despite the fiery talk of some. There is clearly a shrinking away from the reality that the devil unknown might be worse then the killing devil in the Assad family.  Who are the Islamists that vie for power – will the pro-Iranians or the pro-Saudis win? It is not a Shi’a-Sunni confrontation – but rather a conflict of interest between the Saudis, Iranians,Turks,  and Russians. Is it possible that Russia actually looks after Christian interests in a bifurcated Muslim world. Is secular Bashar al-Assad still the best there is? With the Austrians sitting on the Golan Heights, Austria is very much involved – the security of their military is part of the equation and the interests of the Israelis, in view of  confrontation with Iran, is also something to be taken into account.

Meeting Mr. Lavrov who just got back from Damascus, and Mr. Alain Juppe who flew in from Paris and seemingly other foreign ministers that came to discuss the situation – turned the event into a Syria event and Ausatria might now look at it offering Vienna for folllow-ups to other Middle East future events as well.

Let us see what the Australians (yes, this is not a spelling mistake – it is indeed Australians not Austrians) what do they have to tell us:

“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said earlier this week “crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed” in Syria since the crackdown began.

According to the United Nations, more than 5400 people have been killed, while thousands are missing and tens of thousands more have fled the country. Monitoring groups have put the number of dead at more than 6000.

“We might all agree on a very short-term goal; the stopping of massacres,”

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told a press conference after talks in Vienna with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We must do everything possible to bring an end to the violence and to allow large-scale humanitarian aid to reach the Syrian population.”

But Juppe did not offer much hope that Russia would be on board.

He said Lavrov had declined to comment on France’s call for “humanitarian corridors” to allow aid to reach the Syrian population.

“There was no specific discussion of the French initiative. From what they said, they have nothing specific at this time,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov told Interfax news agency.

“We want to work with the Arab League to implement its plan for political transition,” Juppe said, referring to proposals for a transfer of power from Assad to the vice-president and the creation of a coalition government.

Juppe also said France was ready to back the idea of a UN special envoy to Syria.”

“If Ban Ki-moon goes that way, we will back him,” he said.     

Read more on this: – and above tells us that the UNSG visit to Vienna will bring further world attention to Vienna as gateway to the Middle East. Will Vienna host meetings between the Israelis and Palestinians in the not too distant future?


Posted on on January 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The scare tactics – The pundits say: “In a matter of hours of the Strait of Hormuz being shut down, prices would increase anywhere from $25 to $30 a barrel, after 72 hours, they foresee oil prices spiking to $150 very quickly, and rising much faster from there. From there, prices could climb to $180… even $200.

But what is the likelihood of this scenario?


Tomgram: Michael Klare, Energy Wars 2012
Posted by Michael Klare at 9:37am, January 10, 2012.

Last week, the president made a rare appearance at the Pentagon to unveil a new strategic plan for U.S. military policy (and so spending) over the next decade.  Let’s leave the specifics to a future TomDispatch post and focus instead on a historical footnote: Obama was evidently the first president to offer remarks from a podium in the Pentagon press room.  He made the point himself — “I understand this is the first time a president has done this.  It’s a pretty nice room.  (Laughter)” — and it was duly noted in the media.  Yet no one thought to make anything of it, even though it tells us so much about our American world.

After all, when was the last time the president appeared at a podium at the Environmental Protection Agency to announce a 10-year plan for a “leaner, meaner” approach to the environment, or at the Education Department to outline the next decade of blue-skies thinking (and spending) for giving our children a leg-up in a competitive world?  Or how about at a State Department podium to describe future planning for a more peaceable planet more peaceably attained?  Unfortunately, you can’t remember such moments and neither can America’s reporters, because they just aren’t part of Washington life.  And strangest of all, no one finds this the tiniest bit odd or worth commenting on.

Over the last decade, this country has been so strikingly militarized that no one can imagine 10 years of serious government planning or investment not connected to the military or the national security state.  It’s a dangerous world out there — so we’re regularly told by officials who don’t mention that no military is built to handle the scariest things around.  War and the sinews of war are now our business and the U.S. military is our go-to outfit of choice for anything from humanitarian action to diplomacy (even though that same military can’t do the one thing it’s theoretically built to do: win a modern war). And if you don’t believe me that the militarization of this country is a process far gone, check out the last pages of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent piece, “America’s Pacific Century,” in Foreign Policy magazine.  Then close your eyes and tell me that it wasn’t written by a secretary of defense, rather than a secretary of state — right down to the details about the “littoral combat ships” we’re planning to deploy to Singapore and the “greater American military presence” in Australia.

Of course, the irony of this American moment is that the Republicans, those supposed advocates of “small government,” are the greatest fans we have of the ever increasing oppressive powers of the biggest of governments.  In recent years, have they seen a single enhanced power they didn’t put their stamp of approval on or enhance further? Predictably, no sooner did the president’s Pentagon press briefing end than assorted Republicans began attacking Obama and his relatively modest Pentagon plan for reshuffling military funds — from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (“a lead from behind strategy for a left-behind America”) and Senator John McCain (“greatest peril”) to presidential candidate Mitt Romney (“inexcusable, unthinkable”) — as if it were a program for unilateral disarmament.

So when the U.S. faces a problem in the world — say, keeping the energy flowing on this planet — the first thing that’s done is to militarize the problem.  It’s the only way Washington now knows how to think.  As Michael Klare — whose upcoming book The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources will certainly be a must-read of the season — makes clear, a further militarization of oil and gas policy is underway with an eye tothe Pacific, and we have another anxious year on the horizon. (To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Klare discusses the crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, click here, or download it to your iPod here.) Tom

Danger Waters
The Three Top Hot Spots of Potential Conflict in the Geo-Energy Era
By Michael T. Klare

Welcome to an edgy world where a single incident at an energy “chokepoint” could set a region aflame, provoking bloody encounters, boosting oil prices, and putting the global economy at risk.  With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch — the Geo-Energy Era — in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs.  In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world.

Take the Strait of Hormuz, already making headlines and shaking energy markets as 2012 begins.  Connecting the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, it lacks imposing geographical features like the Rock of Gibraltar or the Golden Gate Bridge.  In an energy-conscious world, however, it may possess greater strategic significance than any passageway on the planet.  Every day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankers carrying some 17 million barrels of oil — representing 20% of the world’s daily supply — pass through this vital artery.

So last month, when a senior Iranian official threatened to block the strait in response to Washington’s tough new economic sanctions, oil prices instantly soared. While the U.S. military has vowed to keep the strait open, doubts about the safety of future oil shipments and worries about a potentially unending, nerve-jangling crisis involving Washington, Tehran, and Tel Aviv have energy experts predicting high oil prices for months to come, meaning further woes for a slowing global economy.

The Strait of Hormuz is, however, only one of several hot spots where energy, politics, and geography are likely to mix in dangerous ways in 2012 and beyond.  Keep your eye as well on the East and South China Seas, the Caspian Sea basin, and an energy-rich Arctic that is losing its sea ice.  In all of these places, countries are disputing control over the production and transportation of energy, and arguing about national boundaries and/or rights of passage.

In the years to come, the location of energy supplies and of energy supply routes — pipelines, oil ports, and tanker routes — will be pivotal landmarks on the global strategic map.  Key producing areas, like the Persian Gulf, will remain critically important, but so will oil chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca (between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea) and the “sea lines of communication,” or SLOCs (as naval strategists like to call them) connecting producing areas to overseas markets.  More and more, the major powers led by the United States, Russia, and China will restructure their militaries to fight in such locales.

You can already see this in the elaborate Defense Strategic Guidance document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” unveiled at the Pentagon on January 5th by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  While envisioning a smaller Army and Marine Corps, it calls for increased emphasis on air and naval capabilities, especially those geared to the protection or control of international energy and trade networks.  Though it tepidly reaffirmed historic American ties to Europe and the Middle East, overwhelming emphasis was placed on bolstering U.S. power in “the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South Asia.”

In the new Geo-Energy Era, the control of energy and of its transport to market will lie at the heart of recurring global crises.  This year, keep your eyes on three energy hot spots in particular: the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Sea basin.

The Strait of Hormuz

A narrow stretch of water separating Iran from Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the strait is the sole maritime link between the oil-rich Persian Gulf region and the rest of the world.  A striking percentage of the oil produced by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is carried by tanker through this passageway on a daily basis, making it (in the words of the Department of Energy) “the world’s most important oil chokepoint.”  Some analysts believe that any sustained blockage in the strait could trigger a 50% increase in the price of oil and trigger a full-scale global recession or depression.

American leaders have long viewed the Strait as a strategic fixture in their global plans that must be defended at any cost.  It was an outlook first voiced by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, on the heels of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which had, he told Congress, “brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow.”  The American response, he insisted, must be unequivocal: any attempt by a hostile power to block the waterway would henceforth be viewed as “an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” and “repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

Much has changed in the Gulf region since Carter issued his famous decree, known since as the Carter Doctrine, and established the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to guard the Strait — but not Washington’s determination to ensure the unhindered flow of oil there.  Indeed, President Obama has made it clear that, even if CENTCOM ground forces were to leave Afghanistan, as they have Iraq, there would be no reduction in the command’s air and naval presence in the greater Gulf area.

It is conceivable that the Iranians will put Washington’s capabilities to the test.  On December 27th, Iran’s first vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said, “If [the Americans] impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.”  Similar statements have since been made by other senior officials (and contradicted as well by yet others).  In addition, the Iranians recently conducted elaborate naval exercisesin the Arabian Sea near the eastern mouth of the strait, and more such maneuvers are said to be forthcoming.  At the same time, the commanding general of Iran’s army suggested that the USS John C. Stennis, an American aircraft carrier just leaving the Gulf, should not return.  “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added ominously, “will not repeat its warning.”

Might the Iranians actually block the strait?  Many analysts believe that the statements by Rahimi and his colleagues are bluster and bluff meant to rattle Western leaders, send oil prices higher, and win future concessions if negotiations ever recommence over their country’s nuclear program.  Economic conditions in Iran are, however, becoming more desperate, and it is always possible that the country’s hard-pressed hardline leaders may feel the urge to take some dramatic action, even if it invites a powerful U.S. counterstrike.  Whatever the case, the Strait of Hormuz will remain a focus of international attention in 2012, with global oil prices closely following the rise and fall of tensions there.

The South China Sea

The South China Sea is a semi-enclosed portion of the western Pacific bounded by China to the north, Vietnam to the west, the Philippines to the east, and the island of Borneo (shared by Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia) to the south.  The sea also incorporates two largely uninhabited island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys.  Long an important fishing ground, it has also been a major avenue for commercial shipping between East Asia and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  More recently, it acquired significance as a potential source of oil and natural gas, large reserves of which are now believed to lie in subsea areas surrounding the Paracels and Spratlys.

With the discovery of oil and gas deposits, the South China Sea has been transformed into a cockpit of international friction.  At least some islands in this energy-rich area are claimed by every one of the surrounding countries, including China — which claims them all, and has demonstrated a willingness to use military force to assert dominance in the region.  Not surprisingly, this has put it in conflict with the other claimants, including several with close military ties to the United States.  As a result, what started out as a regional matter, involving China and various members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has become a prospective tussle between the world’s two leading powers.

To press their claims, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have all sought to work collectively through ASEAN, believing a multilateral approach will give them greater negotiating clout than one-on-one dealings with China. For their part, the Chinese have insisted that all disputes must be resolved bilaterally, a situation in which they can more easily bring their economic and military power to bear.  Previously preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has now entered the fray, offering full-throated support to the ASEAN countries in their efforts to negotiate en masse with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi promptly warned the United States not to interfere.  Any such move “will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult,” he declared.  The result was an instant war of words between Beijing and Washington.  During a visit to the Chinese capital in July 2011, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen delivered a barely concealed threat when it came to possible future military action.  “The worry, among others that I have,” he commented, “is that the ongoing incidents could spark a miscalculation, and an outbreak that no one anticipated.”  To drive the point home, the United States has conducted a series of conspicuous military exercises in the South China Sea, including some joint maneuvers with ships from Vietnam and the Philippines.  Not to be outdone, China responded with naval maneuvers of its own.  It’s a perfect formula for future “incidents” at sea.

The South China Sea has long been on the radar screens of those who follow Asian affairs, but it only attracted global attention when, in November, President Obama traveled to Australia and announced, with remarkable bluntness, a new U.S. strategy aimed at confronting Chinese power in Asia and the Pacific.  “As we plan and budget for the future,” he told members of the Australian Parliament in Canberra, “we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.”  A key feature of this effort would be to ensure “maritime security” in the South China Sea.

While in Australia, President Obama also announced the establishment of anew U.S. base at Darwin on that country’s northern coast, as well as expanded military ties with Indonesia and the Philippines.  In January, the president similarly placed special emphasis on projecting U.S. power in the region when he went to the Pentagon to discuss changes in the American military posture in the world.

Beijing will undoubtedly take its own set of steps, no less belligerent, to protect its growing interests in the South China Sea.  Where this will lead remains, of course, unknown.  After the Strait of Hormuz, however, the South China Sea may be the global energy chokepoint where small mistakes or provocations could lead to bigger confrontations in 2012 and beyond.

The Caspian Sea Basin

The Caspian Sea is an inland body of water bordered by Russia, Iran, and three former republics of the USSR: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.  In the immediate area as well are the former Soviet lands of Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.  All of these old SSRs are, to one degree or another, attempting to assert their autonomy from Moscow and establish independent ties with the United States, the European Union, Iran, Turkey, and, increasingly, China.  All are wracked by internal schisms and/or involved in border disputes with their neighbors.  The region would be a hotbed of potential conflict even if the Caspian basin did not harbor some of the world’s largest undeveloped reserves of oil and natural gas, which could easily bring it to a boil.

This is not the first time that the Caspian has been viewed as a major source of oil, and so potential conflict.  In the late nineteenth century, the region around the city of Baku — then part of the Russian empire, now in Azerbaijan — was a prolific source of petroleum and so a major strategic prize.  Future Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin first gained notoriety there as a leader of militant oil workers, and Hitler sought to capture it during his ill-fated 1941 invasion of the USSR.  After World War II, however, the region lost its importance as an oil producer when Baku’s onshore fields dried up.  Now, fresh discoveries are being made in offshore areas of the Caspian itself and in previously undeveloped areas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

According to energy giant BP, the Caspian area harbors as much as 48 billion barrels of oil (mostly buried in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan) and 449 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (with the largest supply in Turkmenistan).  This puts the region ahead of North and South America in total gas reserves and Asia in oil reserves.  But producing all this energy and delivering it to foreign markets will be a monumental task.  The region’s energy infrastructure is woefully inadequate and the Caspian itself provides no maritime outlet to other seas, so all that oil and gas must travel by pipeline or rail.

Russia, long the dominant power in the region, is pursuing control over the transportation routes by which Caspian oil and gas will reach markets.  It is upgrading Soviet-era pipelines that link the former SSRs to Russia or building new ones and, to achieve a near monopoly over the marketing of all this energy, bringing traditional diplomacy, strong-arm tactics, and outright bribery to bear on regional leaders (many of whom once served in the Soviet bureaucracy) to ship their energy via Russia.  As recounted in my book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, Washington sought to thwart these efforts by sponsoring the construction of alternative pipelines that avoid Russian territory, crossing Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to the Mediterranean (notably the BTC, or Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline), while Beijing is building its own pipelines linking the Caspian area to western China.

All of these pipelines cross through areas of ethnic unrest and pass near various contested regions like rebellious Chechnya and breakaway South Ossetia.  As a result, both China and the U.S. have wedded their pipeline operations to military assistance for countries along the routes.  Fearful of an American presence, military or otherwise, in the former territories of the Soviet Union, Russia has responded with military moves of its own, including its brief August 2008 war with Georgia, which took place along the BTC route.

Given the magnitude of the Caspian’s oil and gas reserves, many energy firms are planning new production operations in the region, along with the pipelinesneeded to bring the oil and gas to market.  The European Union, for example, hopes to build a new natural gas pipeline called Nabucco from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Austria.  Russia has proposed a competing conduit called South Stream.  All of these efforts involve the geopolitical interests of major powers, ensuring that the Caspian region will remain a potential source of international crisis and conflict.

In the new Geo-Energy Era, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Basin hardly stand alone as potential energy flashpoints. The East China Sea, where China and Japan are contending for a contested undersea natural gas field, is another, as are the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands, where both Britain and Argentina hold claims to undersea oil reserves, as will be the globally warming Arctic whose resources are claimed by many countries.  One thing is certain: wherever the sparks may fly, there’s oil in the water and danger at hand in 2012.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, ofRising Powers, Shrinking Planet. His newest book, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, will be published in March.  To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Klare discusses the crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, click here, or download it to your iPod here.


Posted on on October 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UNCCD tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) gets underway this morning, Monday, 10 October 2011, in Changwon City, Republic of Korea.

This major conference will be attended by some 5,000 people, including the 194 Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

There are also a large number of other events taking place involving civil society and other organizations.

It comes just four weeks after the United Nations General Assembly special session in New York, where more than 100 heads of states, heads of government or heads of delegation addressed the issues of desertification land degradation and drought (DLDD) in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. This sent a clear message about the global threat from desertification, land degradation and drought. World leaders committed to increased international cooperation to combat desertification at all levels.

The outcomes of the COP will be of interest to every single issue debated now in the world – this because the arid lands of the world arw such a chunk of the underdeveloped world – not just of the oil rich member states of the UN.

Interesting that the meeting was set up in the home state of he UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This may get us to think that no more appropriate location was found because the places where aridity is the familiar state of affairs just do not have trust in the UN that it will eventually help them.

Let us hope thus that the States that are not coursed with aridity will be ready to open their purses to help – not just to set up conferences that help their tourism by filling empty hotels.

The announcement also says that “There will also be the launch of new initiatives which will be of particular interest to news outlets.” This gets us to think that the approach taken by the UN is to entice news outlets rather then governments and businesses that could help.  BUT THEN – THE UN MAIN OFFICE IN NEW YORK – THE PRESENT SECRETARIAT’S DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION – CHASES AWAY THE MOST APPROPRIATE NEWS OUTLETS – THOSE INTERESTED IN SUSTAINABILITY – UNDER A UN WAY – UNDER UNSG BAN KI-MOON – OF DECIDING WHAT IS PRESS –  THAT SEES IN SUSTAINABILITY AN ISSUE APPROPRIATE FOR NGOs AND NOT AS MEDIA. So, this sort of information disseminators can come with the NGOs but will not have access to what the appropriate professional agency would like to pass on to media. Oh Well – this is the UN to you!

Here is a link to the COP 10 e-media kit


Posted on on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Turkmenistan’s President called for the creation of new mechanisms for Central Asian countries to cooperate on energy and transportation during a speech to the General Assembly’s annual general debate in New York today.

“I believe there has come the time to start the development of concrete measures on the settlement of energy transportation issues,” Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said, recommending the establishment of a new forum for Member States to cooperate in this area.

Mr. Berdimuhamedov also pointed to transport as a crucial component to the region’s sustainable development and called for UN support to study and expand transit and transport opportunities among the countries in the Caspian and Black Sea basins, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

“Over the years, our country together with partners in the region is actively working on the implementation of major projects on optimization of traffic flow in the Eurasian space. We believe this is a very promising area, given the huge potential of the North-South and East-West corridors,” he said.

He also spoke of Turkmenistan’s concern for the environment of the Caspian Sea, and proposed hosting the Caspian Environment Forum in Ashgabat, the country’s capital.

“We are convinced of the need to give specific content to international efforts to preserve unique natural resources of the Caspian Sea. In this regard, we propose to organize the Caspian Environment Forum as a permanent body to deal with environmental issues in the Caspian basin, as well as to make appropriate proposals and recommendations.”


Posted on on September 8th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

With Turkey so much in the news – mainly in its attempt at becoming more Arab then the Arabs and reseting itself as the leader of the Middle East by picking up the cause of the Palestinians and doing everything possible in order to annoy the Israelis, here comes a very different set of news – Turkey has become the ultimate test case for Austria – sort of who is better suited to play in the European Soccer games championship. Austria needed a win in order to have a chance to survive – in effect a win by two goals – to be accurate. This in a group of States, in the Qualifying games – that included also Germany and Belgium, but also Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – call it a situation where three members of the EU had been accidentally paired with three Muslim countries on the outskirts of Europe.

The game was scheduled for September 6, 2011, 20:30 or 8:30 PM, at the largest stadium in Austria -that seats 53.000 people. The old, but rather newish looking Ernst Happel Stadium was built between 1929 and 1931 for the second Workers’ Olympiad to the design of German architect Otto Ernst Schweizer. It was called the Prater Stadion until 1992, sometimes also called Wiener Stadion. It is located in Leopoldstadt, the 2nd district of Vienna. The stadium was renamed in honor of Ernst Happel following his death in 1992. Ernst Franz Hermann Happel (29 November 1925 – 14 November 1992) was Austrian –  football-player and coach.

Ernst Happel is regarded as one of the most successful football team-managers ever, winning both league and domestic cup titles in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria as well as winning the European Cup twice, the first in 1970 and the second in1983, and a runners-up medal at the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He is the first of three managers to have won the European Cup with 2 different clubs, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jose Mourinho being the other two. Austria is now desperately looking for a manager that could get close to Happel. These days Austria suffers from manager-collapse and it showed in the games.

I sensed that this will not be just a football game – it really had political implications – so I decided to attend in order to get a sniff at the atmosphere these days – how it is to be a Turkish guest-team in an Austria where there is a large Turkish minority that roots naturally for their country of origin, while pushing for their own position of new Austrians and for Turkey’s acceptance into the EU, while it is known that there is probably a majority in Austria that neither would like to see Turkey in the EU nor like the increase in immigration from Turkey to the EU – this latter being a basic cause for the slow progress in the steps the EU handles this Turkey problem.

I made my move too late – the Stadium was sold out but two well placed gentlemen that I happened to meet – Mr. Walter Weise, Manager of the Sport-facilities of the city of Vienna – that includes the management of the Stadium – and Mr. Peter Klinglmueller, the Head of all the Press and Public Relations of the Austrian Football Association (OEFB), to whom I was introduced by the first gentleman, extended a courtesy ticket to me when I managed to convince them that the evening has real value to me, though I am no professional football reporter.

I came to the Stadium about 6:30 PM and the U-train was all in red – that is people wrapped in the Turkish flag – some with funny hats – all red&white – some with noise making trumpets. When I got off – I saw one flag with a man drawn on it that looked like a Kazakh. I asked – and was told that was Kemal Ataturk.  Interesting as he is no more the real favorite of the present government of Turkey. He was a secular dictator while the present government is moving more and more to the Islamic religion.

When I sat in my seat in Section B, At 7:00 PM, the Turkish team came out to show itself to the crowd that in my corner – a very Turkish corner, was received by the youth with call “Giul” which I assume meant “Goal.” The same Turkish_Austrians in the stands did actually boo when the Austrian team showed up. When it came to playing the National anthems – the Turkish first, the older kids had to tell the younger brothers or cousins to continue to stand up and clap hands at the end. The pro-Turkish partisanship seemed to have taken hold of the younger and less experienced kids. Think for a moment – while the Turkish side showed a team with all on it having Turkish names, the Austrians had also one Turk on their team – EKREM DAG – who used to play for Besiktas, Istambul. The Austrians also had on their team an Austrian player who plays now for Munich – but was the best player on the field at this game – David Olatukunbo Alaba – born in Austria but clearly of West African parentage. I mention this as clear indication that Austria has overcome some of the personal background problems that are capable to create disunity.

I watched the advertisements along the Stadium. They were basically from the companies you would expect: Hyundai, Generali, Raiffeisen Bank (only one bank is my bank), Burgenland for tourism, the arches of McDonald without the name and saying “I’m loving it,” the Kronen Zeitung, Toto, Puma, The City of Vienna etc., but also one single new company – GAZI – which is a Turkish-German company that makes the best Yogurt and cheese. I love it indeed – only that there is not enough chains that carry their products. I bought their yogurt t at Penny’s.

On the negative side of the experience, I must mention just that some people managed to smuggle in firecrackers they used to make noise in an attempt to encourage the Turkish team.

Still during the first half – it became obvious that both teams were not at their best – so the 0-0 final score was no surprise – but it had the effect that the Turkish team loved. This indecision actually was a decision – it hopelessly eliminated Austria from contention to get the second place and the chance to move on to the UEFA EURO games. It left two contenders for that spot – Turkey and Belgium, but looking up the remaining games, it seems to us that Turkey will be the eventual #2 See please the following:
Both Turkey-Belgium games have been played already – and ended in  a Turkish win 3-2  on September 7, 2010, and a draw 1-1 on June 2, 2011. Each team still has two games to play. One of these games is with the tough German team. Both have finished their games with Austria. The other game left for each of them is with the weaker teams Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan.

The tough upcoming games Turkey still has to play is with Germany on October 7, 2011 and Belgium still has to play Germany on October 11, 2011.

These calculations leave in our opinion Turkey with the advantage to qualify for the second spot in group A for the UEFA EURO 2012 games. So this is the way for Turkey to show they are a power in Europe – at least so far as soccer goes.


	Germany		   21   7  0  0  22  3
	Turkey		   14   4  2  2  11  8
	Belgium		   11   3  3  2  16 11
	Austria  	    8   2  2  3  10 10
	Azerbaijan	    7   2  1  5   9 21
	Kazakhstan	    3   1  0  7   5 20
Coming 2012 - Turkey will thus play in the European tournament - Belgium and Austria will stay out. 
On the other hand, Turkey will play in the Middle East political stakes, and it is highly possible 
that most of Europe will be out there.
So why did we say that this was a political game? Turkey got in soccer what it might not get in
geopolitics - or perhaps the soccer will also show the way for how Europe might decide to link to
Turkey in their arena where they play in the Islamic World. We wait to see which will be it.


Posted on on July 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Summer days in Vienna and life is fun – so former Vice Chancellor from the OEVP and Women’s Minister, Member of the Parliament, Ms. Maria Rauch-Kallat decided that time has come to change the National Anthem which in one of its lines says “Homeland of Great Sons” – what about daughters, she asked? Surely she was not the first to asks this, but always with so much else one has to worry about – nobody did stake out a position on this.

Ms. Rauch-Kallat persisted and her party managed to get the Parliament vote and these days an honored singer Ms. Ildiko Raimondi has sung three variations on this theme: “Homeland Great Daughters, Sons” or “Homeland Great Daughters and Sons” or “Great Daughters, Great Sons.” The verdict is that when Ms. Raimondi sings it is all great  no matter what she says – so now the debate will continue after the people will listen to the U-tube presentations.

Why do we write about this?

Because this sort of public discussion makes people not notice that Austria has extended a friendly hand to some not so nice regimes – just so that there is some benefit for Austria in oil terms while some other European Nations or the US may shun doing so at this time – and that is one of our main interests as our readers know.

So what am I talking about?

First there was the issue of Mr. Rakhat Aliyev former Ambassador of Kazakhstan and former son in law of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nasarbajew. The accusation is that he was involved in the abduction, extortion,  and the killing of two bank directors from Kazakhstan. This happened in 2008 but the bodies were found only May 2011. The families of those killed have an Austrian lawyer – Gabriel Lansky – and he asks how is it that Aliyev lived peacefully in Austria after his former father in law fired him. What are the personal problems between the two? Whom were the Austrians owing a favor In the meantime Aliyev moved out of reach to Malta – he says it is all fabricated against him.

Then exploded the Lithuanian problem that pits now all three former Soviet Baltic Republic against Austria. It all started with a KGB murderer – Michail Golovatov – against whom was an international hold order, passing through the Vienna airport. He was correctly arrested but the Austrians did not wait to get the details of the order against him translated into German from the original – presumably Lithuanian – and let him continue to Russia. Lithuania, fellow members in the EU, withdrew their Ambassador from Vienna – the other two Baltic EU members – Latvia and Estonia are following same protest – but Austria’s Foreign Minister who is also Minister for Inter-European Affairs insists that the border people dealt correctly by not waiting to see the documents. Was this so that Austria avoids a confrontation with Russia, like it avoided confrontation with Kazakhstan in the previous case.

Now comes a third case – a tour of two Sudanese Ministers – Ali Ahmed Karti, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan and Yahia Hussain, State Minister for International Cooperation of the Republic of Sudan, that came to campaign for better relations with Austria after the split-of with South Sudan. The word oil was all over, and it is about the exports via Port Sudan. The problem that this was the wrong Sudan – it was the remaining North Sudan that has just lost to independence of South Sudan which has 60% of the oil and is much better advised to figure out its own pipeline to places like Djibouti, Mombasa, or some better located terminal in between. After all – South Sudan’s new allies will be to the East and West rather then to the North. Austria’s OEMV oil company will be in the running, like it is in relations with the States that were part of the former Soviet Union. Will Austria now run after the oil in complete disregard of who the partners are and what sort of behavior one can expect from them? Does Austria attribute importance to the concept of “Responsibility to Protect” – the all important R2P that asks States to act responsibly towards their own citizens?

To top all of this, an opposition leader Heinz-Christian Strache, a follower of Joerg Haider in the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOE) sends another party official, David Lasar, to meet right now with a son of Gaddafi – with whom and with Gaddafi’s oil-money, that party has long standing relationships. The argument was that they try to bring about peace – we ask for whom?

So, this is a little comment about weighty issues we see and do not like.


Posted on on June 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


We remember the book RESET by Stephen Kinzer. We reviewed Stephen Kinzer’s ideas The US and the EU in the Middle East – the roles of Israel and Saudi Aeabia and the possibility of a completely new configuration in that region

Overall, Kinzer defends the importance of America’s partnership with Turkey and Iran, despite Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s possible dissatisfaction, and despite significant recent developments in the Middle East.

“Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future” consists of four parts, and the sections are entitled:For the people in spite of the people, Our name has not been an honored one, Very far away,and finally The door is so wide open.

The book begins with a historical overview of Turkey’s and Iran’s democratization process. In the first part of the book, the author explains the adventure of Turkish and Iranian society’s westernization and the further political, economical and social reforms after the establishment of the Turkish Republic based on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s vision of a modern Turkey. He also addresses Morgan Shuster’s and Reza Pahlavi’s struggle against Russian and English influence in Iran. And Kinzer says, “President Mustafa Kemal and Reza Shah took over wretched and miserably poor countries.

Our two articles of a year ago can be found via:…

We live now at a time of RESET in the Positioning of Turkey in the Middle East with a potential Reset also in American policy towards the Middle East. The latest debacle that involved Turkey, planned or not, has the potential that a new leader in the region has come on board. The new energy has to be encouraged to do good in the future. – Friday, June 11th, 2010


Much can be learned from reports of Ambassadors. They watch a country changing and stress to understand intentions.

We went to listen to the Book presentation at the Austrian State Archives with hopes to also understand Turkey’s present RESET from North to South with the [pssible future RESET of US foreign policy in the Middle East.

We thought that the opening of the Austrian Embassy to Rurkey in 1960 may help us understand what actually did go wrong with the Turkey – EU relationship.

The T i 1960: Political reports by Ambassador Karl Hartl to Au nminister Bruno Kreisky?Turkey 1960: Political reports by Ambassador Karl Hartl to Foreign Minister Bruno Kreisky
192 pages Paperback
Lit Verlag
Published: April 2011
ISBN-10: 3643503075
ISBN-13: 9783643503077
Price: EUR 19.90

Edited by: Ambassador Rudolf Agstner


Posted on on June 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The two days Vienna Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia World Economic Forum, that opened officially Wednesday June 8th, discussed Energy and the Arab Spring.

Chancellor Faymann (SPÖ) of Austria, the host of the Forum,  stressed especially the importance of the Nabucco gas pipeline that goes through Turkey for gas originating in Central Asia.

Austrian  Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger (ÖVP), who is in the middle of a spat with Turkey because of their rejection of an Austrian candidate for the post of Secretary General of the OSCE –  former Foreign Minister, and member of the same party, Ms. Ursula Plassnik, –  said that Europe and the Eurasian space would have much to offer each other.

The Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, whose sister I was told is married to the Austrian Ambassador to China, said her country was a model for the “Arab Spring.” Roza Otunbayeva was one of the leaders of the “Tulip Revolution” of March 2005 that is credited with the start of democratization in her country. President Otunbayeva spoke already on Tuesday evening at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International events. Her topic was – KYRGYZSTAN ON ITS WAY  TO FREEDOM OF DEMOCRACY.

(Just watch here please that it goes in stages and it is not a smooth transition – do not expect miracles in the short term – this is our own comment – in the meantime the world will rather be interested in the region’s oil.)…

Chancellor Faymann stressed the need for “stable and secure energy supply” and praised the growing cooperation between Europe and the States in the Caucasus and Central Asia. He stressed the importance of the Austrian oil company –  the OMV – for responsible planning the Nabucco gas pipeline to “stabilize the European gas supply, and relations between Europe and Central Asia and the Black Sea region, strengthened thereoff”.

He was seconded on energy import by On Ukraine President Mykola Azarov who criticized the Russian energy policy. The energy dependence of Ukraine on Russia was “not good”, as the oil and gas prices, the Russian government-related utilities are not “what we consider to be optimal. Therefore Kiev cooperation projects with Azerbaijan and other countries have been addressed.”

Austrian Federal President Hans Fischer spoke of the need for social impact of economic transformations in post-Soviet  States. Spindelegger said that the Central Asian region will continue with its wealth of resources to a new focus of the global economy – Austria can offer to these countries innovative products, he said. “If we find ways to increase cooperation, the conference will have been successful.”

Otunbayeva, who on her trip to Vienna also stopped in Budapest, expressed the hope that Central Asia in the future will get more attention in the West. She passed out in her speech, the political foundations for economic development. The downfall of the autocrat Kurmanbek Bakiyev in early 2010 had mapped out the current revolutions in the Arab world. “We could no longer afford the corrupt regime,” she said.

CEOs and Muslim economists called on Europe to support the current upheavals in the region, but sounded caution. The Dubai economist Tarik Yousef L. lamented that Europe in recent years rehabilitated the Libyan regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. He spoke of European “guilt” because of the slow reaction to the upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia that should help these countries now. From the Central Bank of Tunisia Mustapha Kamel Nabli – the governor –  demanded above all, a closer cooperation with Europe in migration. Europe must assume a share of the costs incurred by the flow of refugees, he said. The Bahraini banker Khalid Abdullah-Janahi, said about Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood will continue to take the central role. They would get from the upcoming legislative choice between 40 and 50 percent of the vote, he said.

The Kazakh Vice Premier Yerbol Orynbayev and Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov stressed the need for economic development “to solve their common problems” – such as in the fight against drug crime and poverty. “Poverty is a problem that not all states in the region are equally capable of solving” said Orynbayev. The Turkmenistan speaker Japarov spoke of his country’s economic aid for the unstable neighbors like Afghanistan. Turkmenistan Oil prices were discounted to them. “This contributes to the development of the country and thus to peace in the region,” said Japarov.

Chancellor Faymann met on the margins of the WEF yesterday with six heads of state and government for bilateral talks.

Emphasis during the discussions with the Heads of State of Hungary (Viktor Orban), Armenia (Tigran Sarkisian), Montenegro (Igor Luksic), Ukraine (Azarov) and Georgia (Nikoloz Gilauri) and with Otumbajewa, was the energy policy and EU issues. Faymann confirmed its rejection of the nuclear power policy and referred to his meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister. “Premier Azarov has invited me to the Ukraine to show me the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster from today’s perspective may have been his words -” This has to be seen with my own eyes. “


Posted on on June 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia will be held in Vienna, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday June 7-9, 2011.

Vienna, Austria: venue for Euro World Economic Forum

Above is the Vienna venue for the WEF meeting – the place will be surrounded by security forces to make it sure the place does not turn into a demonstrators haven. Vienna just survived attacks by German hooligans that came over to accompany the German soccer team playing the Austrians. Papers called them neo-Nazis making the Hitler salute. But those were just one segment of a possible barrage by protesters invoking financial reasons for disaffection with the EU, the US, and the results of government sponsored capitalism. Seattle comes to mind of what Vienna might look in a few days.

So, Schengen or no Schengen Austria took note of Denmark closing its borders for immigration reasons and closed its borders as well for Global Economics reasons as per this conference. In the Europe of today – what this means is that vehicles at border crossings will form long lines and have delays with border police checking papers. Same at airports, train crossings and boat landings. What do you do with those crossing on foot on village roads? Oh well – solutions will be found for them too and the idea of a united Europe is out the window because of mutual mistrust. How do you decide that someone is unwanted? Do you check their tatoos or haircuts? Do you have a policy discussion with them or take the example from Turkey and look up past records that made them deny to former Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik her job as head of the OSCE – Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Will they let in UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, if he decides to show up, considering his leniency on UN member States positions on Human Rights? He will have declared his running for reappointment to his position for a new term by the beginning of the week and might indeed find this conference as a good venue for a revisit. He was years ago Korea’s Ambassador to Vienna and has friendly relations to Austria.

The Kronen Zeitung of Sunday June 5th carries two revealing pieces of “Readers Mail” that stress the difference between Denmark and Austria. In both cases the argument goes that Denmark is closing its borders in order to safeguard its own citizens from the effects of migration caused by the events in the Arab World, in the Austrian case this happens always – the Austrian taxpayers’ money is used in order to safeguard foreign political and economic leaders and nothing is done when the issue is the security of the Austrian citizen. This comment hides the fact that Austria is suffering from bands of EU citizens from Eastern countries that come to enrich themselves from break-ins here but nothing is done to check their entree. Oh well, what do you do with the fiction of this Union?

The above mention of the closing of Austria’s borders officially is because of the  June meeting of the World Economic Forum will convene more than 500 leaders from business, government and civil society to discuss policies and reforms aimed at their views of rebalancing the global economy.

The diverse yet highly interdependent economies of Europe and Central Asia have reached a critical juncture, according to experts at the World Economic Forum.

While the advanced economies of the European Union are experiencing fiscal austerity and slower growth, emerging economies further east and in Central Asia are grappling with the pressures of rapid growth.

In addition to these regional challenges, Europe and Central Asia must respond to far-reaching global events such as the ‘Arab Spring’ and the earthquake in Japan.

The objective of the Vienna meeting is set out in the statement from the European Commission’s Communication on Innovation Union: “Europe’s competitiveness, our capacity to create millions of new jobs to replace those lost in the financial crisis and, overall, our future standard of living depend on our ability to drive innovation in products, services, business and social processes and models,” it says.

Will the Washington of President Obama push for a similar meeting between the USA and the fast growing economies of Latin America – the backyard in the Western Hemisphere ?


The Underground open protests are being organized:

Attack WEF summit in Vienna, Austria, June 2011!
Smash imperialism and all its institutions!

please see:…


Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

I went today to XANADU as per an email invitation that promised this is a Chinese restaurant – and so it was.

The place is frequented by Chinese people and the food is General Asian. It has a well stocked Teppanyaki self-choice buffet, soup, vegetables, fruit, and a good choice of deserts. It is beyond the Naschmarkt at the U4 stop at Kettenbruekengasse 13, 1060 Wien.

From there I took the subway to the Am Hoff Square to see those preparations for events next week that will be open to the public. It promises fun.

XANADU to me had magical-mystic connotations. After all the name had meanings with the Citizen Caine – his fictitious mansion, with Bill Gates – Xanadu 2.0, the nickname of his futuristic private estate, as well as Mandrake the Magician‘s fictitious home. XANADU is also  a mountain in the Arrigetch Peaks in Alaska and an enigmatic bright feature on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

XANADU/XANGDU thus migrated to all sorts of places, to Spain, Brazil, and outer space but what I learned looking up the internet it actually originated from China – Xanadu, or more accurately Shangdu, was the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan empire – so, to my honest surprise – it really has Chinese connotations – a reference to the past and a guide to the future ?


From Wikipedia at :

Xanadu (Chinese??pinyinShàngd?) was the summer capital of Kublai Khan‘s Yuan Dynasty in China, before he decided to move the seat of his dynasty to the Jin Dynasty capital of Zh?ngd? (Chinese??), which he renamed Dàd?the present-day Beijing. The city was located in what is now called Inner Mongolia, 275 kilometres (171 miles) north of Beijing, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of the modern town of Duolun. The layout of the capital is roughly square shaped with sides of about 2,200m; it consists of an “Outer City”, and an “Inner City” in the southeast of the capital which has also roughly a square layout with sides about 1,400m, and the palace, where Kublai Khan stayed in summer. The palace has sides of roughly 550m, covering an area of around 40% the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The most visible modern-day remnants are the earthen walls though there is also a ground-level, circular brick platform in the centre of the inner enclosure.

The city, originally named K?ipíng (??), was designed by Chinese architect Liu Bingzhong and built from 1252 to 1256 during the Mongol invasion.[1] In 1264 it was renamed Shàngd?, the “Supreme Capital”.[2] At its zenith, over 100,000 people lived within its walls. In 1369 Shàngd? was occupied by the Ming army and put to the torch. The last reigning Khan, Toghun Temür, fled the city.

Today, only ruins remain, surrounded by a grassy mound that was once the city walls. Since 2002 a reconstruction effort has been undertaken.

In March 2008, China submitted a proposal to UNESCO to make the ruin a World Heritage Site under the title “Sites of the Yuan Dynasty Upper Capital (Xanadu) and Middle Capital”.[3]

  1. ^ Shangdu city uncovered
  2. ^ Frederick W. Mote, Imperial China 900-1800,Harvard University Press, 2003 p.457
  3. ^


Whatever the story – I thought that the fill of Chinese food this Sunday will do me good this coming week.

As we posted already –…

Whatever will be decided there – it is clear that China will be called to finance it. In this context we found funny the news that 31 Chinese weddings were performed to couples at the Ludwig Castle in Bavaria – a neat inflow of money from China to Germany.
This in context of 20 times 10 to the 12th in EU and US Government debt (20 trillion) EURO – you guess how much of this to China. Will the Vienna meeting try to co-opt the Central Asian former Soviet Republics to stand with their oil at the EU side? We think that the best the economists will find in Vienna this coming week will be the Am Hoff activities including the Burgenland Wines and Beers.
In regard to what the papers started to call the “VERGURKUNG” of Europe – this is what happens when the internal disagreements about everything – from basic ideology to money  – is bursting in the open because of a serious series of infections by a mutant of Escherichia Coli. The situation is serious indeed and the New York Times editorial of today (…) is witness, but the articles in European Press are ridiculous because rather then trying to find the reason for the outbreak, we see attempts at trading blames and in seeking advantage for this or the other agriculture interest. Spain was crucified, but who looks into genetic engineering that might occur right under your own nose at home? Are there any transgressions when switching to Bio-products?

After talking Greece out of the Union – will some local interests want preventively to talk out of the union also Spain and Italy who indeed might pose much higher financial strains on the Union when their turn comes to default? Oh well – we will opt for XANADU.

Even though Matteo Ricci and Bento de Góis had already proven that Cathay is simply another name for China, the English cartographer John Speed in 1626 continued the tradition of showing “Cathaya, the Chief Kingdome of Great Cam” to the northeast of China. On his map, he placed Xandu east of the “Cathayan metropolis” Cambalu