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Posted on on October 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The movie was shown this weekend twice (23rd and 25th of October) to sold out audiences at Vienna’s Film Festival – the Viennale. Another Israeli movie- maker plaid it safer – he showed killings in Indonesia. In an interview with the “Wienner Zeitung” – Gitai said that he does not want to end up the same way as Rabin.

The problem is that in the Middle East there seems to be a practical alliance between those that do not want peace. Be those extremist Palestinians or extremist Jews.

The movie includes that stairway scene where Rabin was supposed to pass to the car waiting for him after he spoke at the peace rally. The media film showed in real time the killer coming towards him and shooting.

Every action and every word uttered in the film to be released is what really happened and what was said. Gitai says he checked everything for at least two sources. The film is therefore freitening in its truth that extends to today’s situation in the Middle East.

Let me mention here that Vienna these days is also the locus where the situation in Syria is openly on the operational table and not much hope is there either. The Austrians, after years of denial to themselves – are now clearly embracing the guilt of the Holocaust and this puts them in a situation that they will not be themselves if rejecting true refugees that escape the Middle East mayhem. All this points at this movie becoming a true document
and those in Israel that hatted Rabin for his attempt to lead to peace, can be counted on hating this retelling of their deeds.


Posted on on October 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

There are two ways of thinking about the effects of human behavior on the environment – one that looks at the end results and points at the need to decrease these effects – this way of thinking leads to us dealing with the symptoms of the desease we created. If we can afford the time we ought to take instead a deeper look at the problem and enter a new path for the economy – one that allows for change – a new true Culture Change – that avoids the polluting industry – the air-polluting self imposed dependence on fossil fuels. We can then build a new economy based on using the free energy supplied to us amply by the sun – this after we did our best first – to decrease the use of energy in all our activities.

The first line of reacting to the problem is represented by those trying to benefit from the commerce in carbon credits. The second line of thinking has brought about Jonathan Rosenthal’s New Economy Coalition that brings together all those that can show that by creating higher energy use efficiency and then supplying the remaining needs from renewable energy sources, the whole economy at large, and their own companies in particular, are clear winners.

From a think tank point of view, two particular geographical areas and the particular groups of Nations in those areas, present special possibilities for study.

One such area are the countries of the Arctic Circle Assembly that meet this week in Reykjavik, Iceland d. The second group of nations are the Small Island entities. what these two groups have in common are new reserves of oil that one ought to work hard to keep from developing them. The difference between the two groups of Nations is in the difference in size and their economies.

Global warming has brought about the melting of ice at the two poles and this “uncovering” of the mineral resources at the Arctic region makes it easier to get to these resources – the question opens thus – would these countries be better off leaving these resources untouched as a reserve for future generations?

SIDS nations are small in land but large in sea territory where reserves of oil and gas have been found. These nations live mainly from tourism and the slightest oil spill presents a non-reversible harm to their white sand beaches. The dilemma they have is in a nut-shell the question about the potential temporary help to their development in the immediate term versus their potential loss of a future. How can one figure policies that help the SIDS decide to leave most of these oil reserves underground?

Tomorrow,Thursday October 15, 2015, in Reykjavik, there will be a chance to hear what the organizers of the Paris2015 Global Conference have in mind. Under the guidance of Iceland’s President H.E. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and with H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco at his side, he will have the convener of COP21 of UNFCCC and the Paris2015 event – Ms. Christiana Figueres, and the host of Paris 2015 – H.E. Francois Hollande, President of France, tell the Arctic Circle Assembly audience, and the whole world, the seriousness of the situation that they are tasked to find a solution for. Later in the program the SIDS will have their chance as well. By going to these two special groupings of Nations, the organizers of Paris 2015 have thus a chance to get a hearing at fora that take the subject out of the mostly unreceptive environment of the UN.


Posted on on September 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From: Seth M. Siegel
Sent: Thu, Sep 17, 2015 3:30 pm
Subject: A Milestone in My Life

Earlier this week, my book Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World was released. Thanks to significant pre-sales and a smart sales executive at my publisher, Barnes & Noble agreed to put the book on the New Non-Fiction table found at the entrance to all of the bookseller’s stores. Walking in and seeing the stack of books was a remarkable experience, a milestone. (See photo.)
Let There Be Water is, I believe, an inspiring book, and I hope many more readers find their way to it. Not only does every concerned citizen need to learn about the coming water crisis. As Israel has shown, we also need to know that concerted action can lead to great outcomes. It is what binds society together. At a time of cynicism and distrust of government, the renewal of our water systems can be a vehicle for renewing trust and faith in our institutional ability to take on a major task and get something important done.
Aside from the already great joy this project has brought me, if Let There Be Water plays some role in getting people to think about water policy and, from that, changes in how we manage our water occurs, I could have no greater reward for my efforts.
Seth M. Siegel

PRAISE FOR LET THERE BE WATER: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Prime Minister of Uganda Ruhakana Rugunda, Edito-in-Chieg Arianna Huffington, co-author of Start-UP Nation Dan Senior and former US Diplomat.


From Africa to China, How Israel Helps Quench the Developing World’s Thirst: The untold story of Israeli hydrodiplomacy, from the 1950s until now.

by: Seth M. Siegel, Sept. 9 2015

Seth M. Siegel is an entrepreneur, writer, and lawyer in New York.

In November 1898, Theodor Herzl arranged a meeting with the German emperor, Wilhelm II, to obtain help in creating a Jewish state in the land of Israel. In their conversation, the Kaiser praised the work of the Zionist pioneers, telling Herzl that, above all else, “water and shade trees” would restore the land to its ancient glory. Four years later, Herzl had a lead character in his political tract-cum-novel Altneuland (“Old-New Land”) say of Jewish settlement in Palestine: “This country needs nothing but water and shade to have a great future.” Another character predicts that the water engineers of the Jewish homeland will be its heroes.

Utopian novels set the bar high, and Altneuland is nothing if not a utopian novel. Yet even before statehood, Zionists made remarkable strides in putting the land’s limited water resources to good use. They drained swamps, drilled wells, and developed irrigation systems. By the 1960s, Israel had developed a nationwide system of underground pipes to transport water from the relatively water-rich north to the Negev desert in the south. Israeli engineers also developed the system known as drip irrigation, which simultaneously conserves water and increases crop yields. Later, Israel would pioneer desalination technology. Combining scientific advances with efficient management, the Jewish state is now in no danger of running out of water. In fact, it provides large amounts from its own supplies to the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, while each year exporting billions of dollars’ worth of peppers, tomatoes, melons, and other water-intensive produce.

Herzl imagined something else, too, in Altneuland. Following the establishment of a Jewish national home, his protagonist announces, Jews will need to come to the aid of the suffering people of Africa, whose “problem, in all its horror, . . . only a Jew can fathom.” Israel’s founding generation took this admonition to heart. In 1958, Golda Meir, then Israel’s foreign minister, created a department whose mission was to help developing countries—particularly in Africa—overcome problems of water, irrigation, agriculture, education, and women’s status. The department, whose name translates loosely as loosely Center for International Cooperation, was known by the Hebrew acronym Mashav.

In its early years, the Mashav initiative was warmly embraced by African states as well as countries in Asia and South America. When she became Israel’s prime minister in 1969, Meir saw to it that the African program continued to get the support it needed. But then came the 1973 Yom Kippur war, in the aftermath of which, at the urging of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, every sub-Saharan nation broke diplomatic relations with Israel and expelled the Mashav specialists. Traumatic as it was for Meir—she “had been messianic about her African program,” writes Yehuda Avner in The Prime Ministers—it was a much greater misfortune for the many Africans who had benefited from the now abruptly terminated programs.

In the 1980s, some African countries expressed interest in renewing ties. Ethiopia restored relations in 1989, and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa followed suit in 1993 with the signing of the first Oslo agreement. Today, Israel provides training in water management, irrigation, and other areas for specialists from more than 100 countries, 29 of them in Africa.

Moreover, Israeli water innovation for the developing world is no longer only the province of government.
Consider, for example, Sivan Yaari: a diminutive thirty-something whose NGO utilizes solar power and Israeli technology to help bring clean water and electric power to people living in small and often remote African villages. Born in Israel, raised in France, and educated in the U.S., Yaari spent a summer working for the UN in isolated parts of Senegal, where water pumps were either broken or in disuse because villagers had no money for the fuel needed to run them. “They ended up digging bore holes a few kilometers away,” Yaari says, “to get filthy water they had to carry back to their villages.”

Her answer was Innovation: Africa (in shorthand, i:A), an organization that installs not only water pumps but similarly solar-powered electricity for light bulbs and vaccine refrigerators in medical clinics. It now runs water projects in seven African countries, and Yaari has plans for expansion. “It turns out,” she explains, that

there is a lot of underground water in Africa. You just have to know where to look for it. The bigger problem facing African water-assistance programs is that as soon as the aid professionals leave the villages, the systems begin to break down and the people are no better off than before.

To overcome this, Innovation: Africa has created a system that seems impervious to breakdown, vandalism, or theft—and that can be run remotely from Israel. The concept is deceptively simple. Once a source of potable underground water is located, a rented diesel-powered drill is brought in to reach it, a water pump is inserted into the shaft, properly sized solar panels are installed and connected, and water is drawn out and deposited into an adjacent water tower, from where gravity propels it to destinations all around the village. In addition, the waterlines are connected to a drip-irrigation system installed alongside the solar panels, enabling the villagers to plant seeds and harvest the produce.

Thousands of miles away, in Tel Aviv, i:A’s technology chief Meir Yaacoby has created a device to monitor and manage each African water system from the office. By means of whatever wireless service is available locally (Yaari: “They may not have shoes, but the adults have cell phones”), frequent messages keep Yaacoby updated with key information on, among other things, the quantity of water in the tower and any problems with the equipment. He also receives a constant Internet feed on local weather conditions. If it the outlook is for hotter weather than usual, or if a cloudy spell threatens to block solar rays, he can pump more water into the tower as a precaution; if rain is in the offing, he can stop and restart drip irrigation as needed by a particular crop at any given stage in its growing cycle. If the system itself develops a mechanical problem, he is apprised within minutes and can send detailed information for repairing it to a local engineer. Every part of the system can also be automated, making it infinitely scalable.

These drip-irrigation systems are having another, unexpected effect. Yaari cites a village in Uganda as a representative case study. Beyond providing more food for the village and relief from hunger, the system has enabled the villagers to sell their surplus at the market. “With the extra money, they’ve bought chickens and developed a poultry farm,” she reports. In addition, “Once you begin providing water, the children aren’t filling jerry cans with muddy water and they can wash. They also stay healthy; a large number of the children had been getting sick from drinking unclean water.” And there are still other benefits: “The children, especially the girls, had been walking two to three hours a day fetching water,” she says. “They would come back exhausted and filthy. Now, with water being pumped, they can go to school.”

If the animating humanitarian spirit of Mashav is alive and flourishing in 2015, bringing sustenance to destitute and water-deprived people around the world, Israel has also used its water knowhow to improve its commercial prospects and ameliorate its diplomatic isolation. To date, more than 150 countries have welcomed Israeli assistance or technology in addressing their water problems. One notable one is China.

Despite the country’s enormous natural resources, the PRC has long been plagued with water problems. Many farming regions are inefficient and wasteful when it comes to water usage; infrastructure is overburdened and superannuated, losing enormous amounts in leaks; sewage treatment is often inadequate; and lax enforcement of environmental laws has led to the severe deterioration of many sources of freshwater.

In the early 1980s, having previously rebuffed decades of diplomatic overtures from Israel, the PRC permitted teams of Israeli water engineers to come—secretly—to survey collective farms in the southern province of Guangxi. The engineers recommended the use of drip irrigation, as well as Israeli seeds that would be better suited to the soil and climate. The Chinese agreed, but demanded that any markings suggestive of Israeli origin be removed from the equipment and seed packaging. Three years later, again in secret, a team of Israeli hydrologists and geologists was invited to help develop an irrigation plan for the semiarid Wuwei district south of the Gobi desert. In time, creeping closer to recognition, the Chinese proposed that Israel send an irrigation and water-utilization expert to Beijing and in return they would send a tourism specialist to Israel.

From these highly guarded beginnings, formal diplomatic ties were finally established in 1992. When, twenty years later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Beijing to meet with his counterpart Li Keqiang, water management was still high on the Chinese agenda, but now openly so. To Netanyahu’s proposal that, as a pilot project, an Israeli consortium be engaged to redo the entire water infrastructure of a small Chinese city, Li replied by designating one of his ministers to assist in picking the city. A little over a year later, a joint Israeli-Chinese committee announced the selection of Shouguang, a city of slightly more than one million people—small, by Chinese standards—as the test site.

“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” said one senior Israeli official, “but if we perform well here, we will have the opportunity to help rebuild the water systems of cities all over China.” Whatever one’s view of Communist China’s domestic behavior or global ambitions, the potential economic benefits to Israel of such an enterprise are undeniable—to say nothing of the independent moral value of significantly improving the living conditions of millions of ordinary Chinese citizens.

This essay is adapted from Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World by Seth M. Siegel, to be published next week by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. Copyright © 2015 by the author.


Posted on on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

China-US / Politics, September 5-6, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-05 02:54
By Amy He(China Daily USA)
Contact the writer at  amyhe at…

People attended the UN Climate Change COP20 in Lima in December 2014.
France will host this year’s conference, COP 21, also known as “Paris 2015”, from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

COP21 will seek to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°Celsius.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States this month is expected to include further talks with US President Barack Obama on climate change as the world’s two biggest polluting countries prepare for a UN-led conference in Paris in December to reach a global climate agreement, AMY HE reports from New York.

Supporters of the deal called it a “game-changer”, “this century’s most significant agreement”.
The news headlines called it “historic” and “ambitious”.

And the opposition, mainly Republicans in the US Congress, labeled it “terrible”, said it “changes nothing” and was a “waste of time.”

But everyone was in agreement on one word: “unexpected”. The agreement announced on Nov 11, 2014, in Beijing by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to cut greenhouse emissions surprised the world.

Worked out after months of quiet negotiations and a letter from Obama to Xi proposing a joint approach, the agreement called for the United States to cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent before 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030, and will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.

The agreement amounted to an announcement to the world and to the nearly 200 other countries that will meet in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December: The world’s two biggest polluters were committed to climate change.

All countries attending the talks are to present to the UN their own plans for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. The goal is to put the world on track to cap global average temperatures at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Though congressional approval is not needed for the Obama-Xi agreement, when it was announced, congressional Republicans criticized the deal and Democrats praised it.

Republican Senator James M. Inhofe, a leading global warming skeptic, called the pledges by Obama and Xi “hollow and not believable”.

Governor Jerry Brown of California, a Democrat, took aim at critics of efforts to reach climate-change agreements, saying at a climate summit in Toronto in July: “There are a lot of people out there who don’t get it. They’re asleep. They’re on the Titanic, and they’re drinking champagne, and they’re about to crash.”


At the end of March, the US submitted its plan to the United Nations to combat climate change. The US repeated its goal to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, making best efforts to achieve 28 percent cuts by 2025.

It committed the country to doubling the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent a year on average between 2005 to 2020 to 2.3 to 2.8 percent between 2020 and 2025.

“This ambitious target is grounded in intensive analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on the pathway to achieve deep economy-wide reductions of 80 percent or more by 2050,” it said in a release about the plan.

The World Resources Institute praised the US plan, saying that it shows that the country is ready to lead on the climate and through its proposed steps will be able to save money and grow its economy.

“This is a serious and achievable commitment. WRI research finds that under its existing federal authority, the United States can reach its proposed target to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025,” said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at WRI.


On June 30, China submitted its climate change goals to the UN, setting a new, loftier goal for energy efficiency.

The plan said that by 2030, the carbon intensity of China’s economy would fall by 60 to 65 percent compared with 2005. It previously had said 40 to 45 percent by 2020. And it said it would increase its share of non-fossil fuel in energy consumption to about 20 percent, and increase forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2005 levels. “A one-thousand-mile journey starts from the first step,” China said in its INDC (intended nationally determined contributions).

Environmental advocates welcomed the development as the latest sign of China’s determination to clean up its energy sector, backing away from coal and favoring wind and solar power.

“China is largely motivated by its strong national interests to tackle persistent air pollution problems, limit climate impacts and expand its renewable energy job force,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute.

The Obama administration praised China’s plan, saying it “helps to provide continued momentum” toward reaching a climate agreement in December.

And on Aug 28, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lauded China’s efforts to address climate problems.

“China has already taken a hugely important global championing leadership,” he said. “Together with the United States last year, it has [made] a historic, huge impact-giving statement,” he said in a meeting with Chinese media representatives at UN headquarters.

Climate change experts interviewed by China Daily said that China’s climate goals are realistic and achievable, and said its plan was a significant step for the country and for the Paris climate negotiations.

Solidifying their goal to peak emissions is an “extremely constructive step,” said Joanna Lewis, associate professor of science and technology at Georgetown University. “I think the pledges they reported are all aggressive and will be challenging to meet each in their own way.”

Shuiyan Tang, professor of public administration at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, said, “In a way, you might say that China has a stronger national consensus about environmental protection — and even carbon emission — than in the US.

“In the US, there are a lot of conservative Republicans who almost wouldn’t even want to admit climate change,” Tang said. “So in this sense, China is stronger in terms of coming to a national consensus.”

The Paris discussions will be particularly important because it will be the first time in 20 years that all the nations in the world will strive to reach a universal agreement on post-2020 climate action.

Leading up to the Paris talks are many other meetings that will include discussions between heads of state and finance ministers. The most prominent one will be this month when heads of state attend the UN’s General Assembly meeting where climate change will be on the agenda. Xi will be attending that meeting as part of his official state visit to the US.


“I think the aim of the New York summit is not to get detailed actions from each country, but more to just secure a strong political consensus (from them),” said Haibing Ma, China program manager at the Worldwatch Institute.

“It’s to further build up the momentum to the Paris agreement at the end of the year — it’s not to negotiate. They come here as a symbol and show the world they have this strong commitment and strong willingness to limit carbon emissions in the future. I think it’s more like a universal political gesture than a detailed action plan,” he said.

“Any conversations which can take place in advance of the actual talks is extremely constructive, so that we can avoid any misunderstandings along the lines of what we may have experienced in Copenhagen,” she said. Lewis is referring to the climate talks in 2005 in the European city that failed to yield more than two pages of the Copenhagen Accord, where nations agreed to discuss climate again in the future and to reach a decision then.

“My understanding is President François Hollande and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be holding a lunch or dinner with some of the leaders to talk about climate, but I don’t think anyone expects breakthroughs in New York in September on these issues,” Meyer said.

“But because you have so many of these leaders in one place at one time, there’s an opportunity for a lot of bilateral conversations between leaders that can help increase understanding. You’re more likely to get signals coming out of the finance ministers in October or the G20 meeting in November, or some of the gatherings after New York, than you are at the General Assembly,” he added.


During the Paris talks, the experts expect that each country will lay out a detailed climate plan and an estimation of collective global efforts. Worldwatch Institute’s Ma said that more information is expected on the measurement, reporting and verification systems, which are systems that countries have in place to monitor and collect data on carbon emissions.

In addition, further talks are expected on the Green Climate Fund (GFC), a fund within the UNFCCC that collects and distributes money from developed economies to aid in climate efforts of developing economies.

“Among the climate community here, we’re expecting strong progress on the finance side. We expect the Green Climate Fund to be fully operational with a large chunk of money that will be ready to be directed to countries that most need it. We expect to see a clearer text within the agreement on how the developing countries should be supported from the international community,” Ma said.

The Green Climate Fund, which has headquarters in Incheon, South Korea, was established in 2010, with developed countries pledging to raise $100 billion every year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change problems.

Some developing economies, like India, have said that they do not believe the current amounts being generated for the fund are enough to fight climate change.

The US has pledged it will contribute $3 billion to the fund, and 10 other countries have pledged $3 billion toward the fund as well. The fund is expected to be up and running before the Paris talks, according to Ban.

“I think it’s too early to say for sure what will be achieved in Paris, but now that most of the major economies have either already put forth their INDCs or signaled that they’re on the way, that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Georgetown’s Lewis.

Though China’s INDC proposal has been well-received, experts agree that there are challenges ahead.

China said it would peak emissions but did not provide an absolute cap, and instead said it will aim to reduce carbon emission per unit of GDP, meaning that the amount of emissions will fluctuate depending on the economy’s growth.

“From a global carbon budget perspective, it’s hard to know how to score China’s commitment on that front, because you don’t know how the economy is going to perform over the next 15 years. You can make assumptions based on current projected growth rates, but of course there’s no guarantee that those won’t be higher or lower,” Meyer said.

Price’s Tang said that it “makes sense” for a country of China’s size to not focus on absolute total reduction. “You don’t want to impose an absolute amount of reduction — that is not viable, because China simply cannot do that,” he said.

The country said in its INDC that by 2014, carbon emissions per unit of GDP have already been lowered by 33.8 percent compared to 2005 levels.


The US, on the other hand, has proposed absolute reduction in its INDC by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

“This is easier for the US to do, because it’s expecting maybe 2 or 3 percent GDP growth for whatever foreseeable future. For them, you’re not talking about a big increase in the total economy, year after year, so it’s easier for them to pledge to achieve total reduction. As long as you increase efficiency for each GDP output unit, you can easily achieve absolute reduction,” Tang said.

Another obstacle that the Chinese government may face is in the enforcement of climate change-related regulation, which is currently set out by the central government but is enforced at the provincial and city levels. Officials who often have to hit economic growth targets as well as environmental ones sometimes prioritize over climate-related ones.

“The most difficult types of regulatory enforcement are really those that are really local in nature. So one example is water pollution. That’s very difficult for the national government to deal with because a lot of it is really local. If you have one really bad factory in the local river system that is polluting everything, then it’s very difficult for Beijing to do anything.

In China, whatever agreements the national government has, at the end of the day, implementation is going to be at the provincial, county, city level,” said Tang, who studies Chinese governance.

Clayton Munnings, research associate at Resources for the Future, said that China’s challenge lies not necessarily in creating policies that will help it peak emissions, but ensuring effective implementation and coordination of policies already in place.

“Seven regions in China now operate cap and trade pilots with the intention of informing the design of a national cap and trade program, slated to launch in 2016,” he told China Daily.

“While local policymakers have done an impressive job in designing and implementing these regional cap and trade markets in a remarkably short amount of time, the pilots risk overallocation of allowances, suffer from low liquidity and have faced difficulties in ensuring compliance.”

A national cap and trade program — a market-based approach used to give economic incentives to those who achieve pollutant reductions — is needed at the national level, Munnings said. Price’s Tang agreed that many of China’s climate policies need to be enforced at the national level, but the nature of the governing system makes that difficult.

“It’s part of the Chinese governance system. China’s system works where one level pushes another level — ultimately it’s not just environmental protection, it’s almost any policy area, it’s the nature of the system where the central government makes policy, sets up targets, and relies on provincial, city and county township governments to do the job,” he said.

Climate experts said that Xi’s state visit to the US will signal US and China’s further bilateral cooperation. It will be another chance for the two presidents to touch base heading into Paris and talk about how the two largest economies and two largest emitters can continue to play a leadership role “as two of the most pivotal countries” making sure that the Paris talks reach a constructive outcome, Georgetown’s Lewis said.


Posted on on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

In the run-up to Paris2015 Kevin Rudd of the New York based Asia Society argues that “U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris,” Lord Nicholas Stern said that there will be a complete change in what the planet will look like in 100 years from now, and Christiana Figueres said that what countries have prepared for Paris is insufficient, but she hopes that in those 100 coming years they will be more forthcoming.

On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Noting that projected levels of greenhouse gas emissions would cause average temperatures to rise by three-and-a-half to four degrees Celsius over the next 100 years, Lord Stern said “that is very dangerous territory” that the planet hasn’t seen “for around three million years,” since the end of the last Ice Age.

“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.

The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”

Figueres said that countries’ national climate change plans, which governments have been announcing ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris this December, will fall short of “where we should be, according to science, to be on the two degree [temperature increase] pathway.”

The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”

She noted that the Paris climate agreement “is being constructed, actually, as a progressive effort over a certain period of timeframes, during which countries need, and will be able to, because of increased technology and further capital flows … increase their contribution to the solution.”

Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.

Related Links
Kevin Rudd on CNBC: Don’t Confuse the Chinese Stock Market with Overall Economy
Kevin Rudd in the New York Times: U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris



Ms. Christiana Figueres – the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC will end her contract at the end of this year after the conclusion of the Paris 2015 meeting – having guided the organization through all this preparatory years. It is being suggested that her candidacy be submitted for the 2016 selection process for next UN Secretary-General position. She would be the best informed person to lead the UN in the crucial 2017-2026 period when Climate Change and Sustainability become main UN topics under the incoming title from Paris – “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.


UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks

4. Sep, 13:47

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.


Posted on on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!


Posted on on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Report: Retired Saudi General Makes it His ‘Personal’ Goal to Achieve Saudi-Israeli Peace.

From the Algemeiner and WSJ – August 23, 2015

Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, has made it his personal goal to strike peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

A former top adviser to the Saudi government, Eshki raised eyebrows in June when he appeared alongside Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General and longtime confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Dore Gold at a conference held by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC, espousing desires to build a Saudi-Israel peace, especially to counter the regionally destabilizing expansion of Iran.

“The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel,” said Eshki.

The former general noted that while the initiative is “personal,” Riyadh “knows about the project” and “isn’t against it, because we need peace.”

Eshki said Israeli and Saudi plans for their shared principal enemy Iran do not completely align, especially regarding an Israeli strike against Iran. He added, however, that Israel would be interested in dealing first with the threat posed by Iran’s proxy in Lebanon and Syria, Hezbollah, before committing its military to countering the much larger and imposing threat of Iran.

Saudi Arabia is also fighting an Iranian-backed group in Yemen, the Houthi rebels, who have taken over the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, and Eshki said it was the common threat of Iranian attempts to destabilize the region and “revive the Persian Empire” that has brought him and Gold together.

Israeli and Saudi officials have reportedly held several meetings in light of the P5+1 arrangement with Iran to peel back international sanctions in exchange for some restrictions on and monitoring of its nuclear program, which Jerusalem and Riyadh view as a boon to Iranian efforts to spread its influence in the Middle East.



Posted on on August 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.

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The UN at 70

Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015

NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.

Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.

The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”

The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.

The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.

Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.

The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.

Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.

Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.

This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

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How to Select the Next UN Secretary-General.

By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University

Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.

Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.

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OXFORD – When the United Nations elects a new secretary-general next year, the world will face a crucial choice. With crises erupting in every region of the world, the need for strong, decisive leadership is self-evident. And yet the selection process for filling important international posts has often been characterized more by political horse-trading than a meritocratic search for the best candidate.

The tools to improve the process are available, and the time is right to ensure their adoption by the UN and other international organizations. A new report by the World Economic Forum and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government lays out a series of best practices – each one of which has already been implemented by at least one international agency – that can guarantee that leaders are drawn from the most qualified candidates, and that the organizations for which they work are vested with the best possible management practices.

For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.

Once a candidate has been chosen, it is important to set clear performance expectations that can be evaluated annually. Groups like the World Health Organization – which came under fierce criticism during the Ebola crisis – can learn from the 80% of American non-profit boards that have a formal process in place for a yearly evaluation of their CEO.

Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.

Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.

A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).

Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.

It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.

Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.

Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.

Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.

One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.

The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.

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Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.

He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.

MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
Valuing the United Nations.

MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.

What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.

No organization in the world embodies as many dreams, yet provides so many frustrations, as the United Nations. For most of its history, the Security Council has been the prisoner of great-power maneuvering; the General Assembly a theater of empty rhetoric; the Economic and Social Council a largely dysfunctional irrelevance; and the Secretariat, for all the dedication and brilliance of a host of individuals, alarmingly inefficient.

My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.

But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.

Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.

What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.

The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.

Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.

The whole family of the UN Secretariat and related entities, together with current peacekeepers, adds up to around 215,000 people worldwide – not a small number, but less than one-eighth of the roughly 1.8 million staff employed by McDonald’s and its franchisees worldwide!

The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”

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Posted on on August 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From: Sudhir Chella Rajan, Madras, India, August 21, 2015

Chasing Sustainability: A proposal for Paris

Adaptation is about transforming or changing systems and institutions to live in a warmer world. The article advocates that for the poorer countries this makes more sense then develop alternative technologies more appropriate for more developed countries. This also decreases the promise of INDC and then we ask- What are we left with on this path to Paris2015??

by Sujatha Byravan and Sudhir Chella Rajan

In the lead up to the Paris climate conference, an important buzzword in international climate circles is INDCs, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions that each country needs to commit itself towards as its climate policy. Much of this is tacitly expected to mean a reduction of greenhouse (GHG) gases, or mitigation, rather than adaptation, which is about transforming or changing systems and institutions to live in a warmer world. While we eventually have to reduce emissions to zero in order not to completely destroy the earth’s ecosystems, we also need to learn how to live on a planet that is on average at least about 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times.

Countries in the tropics are expected to experience some of the most harmful effects of climate change with sea level rise, more intense storms, variable precipitation, droughts, and floods. Developing countries, especially those with sizable populations, like India, Indonesia Brazil and Nigeria, have the dual challenge of providing energy services and raising living standards for the poor, while adapting to global warming. Given their large citizenry living in poverty, they also have more people vulnerable to these effects. Adapting to climate change will mean that policy makers use sensible approaches to protecting land, soil, freshwater systems, coastal regions, and livelihoods.

We suggest that all developing countries (what the international community terms ‘non-Annex-1’) should concentrate on sustainable development targets, rather than on mitigating INDCs. This means that they would, for example, focus on reducing air pollution, promote cleaner cooking fuels, plan cities to be more inclusive and require space for non-motorized transportation, and modify agriculture, so that overall productivity, biodiversity, crop yields, health of farm workers and water use are balanced.

Consequences for Rich and Poor

We argue that such a choice by poor countries that lets them tunnel through a pathway from their current growth-focused trajectories to a sustainable development course would by itself reduce greenhouse gases. More importantly, it would also improve the quality of life of millions who may be left behind if governments only applied policies to lower emissions. The Center for Study of Science Technology and Policy (CSTEP) has found this to be true in the case of India in a study expected to be released by the end of the month.

We further believe that if poor countries were forced to accept legally binding commitments to reduce their emissions, they and the rest of us may be led dangerously close to irreversible and abrupt changes involving atmospheric aerosols, land systems, fresh water use, or biogeochemical flows. Johan Rockström and his colleagues have described nine such planetary boundaries as being vital to human life and the biosphere. We are fearful that focusing narrowly through a carbon lens for the entire international community will lock poor countries into unsustainable paths, causing serious breaches to at least some planetary limits while also bypassing the needs of the poor.

With regard to rich countries, however, we propose that the world insists that their contributions be far more ambitious and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 over 2010 levels. Most ethical frameworks that have developed ideas around fair ways of allocating greenhouse gas reduction burdens among countries converge around similar targets for the US and Europe. This is also not far from the projections of the European Council for the EU, but well beyond the US intention of 26-28% reductions below 2005 levels by 2025.

In contrast, Ethiopia, where the World Bank estimates that three-quarters of its people have no electricity connections, has promised in its INDC to reduce its greenhouse gases to a few percent points below its 2010 levels by 2030. Most of its promised efforts are to plant more forests and have better soil management practices. While some of these changes will no doubt be good for its farmers, forest dwellers, land and soil, one must consider that some of the most cost-effective approaches to reduce greenhouse emissions could be harmful to water, soil, land and livelihoods. The question then becomes whether the implementation of a legally binding greenhouse gas target is the best way for Ethiopia to meet its enormous challenges related to energy access, poverty and sustainability.

Finally, with regard to the level of ambition of these arrangements, our preliminary estimates suggest that the strategy we describe could be consistent with a global carbon budget that is adequate for limiting temperature rise to within safe limits. Beyond 2030, once rich countries have developed the technologies and institutions to reduce their own emissions sharply and developing nations have met sustainable development goals, the entire international community could concentrate more fully on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Op-Ed Contributors: Sujatha Byravan is Principal Research Scientist in the Center for Study of Science Technology and Policy and Sudhir Chella Rajan is Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

A version of this appeared in The Hindu -…


Posted on on August 3rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

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Dispatch from Iraq: the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear

by Jonathan Spyer, PJ Media
July 31, 2015…

Originally published under the title, “On the Ground in Iraq, the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear.”
Projecting the article there is shown A Shi’a militia billboard in Baghdad.

Spyer writes: In late June, I traveled to Iraq with the purpose of investigating the role being played by the Iranian-supported Shia militias in that country.

Close observation of the militias, their activities, and their links to Tehran is invaluable in understanding what is likely to happen in the Middle East following the conclusion of the nuclear agreement between the P5 + 1 powers and Tehran.

An Iranian stealth takeover of Iraq is currently under way. Tehran’s actions in Iraq lay bare the nature of Iranian regional strategy. They show that Iran has no peers at present in the promotion of a very 21st century way of war, which combines the recruitment and manipulation of sectarian loyalties; the establishment and patient sponsoring of political and paramilitary front groups; and the engagement of these groups in irregular and clandestine warfare, all in tune with an Iran-led agenda.

Power in Baghdad today is effectively held by a gathering of Shia militias.

With the conclusion of the nuclear deal, and thanks to the cash about to flow into Iranian coffers, the stage is now set for an exponential increase in the scale and effect of these activities across the region.

So what is going on in Iraq, and what may be learned from it?

Shia militias are essentially the sole force standing between ISIS and Baghdad.

Power in Baghdad today is effectively held by a gathering of Shia militias known as the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization). This initiative brings together tens of armed groups, including some very small and newly formed ones. However, its main components ought to be familiar to Americans who remember the Iraqi Shia insurgency against the U.S. in the middle of the last decade. They are: the Badr Organization, the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Kataeb Hizballah, and the Sarayat al-Salam (which is the new name for the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr).

All of these are militias of long-standing. All of them are openly pro-Iranian in nature. All of them have their own well-documented links to the Iranian government and to the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Shia militiamen are becoming a fixture of daily life in the Iraqi capital.

The Hashed al-Shaabi was founded on June 15, 2014, following a fatwa by venerated Iraqi Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani a day earlier. Sistani called for a limited jihad at a time when the forces of ISIS were juggernauting toward Baghdad. The militias came together, under the auspices of Quds Force kingpin Qassem Suleimani and his Iraqi right-hand man Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Because of the parlous performance of the Iraqi Army, the Shia militias have become in effect the sole force standing between ISIS and the Iraqi capital.

Therein lies the source of their strength. Political power grows, as another master strategist of irregular warfare taught, from the barrel of a gun. In the case of Iraq, no instrument exists in the hands of the elected government to oppose the will of the militias. The militias, meanwhile, in their political iteration, are also part of the government.

In the course of my visit, I travelled deep into Anbar Province with fighters of the Kataeb Hizballah, reaching just eight miles from Ramadi City. I also went to Baiji, the key front to the capital’s north, accompanying fighters from the Badr Corps.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq fighters operating in Baiji in June

In all areas, I observed close cooperation between the militias, the army, and the federal police. The latter are essentially under the control of the militias. Mohammed Ghabban, of Badr, is the interior minister. The Interior Ministry controls the police. Badr’s leader, Hadi al-Ameri, serves as the transport minister.

In theory, the Hashd al-Shaabi committee answers to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi. In practice, no one views the committee as playing anything other than a liaison role. The real decision-making structure for the militias’ alliance goes through Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Hadi al-Ameri, to Qassem Suleimani, and directly on to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

No one in Iraq imagines that any of these men are taking orders from Abadi, who has no armed force of his own, whose political party (Dawa) remains dominated by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his associates, and whose government is dependent on the military protection of the Shia militias and their political support. When I interviewed al-Muhandis in Baiji, he was quite open regarding the source of the militias’ strength: “We rely on capacity and capabilities provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”


Posted on on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
As reported by Ms.Irith Jawetz, July 27, 2015.

An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.

The panel included:

- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
- Ambassador Alexander Kmentt; Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament. Ambassador Kmentt has received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the “2014 Arms Control Person of the Year.” Nine other worthy candidates were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their significant achievements and contributions to reducing the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons in the past year.

Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.

- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.

- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .

The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).

He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).

The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.

In the arsenal of 9 countries there are now approximately 16,300 nuclear war-heads. Those weapons are part of a deterrent policy, which was developed during the Cold War. The objection to a notion of a world without nuclear power is strong, however there is a second notion now, which stems from a humanitarian point of view that maybe the world is better off without those weapons.

Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.

One of the topics of the debate was the notion that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Does it really work? Is it really a deterrent? Can one rely on the fact that the leaders of those countries who possess those weapons will really only refer to them as a deterrent factor and not use them?

Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.

Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
He gave a bit of an historical view on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and said that the United States always contained that it was needed to end the war. Too many U.S. soldiers have died in World War II and it looked as if the Japanese were not ready to surrender. The questions remains, would they have surrendered had they known of the existence of the nuclear bomb? That’s where the deterrent part comes in. Another version for the necessity of ending the war this way was the fear of the U.S. that Russia would march into Japan and take over. Was that reason enough to use the Atom bomb?

Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.

I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.

A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.

Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?


Posted on on July 26th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Turkey Uses ISIS as Excuse to Attack Kurds

by Uzay Bulut • July 26, 2015

It appears as if the Turkish government is using ISIS as a pretext to attack the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

Turkey just announced that its air base at Incirlik will soon be open to coalition forces, presumably to fight ISIS. But the moment Turkey started bombing, it targeted Kurdish positions in Iraq, in addition to targeting ISIS positions in Syria.

In Turkey, millions of indigenous Kurds are continually terrorized and murdered, but ISIS terrorists can freely travel and use official border crossings to go to Syria and return to Turkey; they are even treated at Turkish hospitals.

If this is how the states that rule over Kurds treat them, why is there even any question as to whether the Kurds should have their own self-government?

Turkey’s government seems to be waging a new war against the Kurds, now struggling to get an internationally recognized political status in Syrian Kurdistan.

On July 24, Turkish media sources reported that Turkish jet fighters bombed Kurdish PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) bases in Qandil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

Turkey is evidently unsettled by the rapprochement the PKK seems to be establishing with the U.S. and Europe. Possibly alarmed by the PKK’s victories against ISIS, as well as its strengthening international standing, Ankara, in addition to targeting ISIS positions in Syria, has been bombing the PKK positions in the Qandil mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the PKK headquarters are located.

There is no ISIS in Qandil.


Posted on on July 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

How China Can Help Lead a Global Transition to Clean Energy

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank focused on international governance. CIGI’s research programs focus on: global economy, global security & politics and international law. Founded in 2001, CIGI collaborates with several research affiliates and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of funding partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

CIGI IS BASED AT — 67 Erb Street West, Waterloo, ON Canada N2L 6C2
TEL: 1.519.885.2444 | FAX: 1.519.885.5450

The following ideas are from their release in:
Fixing Climate Governance Policy Brief No. 6
Series: Fixing Climate Governance Series
by: Alvin Lin, Luan Dong, and Yang Fuqiang
Published: July 22, 2015

China’s coal consumption fell marginally in 2014, the first such drop this century, in large part as a result of its policies to address its severe air pollution, develop renewable and alternative energy, and transition its economy away from heavy industry. China should take advantage of its current circumstances to adopt an aggressive national coal consumption cap target and policy to peak its coal consumption as soon as possible, no later than its next Five Year Plan (2016–2020), so that it can then peak its CO2 emissions by 2025. It can achieve this target by building upon its existing achievements in developing clean energy such as wind and solar power, where it leads the world in manufacturing and installation, and focusing on improving integration of renewable energy and scaling technologies such as energy storage, electric vehicles and smart grids. China should also prioritize renewable energy development over coal in its western expansion in order to avoid making large investments in stranded assets, and should price carbon high enough to direct investment toward clean energy. By doing so, China can help lead a transition to clean energy that will contribute greatly to global efforts to keep warming to no more than 2°C, and can serve as a model for other developing countries.

Building upon domestic actions, China should work with other key players, including the Group of Twenty (G20), to advance the international climate agenda. China should also ensure that the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) prioritizes clean energy development for developing countries and does not fund coal mining or coal power projects, so that other countries can leapfrog the environmental pollution that China is now seeking to remedy.

This timely new Policy Brief, titled How China Can Help Lead a Global Transition to Clean Energy by Alvin Lin, Luan Dong and Yang Fuqiang has been published by the project Fixing Climate Governance, based at the CIGI.

China’s coal consumption in 2014 fell by 2.9 percent, the first such drop this century, in large part as a result of its policies to address its severe air pollution, develop renewable and alternative energy, and transition its economy away from heavy industry.

The key points of this new report are:

· China should take advantage of its current circumstances to adopt an aggressive national coal consumption cap target and policy to peak its coal consumption as soon as possible, no later than its next Five Year Plan (2016–2020), so that it can then peak its CO2 emissions by 2025.

· The country can achieve this target by building upon its existing achievements in developing clean energy, such as wind and solar power, and focusing on improving integration of renewable energy and scaling technologies such as energy storage, electric vehicles and smart grids.

· It should also prioritize renewable energy development over coal in its western expansion in order to avoid making large investments in stranded assets, and should price carbon high enough to direct investment toward clean energy. By doing so, China can help lead a transition to clean energy that will contribute greatly to global efforts to keep warming to no more than 2°C, and can serve as a model for other developing countries.

· China should work with other key players, including the G20, to advance the international climate agenda. It should push for agreements to phase down fossil fuel subsidies and consumption of super-greenhouse gas (GHG) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigeration, air conditioning and industry.

· It should phase down its own fossil fuel subsidies, including by increasing the pricing of coal to reflect its true environmental costs, and support a phasedown of HFCs domestically, in conjunction with the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.

· The country should also ensure that the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) prioritizes clean energy development for developing countries and does not fund coal mining or coal power projects, so that other countries can leapfrog the environmental pollution that China is now seeking to remedy.

For the Brief click at –…


Posted on on July 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Bernie Sanders Hails Iran Pact as ‘a Victory for Diplomacy’

By Jordain Carney, The Hill

14 July 15

en. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) praised the administration on Tuesday for reaching a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program, calling it “a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling.”

“I congratulate President Obama, Secretary [John] Kerry and the leaders of other major nations for producing a comprehensive agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Sanders, who is running for president, said in a statement, adding that the deal “could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East.”

Negotiators from seven countries, including the United States and Iran, on Tuesday announced a final deal that will swap sanctions relief for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.

Like many of his Democratic colleagues, Sanders added that he looks forward to reviewing the bill “to make sure that it is effective and strong.”

Once the administration hands over the text of the agreement to lawmakers, they’ll have 60 days to vote on a resolution to approve or disapprove the deal, or do nothing.

Sanders’s 2016 competitor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also cautiously offered support for the deal on Tuesday.

“This is an important step in putting a lid on Iran’s nuclear program,” Clinton told reporters.


Posted on on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna
July 12. 2015

On Friday, July 10, 2015 – a very timely – at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.
Since the Iran talks are being held in Vienna, the panel discussion was very appropriate and although many people have left the City for the Summer, or at least for the weekend, this round table – and the room were full.
I will try to give a somewhat concise reporting of that event.

The event was called: Iran und der Westen nach den Verhandlungen (Iran and the West after the talks).

The participants were:

Dr. Christian Prosl, Austrian Ambassador to Washingtion 2009-2011

Dr. Walter Posch, Institut für Friedenssicherung und Konfliktforschung an der Landesverteidigungsakademie Wien
( Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management, Vienna).

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist, APA (the Austrian Press Agency) and Wiener Zeitung

The excellent moderator was Dr. Werner Fasslabend, President of the Politische Akademie und des AIES, former Austrian Minister for Defense.


Dr. Fasselabend opened the discussion stating that only 99.9% of the talks are completed.

He continued by by displaying historic and current maps of the Region, giving us a broad historic overview of Iran and its influence on the region. He stressed that because of Iran’s geographical location it was and still is a very large regional power and stability in the Middle East without Iran’s cooperation is impossible.

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist for APA (Austrian Press Agentur) and Wiener Zeitung gave us an inside look from the perspective of the journalists covering the talks.

He recalled that after 17 days, 12-16 hours of work, 600 journalists and at a cost of about $1 million for the stay in Vienna by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his delegation at the famous Imperial Hotel, there is still no deal. There have been many improvements since the beginning of the talks, but still no deal. Mr. Kerry has prolonged his stay yet again and said a deadline will not be a factor as long as an agreement can be achieved. The new deadline to be breached is Monday July 13th.

The three major problems that stand in the way of an agreement are:

1) The sanctions on Iran – the Iranian delegation insists those have to be lifted right away;

2) The UN Arms Embargo that includes conventional weapons;

3) Political readiness by President Obama and Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. Both have to agree to a deal which will be accepted at home.

Dr. Faal said he is an optimist by nature and is still hopeful that an agreement will be reached.

Ambassador Dr. Christian Prosl addressed the matter from the US point of view. He said that for the US the stability of the region and the security of the State of Israel are the main factors and the two problems which the US faces are with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Both countries, though for different reasons, are against any deal with Iran since they do not trust the Iranian regime.

As for the supply of oil, this is not anymore a factor for the US because of the fracking industry. However, the strained relationship between President Obama and the Republican party may be a factor. The Republicans have tried for a long time now to see that President Obama fails, and they may try to fail him also in this endeavor. Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in Congress against the Iran deal, which was prompted by the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boemer, did not help. However Ambassador Prosl said that he cannot imagine that the Republicans will fail the agreement if it is iron clad and the treaty will be safe for the US.

Dr. Posch addressed the matter from the Iranian point of view and concluded that although the problems are being viewed from different perspective, i.e. US, the EU and Iran, the will is there. Regional security, oil supply and human rights in Iran all play a part in the talks. He also was hopeful that a deal will be signed

At the end of the panel presentations, Dr. Fasselabend invited to the podium Dr. Massud Mossaheb, General Secretary of the Austro-Iranian Society in Vienna.

Mr. Mossaheb said that there is mutual mistrust between the West and the Iranian Government.

In spite of the fact that the Iranian nuclear position has not changed in the last 40 years, there is still mistrust. The people of Iran hope for the lifting of the sanctions so they can have a better quality of life. They suffer from high inflation and lack of supplies, especially in medications. Dr. Mossaheb also hopes for a deal to be reached.

As the end, the consensus was that the talks will go on, of course not for ever, but without the threat of an immediate deadline, and an agreement, which will be safe and beneficial for all participants will be reached.


From the US MEDIA – I will add to the above
that the personal insistence of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, the opinion is that the White House investment in these talks is so high that a failure to obtain an agreement is unthinkable.

The fact that the Iranians see this deep involvement of the Americans has in itself weakened the position of the United States in these negotiations. But then, the Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei – whose position is still strong as he is still blindly followed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who are in charge of the Nuclear Program – may be using tough talk now just to make sure that his agreeing to an agreement is not viewed as weakness. The Iranian people want an end to the sanctions provided it is not seen as a cave in (the CNN/GPS program of Fareed Zakaria).

The current round, now in its 16-th day, was supposed to conclude on June 30, but was extended until July 7, then July 10 and now July 13. The sides had hoped to seal a deal before the end of Thursday in Washington to avoid delays in implementing their promises.

By missing that target, the U.S. and Iran now have to wait for a 60-day congressional review period during which President Barack Obama can’t waive sanctions on Iran. Had they reached a deal by Thursday, the review would have been only 30 days.

En route to Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday.

Kerry noted that “a few tough things” remain in the way of agreement but added: “We’re getting to some real decisions.”

A senior State Department official also said Sunday that the department will not speculate about the timing of anything during the talks and that key issues remain unresolved.

Iran’s state-run Press TV cited Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It reported that Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”

His comments suggest Tehran’s distrust of Washington will persist whether a deal gets done or not. Khamenei’s comments also have appeared thus to be a blow to U.S. hopes than agreement will lead to improved relations with the country and possible cooperation against Islamic rebels.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, like Kerry, indicated talks could go either way. “We behaved so skillfully that if talks won’t succeed, the world would accept that Iran is for logic and dialogue and never left the negotiating table … and if we succeed by the grace of God, the world will know that the Iranian nation can resolve its problems through logic,” his website quoted him as saying.

The supreme leader’s comments also come after it was learned Saturday that the Islamic Republic’s spies have been seeking atomic and missile technology in neighboring Germany as recently as last month.

Iran’s illegal activities have continued since talks between Iran and the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as rotating member Germany – began with a Joint Plan of Action in 2013, according to German intelligence sources. The JPOA was intended to stop Iran’s work on a nuclear weapon until a comprehensive agreement is reached.

“You would think that with the negotiations, [Iranian] activities would drop,” a German intelligence source said. “Despite the talks to end Iran’s program, Iran did not make an about-turn.”

With a final agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program set for Monday, the intelligence data from Germany raises disturbing questions about the success of the deal.

Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program over the last two years, according to German intelligence sources. Germany is required to report Iran’s illegal procurement activities to the UN.

Iran is unlikely to begin a substantial rollback of its nuclear program until it gets sanctions relief in return.

But then the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers said they will come to Vienna for the signing of the agreement – and the news are that Mr. Sergei Lavrov has said he will be there on Monday.

An Iranian diplomat said that they have a 100 pages document to study and that logistically it cannot be done by Sunday night with parallel meetings going on.


Posted on on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

What is the economic potential of the manufacture of transport fuels from CO2?

from: Dimitriou, Ioanna –  dimitri1 at

July 12, 2015

to Energy

Dear all,

Our study, entitled “Carbon dioxide utilisation for production of transport fuels: process and economic analysis” has been recently published by the prestigious Energy and Environmental Science journal. The study aims to support policy makers and businesses in their decision-making by establishing whether the production of liquid transport fuels from CO2 using current technology is economically feasible and identifying the modifications required to improve the economic competitiveness of Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU).

The article is open-access and available through the following link:…


Utilising CO2 as a feedstock for chemicals and fuels could help mitigate climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. For this reason, there is an increasing world-wide interest in carbon capture and utilisation (CCU). As part of a broader project to identify key technical advances required for sustainable CCU, this work considers different process designs, each at a high level of technology readiness and suitable for large-scale conversion of CO2 into liquid hydrocarbon fuels, using biogas from sewage sludge as a source of CO2. The main objective of the paper is to estimate fuel production yields and costs of different CCU process configurations in order to establish whether the production of hydrocarbon fuels from commercially proven technologies is economically viable. Four process concepts are examined, developed and modelled using the process simulation software Aspen Plus? to determine raw materials, energy and utility requirements. Three design cases are based on typical biogas applications: (1) biogas upgrading using a monoethanolamine (MEA) unit to remove CO2, (2) combustion of raw biogas in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant and (3) combustion of upgraded biogas in a CHP plant which represents a combination of the first two options. The fourth case examines a post-combustion CO2 capture and utilisation system where the CO2 removal unit is placed right after the CHP plant to remove the excess air with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of the plant. All four concepts include conversion of CO2 to CO via a reverse water-gas-shift reaction process and subsequent conversion to diesel and gasoline via Fischer–Tropsch synthesis. The studied CCU options are compared in terms of liquid fuel yields, energy requirements, energy efficiencies, capital investment and production costs. The overall plant energy efficiency and production costs range from 12–17% and £15.8–29.6 per litre of liquid fuels, respectively. A sensitivity analysis is also carried out to examine the effect of different economic and technical parameters on the production costs of liquid fuels. The results indicate that the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuels using the existing CCU technology is not economically feasible mainly because of the low CO2 separation and conversion efficiencies as well as the high energy requirements. Therefore, future research in this area should aim at developing novel CCU technologies which should primarily focus on optimising the CO2 conversion rate and minimising the energy consumption of the plant.

Kind regards,

Ioanna Dimitriou


Dr ??anna Dimitriou

Research Associate at Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering

University of Sheffield

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Room C67a, Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 7594

Email:  i.dimitriou at



Posted on on May 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From The Middle East Forum: Research on the Islamic State

by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi

various publications
April 1-May 15, 2015…

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a research fellow at Middle East Forum’s Jihad Intel project, is one of world’s leading experts on the Islamic State (IS) group terrorizing Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. The overwhelming majority of his writings and translations are too detailed or esoteric for distribution to a general audience, so instead MEF compiles periodic updates providing links and summaries for those who wish to follow the groundbreaking work of this prolific researcher.

Is ISIS Islamic? (April 3, 2015)
Jihadology: Jawad al-Tamimi argues that IS documents and publications show respect for the four traditional schools of Sunni jurisprudence and that many of its actions, however heinous, “can find a place within the vastness of Islamic tradition.”

Jamaat Ansar al-Islam: Eulogy to Abu Ahmad of Mosul (April 15, 2015)

Translation and Analysis of a statement from the Sunni jihadist group Jamaat Ansar al-Islam, which was based primarily in Iraq until its disintegration in the wake of last year’s IS advance across the north of the country, with elements of its Syria chapter continuing to operate in a limited capacity. The statement eulogizes Abu Ahmad of Mosul, a leader of the group’s Iraq branch reportedly killed by IS.

Muqawama Suriya Statement: Loss of Jisr al-Shughur (April 26, 2015)

Translation and analysis of a statement by Muqawama Suriya, a pro-Assad militia led by Turkish-born Alawite Ali Kayali. The statement illustrates “growing war weariness among pro-Assad circles” in the wake of recent losses in Idlib province, notes Jawad al-Tamimi, while its emphasis on “popular” and “national” forces “implicitly acknowledges some of the increasing resentment in regime circles that the war effort is too dependent on foreign irregular forces.”

Interview with the leader of Harakat al-Nujaba (April 28, 2015)

Translation and analysis of an interview with Akram al-Ka’abi, the leader of Harakat Hizballah al-Nujaba (The Movement of the Party of God of the Outstanding), or HHN, an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militia that emerged in 2013, operating both in Iraq and in Syria via multiple front groups. The interview sheds light on several aspects of HHN, notably its open identification with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and ties with the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement.

“We have the Swords”- IS nasheed (May 2)

Translation of a musical chant (nasheed), produced by IS’s Ajnad Media Foundation. One of the “darker” nasheeds, according to Jawad al-Tamimi, with lyrics such as “we sever off heads by the strike of the sword.”


Posted on on May 1st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Rise and Fall of a Modern ‘Devshirme’ in Erdogan’s Turkey

by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
April 30, 2015…

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Originally published under the title, “How Non-Muslims “Survive” in Turkey.”

Prominent non-Muslims in Turkey, then and now. Left: an Ottoman Janissary officer. Right: the Armenian Christian intellectual Etyen Mahcupyan, who retired as advisor to Turkey’s prime minister after saying “what happened to Armenians in 1915″ was “genocide.”

Last October, Etyen Mahcupyan, a leading Turkish Armenian intellectual, “liberal” writer and columnist, was appointed as “chief advisor” to Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. At first glance, this was good news in a country where Islamists privately adhere to the old Ottoman millet system, in which non-Muslims were treated as second-class (if not third-class) citizens.

In reality, Mahcupyan was a reincarnation of the Ottoman “devshirme” system, in which the Ottoman state machinery produced several non-Muslim converts who enjoyed a place in the higher echelons of the palace bureaucracy, and the finer things of life, because their pragmatism earned them excellent relations with the ruling Muslim elite.

In a December interview with Turkey’s leading daily, Hurriyet, Mahcupyan said, “Whatever has been a [political] asset for Turkey’s Armenian community (they number around 60,000) is an asset for the Jewish community too. But… there is Israel… As long as the psychology of the Israel issue continues to influence politics in Turkey and relations between the two countries do not normalize…” The line, which Mahcupyan shyly did not finish, probably would have gone on like this: “Turkey’s Jews will keep on paying the price.”

Mahcupyan admitted that if Turkey’s Jews felt alienated, it was the government’s responsibility to do something about that.

What more? “I have lived through this personally for the past 60 years,” he explained. “Among Turkey’s non-Muslim minorities, including Jews and Armenians, there is an opinion about humiliating Muslims.” As Mahcupyan’s statement is not true, it therefore just seems a way to justify Islamists’ intimidation of Jews.

Next, Mahcupyan argued, “Both Jews and Armenians are better-educated [than Muslim Turks] and more open to the West. And this brings in a feeling of superiority complex.” In this view, daily attacks on Turkey’s Jews and other non-Muslims happen because Jews and Armenians humiliate Muslims — they are better-educated than Muslims and hence their superiority complex. The charge is, at best, silly.

As in Ottoman times, just one unpleasant utterance can suffice to end a devshirme’s career in government service.

Only a few months later, Mahcupyan would learn how wrong he was about the Islamist supremacists in Ankara and their inherent intolerance to liberal thinking.

Mahcupyan recently commented on Pope Francis’s remarks on April 12, in which the Pope described 1915 as “the first genocide of the 20th century,” and said that the Vatican had “thrown off a 100-year-old psychological burden.”

If, Mahcupyan said, accepting that what happened in Bosnia and Africa were genocides, “it is impossible not to call what happened to Armenians in 1915 genocide, too.”

It was probably the first time in Turkish history that a senior government official recognized the Armenian genocide. Once again, at first glance, that was good news in a country where outright denial has been the persistent official policy. But it seems Turkey was not quite as liberal as Mahcupyan had thought.

Immediately after his remarks became public, EU Minister Volkan Bozkir expressed unease, saying that “Mahcupyan’s description was not appropriate for his title of adviser.” But that was not the only price Mahcupyan would have to pay.

A few days after his remarks on genocide, Mahcupyan “retired” as chief adviser to Prime Minister Davutoglu — after only about six months in the job.

Officially, Mahcupyan had retired in March after turning 65, the mandatory retirement age for civil servants. But it was an open secret in Ankara that his departure came simply because Turkey’s Islamists were not quite the liberals he had claimed they were.

The “Mahcupyan affair” has a message to Turkey’s dwindling non-Muslim minorities: Just like an Ottoman devshirme, a non-Muslim can rise and become a darling of today’s neo-Ottoman Turks. He can win hearts and minds in important offices in Ankara — and a bright career. But to maintain his fortunes he must remain loyal to the official Islamist line, both in deed and rhetoric. Just one unpleasant utterance would suffice to end a devshirme’s career in government service.

That is the kind of collective psychology into which Turkey’s ruling Islamists force non-Muslims: either become a collaborator, or…

There is another Turkish Armenian columnist who looks more seasoned than Mahcupyan in his devshirme career. Markar Esayan, a writer for a fiercely pro-government daily, recently said in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 2014 statement about the Armenian victims of 1915: “[Erdogan's] message of condolences illustrates how we have achieved the Ottoman spirit in line with this century and its democratic practice. Furthermore, the practices in the last 13 years [of the Justice and Development Party's rule] have positively influenced our [Armenian] community and non-Muslims.”

Apparently Esayan is happy with Turkey’s neo-Ottomans and their Islamist rule, including their rigid policies of genocide-denial, which he claims have done good to Turkey’s Armenians and other non-Muslim citizens. Etyen Mahcupyan may have been punished, but Markar Esayan is being rewarded for his loyalty: he has been selected to run for parliament on the ticket of Prime Minister Davutoglu’s party!

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Related Topics: Turkey and Turks | Burak Bekdil


Posted on on April 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

OCTOBER 16 – 18, 2015

PRESIDENT OF FRANCE – WILL ATTEND THE ASSEMBLY and Deliver an Opening Speech linked to the Climate Negotiations at COP 21.

At a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on April 17th, the President of France, François Hollande, accepted an invitation from President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to deliver an opening speech at the October Assembly. The attendance by President Hollande is linked to the upcoming climate negotiations COP21 in Paris in December and the relevance of the Arctic to those negotiations.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING – And Offered to host a special CHINA SESSION at the Assembly.

President of China XI Jinping has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson endorsed China’s participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly and declared his decision that China will host a special Plenary Session at the October Assembly in Reykjavík.

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL – suggested a special plenary GERMANY and the ARCTIC SESSION at the Assembly.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced her support for the Arctic Circle and its importance as a venue to present the involvement of Germany in the future of the Arctic. Consequently, the program of the October Assembly in Reykjavík will include a special Plenary Session on Germany and the Arctic.

More Assembly news in the coming weeks.


Posted on on April 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

President Rivlin: Armenians were the first victims of modern mass killing
– Despite working for years to achieve recognition of the Armenian genocide, president refrains from using the word ‘genocide’ is his remarks at Jerusalem ceremony.
By Barak Ravid | Apr. 26, 2015, in HAARETZ

President Rivlin on Sunday hosted an event at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, but refrained from using the word “genocide” in his remarks. At the ceremony, attended by leaders of Israel’s Armenian community, Rivlin said, “The Armenian people were the first victims of modern mass killing.”

In the recent weeks leading up to the anniversary, the Foreign Ministry exerted pressure on the President’s Residence to make sure Rivlin not deviate from the terminology used by the Israeli government to describe the events of 1915.

The Foreign Ministry did so after Rivlin, in his speech at the United Nations marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said, “In the year 1915…the murder of the Armenian people took place.” This part of his speech was delivered in Hebrew, and he did not use the term “genocide.”

While Sunday’s ceremony was the first such event held at the President’s Residence, it was described as a gathering to mark the anniversary of the “Armenian tragedy.” Rivlin’s remarks didn’t make reference to the “murder of the Armenian people” as his UN speech did; instead Rivlin used the word “massacre.”

“In 1915, when the members of the Armenian nation were being massacred, the residents of Jerusalem, my parents and the members of my family, saw the Armenian refugees arriving in their thousands,” Rivlin said.

“No one in Jerusalem denied the massacre that had taken place. As you know, this has been my personal view ever since. We are morally obligated to point out the facts, as horrible as they might be, not ignore them,” he said.”

“The Armenian people have been the first victims of modern mass killing,” Rivlin said, adding that after the Holocaust, “commemorating the tragedy of the Armenian people is our Jewish obligation, a human and moral one.”

Over the years, both as a lawmaker and as Knesset speaker, Rivlin was among the leaders of the campaign to recognize the Armenian genocide. Rivlin initiated Knesset discussions on the matter and, up until December 2014, consistently signed a petition calling for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. This year, for the first time, a Knesset delegation participated in a ceremony marking the anniversary of the genocide in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

In the years 1915-1916, one-third of the Armenian people – one to one and a half million people – perished. The Armenians blame the Turks for committing genocide and have waged a public campaign for the international community to recognize the killings as such.

Turkey, for its part, has worked hard to prevent international recognition, claiming that no genocide occurred, but that during the Armenian struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, between 250,000 and half a million Armenians – and a similar number of Turks – were killed.

Over the years, Israeli government policy has been not to recognize the Armenian genocide for fear of damaging Israel’s strategic alliance with Turkey. More recently, as Israeli-Turkish ties have soured, the Foreign Ministry has warned that recognition of the Armenian genocide would only further escalate the crisis.

In his remarks Sunday, Rivlin emphasized that Israel does not seek to blame any particular country for what happened in 1915, “but rather [to] identify with the victims and the horrible results of the massacre.”