New Gaza War, Benghazi, Syria, Russia

Categories:Gaza War, Israel, Benghazi, Syria, Russia

> Latest News, Worries, Social Media War, How to End the War >
> The “Hybrid View”
> SYRIA: Here Come the French
> The Magnitsky Act Passed, Germany and Russia,
> Treason Law Expanded
> >
> To: Friends
> From: Ken Jensen, Rachel Ehrenfeld
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> EWI BLOG: Kenneth D.M. Jensen: New Gaza War, Benghazi, Syria, Russia
> []
> Thanks to Benny Avni, Richard Baehr, Len Baldyga, The American Interest, and RFE/RL > for item contributions.
> Latest News
> This posting brings the latest news from the Washington Post regarding the new Gaza
> war. No doubt something new will happen by the time you get this, but some may > not have access to the longer stories.
> Worries
> We also bring you two pieces that show due concern for the implications of extended
> rocketing and bombing by the parties. Of course, the biggest concern is what happens
> if Israel puts boots on the ground. The Times of Israel suggests that IDF special
> forces are already in Gaza, seeking out underground missile sites. One of the pieces
> is by Benny Avni of the New York Post, and the other was submitted by Richard Baehr, > writing in Israel Hayom.
> Social Media War
> Len Baldyga has sent us a piece that follows on to yesterday’s noting that the IDF
> pioneered in announcing war via Twitter. AP reports on the social media war between
> the IDF and Hamas. It will be interesting to see how YouTube and other sites respond
> to atrocious content from both sides. Will they censor or will they not? Will they > show bias?
> How to End the War
> Retired ambassador Ehud Yaari has crafted an article on what an Egyptian-brokered
> ceasefire might be like. The piece appears on the Foreign Affairs website. Speaking > of the part of the United States in this, Yaari says:
> “Given its leverage over Egypt, Washington has a role to play in bringing about
> such a comprehensive cease-fire — and in keeping it in place. The Obama administration
> should inform Morsi that, in return for the huge financial support Egypt gets from
> the United States, it must start ensuring stability in the region, create a dialogue
> with Israel that is not restricted to security personnel, prevent Egyptian territory
> from becoming a safe haven for weapons smugglers, and convince Hamas militants to > stop lobbing missiles into Israeli towns and villages.
> “Reaching such a deal in the depths of a conflict will not be easy. But if the aim
> is anything more than a temporary break from fighting, it’s a deal worth striving > for.”
> BENGHAZI: The “Hybrid View”
> Thomas Joscelyn, writing for the Weekly Standard, reports that
> “The Washington Post reports that “the CIA and other intelligence analysts have
> settled on what amounts to a ‘hybrid view’ of September 11, 2012, ‘suggesting that
> the Cairo protest sparked militants in Libya, who quickly mobilized an assault on > U.S. facilities in Benghazi.'”
> This hardly makes much difference to the inquiry on the Benghazi disaster. As Joscelyn
> points out, “what the Post doesn’t say is that the Cairo protest was itself an al
> Qaeda-infused, if not outright orchestrated, event.” He goes on to show why he
> says this. Incidentally, the EWI Blog and Digest reported long ago on what happened
> in Cairo and where it came from. Why the media, including Fox News even, has so
> far ignored that part of the story is beyond me. Thanks to Joscelyn, accordingly. > SYRIA: Here Come the French
> AP, via the Washington Post, reports that
> “France on Saturday welcomed a member of the Syrian opposition as the country’s
> ambassador, a bold bid to confer legitimacy on the week-old opposition coalition > and encourage other Western nations to follow suit.
> The new envoy, Mounzir Makhous, appeared before the press after talks at France’s
> presidential palace between President Francois Hollande and the head of the newly > formed Syrian opposition coalition.
> France has swiftly stepped out ahead of Western allies nearly since the start of
> the Syrian uprising 20 months ago. Saturday’s surprise announcement came even before
> the brand new coalition has named its provisional government and before a place > in Paris to house the envoy has been found.
> “‘There will be an ambassador of Syria in France,’ Hollande announced. France expelled > its Syrian ambassador in May, along with more a half-dozen other countries.
> “Mouaz Al-Khatib, the opposition leader, described Makhous as ‘one of the first
> to speak of liberty’ in Syria. He holds four doctorate degrees and belongs to the
> Muslim Alawite sect of President Bashar Assad, demonstrating an effort to reach > out to all of Syria’s people, al-Khatib said.”
> The Magnitsky Act Passed
> The Wall Street Journal reports that, most surprisingly for a lame duck session,
> “The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Friday to end a long-standing
> trade restriction with Russia, a move that could prevent discrimination against > U.S. companies as Russia enters the World Trade Organization.
> “Yet Moscow denounced the trade bill’s passage and vowed to retaliate, since it
> included a measure targeting alleged Russian human-rights abusers. The provision,
> known as the Magnitsky Act, allows the seizure of property from these people and > prevents their travel to the U.S.”
> We’ll see what the Senate does, although it’s expected to follow suit. The Russians
> are already upset. RFE/RL reports that the Russians expect us to “minimize” the > effect of the bill.
> Germany and Russia
> Lilia Shevtsova and David Kramer, writing on The American Interest website, bring
> us up to date on the German-Russian relationship, which, well, isn’t so happy now:
> “Until recently, the German-Russian relationship was viewed as the model of a happy,
> albeit weird, marriage of incompatible bedfellows. No longer: German public opinion
> has grown increasingly critical of Vladimir Putin’s regime and its clampdown on
> human rights and the political opposition. While this shift in public attitude has
> not had a major impact on the official Berlin line, it has reinforced the push by
> some Bundestag deputies, especially the German Greens, the only party that has consistently > raised the issue of human rights in Russia.”
> Treason Law Expanded
> AP reports that Russia has redefined treason once again. Now dissent of any sort, > in Russia, can be dubbed treason. Predictable, what?
> ITEM 1: Ehud Yaari: How to End the War in Gaza. What an Egypt-Brokered Cease-Fire > Should Look Like
> [] > ITEM 2: AP: Israel vs Hamas: Social media is the new battleground
> [] > ITEM 3: Benny Avni: Israel’s dilemma. If Hamas won’t say ‘uncle’ . . .
> []
> ITEM 4: Richard Baehr: Israel’s collateral damage problem. So far, the death toll > is 47, most of them children. There is great anger in Egypt.
> []
> ITEM 5: Karin Brulliard, Abigail Hauslohner: Israel keeps pounding Gaza by air, > says it intercepted missile fired by Hamas at Tel Aviv
> ITEM 6: Thomas Joscelyn: The ‘Hybrid View’ of Benghazi
> [] > SYRIA
> ITEM 7: AP: France welcomes Syrian ambassador from opposition, in bid for support > for new coalition
> [] > RUSSIA
> ITEM 8: AP: Russia expands treason law, critics say now anyone who dissents can > be branded a traitor
> [] > ITEM 9: WALL STREET JOURNAL: House Passes Russia Trade Bill, With a Condition
> []
> ITEM 10: Lilia Shevtsova, David Kramer: Germany and Russia: The End of Ostpolitik?
> [] > ITEM 11: RFE/RL: Russia: U.S. Must Minimize Effect Of Magnitsky Act
> ITEM 1a: Ehud Yaari: How to End the War in Gaza. What an Egypt-Brokered Cease-Fire
> Should Look Like
> [] > November 17, 2012
> Israel and Hamas are once again locked in a shooting war. Each day, hundreds of
> missiles fly toward Israeli cities and villages. Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force
> has been systematically pounding the Gaza Strip, carrying out no less than 1000
> strikes on Hamas military targets in the last several days. As indirect negotiations
> over a cease-fire progress at this moment, with active U.S. involvement, it is time > to chart a course to end this round of hostilities.
> Israel has set fairly modest goals for its campaign, dubbed Operation Pillar of
> Defense. It does not seek to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza, as it has sought in
> the past, nor does it want to bring about the total collapse of Hamas’ military
> wing. As statements from senior Israeli officials indicate, the objective is a long-term
> cease-fire along the Israel-Gaza border. Hamas, for its part, has one objective:
> to stay on its feet. It is trying to inflict maximum damage and casualties in order
> to prove that Israel’s military superiority alone will not force it to back down.
> With the right kind of a no-victors formula, sponsored by the United States and > other international players, a deal can be reached to ensure a long-term calm.
> Previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas, including the 2009 war, have been resolved,
> with Egyptian faciliation, through a simple formula: each side commits to refrain
> from opening fire as long as its adversary does the same. But these calm periods
> — or tahdia, as they are called in Arabic — have historically not lasted very
> long. Hamas has increasingly allowed other heavily armed terrorist groups in Gaza,
> such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to launch attacks on Israel. And in the past
> few months, despite Egyptian warnings, Hamas has targeted Israeli soldiers and military > outposts along the border, too.
> This time, ending the conflict and restoring stability will require a different
> type of arrangement. The cease-fire agreement should involve other parties and contain
> additional checks on violence. It will have the best chance of lasting if it is
> primarily based on an Israeli-Egyptian agreement, supported by the United States
> and, possibly, by the European Union. It will be up to Hamas to adhere to the terms.
> This time, ending the conflict and restoring stability will require a different > type of arrangement.
> Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government has showered Hamas with statements of
> solidarity, and its prime minister made an unprecedented visit to Gaza on the second
> day of the Israeli operation. But what Cairo ultimately wants is a speedy cease-fire.
> Despite its support for Hamas, the new Egyptian regime is reluctant to grant the
> group a defense guarantee or to open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
> Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi underscored this on Friday, saying, “We don’t > want a war now.”
> Egypt knows well that ongoing support for Hamas’ shelling of Israeli civilians would
> jeopardize the billions of dollars in international aid that its bankrupt treasury
> depends on — $450 million annually from the United States, $4.3 billion annually
> from the IMF, and $6.3 billion annually from the EU’s development bank. This explains
> why, despite Cairo’s venomous anti-Israeli rhetoric over the past several days,
> Egypt did not take any serious actions beyond recalling its newly accredited ambassador
> from Tel Aviv. Furthermore, the Egyptian military and intelligence services are > hesitant to provoke a confrontation with Israel.
> Given Egypt’s adversity to conflict, Egypt and Israel should strive to reach an
> understanding about Gaza. In doing so, they would reaffirm the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli
> peace treaty for the post-Arab Spring era. Such an Egyptian-Israeli understanding > could include several components.
> First, Egypt should broker the Israel-Hamas cease-fire at the highest political
> levels, rather than through behind-the-scenes talks organized by its General Intelligence
> Directorate. That in itself would constitute a departure from the Morsi administration’s
> policy of putting a pause on normalization with Israel and preventing any contact
> with the country other than for military or intelligence cooperation. Egypt faces
> a choice: launching a high-level political dialogue with the Israel to obtain the
> cease-fire that it desires, or seeing the continuation of violence in Gaza. An Egyptian > refusal to lead the political process should raise red flags in Washington.
> Second, since most of the weapons in Gaza were trafficked through Egyptian territory,
> Cairo should agree to help prevent the reconstruction of Hamas’ arsenal. For years
> now, Egypt has been turning a blind eye to smuggling in the Sinai Peninsula and
> tolerating the operation of 1200 tunnels that run underneath the Egypt-Gaza frontier.
> Cairo could try to shut down the tunnels and intercept arms shipments that come
> through the Suez Canal. Egypt, which is already domestically unstable, has every
> reason to prevent renewed violence by counteracting the remilitarization of Hamas > and its allies.
> Any agreement should also address the growing lawlessness in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula,
> where attacks against Israel and even sometimes against Egyptian security personnel
> have become regular occurrences. Egypt’s Operation Eagle, aimed at cracking down
> on insurgents there, has so far failed to dismantle the widespread terrorist infrastructure
> in the area. (Hamas even twice took the liberty of testing its long-range Fajr-5
> missiles by firing them into the Sinai desert.) Since a number of Salafi jihadist
> organizations have branches in both Gaza and Sinai, for all practical purposes the > peninsula is an extension of the Gaza front.
> Egypt and Israel need to ensure that when the cease-fire takes hold in Gaza, terror
> operations do not simply pick up and move south to Sinai. Despite restrictions on
> Egyptian military deployments in the area, which stem from the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli
> peace treaty, Israel and Egypt can work through the decade-old Agreed Activities
> Mechanism to allow Egyptian units to take up positions in the eastern Sinai. Israel
> has already consented to let Egypt introduce a mechanized brigade and commando battalions
> in the area. Israel could also approve the deployment of whatever Egyptian troops
> are necessary — save tanks and antitank weapons — to uproot the terrorist safe
> havens. Egypt won’t just be doing Israel’s dirty work; Cairo knows that these organizations > might eventually target the Suez Canal as well.
> A cease-fire agreement could also address the sensitive and important issue of border
> crossings. Egypt might get Israeli consent to open the Rafah terminal on its border
> with Gaza, not only for passenger traffic but also for trade. This could mean that
> Gaza would get its fuel and other commodities from Egypt, while Israel would continue
> to supply electricity. Egyptian ports could begin to handle the flow of goods in
> and out of Gaza, and Israel would gradually phase out the commercial activities
> that pass through the six terminals it now operates into Gaza. The move would signal
> the completion of Israel’s 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, slowly handing
> over responsibility for the area’s economic needs to the Egyptian government. Egypt,
> which already perceives itself as a patron of Hamas, would see this situation favorably
> because it would grant Cairo more influence over the group. And Hamas is already
> pleading for this type of arrangement, seeking to end its economic dependence on > Israeli goodwill.
> Given its leverage over Egypt, Washington has a role to play in bringing about such
> a comprehensive cease-fire — and in keeping it in place. The Obama administration
> should inform Morsi that, in return for the huge financial support Egypt gets from
> the United States, it must start ensuring stability in the region, create a dialogue
> with Israel that is not restricted to security personnel, prevent Egyptian territory
> from becoming a safe haven for weapons smugglers, and convince Hamas militants to > stop lobbing missiles into Israeli towns and villages.
> Reaching such a deal in the depths of a conflict will not be easy. But if the aim
> is anything more than a temporary break from fighting, it’s a deal worth striving > for.
> ITEM 2a: AP: Israel vs Hamas: Social media is the new battleground
> [] > -Thanks to Len Baldyga-
> November 16, 2012 at 10:16am IST
> Associated Press
> Jerusalem: The hostilities between Israel and Hamas have found a new battleground:
> social media. The Israeli Defence Forces and Hamas militants have exchanged fiery > tweets throughout the fighting in a separate war to influence public opinion.
> Shortly after it launched its campaign Wednesday by killing Hamas’ top military
> commander Ahmed Jabari, the Israeli military’s media office announced a “widespread
> campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip” on its Twitter account.
> It then posted a 10-second black-and-white video of the airstrike on its official
> YouTube page. Google, which owns YouTube, removed the video for a time early Thursday, > but reconsidered and restored it.
> VideoPhotoGallery
> Israeli Defence Forces and Hamas militants have exchanged fiery tweets throughout > the fighting in a separate war.
> A tweet from @idfspokesperson said: “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether > low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.”
> Hamas, under its @AlQassamBrigade English-language account, which is largely considered
> to be the official Twitter account for its military wing, fired back: “Our blessed
> hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates > on Yourselves).”
> The Israeli military’s media office Twitter account, which gained more than 50,000
> followers in just 24 hours, is just one of various online platforms used to relay
> real-time information to the public, sometimes even before it is conveyed to reporters.
> The IDF news desk’s email signature reads like a catalog for new media platforms,
> including links to its YouTube channel, Facebook page and Flickr photo albums. The
> military also just opened a Tumblr account in English and plans to launch one in > Spanish.
> Following the assassination, the military tweeted a graphically designed photograph
> of Jabari, with a red backdrop and capitalised block letters reading “ELIMINATED,”
> drawing both celebration and fierce criticism from a range of users. Throughout
> the operation, the military and its supporters have tweeted with the hashtag “IsraelUnderFire,”
> while many Palestinians have tweeted with a separate hashtag “GazaUnderAttack.”
> The operation, launched after days of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel,
> marks the most intense round of violence since Israel and Hamas waged a three-week > war four years ago.
> Palestinian militants fired more rockets into Israel on Thursday, killing three
> people and striking the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Israeli strikes have killed 15 Palestinians.
> Military spokeswoman Lt Col Avital Leibovich said that in the four years since Israel > and Hamas last dueled, an “additional war zone” developed on the internet.
> “I’m sort of addicted to Twitter, you can say. It’s a great tool to release information
> without the touch of editors’ hands,” she said. “Militaries are usually closed operations, > but we’re doing the opposite.”
> Leibovich is also the head of a two-month-old “Interactive Media” branch of the
> IDF, staffed with around 30 soldiers trained in writing and graphic-design skills.
> As an indicator of the significance of the department to the military, Leibovich
> said she’ll be leaving her current spokeswoman’s post in February to focus solely > on running the interactive branch.
> The Hamas media wing has dramatically improved its outreach from the days when their
> loyalists used to scrawl graffiti on walls in the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ militant wing
> keeps a frequently updated Facebook page and a multilanguage website. They tend > to update reporters of rocket fire through an SMS distribution list.
> Nader Elkhuzundar, a prolific 25-year-old Twitter user from Gaza, said the recent > social media barrage reached “a new level of psychological war.”
> “Twitter gives us a voice, but there’s also a lot of misinformation at the same
> time. It’s a tool you need to be careful using because there’s a lot of noise out > there,” he said.
> Although there were tweets directed at the IDF’s Twitter account claiming that the
> Israeli government and military websites were hacked and taken down Thursday, the
> Israeli military denied it. “The IDF blog was down for a very short period, less
> than hour in the afternoon, only due to heavy traffic,” according to Eytan Buchman, > an Israeli military spokesman.
> Israel’s ministry of public diplomacy also started a “Special Operations Centre,”
> a virtual situation room of sorts, working with Israeli bloggers and volunteers
> to “get Israeli’s message out to the world virtually, to Arabs as well, through > social media and other web platforms,” said spokesman Gal Ilan.
> Tamir Sheafer, chair of the political communication program at Hebrew University,
> said the embrace of social media by both sides indicates recognition that “you don’t > win conflicts like this one on the ground; you win it through public opinion.”
> But the use of social media for public diplomacy is also a double-edged sword, says > Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington.
> “On the one hand, Israel has gotten better in conveying their messages to the public,
> but on the flip side, we’re seeing flippant remarks. Twitter accounts can be used
> carelessly and there’s a danger of overplaying things, which they might be doing,” > he said.
> “They also might be falling into the trap of thinking they have their public relations
> covered, but really, it’s their policy and not their tweets that matters at the > end of the day,” Sachs added.
> YouTube had removed the Hamas assassination video after concluding the clip violated
> its terms of service. The site’s reviewers later reconsidered that decision and
> restored the video Thursday. “With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes > we make the wrong call,” YouTube said in a statement.
> Buchman, the Israeli military spokesman, said there was no official comment, except > that “we’re glad they reconsidered that decision.”
> Google tries to ensure that the clips on YouTube obey disparate laws around the
> world and adhere to standards of decorum while also protecting the principles of
> free speech. It’s a mind-boggling task, given more than 100,000 hours of video > is sent to YouTube every day.
> YouTube routinely blocks video in specific countries if it violates local laws.
> It also removes video deemed to violate standards primarily designed to weed out > videos that infringe copyrights, show pornography or contain “hate speech.”
> Given that YouTube isn’t regulated by the government, Google is within its legal
> rights to make its own decisions about video. Nevertheless, some people believe
> Google should always fall on the side of free expression because YouTube has become > such an important forum for opinion, commentary and news.
> A video showing an assassination arguably falls in a grey area of whether it is
> a news event or a gratuitous act of violence. This isn’t the only assassination
> that can be watched on YouTube. Numerous clips on YouTube replay the fatal shooting > of US President John F Kennedy in 1963, including his gruesome head wound.
> Google doesn’t share details about how its video reviews are conducted, but it employs
> an unknown number of reviewers who regularly scan the site for violations of local > laws and the company’s guidelines.
> Google discussed its approach to Internet content in a November 2007 blog post that > came about a year after buying YouTube for $1.76 billion.
> “We have a bias in favour of people’s right to free expression in everything we
> do,” wrote Rachel Whetstone, Google’s director of global communications and public
> affairs, “We are driven by a belief that more information generally means more choice,
> more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual. But we also recognise
> that freedom of expression can’t be – and shouldn’t be – without some limits. The > difficulty is in deciding where those boundaries are drawn.”
> Usually, the decisions are dictated by the law in the more than 100 different countries
> where Google’s services are offered. The laws in some countries prohibit material
> that would seem tame in other countries. For instance, Brazil prohibits video ridiculing
> political candidates in the three months leading up to an election, while Germany > outlaws content featuring Nazi paraphernalia.
> In the first half of this year alone, Google said it received more than 1,700 court
> orders and other requests from government agencies around the world to remove more > than 17,700 different pieces of content from its services.
> The company rejects many of these demands. For instance, Google says it complied
> with less than half of the US court orders and government orders take down nearly > 4,200 pieces of content from January through June.
> ITEM 3a: Benny Avni: Israel’s dilemma. If Hamas won’t say ‘uncle’ . . .
> [] > Last Updated: 11:54 PM, November 16, 2012
> Posted: 10:56 PM, November 16, 2012
> Even as Israel boasted impressive military gains against Hamas in Gaza, it struggled > yesterday to maintain the original, limited goals of its operation.
> Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet approved the mobilization of 75,000
> reservists – enough for a major land invasion of Gaza. But that was mostly a signal
> to Hamas that much pain awaits Gazans if their leaders keep firing rockets at Israel.
> In devising the goals of Operation Pillar of Defense, the Cabinet rejected ambitious
> ideas like forcing regime change in Gaza (which would require invading the strip’s
> major cities), or even permanently ending the missile threat (which would require > occupying the Rafah area and battling Egypt, which rules it).
> Instead, the idea was to achieve a couple of years – even months – of calm. “We
> need to restore our deterrence capabilities and eliminate Hamas’ long-range missiles,” > Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s Channel 1 TV last night.
> And so, the Israeli Defense Force killed Hamas’ military commander Ahmed Jaabari
> on Wednesday, and followed up with a major aerial and naval assault on Gaza’s arsenal > of long-range missiles.
> But Israel by and large achieved its modest goals in the first 48 hours of the operation > – yet Hamas refuses to cry “uncle.”
> Yesterday, the IDF killed the commander of Hamas’ anti-tank unit, Abu Jalla. Officials
> also disclosed the IDF destruction of eight Gaza hangars where the locals (with > Iranian backing) were trying to build drones.
> Hamas took major hits, but it wasn’t knocked out. Hundreds of short- and mid-range > missiles remain and were shot at Israel’s southern cities all day.
> Some longer-range ones, too: One fell in the sea near Tel Aviv, another near Jerusalem, > triggering air-defense sirens in the capital for the first time in 40 years.
> Israel’s elaborate defenses, including Iron Dome (the US-backed anti-missile system),
> minimized the damage and significantly improved the country’s ability to sustain > this asymmetrical warfare.
> But how long will this go on?
> That now depends on Hamas.
> Desperate to show “success,” Hamas spread false rumors yesterday about hitting an
> Israeli F-16 fighter jet and IDF drones. Gazans celebrated these “victories” in > the streets, even while dreading the misery awaiting them if Israel invades.
> Meanwhile, Hamas continued launching missiles – 70 of them yesterday afternoon,
> after the IDF paused its firing for an hour while Egypt’s prime minister, Hisham > Qandil, conducted a solidarity visit in Gaza.
> In Cairo, President Mohamed Morsi started hinting that Egypt might end all relations
> with Israel for its “crimes” in Gaza. Nevertheless, leaders in world capitals looked > for him to negotiate a ceasefire.
> UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plans to visit Tel Aviv and Cairo on Tuesday. And > Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan intends to visit Cairo today.
> Erdogan, a long-time Hamas supporter, may also pop up in Gaza. Rather than calm
> hotheads there, such a visit will likely increase Hamas’ desperate search for blood > – either in Israel or in Gaza itself.
> To date, the IDF has managed to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza, preventing
> an unfair but inevitable world chorus pontificating against “disproportionate” > Israeli response to terrorism.
> Fear of such rebuke was one reason Netanyahu set modest goals for the military operation.
> Government spokesmen say that if Hamas asks a cease-fire, they’ll weigh the request.
> But Hamas is badly hurt and its leaders are desperate. Morsi, Erdogan et al. either
> can’t or won’t force Gaza’s rulers to accept defeat in order to prevent further > bloodshed.
> Wouldn’t it be great if there was an influential world leader with enough clout
> to lean on Cairo and Ankara to convince Hamas to cry uncle? Say, in a white house > somewhere near the Potomac?
> ITEM 4a: Richard Baehr: Israel’s collateral damage problem. So far, the death toll
> is 47, most of them children. There is great anger in Egypt.
> This death toll is not from Israel’s air attacks on Hamas’ weapons facilities, rocket
> launching pads and offices. It is instead the toll from a horrific collision Saturday
> between a schoolbus filled with children ages 4 to 6 and a speeding train that may > have carried the bus for as much as a kilometer after the crash.
> For more than a year, the civil war raging in Syria has resulted in over 30,000
> deaths, with many thousands of them civilian deaths. On several days, the death
> count in the Syrian fighting (much of it from the Syrian air force bombing its own > people) exceeded 100 in 24 hours.
> Of course, neither the train accident in Egypt nor the savagery in Syria generates
> large photos on page one of The Washington Post showing a distraught father holding
> his dead infant in Gaza. Certain Arab deaths matter much more than others – and
> the ones that matter most are the civilian casualties that the media sees fit to
> blame on Israeli attacks. These Arab deaths, and the human rights messaging that
> goes with them, can be used to pressure Western governments to lean on Israel to > accept a cease-fire before Israel has achieved its military goals.
> Just as in 2006. at the start of the war with Hezbollah, and in 2008, in the initial
> days of Israel’s effort against Hamas in Gaza, now, in the early days of the current
> conflict, Israel is winning support from the U.S., and from major Western nations
> as it responds to the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza aimed at killing and
> terrorizing its civilian population, first only in the south but now a broader area > that includes Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
> In the two prior efforts, the calls for a cease-fire grew as Israel’s military effort
> grew stronger. After weeks of airstrikes in Lebanon, the eventual ground invasion
> began to shift the strategic landscape. It was at this point that the clarion calls
> about the wanton destruction of southern Lebanon and civilian casualties grew much
> stronger. The reality was that in the in first days of the ground invasion Israel
> killed hundreds of Hezbollah fighters and dealt a tough blow to the organization.
> But media reports did not distinguish between Hezbollah and others killed, they > merely emphasized the total body count.
> So too in Operation Cast Lead, in 2008-9, the great majority of those killed in
> Gaza were Hamas fighters, but the total death toll was the news story, with the
> perception left by the international media that most of the dead were civilians.
> Due to the callous nature in which both Hezbollah and Hamas fight – effectively
> welcoming civilian casualties by locating their rocket launching operations in
> populated areas – it is inevitable that regardless of the precision of Israel’s
> air strikes, there will be collateral damage. Israeli efforts to warn civilians
> of coming attacks are disregarded by its critics, as are the instances when Israel
> passes on a bombing target due to the likelihood of significant civilian casualties.
> One such “pass” on a Fajr 5 rocket led to its subsequent launch directed at Tel > Aviv this week.
> Of course, the rockets fired by Hamas at Israel’s cities are designed to kill Israeli
> civilians. But this does not matter in the public relations arena, since most of
> the rockets miss their targets (or are destroyed by interceptors fired from the
> Iron Dome batteries). What matters is that many more Palestinians are killed by
> Israel in these conflicts than Israelis are killed by Hamas (or Hezbollah). This
> “disproportionality” in the body count causes great anguish in the international
> community and with its media voices. A greater number of Jewish dead would be more
> “fair,” to use the vernacular. For the first time in history, a nation at war is
> told to pull its punches, and is condemned because it has been successful in keeping
> its own side safe, and for doing a good job of destroying enemy combatants. Wars
> tend to produce fewer civilian casualties when they are won quickly and decisively.
> There is now word that U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Prime Minister Benjamin
> Netanyahu against launching a ground invasion of Gaza. The advice centers around
> the concern that a protracted conflict will benefit Hamas, put more pressure on
> the leaders of both Egypt and Jordan to separate from Israel, and, of course, create > greater numbers of civilian casualties.
> For Israel, the problem is that if the rocket issue is not addressed, then inevitably
> it will continue and become a bigger strategic threat, as Hamas’ strategic capabilities
> improve. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Israel’s confidence that Egypt will make
> some effort to control the border region with Gaza and maintain security in Sinai, > have been eliminated.
> Hamas used to be a novice in the rocket and missile department compared to Hezbollah.
> But this is no longer the case. And while Hezbollah has some checks on its freedom
> to operate against Israel, as a political party (albeit a dominant one) in Lebanon,
> Hamas has no such constraints. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, now the governing
> party in Egypt, are tied at the hip. Egypt is now closer to Hamas than it is to
> the Palestinian Authority. The visit by Qatar’s leader to Gaza broke the ice, and
> has been followed by visits from Egyptian officials. More will follow from other
> Arab countries. Hamas is no longer politically isolated – it is now part of the > mainstream as a result of the dislocations created during the “Arab Spring.”
> Israel has its objectives in the current Gaza campaign. Short of the removal of
> Hamas from control, which would likely mean a new military occupation, Israel will
> inevitably have to rely on promises from Hamas and its partners to see an end to
> the rocket fire on its cities and towns. Given the importance of dignity in the
> Arab world, and the need for Hamas to avoid the appearance of having succumbed
> to Israel, it is hard to see how any such promise will be made, or if made, be kept.
> More likely will be some announced cease-fire, with no explicit public promises
> about future activity. And of course, since the only real industrial activity in
> Gaza is rocket making, it will continue. So too, will the smuggling of more sophisticated > Iranian weaponry into the Gaza Strip.
> For the real problem is that Hamas exists to see Israel destroyed. That may well
> be the real motivation for the Palestinian Authority as well, though at times it
> puts on a more ambiguous face in international forums. As long as Hamas is in control
> of Gaza, Israel will have a growing problem. If Israel launches a major ground operation
> and does not seek to dislodge Hamas, it is not clear what long-term relief Israel
> would receive from the intermittent and now more powerful long-range rocket fire.
> It is also certain that such a ground operation, even if it did not seek the overthrow
> of Hamas but was part of an effort to destroy more of Hamas’ rocketing capability,
> would result in significant civilian casualties and the increased likelihood of > the war expanding to a second front.
> My guess is that Israel will not take this step. It has bigger fish to fry in coming
> months, and dealing directly with Iran, rather than with its surrogates, may be
> the place where Israel will need greater reservoirs of international support, support > that may not be there if the Gaza operation becomes uglier.
> ITEM 5a: Karin Brulliard, Abigail Hauslohner: Israel keeps pounding Gaza by air,
> says it intercepted missile fired by Hamas at Tel Aviv
> [] > Updated: Saturday, November 17, 5:45 PM
> JERUSALEM – Israel’s four-day-old air offensive in the Gaza Strip expanded to target
> Hamas government buildings on Saturday and Palestinian militants continued firing
> a torrent of rockets at civilian areas in southern Israel as both sides stepped > up diplomatic efforts to win support.
> Israeli airstrikes over Gaza accelerated to nearly 200 early in the day, including
> one hit that reduced the offices of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to a smoldering
> concrete heap. That strike, along with others on a police headquarters and smuggling
> tunnels along the strip’s southern border with Egypt, raised questions about whether
> Israel had broadened its mission to including toppling the Hamas government that > rules the coastal strip.
> At least five Israelis were wounded in a rocket attack on the city of Ashdod on
> Saturday, according to a police spokesman. Following those attacks, the military > deployed an ‘Iron Dome’ rocket defense battery in central Israel on Saturday.
> Just before sundown, Hamas said it had fired an Iranian-made Fajr-5 rocket at Tel
> Aviv, and air raid sirens sounded in that city for the third day in a row. The Israeli
> military said its newly deployed missile defense battery intercepted the rocket > before it landed in the populous coastal city.
> Even as airstrikes pounded the area Saturday morning, the foreign minister of Tunisia’s
> Islamist-led government, Rafik Abdessalem, arrived in Gaza with a delegation, underscoring
> Hamas’s newfound credibility in a region dramatically altered by the Arab Spring.
> Abdessalem expressed outrage at what he called Israeli “aggression” and pledged > to unite with other Arab countries to end the conflict.
> In Cairo, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, whose prime minister visited Gaza on
> Friday, held meetings with Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the
> emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani – both Hamas supporters – to discuss
> what Morsi and other regional leaders have promised will be a more robust response
> to Israel’s actions than during past conflicts. By Saturday night, rumors of Morsi,
> Erdogan and Hamas chairman Khaled Meshal hashing out a cease-fire plan were swirling > but unconfirmed.
> Also in Cairo, the Arab League held an emergency meeting of foreign ministers to
> discuss a response to the conflict. Many participants called for Arab assistance
> to the Palestinians and a “reconsideration” of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
> But it was unclear if the usually ineffectual league would deliver decisive action > by the end of its summit.
> Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, took his country’s case to
> European leaders. In conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the
> prime ministers of Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic, Netanyahu argued that
> “no country in the world would agree to a situation in which its population lives
> under a constant missile threat,” according to an Israeli government statement.
> The government announced that it was launching a special operations center for public > diplomacy, centered on “the unified message that Israel is under fire.”
> The White House reiterated its support for the Israeli operation, which the military
> says is intended to stop rocket fire that has escalated in the four years since
> Israel last invaded Gaza to stunt attacks by Hamas, an Islamist movement that Israel > and the United States consider a terrorist group.
> “Israelis have endured far too much of a threat from these rockets for far too long,”
> Ben Rhodes, a deputy U.S. national security adviser, told reporters traveling with
> President Obama to Asia. Rhodes declined to comment on the Israelis’ choice of targets,
> but he said White House officials “always underscore the importance of avoiding > civilian casualties.”
> The death toll in Gaza rose to 45 by Saturday evening, Health Ministry officials
> said. Three Israelis have been killed by rocket fire from Gaza since the operation
> began. An Israeli military spokesman said about 130 rockets were fired from Gaza
> at Israel on Saturday, 30 of which were intercepted by a missile defense system > known as Iron Dome.
> At least five Israelis were wounded in a rocket attack on the city of Ashdod on
> Saturday, according to a police spokesman. Following those attacks, the military > deployed an ‘Iron Dome’ rocket defense battery in central Israel on Saturday.
> Israel made preparations this week for a possible ground invasion, but there were > no further signs of one coming on Saturday.
> Israel: No shift in mission
> The Israeli airstrikes, which continued to target rocket-launching sites and weapons
> depots, slowed throughout the day, even as Israel appeared to be channeling new
> efforts toward Hamas civilian institutions. Capt. Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military
> spokesman, said the strikes were “part of our overarching goal of toppling Hamas’s > command and control capabilities” and did not mark a shift in mission.
> Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, was apparently not at his office when it was > hit.
> According to the newspaper Haaretz, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the > “goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.”
> That is how it felt to Hossam and Sanaa al-Dadah, two teachers who had the misfortune
> of living next door to a house the Israeli military said belonged to a Hamas commander.
> At 6 a.m., the family’s windows shattered and their walls burst open. The adjacent
> house, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, had been demolished in an airstrike, and suddenly > theirs was ruined, too.
> In the terrifying moments that followed, Hossam al-Dadah, 50, frantically dug his
> five children out of the rubble, and a few hours later, they had been taken away
> to their grandparents’ home. But a dust-caked Sanaa, 40, rushed from room to room,
> crying and gathering her children’s clothing, school bags and dolls and placing > them on a sheet.
> Israel says Hamas operates in populated areas to use civilians as human shields,
> and it has dropped thousands of leaflets over Gaza warning civilians to stay away > from Hamas operatives. Sanaa said she never got the message.
> “Where are we going to go?” she said again and again. “The Israelis are responsible.
> They are the enemy of God. What did we do? Did we carry any missiles? Did we launch > any rockets?”
> Outside the house, children played insouciantly in rubble and scorched cars. Rami
> Mukayed, a 12-year-old in gray trousers, said he reserved his fear for darkness.
> “At night, come see me, I’m panicked,” he said. “I play in the morning. I hide in > the evening.”
> Effect on peace process
> In a speech in Cairo, Erdogan said the Gaza conflict called for a new era of Egyptian-Turkish > cooperation.
> “If Turkey and Egypt unite, everybody will be singing of peace in the region,” he
> said. “And if we stick together, the region will no longer be dominated by crying > and weeping.”
> Speakers at the Arab League meeting made the same argument.
> “We can no longer accept empty meetings and meaningless resolutions,” said Arab
> League chief Nabil Elaraby, addressing the assembly at the start of the meeting. > He urged Arab states to adopt a “strict stance” on the conflict.
> Issandr El Amrani, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations
> who heads a blog called the Arabist, said the Gaza standoff has presented the new
> Arab Spring governments and other regional heavyweights an opportunity to reconsider
> their position on Israel and the peace process in a series of talks that could have > long-term regional implications.
> For years, the Arab League has floated a proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace
> deal that Israel never took seriously, Amrani said. Arab states might now choose
> to drop that proposal and adopt more aggressive approaches – Egypt could revise
> the terms of its peace treaty with Israel; Arab states might consider providing
> covert aid to Hamas; and others will amplify the pressure on Israel through diplomatic > corridors, he said.
> By Saturday night, despite mounting rhetorical and symbolic support to Gaza’s Hamas
> leadership, the Arab ministers’ meeting had announced plans to send a delegation
> to Gaza but had stopped short of pledging immediate material support to Hamas.
> “I’ve seen a lot of talk about doing something and how there’s a collective Arab
> responsibility to act,” Amrani said, “but no one has suggested anything concrete.”
> ITEM 6a: Thomas Joscelyn: The ‘Hybrid View’ of Benghazi
> [] > 2:30 PM, NOV 17, 2012
> The Washington Post reports that “the CIA and other intelligence analysts have settled
> on what amounts to a hybrid view” of September 11, 2012, “suggesting that the Cairo
> protest sparked militants in Libya, who quickly mobilized an assault on U.S. facilities > in Benghazi.”
> What the Post doesn’t say is that the Cairo protest was itself an al Qaeda-infused, > if not outright orchestrated, event.
> The “hybrid” explanation is a compromise, of sorts, between two competing narratives.
> The first suggested that a protest against an anti-Islam film in Benghazi led to
> a “spontaneous” assault on the US consulate there. We know that version isn’t true
> because there never was any protest in Benghazi. The second narrative points to
> a terrorist attack. The weaponry involved in the assault, the sophistication of
> the operation and, most importantly, the involvement of al Qaeda-linked terrorists > all buttress this second version.
> While there was no film protest in Benghazi, however, there are reasons to suspect
> that the events in Egypt and Libya on Sept. 11 are linked. But that link isn’t an
> anti-Islam film. They are linked by the fact that known al Qaeda-affiliated individuals > were directly involved in both.
> It is not a coincidence that an al Qaeda flag was raised in the place of the stars
> and stripes in Cairo, or that protesters chanted: “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!”
> Keep in mind, too, that al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri has cited the Cairo protest,
> along with the attack in Benghazi and a similar protest in Yemen, as “defeats” for > the U.S.
> Let’s look at the key personalities involved in Cairo protest. The following four
> individuals attended the protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and helped > to incite protesters.
> Mohammed al Zawahiri – He is the younger brother of Ayman al Zawahiri. He admittedly
> helped organize the Cairo protest. While Mohammed al Zawahiri has been coy about
> his ties to the al Qaeda organization, he has openly professed his adherence to
> al Qaeda’s ideology. And U.S. intelligence officials contacted by THE WEEKLY STANDARD
> say there is strong evidence he remains “operationally” involved in the terror network.
> Rifai Ahmed Taha Musa – He was a leader of Gamaa Islamiyya (IG), a designated terrorist
> organization with numerous ties to al Qaeda. Taha Musa was a signatory on al Qaeda’s
> February 1998 fatwa justifying terrorist attacks against American civilians. Taha
> Musa later claimed that he did not sign the fatwa, but his al Qaeda ties are beyond
> dispute. He appeared in 2000 video sitting between Osama bin Laden and Ayman al
> Zawahiri. The three called for the spiritual head of the IG, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman
> (also known as the “Blind Sheikh”), to be freed from prison. Rahman is imprisoned
> in the U.S. for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a follow-on
> plot against New York City landmarks. The Blind Sheikh is still revered by al Qaeda.
> Taha Musa is Rahman’s longtime terrorist accomplice, and has compiled an extensive > dossier of violence.
> In a recent interview, Taha Musa openly praised Ayman al Zawahiri and says he should > be allowed to return to Egypt.
> Sheikh ‘Adel Shehato – Egyptian authorities arrested Shehato and accused him of
> founding the Nasr City terrorist cell. That cell hasn’t received much attention
> in the American press, but Egyptian authorities have alleged that its members were
> involved in the Benghazi attack. Shehato is an official in Egyptian Islamic Jihad
> (EIJ), a terrorist organization headed by Ayman al Zawahiri that long ago merged
> with al Qaeda. Mohammed al Zawahiri also belongs to the EIJ. Shehato has openly > proclaimed his allegiance to al Qaeda’s ideology.
> Sheikh Tawfiq Al ‘Afani – He is also an EIJ official. Along with the three jihadists
> listed above, he was released from prison following the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s
> regime. Al ‘Afani openly praises al Qaeda in his public lectures. During the Cairo
> protest, Al ‘Afani repeated the widely heard refrain: “O Obama, we are all Osama…”
> All four of the individuals mentioned above attended the Cairo protest and helped > incite protesters.
> A fifth senior jihadist who helped incite protests in Cairo is Ahmed ‘Ashoush, who
> is so liked by Ayman al Zawahiri that al Qaeda includes clips of ‘Ashoush in its > official productions regularly.
> While we don’t know for certain if ‘Ashoush personally attended the 9/11 protest
> in Cairo, he definitely stirred anti-American anger in Egypt. On September 16,
> less than a week after the protest at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, ‘Ashoush released
> a fatwa online calling for the makers of the film “Innocence of Muslims” to be killed.
> After ‘Ashoush’s fatwa was released, the Associated Press reported that he is an
> “al Qaeda-linked Egyptian jihadist…who was believed close to Osama bin Laden > and al Qaeda’s current No. 1, Ayman al Zawahiri.”
> And then there is the case of Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmed), yet another
> EIJ official who has been tied directly to the attack in Benghazi. Egyptian authorities
> have said that Jamal is a leader of the Nasr City cell, the same one founded by > Sheikh Shehato.
> Jamal established terrorist camps in eastern Libya. Both the Wall Street Journal
> and the New York Times have reported that terrorists trained in Jamal’s Libyan
> camps took part in the assault in Benghazi. The Wall Street Journal also reported
> that Jamal “petitioned” Ayman al Zawahiri for permission to set up his own al Qaeda
> affiliate and that Jamal received financing from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula > (AQAP).
> In 2007, Jamal, who was then imprisoned, signed a statement rebutting a critique
> of al Qaeda’s ideology. Mohammed al Zawahiri, Sheikh Tawfiq al ‘Afani, and Ahmed
> ‘Ashoush also signed the statement in support of al Qaeda. And it just so happens > that all four men were directly involved in the events of this past September.
> So, there is something to the “hybrid view” of September 11, 2012. But that something > points to al Qaeda.
> Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
> ITEM 7a: AP: France welcomes Syrian ambassador from opposition, in bid for support
> for new coalition
> [] > Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2:49 PM
> PARIS – France on Saturday welcomed a member of the Syrian opposition as the country’s
> ambassador, a bold bid to confer legitimacy on the week-old opposition coalition > and encourage other Western nations to follow suit.
> The new envoy, Mounzir Makhous, appeared before the press after talks at France’s
> presidential palace between President Francois Hollande and the head of the newly > formed Syrian opposition coalition.
> France has swiftly stepped out ahead of Western allies nearly since the start of
> the Syrian uprising 20 months ago. Saturday’s surprise announcement came even before
> the brand new coalition has named its provisional government and before a place > in Paris to house the envoy has been found.
> “There will be an ambassador of Syria in France,” Hollande announced. France expelled > its Syrian ambassador in May, along with more a half-dozen other countries.
> Mouaz Al-Khatib, the opposition leader, described Makhous as “one of the first to
> speak of liberty” in Syria. He holds four doctorate degrees and belongs to the Muslim
> Alawite sect of President Bashar Assad, demonstrating an effort to reach out to > all of Syria’s people, al-Khatib said.
> France recognized the coalition days after it was formed last Sunday – and so far > is the only Western country to do so.
> France also took the lead in backing the Libyan opposition that ultimately ousted
> leader Moammar Gadhafi, and flew the first mission of the international coalition > providing air support to Libyan rebels.
> There is widespread fear that without a legitimate opposition force the civil war
> in Syria could degenerate into sectarian battles pitting community upon community.
> But, the United States and other EU nations have said they prefer to wait and see
> whether the coalition truly represents the variety of people that make up Syria > before they recognize it.
> Al-Khatib suggested that a provisional government made up of technocrats would come
> quickly, a move that would allow the ambassador to take up his functions. A military
> command is also being formed and a coordination center devoted to humanitarian aid > will be set up in Cairo.
> “”I say frankly that we have no hidden agenda. There are no hidden accords, no
> hidden decisions were made,” al-Khatib said in a bid to reassure other nations.
> “Our role will end as soon as this regime falls. The Syrian people can then decide
> in all freedom the democratic institutions, the form of constitutional regime that > they want,” he said. “The people can take their decisions freely.”
> A Syrian government official dismissed Makhous’ appointment, saying it was made
> at the behest of France. “If France has appointed him, then he is a French ambassador, > not a Syrian one,” he said.
> The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he > was not authorized to comment publicly on the subject.
> More than 36,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising against President
> Bashar Assad began in March 2011 and the new coalition is pressing for the means > to defend Syrian civilians.
> On Saturday, Syrian rebels took control of the Hamdan airport in the oil-rich province
> of Deir el-Zour along the border with Iraq after days of heavy fighting with Assad’s
> forces, Rami Abdul-Rahman, the chief of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for > Human Rights, said.
> The airport, near the border town of al-Boukamal, has been turned into a military > base during Syria’s 20 months of conflict.
> Rebels had been making advances in al-Boukamal for weeks. On Thursday, they seized
> control of the military security building and a military checkpoint at the edge > of the border town.
> Separately, six people were killed and several were wounded when a mortar round
> hit a Damascus suburb of Jaramana, state-run SANA news agency reported. The agency
> said blamed the attack on terrorists, a term the regime uses for rebels, fighting > to topple Assad.
> In Paris, security for the visit of al-Khatib and his delegation was particularly
> tight, with sharpshooters on the rooftops of buildings facing the Elysee Palace > courtyard where Hollande and al-Khatib spoke to reporters.
> Hollande also confirmed that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will raise the
> issue of lifting the EU arms embargo against Syria at a meeting Monday in Brussels > among European Union foreign ministers.
> Fabius has suggested supplying defensive weapons so Syrian rebels can protect themselves
> from attacks by Assad’s regime. Since May 2011, the EU has imposed a ban on the
> export of weapons and equipment to Syria that could be used for “internal repression.” > Fabius will also press EU partners to recognize the coalition, Hollande said.
> Hollande said al-Khatib reassured him that the coalition he leads seeks unity of
> the Syrian people and the French aim in moving quickly is to “assure its legitimacy > and credibility.”
> The coalition replaces the fractious Syrian National Council as the main opposition
> group – also recognized first by France – although that group makes up about a third > of the 60-plus members of the new coalition.
> Al-Khatib met Friday in London with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and > representatives of France, Germany, the United States and Turkey and Qatar.
> ITEM 8a: AP: Russia expands treason law, critics say now anyone who dissents can
> be branded a traitor
> [] > By Associated Press, Published: November 14
> MOSCOW – Adding to fears that the Kremlin aims to stifle dissent, Russians now live
> under a new law expanding the definition of treason so broadly that critics say > it could be used to call anyone who bucks the government a traitor.
> The law took effect Wednesday, just two days after President Vladimir Putin told > his human rights advisory council that he was ready to review it.
> His spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies Wednesday that Putin would
> be willing to review the treason law if its implementation reveals “some problems > or aspects restricting rights and freedoms.”
> But what Putin might consider a problem is unclear. His opponents say a series of
> measures enacted since Putin returned to the Kremlin in May for a third term show > he is determined to intimidate and suppress dissidents.
> One recent measure imposes a huge increase in potential fines for participants in
> unauthorized demonstrations. Another requires non-governmental organizations to
> register as foreign agents if they both receive money from abroad and engage in
> political activity. And another gives sweeping power to authorities to ban websites > under a procedure critics denounce as opaque.
> After fraud-tainted parliamentary elections last December, an unprecedented wave
> of protest arose, with some demonstrations attracting as many as 100,000 people.
> Putin still won the March presidential election handily, but the protests boldly
> challenged his image as the strongman Russia needs to achieve stability and prosperity.
> Under the new law, anyone who without authorization possesses information deemed
> a state secret – whether a politician, a journalist, an environmentalist or a union > leader – could potentially be jailed for up to 20 years for espionage.
> While the previous law described high treason as espionage or other assistance to
> a foreign state that damages Russia’s external security, the new legislation expands
> the definition by dropping the word “external.” Activities that fall under it include
> providing help or advice to a foreign state or giving information to an international > or foreign organization.
> The definition is so broad that rights advocates say it could be used as a driftnet > to sweep up all inconvenient figures.
> “I believe this law is very dangerous,” said human rights council member Liliya
> Shibanova, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. Shibanova also heads Golos, Russia’s > only independent elections watchdog group.
> “If, for example, I pass on information about alleged poll violations to a foreign > journalist, this could be considered espionage,” she said.
> “It’s very broad and it’s very dangerous,” Rachel Denber, deputy director of Human > Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, told The Associated Press.
> She said it’s not clear yet how vigorously Russian authorities will enforce the
> bill, but says it recreates a “sense of paranoia and suspicion and uneasiness about > foreigners.”
> Putin has repeatedly dismissed opposition leaders as pawns of the West and once
> accused U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of instigating protesters to weaken > Russia.
> Russia expands treason law, critics say now anyone who dissents can be branded a > traitor
> (RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service/ Associated Press ) –
> In this Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 photo Russian President Vladimir Putin heads a meeting
> in Moscow. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signaled his readiness to review
> new bills seen by critics as part of the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent. Putin promised
> at a meeting with the presidential rights council late Monday to have another look
> at a treason bill, which was passed by the Kremlin-controlled lower house last month.
> Critics said the bill is worded so vaguely that it would allow the government to > brand any dissenter a traitor.
> The law, which was drafted by the Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor
> agency known under its Russian acronym of FSB, also introduced a punishment of up
> to eight years for simply getting hold of state secrets illegally even if they aren’t > passed to foreign hands.
> The FSB explained in a statement run by the ITAR-Tass news agency that the new clause
> better protects confidential information. It said the previous law, which dated
> back to the 1960s, failed to provide efficient deterrence against foreign spies.
> “Tactics and methods of foreign special services have changed, becoming more subtle
> and disguised as legitimate actions,” the spy agency said. “Claims about a possible
> twist of spy mania in connection with the law’s passage are ungrounded and based > exclusively on emotions.”
> Tamara Morshchakova, a former Constitutional Court judge, told the presidential
> rights council meeting Monday that the new law is so broad the FSB no longer needs
> to provide proof that a suspect inflicted actual damage to the nation’s security.
> “Their goal was simple: We have few traitors, it’s difficult to prove their guilt,
> so it’s necessary to expand it,” Morshchakova said. “Now they don’t have to prove > it any more. An opinion of law enforcement agencies would suffice.”
> The revised treason bill first came up in 2008, under then-President Dmitry Medvedev, > who quickly shelved the bill after an outburst of public criticism.
> Medvedev, now prime minister, was seen as more reform- and compromise-inclined than
> Putin and initially raised tepid hopes that Russia would turn away from the domineering
> policies of Putin’s first two terms as president. But Medvedev was a comparatively > weak leader and stepped aside to allow Putin to run for another term.
> Now “there is an effort to recreate an old sense of fear,” Denber of Human Rights
> Watch said, adding that the new legislation was apparently aimed at discouraging
> Russians from joining protests. “One of the aims is surely to never have that happen
> again and to demonize any … people or organization that might be associated with > that.”
> Along with the series of tough measures enacted this year, Moscow in October ended
> the U.S. Agency for International Development’s two decades of work in Russia, saying
> the agency was using its money to influence Russian elections – a claim the U.S. > denied.
> Denber said her group already felt a new chill on a recent visit to one of Russia’s
> Siberian provinces while doing a research on health care. Local officials demanded
> to know who invited them, who paid for the trip and the names of the group’s local > contacts.
> “It was very hard. It was an echo of a different time,” she said.
> ITEM 9a: WALL STREET JOURNAL: House Passes Russia Trade Bill, With a Condition
> [] > November 16, 2012, 2:45 p.m. ET
> WASHINGTON-The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Friday to end
> a long-standing trade restriction with Russia, a move that could prevent discrimination > against U.S. companies as Russia enters the World Trade Organization.
> Yet Moscow denounced the trade bill’s passage and vowed to retaliate, since it included
> a measure targeting alleged Russian human-rights abusers. The provision, known as
> the Magnitsky Act, allows the seizure of property from these people and prevents > their travel to the U.S.
> The Senate is likely to pass similar legislation before the end of the year, congressional
> leadership aides from both parties said. The House voted 365-43 in favor of the > trade bill, with backing from both Democrats and Republicans.
> Powerful business groups including the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber
> of Commerce have been lobbying hard for passage of the bill, which the Peterson
> Institute for International Economics estimates could double U.S. exports to Russia-currently
> its 20th-largest trading partner-within five years. Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a senior
> fellow at the think tank, has warned that continued inaction could cost U.S. companies > as much as $1 billion a year, or about a month’s worth of exports.
> Lawmakers said the agreement would not only boost trade with Russia but also ensure
> that U.S. firms are protected from unfair practices. The deal has mechanisms to
> “hold Russia’s feet to the fire, if I might say so, in terms of their meeting their
> obligations,” Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and > Means Committee, said during floor debate.
> The bill scraps the Jackson-Vanik provision, which places trade restrictions on
> any country that tries to prevent its citizens from emigrating. Drafted in 1974
> at the height of the Cold War, it was aimed squarely at Russia. Congress has acted
> every year for the last two decades to remove the restrictions. With Russia’s accession
> to the WTO in August, the U.S. is obliged to permanently remove the trade barriers.
> If lawmakers fail to do so, American companies could be placed at a competitive
> disadvantage to other countries’ exporters seeking to access the growing Russian > market because Moscow could slap tariffs on American products.
> Advances in trade relations between the countries could still be offset by the Magnitsky
> Act, which is aimed in part at punishing those responsible for the death of Sergei
> Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and whistleblower who died in prison after receiving > inadequate medical care.
> The U.S. House move represents an “unfriendly and provocative attack,” the Russian
> Foreign Ministry said Thursday. “Retaliatory measures will follow from our side > without fail, and the responsibility for that lies solely with the U.S.”
> The Obama administration was initially opposed to attaching the human-rights measure
> to the trade package out of concern over Russia’s opposition to it. But in the face
> of staunch opposition from Democratic lawmakers, the administration dropped its > plea not to include the language.
> A group of Democratic senators led by Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) wants to expand
> the human-rights language to cover abusers living anywhere abroad and plan to press
> their change when the Senate takes up the Russia trade bill. Leadership aides expect > the Cardin changes will fail.
> Business groups including the National Association of Manufacturers have said the > measure will help bolster U.S. firms at a time of moderate economic recovery.
> “It is time for Congress to pass [the] legislation so manufacturers can fully enjoy
> the new opportunities and legal protections from Russia’s World Trade Organization > membership,” said Greg Slater, director of global trade at Intel.
> ITEM 10a: Lilia Shevtsova, David Kramer: Germany and Russia: The End of Ostpolitik?
> [] > November 13, 2012
> Germany’s role in the ongoing Euro crisis is a reminder of its economic superpower
> status in Europe. But Germany plays another leading role: defining European policy
> toward Russia. Brussels and other European capitals often follow Germany’s lead
> when it comes to dealing with Russia. And with the United States distracted with
> its recent election and other priorities, and with the reset not what it used to
> be, Germany’s role in defining the “Eastern strategy”-and specifically the agenda
> toward Russia-is likely to increase (even if Berlin tries to keep a low profile).
> Until recently, the German-Russian relationship was viewed as the model of a happy,
> albeit weird, marriage of incompatible bedfellows. No longer: German public opinion
> has grown increasingly critical of Vladimir Putin’s regime and its clampdown on
> human rights and the political opposition. While this shift in public attitude has
> not had a major impact on the official Berlin line, it has reinforced the push by
> some Bundestag deputies, especially the German Greens, the only party that has consistently > raised the issue of human rights in Russia.
> But things have started to change in Berlin. This summer the German special envoy
> for Russia on behalf of the ruling coalition, Andreas Schockenhoff, prepared a critical
> motion on Russia (“The Civil Society and Rule of Law in Russia”), which sought to
> clarify Germany’s position before the high level Russian-German government consultations
> and annual meeting of the St. Petersburg dialogue in November. According to Sueddeutsche
> Zeitung, however, the German Foreign Affairs ministry, headed by the Christian Democrats’
> partner Free Democrats and its leader, Guido Westerwelle, substantially edited the
> motion. In fact, the ministry rewrote the key points, significantly altering the
> main message of the motion. See for yourself. Schockenhoff’s motion started with > the following:
> The German Bundestag seriously worries that Russia will be facing stagnation instead
> of progress on its path toward building an open and modern society due to the deficit > of rule of law, investments and innovation
> The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs changed that to say that Russia is “the key
> and essential partner of Germany and Europe . . . the largest state in the world
> that stretches through two continents . . . and is the crucial energy supplier
> in Europe.” One might almost think this was rewritten by the Russian Ministry of
> Foreign Affairs, not the German one. But there’s more: German diplomats added a
> line stating that global problems could be solved only with Russia’s participation.
> The Foreign Ministry also took out the seemingly innocuous phrase that Germany and
> Russia are “interested in a politically and economically modernized and democratic
> Russia.” Apparently, the ministry did not like the Parliament’s mention of civic
> activism in Russia. They also took out the phrase, “After years of managed democracy
> and apathy a lot of Russians are ready for greater activism in their country,” and
> erased another assertion that the Russian “authorities view politically active citizens
> not as partners, but enemies,” broadening the gap between the authorities and the
> society. While tweaking a Parliamentary motion is not unheard of in German legislative
> history, in this case the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs turned the intent of
> the motion completely upside-down. This provoked a mini-scandal in a country where > the political elite tries to avoid scandals at any price.
> This conflict between Bundestag circles that are critical of the current Russian
> regime and the part of the German government that wants to maintain the status
> quo between Moscow and Berlin got even more complicated when the Russian Ministry
> of Foreign Affairs stuck its nose into the matter, indignantly accusing Schockenhoff
> of making “slanderous accusations.” The Russian ministry was especially offended
> by Schockenhoff’s assertion that Russia was losing influence in the Arab world
> and declared that it was not going to deal with Schockenhoff anymore! This turned
> out to be too much even for those whose were trying to be accommodating toward Moscow.
> The Russian ministry’s clumsy and heavy-handed interference escalated emotions in
> Berlin and simultaneously bolstered those who have been more critical of the Kremlin.
> Consequently, it was not only the German Greens who were calling for a much tougher
> line with respect to the Kremlin; members of the ruling coalition started to distance
> themselves from their previous softness toward Moscow, a position that the Russian
> opposition has viewed as “appeasement.” Even the German Social Democrats, known
> for their more than accommodating attitude toward Putin personally, have started
> to feel uneasy and are distancing themselves from the views of their leading Russia
> expert, Gernot Erler, who has spoken about Russia’s being on a path of “Europeanization.”
> The position of German President Joachim Gauck is worth keeping an eye on. A highly
> respected freedom fighter in the GDR, Gauck appears to have no illusions about what
> is happening in Russia. As a former Stasi ” hunter” and tireless pro-democracy advocate
> who exposed the crimes of the former communist secret police, Gauck and Putin, the
> former KGB agent based in the GDR, have nothing in common. That may be why Gauck
> appears to be in no hurry to meet with Putin on a regular basis, after their only > meeting so far ended on a chilly note.
> What we are seeing unfold in Germany is without precedent. There is a new mood emerging
> in the country and among the German political class reflecting changing views toward
> Putin’s Russia. Before, only the political minority and a handful of marginal politicians
> had the courage to stand up against the “general course” for partnership with the
> Kremlin. Now those calling for a more critical line are seeing their ranks expand > and become part of the mainstream.
> Until recently, Berlin pursued policy toward Russia that we would define as “close
> partnership based on common interests and total rejection of the normative approach.”
> This policy during Gerhard Schroeder’s time acquired the name “Schroederization”,
> which meant avoiding anything that would annoy the Kremlin; we must be close friends.
> Angela Merkel’s rise to power had many hoping that Schroederization would end; on
> her first visit to Russia as Chancellor, she made a big, positive impression when
> she met with civil society and opposition figures, drawing a stark contrast from
> her predecessor. But to a large extent, Scroederization turned into “Merkelization”, > reflecting more continuity than change.
> Why has German policy over the years stubbornly clung to the pursuit of close relations
> with the Kremlin even as German public opinion has become increasingly critical
> of developments inside Russia? Is it motivated by commercial and economic interests?
> Other countries with commercial interests in Russia have escaped the love affair
> with Putin’s Kremlin, and they don’t call the Russian autocrat in the Kremlin an > “impeccable democrat”, as Schroeder did.
> The complicated history between Germany and Russia and German feelings of guilt
> for the Second World War and invasion of the Soviet Union have something to do with
> it. But these don’t explain why German leaders would side with authoritarian rule
> in Russia. Perhaps German idealism (or is it romanticism?) that emerged during the
> early Putin era endures in the hope that Putin could be persuaded to follow a normal
> European path? Recall that in September 2001, Putin’s speech in the Bundestag provoked
> a standing ovation as he represented the embodiment of the new and democratic Russia-or
> so members hoped. But all hopes in the end are delayed disappointments. This is > as true in Russia as anywhere else.
> Gerd Koenen, in his book, Der Russland-Komplex, published at the beginning of the
> Merkel period, wrote about German delusions regarding Russia. He described Berlin’s
> goal as doing everything it could to avoid antagonizing Russia, “even at the expense
> of raising false expectations.” He admitted that in this way Germany became the
> object of Russia’s “world ambitions.” Koenen’s thesis begs the question of why such
> a great European country would conduct itself in such a manner. No less important
> is the question of why the German ruling elite can’t differentiate between Russia > writ large and the Kremlin.
> Perhaps the answers to these questions are not so difficult to find. Influential
> members of the German political and business establishment have been co-opted into
> the Kremlin’s expanding network. Former Chancellor Schroeder is an obvious example,
> but several representatives of the German punditry and elite have become loudspeakers
> for the Kremlin and members of Putin’s business circle, such as Alexander Rahr,
> who happily compares Putin to Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, and former
> Stasi like Mattias Warnig, executive director of the North European Gas Pipeline
> Company, the operator of Gazprom. Indeed, the fact that Putin speaks fluent German
> and lived for several years in the GDR helped him build his network of German friends.
> It is doubtful he could have developed such relations elsewhere. Putin knew hot
> to play to Germany’s ego, saying that “Germany will be the key European distributor > of gas” and “Germany will be a motor for investments.”
> But even this isn’t sufficient to explain the situation. Indeed, one must go back
> in history to “Ostpolitik”, formulated by Willy Brandt and his close adviser Egon
> Bahr on the basis of Bahr’s doctrine of “Change through Rapprochement” in the late
> 1960s/early 1970s, which was largely continued by Helmut Schmidt in the early 1980s.
> Its main goal was normalization of the relationship between the Federal Republic
> of Germany and the GDR. “The policy of all or nothing must be ruled out,” Bahr
> explained in 1963, justifying a new approach of gradual change involving “many steps”
> through rapprochement. The same strategy was soon applied by West Germany to the > Soviet Union.
> While easing tensions between global competitors was a positive development, Brandt’s
> Ostpolitik was based on an idealistic premise: the possibility of provoking positive
> change inside the Communist system through geopolitical rapprochement, which also
> included a hope that both systems would converge. One of Bahr and Brandt’s ideas
> was the creation of a body that would coordinate between NATO and the Warsaw pact.
> This model of transformation was doomed from the very beginning; the communist system
> proved to be unreformable. In retrospect, judging by the outcomes of this policy,
> one can say that it helped prolong the life of the Socialist “Commonwealth” through
> its dialogue with the West (and especially West Germany). The global Communist system
> and the Soviet Union did not change gradually under external influence; they eventually > collapsed!
> Schroederization emerged from Brandt-Bahr’s Ostpolitik. Recall that one of the key
> elements of Brandt’s policy toward Russia was a “gas for pipelines” deal suggested
> by Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatolii Gromyko during his visit to Hanover
> in 1969. Leonid Brezhnev energetically supported the idea and even ordered the buildup
> of a special secret channel of communication between Moscow and West Berlin that
> allowed the two sides to talk despite the global tensions of those times. Gradually,
> the Federal Republic of Germany became a trusted partner of the Soviet Union and > often lobbied Moscow’s interests within the NATO alliance.
> “Gas diplomacy” and the crucial role of Gazprom and Ruhrgas (with financial support
> from Deutsche Bank) became the foundation of German-Russian relations that survived
> the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of its successor, Russia. The
> philosophy of “change through rapprochement” has been repeated with German leaders > beginning with Helmut Kohl.
> Leading Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier (currently head of the Social Democrat
> faction in the Bundestag) developed the concept of “growing closer by interweaving”
> and initiated Germany’s “Partnership for Modernization” that became part of the
> EU’s agenda for Russia. These are a logical follow-on from the same Ostpolitik.
> During Willy Brandt’s time, Ostpolitik had a “triad” of outcomes (not necessarily
> acknowledged by its architects): easing tensions, solving the energy problem for
> Germany, and helping the Soviet system to survive. Its new reincarnation has dual
> meaning: it helps to solve the German economic agenda (mainly its energy priorities),
> while at the same supporting the Russian system of personalized power. “The current
> German Chancellor,” wrote Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung with bitter irony, “has
> to, clenching her teeth, give Putin her two cheeks, in order not to damage the > energy security of Germany.”
> From Brandt’s Ostpolitik emerged in Germany a solid lobbying group that included
> not only the foreign policy bureaucracy but the commercial and industrial lobby
> (centered around the Ost-Ausschuss, the East Committee). This group shudders at
> the prospect of even the slightest chill in relations with the Kremlin and formed > the basis for “Schroederization-Merkelezation.”
> “The Social Democratic Party has a long tradition of promoting a policy toward Russia
> that is driven by a deep inclination to understand and accept quickly Russia’s deviation
> from Western models of democracy, human rights and civil society,” wrote German
> expert Joerg Himmelreich. Such a policy may not be limited to one party, however.
> “Regardless of who is chancellor, Social Democrat or Christian Democrat, Germany
> has to have a good relationship with the Russian leader,” explained Gernot Erler
> in 2005. “It has got to do with our geography, our history, the wars, the rivalries, > the sensitiveness. It’s about Germany wanting Russia to be part of Europe.”
> The counter to such a view is that Germany should have a good relationship not with
> the totalitarian or authoritarian Kremlin but with Russian society-and the two are
> very different. As long as “good relations” are defined as good relations with Russia’s
> system of personalized power, Russia will never become “part of Europe,” because
> the very existence of personalized power in Russia means a rejection of European
> rules and norms. And the effects are not limited inside Russia’s borders. For example,
> while Germany has succeeded in becoming the key distributor of gas in Europe, it > has paid a steep price in corruption scandals.
> Klaus Manhold, chairman of the East Committee, which has been actively promoting
> business in Russia, likes to say again and again that bringing Russia closer to
> Europe “has been our long term aim.” In reality, the German efforts have helped
> in bringing Putin’s Russia closer to Europe by incorporating the corrupted Russian
> elite into Europe and turning Europe into a laundry machine for Russian money. None > of this has helped Russia become more European.
> Meanwhile, Germany has become the butt of jokes (at least in Russia) due to certain
> Germans’ excessive love for Putin. In 2011, the German organization Werkstatt Deutschland
> decorated Putin with a special prize, “Quadriga”. According to the organizers of
> the prize, Putin deserved a special chapter in the book of history because, like
> Peter the Great, he built a path toward the future(!). Among previous winners of
> the “Quadriga” have been Helmut Kohl, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Vaclav Havel. The
> chairman of the selection committee was Lothar de Maizière, a former East German
> who was a cabinet minister in Kohl’s government but had to resign after coming
> under suspicion of having connections with the Stasi. At the time of the award announcement,
> he served as co-chair of the steering commission of the symposium alongside Viktor > Zubkov, chairman of Gazprom and a confidant of Putin. Enough said.
> Fortunately, the award provoked an outcry in German society, in Russia, and beyond.
> Several German members of the board of Werkstatt Deutschland, among them one of
> the leaders of the Green Party, Cem Ozdemir, as well as a prominent history professor
> from Heidelberg University, Edgar Wolfrum, stepped down from the award’s board of
> trustees. Havel soon followed them and announced he was returning his prize. Embarrassed,
> the German group had to cancel the award “in light of the growing and unbearable
> pressure and the danger of further escalation.” After this, the Kremlin never forgave > Havel and did not even express official condolences when he died.
> To help us understand the changing moods in Germany toward Russia, we turned to
> one of the country’s most thoughtful political analysts, Heinrich Vogel. Here is > what he said:
> No, it’s no love-affair between Berlin and Moscow, it never has been. . . . The
> vast majority of Germans always were skeptical about instant success of “market-democracy”,
> the alleged destiny of mankind in the nineties. They knew first-hand having to integrate > the former GDR.
> The Christian Democrats in Berlin are caught in a true dilemma. Over the last twenty
> years, the Russian market with its undeniable potential attracted sizeable real
> investments from German big and even middle sized businesses who are key to winning
> the next elections to the Bundestag in 2013. This group is worrying about corruption
> in Russia and lack of predictability when they turn to Russian courts. They want
> a clear perspective for their engagement but so far Putin2 blew it. It’s not a > happy partnership.
> But these people are also worried about what they call “politicization” of economic
> relations, i.e. German politicians annoying the Kremlin by speaking out against
> the obvious course of Russian politics, forward towards the past….Obviously politicians
> in Germany on whatever side of the aisle will not stop Mr. Putin from driving his
> country against the next wall by yelling at him. Asking questions, however, when
> and how he intends to make Russia a leading industrial state again (as he has promised)
> will cause additional heat on those in charge as the Russian people will continue
> calling for answers. Modernization only comes in a package with rule of the law, > responsibility and a spirit of freedom.
> As Vogel’s astute analysis reveals, Germans have started to ask questions. On November
> 9, representatives of all key parties in the German Bundestag (with the exception
> of the representative of the Left Party, Wolfgang Gehrcke) voiced sharp criticism
> of political developments in Russia. During the debate, Andreas Schockenhoff did
> not mince words, saying when “democratic freedoms are limited, when the principles
> of the rule of law are undermined, when the repressive tendencies are deepening,
> this . . . creates our deepest concern.” He blasted the Kremlin notion of “modernization”,
> repeating that “all modernization projects in Russia could be implemented only with
> the support of the population.” Instead, we see capital flight and “the creative > class leaving Russia.”
> During the debate, the most critical were the Greens. Their representative, Marieluise
> Beck, received applause when she pointed out that German companies were paying bribes
> for getting juicy contracts from the Kremlin, mentioning Siemens and Daimler in
> particular. Those who are behaving in such a way in Russia, she said, “can’t raise > their voice in defense of the foundations of the rule of law state.”
> Even usually accommodating Social Democrats were forced to change their tone. Their
> representative, Gernot Erler, admitted that the Russian leader had “disappointed
> many who had hopes” and “scared the opposition on all levels of the Russian society.”
> But at the same time, in a sign that old habits die hard, representatives of the
> Social Democrats urged Germany “not to teach” Russia and continue the “equal exchange > of views.”
> On November 9, the Bundestag resolution mentioned in detail Kremlin actions that > constitute a crackdown on human rights and concluded:
> The Bundestag notes with particular concern that since President Vladimir Putin’s
> return to office, legislative and judicial measures have been taken which collectively
> exert increased control over politically active citizens, increasingly criminalise
> critical engagement and set the government on a confrontational course with its > critics.
> The Bundestag, in other words, unequivocally concluded that Putin’s abuses may limit > the possibilities of the bilateral relationship.
> In the end, the resolution that emerged was the result of compromise, and the most
> critical German deputies were not satisfied. Nonetheless, the very fact that the
> debate took place at all is of great significance and marks a shift in Germany’s
> Russia policy. No votes against the resolution were cast, meaning that the German
> political establishment across the political spectrum is increasingly worried about
> the direction in which Putin is taking Russia. This marks the first serious attempt
> to free Germany from the suffocating relationship with the Kremlin and may restore
> respect for the German government and leadership not only among its own civil society,
> but among Russian civil society and opposition, too. As Marieluise Beck noted, “The
> guys from the former KGB sitting in the Kremlin . . . have to be sensitive to our > criticism.”
> In mid-November, delegations from Germany and Russia will meet again for discussion
> of their cooperation. Will Berlin be ready to formulate a new policy based not only
> on interests but values, too? Is the German elite ready to go beyond thinking about
> a short-term tactical agenda? Time will tell, but one thing is apparent: the leadership
> can’t ignore German society’s growing frustration with its policy toward Putin’s
> Russia. Indeed, this rising frustration is not limited to Germany; elsewhere in
> Europe there is a sense that connivance with Putin’s regime must end, as reflected
> in recent resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe criticizing the Kremlin’s
> actions, growing support for sanctions legislation, and sharp criticism by the European
> media of the cozy relationship among many European leaders with Putin. All this
> will have an impact on Germany. Indeed, a new policy toward Russia could not only
> become a test of Germany’s ability to adopt a normative dimension but also a new > model of German leadership.
> ITEM 11a: RFE/RL: Russia: U.S. Must Minimize Effect Of Magnitsky Act
> [] > November 17, 2012
> A senior Russian official says Moscow expects the U.S. administration to do all
> it can to ensure that the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act passed
> by the U.S. House of Representatives does not harm relations between the two countries.
> Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s envoy for human rights, democracy,
> and the rule of law said in Moscow that the bill “cannot be called other than unfriendly > and provocative.”
> The U.S. House of Representatives voted on November 16 to extend permanent normal
> trade relations to Russia and Moldova but also backed legislation sanctioning Russian > officials implicated in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. > The U.S. Senate is also expected to approve the measure.
> Magnitsky, 37, died in a Moscow prison three years ago after implicating top Russian > officials in a scheme to defraud the government of $230 million.