The story of June 2019

Introduction

I want to continue with the story of writing about our shared process of creating peace in the world. The first part “For the heart” is written for our heart, our soul and our shared consciousness — for the ocean of our thoughts. It will allow our soul to connect. The second part “For the mind” is a story based on real events that are happening during the month of June. Some of what is written is fiction, fiction based on information I receive by media, events or conversations.

With my words I want to allow for both: listening to one story AND seeing the other story, too.

Last but not least. If I know war is coming, I see war coming. If I know peace is coming, I see peace coming.

For the heart

This morning with a friend we talked about how fishes swim through oceans following a rhythm, also going back to their place of birth, a fjord or a river even up in the mountains. What if our shared mind is also an ocean of consciousness and we seek going back to the place of our beginning? Where in the universe would this place be? And who is guiding us on our journey? Where are the places my mind, my soul, and my heart are connected to life — and how can you help me go to this places?

The journey almost feels like going back on time, while still being in the present moment. Connecting.

What’s wrong with admitting our vulnerability as human beings? How am I hiding my weakness behind means of strength? Don’t wee miss to see the beauty of joint decision making processes. Processes that fit the needs of all? I see a lot of beauty in it. Working with the weakness to create change.

Peace comes with a feeling of love. Love comes with a feeling of trust. Trust, here, has no measure, no beginning, no end, it comes without time. What is happening within trust passes my will — the power, I can only follow. A feeling of inability, of being helpless, the feeling of devotion, is absolute. It comes with no reason. Peace is. I can only follow.

For the mind

Middle East

The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrives on June 9 in Teheran. What can he offer to keep Iran holding on the the nuclear deal? Are the tensions between the U.S. and Iran already unbridgeable? While the German Minister is traveling the Middle East, in Jerusalem a trilateral meeting between the National Security Advisors of Israel, Russia and the U.S. is prepared, to be hold this month. I imagine Nikolay Patrushev praying in Russian Holy Trinity Cathedra; imagine John Bolton watching CNN news, while the Muezzin’s voice gathers for prayer in East Jerusalem. Thinking of Meir Ben-Shabbat when driving every day through the streets of Jerusalem. Is Jerusalem preparing to become a city of peace negotiations or will it be a day that passes without meaningful exchange?

End of May, German’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas boarded an airplane to tour the Middle East. Before going to visit Teheran he stopped in the Emirate Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) to consolidate with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, On 12. June M.B.Z., as he is called, is visiting Berlin to meet again with the Foreign Minister. What has changed since their last encounter? The most powerful ruler in the Middle East, as the New York Times calls the Crown Prince also meets Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Germany is remembering 15 years of close relationships with the Emirates.

While Merkel talks with Sheikh Bin Zayed, maybe also to share their efforts in mediating between Iran and the U.S., in Israel the former intelligence officer Mickey Segall does not believe in an military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. From his point of view, both sides want a diplomatic solution. Iran’s Foreign Minister travelled to Oman, a country seen as mediator, while German’s Foreign Minister did his trip. Iran shows it’s muscles while it knows that President Trump doesn’t want to go on war. Iran is maneuvering within its limits. The air would get thin, if President Trump will be reelected in 2020, since the sanctions are painful.

If we know that talking is the solution, why are we going through all the drama of showing strength? Humans are vulnerable beings, no need to hide it. A few days before summer solstice an U.S. drone is shot down over the Persian Gulf. President Trump does not opt for a retaliation strike — simply because the drone was unmanned and a retaliation strike would cost lives.

We move closer to the end of the month. Time has been a guide so far. President Trump speaks of “unlimited time” to come to terms with the Iranian leaders. Maybe he realizes that hawkish voices who offer the option of war based on airstrikes, cannot offer much more of what will come after air strikes. Fascinating to observe how the idea of a war is still seen in some parts of our society as a solution to a problem of our century.

Nuclear disarmament

In June the nuclear world is waiting for time to pass — and for miracles to happen. During breakfast we could ask: Is the world going to see a new arms race?; during coffee break or a cup of tea the question could be: Are tensions building up to lead to comprehensive disarmament agreements? What would you prefer? Two Cold War disarmament treaties between the U.S. and Russian Federation will end: the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August 2019, and NewSTART, limiting the amount of strategic nuclear warheads by 1,550 for each country in 2021. While we are waiting, the well known expert, Hans Kristensen reminds U.S. Congress members that the U.S. is currently deploying 1,000 low-yield nuclear warheads. Low yield nuclear weapons as mean of deterrence are wanted by some congress men. They don’t need to be invented, they are already in the world, even in Germany. Is fear the motivation of policy makers and members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee? How to deal with a political body that shows little knowledge about the subject? Are organizations just managing weapon programs without actually knowing what they give the money for? This is absurd behavior. Why are new weapons an answer to our fears? What is the source of our fear? Low yield nuclear weapons can be deployed more easily and hence, used more easily. This weapon would make a nuclear war more likely. It’s not really a nuke, only 20’000 kilotons, okay we use it!

While we sit down for breakfast in Western capitals, or board airplanes with our foreign ministers, I wonder if the North Korean leadership is open for a next round of nuclear disarmament talks with the U.S. President Trump? How to prepare for potential talks and where to hold them? There were rumors that North Korean’s chief negotiator had been dismissed and sent to prison camp. When preparing the meeting in Vietnam in February, did Mr. Kim Yong-chol really think that Mr. Trump would have signed a deal, only because he needed a diplomatic success story? How can we prepare potential disarmament talks better, now that we know that Mr. Trump’s strategy is: "I'd much rather do it right than do it fast."? If we see a next meeting, I assume both sides will be aware, that the U.S. only accepts a complete denuclearization in return for lifting sanctions as well as, that North Korea is not willing to give up its nuclear program completely. Will we see a next meeting? Who in the negotiation teams is able to bridge that contradiction? What magic power will be needed to denuclearize Korea? Unification is magic.

Why should the U.S. and North Korea stop talking? Why is not talking the answer. It seems that people keep working to make a third meeting happening. President Trump and Chairman Kim exchange letter, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in comment on talks behind the scenes get rejected by North Korea. Peace keeps walking, peace keeps talking. It’s so patient.

Sanctions are also an important factor in the Iran-U.S. conflict. In May, Iranian oil export fell below 500,000 barrel per day, compared to 2.4 million (or 5 times more) a year earlier. The sanctions, the U.S. put in place and enforce are criticized by countries but still accepted by foreign companies from China, India or Turkey. What does it mean for a country to be able to supply the world with a product no one dares to buy anymore? Why are we all creating this conflict together? When I leave my Berlin apartment in the morning, I don’t feel any problems from the sanctions. How is it for my Iranian friend and his or her family? What does it mean for you and for me, for our brothers and sisters around the world, if leaders decide not to talk? The Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as well as Iranian president Hassan Rouhani are not willing to meet with President Trump for talks at the moment. The U.S. sanctions seem to work at the moment, tightening the situation and creating an atmosphere of war. What does it mean for all three of them to be light to the world? Can Iraq or Oman act as a mediator in the region? Can Shi’ite tradition help?

Iranian’s Intelligence Minister Hajat Al-Islam Mahmoud Alavi mentioned on 21 May 2019 that the regime’s leadership needs to show “heroic flexibility”. In 661 CE the second Imam Hasan (624-670) and his rival Caliph Muawiya (602–680) negotiated a treaty to avoid a civil war and Caliph Muawiya became the first Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty (661–750). Today, Alavi points out that back in the days, Imam Hasan Mujtaba, the son of Fatma Zahara and the first Imam Ali, chose to negotiate over fighting, in order to protect the muslim house. As member of the Prophet’s household, peace does not need to come from fighting, as the historic example mentioned by the intelligent minister reflects. The supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sees nuclear bombs prohibited by islamic law. This statement is seen as a signal to negotiate and to take a pragmatic stance on the issue. Hurry up, meet at the table, sit in a circle. Peace is patience.

In the mean time, on June 11th, a hot summer day in Berlin German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) prepares to meet his colleagues in Stockholm on June 11th to discuss a Swedish “stepping stone” approach to build up momentum for a successful United Nations NPT conference on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament May 2020 in New York. Before leaving Berlin Heiko Maas declares that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is in a crisis, this crisis is a threat to world peace. Nuclear states, like France argue they follow a step-by-step approach towards disarmament. The problem is: not moving is always the best strategy, if you see a huge river in front of you. It’s just not the right time. Why not offering stepping stones. What if the river only exists as a river of fear in our hearts? Is fear again the answer?

We need to be aware. Our world — our shared humanity — has 15’000 nuclear warheads still in stocks, according to the SIPRI yearbook 2019. If we distribute nuclear warheads evenly around the world, per 500’000 citizens there is one nuclear warhead. In this world, the U.S. has about 700 warheads (actual number: (6’185), Russia 240 (total 2019: 6’500). Today, the global arsenals are undergoing an expensive modernization process. Numbers don’t lie: it is time to reconcile and to make peace agreements.

Also over solstice Chinese President Xi Jinping visits its neighbor country North Korea, meeting Chairman Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju. It’s the first Chinese leader to visit in 14 years. Xi will also meet U.S. President Trump for a small Chinese-U.S.-summit over trade disputes end of June. Will Xi be presenting greetings from Kim to Trump?

Reconciliation — Peace agreements

How did the Ethiopian Prime Minister feel when arriving on June 7th in the Sudanese capital Khartoum? Was he envisioning enduring talks with the Chief of the Transitional Military Council in Sudan that will lead to a more stable atmosphere in the city? The same day in Nairobi, Kenya, the African Council of Religious Leaders release an immediate statement condemning the violent response of military force against peaceful protesters in the streets of Khartoum. Will we see opposition leaders as well as Transitional Military Council’s members meeting in the spirit of good governance and sustainable peace? What are the thoughts of protesters on the street? What is the soldier reflecting upon his live in his country? How do people holding power reflect on the future of their country and region?

When going to a job interview in Karlshorst, Berlin early this month, I walked by the house, where on May 8th 1945 Germany surrendered to the allies, ending World War II in Europe (it’s now a German-Russian-Museum). I could read that all parties involved in World War II did not sign any peace agreements — Germany surrendered — but the war, now as a Cold War continued. Do we need to go back to 1945 again to find a missing peace of our peace puzzle?

Notes

Middle East

Heiko Maas arrives in Teheran (06/09/2019): https://twitter.com/NatalieAmiri/status/1137803956070080513

Statement by the Press Secretary Regarding the Trilateral Meeting of the National Security Advisors from the United States, Israel, and Russia meeting in June in Jerusalem: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-regarding-trilateral-meeting-national-security-advisors-united-states-israel-russia/

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed called the Most Powerful Arab Ruler (New York Times, 6/2/2019): https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/02/world/middleeast/crown-prince-mohammed-bin-zayed.html

A few from Israel by Assaf Golan on the situation on Iran and the U.S. (Israel Hayom, 6/12/2019): https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/06/12/irans-actions-indicate-it-doesnt-want-war/

Axios PM (6/21/2019): “Trump said today that he called off yesterday's retaliatory strike against Iran upon learning about its expected death toll compared to zero casualties for an unmanned drone.” https://www.axios.com/trumps-temps-iran-strike-called-off-72f58659-5ea3-4635-ae36-a47d7a57c08d.html

U.S. President Trump’s words of “unlimited time” (Reuters: 6/26/2019). As well as Peter Beinart’s article on missing pieces on air strikes. The Question the Iran Hawks Haven’t Answered (The Atlantic, 6/24/2019).

Nuclear disarmament

On NewSTART: “On April 8, 2010, the United States and Russia signed New START, a legally binding, verifiable agreement that limits each side to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 700 strategic delivery systems (ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers), and limits deployed and nondeployed launchers to 800.” (Source: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/USRussiaNuclearAgreements )

Hans Kristensen’s tweet on low-yield nuclear weapons (06/07/2019): https://twitter.com/nukestrat/status/1137009469576142852. See also Hans’ comment on the poor knowledge of members of the House Armed Service Committee (03/06/2019): https://www.forbes.com/sites/hanskristensen/2019/03/06/nuclear-hearing/#3ffd64eb38fd.

North Korea. In the Hanoi press conference on February 28th, 2019 President Trumps says that he is always prepared to walk a way from a negotiation table he also says, that he wants to negotiate rather right than fast (minute 13:25) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMKOzSE_SMc . A NY Times article on May 31st rises the topic again, saying that North Korea mistakenly assumed that Mr. Trump would agree on a sanction relief by offering only a partial denuclearization. On the other hand U.S. intelligence was assuming that North Korea would not be willing for full denuclearization: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/world/asia/Kim-Yong-chol-execution-north-korea.html?module=inline . And President Trump walked away. Should he ever had come to Hanoi?

On Iran oil exports (06/04/2019): https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2019/06/04/sanctions-drive-iranian-oil-exports-to-historic-lows/

The story of “heroic flexibility” is described in the article by Iran Desk (05/27/2019): http://jcpa.org/will-iran-display-heroic-flexibility-and-negotiate-with-the-united-states/

Ali Khamenei’s tweet explaining why nuclear weapons are prohibited (05/29/2019): https://twitter.com/khamenei_ir/status/1133815051352203264. An interview of Prof. Omid Safid on that statement (05/20/2019): “I think the rulers of Iran have a fascinating way of speaking in a very adversarial way, but actually negotiate in a very pragmatic and diplomatic way. I think they are trying to get America, and whatever global power is still left, back to the negotiating table so that another deal can be worked out.“ https://www.meforum.org/campus-watch/58645/ayatollah-khamenei-says-nuclear-weapons-are

Stepping stone. Heiko Maas’ press release on June 11, 2019: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/newsroom/aussenminister-maas-reist-nach-stockholm/2225280?pk_campaign=newsletter_Pressemitteilung_2019_06_11&pk_kwd=link_Au%C3%9Fenminister+Maas+reist+nach+Stockholm. Project Website of the Swedish Stepping Stone project, organized by BASIC and Paul Ingram: http://www.basicint.org/foreign-minister-of-sweden-margot-wallstrom-launches-stepping-stones-approach-to-nuclear-disarmament/

Modernization of world nuclear forces continues despite overall decrease in number of warheads: New SIPRI Yearbook out now (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 6/17/2019): https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2019/modernization-world-nuclear-forces-continues-despite-overall-decrease-number-warheads-new-sipri

Reuters reports on Xi’s visit to North Korea (6/20/2019): China's Xi says world hopes North Korea-U.S. talks can succeed

Joshua Berlinger from CNN (6/27/2019) reports from South Korea about the dispute between South and North Korea over talks behind-the-scenes. Reuters reports from friendly letters between Trump and Kim (6/24/2019).

Reconciliation

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrives in Khartoum (06/07/2019) for talks with the Chief of the Sudanese Transitional Military Council, Lt. Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan: https://twitter.com/PMEthiopia/status/1136902098128388097

Statement by the African Council of Religious Leaders (06/07/2019): http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1112171845262&ca=bf1db102-5e72-4ed5-814e-56d11d93bcb3

The German-Russian Museum in Berlin-Karlshorst: http://www.museum-karlshorst.de/index.php?id=1&L=1