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So, what if Iran does get nuclear weapons?

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos

1Many states — including Britain, France and North Korea — have used nuclear weapons to permit greater independence from their senior allies. Indeed, fear of that independence has frequently driven the United States’ surprisingly vigorous efforts to prevent even its allies from acquiring nuclear weapons, as several scholars have documented. To the extent that Iran’s senior allies — Russia and China — now constrain Iranian behavior, we might expect Iran to behave more independently upon acquiring nuclear weapons. But Russia and China are (at best) loose allies of Iran, so this effect is likely to be limited. Mark S. Bell for The Washington Post

2Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger has urged the United States to treat Russia as a “great power” and stop making efforts to break it.“Breaking Russia has become an objective [for US officials] the long-range purpose should be to integrate it,” the 92-year-old said during an interview with The National Interest published on Wednesday.“If we treat Russia seriously as a great power, we need at an early stage to determine whether their concerns can be reconciled with our necessities,” he told the policy magazine.In his interview, Kissinger accused the American and European governments for failing to recognize the historical context in which the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine started.”The relationship between Ukraine and Russia will always have a special character in the Russian mind,” he said.“It can never be limited to a relationship of two traditional sovereign states, not from the Russian point of view, maybe not even from Ukraine’s. So, what happens in Ukraine cannot be put into a simple formula of applying principles that worked in Western Europe,” the veteran diplomat added.

3The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $1 billion loan to help Kazakhstan continue government programs to strengthen the economy in the face of recent challenges.”This loan from ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility will give the country the fiscal leeway it needs to mitigate the unanticipated and significant negative impacts of the steep decline in world oil prices and the economic slowdown of the neighboring countries,” said Lotte Schou-Zibell, Principal Economist in the Central and West Asia Department.

4Iran will cooperate with Azerbaijan on gas transportation to Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor, Mahmoud Vaezi told Trend on August 20.The Iranian Information and Communications Technology Minister, said that his country plans to export gas not only to Asian markets, but to Europe as well.“Transportation through Azerbaijan is one of the routes of bringing Iranian gas to Europe,” Vaezi noted. The Southern Gas Corridor is a priority energy project for the EU. It envisages the transit of gas from the Caspian Sea region to European countries through Georgia and Turkey.

5Azerbaijan: Back in the USSR? The conviction of two prominent dissidents conjures up the Soviet past. Political prisoners are nothing new in today’s Azerbaijan, run by Ilham Aliev, its authoritarian president. But the Yunuses’ case is especially egregious. They are veterans of the Soviet dissident movement and still the country’s most prominent civil-rights activists. In the early 1980s they worked for a samizdat newspaper, Express Chronicle. In the late 1980s Mrs Yunus was at the forefront of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms, which held out the promise of a free and dignified life. When Soviet tanks rolled into Baku in 1990 in a desperate attempt to stop the crumbling of the empire, she led a national independence movement. [The Economist]

6The Delegation of Azerbaijan to the OSCE rejects the allegations made by the US, EU, Canada and Norway with respect to the situation with human rights in Azerbaijan and find such statement as undermining bilateral relations with these countries, said the statement of the Delegation of Azerbaijan at the 1064th Special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on August 19. “Azerbaijan condemns the attempts to deliberately politicize and misinterpret ongoing legal cases against some individuals in our country,” said the statement. “Azerbaijan calls on US, EU, its member states, EU officials and institutions concerned, Canada and Norway to respect the decisions of justice system in Azerbaijan and to refrain from interfering into ongoing legal cases. We consider the references made in the statements to some anonymous international monitor’s observations in courts as seriously flawed and designed with a view to exert pressure on administration of justice.”Every person in Azerbaijan is equal before the law and bears equal responsibility for his or her deeds, according to the statement.

7U.N. human rights experts have criticized a court in Azerbaijan for what they say were “politically motivated” convictions of a prominent rights defender and her husband.A court in Baku on Aug. 13 sentenced Leyla Yunus to 8½ years in prison on charges of fraud, tax evasion and illegal business activities. Her husband Arif Yunus was given a 7-year sentence for fraud.Six experts linked to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council in Geneva said in a statement Thursday that the convictions were a sign of “the continuing repression of independent civil society in Azerbaijan.”The Yunuses both pleaded not guilty during the trial. They have suffered serious health problems in custody since their arrest a year ago, and the experts urged Azerbaijan authorities to provide proper medical care. [The Associated Press]

8China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. completed the purchase of a 50 percent stake in a Kazakh oil producer from Lukoil PJSC for $1.09 billion, gaining full control of a venture with stakes in five oil and gas fields.The sale of Caspian Investments Resources Ltd. received the required permits from the state authorities of the Kazakhstan in late July, Lukoil said in a statement Thursday. The deal concluded after more than a year of talks and the price is less than the $1.2 billion agreed on in April 2014.

9Is A Slow Putsch Against Putin Under Way? A quarter century after the fall of the USSR, Kremlinologists sense a putsch in the air, despite Vladimir Putin’s overwhelming approval ratings. The tea leaves say that the Kremlin elite, dubbed by some as Politburo 2.0, is currently deciding whether Putin should go before he makes a bad situation worse. The founder of the respected daily Kommersant predicts that a dramatic change is about to take place and advises Russians who have the means to leave the country for a month or so and take their children with them. Paul Roderick Gregory for Forbes.

10Is Turkmenistan Opening Up?Turkmenistan remains the only Central Asian country that requires citizens of all neighboring countries to obtain a visa before visiting–with tiny exceptions (visits lasting five days or less) for people living in select bordering communities in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Though many statements have been made in the past, both by Berdimuhamedov and other regional leaders, about the need to ease travel over borders, there is little overall progress on that front. [The Diplomat]

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine. follow @DGiannakopoulos

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Burkina Faso: AfDB approves €48,82 million for Desert to Power Yeleen programme

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The Board of Directors of the Bank has approved a €48,82 million loan to the Government of Burkina Faso for the Yeleen solar plant, intended to boost national power supply.

Yeleen, which is to be implemented under the Bank’s Desert to Power ( DTP) Initiative, and which will span a period of five years from 2020-2024, is the second project under the DTP initiative in Burkina Faso. The total project cost is estimated at €136.69 million.  The rest of the financing for Yeleen is provided by Agence Française de Développement (AFD), European Union (EU), and Société Nationale d’électricité du Burkina Faso (SONABEL).

The electricity access rate in Burkina Faso is one of the lowest in Africa at around 21% at national level in 2018. Upon completion, the project will increase and diversify electricity supply through the construction of four new 52 MWc photovoltaic (PV) plants and extend power distribution networks to connect 30,000 new households, or about 200,000 people. It will also contribute to the avoidance of 48,000 tCO2eq emissions annually.

Wale Shonibare, the Bank’s Acting Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change & Green Growth said: “This project will augment the Bank’s efforts to ensure inclusive access to energy through improvements in rural electrification, regional interconnections and energy sector reforms. Notably, it will increase Burkina Faso’s generation capacity by 15%, which will greatly help to reduce Burkina Faso’s reliance on fossil fuel imports.”

Dr. Daniel Schroth, the Bank’s Acting Director for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency also added that the approval would further the Desert to Power Initiative’s momentum in line with commitments made at the Sahel G5 Summit on 13th September in Ouagadougou. 

“With this project, we are making concrete progress on two of the five priority areas under the Desert to Power initiative which include adding new solar generation capacity and strengthening the transmission and distribution networks,” said Schroth.

The current project is part of Burkina Faso’s broader 2025 Solar Programme, known as “Yeleen” with three components: (i) Development of photovoltaic plants (PV) connected to the interconnected national grid; (ii) Increase in the electricity distribution network; and (iii) Rural electrification by mini-grids (isolated) and individual solar systems. The rural electrification “ Yeleen rural electrification project” which aims to to increase electricity access in Burkina Faso by connecting 150,000 households to solar mini- grids (50,000 household) and through stand-alone solar kits systems (100,000 households) was approved by the Bank in December 2018 with joint financing with EU and GCF.

The project aligns with Bank’s Country strategy paper for Burkina Faso (CSP 2017-2021), its High-5 “Light Up and Power Africa”initiative, and the Bank’s Climate Change plan. Desert to Power initiative aims to accelerate economic development by adding solar energy generation capacity of up to 10 GW by 2025 through a combination of public and private interventions.

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Iraq and ILO pledge to further decent work in the country

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Iraq and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have signed the first Iraq Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP), as the country recovers from decades of conflict.

The Programme, which runs from 2019 to 2023, supports national initiatives to promote decent work and strengthen Iraq’s capacity to mainstream decent work in social and economic policies. It will be implemented through close partnerships between the ILO and employers’ and workers’ representatives in the country.

The agreement was signed on 5 December by ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat, Director General of Labour and Vocational Training Department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Raed Bahedh, President of the Iraqi Federation of Industries Ali Sabeeh al-Saadi, and President of the General Federation of Trade Unions in Iraq Satar Denbous on behalf of the Trade Union organizations.

Also in attendance at the ceremony in Baghdad were the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Bassem al-Rubaie, Minister of Planning Nouri al-Dulaimi, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamad Alhakim, as well as heads of government departments and agencies, employer representatives, trade unionists, ambassadors and representatives of UN agencies.

“The ILO has a long history of close cooperation with the government and social partners of Iraq, and today’s event marks the comprehensive re-engagement of the ILO in the country,” said ILO Regional Director Jaradat.

“We look forward to providing our partners in Iraq with the required support to address labour market challenges and raise employment rates, strengthen social protection, boost growth rates, and decrease fragile and informal labour. The new Programme establishes a firm commitment between all partners to strengthen decent work in the country in a holistic, coherent and integrated manner, to ensure that decent work is at the heart of Iraq’s recovery and reform processes,” she added.

DWCPs  are the ILO’s main vehicle to promote decent work as a key component in national development strategies. Under the programme, the ILO will work with government, worker and employer organizations in Iraq to support national initiatives on employment promotion, rights at work, social dialogue and social protection.

Based on extensive consultations between the ILO and Iraqi constituents, the Programme in Iraq will focus on three priorities: 

  • Ensuring that private sector development supports the creation of new jobs.
  • Extending and strengthening social protection, and addressing child labour.
  • Improving social dialogue in order to promote rights at work.

Iraq has been a member of the ILO  since 1932 and has ratified 68 ILO Conventions , including all eight fundamental Conventions.

Since 2004, the ILO and Iraq’s government, workers’ and employers’ organizations have worked closely as part of the post-war reconstruction effort to bolster Decent Work  and develop the labour market across different areas of the country.

Recent achievements include the adoption of a new Labour Law to improve Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work ; The ratification of ILO Convention 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize  and ILO Convention 187 on the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health ; A roadmap for public employment services in Iraqi Kurdistan has also been designed.

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Improving gender diversity in the energy sector is an important measure of success

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From left to right: Ted Garrish, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the US Energy Department, United States; Kenji Wakamiya, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan; Christyne Tremblay, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada; Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director; Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources, New Zealand; Michał Kurtyka, Minister of Climate, Poland; Anna Brandt, Ambassador to the OECD, Sweden; Mechthild Wörsdörfer, IEA Director, Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks; and Catherine Bremner, Director, United Kingdom

Energy industries have lacked female participation throughout their history, with women making up only about one-fifth of the traditional energy sector labour force.

The International Energy Agency, which promotes the need for equal opportunities, today hosted a high-level event focused on how to advance gender diversity in the energy sector to support future workforce needs.

Held in Paris ahead of the IEA’s biennial Ministerial Meeting, the event was chaired by Christyne Tremblay, Canada’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, and Megan Woods, New Zealand’s Minister of Energy and Resources. At the event, the United States launched the C3E International Ambassador Programme, which gives all countries an opportunity to nominate individuals who will support governments’ efforts in improving gender diversity in the energy sector.

Other participants included ministers or senior government officials from Austria, Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and other IEA Family countries, as well as executives from several major energy sector companies. During the meeting, participants expressed enthusiastic support for advancing gender diversity across the energy sector and its importance for clean energy transitions.

“Achieving a better gender balance is not only an issue of fairness. It is also good for results as well, as studies show that diverse organisations perform better,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.

Participants at the meeting emphasised the importance of integrating gender into energy policies, promoting female employment and careers, and sharing best practices. They welcomed the activities of C3E TCP, which aims to build a community of women leaders across a range of clean energy sectors, and the Equal by 30 campaign, which secures commitments from public and private sector organisations to work towards equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities for women in the clean energy sector by 2030.

The meeting identified those two initiatives as platforms to exchange best practices and strengthen collaboration in several areas, including knowledge and data collection, recognition of female leadership, reducing barriers and raising ambition on implementation.

The 2019 IEA Ministerial Meeting is taking place in Paris on 5-6 December. It is chaired by Mr Michał Kurtyka, Poland’s Minister of Climate and the President of COP24. Ministers of IEA Member, Accession and Association countries and CEOs of leading companies are attending the meeting.

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