Editor's Note:The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.New Guidance 1: U.S.: We are a week away from U.S. midterm elections and signs indicate the United States will be entering a period of gridlock on domestic legislation. U.S. President Barack Obama is about 15 months away from the 2012 Iowa caucuses and his power in foreign affairs will tower over his power in domestic affairs after this election. What is the thinking in Washington over Obama's next moves? Will they be in foreign affairs? If so, what will they be? 2: France: The French are caught up in massive unrest over raising the retirement age and cutting other social benefits. This is no revolution but it should not be underestimated. French unions are strong and they can create havoc. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is faced with financial realities on the one hand and social realities on the other. How he handles them will impact the European Union and potentially be a model for the rest of Europe, where similar issues simmer. What does the French government intend to do? 3: China: The meeting of the G-20 finance ministers ended with an agreement to not use currency devaluation to gain a competitive advantage. How this agreement is to be enforced or even interpreted is difficult to say, but U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is heading to China to discuss the matter of the yuan. This move will certainly increase Chinese anger at the United States and not incidentally, with the rest of the G-20, as it is interpreted as anti-Chinese. China has been increasingly assertive in recent months. Will this increase their sense of embattlement? And, by the way, is allowing the dollar to fall in value a violation of this agreement? This is an important point in China's interpretation of the matter. Existing Guidance 1. Iraq: While some plodding progress toward a governing coalition has been made, there continue to be signs of underlying fissures in Iraqi society — as with the return of Sunni Awakening Council fighters to the insurgency. We need to be probing on two fronts: first, as per previous guidance, we need to look into what kind of governing coalition is likely to take shape so that we can begin to think beyond the current political impasse. Second, we need to continue to look at the inherent sectarian tensions and contradictory goals in Iraq that persist to this day. For several years, these tensions have remained relatively contained. We cannot assume that this containment will last indefinitely. 2. Pakistan, Afghanistan: Recent weeks have seen a dramatic increase in statements from Afghan, Pakistan, American, and NATO officials about negotiations between the Karzai government and the Taliban. The most noteworthy development was U.S. and NATO officials saying they were facilitating such talks by providing safe passage to Taliban representatives. This comes at a time when there has been an increase in International Security Assistance Force claims of success against the Taliban on the battlefield in the form of U.S. special operations forces killing key field operatives and leaders. How high do these talks really go, and more importantly, what actual impact is it having on the Taliban's strategic thinking? The status and nature of these negotiations — who are the key players (particularly, where does Pakistan stand in all of this), what are the key points of contention and most important, are the Taliban serious about negotiating — is of central importance. 3. Iran: There is clearly significant tension among the Iranian elite, a deep tension between the older clerics who came to power in 1979 and the younger, non-clerical Islamists gathered around Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In other words, this is not a challenge to the regime but a fight within the regime — we think. We've seen this infighting before. The question now is whether we are moving toward a defining moment in this fight. EURASIA
Oct. 25-26: The European Union Council of Ministers will meet. Serbia's candidacy for membership in the European Union is expected to be a focal point of the meeting.
Oct. 25-28: The Collective Security Treaty Organization will continue rapid reaction forces training in Russia's Chelyabinsk region. The exercise, called "Cooperation 2010," involves the Armenian, Kazakh, Russian, Kyrgyz and Tajik militaries as well as mediators from Belarus.
Oct. 25-28: A high-level delegation from Bahrain will try to encourage German investment in Bahrain by hosting an investment seminar in Stuttgart, Germany.
Oct. 25-29: Armenia's parliament will meet and consider a bill that would recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim, as an independent state.
Oct. 25-31: NATO troops will continue a month-long military exercise called Sabre Strike 2011 at the Adazi Training Area in Latvia.
Oct. 25-Nov. 2: An International Monetary Fund mission headed by Albert Jaeger will visit Belgrade to negotiate current standby arrangements.
Oct. 26: A Ukrainian-EU ministerial meeting will occur in Luxembourg.
Oct. 27: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov will meet in Kiev. Energy supplies between the two countries will be a major topic of discussion. A delegation from the European Union will also attend.
Oct. 27: Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Russia's Volga region to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh.
Oct. 27-28: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski for a session of the Russian-Polish Cooperation Strategy Committee.
Oct. 28: French unions have called for more strikes against pension reform.
Oct. 28-29: EU leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss new budget rules and changes to the Lisbon Treaty.
Oct. 30: British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in England to discuss bilateral cooperation and EU fiscal rules reform.
Oct. 30: Two simultaneous protests are scheduled in Amsterdam both for and against Dutch parliament member Geert Wilders, who is facing charges of inciting discrimination.
Oct. 31: Ukraine will hold regional and local elections.
Oct. 31: Russian opposition leaders will hold a rally in Moscow's Triumph Square, with permission from authorities. Past rallies have been denied or broken up by police.
Oct. 31: Police officers in Bulgaria will hold a second protest over budget cuts.
MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA
Oct. 25-26: Members of the Turkish-Egyptian Business Council will continue a visit to Egypt to discuss potential projects between Turkish and Egyptian companies.
Oct. 25-26: Congolese Parliament Speaker Evariste Boshab will continue a visit to Tehran in order to improve relations between the Congolese parliament and the Iranian parliament.
Oct. 25-Nov. 2: The British and Indian air forces will continue a series of war games code-named "Ex-Indradhanush" at the Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal.
Oct. 26: Nepal's parliament will hold its 13th attempt to elect a new president.
Oct. 28-29: Bolivian President Evo Morales will travel to Iran to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Oct. 28-30: Speakers of the Maltese parliament and the Libyan General People's Congress will meet on the side of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean's Fifth General Assembly in Morocco.
Oct. 28-Nov. 1: A delegation from the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry will visit Sri Lanka to discuss strengthening economic and trade relations between the two countries.
Oct. 25: The Philippines will conduct its nationwide village and youth council elections.
Oct. 25: Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will lead a delegation to Vietnam to discuss obtaining rare earth supplies and lobby for nuclear and rail contracts.
Oct. 25-Oct. 26: Gabonese President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba will attend a summit in Seoul with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak.
Oct. 25-26: Argentine and Chinese trade representatives are scheduled to meet in Beijing as part of the Bilateral Commerce Commission between the two nations.
Oct. 25-27: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will continue a three-day visit to Japan. Singh is expected to sign a free trade agreement struck in September that will remove tariffs from 94 percent of trade between India and Japan over the next decade.
Oct. 25-Oct 28: South African National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu and a delegation of 10 members of parliament will continue an official visit to China. The delegation will meet with the China's National People's Congress Standing Committee chair Wu Bangguo, as well as President Hu Jintao.
Oct. 25-31: Costa Rican Foreign Minister Rene Castro will continue a visit China as a guest of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Oct. 25-Nov. 11: The G-20 summit will continue in Seoul. The summit will include leaders from 20 major countries and involve 10,000 participants and 32 heads of state and will address global and regional economic issues.
Oct. 26: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon will visit Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China to discuss cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Oct. 26: Thailand's parliament is expected to vote on a Chinese-Thai joint investment framework.
Oct. 26-28: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Malaysian President Mohammed Najib Tun Abdul Razak.
Oct. 26-Nov. 2: Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav will head a 13-member delegation to China to visit Tibet, Xian and Shanghai.
Oct. 27-Nov. 2: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will pay an official visit to China. He will travel to Beijing, Kashgar and Urumqi.
Oct. 28-30: The 17th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will take place in Hanoi. Thailand and Cambodia will hold border talks on the sidelines of the summit. The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea are also expected to meet on the sidelines.
Oct. 25: The 12th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Tuxtla Mechanism of Dialogue and Agreement will be held in Cartagena de las Indias, Colombia.
Oct. 25: Delegations from South Korea and the United States will meet in Washington for talks to discuss the revision of the countries' atomic energy agreement.
Oct. 25: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg is scheduled to meet privately with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota before leading a delegation of U.S. State Department officials at a high-level dialogue on security, trade, energy, human rights and governance with Colombian officials at the University of Los Andes in Bogota.
Oct. 25-26: Paraguayan Interior Minister Rafael Filizzola is scheduled to visit the United States for a hearing at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Oct. 26: The Uruguayan Senate Constitutions and Codes Commission could approve a law granting the army control of perimeter and entrance security at national prisons.
Oct. 27: Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara will meet U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Hawaii to discuss issues related to China and North Korea and the relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps base in Okinawa.
Oct. 28: Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin is scheduled to meet in Quito, Ecuador, with Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino to discuss issues such as border security and the appointment of ambassadors.
Oct. 28: Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera is scheduled to meet with Ecuadorian Security Minister Miguel Carvajal in Quito, Ecuador, to discuss military cooperation and material found on the computers of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia leader Raul Reyes.
Oct. 28: The National Construction Union in Uruguay is scheduled to hold a partial labor stoppage that could involve workers from the metallurgic sector.
Oct. 29: Representatives from Mexico, Colombia and the United States are scheduled to meet in the International Citizens' Security Forum in Lima, Peru.
Oct. 25-Oct. 29: Approximately 200 of Africa's top military officers will continue meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa for a joint military-civilian exercise of the African Standby Force known as Amani Africa. Observers from NATO, the United States, European Union and United Nations will also participate.
Oct. 27: South Africa's midterm budget policy statement is to be delivered.
Oct. 28: The Nigerian Senate will vote to amend the 1999 Constitution in order to grant a time extension requested by the Independent National Electoral Commission to delay the 2011 national elections until April.
Oct. 27-Nov. 5: A second round of talks will be held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa between Sudan's ruling National Congress Party and Southern Sudan's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement concerning the referendum in Abyei.
Oct. 31: Niger will vote to adopt a new draft Constitution.
Oct. 31: The privatization deadline for finalizing the selection of a partner for Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company will pass.
Oct. 31: Cote d'Ivoire will hold presidential elections.