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Intelligence Guidance: Week of Oct. 25, 2009

11 MINS READOct 23, 2009 | 20:43 GMT
Simon Dawson/AFP/Getty Images
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. 1. Turmoil coming to the Kremlin: Russia's clan wars are about to begin. Catch up on the background and issues here. In particular, watch Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin closely, as he's the one deciding which specific personalities and companies to target. Also keep an eye on any moves and statements by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who are laying the groundwork for the potentially monumental changes to the Russian economy, security apparatus and even the Kremlin itself. 2. The continuing U.S.-Russian struggle: This past week U.S. Vice President Joe Biden essentially told the Central Europeans that the United States would support any actions they might take against Russian-backed regimes to their east. We would be stunned if the Russians didn't do something equally interesting and inflammatory in return. One obvious possibility is providing more backing for Iran. Iran is trying to wriggle out of a proposal put forth by the P-5+1 that would see the bulk of the uranium it has enriched shipped out of the country. The bottom line is that whatever actions Moscow takes regarding Iran will be designed exclusively to rattle the Americans. 3. Iran and the IAEA: Iran will try to use this weekend's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection of its Qom enrichment facility to give the impression that it is still cooperating in the nuclear negotiations, but Israel's patience for Iran's delay tactics is wearing thin. We will have to pay especially close attention to extent to which the Israeli and American reactions diverge in the week ahead. 4. North Korea-U.S. talks: North Korea's Ri Gun, deputy chief to the six-party talks, will be traveling to New York City and California this coming week. Ri is the highest-ranking North Korean diplomat to travel to the United States in over a year. Much of North Korea's defiant behavior earlier this year was intended to force a crisis that would bring the world's major players to the negotiating table (bearing gifts to encourage good behavior). It is an old, recognized strategy, and the backroom bilateral meetings for the next stage in the cycle are already under way. This visit probably heralds a restart for serious talks. 5. Turkish moves in the Balkans: Turkish President Abdullah Gul will become the first Turkish leader to make a meaningful visit to Serbia in nearly a century when he visits the country Oct. 26-27. Turkey has been trying to gauge how much influence it might be able to regain in its old stomping grounds. Serbia has become a hot spot of late – Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was just there last week to sign several energy deals and loans – and the Turks do not want to be left out. Serbia is happy to get the attention, but let's see what Turkey is actually willing to do to protect its interests in the Balkans and get Belgrade to refrain from any moves that would destabilize nearby Bosnia-Herzegovina. 6. Sweden's ambitions in the EU: The European Union's Council of Ministers will meet Oct. 26-27 in Brussels. Many things will be discussed, but the most interesting bit will be Sweden's proposal for deepening European influence in the Baltic Sea region. If Sweden can use EU power to fulfill its national goal of becoming the major power on the Baltic, the region's geopolitics could well turn a direction they have not gone since the 17th century. Keep your ear to the ground for European gossip. There are many small states that would love to see Europe's energy gathered by someone who does not speak with a German or French accent. This is especially true for Poland, which is slowly starting to coordinate more closely with the Swedes on issues, particularly those concerning Moscow. (Editor's Note: An earlier version incorrectly listed the date of the meeting. It has been corrected.) 7. Pakistan's counterinsurgency efforts: Pakistan's efforts to root out militants in its northwestern territories have generated a great deal of blowback in the form of regular militant attacks within the Punjabi core. We know that Pakistani police forces are already exhausted – one can only be on red alert for so long. The question is if either the attackers or defenders can maintain their tempo of operations. The answer will tell us much about how both sides have evolved in recent months. Also, watch for attacks intended to cause panic. Breaking the will of the bulk of the population would be one way to force the Pakistani military to stop the assaults on the militants' strongholds. 8. Sino-U.S. military-to-military talks: Xu Caihou – vice chairman of the People's Liberation Army's central military commission – will visit the United States from Oct. 24-31 for a tour of U.S. military sites and meetings with Pacific Command chief Adm. Robert Willard and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. U.S.-Chinese military engagement has been rocky, but progress in these military-to-military talks bears watching. Both want transparency in this defense relationship, but Washington is still extremely wary of China's rapid military modernization as the U.S. military has been stretched thin across the world. EURASIA
  • Oct. 25: Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen will travel to St. Petersburg to meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and attend the third Russian-Finnish Forest Summit. The leaders will discuss cooperation in economic and energy spheres, including the Nord Stream gas pipeline project.
  • Oct. 26-27: Turkish President Abdullah Gul will visit Serbia to meet with Serbian President Boris Tadic. The leaders will address participants of a Turkey-Serbia business forum and discuss economic cooperation.
  • Oct. 26-27: Ministers for the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet in Luxembourg to reach a decision on the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy and to discuss issues in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bosnia.
  • Oct. 26: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Sri Lanka to meet with President Mahinda Rajapakse and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama. The officials are expected to sign a deal on counter-drug trafficking and a memorandum of understanding between the countries' emergencies ministries.
  • Oct. 26-27: The fourth International Energy Week will take place in Moscow. Participants include Indian Chief Minister of Gujarat state Narendra Modi.
  • Oct. 27: Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will meet with representatives from the Communist Party, Fair Russia and Liberal Democratic Party.
  • Oct. 27: Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic is expected to be released from custody in Sweden.
  • Oct. 27-29: Indian President Pratibha Patil will pay an official visit to London.
  • Oct. 29-30: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will visit Russia to strengthen trade and develop cooperation in the mining and oil industries, infrastructure and defense.
  • Oct. 29-30: EU heads of state and government will meet in Brussels. The EU leaders are expected to appoint the new list of commissioners, the new EU foreign minister and the president of the European Council. They are also expected to debate the new diplomatic service for the union.
EAST ASIA
  • Unspecified Date: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will visit Myanmar the week of Oct. 25.
  • Oct. 23-25: The fifteenth ASEAN Summit and related meetings, including 12th ASEAN+3 Summit and Fourth East Asian Summit, will be held in Thailand beach resort town Hua Hin.
  • Oct. 23-27: North Korean diplomat Ri Gun will visit the United States. He will attend a seminar by Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue in San Diego from Oct. 26-27. There is also a high possibility that he will meet his U.S. counterpart Sung Kim.
  • Oct. 24-27: Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will visit Japan to mark the 400th anniversary of the countries' trade relationship.
  • Oct. 24-31: Xu Caihou, vice chairman of Chinese People's Liberation Army Central Military Commission, will visit the United States. He will hold a series of high-level meetings and visit military bases.
  • Oct. 25-27: Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov is to make a state visit to South Korea. He will hold a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak.
  • Oct. 27: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will attend the ninth Trilateral Meeting of foreign ministers in Bangalore, India.
  • Oct. 27-Nov.1: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will visit Japan.
  • Oct. 28-29: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will pay an official visit to the Philippines.
  • Oct 28-Nov. 1: Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung will lead a high-profile Taiwanese media delegation to China. The group is scheduled to visit the mainland's major state-run media, including China Central Television (CCTV), Xinhua News Agency and People's Daily.
MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA
  • Oct. 24-25: The Central and Eastern Europe Energy Forum will be held in Istanbul.
  • Oct. 24: Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Iran's newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant near Qom.
  • Oct. 25-26: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Pakistan.
  • Oct. 26-27: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be in Iran. He will meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
  • Oct. 29: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will arrive in India to participate in the Ninth Trilateral Meeting of foreign ministers of India-Russia-China.
  • Oct. 31: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is due to address the annual conference of the ruling National Democratic Party.
LATIN AMERICA
  • Oct. 26 - Port workers in Peru will hold a 24-hour strike, and march to the Peruvian Congress in Lima to protest a controversy over government concessions on the Paita port.
  • Oct. 23-30: The Salitre II military exercises will continue in northern Chile, with the participation of France, the United States, Brazil, Chile and Argentina aircraft.
  • Oct. 26: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will give talks in the United Kingdom at Oxford University about the Yasuni-ITT oil block.
  • Oct. 28-30: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will be in Moscow to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. They are expected to sign cooperation agreements in the areas of trade, oil, energy and national defense.
  • Oct. 29-31: Bolivia will host forums in La Paz and Uyuni to discuss lithium deposit development options — including extraction and processing — and potential partners for the projects.
  • Oct. 30: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will meet in Caracas and discuss cooperation in the Abreu e Lima refinery project in Brazil. The meeting has been postponed twice.
  • Oct. 31: The Mexican legislature is scheduled to pass final approval on the country's 2010 budget by the Oct. 31 deadline.
AFRICA
  • Oct. 16-25: The East African Community will finish up a field exercise code named Natural Fire in Uganda's northern district of Kitgum. The exercise has been focusing on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and logistics.
  • Oct. 21-26: Kenya's National Assembly speaker, Kenneth Marende, will visit China at the invitation of Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Wu Bangguo.
  • Oct. 24: The Democratic Republic of Congo will host the 14th the Economic Community of Central African States Summit.
  • Oct. 26: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will meet with south Sudanese leader Salva Kiir Mayardit. They will discuss the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between north and south Sudan.
  • Oct. 28: Mozambique will hold general elections.
  • Oct. 28–Nov. 5: Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin will travel to Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa to discuss poverty reduction and economic growth.
  • Oct. 29: The African Union's peace and security organ will hold a summit in Abuja, Nigeria. Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, has reportedly been invited, although it is unclear whether he will attend.
  • Oct. 29: Member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) will convene in Harare, Zimbabwe, with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Representatives from South Africa, Angola and Mozambique, as well as SADC President Joseph Kabila, seek to iron out the recent political gridlock in Zimbabwe.

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