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. China: There continue to be mixed signals in the relationship between China and the United States, with the issue of Chinese currency policy resurfacing. There is a certain political logic for an increase in U.S. pressure against China as U.S. congressional elections near, but the Obama administration appears to be taking a cautious approach on relations with Beijing. It is time to take a closer look at U.S.-China relations and the two countries' policies toward one another to see if we are nearing a change in direction. 2. Iran: There are hints that Washington and Tehran may be near a compromise that could allow for the formation of an Iraqi government to finally progress. There are also reports of the resumption of nuclear talks with Iran, potentially going beyond just the nuclear issue. All this talk gives the impression that we are looking at major progress between Tehran and Washington but the atmosphere is not conducive for any substantial breakthrough. We need to dig very carefully to see where things are actually headed. 3. North Korea: The delayed meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea is finally slated to take place this week, amid rumors and guesses as to just what will come from the session. North Korea may be preparing to formalize the succession process, revise its economic policies, or restart the six-party nuclear talks. The fate of North Korea may not be all that exciting, but the way Pyongyang can play the major powers surrounding the Korean Peninsula and the way those powers try to leverage North Korea in their relations make this something to watch. Existing Guidance 1. Tajikistan: There has been renewed fighting in Tajikistan, and the implications of the prison break several weeks ago and reports of a revival of Islamist militancy in Central Asia bear close watching. This could prove significant not only for the Central Asian "Stans" but for Russia, China and even the future of U.S. activities in Afghanistan. 2. Afghanistan: We are a short time away from the snows that will halt most operations in Afghanistan and nearly a month away from U.S. midterm elections. In fact, the timing is about the same. Are the Taliban launching a series of focused attacks on targets of opportunity to influence U.S. elections? Have the Afghan elections in any way changed the situation? 3. The Caucasus: The Caucasus remain an area to watch. Russia is not the only country showing an interest in the Caucasus, and at least on the diplomatic level, the regional dynamics appear to be changing — and with dynamism comes uncertainty. We need to be looking at it. 4. 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
Unspecified Date: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will visit Tbilisi, Georgia.
Sept. 27: Moroccan House of Representatives chairman Abdul Vahid Ar-Radi will wrap up a trip to Azerbaijan, the first high-profile visit between the countries.
Sept. 27: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board will complete its review of Serbia's economic performance in light of the IMF's recent assistance.
Sept. 27: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will conclude a trip to Paris to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Sept. 27-28: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will make an official visit to Uzbekistan. The countries' foreign ministers will also meet.
Sept. 27-28: The Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries "Felino 2010" military exercises in Portugal will continue.
Sept. 27-30: Azerbaijan will host experts from NATO's Joint Forces Command who will conduct training courses for the Azerbaijani armed forces.
Sept. 27-Oct. 3: Bulgaria will host an IMF mission regarding economic policies.
Sept. 28: Ecuadorian Patrimony Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa is scheduled to visit Germany to discuss the Yasuni-ITT environmental initiative with officials before traveling to Madrid to discuss the initiative with Spanish officials Sept. 30.
Sept. 28-29: South African President Jacob Zuma will travel to Belgium to attend the South Africa-EU Summit and to make an official state visit.
Sept. 28-30: A Cuban economic delegation led by Cuban Deputy Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Oscar Perez Oliva will meet with Azerbaijani officials in Baku to discuss economic cooperation between the countries.
Sept. 29: The European Commission will decide whether or not to charge France with infringement for the expulsion of the Roma.
Sept. 29: Protests and strikes against austerity measures are planned in Greece, Lithuania, Slovenia, Britain, Spain, Serbia and Portugal. In Brussels, the European Trade Union Confederation will protest. Additional protests should be expected in conjunction with the Europe-wide strikes.
Sept. 29: The European Commission will present its recommendations for reform of the eurozone, addressing compliance, enforcement and monitoring issues.
Sept. 29-30: The Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation of Poland and Ukraine will take place in Warsaw.
Sept. 30: Spain is scheduled to release an outline of its 2011 budget.
Oct. 1: Former French President Jacques Chirac's trial date on charges of embezzlement will be set.
Oct. 1-2: The Yalta European Strategy conference will be held in Yalta, Ukraine. IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn will attend and is expected to hold bilateral talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
Oct. 1-7: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is scheduled to visit Germany and Portugal.
Oct. 2: General elections will be held in Latvia.
Oct. 2-3: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with Greek government officials in Athens.
Oct. 3: Bosnia-Herzegovina will hold parliamentary and presidential elections.
Oct. 3: London Underground workers will strike.
Oct. 3: Ukrainian and Russian officials are expected to sign bilateral agreements on security, energy and transportation in Gelenjik, Russia.
MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA
Sept. 27-30: India and Thailand's militaries are scheduled to continue a counterterrorism exercise, called "Maitree 2010," in Jharkhand as part of efforts to boost interoperability between the forces.
Sept. 27: Azerbaijani Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfaz Garayev will conclude a visit to Iran that coincided with the "Days of Azerbaijani Culture" in Iran.
Sept. 27-28: The Iraq Future Energy 2010 Conference in Istanbul will host executives from oil companies and Iraqi energy regulators to discuss the future of energy investment in Iraq.
Sept. 27-Oct. 1: A convoy carrying medical equipment, medicine and food to the Palestinian territories will arrive in Istanbul and will depart for Syria after a four-day visit.
Sept. 28: The Indian Supreme Court verdict on the Babri Masjid land title will decide if the mosque that stood there in the past will be reconstructed or if a Ram temple will be built in its place. The verdict has already been postponed once.
Sept 29: Sudanese peace talks concerning Darfur between the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement will resume in Doha, Qatar.
Sept. 29: Bahrain will open the "Invest in Bahrain 2010" showcase.
Oct. 1: Pakistan promised the IMF that it would institute a reformed general sales tax on services by this date.
Oct. 1-2: The U.S.-Algeria Business Council will host the American-Maghreb summit for business entrepreneurship in Algiers. The summit follows up the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship which discussed nongovernmental organizations' roles in building regional affiliations that encourage private enterprise.
Unspecified Date: Indonesia's special operations forces and Australia's elite SAS unit will hold a joint counterterrorism exercise in Bali where officers are currently conducting field coordination. The exercises are expected to take place at different locations in Bali.
Sept. 27: The third Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Conference with 45 ministers and vice ministers from 35 countries will conclude in South Korea.
Sept. 27: The Indian and Thai armies will conclude a 14-day exercise in Jharkhand, with personnel from the Gorkha regiment and Royal Thailand Army focusing on counterterrorism operations.
Sept. 27: A 15-member delegation from the Nepalese army will conclude a visit to China.
Sept. 27: An Indonesian team from the Investment Coordinating Board and the Industrial Ministry will visit South Korea to discuss the possibility of making Indonesia their production base. The Indonesian team is expected to talk to several firms, including car manufacturer Hyundai.
Sept. 27-28: Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will continue a visit to China. He will meet his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, and discuss the strength of the countries' relationship and signs of progress in areas like energy cooperation.
Sept. 27-28: A U.S. presidential delegation led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki will visit South Korea to attend the Seoul Liberation Commemoration Ceremonies.
Sept. 27-30: An Australian naval ship called Warramunga will continue a visit to China's Qingdao and Zhanjiang provinces at the invitation of People's Liberation Army-Navy to run a joint exercise drill.
Sept. 27-30: The first Sino-Arab economic and trade forum will continue in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region. The goal of the forum is to encourage economic collaboration between China and the Arab League.
Sept. 27-Oct. 1: Cuban Vice President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz will continue a trip to China at the invitation of the Chinese government.
Sept. 27-Oct. 1: The U.S. and South Korean navies will continue an anti-submarine exercise designed to deter North Korea. The drill will involve at least nine ships plus surveillance aircraft.
Sept. 27-Oct. 7: Two ships from the People's Republic of China, the training ship Zhenghe and frigate Mianyang, will continue a visit to Australia.
Sept. 28: North Korea is expected to hold elections for its supreme leadership board, where it is likely the party will choose a successor to Kim Jong Il.
Sept. 28 - 30: U.S. special adviser on non-proliferation and arms control Robert Einhorn will visit China for talks on Iran and North Korea.
Sept. 29: Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills will visit Japan for four days to meet with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Emperor Akihito.
Sept. 29: China and South Korea will hold their third high-level strategic dialogue to discuss bilateral ties and major international and regional issues. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya and South Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Shin Kak Soo will attend the meeting.
Sept. 29-30: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations security agency chiefs will meet in Hanoi to discuss cooperation on regional security issues and improve their capacity to cope with threats.
Sept. 29-Oct. 1: South Korea will hold a confirmation hearing for prime ministerial nominee Kim Hwang Sik. Following the hearing, the ruling and opposition parties will hold a National Assembly plenary session to vote on whether to approve Kim's nomination.
Oct. 1: China is expected to announce a property tax that is likely to begin in early 2011.
Oct. 1: South Korea and North Korea will meet again to further discuss the inter-Korean family reunions issue.
Oct. 1: Japan's parliament will convene a session to discuss potential economic measures on this date rather than the initially expected Oct. 6.
Sept. 27: Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will speak at the U.N. General Assembly, which will continue meeting until Sept. 30.
Sept. 27: Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Sept. 27: The Venezuelan Commission for Administration of Foreign Currency is scheduled to resume operations following a two-day recess due to legislative elections.
Sept. 27: Paraguayan Vice President Federico Franco is scheduled to attend a conference in Argentina concerning the diversion of the Pilcomayo River.
Sept. 27: Farmers in the Ecuadorian cantons of Quero, Tisaleo and Mocha are scheduled to march to protest unpaid government benefits and low product prices.
Sept. 27-28: Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony will visit with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in Washington to discuss strengthening their countries' military ties.
Sept. 27-29: Lebanese President Michel Suleiman will continue a trip to New York and Mexico.
Sept. 28: The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) will meet in New York during the U.N. General Assembly. The SAARC will plan future cooperation for the member states and review the year's past successes. Nepal may also encourage SAARC countries to support Kul Chandra Gautam, Nepal's candidate for chair of the 66th U.N. General Assembly.
Sept. 28: The Songa Saturn natural gas drilling platform is scheduled to arrive in Venezuela from Saudi Arabia.
Sept. 28-30: The first international congress on the Falkland Islands is scheduled to be held at Lanus National University in Buenos Aires province.
Sept. 29: The Common Market of the South (Mercosur) is scheduled to meet in Brazil to define a common position ahead of negotiations with the European Union from Oct. 11-15.
Sept. 29: The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama in July will take effect.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1: Colombian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Sergio Diaz Granados is scheduled to discuss bilateral trade and economic production with Venezuelan representatives during a meeting in Arauca department.
Oct.1: A temporary ban on flights by Venezuelan state-run airline Conviasa is set to expire pending a fleet-wide safety review.
Sept. 27: The pro-zoning faction of the Nigerian Igbo political elite, known as the Igbo Political Association, will hold a summit in the Imo state capital of Owerri to rally support for the north's claim to the presidency.
Sept. 27: The Nigerian National Assembly will hold a joint meeting of the Constitutional Review Committees to consider a request by the Independent National Electoral Commission to delay the 2011 elections originally slated for January.
Sept. 29: France and Rwanda are expected to sign an agreement under which France will invest $4.4 million in RECO-RWASCO utilities.
Sept. 30: Madagascar will hold parliamentary elections.
Oct. 1: The U.N. High Commission for Human Rights will publish its human rights report on the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Oct. 1: Nigeria will hold its "Golden Jubilee" celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence. The federal government has stated that it expects more than 50 heads of state to attend.