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Sep 26, 2008 | 21:36 GMT

9 mins read

Intelligence Guidance: Week of Sept. 28, 2008

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. The U.S. financial crisis: Standard political maneuvers notwithstanding, the U.S. financial bailout plan should be in place by the end of the weekend. The most important question we need to examine is if this bailout plan will resolve the problems in the system. The first indicators will come from the equity markets, but we need to keep in mind the poor track record of traders forecasting the market. We should have a clearer idea of investor confidence later in the week. Only then can we assess the geopolitical impact and contagion effect of the financial crisis. 2. Stirrings in Chechnya: A civil war in Chechnya is building up between the Kadyrov and Yamadayev factions. We need to see if the Kremlin can clamp down on this quickly enough to prevent another full-blown Chechen war and to prevent outside powers from jumping into the fray. If a war does erupt, what's the potential for it to spread to Dagestan, Ingushetia and Georgia in the northern Caucasus? Most importantly, will the United States see instability in Chechnya as an opportunity to tie Russia's hands? We need to look for signs of U.S., as well as Saudi, involvement in Chechnya. The Kremlin will be moving quickly to try to lock the situation down. 3. Iraq's Awakening Councils: The Shia-dominated Iraqi government will assume control over the 100,000-strong Sunni tribal militia force known as the Awakening Councils/Sons of Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his principal backer Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, and the Iranians want to defang this force. The handover provides them an opportunity to do so, and the Sunnis will resist. We need to see how well (or not) this transition takes place and any signs of jihadist resurgence and sectarian violence. How will Washington ensure the integration of these Sunnis into the security apparatus? 4. Iran's influence in Iraq: We have to seriously examine the question of whether Iran's credibility among its principal allies in Iraq has declined. Is the United States still putting the effort into working out a deal with the Iranians on Iraq, or has Washington moved onto bigger and more pressing issues in the Pakistani-Afghan and Eurasian theaters? 5. The Russians in Latin America: Our eyes remain focused on Russian activity in Latin America. There were signs this past week that the Russians could be putting their money where their mouth is by subsidizing their allies in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. We need to see if Russia actually follows through with any of these projects. 6. China's holidays and social issues: China is celebrating National Day on Oct. 1, marked by a week-long public holiday. Internal tensions have mounted throughout the year in China. The recent coal mine disasters and the scandal created by melamine-tainted dairy products and baby food has exacerbated these tensions, causing a slew of public officials to be dismissed and stirring a national debate about government accountability. While the holiday should provide a reprieve from social issues, we need to watch the politicians to see how they manage the breathing space, and how actively they are striving to maintain security and social stability. In the aftermath of the Olympics, Beijing is looking inward, and we need to look over its shoulder to get a better view of the leadership's interaction with the public. 7. Russia and India: The Russian defense minister will be traveling to India next week. As Russia works its way around the globe to shore up relations with old allies, India is no exception. We need to see what defense deals Russia lays on the table to lure India away from Washington. With the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal still pending and little time for the U.S. Congress to see the deal through, this is the time for Russia to curry favor with the Indians. 8. Nigeria's domestic political scene: It looks like a Cabinet reshuffle may be in the works in Nigeria, with President Umaru Yaradua seeking to consolidate his position by appointing new personnel owing their positions to him and purging his government of appointees made by his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo. A Cabinet reshuffle would consolidate the power of Yaradua's northern faction at the expense of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and his tribal Ijaw southern faction, which has a penchant for blowing up pipelines. We need to be on the watch for renewed attacks on the country's energy infrastructure. EURASIA
  • Sept. 26: Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will meet with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez in Orenburg, Russia. Discussions are expected to revolve around increased Russo-Venezuelan military and energy cooperation.
  • Sept. 26-28: Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov will meet with his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony. Russia intends to charge India $1.2 billion more for the refitting of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. Also to be discussed are the development of a joint fifth-generation fighter aircraft, transport aircraft and a transfer of the technology for the T-80 tank.
  • Sept. 28: Parliamentary elections will be held in Belarus. Observers from the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe are in place in the country. The House of Representatives' 110 seats are being contested by 276 registered candidates. The EU will use these elections as a benchmark for further cooperation with Belarus.
  • Sept. 28-Oct. 1: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will visit his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev to discuss mutual energy and resource cooperation. In addition, the North Korean nuclear issue will be on the table, as well as a potential cooperative economic development program for North Korea.
  • Sept. 29: France will host the EU-India Summit in Marseilles; Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will attend. A comprehensive and expansive free trade agreement is to be discussed, with hopes that an agreement will be reached by the end of 2008.
  • Sept. 30: The Islamic holy month of Ramadan ends. An outbreak of violence is possible between forces loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Sulim Yamadayev, brother of Ruslam Yamadayev, a former Russian parliament member who was killed Sept. 24.
  • Sept. 30: The breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia will celebrate its Independence Day.
  • Oct. 1: An expected 200 observers will be deployed to monitor Russian troop withdrawals from Georgia. The regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are not included in the agreements reached between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
  • Oct. 2: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will attend the final meeting of the Russo-German forum at St. Petersburg University. The "Petersburg Dialogue" is to focus on the Russo-Georgian war.
  • Oct. 3-4: Government delegations from Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan will meet with corporate representatives at the Intergovernmental Economic Conference of Caspian States in Astrakhan, Russia.
  • Sept. 26-28: Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov will visit India for talks with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony regarding defense and strategic relations between the two countries.
  • Sept. 27: The Lebanese parliament will convene to debate the draft law on parliamentary elections covering issues such as electoral district division and whether to extend absentee voting rights to Lebanese abroad.
  • Sept. 29: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and top EU officials will meet in France for the annual EU-India summit. Leaders are to sign a deal on civil aviation cooperation and discuss trade relations. Additional issues on the agenda are the global financial crisis, climate change, and security issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Iran's nuclear program.
  • Oct. 1: Israel will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
  • Oct. 1: Iraq's Sunni Awakening Councils will be transferred to the Iraqi government.
  • Oct. 1: End of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.
  • Sept. 28:-Oct. 1: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak will visit Russia to hold talks with President Dmitri Medvedev. The talks are expected to focus on North Korea's reversals on the denuclearization process, developments in the countries' aerospace and energy sectors, bilateral business and trade, and developments among South Korea, North Korea and Russia on power lines, railroads and other projects. The two could also discuss the eventual succession of power in North Korea.
  • Sept. 29: Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers will meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.
  • Sept. 29-Oct. 3: China will celebrate a week-long public holiday that culminates with National Day on Oct. 1.
  • Oct. 1: Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski will visit Japan for negotiations.
  • Sept 27: Mexican President Felipe Calderon will hold a private meeting with Institutional Revolutionary Party senators in Mexico City.
  • Sept. 28: Ecuador's constitutional referendum will test President Rafael Correa's planned reforms, including a controversial ban on foreign military bases.
  • Sept 28: A rally will be held at Mexico City's Angel of Independence monument. At the rally, former presidential candidate Andreas Manuel Lopez Obrador will present a "plan of salvation" for Mexico involving "collective solutions coming from the people."
  • Oct. 1: A delegation of experts on arbitrary detentions will arrive in Colombia to visit various detention centers and report on conditions.
  • Oct 2-3: Foreign ministers of the Pacific Basin (Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru) will meet in Santiago, Chile, to propose a future presidential meeting to consolidate the Pacific Arc Latinoamericano.
  • Sept. 30- Oct. 3: Ghana will host the annual summit of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group states.
Intelligence Guidance: Week of Sept. 28, 2008

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