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AssessmentsMar 3, 2021 | 22:57 GMT
Smoke billows above a Syrian village following an airstrike raid on March 3, 2020.
U.S. Talks Won’t Change Iran’s Proxy Strategy
Iran is using its proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to increase pressure on U.S. interests in the Middle East as it seeks to build leverage before renewing negotiations with Washington. But even if U.S. talks yield sanctions relief, Tehran remains unlikely to abandon its powerful militia network. On Feb. 26, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed Iraqi militias in Syria. The strikes, which were the Biden administration’s first military action since taking office, were intended to send a message to Iran as the two governments approach possible negotiations on U.S. sanctions and Iran’s nuclear program. Biden even told reporters that the airstrikes sought to communicate to Iran that it could not act with “impunity.” But the airstrikes also functioned as a direct response to the growing threat Iraqi militias pose to U.S. forces in the Middle East, underscoring how proxy theater activity is both a
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AssessmentsFeb 26, 2021 | 21:22 GMT
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud walks the halls of the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. after meeting with then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 14, 2020.
Biden Brings More Skepticism Into the U.S.-Saudi Relationship
As the drivers bringing them together weaken, the United States and Saudi Arabia will become more conservative in deepening their strategic ties and more critical of one another’s differences. On Feb. 26, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden released a report publicly blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and imposed visa bans on 76 Saudis associated with the act under a new so-called “Khashoggi Policy.” This, along with other recent public statements and arms freezes, indicates Biden preparing to shift U.S.-Saudi ties away from his predecessor’s close personal relationship with the kingdom. The White House appears ready to press Saudi Arabia to engage in more restrained foreign policy, emphasizing U.S. human rights objectives in its Saudi dialogue. That pressure will undoubtedly clash with several of the kingdom’s own deeply set imperatives, creating pushback from Riyadh and turbulence in long-standing U.S.-Saudi
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SnapshotsFeb 26, 2021 | 16:31 GMT
EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni speaks during a press conference after a virtual meeting at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, on Feb. 15, 2021. 
The EU Moves Ahead With a Corporate Tax Transparency Plan
The European Union will move forward with a plan to force large multinational companies to be more transparent about the taxes that they pay in every member state. This measure will likely expose the special (and unpopular) deals that small countries often offer to corporations and, indirectly, increase EU pressure for higher taxation of digital companies. The Portuguese government, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, announced on Feb. 25 that it has secured enough support from member states to move forward with a plan to force multinationals with revenue of more than 750 million euros that operate in the bloc to reveal their tax payments and activities for each member state. The proposal will now move to the European Council and the European Parliament, which means that it could be months before it is enforced. Opponents to the plan, which include Luxembourg and Ireland, could challenge its
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AssessmentsFeb 25, 2021 | 22:10 GMT
Chinese and EU flags stand at the chancellery on Jan. 26, 2021, in Berlin, Germany. The two entities recently reached a comprehensive agreement on investment.
The Future of Chinese Investment in Europe
The European Union will remain open to Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the coming years, but will limit China’s access to strategic sectors of its economy (such as technology). Brussels will also continue to confront Beijing over political, human rights and security issues. The European Union and the United States are the Continent’s primary sources of FDI, which limits China’s ability to leverage FDI to gain political influence. Investment in European infrastructure, such as ports and railways, offers Chinese exporters greater access to European markets, while the acquisition of high-tech companies and know-how gives Beijing access to sophisticated technology it can use for its domestic industrial plans. Europe sees the Asian giant as a source of funding, but in recent years, most countries have become concerned about the national security implications of rising Chinese investment. The European Union also wants to make the bilateral relationship more reciprocal, as the bloc
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SnapshotsFeb 23, 2021 | 21:23 GMT
Norwegian army soldiers use snowmobiles for mobility during a military exercise on March 6, 2013, in Skjold, Norway.
Increased Arctic Activity Sets the Stage for U.S.-Russia Competition
The U.S. military is increasing collaboration with Nordic states in response to expanding Russian military and economic activities in the Arctic, pointing to a future of heightened competition with the potential for both strategic and tactical miscommunication or miscalculation. On Feb. 22, four U.S. B-1 bombers arrived for their first-ever deployment to Norway in a move widely seen as a signal to Russia. Five days earlier, the United States agreed with Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to continue its participation in the biennial Arctic Challenge Exercise, one of Europe’s largest tactical air exercises and widely seen as practice to counter potential Russian belligerence, next scheduled for June 2021. The U.S. Army is also preparing to unveil its Arctic strategy in the coming weeks, as the changing climate turns the previously inaccessible region into an increasingly busy zone of military and economic activity -- particularly along the Russian frontier.
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On SecurityFeb 12, 2021 | 10:00 GMT
British fine china company Wedgwood on Oct. 14, 2020, in Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire, England.
Understanding Economic Espionage: The Past
For most of the previous two millennia, China was the international commercial center of the world. Products such as silk, porcelain and tea were rare and expensive in previous eras. The only way to get them was through trade with China. Commercial scheming by foreign powers to share in the profits generated by these products motivated trade secret theft that undermined China's monopoly on those products.
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SnapshotsFeb 11, 2021 | 17:46 GMT
An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft taxis during a training mission on Nov. 17, 2015, in Indian Springs, Nevada.
With U.S. Arms Sales in Question, Saudi Arabia and the UAE May Weigh Alternatives
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will likely seek alternative arms suppliers if the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden follows through on canceling arms shipments to the Arab Gulf countries. In Biden’s first major foreign policy speech on Feb. 4, he announced the end of American military support for Saudi and Emirati intervention in Yemen, while saying that Washington would terminate offensive arms sales that could be used to conduct their operations in Yemen. He did not, however, specify which systems would be blocked. Biden also announced the appointment of a new envoy for Yemen, veteran diplomat Timothy Lenderking, who will aid the U.N.-led diplomatic process to end the civil war between the Houthi movement and the internationally recognized President Mansoor Hadi. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department signaled that it is beginning the review of the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to designate the Houthis
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SITUATION REPORTFeb 9, 2021 | 19:52 GMT
U.S.: Top General Says Drones Pose Biggest Threat to Troops in the Middle East
The head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., said that the proliferation of drones was the “most concerning tactical development” in the Middle East and pose the largest threat to U.S. troops in the region “since the rise of the improvised explosive device [IED] in Iraq,” Task & Purpose reported Feb. 8. 
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SnapshotsFeb 4, 2021 | 21:39 GMT
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wears a facemask as he arrives to meet with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on Oct. 8, 2020.
Ukraine Seeks Biden’s Help, But Should Temper Expectations
Ukraine is taking steps to engage the United States amid continued provocations from Russia. Its persistent political, economic and security challenges, however, will prevent immediate and meaningful U.S. assistance, thus keeping Kyiv lodged between Russian and Western interests. In a recently aired interview with Axios, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy appealed to recently inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden to “enter a new phase” of bilateral relations by emphasizing the centrality of the United States to improving Ukraine’s future prospects and revealing that he was “a little bit” angry with former President Donald Trump.
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AssessmentsFeb 3, 2021 | 19:51 GMT
Police block protesters from accessing the parliament building on Jan. 26, 2021, in Tunis, Tunisia.
Protests Reveal the Depths of Tunisia’s Dysfunction
A rash of protests in Tunisia could force the current government to step down, though any successor government won’t have the answers to the economic, social and political problems people are looking for. After only six months in office, Tunisian Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi’s government is already facing growing calls for its resignation. Since mid-January, Tunisia has seen persistent anti-government protests, with demonstrators demanding action on judicial reforms, government corruption and basic economic grievances. Anger over the Jan. 25 death of Haykl Rachdi, a young protester who was struck with a tear gas canister by Tunisian police, has since further galvanized participation in protests across the country, underscoring how the pressure on Mechichi’s government cuts across geographic and social lines.
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SnapshotsFeb 2, 2021 | 17:23 GMT
A member of the airport police stands guard as a forklift unloads a container full of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine from a plane in Ezeiza, Argentina, on Jan. 16, 2021.
Russia Delays Vaccine Shipments, Stalling Latin America’s Inoculation Efforts
A delay in shipments of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine will likely push back inoculation timelines in Latin America, testing the future electability of politicians who were hoping to quickly roll out the vaccine. On Jan. 27, Russia announced that shipments of its Sputnik V vaccine to a number of countries will be delayed by two to three weeks. Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico and Paraguay will all be impacted, having already purchased significant quantities of the vaccine. Argentina, meanwhile, will receive shipments on an altered schedule. The delay is due to the facilities in Moscow expanding their production capacity in the hopes to meet growing global demand. Argentina was the first country to buy a significant amount of doses of Russia’s Sputnik V, but the vaccine’s popularity in the region spread due to its affordability and availability.
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On GeopoliticsJan 29, 2021 | 22:42 GMT
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he gives a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on September 21, 2020.
Turkey’s President Plays Nice, But for How Long?
Turkey’s traditionally combative leader is trying his hand at a more conciliatory approach, as the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic erodes his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s political standing. His warm words, however, will likely remain just that. In recent months, Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan has promised economic and judicial reforms at home and diplomacy with Europe, the United States and Israel abroad. But this notable shift in tone is likely aimed at shoring up investor confidence and avoiding sanctions just long enough for the Turkish economy to get back on track -- at which point, Ankara will probably return to its former confrontational self.
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SnapshotsJan 29, 2021 | 17:24 GMT
U.S. President Joe Biden prepares to sign executive orders after speaking about climate change issues in the State Dining Room of the White House on Jan. 27, 2021 in Washington D.C.  Behind him stands Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry (left) and Vice President Kamala Harris (right).
By Linking Climate Change to Security, Biden Tasks Policymakers With a Tall Order
The White House’s move to elevate climate change to a national security priority will enable immediate policy-making changes that belie the more complex long-term challenge of actually incorporating environmental impacts into strategic calculations. On Jan. 27, amid signing a series of executive orders targeting what he termed the global “climate crisis,” U.S. President Joe Biden instructed the military and national security community to prioritize climate change considerations when formulating policy. The president’s direction forms a small portion of his administration’s pledge to revive efforts to address climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies at home and abroad. Former President Donald Trump, by contrast, repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate science, and took steps to deprioritize or fully remove policies addressing the impact of climate change from his administration’s agenda.
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