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SnapshotsSep 24, 2020 | 19:59 GMT
COVID-19 Tests Jordan’s Stability
Jordan’s deteriorating social and economic conditions due to COVID-19 are driving support to Islamist parties, raising the risk of a government crackdown that could fan the flames of radicalism. Despite recording fewer than 5,000 COVID-19 cases since March, Jordan has taken a strict lockdown approach, with tight border controls and restricted incoming arrivals for tourist locations. The subsequent impact on business activity, and in particular tourism revenue (which accounts for nearly 20 percent of Jordan’s GDP), has in turn taken a steep toll country’s economy, with unemployment now expected to hit an all-time high of 25 percent by the end of this year. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image of the Middle East and North Africa. 
A New Brand of Nationalism Takes Root in the Middle East
Once the salve for crushed Middle Eastern empires, Pan-Islamism and its vision of a singular caliphate are now increasingly seen as a threat to stability in the region, with countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia turning toward nationalism to instead define their policies and behavior. Indeed, even the countries that still claim to embody the movement’s ideals, such as Qatar and Turkey, are only doing so as a means to a nationalist end, exploiting its preachings of Islamic unity to project their government’s strength at home and abroad. This trend has most recently been illuminated by the UAE-Israel normalization pact by dealing yet another blow to the idea that a global Muslim community, despite its many differences, could at the very least agree on issues such as the Palestinian question. 
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SnapshotsSep 2, 2020 | 18:34 GMT
Political Clashes in Lebanon Stir Fears of Another Civil War
The political and social threads that have kept Lebanon from entering another civil war are quickly fraying, with rival factions now struggling to contain violence amid the country’s deepening economic and humanitarian crises. On Aug. 27, clashes between supporters of the Sunni-dominated Future Movement party and the Iran-backed, Shiite-dominated militant group and political party Hezbollah broke out outside of Beirut, killing two and forcing the army to intervene. The skirmish erupted after Hezbollah supporters reportedly tried to unveil a banner marking the Shiite Ashoura religious holiday in a traditionally Sunni area. Days later on Aug. 31, the Shiite, Sunni and Maronite political parties in Lebanon's parliament settled on Mustapha Adib, a former diplomat with little political following, to replace former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who stepped down in the wake of the Aug. 4 Beirut explosion.
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SnapshotsAug 26, 2020 | 20:58 GMT
Despite a Rocky Start, UAE-Israeli Defense Ties Are Poised to Grow
The United Arab Emirates' desire to simultaneously upgrade its defense ties with Israel and the United States will probably create political controversy in both countries, though the benefits of deeper security cooperation with Abu Dhabi is more likely to earn greater support in Israel than Washington. On Aug. 25, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Emirati counterpart, Mohammed al-Bawardi, reportedly discussed possible security cooperation in their two countries' first publicly-known phone call since agreeing to normalize ties. The call came a day after the United Arab Emirates canceled a planned trilateral meeting with the United States and Israel in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public objection to the potential sale of the American F-35 stealth fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.
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AssessmentsAug 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A vintage map of the Middle East.
What's Driving Muslim Countries to Normalize Their Ties With Israel?
The waning influence of the pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism movements, combined with increasing U.S. pressure, will cause Oman, Bahrain and Morocco to soon join the United Arab Emirates in formalizing ties with Israel, accelerating a longer-term normalization trend that no longer hinges on the formation of a Palestinian state. The allure of Israel's technology and defense capabilities could also compel other Muslim states with covert ties and limited histories of overt conflict with Israel, such as Pakistan, to follow suit. Israel will, in turn, see expanding global economic ties that strengthen its post-pandemic recovery, as well as stronger regional allies that bolster its position against Iran should the upcoming U.S. election yield a less hawkish administration in Washington.
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SITUATION REPORTAug 20, 2020 | 21:26 GMT
U.S., Iraq: Al-Kadhimi Visits White House in Second Round of Strategic Dialogue 
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House after five U.S. companies (Chevron, Honeywell, Baker Hughes, General Electric and Stellar Energy) signed agreements with Iraq’s ministries of oil and electricity, Reuters reported Aug. 20. 
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SnapshotsAug 20, 2020 | 20:50 GMT
In Syria, the Specter of an Expanded U.S. Mission Reemerges
A skirmish in northeast Syria indicates the United States remains willing to respond with proportional force to increased harassment from President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as Damascus and its Russian allies seek ways to incentivize the withdrawal of U.S. troops. On Aug. 17, U.S. forces reportedly engaged with Syrian troops at a Syrian-run checkpoint near the town of Qamishli in the country's far northeast. The U.S. military is investigating the cause of the skirmish, though the engagement happened amid escalating tensions between Syrian forces and the remaining U.S. patrols in the country following the White House's repeated attempts to reduce its military presence. 
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SnapshotsAug 20, 2020 | 16:42 GMT
In Mali, a Coup at the Core of the Sahel's Counterterrorism Fight
The overthrow of Mali's president in a military coup casts further doubt over the county's ability to sustain counterterrorism efforts, and while the new junta is promising national elections, longstanding civil-military tensions suggest international pressure will be instrumental in shaping the timeline for government formation. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced his resignation around midnight local time on Aug. 19 after being arrested by members of the military earlier in the day along with a number of other officials. Keita's downfall risks undermining French-led efforts to contain jihadist activity in the region by creating more space for international terrorism cooperation among the radical groups, including local al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates. While the most significant risk of increased terrorist activity is in Mali itself, reduced cooperation as a result of the president's forced exit will also undermine counterterrorism efforts in both Burkina Faso and Niger. 
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AssessmentsAug 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A soldier keeps guard near the Nigerian border in Maradi, Niger.
Security in the Sahel Is Poised to Worsen
Recent political upheaval in Mali and the Ivory Coast threatens to compound intensifying instability in the Sahel and could spill over into other West African countries. Structural weaknesses of governments in the Sahel will leave them vulnerable to bouts of political unrest, insurgent and terrorist activity and other disruptions. As instability in the Sahel continues to grow, jihadist groups will further undermine the security of these countries and pose an increasing threat to coastal West African countries. These groups do not yet pose a threat of attacks outside the region.
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AssessmentsAug 5, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, at sunrise.
COVID-19 Risks Robbing Dubai of Its Economic and Political Autonomy
By sapping Dubai's economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will also ultimately erode the emirate's political and economic independence from neighboring Abu Dhabi. Without the tools and funding needed to support its own recovery, Dubai will likely be forced to rely on another bailout from wealthy Abu Dhabi, which could impact Dubai's development plans, especially in tourism and finance. 
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