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SITUATION REPORTAug 6, 2020 | 18:52 GMT
U.S., China: Beijing Condemns Health Secretary’s Upcoming Visit to Taiwan
China’s foreign ministry said it firmly opposes any official U.S. exchanges with Taiwan, warning that a visit to the island by a U.S. Cabinet official would threaten “peace and stability” in the region, AFP reported Aug. 5. The statement comes a day after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that Secretary Alex Azar would lead a delegation to Taipai in the coming days to discuss Taiwan’s successful COVID-19 strategy.
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SnapshotsAug 5, 2020 | 19:36 GMT
An Explosion Risks Razing Lebanon’s Last Shreds of Stability
A massive explosion in Beirut will intensify already potent popular anger at the Lebanese government and contribute to political infighting, even as it opens the door for much-needed humanitarian aid in the near term. The catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut sent a shockwave miles through the surrounding area, destroying thousands of homes and buildings. The blast has so far killed over 100 people while injuring thousands more. Available evidence about the nature of the explosion aligns with the government's account of the accident, pointing at gross negligence that will elicit anger at authorities. The damage to Lebanon's most critical port, even if temporary, will also exacerbate the country's existing food and supply shortages.
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SnapshotsAug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
In Jordan, a Government Crackdown on Civil Dissent Risks Backfiring
The arrests of teachers union leaders in Jordan risks fueling unrest in the typically politically stable country against a government the United States relies on for its regional counterterrorism efforts. On July 25, Jordanian security forces arrested over a dozen key members of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate and charged them with corruption, incitement, financial irregularities and criminal activities. Forces also raided the union’s offices and shut them down for two years. Nasser Nawasreh, acting head of the Teachers Syndicate, was charged with incitement specifically over a speech he gave on July 22 that sharply criticized Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government. A government spokesman said that the arrests were conducted to prevent the union from staging planned sit-ins and demonstrations that risked harming “the state’s essential services and their functioning.”
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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Yemen’s Separatists Pause Their Push for Autonomy to Advance It Later
Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) will temporarily implement the terms of a previous peace deal with the Yemeni government to gain political leverage before ultimately returning to its pursuit of an independent southern Yemen. The STC, which is an umbrella force of southern militias and secessionists, announced July 29 that it would abide by a Saudi-brokered political reconciliation agreement with its rivals in President Mansoor Hadi's internationally recognized government. The announcement came a few hours after Saudi Arabia announced its plans to “accelerate” the implementation of the power-sharing agreement signed last year in Riyadh, which demands the STC end its attempts at self-rule in exchange for more posts in the government.
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AssessmentsJul 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Ukraine's new central bank chief, Kyrylo Shevchenko, wears a face mask as he watches lawmakers vote on his candidacy during a parliamentary session on July 16, 2020.
Is Ukraine on Thin Ice with the IMF?
A potential falling out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over monetary policy and independence of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) would be highly damaging, but not catastrophic, to Ukraine's economic recovery efforts. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has made Kyiv heavily dependent on the bailout money it's receiving from the IMF, as well as the European Union. The IMF has placed Kyiv on a fairly short leash, warning that the recent appointment of Kyrylo Shevchenko -- an advocate of easier monetary policy and ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky -- raises questions regarding the NBU's independence and possible politicization. Zelensky and Shevchenko's political views are unlikely to cause the IMF to suspend its assistance to Ukraine, though the actions of the NBU will be monitored closely.
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SnapshotsJul 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Lockdown Fatigue Leaves Israel With More COVID-19 Cases and Fewer Options
On July 21, Israel reported over 2000 new cases of COVID-19, shattering previous springtime records that peaked around 765 on April 2. The escalating new wave of infections recently prompted the Israeli government to roll back its reopening, as well as impose localized lockdowns and new restrictions on business activity, which will risk further hampering the country's economic recovery. Israel's unity government, however, will not enact another national lockdown for fear of prompting additional protests and deepening public resistance to health measures designed to reduce the spread of the virus. The absence of a large-scale containment strategy means COVID-19 will likely continue to spread in the country, straining Israel's healthcare system and economy. 
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On GeopoliticsJul 24, 2020 | 15:53 GMT
A skyline view of Anchorage, Alaska, and the Chugach Mountains at dusk.
Remapping the American Arctic
Maps play an important role in shaping national policy, and in shaping society’s consciousness and support. But they can also reinforce ideas of relative unimportance by leaving key areas off, or having areas appear as mere incidental inclusions, which can subconsciously constrain developments in foreign policy. Indeed, it’s perhaps no surprise that many Americans still fail to recognize the United States as an Arctic nation when the majority of U.S. maps place Alaska in a small inset box, relegating the state to a secondary geographic status. The United States, however, maintains a strong interest in a secure and stable Arctic, for its Alaska citizens, for economic reasons, and for core national security. So long as the American Arctic is considered something distant and separate from the United States, it risks being sidelined in the national narrative, and thus sidelined in national priorities and attention. The United States is already playing
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AssessmentsJul 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Fighters aligned with Libya's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) patrol a village located halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on July 20, 2020.
Egypt Readies to Intervene in Libya as Hifter Struggles
In response to movements from the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt will likely launch a military intervention in eastern Libya, using tribal ties to gain public support for or the deployment to secure Egypt's western borders. While Egypt will seek to avoid engaging in direct combat with rival Turkish forces in the region, its presence on the ground will raise the risk of a wider confrontation that draws Cairo deeper into Libya's increasingly insoluble civil war. 
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AssessmentsJul 21, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
A rally in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 11, 2020, at Umayyad Square in Damascus, Syria.
In Syria, COVID-19 and Economic Woes Will Dampen Damascus' Ambitions
Economic and health crises have undercut Damascus' appetite for new major military offensives by creating dissent in previously secure territory. This suggests the al Assad government will attempt to consolidate power within loyalist territories before renewing efforts to eliminate Turkish and American influence.
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AssessmentsJul 20, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, Mexico, after announcing his plan to "rescue" Mexican oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) on Feb. 8, 2019.
Lopez Obrador's Policy Shifts Will Have a Mixed Impact on Mexico’s Energy Projects
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's reversal of certain energy policies will likely continue to have a modest impact on foreign investment and competition in Mexico's oil and gas sector. While intended to make Mexico's overall energy industry more self-reliant and state-centric, Lopez Obrador's policy shifts ultimately risk further crippling the country's state-owned oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), while delaying its electricity sector's shift to renewable energy sources. 
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SnapshotsJul 14, 2020 | 14:21 GMT
A Call for Unity May Protect Iran's President From Impeachment, but Not His Officials
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal to parliament against efforts to impeach President Hassan Rouhani will slow, but not stop, legislators' action against Rouhani's administration in its final year. In a July 12 address to parliament, Khamenei urged unity among Iran's leaders and voiced his support for Rouhani carrying out the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2021. The movement to impeach Rouhani and officials in his administration, which has been building since Iran's new parliament took office in late May, has accelerated over the last week. Khamenei's intervention won't halt dissatisfaction with Rouhani's performance, but it will make his impeachment less likely. Other prominent figures in his administration, however, will still be at risk of being prematurely ousted from office.
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AssessmentsJul 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a protective face mask as she attends a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020.
Germany's Next Election Season Will Begin a Period of Political Turbulence
Disputes between outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her potential successor will likely lead to an ineffective government ahead of Germany's next parliamentary election, which will take place in late 2021 and could result in the collapse of the country's ruling coalition. In addition to reducing Berlin's ability to manage the economic fallout from COVID-19, this period of political turbulence will also slow the European Union's policymaking process as the rest of the bloc refrains from making meaningful decisions until its largest economy appoints a new government.
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SnapshotsJul 13, 2020 | 19:09 GMT
High Turnout in Hong Kong’s Opposition Primary Portends a Contentious Election Season
High voter turnout in Hong Kong's opposition primary demonstrates the pro-democracy camp's continued momentum toward a strong showing for the city's September legislative election. Despite fears of low turnout amid the draconian national security law, Hong Kong's July 11-12 unofficial pro-democratic primary attracted 610,000 voters -- 13.8 percent of the city's electorate and in excess of the 170,000-person target. The strong public mandate will help the opposition winnow down the normally massive pool of candidates in order to avoid splitting the vote to the advantage of pro-Beijing opponents. Instead of exerting a chilling effect on politics in the city, it also appears that the new national security law has galvanized the opposition, which bodes well for electoral turnout in September.
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