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AssessmentsApr 16, 2021 | 16:37 GMT
Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s president and chief of the ruling Communist Party, attends a meeting in Sochi, Russia, on Sept. 6, 2018.
A Broadening Anti-Graft Campaign Complicates Vietnam’s Economic Future
Vietnamese leader Nguyen Phu Trong’s anti-corruption and anti-dissident (ACAD) campaigns will fuel political infighting and further empower the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) over the technocrats, increasing regulatory and reputational risks for foreign businesses looking to take advantage of Vietnam’s economic boom. Trong has greatly intensified the VCP’s ACAD campaigns since 2016 when he fended off a challenge from former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Now, having achieved a third term as general secretary (a move unprecedented since 1976) and facing declining health at 77 years old, Trong will continue ACAD activities as a means of consolidating his foothold and ensuring his chosen successor takes power, all while assisted by newly installed allies such as Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
SnapshotsApr 15, 2021 | 18:57 GMT
A bird flies past the flag outside the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. on April 15, 2021.
More U.S. Sanctions Portend Russian Retaliation
New U.S. sanctions on Russia will worsen the two countries’ already fraught relations and compel the Kremlin to respond to what it will perceive as an escalation. On April 15, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russian financial markets, individuals and entities in response to Russia’s involvement in the 2020 SolarWinds cyberattack, attempted interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and ongoing occupation of Crimea. These new sanctions follow those that the United States and European Union imposed in March over Russia’s attempted assassination and subsequent jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. At the time, the Biden administration pledged to impose separate penalties for grievances specific to the United States, including the SolarWinds cyberattack and election interference.
AssessmentsApr 14, 2021 | 19:16 GMT
Iran and China’s foreign ministers (right to left) sign a partnership agreement in Tehran on March 27, 2021.
Iran Will Pursue Its New China Partnership With Caution
Iran’s strategic partnership with China will lead to increased security and economic cooperation, but Tehran will avoid fully siding with Beijing for fear of becoming too dependent on a single partner and alienating itself from the West. The March 27 signing of their 25-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is reflective of the mutual interest between Tehran and Beijing, including collaboration on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as well as on energy and defense matters. But Iran loathes becoming strategically dependent on any power and will seek to balance its partnership with China with improving ties to Western countries, to ensure Tehran remains as a “neither East, nor West, Islamic Republic,” as Supreme Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put it. 
AssessmentsApr 12, 2021 | 21:58 GMT
Iranian flags fly along a highway in Natanz in June 2014.
What an Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facility Means for JCPOA Talks
Iran’s need to secure sanctions relief in newly restarted nuclear talks will limit its response to the suspected Israeli attack on Iran’s Natanz facility. Any act of Iranian retaliation, however, will increase overall global scrutiny on the negotiations between Tehran and the West. Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility south of Tehran suffered an overnight electricity blackout early April 11 after an explosion reportedly destroyed the internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges. The timing of the incident follows the first indirect diplomatic engagement between the United States and Iran in three years, and comes amid ongoing tit-for-tat maritime and regional escalations between Israel and Iran. This further indicates the incident was intentional sabotage, with the intent to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program progress, as well as potentially spoil talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany), which are set to continue in
SITUATION REPORTApr 12, 2021 | 20:20 GMT
Canada: Government Reportedly Blocked Award for Taiwanese President
The Canadian government reportedly threatened to pull support and funding from the Halifax International Security Forum (HFX) in late 2020 if the group moved ahead with plans to award the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Politico reported April 11, citing unconfirmed leaks.
AssessmentsApr 12, 2021 | 18:02 GMT
The U.S. Federal Reserve building is seen on July 1, 2020, in Washington D.C.
The U.S. Fed’s Gamble on Higher Inflation
By saying it will tolerate higher inflation for longer and not move preemptively against potential reignited inflation, the U.S. Federal Reserve is conducting a monetary policy experiment with long-term risks to interest rates, exchange rates, wages, investment, financial stability and, ultimately, economic growth. There is no alternative to the current easy monetary policy, given the continued disruptions in the U.S. economy. And, while rekindled inflation is not an immediate threat, political pressures to maintain exceptional monetary support and a broadening central bank mandate, along with large fiscal stimulus, could create a situation that leaves the Fed with too few options, too late. 
AssessmentsApr 9, 2021 | 18:29 GMT
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party during a political rally in Ankara on March 24, 2021.
Making Sense of Turkey’s Contradictory Behavior: Part 2
Ahead of 2023 elections, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will embrace policies that appease its Islamist base by further entrenching religion into the country’s culture and economy. The AKP will also ramp up efforts to rig the country’s electoral system in its favor, pulling Turkey toward authoritarianism. Sliding poll numbers, the emergence of rival parties and an uncertain economic future are forcing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to rethink its political strategy ahead of June 2023 elections. As the AKP loses control of managing Turkey’s economy, the party is considering old tactics, like reshaping the country’s electoral system to better benefit the AKP and its ruling partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), leaning into more Islamist-friendly cultural conservatism at home while pragmatically picking confrontations with the international community abroad. While it’s not certain that such tactics will necessarily position the AKP for yet
SITUATION REPORTApr 6, 2021 | 19:20 GMT
Jordan: Prince Hamzah Swears Allegiance to King, Media Coverage Banned
Jordan’s former crown prince, Hamzah bin Hussein, signed a letter pledging his allegiance to his half-brother King Abdullah II after a mediation meeting with the king’s uncle, Prince Hassan, the Jordan Times reported April 6. The kingdom has since banned social media users and news outlets from publishing any additional content related to Prince Hamzah, who was recently arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. 
SnapshotsApr 6, 2021 | 19:12 GMT
People wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a community center in Latvia on March 30, 2021.
In the Race to Herd Immunity, Can the EU Make Up for Lost Time?
The European Union’s goal of reaching herd immunity by July will require a significant acceleration of its COVID-19 vaccination process. But variations in manufacturing and distribution capacity, along with public acceptance of the shot itself, mean that process -- and the bloc’s subsequent rebound in economic activity -- will be uneven. EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told a French newspaper on April 5 that at least 70% of adults (the so-called “herd immunity” threshold where the virus can be easily controlled) in the European Union could be inoculated by mid-July as the bloc ramps up its vaccine rollout after a sluggish start. Breton said the European Union will begin distributing 100 million vaccine doses a month starting in April, after distributing 60 million doses in March and 28 million in February. But according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC), as of April 4, only 14.2%
SnapshotsApr 6, 2021 | 14:26 GMT
Men read local newspapers in Amman, Jordan, on April 4, 2021.
In Jordan, Private Royal Grievances Go Public
In Jordan, the arrest of a former crown prince reveals a kingdom uncertain of how to address its pandemic-induced economic crisis, which could harm Jordan’s reputation for stability if the monarchy fails to deter further high-profile displays of dissent from its own family members, as well as the general public. On April 3, Jordanian authorities arrested 20 people for an alleged plot to overthrow the government deemed to be a “threat to the country’s stability.” The most high-profile of the arrests include the former crown prince and half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Hamzah bin Hussein, and his mother, who were both reportedly under house arrest as authorities conduct an investigation. Prince Hamzah released a video late on April 3 to the BBC claiming he was being silenced because he spoke out about corruption in Jordan and the “incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last
AssessmentsApr 5, 2021 | 17:43 GMT
An electronic board shows the index chart at the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange after shares in Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras plunged amid news of a leadership shake-up on Feb. 22, 2021.
Is Brazil Barreling Toward an All-Out Economic Crisis?
The Brazilian government is unlikely to implement fiscal reforms needed to emerge from its pandemic-induced recession ahead of the 2022 presidential election. This will, in turn, damage investor confidence and foreign investment inflows, which could delay Brazil’s economic recovery, worsen its fiscal problems and reduce trade with other nearby economies. Brazil’s politicians have used costly welfare programs to keep the economy and their approval ratings afloat during the pandemic, and are now adverse to putting a cap on public sector spending. Brazil’s fiscal sustainability is at risk due to rising inflation, high public debt and a recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
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