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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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AssessmentsSep 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: Sept. 24, 2020
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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SnapshotsSep 22, 2020 | 22:24 GMT
Reading the Fine Print of Angola’s Debt Restructuring
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s recently announced $1 billion disbursement to Angola is based partly on China indicating a willingness to defer 2020 debts. But Beijing's creditor role may be complicated by possible efforts to take an equity stake in some of the Southern African country's oil fields. And while the funds will help fill some of Angola's financing gaps, there is clearly a market view that the country may require more comprehensive debt restructuring, even if it doesn't happen until 2021 or later. 
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AssessmentsSep 17, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: Sept. 17, 2020
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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SnapshotsSep 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
New U.S. Sanctions Against Hezbollah Risk Thwarting Lebanon's Progress
New U.S. Sanctions against Hezbollah risk extending Lebanon's economic and political crises by undercutting French efforts to broker Lebanese domestic political and economic reforms, which require the Iran-backed militant group and political party's support. On Sept. 8, the United States issued sanctions against two Lebanese politicians for engaging in corruption and providing "material support" to Hezbollah. The policy change appears to expand U.S. actions in recent years against the group, which has long been a target of Washington's efforts to counter Iranian proxies and allies throughout the Middle East. This is the first time the United States has targeted individuals with second-order connections to the group, broadening its scope of sanctions in ways that will impact a larger cross-section of Lebanese politicians across all major factions. The widening net will also create regulatory barriers that are likely to further spook investors and international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund.
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SnapshotsSep 11, 2020 | 16:48 GMT
Opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks at an event in Caracas, Venezuela, on Feb. 11, 2020.
Legislative Elections Risk Leaving Venezuela’s Opposition in Shambles
Disputes within Venezuela’s opposition over whether to boycott the country’s Dec. 6 legislative elections will likely enable President Nicolas Maduro to remain in power through at least the first half of 2021 by further weakening the legitimacy and influence of both Juan Guiado and his interim government. Guaido, who assumed an interim presidency in 2019, has proposed boycotting the upcoming elections for the National Assembly, citing concerns that the vote will be rigged by the Maduro regime. But prominent members of Venezuela’s opposition coalition, which Guiado currently heads, have since come out against his position. 
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AssessmentsSep 10, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: Sept. 10, 2020
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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On GeopoliticsSep 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cadets from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.
China’s Amphibian Dilemma: Straddling Land and Sea Ambitions
China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.  This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but
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AssessmentsSep 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: Sept. 3, 2020
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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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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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 17:01 GMT
North Korea
North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea, lies on a peninsula extending outward from northeast Asia. The country borders China and Russia to the north, the Republic of Korea to the south, and Japan across the sea to the east. North Korea's primary geographic challenge is securing its northern and southern borders from the threat of its much larger regional neighbors. The Kaema Plateau and Hamgyong Mountains comprise much of the northern border region, providing a strong but not unbreachable geographic barrier. The Taebaeck Mountains run along the east coast, limiting the potential for invasion from the sea. Since the time of earlier North Korean kingdoms including Koguryo, The Dandong-Sinuiju gap across the Yalu River in the northwest and the wide Imjin-Han river valley in the south leave the country vulnerable, particularly with the lack of geographic barriers along the north-south axis. North Korea's mountains do provide ample hydropower, and the country also has numerous natural mineral resources and coal, but its terrain and climate limit agricultural activity. Given its larger neighbors, North Korea has two core imperatives. It must secure its southern and northern borders via political accommodation, defensive lines or outward expansion, and it must engender a strong sense of national unity and exploit differences among its neighbors to balance external political pressure. From the launching of the Korean War to the heavily fortified DMZ, from the exploitation of relations between China and Russia to the development of a nuclear deterrent, North Korea's actions in many ways are shaped by similar constraints and pressures as felt by its predecessor kingdoms due to its location and geography.

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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 16:57 GMT
Australia
Australia
Australia is an island nation straddling the Indian Ocean basin and the South Pacific. Once a colony of the United Kingdom, the country began a move toward independence in 1901. Today, the Commonwealth of Australia encompasses the mainland of the Australian continent, Tasmania and more than 8,000 other islands in the continent’s surrounding waters. Australia’s interior, known as the Outback, is mostly desert. This largely uninhabitable area is home to Australia’s iron and coal reserves, among the world’s largest. Mining has grown in importance for the Australian economy and remains a key driver of future economic growth. The Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor forms the population core along the fertile South Eastern coastline, while the capital Canberra is situated in the interior near the Murray-Darling River System. The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia's agricultural heartland but is cut off from the core by the mountains of the Great Dividing Range. Australia's main geographic challenge is managing its isolation and small population, which is stretched thinly along its coasts. These factors affect almost all domestic and foreign policy decisions. Distance and isolation mean that Australia relies heavily on shipping lanes for its economic security. This has led Australia to build close alliances with global maritime powers — first the United Kingdom and later the United States — to protect its access to ocean trade as well as deter attacks from other powers. Increasingly, Canberra must balance its strategic, military and cultural ties to the United States and Europe with greater economic integration with East and Southeast Asia, and especially China — its largest trading partner.
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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 13:18 GMT
Afghanistan
Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South Asia bordering China, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Spanning over 652,000 square miles, the majority-Muslim country's geography can be divided into the highlands, the northern plains and the southwestern plateau. Mountains are Afghanistan's dominant geographic feature, with the Hindu Kush range running at a southwestern angle and roughly dividing the country in half. The four most important cities are the capital Kabul in the east, Kandahar in the south, Herat in the west, and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north. Because of its location, the country functions as a bridge between energy-rich Central Asia and energy-deficient South Asia. Afghanistan's primary geographic challenge is resisting the intervention of outside powers while also maintaining authority over a mostly rural society spread across a rugged landscape. Afghanistan's location at the crossroads of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent has historically invited external actors, resulting in a country containing diverse languages, cultures and ethnicities. Indeed, Afghan society includes significant populations of Pashtun, Tajiks, Turkmens, Uzbeks and Hazaras. Each of these groups share populations in a neighboring country, encouraging external involvement. The borders of modern-day Afghanistan were drawn during the 19th century to carve out a space between the British and Russian empires. Afghanistan's most contentious boundary is with Pakistan and is called the Durand Line. Afghanistan disputes the border, claiming that its true boundary should absorb Pakistan's Pashtun-majority region. This fuels the antagonism between the two countries and plays a role in Afghanistan's broader challenge of asserting sovereignty as outside actors try to advance their own interests.

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