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AssessmentsJan 12, 2021 | 21:55 GMT
Destroyed homes are seen in the village of Aldeia da Paz outside Macomia, Mozambique, after a militant attack on Aug. 24, 2019.
In Mozambique, Militants Will Gain Ground Until They Threaten the Government
Militants in Mozambique will continue to gain ground near the liquified natural gas (LNG) park under construction in the country’s north until the government deems the economic and political threat large enough to warrant foreign support. On Jan. 1, the French supermajor Total evacuated some of its personnel from its $20 billion LNG project being built on the Afungi Peninsula in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, effectively freezing work at the site. The decision came after the Islamic State affiliate in Mozambique, Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama (ASWJ) -- which is also a part of Islamic State’s Central African Province -- attacked a village less than one kilometer from the facility’s airstrip.
ReflectionsJan 5, 2021 | 21:49 GMT
Supporters of Lebanon’s Future Movement party wave the party’s flag alongside the country’s national flag during a parade in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on Oct. 22, 2020.
In Lebanon, Time Is Running Out to Avoid a Total Unraveling
After a year of severe economic and political instability, Lebanon is edging closer toward a full-blown crisis that could overwhelm even the most entrenched members of its ruling elite, raising the specter of widespread unrest or another civil war. Little about Lebanon is tenable, with its economy in shambles, its national budget unsustainable, its infrastructure in disrepair, and its security at constant threat from extremists, regional conflicts and internal unrest. But with no checks on their power, Lebanon’s various political factions are still finding ways to ritualize this dysfunction, scrambling to stay one step ahead of a disaster that upends their place in power -- and with it, the remaining threads keeping the country from coming apart at the seams. 
SnapshotsJan 5, 2021 | 19:34 GMT
A sign advises people to follow COVID-19 restrictions on Jan. 5, 2021, in Falmouth, the United Kingdom. In a televised address on Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country was entering its third lockdown since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.
The Next Wave of COVID-19 Lockdowns Emerges in Europe
The United Kingdom’s decision to tighten its COVID-19 lockdown measures and introduce a new relief package for businesses is a preview of similar decisions that governments in continental Europe will introduce in the coming days. The lockdown measures will result in low, or even negative, economic growth in Europe in the first quarter of 2021, which will worsen governments’ fiscal deficit and sovereign debt levels. On Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced stricter social distancing measures for England and Scotland, respectively, to cope with the rising number of COVID-19 infections. Then, on Jan. 5, the U.K. government announced a 4.6 billion pound ($6.2 billion) aid package for companies hardest hit by the tighter lockdown measures across the country. 
GuidanceDec 24, 2020 | 16:58 GMT
The EU and British flags in front of the European Commission headquarters on Dec. 9, 2020, in Brussels.
The EU and U.K. Reach a Trade Deal, Ending Brexit. What Now?
Five years of economic uncertainty for households and companies that began with the Brexit referendum of 2016 have come to an end. The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a free trade agreement that covers most goods, but only a limited number of services. This means that manufacturers in the European Union and the United Kingdom will be able to continue trading with each other from Jan. 1, 2021, without any quotas or tariffs, and the heavily disruptive scenario of trade under World Trade Organization tariffs has been avoided. On the contrary, the services sector (which represents around 80% of the British economy) will have limited access to the EU single market.
SITUATION REPORTDec 15, 2020 | 20:19 GMT
Lebanon: Government Formation Process ‘Completely Blocked,’ Says Parliament Speaker 
Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the country was in a “pitiful situation” with its path to a new government now “completely blocked,” though he expressed hope that French President Emmanuel Macron may help break the impasse during his upcoming visit to the country, Reuters reported Dec. 15. 
SnapshotsDec 8, 2020 | 17:55 GMT
Vehicles drive off a ferry at the Port of Larne in Northern Ireland on Dec. 6, 2020. The port, which handles travel and freight from Scotland, is expected to be building a new Border Control Post (BCP) as a consequence of Brexit.
The U.K. and EU Reach a Deal on the Irish Border Dispute. What’s Next?
The United Kingdom has announced that it will drop the clauses of a bill that would have given London the power to violate its 2019 Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union. This reduces the probability of the introduction of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, no matter what happens with the ongoing EU-U.K. trade talks. It also serves as a gesture of goodwill toward Brussels at a time when those negotiations are at an impasse. On Dec. 8, U.K. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said he had reached an agreement in principle with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic on all the outstanding issues connected with the EU-U.K. Withdrawal Agreement, which allowed the United Kingdom to exit the European Union in January 2020. As a result, the plans to introduce customs controls at the Irish Sea (a necessary condition to keep the land border open)
SnapshotsNov 25, 2020 | 16:36 GMT
A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks past Christmas-themed window displays inside Burlington Arcade in London, the United Kingdom, on Nov. 23, 2020.
Can Europe Save the Holidays From COVID-19?
European governments will soften some lockdown measures for the holiday season to boost domestic consumption and reduce the probability of social unrest. Their plans to start distributing COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021, meanwhile, will face significant logistical obstacles. The reintroduction of lockdown and social distancing measures in Europe in October and November has had a negative impact on economic activity, increasing the probability of countries once more falling into recessions. Governments across the Continent hope that a softening of these measures during the holiday season will lead to stronger economic activity. They also fear that banning people from meeting during the holidays will spur more social unrest. 
On SecurityNov 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Emergency personnel on Oct. 31, 2020, in Lyon, France, at the scene of an attack on a Greek Orthodox priest.
How Satirical Cartoons Have Become a Flashpoint for Violence in Europe and Abroad
Recent attacks and unrest in Europe and across the Muslim world are part of a pattern of violence associated with the Mohamed cartoon controversy that has recently flared up due to an ongoing trial in Paris. Attacks in September and early October focused on individuals and symbols directly linked to the cartoons, but the target set expanded as initial attacks spawned more violence, along with apparent retaliation to the initial attacks. In Europe, the return of the cartoon controversy comes amid rising concerns over Islamophobia and associated attacks. Verdicts in the trial that began the latest chapter of the controversy are expected in December, potentially providing motivation for even more attacks. The continual reemergence of the Mohammed cartoon controversy suggests that this issue will remain an issue that motivates violence for years to come.
SnapshotsNov 6, 2020 | 17:24 GMT
French President Emmanuel Macron (center) arrives at the Spanish border in Le Perthus, France, after he announced that the number of border guards would be doubled to 4,800 from 2,400 "because of the worsening of the threat" from terrorism on Nov. 5, 2020.
France Pushes to Tighten Europe’s Borders Amid Terrorist Attacks
Proposals to strengthen the border controls of Europe’s passport-free Schengen area could make it harder for criminals and terrorists to enter the region, but would not eliminate the problems of homegrown terrorists and the free movement of criminals inside the area. In the coming years, terrorism and migratory pressure will continue to create threats to the Schengen zone’s survival. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Nov. 5 that France will present proposals to improve controls of the external borders of the Schengen area in December, but did not provide any details. Macron’s comments are part of France’s reaction to the terror attacks in France and Austria last week, in which the attackers were free to move across European countries without controls. 
GuidanceNov 4, 2020 | 21:33 GMT
Foreign exchange traders in Tokyo, Japan, monitor screens broadcasting results from the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 4, 2020.
The World’s Response to U.S. Election Uncertainty
The global reaction to the initial tallies in the U.S. presidential election has so far been fairly muted as governments await the remaining state results. Statements of support or caution will begin emerging toward the end of the week when countries can better assess the likelihood of protracted legal battles over contested results. In the meantime, Stratfor has analyzed the responses to-date from each region, along with countries’ expected reactions to the final outcome, based on a review of published media.
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