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SnapshotsJul 10, 2020 | 17:29 GMT
In Ivory Coast, a Presidential Candidate's Death Risks Ending in Violence
The unexpected death of Ivory Coast's prime minister and the ruling coalition's presidential candidate, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, risks dashing hopes that the world's top cocoa producer would experience its first-ever democratic transition of power without violence this year. On July 8, President Alassane Ouattara announced that Prime Minister Coulibaly had died upon returning from a cardiac examination in France.  Ouattara's ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) coalition had selected Coulibaly to be his successor following Ouattarra's March announcement that he would not seek a third term in the 2020 presidential election, which is currently scheduled for October 31. Reuters reported July 8 that senior RHDP leaders held a closed-door meeting in which they agreed to pressure Ouattara to seek a third term.  Ouattara seeking a third term, however, will be viewed as highly controversial and would lead to a constitutional crisis over his eligibility. 
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A crane moves Nord Stream 2 pipes at a port near Sassnitz, Germany, on June 5, 2019.
Nord Stream 2 Overcomes One Hurdle Only to Be Met With Another
Denmark’s decision to drop certain technical requirements for operating in its waters will allow Russia to use both of its available pipe-laying vessels to finish constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Another Russian vessel, the MV Fortuna, will now also be allowed to operate on the natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia in Danish waters beginning Aug. 3. The United States, however, is now seeking to expand its sanctions to target all services related to constructing Nord Stream 2, including supply vessels and backfilling vessels. But even if construction is completed before additional sanctions disrupt progress, Washington could still take action to prevent Russia and Germany from putting their pipeline into operation.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: July 9, 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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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows the site of a recent gas explosion at the Sina Medical Center in Tehran, Iran, on July 1, 2020. 19 people were killed in the blast.
Explosions in Iran Point to a Possible Israeli Sabotage Campaign
Israel was likely behind a July 2 explosion and fire at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, and potentially some of the other similar incidents that have occurred near Tehran over the past two weeks, including a June 26 explosion at the Khojir missile complex. Although Tel Aviv doesn't typically claim its covert actions against Iran, motive and past history make Israel the most likely actor to conduct such sabotage operations against Iranian infrastructure and assets.  Israel is frustrated by the failure of Western and regional countries to fully rein in Iran's military and nuclear capabilities, which it views as direct threats to its domestic and regional security. With the potential for a less friendly U.S. administration to take office in January, Israel may also be calculating that it has an optimal but limited window to act more aggressively against Iran's nuclear program.
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GuidanceJul 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Technicians in Hong Kong walk next to a banner supporting China’s new national security law following a flag-raising ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of the city’s British handover on July 1, 2020.
China's Hong Kong Security Law Leaves Tech Companies in the Line of Fire
China's new national security law is forcing tech companies to pick a side in Hong Kong's political crisis and decide whether to comply or resist authorities in some way, or leave the city altogether -- all of which carry the risk of retaliation from either Beijing or the United States and its allies. On July 6, Hong Kong's newly established Committee for Safeguarding National Security moved to implement seven, new enabling regulations for the national security law. The regulations -- which include police powers to order internet companies to remove content or to seize their equipment with threats of fines or prison -- have since prompted a spate of social media platforms and internet firms operating in the city to pause their cooperation with Hong Kong authorities. The volatile political dynamic in Hong Kong and the steady erosion of the city's autonomy will ultimately pose the greatest long-term threat to
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SnapshotsJul 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Drought Lays Bare Morocco’s Vulnerabilities
While declining rainfall is a problem across the Maghreb region of northwest Africa, this year's ongoing spring and summer drought is hitting Morocco's agricultural sector particularly hard. The drought will weaken the strategic objectives of the Moroccan government's agricultural investment plan, which prioritizes support for export-producing large farms over subsistence-producing small farms in order to drum up valuable export revenue. Dampened domestic production will also force Morocco to import more staple crops needed to feed its 36 million citizens. Combined with the loss of crucial agricultural revenue, the added expense of more imports will exacerbate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, which is already sapping Morocco's tourism revenue.
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SnapshotsJul 6, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Proposed Oil Redistribution Plan Risks Further Fracturing Libya
Potential changes to the way oil revenue and exports are shared and distributed in Libya could have significant ramifications for the country's sovereignty and ongoing civil war by establishing de facto splits in Libya's financial system. In a June 29 statement, Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said that it was “hopeful” that a deal could be reached in its negotiations with the country's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and other regional countries. The NOC also announced on July 1 that it had told workers to prepare to resume work at oil fields soon. Led by France, the United States, the United Nations and Egypt, these negotiations have centered on directly splitting oil revenue between Libya's three regions of Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania. This new system would, in turn, bypass the country's Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL), which is where Libya's oil revenue is currently deposited. 
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On GeopoliticsJul 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of China.
China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet
China is an empire in the modern sense -- a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population. 
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MemosJul 2, 2020 | 18:32 GMT
Fred Burton's Summer Reading List
Fred Burton has put together a few books to add to your warm weather reading list. Some are classics and others are brand new — I can’t wait to read Brad Thor’s new thriller NEAR DARK. The Scot Harvath series never disappoints.
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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 14:04 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: July 2, 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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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People stand in line to receive grant payments from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in Khayelitsha, a township located near Cape Town, on May 4, 2020. 
South Africa's Budget Outlook Paints a Picture of a Lost Decade
South Africa will likely miss its recently adjusted budget targets as the country’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak delays much-needed austerity measures, leaving the South African economy in shambles for at least another five years. President Cyril Ramaphosa and his pro-business allies in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had planned to rein in government spending and the country's sky-high debt levels over the next three years. But South Africa's likely extended health and economic crisis could make that goal politically untenable, given that any budget cuts and potential layoffs would most acutely affect the ANC's support base of labor unions and their poorer Black constituents. 
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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 20:30 GMT
Russia’s Constitutional Changes Appear Headed for Approval
Preliminary results of Russia’s constitutional referendum suggest the amendments will easily be passed despite opposition groups potentially disputing results, thus setting the Kremlin on a course to prepare its political system for a future without President Vladamir Putin. With 55 percent of votes already counted, Russia’s electoral commission announced July 1 that 76.6 percent of voters have approved the proposed constitutional amendments. A turnout of about 65 percent projects a high level of legitimacy for the vote, which will support the Kremlin’s democratic narrative and limit public backlash. 
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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
What to Make of Hong Kong’s First Protests Post-Security Law
The Hong Kong protests carried out in spite of the new national security law showcase the volatile dynamic we expect to continue as authorities work to dishearten demonstrators and the broader pro-democracy camp. Following an official rejection of an application to hold rallies citing COVID-19 and past violent activity, pro-democracy demonstrators turned out by the thousands to mark the July 1 anniversary of the British handover of the city. While authorities arrested a relatively small number of protesters under the new law, how the detentions and trials proceed will indicate the legislation’s ability to truly dissuade protests in the future. There is also the possibility that further arrests will take place based on surveillance of protest activity.
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AssessmentsJul 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image depicts waving Chinese and Indian flags overlaying a map of the world.
In India, Anti-China Anger Will Bring Out Modi's Hawkish Side
A surge of anti-China sentiment among Indian lawmakers, business leaders and voters will prompt Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a more aggressive approach against Bejing in the wake of the two countries' recent border clash. This could include a variety of actions ranging from diplomatic moves to economic and trade measures, as well as a continued military build-up against China, which will only further ratchet up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. 
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