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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 16:39 GMT
A Year-Long Election Delay Extends Hong Kong’s Political Crisis
The one-year delay of the Hong Kong election appears to be an attempt to exhaust the opposition pro-democracy camp, though it may instead serve as a rallying point domestically and internationally. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced July 31 that the Legislative Council elections would be delayed by a year, to Sept. 5, 2021, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and her prerogative under the Emergency Regulation Ordinance. The delay, however, was more likely a desperate move by Lam and her pro-Beijing camp, who was facing the real possibility of a much larger win for the pro-democracy camp. As such, the move may embolden the opposition to keep up pressure through international contact and domestic resistance -- whether via organized rallies and protests, or in the Legislative Council before its current term ends Sept. 30. 
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AssessmentsApr 6, 2020 | 19:35 GMT
An image of cracked, painted picture of the U.S. and Iraqi flags illustrates the two countries' decaying relationship due to Washington's ongoing pressure campaign and proxy battle against Iran.  
The U.S. Strategy in Iraq Could Come Back to Bite
Iraq has become a hot theater for escalating U.S.-Iran tensions, with Iran-backed Iraqi militias attempting to force U.S. military forces out of the country via ongoing attacks. The United States has responded by repositioning its troops instead of withdrawing them, highlighting its continued priority of ensuring Iraqi stability. But against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, Washington’s intensified pressure campaign against Iran’s regional proxies and economic ties risk backfiring by throwing Iraq deeper into chaos.
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SnapshotsMar 23, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
As Attacks in Iraq Increase, U.S.-Led Coalition Forces Retreat
On March 19, the official Iraqi Security Media Cell announced via Twitter that Iraq's security forces had taken over the al Qaim military base, which formerly housed U.S.-led coalition forces against the Islamic State. The seizure comes just three days after the U.S. military announced it was repositioning its forces from three of the eight bases currently housing American troops in the country, including al Qaim. The United Kingdom and Denmark have also announced that they would be drawing down their forces from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.  The repositioning of Western and international forces in Iraq is in part a response to the growing threat posed by Iran-backed militia forces. These militias -- which have become a formal component of the Iraqi state's security forces -- have increased the tempo of attacks on bases housing U.S.-led coalition forces in recent months, particularly over the last week. But while intended to help
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AssessmentsMar 2, 2020 | 22:37 GMT
This photo shows the outline of a soldier standing guard at sunset in Niamey, Niger, on Dec. 22, 2019.
A Coordinated Jihadist Campaign Menaces the Sahel
The local al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates responsible for thousands of deaths in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa over the past year -- namely, Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara -- are now reportedly coordinating their operations. The emerging cooperation between jihadist fighters so far appears to be centered more on de-escalating tensions, rather than actually merging their efforts. But the worrying development nonetheless could empower the two groups to wreak even more havoc in the already unstable region and expand their influence across even greater swaths of Africa.
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AssessmentsJan 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of the Persian Gulf region.
Gulf Arab States Brace for a New Normal of U.S.-Iran Confrontation
As the U.S.-Iran confrontation heats up, Iran's regional neighbors are assessing where they stand in the event of a serious escalation. Washington and Tehran have stepped back from the brink of war following the U.S. assassination of senior military figure Qassem Soleimani. But should such a tit-for-tat escalation occur again, spiral further or last longer, the Persian Gulf risks being increasingly perceived as a dicey business environment, which could have lasting economic repercussions for the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In defusing this threat, however, these GCC countries have little control over Washington's regional strategy -- even when it puts their physical security in harm's way, as evidenced by the Iranian strike on Saudi oil facilities in September. Thus fears of another U.S.-Iran confrontation and the economic blowback will push them to consider their own de-escalation efforts across the Persian Gulf.
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SnapshotsDec 13, 2019 | 01:45 GMT
A Narrow Deal Calms the U.S.-China Trade War, For Now
The United States and China moved Dec. 12 to soothe the sting of their trade war, agreeing in principle to a so-called "phase one" trade deal that would ease the reciprocal tariffs that have reverberated through the world economy for almost two years. One crucial aspect of the deal is an agreement by the United States to suspend additional tariffs set to take effect Dec. 15 and, crucially, reduce some of the tariffs already in place on some $360 billion in Chinese goods. And thanks to the deal, Washington and Beijing might finally have exited their tit-for-tat tariff escalations, although clouds remain on the horizon: After all, the scope of the phase one deal is narrow, and the two sides will struggle to agree to a more comprehensive deal -- portending perhaps even more disruptive battles in the tech supply chain in the year to come. 
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On SecurityNov 26, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (second from right) and his Venezuelan counterpart, Vladimir Padrino Lopez (second from left), hold a meeting in Moscow.
Could There Be a Cold War Reboot in Latin America?
South America is, once again, in flames. A wave of anti-government protests has ravaged the streets of Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Colombia in recent months. Such chaos, of course, isn't new to the region. From the 1960s to the 1990s, terrorist and insurgent groups instigated a series of vicious Cold War proxy battles. But in this iteration, which I'm calling the "Cold War 2.0" in Latin America, it's not armed proxy groups at play but already existing social tensions that Moscow is adeptly weaponizing to sabotage Western power structures in the region.  Indeed, with threats to Russia's periphery more daunting than ever, it can be argued that the Cold War never really ended for Moscow. But regardless of whether Russia's current actions in Latin America constitute a second Cold War, or if they're instead merely a reinvigoration of the original struggle, it's apparent that many of the same actors are actively
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On GeopoliticsOct 24, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (in front of flag) sit during a meeting in Sochi to discuss the situation in Syria.
The Risks and Rewards of Moscow's Mission in Syria
Just over four years after the Russian military intervention in Syria first began, Moscow continues to enjoy the diplomatic, commercial and military rewards of its operation in the Levant. By driving a wedge between its NATO foes, testing out new weaponry and more, Russia has notched up a number of strategic and tactical successes in Syria. These gains notwithstanding, it's not all clear sailing for Moscow ahead: From greater exposure to militant attacks to the prospect that Russia will suffer collateral damage in regional power battles, there are plenty of risks ahead that could yet sink Moscow's fortunes.
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Contributor PerspectivesOct 23, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
A policeman fires into a building during a protest over the killing of a bystander in Rio de Janeiro during August 2019.
Responding to Gangs in Brazil's Two Largest Cities
Urban gangs are a fixture of Brazil's prisons and favelas (slums). And the operations of such criminal groups in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are illustrative of their competition among themselves and with the state. Two major organizations -- First Capital Command and Red Command -- dominate this hyperviolent contest for control. The core of their power lies in the connections between prison gangs and street gangs. From prison, these groups consolidate control over criminal enterprises, shape strategies, ruthlessly attack competitors and exert internal discipline over their members. The conflicts often reach the streets. Building a state response will require careful analysis and will need to start with intelligence-led policing.​​​​​​​
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Contributor PerspectivesOct 23, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
A passerby picks up a copy of Nicaragua's La Prensa in Managua on March 25, 2019. The newspaper printed its cover in cyan, instead of black, with the headline, 'We are running out of ink, but not of news. The Civic Alliance will not negotiate an amnesty.'
What Happens When You Kill the Messenger in Nicaragua
For many Nicaraguans, the maxim that today's oppressed becomes tomorrow's oppressor is ringing all too true. In December 2018, the United Nations' human rights chief, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, denounced the Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega, urging Ortega to "immediately halt the persecution of human rights defenders, civil society organizations [and] journalists and news organizations that are critical of the government." Since Ortega returned to office in 2007, he and his allies have grown increasingly authoritarian, especially in the last couple of years. During this time, his administration has come to rely more on the security forces to suppress dissent, leading to hundreds of deaths in 2018. Directly in Ortega's sights has been the media, particularly print journalists who frequently criticize the administration. Ortega has labeled them enemies and accused them of publishing "fake news," while his family has also bought television stations and other media outlets to try
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GuidanceOct 2, 2019 | 16:12 GMT
A house in the village of Roza in eastern Ukraine is left burning after fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists on Sept. 6, 2019.
Watching for Signs of Progress in Eastern Ukraine
On Sept. 18, Ukraine announced it was preparing to pull back its military presence 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from the roughly 450-kilometer front line in eastern Ukraine on the basis that Russian-backed separatist forces do the same. Specifically, Kyiv stressed that the successful completion of this plan would depend on concurring "reciprocal actions from the opposite side." This announcement follows a high-profile prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia on Sept. 7. Combined, these two recent developments suggest that the door to further de-escalation may be opening wider -- and with it, the potential for diplomatic progress toward addressing the nearly six-year conflict in eastern Ukraine.
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Quarterly ForecastsSep 22, 2019 | 22:59 GMT
2019 Fourth-Quarter Forecast
The quarter will be defined by the threat of a conflict with Iran that disrupts oil supplies while the global economy nervously anticipates the next turn in the U.S.-China trade war and the possibility of an ugly U.K.-EU divorce.
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AssessmentsAug 19, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi (left) and Mozambican National Resistance leader Ossufo Momade display the cease-fire agreement they signed in Maputo on Aug. 6, 2019.
Can Mozambique Shield Its Energy Investments From Escalating Terrorism?
Mozambique's government recently made headlines by signing a peace agreement with the longtime rebel group, Mozambican National Resistance. The deal has since been hailed as a harbinger for greater stability in the country. But a new insurgency in Mozambique's far north now poses a much greater threat, given its proximity to the East African nation's burgeoning offshore energy sector. Since late 2017, unknown assailants have attacked dozens of villages and some government positions in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado province. The attackers have yet to list any public demands, though there are rumors that they may have regional or international jihadist connections. But while much remains unknown, understanding the environment from which the conflict has emerged could provide hints as to what might be driving it -- and whether the government will be able to stop it before foreign oil and gas firms in the region start to pull their operations.
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AssessmentsMar 29, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
A Samsung silicon wafer is displayed on March 23, 2011, in San Jose, California.
As the U.S.-China Tech War Rages on, the Electronics Industry Braces for Impact
Semiconductor manufacturers create the computer chips that power today's growing multitude of electronic devices -- from coffee makers to self-driving cars, and everything in between. The industry, therefore, plays a crucial and increasingly embedded role in the global economy. But today, manufacturers are facing the highest levels of geopolitical risk and competition they have seen in decades, as they grapple with a seismic shift away from Moore's law and toward more specialized chips. Meanwhile, the ongoing trade war between the United States and China -- the two most important markets for electronics -- is threatening to fragment the entire industry and globalized tech sector it operates within.
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On GeopoliticsNov 15, 2018 | 22:22 GMT
This image shows vehicles traveling through Brooklyn. The White House will decide soon whether to claim the power to impose tariffs on auto imports it deems unfair.
For Trump's Auto Tariff Threats, Credibility Is the Name of the Game
You cannot have national security without economic security. That has been a rallying cry for President Donald Trump since he moved into the White House in 2017. Trade has been a particular area of administration focus, and with that has come scrutiny of the buying and selling of automobiles and parts. For the past three months, Stratfor has examined what would happen to the global auto market if the United States moved forward with the administration's proposed tariffs on imports of vehicles and parts. It appears as if the White House is close to a decision on whether it can claim legal justification to impose those levies.
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