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SnapshotsAug 11, 2020 | 19:49 GMT
Beijing Moves to Temper Tensions in Hong Kong With an Extended Legislative Term
Beijing's recent decision to extend the Hong Kong legislature's term creates a cover for Chinese action, which seeks to temper tensions both within the city as well as with the United States, while still emphasizing the continuity of One Country, Two Systems by putting the responsibility in the hands of the Hong Kong government. On Aug. 11, China's National People's Congress Standing Committee approved extending the term of the current Hong Kong legislative council for at least a year, leaving the Hong Kong government to decide whether the four pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from elections will keep their seats in the legislature. Reports suggest that lawmakers will not be required to swear new oaths of office or make a controversial pledge to uphold the new national security law.
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SnapshotsAug 10, 2020 | 19:52 GMT
Belarus's Anticipated Electoral Crisis Has Only Just Begun
Intensifying protests across Belarus following the disputed Aug. 9 presidential election present a significant threat to President Alexander Lukashenko. Opposition leaders are hoping to shape the initial uproar over the election results into persistent and widespread protest action. This could escalate violence at first, though a prolonged and emboldened protest movement may also eventually break security forces' resolve to crack down on civilians. The international response to the election outcome and subsequent protest violence has also demonstrated a clear divide between the East and West, which could increase the risk for both Russian intervention and European sanctions.
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AssessmentsAug 10, 2020 | 16:57 GMT
A man looks from the balcony of a building, damaged by the port explosion a day earlier, in Beirut, Lebanon on Aug. 5, 2020.
Will the Beirut Disaster Finally Yield Political Change in Lebanon?
The rising tide of popular anger over the Beirut explosion, along with the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government, could yield piecemeal economic and political reforms by reinvigorating demands for real change in Lebanon’s entrenched political system, which has long benefited wealthy sectarian stakeholders while failing to address the country's deteriorating economy. 
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SnapshotsAug 7, 2020 | 20:48 GMT
With Tech Bans and Hong Kong Sanctions, Trump Hits China With a One-Two Punch
In the United States' pressure campaign against China, President Donald Trump's threshold for action is decreasing and his tolerance for risk of blowback to U.S. economic interests appears to be rising -- a trend confirmed by the White House's move to both restrict transactions by U.S. entities with China's TikTok and WeChat apps, as well as impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in the Hong Kong crisis. Such blowback includes the impact of U.S. restrictions on U.S. businesses in China, as well as the threat of Chinese retaliation. Although both of these moves are part of a long-term bipartisan trend towards greater confrontation with China, U.S. President Donald Trump's electoral challenges will lead to an increasingly volatile dynamic ahead of the November vote, even as he tries to walk the line of preserving, at least in name, the U.S.-China trade deal as a key campaign promise. 
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AssessmentsAug 5, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, at sunrise.
COVID-19 Risks Robbing Dubai of Its Economic and Political Autonomy
By sapping Dubai's economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will also ultimately erode the emirate's political and economic independence from neighboring Abu Dhabi. Without the tools and funding needed to support its own recovery, Dubai will likely be forced to rely on another bailout from wealthy Abu Dhabi, which could impact Dubai's development plans, especially in tourism and finance. 
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AssessmentsAug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Plainclothed Belarus' security forces and riot police officers detain a protester at an opposition demonstration in Minsk, Belarus, on July 14, 2020.
In Belarus, an Election Fuels the Fight for Russia's Borderlands
The likely tumultuous aftermath of Belarus's upcoming presidential election could significantly shake up the balance of power in the strategic borderland region between Russia and Western Europe. Amid the growing popularity of opposition movements in Belarus, the outcome of the country's Aug. 9 presidential election is widely expected to be heavily contested. The likely emergence of post-election protests will cast doubt over President Alexander Lukashenko's grasp on power and could open the door to a potential regime change. Belarus's importance to Russia's external security strategy will make Moscow extremely invested in the outcome of any power struggle in the country, which could prompt Russia to intervene directly.
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SnapshotsAug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
In Jordan, a Government Crackdown on Civil Dissent Risks Backfiring
The arrests of teachers union leaders in Jordan risks fueling unrest in the typically politically stable country against a government the United States relies on for its regional counterterrorism efforts. On July 25, Jordanian security forces arrested over a dozen key members of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate and charged them with corruption, incitement, financial irregularities and criminal activities. Forces also raided the union’s offices and shut them down for two years. Nasser Nawasreh, acting head of the Teachers Syndicate, was charged with incitement specifically over a speech he gave on July 22 that sharply criticized Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government. A government spokesman said that the arrests were conducted to prevent the union from staging planned sit-ins and demonstrations that risked harming “the state’s essential services and their functioning.”
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AssessmentsAug 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An oil pumpjack operates in Signal Hill, California, on April 21, 2020, a day after oil prices dropped to below zero amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a Global COVID-19 Resurgence, Oil Prices Are Poised to Stall
The resurgence of COVID-19 infections in many countries around the world has undermined the oil market's notion that the recovery in petroleum product demand will continue upward in the absence of a vaccine. Expectations of a swift demand recovery in recent weeks have also been hampered by concerns about new mandatory lockdowns in places where economic activity had resumed, as well as slower economic recoveries elsewhere. Crude oil prices are thus likely to stall heading into the fourth quarter of 2020 as global demand remains sluggish, while modest rises in OPEC+ supply undermine efforts to rapidly balance the market and drain excess inventories. This means the fiscal position of countries highly dependent on oil export revenues will likely continue to be strained, and that any recovery in drilling activity and the oilfield services sector will also be slow.
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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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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Yemen’s Separatists Pause Their Push for Autonomy to Advance It Later
Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) will temporarily implement the terms of a previous peace deal with the Yemeni government to gain political leverage before ultimately returning to its pursuit of an independent southern Yemen. The STC, which is an umbrella force of southern militias and secessionists, announced July 29 that it would abide by a Saudi-brokered political reconciliation agreement with its rivals in President Mansoor Hadi's internationally recognized government. The announcement came a few hours after Saudi Arabia announced its plans to “accelerate” the implementation of the power-sharing agreement signed last year in Riyadh, which demands the STC end its attempts at self-rule in exchange for more posts in the government.
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SnapshotsJul 30, 2020 | 17:16 GMT
A Year On, China's Tech-Focused Stock Market Is Making Strides
The STAR Market, China's equivalent to a tech-focused Nasdaq, is fueling growth in China's tech sector, but Beijing's regulation and fears of both domestic speculation and industry bubbles will constrain the exchange's potential for growth. A recent string of launches is demonstrating the STAR Market's potential power to raise capital and draw investment into the Chinese technology sector. China will likely continue to liberalize the market faster than its other domestic stock markets, as the exchange becomes increasingly central to China's overall technology ambitions amid its tech war with the United States. The success of the STAR Market, however, will depend on the innovativeness and quality of the companies involved in it, as well as the broader constraints to China's tech sector.
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On GeopoliticsJul 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A display shows the national flags of China and the United States at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.
The U.S.-China Ideological Divide and the Challenge of Cohesion
A series of foreign policy speeches by key officials in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has sought to redefine the U.S.-China strategic competition as one based on conflicting core ideologies between those of the Chinese Communist Party and those of the free world. But to be effective, the United States needs to revive domestic unity and engender global cooperation, while China only needs to maintain domestic unity and exploit global divisions. 
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AssessmentsJul 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Ukraine's new central bank chief, Kyrylo Shevchenko, wears a face mask as he watches lawmakers vote on his candidacy during a parliamentary session on July 16, 2020.
Is Ukraine on Thin Ice with the IMF?
A potential falling out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over monetary policy and independence of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) would be highly damaging, but not catastrophic, to Ukraine's economic recovery efforts. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has made Kyiv heavily dependent on the bailout money it's receiving from the IMF, as well as the European Union. The IMF has placed Kyiv on a fairly short leash, warning that the recent appointment of Kyrylo Shevchenko -- an advocate of easier monetary policy and ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky -- raises questions regarding the NBU's independence and possible politicization. Zelensky and Shevchenko's political views are unlikely to cause the IMF to suspend its assistance to Ukraine, though the actions of the NBU will be monitored closely.
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