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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 21:32 GMT
Israeli troops are pictured during a military drill in Golan Heights on Jan. 13, 2021.
Amid U.S. Political Uncertainty, Israel and Iran Go Head-to-Head
Israel will escalate pressure on Iran in the final days of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, increasing the risk of Iranian retaliation -- particularly in proxy theaters like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and potentially Yemen. On Jan. 12, Israel conducted a widespread series of strikes against at least 15 Iranian-linked targets along the Iraqi-Syrian border, reportedly killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more. A senior U.S. intelligence official said that Israel conducted the strikes based on intelligence provided by the United States. The strikes targeted facilities that stored Iranian weaponry, which the U.S. official claimed served as a pipeline for components of Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian-linked, Afghan-dominated militia Fatemiyoun was also one of the targets. 
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SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 21:35 GMT
Farmers depart on their tractors to New Delhi to participate in ongoing protests against the Indian government's new agricultural reforms in Amritsar, India, on Jan. 12, 2021.
In India, Court-Ordered Mediation Won’t Appease Angry Farmers
The suspension of India’s controversial new farming laws to hear protesters’ grievances will delay, but not derail, the implementation of the much-needed agricultural reforms.  On Jan. 12, India’s Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the implementation of three key agricultural reforms and ordered the formation of a four-man committee to mediate the government’s disagreements with the farmers engaged in ongoing protests. Per the court order, the reforms will remain suspended until the committee is able to find a new way forward. In the meantime, however, farmers’ demands will remain unresolved, which will likely lead to continued protests and demonstrations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and one of the key pillars of his broader reform push.
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SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 18:46 GMT
German journalist Tanja Samrotzki (right) moderates a panel with the candidates vying for the leadership post of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party -- Friedrich Merz, Norbert Roettgen and Armin Laschet (from left to right) -- on Dec. 14, 2020, in Berlin, Germany.
Germany: What to Expect as Merkel’s Party Elects a New Leader
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party will elect a new leader on Jan. 15-16. The ideological orientation of the new CDU leader could influence Germany’s domestic politics, as well as its relations with the European Union. The CDU is Germany’s most popular party and its leader stands a strong chance of becoming the country’s next chancellor after the Sept. 26 general election. In 2018, Merkel resigned as CDU leader and announced she would not seek another term as chancellor in 2021. During a virtual congress, the CDU’s 1,001 party delegates will elect a new leader. According to CDU tradition, the next party leader should also be the candidate for chancellor, though some members of the party are questioning this principle. 
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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.
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SITUATION REPORTJan 12, 2021 | 19:55 GMT
India, China: Indian Army Chief Expresses Hope for De-Escalation as Beijing Withdraws Troops From Border
Indian army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said India will hold its ground along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region, but is hopeful talks with China will result in a de-escalation of the conflict, The Straits Times reported Jan. 12.
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SITUATION REPORTJan 12, 2021 | 19:50 GMT
Hong Kong, China: Beijing Reportedly Planning More Crackdowns, Electoral Reforms
The Chinese government is reportedly considering more crackdowns and/or electoral reforms in Hong Kong to limit the pro-democracy camp’s prospects in planned Sept. 5 legislative elections for fear that its pro-Beijing allies in the city may otherwise fail to win a majority, The Japan Times reported Jan. 12, citing unnamed sources with “direct knowledge of China’s plans.”
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AssessmentsJan 8, 2021 | 22:31 GMT
A large group of pro-Trump protesters stands on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after storming the building’s grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington D.C.
For U.S. Rivals, the Capitol Siege Offers a Window of Opportunity
U.S. adversaries are likely to see the recent Capitol siege as an opportunity to quickly take action against U.S. interests ahead of Inauguration Day, calculating that a distracted Washington will be ill-equipped to respond to provocations that may strengthen their negotiating leverage with President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. Since Jan. 6, multiple key national security officials have announced their resignations, reducing the cadre of security experts who have longstanding relationships with President Donald Trump. To avoid anything close to a repeat of the Jan. 6 siege, national security officials in Washington will be laser-focused on guaranteeing the safety of the events surrounding Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, though doing so will risk diverting resources and attention from potential foreign threats. 
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SnapshotsJan 8, 2021 | 17:22 GMT
Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf holds a press conference at the end of the GCC's 41st summit in the city of al-Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5, 2021.
What’s Driving Saudi Arabia to Ease Its 3-Year Qatar Blockade
By easing its three-year blockade on Qatar, Saudi Arabia is attempting to improve its troubled relationship with the United States before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. But serious differences between Riyadh and Washington remain, which will continue to create tension in their relationship. On Jan. 4, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt agreed to open their land and maritime borders, as well as their air space, to Qatar. Then on Jan. 5, the same four countries pledged to restore relations with Qatar. The breakthrough came after U.S.- and Kuwait-brokered negotiations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Saudi Arabia for the first time since the blockade began in 2017 to attend the GCC conference, where Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally greeted him in an event designed to signal a restoration of high-level relations.
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AssessmentsJan 7, 2021 | 23:00 GMT
A pharmacist receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Miramar, Florida, on Dec. 14, 2020.
The Road to Global COVID-19 Vaccination Will Be Rife With Risks and Setbacks
The United States and Europe will overcome the slow and problematic rollout of COVID vaccination campaigns in the coming months, but concerns about new strains of the virus will likely push governments to adjust protocols in order to speed up distribution. Changing the timing of doses, skipping a dose or combining vaccines are all high-risk endeavors in that they would disrupt data collection and analysis of vaccine efficacy in ongoing studies. But such vaccine protocol changes may nonetheless be deemed necessary to increase vaccination rates as policymakers scramble to quickly secure herd immunity and bring an end to the pandemic. Vaccination rates, however, will still likely hit a roadblock once skeptics from broader swaths of the population begin to defer immunization in successive vaccination waves. 
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