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On GeopoliticsJul 24, 2020 | 15:53 GMT
A skyline view of Anchorage, Alaska, and the Chugach Mountains at dusk.
Remapping the American Arctic
Maps play an important role in shaping national policy, and in shaping society’s consciousness and support. But they can also reinforce ideas of relative unimportance by leaving key areas off, or having areas appear as mere incidental inclusions, which can subconsciously constrain developments in foreign policy. Indeed, it’s perhaps no surprise that many Americans still fail to recognize the United States as an Arctic nation when the majority of U.S. maps place Alaska in a small inset box, relegating the state to a secondary geographic status. The United States, however, maintains a strong interest in a secure and stable Arctic, for its Alaska citizens, for economic reasons, and for core national security. So long as the American Arctic is considered something distant and separate from the United States, it risks being sidelined in the national narrative, and thus sidelined in national priorities and attention. The United States is already playing
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On GeopoliticsJun 11, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
A 3D rendering of eastern China and the island of Taiwan lit by city lights from space.
China's Evolving Taiwan Policy: Disrupt, Isolate and Constrain
For China's leadership, the unification of Taiwan is more than a symbol of the final success of the Chinese Communist Party or an emotional appeal to some historic image of a greater China. It is a strategic imperative driven both by Taiwan's strategic location, and by the rising antagonism between the United States and China. Taiwan is the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” off the Chinese coastline, splitting China's near seas, and bridging the arc of islands stretching southwest from Japan with those from the Philippines south through Indonesia. Taiwan is crucial for both any foreign containment strategy, and for China's confidence and security in the East and South China seas -- areas critical to China's national defense, food security and international trade. 
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SnapshotsJun 2, 2020 | 14:41 GMT
OPEC+ Moves Toward Early Meeting to Discuss Extending Production Cuts
OPEC+ appears headed for an earlier-than-expected online ministerial meeting on June 4 to discuss how to extend oil production cuts for the rest of the year, given the faster-than-expected recovery in oil prices. During the meeting, members will reportedly consider a Saudi-Russian compromise on a very brief 1-2 month delay in the tapering of current headline cuts from 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) to 7.7 million bpd. The original limitation of having the deepest production cuts last until only May and June was, in part, based on the intense uncertainty about how much demand destruction would actually occur due to the COVID-19 crisis. But it now appears that the flood in inventories has been less than expected, which has already driven Brent crude prices back into the upper $30s. 
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AssessmentsJun 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image shows the arrival of Russian fighter jets at an air base in Libya controlled by Khalifa Hifter's rebel army.
Russia Deepens Its Commitment to Libya’s War -- and Political Future
Russia's deepening support for the Libyan National Army (LNA) proves the Kremlin views LNA leader Khalifa Hifter as crucial to its greater North African and Mediterranean strategy, and could grant Moscow the upper hand in shaping the war-torn country's political future. The U.S. military, among others, recently released photos confirming the arrival of a fleet of Russian fighter jets at two LNA-controlled air bases in Libya. The deployment will make it more difficult for the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) to make further military gains beyond Tripolitania. But perhaps most importantly, Russia's growing involvement in Libya's civil war -- alongside Turkey's continued support for the GNA -- will leave Moscow and Ankara at the helm of any potential negotiations between Eastern and Western Libya, much to the dismay of those in Europe and the United States. 
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GuidanceMay 29, 2020 | 22:34 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about U.S. relations with China at the White House on May 29, 2020.
U.S. Threats to Overhaul Hong Kong Policy Intensify China Confrontation
U.S. President Donald Trump's May 29 announcements adjusting U.S. policy toward China could derail the phase one U.S.-China trade deal if fully implemented, but they are unlikely to deter Beijing's determination to implement new Hong Kong national security legislation -- and no matter what, Hong Kong protest activity will increase in the coming months.
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GuidanceApr 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Members of Hezbollah’s medical apparatus wear full protective gear in Beirut, Lebanon, to demonstrate their readiness for the COVID-19 fight on March 31, 2020. 
Hezbollah's Soft Power Play Amid COVID-19
Hezbollah is spearheading some of Lebanon’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the central government has struggled to handle. Successful efforts to contain and manage the virus could increase the Iran-backed militant group’s popularity and political power in Lebanon, which has taken a hit in recent years. A more empowered Hezbollah, however, would draw even more ire and pressure from the United States, and could potentially raise the risk for another conflict with Israel.
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On SecurityMar 16, 2020 | 17:21 GMT
Police officers engulfed in flames from an incendiary device during protests in Caracas on July 30.
Plan. Prepare. Avoid a Mad Dash When Crisis Erupts
As the prospect of escalating conflict looms over Venezuela and the Korean Peninsula, it is important to revisit the theme of evacuation planning and preparation. Political and environmental crises over the years afford us the opportunity to discuss the contents of your fly-away bag, considerations to take when planning an evacuation route and the importance of coming up with your own plans instead of relying solely on others. This guidance still holds up and we hope that readers in Venezuela and on the Korean Peninsula are reviewing their emergency evacuation plans. Thanks to dozens of case studies looking at previous evacuations during crisis events, there are further lessons to consider, particularly for private individuals and companies that have their own evacuation plans in place.
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SnapshotsMar 9, 2020 | 20:06 GMT
The Crown Prince Consolidates Control as Saudi Arabia Faces Trouble Ahead
In a series of arrests of high-profile princes, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has once more shown he will brook no royal challengers. Four senior princes -- Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a former crown prince; his brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef; Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the 78-year-old brother of King Salman; and Prince Nayef bin Ahmed, Prince Ahmed's son and former head of army intelligence -- were arrested over the weekend by Saudi security forces. Dozens of other lower-level officials were detained as well. Some news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, have reported that some princes may soon be released.
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AssessmentsFeb 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An employee sits in the showroom of an Apple store in Beijing after it closed for the day on Feb. 1, 2020.
The Coronavirus Spreads Fears of a Shutdown in China's Tech Sector
Without question, the new coronavirus has taken a toll on China and many other places in the world, infecting at least 30,600 people and killing 633 as of Feb. 7. But only now, as the Lunar New Year holiday draws to a close, is Beijing preparing to assess just how much economic damage the coronavirus outbreak has wrought, especially as China is central to the global electronics and information technology sector. Ultimately, the breadth of the impact depends on how far the virus spreads beyond its current location. Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, are not critical nodes for the vast majority of China's electronics sector. But neighboring provinces, including Shaanxi, Henan and Jiangxi, are home to cities that are prominent in the global technology sector, while the provinces with the second and third most confirmed cases so far, Zhejiang and Guangdong, are arguably China's two most critical areas for tech.
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AssessmentsFeb 3, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
The historic facade of Frankfurt's Grossmarkthalle, now part of the building of the European Central Bank (ECB), is illuminated on March 16, 2018.
The ECB's Strategy Review Isn't Set to Rock the Boat
It's unclear what the European Central Bank wants to accomplish in the nearly yearlong strategy review it announced on Jan. 23, but the last thing a central bank wants is to be considered irrelevant. So, even though years of monetary stimulus have failed to push up eurozone inflation or growth, the ECB isn't about to admit it's out of policy ammunition; instead, it's set to make a big show about tweaking its de facto inflation target and pave the way for President Christine Lagarde to introduce environmental concerns into future assessments of financial stability and the ECB's remit. Given that the ECB has not reviewed its strategy since 2003, a new appraisal of its economic model raises hopes of possible major changes to the central bank's approach and instruments. No one, however, should expect significant changes in the bank's monetary operations this year or next given its existing accommodative policies,
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Contributor PerspectivesJan 22, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
Russia's Maria Butina arrives at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on Oct. 26, 2019, after her deportation from the United States for failing to register as a foreign agent.
Russia Takes a Hard Approach to Soft Power
For all its prodigious hard power, Russia's soft power is no trifling matter. In recent years, the Kremlin has resorted to plenty of channels to undermine Western democracies by spreading propaganda -- including false-flag operations and other "information operations" -- bribing officials and politicians, cultivating corrupt ties through business lobbies and immigrant organizations, targeting specific (often radical) segments of the population with carefully tailored ideologies and making special attempts to sow friction, disagreement and conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his propaganda machine have successfully convinced the population that any intimidation and crimes by authorities are justified by the unprecedented "external threat" facing Russia. They claim that the United States is to blame for all that Russia does today because they have organized color revolutions along the Russian border, developed fifth columns and so on. Russia, accordingly, is merely trying to prove that its actions are a "mirror image" of Western
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AssessmentsJan 16, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
This photo taken on Oct. 2, 2019, shows fishermen boarding their boats at a small jetty on Made Island off Kyaukphyu in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
In Myanmar, Beijing Gets a Leg up on the Competition
For China, there's no time like the present to foster closer links with a key country on its frontier. Amid China's push for better transport connections, tighter border control and deeper energy security to the south, President Xi Jinping will begin a two-day visit to Myanmar on Jan. 17. Negotiations regarding some megaprojects have sparked significant concerns about China's looming presence -- and its strategic intentions -- in Myanmar, but the country may find its options to push back significantly curtailed. Indeed, with Myanmar facing Western isolation over its treatment of the Rohingya and struggling to forge national unity, China's assistance is more essential than ever if Naypyidaw is to fulfill some of its domestic priorities -- namely, advancing a peace process with ethnic armies along the northern border, managing the Rohingya crisis and developing the weak Myanmar economy. Such a situation, naturally, is bound to put China in a
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AssessmentsJan 9, 2020 | 20:51 GMT
This photo shows pieces of a Qaim 1 missile after Iran targeted the Ayn al-Asad Air Base in Iraq on Jan. 8, 2020.
With Its Missile Strikes, Iran Flaunts Its Accuracy
The images paint a picture of precision: The first satellite imagery of the aftermath of the Iranian strike on Ayn al-Asad Air Base in Iraq highlights Iran's improved ability to accurately strike distant targets with its extensive missile arsenal. The pictures, released by imaging company Planet Labs on Jan. 8, show that Iran can chalk up its strike as a success even without inflicting U.S. casualties. What's more, they also show how Iran sought to skirt a delicate line in exacting public retribution while also avoiding an escalation that would lead to outright war.
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AssessmentsDec 26, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong on Oct. 1, 2019, as the city observes the National Day holiday marking the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding.
2019: The Year Protests Roiled Hong Kong
As with many protest movements, the trigger was comparatively innocuous: In early June, Hong Kong's government tried to push through the Extradition Law Amendment Bill, which stood to give local authorities the power to extradite city residents suspected of crimes to, among other places, mainland China. The bill prompted fury among a broad cross-section of Hong Kongers, who hit the streets to decry what they viewed as Beijing's erosion of the special territory's autonomy. More than six months on, protests continue apace -- in spite of Chief Executive Carrie Lam's eventual revocation of the extradition bill -- as the demonstrators' demands have grown to include guarantees that mainland China will respect their city's freedom. Despite the occasionally violent rallies that have pitted protesters against the city's police force, Beijing has denounced the demonstrations but so far chosen not to directly step in. There are no guarantees, however, that China will
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AssessmentsDec 24, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
People gather for a rally against Belarus' closer integration with Russia in Minsk's Oktyabrskaya Square on Dec. 20, 2019.
An Anxious Russia Tries to Pull Belarus Closer
Almost six years after Ukraine drove a wedge between Russia and the West, there's a new potential hotspot in the geopolitical competition between the two in Eastern Europe: Belarus. Moscow has been exerting more pressure on Minsk in an effort to bind it economically, politically and militarily to Russia amid fears that a Belarus leaning West would further deprive the Kremlin of one of its last redoubts of strategic depth against Europe. At the same time, too hot a pursuit could instead end up repelling Belarus. Given its own preference, Minsk would rather maintain a balance between the two, but given the intensifying competition between Russia and the West, Belarus may be the site of their next showdown.
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AssessmentsDec 20, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
Tribesmen loyal to the Houthis ride in the back of a vehicle during a gathering to mobilize more fighters on Nov. 1, 2016, on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen.
In Yemen, Saudi Arabia Takes the Path of Pragmatism
After close to half a decade involved in Yemen's conflict, Saudi Arabia appears to be changing tack. No longer as determined to vanquish the Houthis, the desert kingdom is increasingly trying to protect itself economically and security-wise from a conflict that Riyadh cannot realistically hope to win militarily. In adjusting its strategy, Riyadh is now acknowledging that it will have to allow the Houthi rebels a permanent place in Yemen's political future, even if this leaves the Yemen conflict unresolved to Riyadh's liking, opens the door to semi-permanent Iranian influence on the Arabian Peninsula and -- most crucially for the Saudis -- fails to give them the peace they crave on their southwestern front.
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