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SnapshotsOct 4, 2021 | 22:25 GMT
A man casts his ballot in Qatar’s first-ever legislative vote at a polling station in Doha on Oct. 2, 2021.
What to Make of Qatar’s First-Ever Popular Vote
Qatar’s first-ever popular elections represent an incremental broadening of political participation in the absolute monarchy as its economy slowly diversifies away from hydrocarbons. The polls will also give Doha an edge in its ongoing competition with the United Arab Emirates in the coming years. Qataris voted Oct. 2 in the first-ever popular election for the country’s consultative legislative council, known as the Shura Council. 30 of the 45 seats were selected by popular vote, while 15 were directly selected by Qatar’s emir. 26 of the 233 candidates on the ballot were women, which Qatari and international media heavily touted leading up to the vote. None of those women, however, ended up winning seats. 
SITUATION REPORTSep 24, 2021 | 16:49 GMT
Hong Kong: Beijing Office Adds Propaganda and Security Departments
China's Hong Kong Macao Affairs Office added a propaganda department and a security department, and the former will focus on crafting messages and managing Hong Kong journalists in mainland China, Bloomberg reported Sept. 23. China's Foreign Ministry also published a list on Sept. 24 of 100 instances of alleged U.S. interference in Hong Kong.
SITUATION REPORTSep 16, 2021 | 21:42 GMT
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Beijing Demands Unpermitted Miners Leave
The Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded that six Chinese mining firms working without permits leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo province of South Kivu after police used tear gas to break up a Sept. 13 protest by local residents outside a Chinese mine there, the South China Morning Post reported Sept. 15.
AssessmentsSep 1, 2021 | 18:13 GMT
Campaign billboards in Berlin show the chancellor candidates for Germany’s Green party (left) and Social Democratic Party on Aug. 24, 2021.
A Guide to Germany’s Federal Election
Germany’s upcoming federal election will result in a moderate government that supports EU and NATO membership, seeks fiscal consolidation after the COVID-19 pandemic, and implements policies to reduce carbon emissions over time. But the pace of implementation and depth of these policies will depend on the ideological composition of the next government coalition. Germany will hold a federal election on Sept. 26, the first in 20 years where conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be a candidate. Opinion polls suggest the election will produce a fragmented Bundestag. As a result, the negotiations to form a coalition will take several months, and Germany may not have a new government until late 2021 or early 2022. The new government will likely include moderate center-left and center-right parties, while excluding the anti-immigration and euroskeptic Alternative for Germany (AfD), as well as possibly the anti-globalization and anti-NATO Die Linke. This means that the new government
SnapshotsAug 10, 2021 | 21:15 GMT
Captive Ethiopian soldiers arrive in Tigray’s regional capital of Mekele on July 2, 2021.
Abiy Calls on Ethiopians to Join the Fight Against Tigray
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears on the verge of ending a unilateral cease-fire with Tigray forces, raising the risk for even more humanitarian strife and ethnic violence in the country. On Aug. 10, Abiy’s office issued a statement saying that it was the “right time” for all “capable Ethiopians” to join Ethiopia’s military, special forces and militias. The statement comes after Ethiopia’s foreign ministry warned Aug. 6 it could deploy its “entire defensive capability” against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) following TPLF incursions into neighboring Ethiopian regions Afar and Amhara. 
On GeopoliticsAug 9, 2021 | 10:00 GMT
Members of the Taliban participate in talks with the Afghan government on July 18, 2021, in Doha, Qatar.
Challenging Our Understanding of the Taliban
Most assessments of U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as the predicted advances of the Taliban, focus on two key outcomes: 1) the reversal of Western human rights and standards in the country, particularly for women, and 2) the devolution of Afghanistan into a terrorist base for outward strikes against distant foreign powers. These are not necessarily wrong perceptions, particularly given the history of the Taliban’s first conquest of Afghanistan. But it is important to also seek alternative historical analogies, even if only to test the currently accepted model.
AssessmentsJul 15, 2021 | 21:43 GMT
A tuk-tuk car drives past a large poster of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, in al-Sadr City, Iraq, on July 15, 2021.
Iraqi Shiite Leader Withdraws From Upcoming Elections
By backing out of Iraq’s October parliamentary elections, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is positioning himself as a likely agitator of the next government’s stability and risks handing more votes to allies of Iranian-backed militias. In a televised speech on July 15, al-Sadr announced his “withdrawal from the upcoming elections'' in order to “preserve the rest of the country and to save Iraq which was burnt by the corrupt.” A handful of his political followers have also since said they would boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections.
On GeopoliticsJul 7, 2021 | 17:19 GMT
A man tours one of the soccer stadiums that will be used in the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar.
Qatar’s World Cup Dreams Will Meet COVID-19 Realities
As it grapples with the long-term impact of COVID-19, Qatar will have to decide whether it’s willing to make a dent in its economic allure by hosting a more subdued World Cup in November 2022. The long-awaited global soccer tournament is meant to be Doha’s big moment to shine by enabling the Arab Gulf country -- which will be the first to host an international event on this scale -- to show off its governance skills, modern infrastructure and tolerant national culture in a high-beam advertisement of the emirate’s economic potential.  The games have been plagued by numerous complications over the years, including accusations of corruption during the bidding process, allegations of the abuse of workers during the building of the infrastructure, and even worries that tourists might not be able to drink alcohol at events, as well as 2017-21 Saudi-Emirati blockade that closed off many regional air, land and sea
AssessmentsJun 11, 2021 | 18:15 GMT
Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee speaks during a press briefing on April 2, 2021, in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
The Ransomware Threat to Law Enforcement
Cyberattacks on law enforcement risk exposing a trove of sensitive data that malign parties could sell to criminal organizations or hostile governments, which could then victimize and/or physically harm individual officers or entire organizations. In April 2021, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPD) was the victim of an extortion plot that threatened to expose sensitive data. The Babuk Group, a Russian-speaking ransomware crime syndicate, threatened to share the sensitive data with District of Columbia-area criminal gangs unless the department paid a ransom.