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Quarterly ForecastsJun 29, 2020 | 00:02 GMT
2020 Third-Quarter Forecast
While many of the trends identified in our annual forecast remain slowed down by COVID-19, their pace is picking up as countries carefully emerge from lockdown.
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AssessmentsJun 26, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A picture shows the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Kramim in the West Bank on June 18, 2020.
Israel's Annexation Plans Will Leave It in Need of New Allies
Israel's impending annexations in the West Bank will not spark immediate international backlash, but growing pro-Palestine sentiment in the United States and Europe will ultimately leave it politically and economically isolated in the long term. This will lead Israel to seek increased partnerships with countries whose citizens and politicians are less invested in the prospect of a Palestinian state, such as Russia and China, though doing so will come at the risk of further stoking U.S. ire. 
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AssessmentsJun 23, 2020 | 18:03 GMT
A worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia on Dec. 26, 2019.
Egypt's Losing Battle on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The failure of last week's negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam means that the initial filling of the $4 billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile will likely occur without an agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt will attempt, and likely fail, to bring international pressure to bear on Ethiopia in order to ensure the giant new dam doesn't affect the flow of the Nile Basin river system, which is Cairo's main source of water. But while Egypt's technical coordination on the project is unavoidable, Cairo's waning influence over North Africa's water distribution will make its overall position on the Nile less secure over time.
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SnapshotsJun 22, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
New U.S. Sanctions Will Keep Syria Firmly in Russia and Iran's Corner
New U.S. sanctions against the Syrian government will likely leave Damascus dependent on Russian and Iranian support, while deterring aid from potential future partners such as China and the United Arab Emirates. On June 17, the United States sanctioned 39 individuals associated with the Syrian government, including President Bashar al Assad and his wife. Washington also indicated that more sanctions were to come in order to force the Syrian government back into U.N.-led peace negotiations.  Countries that have shown interest in providing Syria aid in the past are unlikely to risk incurring potentially powerful U.S. sanctions in pursuit of economically limited reconstruction contracts in Syria, leaving Damascus with Russia and Iran as its primary links with the international community. The sanctions will also exacerbate Syria's already dire economic situation, which is producing dissent from inside Syrian loyalist territories, and increasingly threatens the stability of the al Assad family's hold on the state.
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SnapshotsJun 12, 2020 | 20:38 GMT
The UAE Tries to Have It Both Ways in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The United Arab Emirates is publicly signaling that it disapproves of Israel's impending annexations in the West Bank, but its strategy suggests it still wants to support the Palestinians without losing the ability to seek economic, technology, and security deals from Israel. In a June 12 op-ed published in Israeli media, UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba staked out the country's aspirations to simultaneously support both sides of the conflict by urging Israel not to carry out annexations that would prevent a future Palestinian state and harm budding relations. This comes shortly after a second plane from the Abu Dhabi-based national carrier Etihad Airways landed in Israel on June 9 to publicly deliver relief supplies in the Palestinian Territories as part of the United Nations World Food Program. 
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SnapshotsJun 10, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
Libya's Government of National Accord Rejects an Egyptian Cease-fire
In Libya, the Government of National Accord has rejected an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with the rival Libyan National Army and instead appears to be pushing farther east. But if the GNA succeeds in pushing deep into central and eastern Libya, it risks prompting the LNA's main foreign backers -- Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates -- into deepening their involvement in the war-torn North African country.
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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 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A collection of Saudi riyal banknotes.
Saudi Arabia’s Currency Peg Will Hold -- For Now
The current collapse in crude prices is again fueling questions over the durability of the hard U.S. dollar currency peg used by Saudi Arabia. Despite the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the peg is likely to survive in the near term. But structural changes in both the global oil market and the Saudi economy means Riyadh will likely devalue its currency at some point in the next five years, as this time the kingdom will not be able to rely on a full recovery in prices for its oil exports to substantially replenish the large fiscal reserves that underpin its ability to defend currency pegs.
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AssessmentsMay 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A group of demonstrators wave the Palestinian flag on Dec. 31, 2009.
The Palestinians Move to Cut Security Ties With Israel: A Bluff or Something Bigger?
To protest Israel's aggressive annexation push, the Palestinian Authority is beginning to act on longstanding threats to cease coordination with Israeli authorities in the West Bank. On May 19, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to decades of security and intelligence cooperation with Israel and its main ally, the United States. The timing puts pressure on the Israeli government just before it's slated to begin annexing portions of the West Bank in July, and will raise the risk of violence and unrest in the area. 
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AssessmentsMay 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Laborers wearing hard hats work at building construction site in Manama, Bahrain, on May 18, 2020.
In the Arab Gulf, Shrinking Job Opportunities Force Foreigners Back Home
By reducing demand for foreign labor, the global economic fallout from COVID-19 will, over time, fundamentally alter the demographic makeup of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, which are famously home to a huge number of expatriates. Even as it helps facilitate workforce nationalization efforts across the region, the sharp loss of foreign labor and intellectual capital will eventually impede the ability of GCC governments to grow and diversify their energy-dependent economies, lengthening the timeframe for painful but necessary economic reform programs. Meanwhile, the remittance-dependent nations welcoming citizens back from the Arab Gulf, such as Egypt, will be left with even less foreign currency to manage their own mounting financial crises at home. 
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SnapshotsMay 11, 2020 | 19:39 GMT
As Oil Prices Plummet, Saudi Arabia Opts for Austerity
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent global recession, most countries are launching significant fiscal stimulus programs to boost domestic economic activity. Governments dependent on oil and gas revenue, however, are being forced to do the opposite as the likely long-term collapse of energy prices necessitates sharp spending cuts and unpopular austerity measures. Saudi Arabia has recently joined the growing list of oil-producers now facing twin economic and political crises as a result of the pandemic.  On May 10, Riyadh announced three specific measures that Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan said were necessary to get its public finances under control for the long and painful road ahead: - Saudi Arabia will cut or delay spending totaling 100 billion Saudi riyals ($26.6 billion), which is roughly equivalent to 10 percent of Saudi Arabia's planned 1020 billion riyal ($271.5 billion) 2020 budget. It is not clear how much of the spending cuts and
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AssessmentsMay 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Pedestrians wearing masks walk down a street in Istanbul’s Eminonu district on May 5, 2020.
In Turkey, the AKP’s COVID-19 Strategy Could Be Its Downfall
Amid the escalating domestic and global fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) faces an unprecedented political and economic challenge with few viable ways out. To bolster what remains of its legitimacy ahead of 2023 elections, the ruling party will likely double down on nationalist and protectionist policies. But by failing to address the core issues plaguing Turkey’s economy, including high unemployment and growing debt, these short-term power grabs will also ultimately fail to secure the AKP’s place in power. And as a result, the country’s deepening financial crisis may see the early demise of not only Turkish businesses, but the AKP’s continued political dominance. 
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