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SnapshotsJan 21, 2021 | 22:07 GMT
Spanish newspapers show images of newly sworn-in U.S. President Joe Biden on Jan. 21, 2021, in Madrid, Spain.
The EU Welcomes Biden, But Some Disputes Will Remain
Joe Biden’s presidency portends greater U.S.-EU coordination on areas like climate change, COVID-19 and human rights. But Washington and Brussels will likely still spar over trade, tech policy and defense spending. On the day of Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, European Council President Charles Michel called for a “founding pact” between the United States and the European Union based on five priorities: boosting multilateral cooperation, fighting against COVID-19, tackling climate change, rebuilding the global economy with a digital transformation, and joining forces on security and peace. Also on Jan. 20, the European Union’s chief diplomat, Joseph Borrell, invited Biden’s new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Lisbon, Portugal, on March 4-5 to restart cooperation.
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AssessmentsJan 18, 2021 | 10:00 GMT
Supporters of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement chant slogans during a demonstration in Stockholm, Sweden on Aug. 25, 2018.
Russia’s Role in Stoking Right-Wing Extremism in the West
To undermine the West and increase its influence, Russia will continue to promote right-wing extremism in ways that largely stop short of direct support for violence by exploiting existing societal tensions and pro-Russia sentiment in certain circles. The violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 renewed attention on the increasingly prominent activities of right-wing extremists (RWEs) in the West and the role of foreign influence in peddling the ideologies that have fueled a number of lethal terrorist attacks in recent years. U.S. officials have not accused Russia of being behind the U.S. Capitol insurrection, which was fueled largely by election grievances. However, Moscow’s sustained efforts to undermine U.S. democracy -- most notably through its well-documented interference in the 2016 presidential election -- raise questions about its complicity in indirectly strengthening the RWE movement behind the Capitol takeover.
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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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SITUATION REPORTDec 28, 2020 | 20:33 GMT
China: Regulators Reportedly Want Ant Group to Refocus on Payment Products
The People’s Bank of China issued a statement on Dec. 27 criticizing the governance and certain business practices of Ant Group, the financial unit of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, following a recent meeting between bank officials, Chinese financial regulators and company representatives. China’s regulators reportedly want Ant Group to focus its efforts on payments while reducing its efforts on lending, wealth management products and other financial products that it has begun offering in recent years.
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SITUATION REPORTDec 24, 2020 | 18:35 GMT
China: Beijing Opens Investigation Into Alibaba
China's State Administrator for Market Regulation announced Dec. 24 that it has opened a probe into Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba's business practices over accusations of anti-competitive business practices, NPR reported.
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On GeopoliticsOct 29, 2020 | 21:00 GMT
The Caucasus Mountains on Oct. 9, 2020.
The Southern Caucasus: Where Post-Soviet and Neo-Ottoman Interests Collide
As fighting rages between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a much higher level competition for regional influence in the Southern Caucasus is taking place. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has its own distinct origins, is just a piece of the broader geopolitical competition between Russia and Turkey as a more ambitious Turkey challenges the status quo in it and Russia's overlapping peripheries. Conflict in Nargorno-Karabakh will eventually subside amid renewed negotiations that will have major implications for Russian and Turkish influence in the broader region.
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SnapshotsOct 19, 2020 | 22:14 GMT
A protester uses a loudspeaker to talk to the crowd during an anti-government rally in Bangkok, Thailand, on Oct. 19, 2020.
Gauging the Thai Government’s Response to Growing Protests
The recent escalation of the monthslong Thai student protest movement will compel the government to step up its restrictions on dissent and intensify efforts to co-opt the protesters’ less controversial demands through a limited constitutional reform process. This could cause protests to drag on amid continued controversy over the scope and pace of such amendments, even as it eases overall public support for demonstrations. Between Oct. 13 and Oct. 19, Thai protesters turned out on the streets of Bangkok for the most sustained period of protest-related disruptions since the movement kicked off in earnest in July. Demonstrators also appeared in 20 other locations nationwide in smaller numbers. 
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AssessmentsOct 7, 2020 | 17:00 GMT
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends the inauguration ceremony of Supreme Court Justice Luiz Fux on Sept. 10, 2020, in Brasilia, Brazil.
What Bolsonaro's New Spending Push Means for Brazil’s Fiscal Future
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement of a new social cash-support program has raised concerns about the government’s long-term fiscal discipline, as well as its policies to balance the needs for domestic social spending with longer-term debt issues. On Sept. 28, Brasilia announced a new cash transfer social program, dubbed the “Citizens Income,” which offers an extension of current COVID-19 support programs for low-income citizens into 2021. To soften the blow of the COVID-19 outbreak, Bolsonaro’s government has offered multiple fiscal stimulus programs in the past few months at a cost estimated to be more than eight percent of the country’s GDP.
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SnapshotsJul 13, 2020 | 19:09 GMT
High Turnout in Hong Kong’s Opposition Primary Portends a Contentious Election Season
High voter turnout in Hong Kong's opposition primary demonstrates the pro-democracy camp's continued momentum toward a strong showing for the city's September legislative election. Despite fears of low turnout amid the draconian national security law, Hong Kong's July 11-12 unofficial pro-democratic primary attracted 610,000 voters -- 13.8 percent of the city's electorate and in excess of the 170,000-person target. The strong public mandate will help the opposition winnow down the normally massive pool of candidates in order to avoid splitting the vote to the advantage of pro-Beijing opponents. Instead of exerting a chilling effect on politics in the city, it also appears that the new national security law has galvanized the opposition, which bodes well for electoral turnout in September.
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AssessmentsJun 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Syrian refugees walk outside a tent at a camp near the Iraqi Kurdish town of Bardarash on Oct. 18, 2019.
COVID-19 Cash Shortages Will Cripple Global Humanitarian Efforts
Reductions in funding for multilateral aid due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 are impacting the fight against the epidemic in conflict zones such as Yemen, raising the prospect of migration flows and renewed fighting, while increasing pressure on private aid organizations to fund humanitarian programs. Funding for multilateral humanitarian aid is dwindling as donor countries increasingly turn inward to solve their own COVID-19 crises at home. Donor countries are providing pandemic relief in various ways, including debt relief, financial swaps and bilateral aid. But global economic contractions, estimated to hover around 7 percent this year, are reducing aid contributions to the United Nations and other institutions, creating severe systemic funding gaps. 
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