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SnapshotsJul 10, 2020 | 17:29 GMT
In Ivory Coast, a Presidential Candidate's Death Risks Ending in Violence
The unexpected death of Ivory Coast's prime minister and the ruling coalition's presidential candidate, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, risks dashing hopes that the world's top cocoa producer would experience its first-ever democratic transition of power without violence this year. On July 8, President Alassane Ouattara announced that Prime Minister Coulibaly had died upon returning from a cardiac examination in France.  Ouattara's ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) coalition had selected Coulibaly to be his successor following Ouattarra's March announcement that he would not seek a third term in the 2020 presidential election, which is currently scheduled for October 31. Reuters reported July 8 that senior RHDP leaders held a closed-door meeting in which they agreed to pressure Ouattara to seek a third term.  Ouattara seeking a third term, however, will be viewed as highly controversial and would lead to a constitutional crisis over his eligibility. 
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SnapshotsJul 10, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The U.S. Responds to China's Uighur Crackdown With More Sanctions
The U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese Politburo member will provoke a tit-for-tat response from Beijing, adding to the mounting tensions between the two countries. On July 9, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned one Chinese government agency and four individuals for their role in the ongoing crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang. While such sanctions will not alone derail the U.S.-China "phase one" trade deal, they will add to the growing points of tension that, when combined, threaten the agreement. The targeted focus of these sanctions on individuals also suggests a more measured U.S. approach to the Uighur crisis in Xinjiang, similar to Washington's approach in its response to Beijing's encroachment over Hong Kong.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A crane moves Nord Stream 2 pipes at a port near Sassnitz, Germany, on June 5, 2019.
Nord Stream 2 Overcomes One Hurdle Only to Be Met With Another
Denmark’s decision to drop certain technical requirements for operating in its waters will allow Russia to use both of its available pipe-laying vessels to finish constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Another Russian vessel, the MV Fortuna, will now also be allowed to operate on the natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia in Danish waters beginning Aug. 3. The United States, however, is now seeking to expand its sanctions to target all services related to constructing Nord Stream 2, including supply vessels and backfilling vessels. But even if construction is completed before additional sanctions disrupt progress, Washington could still take action to prevent Russia and Germany from putting their pipeline into operation.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows the site of a recent gas explosion at the Sina Medical Center in Tehran, Iran, on July 1, 2020. 19 people were killed in the blast.
Explosions in Iran Point to a Possible Israeli Sabotage Campaign
Israel was likely behind a July 2 explosion and fire at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, and potentially some of the other similar incidents that have occurred near Tehran over the past two weeks, including a June 26 explosion at the Khojir missile complex. Although Tel Aviv doesn't typically claim its covert actions against Iran, motive and past history make Israel the most likely actor to conduct such sabotage operations against Iranian infrastructure and assets.  Israel is frustrated by the failure of Western and regional countries to fully rein in Iran's military and nuclear capabilities, which it views as direct threats to its domestic and regional security. With the potential for a less friendly U.S. administration to take office in January, Israel may also be calculating that it has an optimal but limited window to act more aggressively against Iran's nuclear program.
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SnapshotsJul 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Drought Lays Bare Morocco’s Vulnerabilities
While declining rainfall is a problem across the Maghreb region of northwest Africa, this year's ongoing spring and summer drought is hitting Morocco's agricultural sector particularly hard. The drought will weaken the strategic objectives of the Moroccan government's agricultural investment plan, which prioritizes support for export-producing large farms over subsistence-producing small farms in order to drum up valuable export revenue. Dampened domestic production will also force Morocco to import more staple crops needed to feed its 36 million citizens. Combined with the loss of crucial agricultural revenue, the added expense of more imports will exacerbate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, which is already sapping Morocco's tourism revenue.
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SnapshotsJul 6, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Proposed Oil Redistribution Plan Risks Further Fracturing Libya
Potential changes to the way oil revenue and exports are shared and distributed in Libya could have significant ramifications for the country's sovereignty and ongoing civil war by establishing de facto splits in Libya's financial system. In a June 29 statement, Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said that it was “hopeful” that a deal could be reached in its negotiations with the country's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and other regional countries. The NOC also announced on July 1 that it had told workers to prepare to resume work at oil fields soon. Led by France, the United States, the United Nations and Egypt, these negotiations have centered on directly splitting oil revenue between Libya's three regions of Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania. This new system would, in turn, bypass the country's Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL), which is where Libya's oil revenue is currently deposited. 
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On GeopoliticsJul 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of China.
China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet
China is an empire in the modern sense -- a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population. 
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SnapshotsJul 2, 2020 | 15:49 GMT
Amid Spiking COVID-19 Cases, Israel Slows Its Annexation Push
Israel is slowing, but not yet stopping, its annexation plans in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence and possible future changes to its relationship with the United States, forestalling Palestinian unrest and international backlash. The acceleration of these two trends -- further COVID-19 infections and U.S. President Donald Trump's sliding approval ratings -- could upend the annexation process by convincing Israel to shrink its scope or even commit to a long-term delay.
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AssessmentsJul 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image depicts waving Chinese and Indian flags overlaying a map of the world.
In India, Anti-China Anger Will Bring Out Modi's Hawkish Side
A surge of anti-China sentiment among Indian lawmakers, business leaders and voters will prompt Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a more aggressive approach against Bejing in the wake of the two countries' recent border clash. This could include a variety of actions ranging from diplomatic moves to economic and trade measures, as well as a continued military build-up against China, which will only further ratchet up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. 
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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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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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SnapshotsJun 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Worst Global Recession in 80 Years Is Here. Where’s the Bottom?
Prospects for a quick global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic are officially dead, with all major international financial institutions and private forecasters now projecting huge cumulative losses and an uneven, prolonged climb out of the world’s steepest recession in 80 years. Economic models have proven incapable of dealing with uncertainties and discontinuities of the current unprecedented global lockdown. But even though magnitudes vary, recent forecasts are headed in the same direction -- down. 
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On GeopoliticsJun 24, 2020 | 19:11 GMT
An Indian fighter jet flies over a mountain range near the disputed territory of Ladakh on June 23, 2020.
A Border Clash Portends a New Indian Strategy of Less Talk, More Action Against China
Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's strong condemnation of Chinese actions at the Line of Actual (LAC) control, India is poised for a significant strategy shift in how it manages its contested border with China. The June 15 clash in the long-disputed territory of Ladakh, which marked the first time Indian troops have died at the hands of Chinese forces since 1975, has highlighted India's failure to dissuade China from attempting to permanently alter the balance of power along the border via diplomatic and confidence-building measures. This has left New Delhi more likely to pursue more confrontational options, which will undoubtedly have its risks, though India's battle-tested military may find such an escalation to its short-term advantage. 
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SnapshotsJun 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Seeking a Political Win, Trump Takes Aim at Immigration Visas
After weeks of speculation, U.S. President Donald Trump finally issued a presidential proclamation on June 22 outlining visa changes that will significantly impede the ability of U.S. tech companies and universities to attract international talent and investment. Should they become permanent, the changes could place the United States' competitive advantage as a business hub in jeopardy by making U.S. visa programs more difficult for foreigners to access. 
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