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On StratforMar 2, 2021 | 22:22 GMT
People stand over a world map at the Monument to the Discoveries in the Belem parish of Lisbon, Portugal, on Aug. 21, 2014.
How Many Countries Are There in the World?
How many countries are there in the world? It’s a seemingly simple question. But like so many things in geopolitics, the answer is, well...complicated. The 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States listed four requirements for statehood: a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. The issue, however, is defining who meets that criteria, which varies depending on who you ask. 
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SITUATION REPORTMar 1, 2021 | 17:40 GMT
Global: G-20 to Maintain COVID-19 Stimulus, Resume Talks on Digital Taxes
Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers and central bank governors agreed to resume negotiations for an international agreement on taxing digital services, as well as a new allocation of international reserve assets known as Special Drawing Rights (SDR) issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to aid world’s poorest economies amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Bloomberg reported Feb. 26
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AssessmentsFeb 26, 2021 | 21:22 GMT
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud walks the halls of the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. after meeting with then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 14, 2020.
Biden Brings More Skepticism Into the U.S.-Saudi Relationship
As the drivers bringing them together weaken, the United States and Saudi Arabia will become more conservative in deepening their strategic ties and more critical of one another’s differences. On Feb. 26, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden released a report publicly blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and imposed visa bans on 76 Saudis associated with the act under a new so-called “Khashoggi Policy.” This, along with other recent public statements and arms freezes, indicates Biden preparing to shift U.S.-Saudi ties away from his predecessor’s close personal relationship with the kingdom. The White House appears ready to press Saudi Arabia to engage in more restrained foreign policy, emphasizing U.S. human rights objectives in its Saudi dialogue. That pressure will undoubtedly clash with several of the kingdom’s own deeply set imperatives, creating pushback from Riyadh and turbulence in long-standing U.S.-Saudi
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AssessmentsFeb 25, 2021 | 22:10 GMT
Chinese and EU flags stand at the chancellery on Jan. 26, 2021, in Berlin, Germany. The two entities recently reached a comprehensive agreement on investment.
The Future of Chinese Investment in Europe
The European Union will remain open to Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the coming years, but will limit China’s access to strategic sectors of its economy (such as technology). Brussels will also continue to confront Beijing over political, human rights and security issues. The European Union and the United States are the Continent’s primary sources of FDI, which limits China’s ability to leverage FDI to gain political influence. Investment in European infrastructure, such as ports and railways, offers Chinese exporters greater access to European markets, while the acquisition of high-tech companies and know-how gives Beijing access to sophisticated technology it can use for its domestic industrial plans. Europe sees the Asian giant as a source of funding, but in recent years, most countries have become concerned about the national security implications of rising Chinese investment. The European Union also wants to make the bilateral relationship more reciprocal, as the bloc
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SITUATION REPORTFeb 25, 2021 | 17:17 GMT
Sri Lanka, China: Beijing Says Countries to Continue Cooperation on Hambantota Port  
In a phone call with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the two countries would continue to cooperate on the controversial Hambantota port project in Sri Lanka in order to build it into one of the country's "twin engines," complementing Sri Lanka's already massive Colombo port, the South China Morning Post reported Feb. 24. 
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AssessmentsFeb 24, 2021 | 22:33 GMT
A picture taken in London on Dec. 18, 2020, shows the logos of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft displayed on a mobile phone and laptop screen.
With Democrats in Power, the U.S. Push Against Big Tech Grows
As momentum builds in the United States for landmark antitrust legislation and lawsuits on Big Tech companies, potential changes to U.S. mergers law and limits on growth avenues for large tech firms like Google could impact U.S. dominance in the global tech space, increasing competition with Chinese and European firms. On Feb. 4, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the new chair of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, introduced a new bill aimed at updating the United States’ antitrust laws. The so-called Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act (CALERA) proposes giving more resources to antitrust investigators, as well as rewriting the way that mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are reviewed over antitrust concerns. Although it has not yet been presented to U.S. President Joe Biden, the draft bill does give hints about how the new Democratic-led government could treat antitrust law reforms and tackle Big Tech.
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SnapshotsFeb 24, 2021 | 17:42 GMT
A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile clinic near Moshav Dalton in northern Israel on Feb. 22, 2021.
COVID-19 Aid Offers Israel an Opportunity for Regional Reconciliation
Israel is using COVID-19 humanitarian support to conduct diplomacy with Syria, and the success of that strategy could prompt similar offers and efforts to thaw Israel's difficult relationship with Lebanon. As part of a recent prisoner exchange with Syria, Israel purchased an undisclosed amount of Russian Sputnik V vaccines for Syria, which has been unable to secure and distribute doses of COVID-19 vaccine due to its crashing currency and battered healthcare system. The deal followed nearly a year of quiet humanitarian cooperation between Hamas and Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now seen Israel allow limited doses of Sputnik V vaccines to enter the Gaza Strip. 
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SnapshotsFeb 23, 2021 | 21:23 GMT
Norwegian army soldiers use snowmobiles for mobility during a military exercise on March 6, 2013, in Skjold, Norway.
Increased Arctic Activity Sets the Stage for U.S.-Russia Competition
The U.S. military is increasing collaboration with Nordic states in response to expanding Russian military and economic activities in the Arctic, pointing to a future of heightened competition with the potential for both strategic and tactical miscommunication or miscalculation. On Feb. 22, four U.S. B-1 bombers arrived for their first-ever deployment to Norway in a move widely seen as a signal to Russia. Five days earlier, the United States agreed with Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to continue its participation in the biennial Arctic Challenge Exercise, one of Europe’s largest tactical air exercises and widely seen as practice to counter potential Russian belligerence, next scheduled for June 2021. The U.S. Army is also preparing to unveil its Arctic strategy in the coming weeks, as the changing climate turns the previously inaccessible region into an increasingly busy zone of military and economic activity -- particularly along the Russian frontier.
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SnapshotsFeb 23, 2021 | 19:07 GMT
An outside view of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters is seen in Vienna, Austria, on Nov. 18, 2020.
An IAEA Deal Buys Iran More Time to Pursue Sanctions Relief
Iran’s compromise with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) buys Tehran three more months to broach negotiations with the United States in the hopes of securing sanctions relief. During IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi’s recent visit to Iran, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said it would stop the voluntary implementation of its so-called “Additional Protocol” on Feb. 23, a confidential agreement that allows U.N. inspectors to monitor Tehran’s nuclear program and visit its facilities, particularly with short notice. But the two sides also reached a compromise on verification and monitoring that will maintain limited IAEA access to nuclear sites.
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