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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People stand in line to receive grant payments from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in Khayelitsha, a township located near Cape Town, on May 4, 2020. 
South Africa's Budget Outlook Paints a Picture of a Lost Decade
South Africa will likely miss its recently adjusted budget targets as the country’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak delays much-needed austerity measures, leaving the South African economy in shambles for at least another five years. President Cyril Ramaphosa and his pro-business allies in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had planned to rein in government spending and the country's sky-high debt levels over the next three years. But South Africa's likely extended health and economic crisis could make that goal politically untenable, given that any budget cuts and potential layoffs would most acutely affect the ANC's support base of labor unions and their poorer Black constituents. 
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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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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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On GeopoliticsJun 11, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
A 3D rendering of eastern China and the island of Taiwan lit by city lights from space.
China's Evolving Taiwan Policy: Disrupt, Isolate and Constrain
For China's leadership, the unification of Taiwan is more than a symbol of the final success of the Chinese Communist Party or an emotional appeal to some historic image of a greater China. It is a strategic imperative driven both by Taiwan's strategic location, and by the rising antagonism between the United States and China. Taiwan is the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” off the Chinese coastline, splitting China's near seas, and bridging the arc of islands stretching southwest from Japan with those from the Philippines south through Indonesia. Taiwan is crucial for both any foreign containment strategy, and for China's confidence and security in the East and South China seas -- areas critical to China's national defense, food security and international trade. 
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 19:38 GMT
Pro-democracy protesters shine the flashlights on their cellphones as they take part in a rally in Hong Kong on June 9, 2020.
Hong Kong’s Election Lights the Fuse for Another Wave of Unrest
A year after the city's extradition bill prompted more than a million people to take to the streets in June 2019, marking a watershed moment in last year's protests, Hong Kong's political crisis is heating up once again. The next three months in Hong Kong will see protests kick back into high gear as pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps focus on winning Legislative Council elections planned for September. The central government in mainland China will fast-track its controversial national security laws ahead of the polls to increase control over protestors and politicians, while the regional Hong Kong government will work to fulfill its side of the legislation. The White House, meanwhile, will pressure China to ease back on its encroachment in Hong Kong by possibly stripping away the city's special tariff treatment, but will weigh carefully whether to escalate further to financial measures that would cripple Hong Kong's status as a business hub
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, one of the main opposition candidates running in Poland's 2020 presidential election, greets locals and supporters in Wieliczka, Poland, during a campaign event on June 5, 2020. 
Poland After the Presidential Election
Poland’s upcoming presidential election could increase political instability at a time of already mounting economic uncertainty, should a less Euroskeptic opposition candidate defeat President Andrzej Duda and secure the power to veto legislation. Regardless of who wins, in the months ahead the Polish government will need to defend both its economy from further harm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its access to EU farming subsidies and cohesion funds in the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget. Over time, growing debt levels and a worsening deficit could damage the government’s popularity and open the door to political change by impeding Warsaw’s ability to expand social welfare benefits.  
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SnapshotsJun 4, 2020 | 19:36 GMT
With a Satellite Launch, Russia Beefs up Its Nuclear Deterrent
Russia managed to restore a significant element of its nuclear deterrent by regaining a minimal space-based early warning capability when its most recent Tundra satellite became operational following a May 22 launch. Russia's nuclear deterrent capability, which includes defensive measures such as this early-warning capability, is a core to its bid for great power status.
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AssessmentsJun 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of southwestern Tajikistan from the Afghan border town of Qazi Deh.
The Race to Secure Tajikistan's Afghan Border
Sustained protests and altercations with security forces in southwestern Tajikistan highlight the great challenges the Central Asian state faces in ensuring the withdrawal of U.S. troops in nearby Afghanistan doesn't prompt a surge of violence within its own borders. Hampered by limited domestic security capabilities, as well as longstanding cultural rifts with the local populations who inhabit large portions of the country's Afghan border, President Emomali Rahmon's government in Dushanbe will be forced to increasingly draw on Russia in order to protect its internal security and territorial integrity amid the heightened risk of unrest to the country’s south.  
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AssessmentsJun 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: June 4, 2020
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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On GeopoliticsMay 26, 2020 | 22:06 GMT
Protesters fleeing tear gas during a general strike in Hong Kong in August 2019.
What the End of One Country, Two Systems Means for Hong Kong, Taiwan and the World
Beijing's decision to impose a long-delayed security law on Hong Kong reflects the mainland’s growing concern with challenges to national unity ahead of next year's 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. But it is more immediately driven by the rising violence in Hong Kong and the political evolution in Taiwan. Despite international criticism, China will strengthen efforts to fully integrate Hong Kong and to further isolate Taiwan internationally.
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AssessmentsMay 12, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image of a gas flare at the Mozyr Oil Refinery in Belarus on Jan. 4, 2020. Russia recently resumed its oil deliveries to Belarus after a pricing dispute prompted Moscow to halt its supplies at the beginning of the year.
By Diversifying Its Oil Imports, Belarus Limits Russia’s Leverage
In recent months, Russia has weaponized its discounted oil deliveries to coerce Belarus into accepting a level of economic and political integration that would essentially guarantee its loyalty. This strategy, however, has only emboldened Minsk’s push to diversify its oil imports. But Belarus’ continued dependence on Russia’s close trade ties and natural gas exports will still leave Moscow armed with other sources of leverage to wield over its smaller neighbor in future negotiations.
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SnapshotsMay 7, 2020 | 17:41 GMT
Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Defies Federal Election Plans
On May 4, Ethiopia's Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced plans to organize regional elections in Tigray despite a federal decision to postpone the ballot due to COVID-19. In March, the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed moved to delay August national and regional elections to contain the spread of the virus and has not yet announced a new date. The Tigray government's decision to follow through with the federally postponed elections thus highlights the widening rift between the northern region and Addis Ababa, and could lead to renewed tensions between federalist and ethnic opposition groups in the country.
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