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SnapshotsAug 7, 2020 | 20:48 GMT
With Tech Bans and Hong Kong Sanctions, Trump Hits China With a One-Two Punch
In the United States' pressure campaign against China, President Donald Trump's threshold for action is decreasing and his tolerance for risk of blowback to U.S. economic interests appears to be rising -- a trend confirmed by the White House's move to both restrict transactions by U.S. entities with China's TikTok and WeChat apps, as well as impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in the Hong Kong crisis. Such blowback includes the impact of U.S. restrictions on U.S. businesses in China, as well as the threat of Chinese retaliation. Although both of these moves are part of a long-term bipartisan trend towards greater confrontation with China, U.S. President Donald Trump's electoral challenges will lead to an increasingly volatile dynamic ahead of the November vote, even as he tries to walk the line of preserving, at least in name, the U.S.-China trade deal as a key campaign promise. 
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SITUATION REPORTAug 6, 2020 | 18:52 GMT
U.S., China: Beijing Condemns Health Secretary’s Upcoming Visit to Taiwan
China’s foreign ministry said it firmly opposes any official U.S. exchanges with Taiwan, warning that a visit to the island by a U.S. Cabinet official would threaten “peace and stability” in the region, AFP reported Aug. 5. The statement comes a day after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that Secretary Alex Azar would lead a delegation to Taipai in the coming days to discuss Taiwan’s successful COVID-19 strategy.
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AssessmentsAug 5, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, at sunrise.
COVID-19 Risks Robbing Dubai of Its Economic and Political Autonomy
By sapping Dubai's economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will also ultimately erode the emirate's political and economic independence from neighboring Abu Dhabi. Without the tools and funding needed to support its own recovery, Dubai will likely be forced to rely on another bailout from wealthy Abu Dhabi, which could impact Dubai's development plans, especially in tourism and finance. 
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SnapshotsAug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
In Jordan, a Government Crackdown on Civil Dissent Risks Backfiring
The arrests of teachers union leaders in Jordan risks fueling unrest in the typically politically stable country against a government the United States relies on for its regional counterterrorism efforts. On July 25, Jordanian security forces arrested over a dozen key members of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate and charged them with corruption, incitement, financial irregularities and criminal activities. Forces also raided the union’s offices and shut them down for two years. Nasser Nawasreh, acting head of the Teachers Syndicate, was charged with incitement specifically over a speech he gave on July 22 that sharply criticized Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government. A government spokesman said that the arrests were conducted to prevent the union from staging planned sit-ins and demonstrations that risked harming “the state’s essential services and their functioning.”
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AssessmentsAug 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An oil pumpjack operates in Signal Hill, California, on April 21, 2020, a day after oil prices dropped to below zero amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a Global COVID-19 Resurgence, Oil Prices Are Poised to Stall
The resurgence of COVID-19 infections in many countries around the world has undermined the oil market's notion that the recovery in petroleum product demand will continue upward in the absence of a vaccine. Expectations of a swift demand recovery in recent weeks have also been hampered by concerns about new mandatory lockdowns in places where economic activity had resumed, as well as slower economic recoveries elsewhere. Crude oil prices are thus likely to stall heading into the fourth quarter of 2020 as global demand remains sluggish, while modest rises in OPEC+ supply undermine efforts to rapidly balance the market and drain excess inventories. This means the fiscal position of countries highly dependent on oil export revenues will likely continue to be strained, and that any recovery in drilling activity and the oilfield services sector will also be slow.
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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 14:48 GMT
The U.S. Economic Recession Grows Deeper and Bleaker
The United States is likely to experience a weak economy for a prolonged period, which, when combined with high debt levels, will have long-lasting effects on federal spending and perhaps even Washington's ability to exercise global influence as the country turns inward. The United States' pandemic-induced recession may have bottomed out in the April-June quarter, with GDP shrinking at a record pace. But with growth sluggish even before the pandemic, prospects for the U.S. economy remain stark. Base effects alone probably ensure positive growth in the third quarter of 2020, though signs the U.S. recovery is already slowing means another contraction in the fourth quarter cannot be ruled out. And with infections on the rise across America, there's an increasing chance that U.S. GDP growth could remain below pre-pandemic levels for years to come. 
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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Yemen’s Separatists Pause Their Push for Autonomy to Advance It Later
Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) will temporarily implement the terms of a previous peace deal with the Yemeni government to gain political leverage before ultimately returning to its pursuit of an independent southern Yemen. The STC, which is an umbrella force of southern militias and secessionists, announced July 29 that it would abide by a Saudi-brokered political reconciliation agreement with its rivals in President Mansoor Hadi's internationally recognized government. The announcement came a few hours after Saudi Arabia announced its plans to “accelerate” the implementation of the power-sharing agreement signed last year in Riyadh, which demands the STC end its attempts at self-rule in exchange for more posts in the government.
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AssessmentsJul 21, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
A rally in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 11, 2020, at Umayyad Square in Damascus, Syria.
In Syria, COVID-19 and Economic Woes Will Dampen Damascus' Ambitions
Economic and health crises have undercut Damascus' appetite for new major military offensives by creating dissent in previously secure territory. This suggests the al Assad government will attempt to consolidate power within loyalist territories before renewing efforts to eliminate Turkish and American influence.
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AssessmentsJul 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Huawei logo is pictured on a router during a 5G event in London on Feb. 20, 2020.
U.S. Actions Against Huawei Will Only Embolden China’s Push to Grow Its Tech Sector
Escalating U.S. actions against Huawei will only motivate China to pump its domestic technology sector with even more funding and talent, which will in turn prompt the United States to impose more restrictions on international companies doing business with Huawei and other Chinese firms that pose a threat to its global tech dominance. This will result in a cat-and-mouse game in which Washington deploys whatever financial and diplomatic tools are at its disposal to close any loopholes that China and Chinese tech companies can exploit to better compete with the West. 
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SnapshotsJul 15, 2020 | 20:33 GMT
Trump Carefully Continues to Increase Pressure on China in Hong Kong
Despite growing bipartisan pressure among U.S. legislators to take more aggressive action against China, the White House's latest actions in Hong Kong indicate the administration still seeks to avoid any moves that could substantively damage the city's status as an economic hub or jeopardize the U.S.-China phase one trade deal. On July 14, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the issuing of an executive order invoking the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 to certify the city no longer warrants autonomous treatment under U.S. law, as well as the signing of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) into law. These two actions mark another step in the incremental escalation of U.S. pressure on China over its implementation of a severe new national security law in the city but still fall short of more extreme moves Washington could take, reflecting a still cautious White House strategy. 
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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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