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AssessmentsDec 6, 2021 | 23:17 GMT
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani (right) meets with the United Arab Emirates’ security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Tehran on Dec. 6, 2021. 
A Rare UAE-Iran Meeting Stirs Hope for Eased Gulf Tensions
A high-profile visit to Iran reflects the United Arab Emirates’ shifting calculus regarding a more public and pragmatic relationship with its regional rival for the sake of security and economic benefits. UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Dec. 6, a rare visit indicating some softening of relations between the Persian Gulf neighbors. Raisi reportedly said he welcomed “improved ties with the Emirates” and that Sheikh Tahnoon had invited him to visit the United Arab Emirates. Emirati state-run media did not reference this invitation in their coverage of the meeting, but did say the two leaders discussed “consolidating bilateral ties and explored an array of issues of common interest.” 
AssessmentsDec 3, 2021 | 22:18 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on July 13, 2021.
Belarus' Changing Tone on Crimea Portends Stronger Russian Backing and Strained Ukrainian Ties
Belarus’ changing stance on Crimea confirms its greater alignment with Russia, which will worsen political and economic tensions with Ukraine, as well as contribute to an increasingly volatile situation in the region. In an interview published on Nov. 30, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that Crimea was “de facto” and “de jure” Russian and that he had agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the peninsula, which would “mean [its] recognition [as] part of Russia.” The exact dates of Lukashenko’s Crimea trip haven’t been announced, but the Belarusian leader’s comments and decision to visit the disputed territory starkly contrast with his previous stance on the peninsula since it was annexed by Russia in 2014. 
SnapshotsDec 1, 2021 | 22:47 GMT
Honduran presidential candidate Xiomara Castro (third from right) speaks at a press conference on Nov. 28, 2021, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
What Will and Won't Change Under Honduras’s New President
While she’ll likely struggle to pass domestic reforms, Honduras’s new president could significantly alter the country’s international policy, potentially switching diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. Former first lady Xiomara Castro from the leftist Freedom and Refoundation Party (Libre) is set to become Honduras’s next president after opposition candidate Nasry Asfura from the right-wing National Party conceded defeat in the country’s recent presidential election. Castro will take office on Jan. 27, assuming Honduras's electoral authority officially declares her president, which is highly expected. 
SnapshotsDec 1, 2021 | 19:59 GMT
Part of a new solar plant, funded by the German government, is seen at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan on Nov. 13, 2017.
Normalized UAE-Israeli Ties Yield a Climate-Focused Trade Deal With Jordan
A new power-for-water trade deal between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan show how climate-related cooperation could offer alternative paths for future Israeli-Arab normalization. On Nov. 22, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Israel signed a cooperation deal that will see the United Arab Emirates help construct a solar power facility in Jordan, which in turn will trade power to Israel in exchange for desalinated water. The United States also took part in the signing, which environmental observers cited in news coverage have hailed as a major breakthrough in Jordan and Israel’s efforts to prepare for climate change.
AssessmentsNov 30, 2021 | 19:42 GMT
Passengers wait to check in for one of the last international flights out of Cape Town, South Africa, after countries began imposing travel bans to contain the spread of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant on Nov. 29, 2021.
Omicron Deals Another Blow to South Africa’s Struggling Economy
The onslaught of Omicron-related travel bans will devastate South Africa’s tourism industry, increasing inequality levels and social resistance to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic policy agenda. The European Union and more than a dozen countries around the world -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel and several EU members -- have banned flights from South Africa and neighboring states upon the discovery of a new COVID-19 strain, which the World Health Organization has named Omicron. On Nov. 26, two days after South African health officials released details of the variant, the South African rand fell to 16.4 against the U.S. dollar on Nov. 26. While the rand has since slightly rebounded to trade at 16.2 per U.S. dollar, the currency remains low and in flux as worries over the strain linger. Ramaphosa condemned the countries that have implemented travel bans for failing to uphold commitments to economic recovery
SnapshotsNov 26, 2021 | 10:00 GMT
Pakistani troops patrol the fence along the Afghan border in August 2021.
In Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban Showcase Their Ability to Mediate With Militants
The Afghan Taliban’s success in mediating between militants and the government in neighboring Pakistan could help bolster the credibility of the transitional government in Kabul and assuage some regional security concerns by showcasing the Taliban leaders’ ability to prevent cross-border terrorism. A month-long cease-fire deal between Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, and the government of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan went into effect on Nov. 9. The deal, which was facilitated by the Afghan Taliban, calls for Pakistan to release some TTP soldiers in exchange for pausing attacks until Dec. 8, which have escalated in the wake of the Taliban’s success in Afghanistan over the summer.
AssessmentsNov 23, 2021 | 20:37 GMT
People wait outside a currency exchange agency in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 25, 2021.
In Search of a Quick Win, Erdogan Gambles Turkey’s Economic Future
While the Turkish government’s unconventional financial policy could result in near-term growth, it could come at the cost of enduring economic instability and political uncertainty. On Nov. 18, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) cut its main policy interest rate by 100 basis points (bps) to 15%, marking the third consecutive monthly decrease and a cumulative cut of 400 bps since March. This underscores the government’s adherence to an experimental policy of monetary easing, despite accelerating inflation and the depreciating Turkish lira, which could plunge the country into a deeper currency crisis over the next year.
AssessmentsNov 18, 2021 | 22:19 GMT
A deserted migrant camp is seen on the Belarus-Poland border in the Grodno region on Nov. 18, 2021.
EU-Belarus Cooperation on the Border Is Unlikely to Yield Broader Rapprochement
Germany’s recent outreach to Belarus may temporarily improve the migrant crisis at the latter’s borders, but simmering tensions with the European Union will likely ultimately push Minsk to resume its pressure tactics. On Nov. 15, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a phone call with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to discuss the growing migrant crisis at the Belarus-Poland border, which European states have accused Minsk of orchestrating in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed after Lukashenko’s disputed electoral victory last year. That same day, EU foriegn ministers also approved the fifth package of sanctions targeting Belarussian entities implicated in the transit of migrants from the Middle East to the country. Merkel and Lukashenko then held another call on Nov. 17 in which Merkel stressed the need to allow the access of international organizations to provide humanitarian aid for the migrants. Lukashenko’s press office also claimed the two leaders “came to a certain
SnapshotsNov 18, 2021 | 18:32 GMT
Anti-Brexit protesters wave the flags of the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Union outside the U.K. Parliament building in London on Oct. 13, 2021.
An End to the Brexit Dispute Over Northern Ireland Takes Shape
Recent moves by the European Union and the United Kingdom suggest their dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol could be resolved in the coming weeks, which would not only defuse the threat of a trade war but open the door to greater EU-U.K. cooperation in other areas. In recent months, the United Kingdom has threatened to suspend the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit agreement, which establishes customs controls at the Irish Sea, arguing that it causes trade disruptions between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The European Union has shown willingness to discuss the issue, though it has threatened to impose trade sanctions on the United Kingdom if it makes good on this threat. Both sides have recently made moves to deescalate tensions, indicating a mutual desire to reach a compromise and avoid a trade war. The United Kingdom’s Brexit minister, David Frost, will meet with EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic
SnapshotsNov 15, 2021 | 21:09 GMT
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez looks down from the stage at a Frente de Todos event in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Nov. 14, 2021.
Midterm Elections Deal a Blow to Argentina’s Peronist President
With Peronists no longer in control of Congress, political tensions within the Argentine government are slated to intensify, which will severely disrupt policymaking for the remainder of President Alberto Fernadez’s current term and prolong the South American country’s debt restructuring talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In legislative midterm elections held on Nov. 14, Argentina’s ruling leftist Peronist coalition, Frente de Todos (FDT), lost its majority in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, while the conservative opposition coalition, Together for Change (JxC), made modest gains. The political upset reflects Argentine voters’ frustration with their country’s poor economic conditions due to pandemic-related shocks, high inflation rates, capital controls and high unemployment.
SnapshotsNov 8, 2021 | 21:54 GMT
The Port of Colombo is seen on Oct. 19, 2021, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Economic Struggles Will Deepen Its Reliance on Foreign Funds
Sri Lanka’s increasing reliance on China and India for financial aid and investment will risk triggering domestic pushback and social unrest, forcing the government to make concessions that could ultimately threaten its economic strategy. China and India are heavily involved in Sri Lanka’s economy, often competing for projects and influence. Both countries are also the two largest importers of Sri Lankan goods, and both have the potential to provide the debt-ridden island nation with large credit lines in the future.