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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 21:50 GMT
Targeting China’s third-largest oil company highlights the South China Sea’s importance to U.S. strategy, which is unlikely to change under Biden.
The U.S. Adds Chinese Oil Giant CNOOC to Its Export Blacklist
The U.S. Commerce Department added the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to its entity list on Jan. 14, effectively cutting off China’s third-largest oil company from U.S. exports. The move highlights the South China Sea’s importance to U.S. strategy, which will likely continue -- though not necessarily expand -- under U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. The Trump administration has significantly increased pressure on CNOOC in recent months, beginning in December when it added CNOOC to a separate U.S. Pentagon list of companies that are either owned by or controlled by the Chinese military, which will force certain U.S. investors to divest from CNOOC’s shares by mid-November. Just hours before the Commerce Department’s announcement, the S&P Dow Jones announced it was removing CNOOC from impacted indices to comply with a Jan. 13 presidential order banning U.S. investment into designated Chinese military-linked companies. As a result, major U.S. exchanges will likely delist
SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 21:35 GMT
Farmers depart on their tractors to New Delhi to participate in ongoing protests against the Indian government's new agricultural reforms in Amritsar, India, on Jan. 12, 2021.
In India, Court-Ordered Mediation Won’t Appease Angry Farmers
The suspension of India’s controversial new farming laws to hear protesters’ grievances will delay, but not derail, the implementation of the much-needed agricultural reforms.  On Jan. 12, India’s Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the implementation of three key agricultural reforms and ordered the formation of a four-man committee to mediate the government’s disagreements with the farmers engaged in ongoing protests. Per the court order, the reforms will remain suspended until the committee is able to find a new way forward. In the meantime, however, farmers’ demands will remain unresolved, which will likely lead to continued protests and demonstrations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and one of the key pillars of his broader reform push.
SnapshotsJan 4, 2021 | 22:09 GMT
A South Korean-flagged tanker is escorted in the Persian Gulf after being seized by the Iranian navy on Jan. 4, 2021.
What to Make of the Latest Uptick in Iranian Aggression
Security risks, including threats to tanker traffic, in the Persian Gulf and Iraq will remain heightened after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office, despite his intent to enter negotiations with Tehran. The uptick in Iranian nuclear and naval activity since Dec. 31 risks provoking a military response in the region from foreign actors, including a potential U.S. strike on Iranian soil. On Jan. 3, Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that the USS Nimitz would forgo its redeployment away from the Middle East due to “recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials.” Although the Pentagon did not specify what Miller was alluding to, the comments come after a Dec. 31 statement made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was initially translated as saying Trump would be ousted from “life.” Iranian officials have since this was a mistranslation, specifying that Rouhani was referring to Trump’s
Annual ForecastsJan 3, 2021 | 21:37 GMT
An image of the COVID-19 vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden, the Huawei logo, and a stock market sign
2021 Annual Forecast
The geopolitical environment in 2021 will be shaped by two global developments: the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's administration to restore collaborative relationships across the globe.
AssessmentsDec 30, 2020 | 21:25 GMT
A poster showing six Russian intelligence officers charged with carrying out global cyberattacks is displayed before a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice on Oct. 19, 2020, in Washington D.C.
SolarWinds Will Spur Biden Into Action on State-Backed Cyber Threats
The recent SolarWinds hack will prompt U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to increase Washington’s cyber resources and, potentially, its offensive capabilities in order to better deter against future cyberattacks by Russia, as well as other state actors. This intensified focus on state-backed cyber threats will likely include more U.S. investments into cyber defense over the next four years. The Biden White House will also continue to deploy sanctions against assailant countries, though such sanctions will likely be narrow in scope for fear of stoking aggressive retaliatory measures against U.S. entities and causing significant economic damage to countries like Russia and China that are essential to the global economy. 
On GeopoliticsDec 22, 2020 | 21:22 GMT
The Austin, Texas, headquarters of SolarWinds.
Putting the SolarWinds Hack in Geopolitical Context
The latest cyberattack against U.S. government computer systems reflects Russia's strategic position on the world stage, its perceived vulnerabilities and its continued use of gray area operations to maintain a strategic edge against the United States. Russia is unlikely to back down from continued operations in the future, even in the face of U.S. sanctions or counteroperations.
On StratforDec 11, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
Grading Our 2020 Annual Forecast as 2021 Approaches
Every December here at Stratfor, we sit down and do the critical work of self-assessment, taking the forecast we made the previous December and seeing how it stacked up against actual world events. Even with the pandemic throwing the world a little askew, we still had a strong 2020 forecast with quite a few hits and just a handful of misses. Without further ado, we present the Stratfor 2020 Annual Forecast Scorecard.
SnapshotsDec 8, 2020 | 22:28 GMT
Kuwaiti legislators attend a parliamentary session at the National Assembly building in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on Oct. 20, 2020.
What a Split Parliament Means for Kuwait’s Financial Future
Upon taking office on Dec. 15, Kuwait’s new parliament will try to focus the government’s attention on politically sensitive anti-corruption efforts rather than the fiscal reforms its new emir wants to prioritize, setting the stage for near-term economic strain and long-term political inaction. Opposition members and independents gained control of nearly half of Kuwait’s National Assembly in Dec. 5 elections. In Kuwait’s political system, these lawmakers tend to support maintaining populist spending on benefits, subsidies and social program transfers. An opposition-leaning parliament with a fresh public mandate will thus be focused on maintaining that kind of spending, despite the desire of the emir, advisors and government ministers to implement some structural reforms that would improve Kuwait’s long-term financial security.
On GeopoliticsDec 4, 2020 | 21:38 GMT
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attend the funeral of Rabbi Aharon David Hadash, the spiritual leader of the Mir Yeshiva, in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Beit Yisrael on Dec. 3, 2020.
Where Will Israel’s Increasingly Right-Wing Youth Take Its Foreign Policy?
Israel's youth population is pushing the country decidedly to the political right. As the transition to this age cohort unfolds, the question of which Israeli nationalist party will be in charge comes to the fore. Will they be incrementally expansionist, security-minded, economically-focused types of parties like Likud? Or will they be more ideologically committed to the cause of annexing settlements types of parties like Yamina? Or will they be religiously-focused, culturally conservative, increasingly demographically muscular types of parties like the ultra-Orthodox party Shas? The predominance of one of these three types will have consequences for Israel's regional security posture, on occasion bringing it in line with some new allies in the Gulf while reaffirming enmity with Iran and Turkey.
AssessmentsDec 3, 2020 | 23:26 GMT
Members of Iranian forces pray around the coffin of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during his burial ceremony at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in northern Tehran on Nov. 30, 2020.
A New Iranian Law Could Bring the Nuclear Issue to a Crisis Point Under Biden
The Iranian parliament's ratification of a new bill expanding Iran's nuclear program reflects growing pressure by Iranian hawks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and their expectation of early engagement with the incoming Biden administration to address bilateral issues. If the law is implemented entirely it would bring the Iran nuclear issue on the cusp of a crisis within the first 100 days of the Biden administration because the moves that Iran makes under the law would be aimed at significantly reducing Iran's nuclear breakout, the time Iran would need to produce enough weapons-grade material for one device.
SITUATION REPORTNov 30, 2020 | 19:19 GMT
U.S., China: Washington to Label SMIC, CNOOC as Chinese Military Companies 
The United States is reportedly planning to add China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to a list of companies controlled or owned by the Chinese intelligence and military apparatus, which would ban both SMIC and CNOOC from receiving U.S. investment per a recent executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump, Reuters reported Nov. 29. 
AssessmentsNov 27, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
IAEA inspectors (2nd, 3rd L) and Iranian technicians disconnect the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, Iran, on Jan., 20, 2014.
Fallout From the Killing of a High-Level Iranian Nuclear Scientist
The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will not materially impact Iran's nuclear program, but the killing is a sign that the United States and Israel are accelerating their covert strategy against Iran in the waning days of the Trump administration. Iran will respond in some form, although it will probably refrain from a hasty response that could transform the covert war with Israel and the United States on Iranian soil into an overt one.
AssessmentsNov 25, 2020 | 20:39 GMT
The OPEC logo is seen at the group’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on May 24, 2017.
OPEC+ Production Cuts Meet Another COVID-19 Reality Check
During its next meeting, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will likely agree to roll over their current oil production cuts through the first quarter of 2021. But in the second half of next year, the opposing priorities of its OPEC+ members will increase pressure to either change the structure of the cuts or accelerate their removal, leaving the global oil market oversupplied and oil prices relatively low for longer. OPEC is scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss production quotas on Nov. 30, while the broader OPEC+ block, which includes Russia, will meet on Dec. 1. The meetings, which were scheduled months ago, come as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hammer the oil market.
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