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SnapshotsJan 15, 2021 | 18:53 GMT
A Turkish-backed fighter guards the rebel-held province of Aleppo in northern Syria on Nov. 17, 2020.
Turkey Tests the Limits of the Cease-Fire in Northeastern Syria
Turkey’s gambit to undermine the U.S.-brokered 2019 cease-fire in northeastern Syria could strengthen its position on the battlefield, while increasing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)’s reliance on Russia and the Syrian government. For weeks, the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) has been shelling the SDF-held strategic town of Ain Issa in northeastern Syria. Some nearby villages have fallen to Turkish-backed forces -- paving the way for a possible full offensive to take control of Ain Issa. The U.S.-backed SDF has called on Russia to set up observation posts west of Ain Issa to deter further Turkish-backed attacks, while the United States has stepped up diplomatic activity to negotiate a settlement between the SDF and Turkey to avoid further escalation in the area.
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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
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SITUATION REPORTJan 14, 2021 | 16:59 GMT
China, U.S.: Washington Adds Major Chinese Energy Company CNOOC to Entities List
The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security has added the state-owned Chinese National Overseas Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to its entities list, citing the company's involvement in China's moves to enforce its sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea by harassing Vietnam and other countries’ offshore energy exploration activities in the region, according to a Jan. 14 press release.
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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 16:39 GMT
Italy’s former prime minister and current leader of the Italy Alive party, Matteo Renzi (center), holds a press conference with outgoing ministers Elena Bonetti (left) and Teresa Bellanova (right) on Jan. 13, 2021.
Italy’s Government Is in Crisis. What’s Next?
Italy is in a political crisis after a junior member of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition exited the government, effectively leaving it without a majority in Parliament. The most disruptive (but least likely) scenario would be an early general election, which would undermine Rome’s efforts to handle the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Jan. 13,  the small Italy Alive political party withdrew its ministers from Conte’s cabinet to protest his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left the senior members of the coalition -- the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party -- without a majority in Parliament. 
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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.
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SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 18:46 GMT
German journalist Tanja Samrotzki (right) moderates a panel with the candidates vying for the leadership post of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party -- Friedrich Merz, Norbert Roettgen and Armin Laschet (from left to right) -- on Dec. 14, 2020, in Berlin, Germany.
Germany: What to Expect as Merkel’s Party Elects a New Leader
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party will elect a new leader on Jan. 15-16. The ideological orientation of the new CDU leader could influence Germany’s domestic politics, as well as its relations with the European Union. The CDU is Germany’s most popular party and its leader stands a strong chance of becoming the country’s next chancellor after the Sept. 26 general election. In 2018, Merkel resigned as CDU leader and announced she would not seek another term as chancellor in 2021. During a virtual congress, the CDU’s 1,001 party delegates will elect a new leader. According to CDU tradition, the next party leader should also be the candidate for chancellor, though some members of the party are questioning this principle. 
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AssessmentsJan 12, 2021 | 21:55 GMT
Destroyed homes are seen in the village of Aldeia da Paz outside Macomia, Mozambique, after a militant attack on Aug. 24, 2019.
In Mozambique, Militants Will Gain Ground Until They Threaten the Government
Militants in Mozambique will continue to gain ground near the liquified natural gas (LNG) park under construction in the country’s north until the government deems the economic and political threat large enough to warrant foreign support. On Jan. 1, the French supermajor Total evacuated some of its personnel from its $20 billion LNG project being built on the Afungi Peninsula in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, effectively freezing work at the site. The decision came after the Islamic State affiliate in Mozambique, Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama (ASWJ) -- which is also a part of Islamic State’s Central African Province -- attacked a village less than one kilometer from the facility’s airstrip.
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SITUATION REPORTJan 12, 2021 | 19:45 GMT
Cuba: Country Designated as U.S. State Sponsor of Terrorism
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump declared Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, citing the country’s refusal to extradite 10 guerilla leaders of Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN), as well as an American who fled to Cuba after being convicted of killing a New Jersey State Trooper, Reuters reported Jan. 11.
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AssessmentsJan 8, 2021 | 22:31 GMT
A large group of pro-Trump protesters stands on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after storming the building’s grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington D.C.
For U.S. Rivals, the Capitol Siege Offers a Window of Opportunity
U.S. adversaries are likely to see the recent Capitol siege as an opportunity to quickly take action against U.S. interests ahead of Inauguration Day, calculating that a distracted Washington will be ill-equipped to respond to provocations that may strengthen their negotiating leverage with President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. Since Jan. 6, multiple key national security officials have announced their resignations, reducing the cadre of security experts who have longstanding relationships with President Donald Trump. To avoid anything close to a repeat of the Jan. 6 siege, national security officials in Washington will be laser-focused on guaranteeing the safety of the events surrounding Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, though doing so will risk diverting resources and attention from potential foreign threats. 
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