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SITUATION REPORTApr 16, 2021 | 20:06 GMT
U.S.: No Country Labeled Manipulator in Treasury’s Latest Currency Report
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s semi-annual report on foreign exchange practices of major U.S. trading partners declined to name any country as manipulating its currency to achieve unfair trade advantage, citing uncertainties associated with global economic conditions and capital flows arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the South China Morning Post reported April 16.
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AssessmentsApr 16, 2021 | 16:37 GMT
Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s president and chief of the ruling Communist Party, attends a meeting in Sochi, Russia, on Sept. 6, 2018.
A Broadening Anti-Graft Campaign Complicates Vietnam’s Economic Future
Vietnamese leader Nguyen Phu Trong’s anti-corruption and anti-dissident (ACAD) campaigns will fuel political infighting and further empower the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) over the technocrats, increasing regulatory and reputational risks for foreign businesses looking to take advantage of Vietnam’s economic boom. Trong has greatly intensified the VCP’s ACAD campaigns since 2016 when he fended off a challenge from former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Now, having achieved a third term as general secretary (a move unprecedented since 1976) and facing declining health at 77 years old, Trong will continue ACAD activities as a means of consolidating his foothold and ensuring his chosen successor takes power, all while assisted by newly installed allies such as Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
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SnapshotsApr 15, 2021 | 18:57 GMT
A bird flies past the flag outside the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. on April 15, 2021.
More U.S. Sanctions Portend Russian Retaliation
New U.S. sanctions on Russia will worsen the two countries’ already fraught relations and compel the Kremlin to respond to what it will perceive as an escalation. On April 15, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russian financial markets, individuals and entities in response to Russia’s involvement in the 2020 SolarWinds cyberattack, attempted interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and ongoing occupation of Crimea. These new sanctions follow those that the United States and European Union imposed in March over Russia’s attempted assassination and subsequent jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. At the time, the Biden administration pledged to impose separate penalties for grievances specific to the United States, including the SolarWinds cyberattack and election interference.
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AssessmentsApr 14, 2021 | 19:16 GMT
Iran and China’s foreign ministers (right to left) sign a partnership agreement in Tehran on March 27, 2021.
Iran Will Pursue Its New China Partnership With Caution
Iran’s strategic partnership with China will lead to increased security and economic cooperation, but Tehran will avoid fully siding with Beijing for fear of becoming too dependent on a single partner and alienating itself from the West. The March 27 signing of their 25-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is reflective of the mutual interest between Tehran and Beijing, including collaboration on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as well as on energy and defense matters. But Iran loathes becoming strategically dependent on any power and will seek to balance its partnership with China with improving ties to Western countries, to ensure Tehran remains as a “neither East, nor West, Islamic Republic,” as Supreme Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put it. 
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On GeopoliticsApr 13, 2021 | 20:41 GMT
Mansour Abbas, head of Israel's Islamic Ra’am party, speaks with supporters during a rally in the northern Israeli village of Maghar on March 26, 2021.
Amid Political Chaos, Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Parties Mull Uniting With Islamists
Israel’s chaotic political climate is making an alliance between the Jewish and Islamic right, which seemed impossible only a few years ago, increasingly plausible -- so long as pragmatic heads prevail. Dominated by the ultra-Orthodox, Israel’s religious right is murmuring that perhaps it’s time to make common cause with the Islamist factions that make up the country’s other major religious movement, in the hopes that a united front could help both sides keep their long-held special privileges and fend off challenges from Israel’s secular community. On April 2, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the spiritual leader of the pro-Netanyahu United Torah Judaism party, released a statement saying that “cooperation with those who respect religion and Jewish tradition is better than those who persecute religion.” This was in reference to a potential government deal between Netanyahu’s religious-dominated coalition and Ra’am, the Muslim Brotherhood-derived Israeli Islamist party, with secular parties as “those who persecute
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