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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.
AssessmentsNov 24, 2020 | 22:35 GMT
Houthi-allied tribesmen ride trucks mounted with machine guns on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, on July 8, 2020.
Five Years In, Saudi Arabia Is Signaling It Wants Out of Yemen
Saudi Arabia’s window to exit the conflict in Yemen without jeopardizing all of its gains is quickly closing, as the United States transitions to a less Riyadh-friendly government, and as Houthi rebels seek deeper concessions on the ground. On Nov. 17, Saudi Arabia reportedly offered the Houthis a buffer zone along the Saudi-Yemeni border in exchange for drawing down its forces in the country. This move marks a significant downgrade to the original Saudi objectives in the country, as well as a tacit acknowledgment of the likely longevity of the Houthi political and military presence in Yemen. 
AssessmentsNov 17, 2020 | 22:07 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump (left) talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, on July 11, 2018.
Trump’s Exit Will Increase Turkey's Exposure to Sanctions
The next four years under U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will test how much further Turkey can strain its ties with NATO and pursue military operations at odds with U.S. interests without triggering sanctions. Turkey and the United States find mutual value in their economic and security ties. But Ankara’s determination to weaken its dependence on Western governments like Washington, while deepening its political, economic and security ties with Russia and China, often clashes with U.S. imperatives and goals. Despite this, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has largely shielded Ankara from sanctions proposed in Congress -- though that may shift once Biden takes office in January. The enactment of deep sanctions under Biden, however, would only compel Turkey to continue diversifying its ties away from the West by exacerbating its existing frustrations with the United States. 
SnapshotsNov 17, 2020 | 17:38 GMT
Armenians gather in Yerevan on Nov. 11, 2020, to protest against their country’s agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
A Cease-Fire Will Only Freeze Azerbaijan and Armenia’s Fight
Armenia’s political crisis is intensifying amid growing calls for the government’s resignation over a controversial cease-fire agreement with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. The volatile situation in both Armenia and the disputed region makes episodes of ethnically-motivated violence and future violations of the cease-fire possible. On Nov. 9, Armenia and Azerbaijan reached a Russia-brokered deal that put an end to six weeks of fighting. The cease-fire involves Armenia giving up on some areas of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and three regions surrounding it. As a part of the deal, roughly 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops will also be present in the region for a five-year period. The cease-fire has been received as a victory in Azerbaijan and as a capitulation in Armenia, as the former won many of the territories it has long sought in negotiations with the latter over the decades-old dispute. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has nonetheless defended the deal, arguing that
On GeopoliticsNov 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
(Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
How the Plight of a Heartland Could Upset America's Balance
The unprecedented threats of violence and unrest surrounding the 2020 U.S. presidential election have shown just how deeply divided the American electorate has become. As the United States prepares for what’s likely to be a highly contentious power transition, we invite readers to revisit this 2019 column on how the polarization of U.S. politics goes hand-in-hand with the U.S. economic core’s continued shift away from the Mississippi River Basin to the coasts.
AssessmentsNov 11, 2020 | 20:42 GMT
Pro-democracy lawmakers join hands during a press conference at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council after city officials ousted four of their colleagues on Nov. 11, 2020
Without Legislative Seats, What’s Next for Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Camp?
On Nov. 11, the 15 remaining pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong's legislature said they will resign from their posts Nov. 12 after authorities disqualified four of their colleagues for allegedly advocating for U.S. sanctions. By leaving the legislature, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp has lost its only remaining official platform to express discontent with Beijing's encroachment -- setting the stage for a potentially volatile dynamic. However, the threat of the national security law and COVID-19 restrictions will leave many Hong Kongers wary of launching disruptive protests against the government, granting Beijing more freedom to rein in Hong Kong’s political crisis without damaging the city’s status as a global financial hub.
AssessmentsNov 10, 2020 | 18:13 GMT
Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden participates in a bilateral meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Feb. 6, 2015.
What a Biden Presidency Means for Europe-U.S. Relations
Cooperation between the United States and Europe on issues including trade, defense, climate change and China will deepen under U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who will seek closer coordination with Germany and France without abandoning Washington’s bilateral relationship with the United Kingdom. After Biden was declared the winner of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 7, countries including Germany, France and the United Kingdom sent their congratulations and called for increased cooperation with the United States. During the electoral campaign, Biden said he would reverse outgoing president Donald Trump’s unilateralism on global issues and strengthen the United States’ international alliances. Under Biden, the United States and the European Union will thus ikely end their current tit-for-tat policy of tariffs and counter-tariffs and seek negotiated solutions, but the two sides will continue to have trade disputes.
SnapshotsNov 9, 2020 | 20:20 GMT
A view of a gas flare in Kirkuk, the oil-rich city in northern Iraq.
Attacks Could Leave Iraq's PKK With More Enemies and Less Ground
Intra-Kurdish clashes in northern Iraq could lead to additional attacks against nearby oil infrastructure, as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) retaliates against attempts by Iraqi and Turkish forces to reduce the group’s presence and activity in the resource-rich region. On Nov. 4, PKK militants attacked a convoy of Kurdish peshmerga forces in the Chamanke area of Iraq's Dohuk province, resulting in one death and two other injuries. There were also two reported PKK attacks on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s oil and gas police in Dohuk, wounding policemen protecting petroleum facilities. 
AssessmentsNov 3, 2020 | 21:44 GMT
A man walks past the flags of the countries attending the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on Dec. 5, 2017.
Oman’s New Income Tax Will Offer a Test Case for the Arab Gulf
Oman’s proposal to adopt a personal income tax for the wealthy in 2022 underscores the growing shift taking place within the Arab Gulf states to reduce their heavy reliance on oil and gas revenue. On Nov. 1, Oman’s finance ministry published details on its 2020-2024 economic plan, which aims to decrease the country’s fiscal deficit down to 1.7 percent of GDP by 2024. Specifically, the plan seeks to improve Oman’s pandemic-battered fiscal balance by reducing government expenditures and boosting non-oil revenue through the new income tax, among other measures. While personal income taxes have long been politically and culturally unpalatable in the Arab Gulf, popular attitudes are shifting as governments experiment with such revenue-generating reforms. Oman’s experience introducing a new income tax will thus become a test case for what is possible in the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
SITUATION REPORTNov 2, 2020 | 21:21 GMT
Iran: Parliament Considering Legislation to Ramp Up Nuclear Program 
The Iranian parliament is considering legislation that would require the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to annually produce at least 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, install more IR-2m centrifuges, reverse the conversion plans at the Arak Heavy Water Reactor and suspend cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency under the Additional Protocol, Tasnim reported Nov. 2.
AssessmentsOct 27, 2020 | 19:22 GMT
Bolivia's president-elect, Luis Arce, celebrates his electoral victory during a rally in El Alto, Bolivia on Oct. 24, 2020.
A Tall Order Awaits Bolivia’s New President
Luis Arce, the presidential candidate from Bolivia's Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, won more than 50 percent of the vote in the South American country's long-delayed election, which will facilitate a smooth power transition by eliminating the need for a runoff. Arce’s initial success and ability to attract fresh foreign investment, however, will hinge on creating and executing a credible plan for Bolivia’s post-pandemic economic recovery. On Oct. 20, Arce unveiled some of the economic measures he plans to tackle first upon taking office, including the immediate distribution of emergency funds to all Bolivians (which his own party had blocked the past three months), a proposed new wealth tax for the richest Bolivians, and the start of negotiations with international lenders to restructure Bolivia’s foreign debt. To shore up support for these measures, Arce will seek to leverage the policy successes he achieved between 2006-2019 as Bolivia's finance minister. But
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