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SnapshotsOct 19, 2020 | 22:14 GMT
A protester uses a loudspeaker to talk to the crowd during an anti-government rally in Bangkok, Thailand, on Oct. 19, 2020.
Gauging the Thai Government’s Response to Growing Protests
The recent escalation of the monthslong Thai student protest movement will compel the government to step up its restrictions on dissent and intensify efforts to co-opt the protesters’ less controversial demands through a limited constitutional reform process. This could cause protests to drag on amid continued controversy over the scope and pace of such amendments, even as it eases overall public support for demonstrations. Between Oct. 13 and Oct. 19, Thai protesters turned out on the streets of Bangkok for the most sustained period of protest-related disruptions since the movement kicked off in earnest in July. Demonstrators also appeared in 20 other locations nationwide in smaller numbers. 
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AssessmentsOct 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto (left) and opposition leader Raila Odinga (right) listen to President Uhuru Kenyatta (center) give a speech in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov. 27, 2019.
In Kenya, the Stage Is Set for Another Tumultuous Election Season
A growing rift between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto could break up the ruling Jubilee Party ahead of 2022 elections, raising the risk of ethnic violence that could damage investor confidence in one of Africa’s leading economies. On Oct. 2, the Jubilee Party’s National Management Committee recommended that Ruto be removed from his post after he and his allies stormed the party’s headquarters to try to hold a meeting. A scenario where Kenyatta backs an opposition leader and Ruto is removed from office would likely result in localized levels of violence in the lead-up and aftermath of the ballot. Such violence would likely also remain concentrated in the country's more ethnically-dominated rural areas. But demonstrations and attacks in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa that result in short-term shutdowns of ports, roads and rail travel cannot be ruled out, as metropolitan areas are also home to all
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GuidanceOct 2, 2020 | 20:02 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump exits Air Force One upon arriving in Duluth, Minnesota, for a campaign rally on Sept. 30, 2020. The following night, Trump tested positive for COVID-19. 
What Does Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis Mean for Foreign Policy?
There is no shortage of commentary and analysis about the domestic political implications of U.S. President Donald Trump’s newly confirmed COVID-19 case, which has reportedly so far been mild. But there’s also the question of whether his illness will create enough new stress and distraction to impact U.S. foreign policy initiatives and decisions, along with the calculus of Washington’s foreign counterparts. With the U.S. election so near, most nations are already taking a cautious approach to the United States, and are unlikely to significantly alter their relations with Washington simply due to its leader’s positive COVID-19 test. As long as Trump’s symptoms remain mild, the foreign policy impact of his diagnosis will be primarily limited to soft-power gains for the U.S. peer competitors such as China, as well as potential political and recruitment gains for non-state actors such as the Iran-backed militias in Iraq. 
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SnapshotsOct 2, 2020 | 15:46 GMT
Negotiators attend the third meeting of the EU-U.K. Joint Committee under the Withdrawal Agreement in Brussels, Belgium, on Sept. 28, 2020, with the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (center) dialing in on video.
A Better Climate in Brexit Talks, but Only Modest Progress
The negotiation environment between the European Union and the United Kingdom is improving, with both sides making moves to buy their negotiators more time. But the lack of significant progress on disputes related to fishing rights, as well as London’s future alignment with EU rules on issues such as state aid to companies, means that a no-deal British exit from the single market in January is still possible. In recent days, London and Brussels have exchanged proposals on both issues, but have not reached a deal. There will not be a free trade agreement unless these issues are resolved. EU and U.K. officials have said that the parties are considering moving to the so-called “tunnel phase” of the negotiations, where technical issues are discussed without issuing updates to the media. If confirmed, this would be a strong sign that an agreement is probable.  
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SnapshotsOct 1, 2020 | 17:06 GMT
French President Emmanuel Macron leaves the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, on July 20, 2020. Leaders from the 27 EU member states met on July 19 to discuss the bloc’s budget and new COVID-19 recovery package.
Disputes Risk Delaying EU Disbursement of COVID-19 Relief Funds
Ongoing disputes in the European Union over how to implement the bloc’s new 750 billion euro ($881 billion) COVID-19 recovery fund could delay the disbursement of loans and grants to struggling EU economies -- a situation that would be particularly problematic for Southern Europe, where the recessions are deep. The disputes also highlight the extent to which Brussels struggles to quickly react to political and economic crises, which will continue to undermine the European Union’s ability to address internal and external challenges. In July, EU governments agreed to link the disbursement of money from the COVID-19 relief fund to keeping a strong rule of law, but did not establish the mechanism to do it. In late September, Germany presented a proposal to sever funding for countries where corruption or mismanagement in the use of the funds is detected. Other Western European governments, however, believe Berlin’s proposal is too soft, and
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SITUATION REPORTSep 30, 2020 | 21:05 GMT
Algeria: Opposition Party Urges Supporters to Vote Against Constitutional Changes in Upcoming Referendum
The Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), an Islamist party that holds 33 out of 462 seats in Algeria’s National Assembly, has urged its constituents to vote against proposed constitutional changes in an upcoming referendum on Nov. 1, Echourouk Online reported Sept. 26.
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SnapshotsSep 25, 2020 | 17:42 GMT
In Kuwait, a Blocked Debt Law Portends a Dissolved Parliament
Kuwait’s pandemic-related financial struggles may force its leader, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, to bypass the country’s legislative process in order to push through a crucial debt law that remains locked in parliament. The need to enact other overdue reforms may also tempt Al Sabah to extend a potential parliamentary suspension -- a politically risky move that would also require suspending Kuwait's constitution. On Sept. 23, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Kuwait's sovereign credit rating for the first time to “A1,” citing the country's liquidity crisis that has been brought on by low oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its announcement, Moody’s also specifically referenced the Kuwaiti government’s failure to pass a debt law that would help mitigate the country’s current financial woes by enabling its finance ministry to issue sovereign bonds.
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On GeopoliticsSep 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A damaged EU flag is seen in Brenzone, Italy, on Aug. 14, 2019. 
The Quest for European Unity: No End of History
Europe faces a challenge of identity and international role over the next decade. For nearly 500 years, Europe sat at the center of the international system, its internal competitions rippling out across the globe. But the relative balance of global power and influence has shifted. And rather than being the driving force of global dynamics, Europe is increasingly caught between major powers: the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and now the United States and China. Internally, Europe still strives for the creation of a continental union, though those dreams have been eroded by financial crises, Brexit and a resurgence of nationalism in recent years. Externally, Europe remains fragmented in its foreign policy and prioritization. The shifting patterns of global competition will compel Europe to rethink its internal structures and to come to grips with defining its interests abroad. Otherwise, it will find itself drifting further
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SnapshotsSep 24, 2020 | 15:41 GMT
Poking Holes in the New EU Migration Plan
A plan to reform the European Union's migration rules will have a limited impact on reducing the migrant burden on its southern members at a time when they are dealing with severe economic recessions. It will also lead to renewed disputes between Southern and Eastern European states, while not significantly reducing the leverage that Turkey and other countries have on the bloc. On Sept. 23, the European Commission proposed a new Pact on Migration and Asylum. According to the current EU rules, the member state where a migrant first enters the bloc is responsible for them, which puts significant pressure on Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. The new pact does not abolish this principle, and instead calls on the rest of the European Union to provide greater financial and logistical support for Mediterranean countries. 
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AssessmentsSep 22, 2020 | 19:33 GMT
A woman wearing a face mask stands at a terrace on top of a building in Fnideq, Morocco, on Aug. 28, 2020.
COVID-19 Forces Morocco to Mull a Risky Election Delay
The economic impact of COVID-19 could force the Moroccan government to delay upcoming elections, which would raise the risk of social unrest and rare public scrutiny on the country’s elected and unelected officials. Morocco is currently scheduled to hold parliamentary and local elections in the summer and fall of 2021. Some Moroccan political parties have pushed for delaying elections in favor of forming a national salvation government that can more deftly handle the country’s pandemic-induced economic crisis, while other parties support holding the ballot on time, arguing that such stressful circumstances require the stability of regular elections. 
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SITUATION REPORTSep 18, 2020 | 18:47 GMT
Poland: Political Crisis Could Lead to an Early Election
The governing Law and Justice party could govern the country with a minority Cabinet or call for an early general election after a junior coalition partner refused to back PiS in a parliamentary vote Sept. 17, Reuters reported, citing a spokesperson for the Polish government who spoke Sept. 18.
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