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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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AssessmentsOct 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: Oct. 1, 2020
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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SITUATION REPORTSep 30, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
Hong Kong: Chinese Officials Warn of Potential “Terrorist Acts” at Expected Oct. 1 Protests
China's Hong Kong liaison office warned of potential "terrorist acts" at expected Oct. 1 National Day protests after a group called Fifteenth Night Operation said it would carry out a “non-peaceful demonstration” in the city and allegedly instigated people to buy weapons to attack police, Hong Kong Free Press reported Sept. 30.
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SnapshotsSep 29, 2020 | 20:24 GMT
A Split Poll Sways Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Lawmakers to Stay for Extended Term
As the room for dissent in the city shrinks, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp will find itself increasingly divided between those who want to work within the system, those who choose to confront authorities and those who want to simply opt-out of politics altogether. On Sept. 29, 15 Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers announced that they had chosen not to boycott the upcoming extended Legislative Council term, following a poll showing their supporters were divided on the issue. The lawmakers took the inconclusive poll results as a directive to exercise their own discretion, saying they chose "the lesser of two evils" in order to prevent the pro-Beijing camp from easily passing adverse legislation and to maintain a platform to express pro-democracy opinions. 
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SnapshotsSep 29, 2020 | 15:42 GMT
Armenian soldiers fire artillery shells toward Azeri forces in the town of Martakert, located in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, on April 3, 2016.
Armenia and Azerbaijan Intensify Their Border Battle
The current, intense fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces near the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which started early on Sept. 27, follows months of atypically high levels of ceasefire violations between the two sides since a July 2020 skirmish in a different sector of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Russian efforts to alter its strategy in the South Caucasus may have signaled an opportunity to Azerbaijan, prompting an attempt to advance its position on the battlefield while still enjoying strong Turkish support. The established dynamics of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s ongoing conflict, however, are expected to persist, as local geography and a lack of resources limit both sides’ ability to challenge the higher-level reality along the line of contact.
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AssessmentsSep 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An illustration shows the flags of Israel and Iran painted on a cracked wall.
For Israel, a New U.S. President Could Mean a Renewed Anti-Iran Push
A victory by U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden in November could prompt Israel to escalate its attacks against Iran in both current and new theaters across the Middle East in order to derail a potential U.S. return to diplomacy with Israel’s regional archnemesis. Before the U.S. election, Israel is unlikely to significantly alter its current strategy of recurrent, opportunistic strikes against Iranian forces in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, since Tehran’s nuclear program is not yet showing signs of the imminent development of a nuclear weapon. Increased attacks against Iran in the coming weeks would also risk jeopardizing the electoral prospects of Israel’s close U.S. ally, President Donald Trump, who is trying to use his reputation as a regional peace broker to bolster his chances of reelection in November. Moreover, Israel’s current “shadow war” with Iran, fought through proxy theaters and covertly within Iran itself, can continue to allow Israel to
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Quarterly ForecastsSep 28, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
2020 Fourth-Quarter Forecast
The last quarter of 2020 will be a waiting game -- waiting for the results of the U.S. election in November, waiting on economic numbers, and waiting to see how the COVID-19 crisis plays out.
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AssessmentsSep 25, 2020 | 20:27 GMT
A picture taken on Aug. 14, 2018, shows the logo of Turkey's central bank at the entrance of its headquarters in Ankara.
Contextualizing Turkey’s Surprise Interest Rate Hike
On Sept. 24, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) announced a surprise interest rate hike in a preemptive move that seeks to prevent the country’s depreciating currency from unfolding into a larger banking or balance of payments and external debt crisis. The steadily declining value of Turkey’s national currency, the lira, is largely the result of economic imbalances -- partially precipitated by a highly negative real interest rate, a credit-fueled construction boom, and large external financing needs, as well as the CBRT’s lack of credibility and near exhaustion of Ankara’s foreign currency reserves.
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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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