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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A crane moves Nord Stream 2 pipes at a port near Sassnitz, Germany, on June 5, 2019.
Nord Stream 2 Overcomes One Hurdle Only to Be Met With Another
Denmark’s decision to drop certain technical requirements for operating in its waters will allow Russia to use both of its available pipe-laying vessels to finish constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Another Russian vessel, the MV Fortuna, will now also be allowed to operate on the natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia in Danish waters beginning Aug. 3. The United States, however, is now seeking to expand its sanctions to target all services related to constructing Nord Stream 2, including supply vessels and backfilling vessels. But even if construction is completed before additional sanctions disrupt progress, Washington could still take action to prevent Russia and Germany from putting their pipeline into operation.
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GuidanceJul 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Technicians in Hong Kong walk next to a banner supporting China’s new national security law following a flag-raising ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of the city’s British handover on July 1, 2020.
China's Hong Kong Security Law Leaves Tech Companies in the Line of Fire
China's new national security law is forcing tech companies to pick a side in Hong Kong's political crisis and decide whether to comply or resist authorities in some way, or leave the city altogether -- all of which carry the risk of retaliation from either Beijing or the United States and its allies. On July 6, Hong Kong's newly established Committee for Safeguarding National Security moved to implement seven, new enabling regulations for the national security law. The regulations -- which include police powers to order internet companies to remove content or to seize their equipment with threats of fines or prison -- have since prompted a spate of social media platforms and internet firms operating in the city to pause their cooperation with Hong Kong authorities. The volatile political dynamic in Hong Kong and the steady erosion of the city's autonomy will ultimately pose the greatest long-term threat to
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SnapshotsJul 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Drought Lays Bare Morocco’s Vulnerabilities
While declining rainfall is a problem across the Maghreb region of northwest Africa, this year's ongoing spring and summer drought is hitting Morocco's agricultural sector particularly hard. The drought will weaken the strategic objectives of the Moroccan government's agricultural investment plan, which prioritizes support for export-producing large farms over subsistence-producing small farms in order to drum up valuable export revenue. Dampened domestic production will also force Morocco to import more staple crops needed to feed its 36 million citizens. Combined with the loss of crucial agricultural revenue, the added expense of more imports will exacerbate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, which is already sapping Morocco's tourism revenue.
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SnapshotsJul 6, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Proposed Oil Redistribution Plan Risks Further Fracturing Libya
Potential changes to the way oil revenue and exports are shared and distributed in Libya could have significant ramifications for the country's sovereignty and ongoing civil war by establishing de facto splits in Libya's financial system. In a June 29 statement, Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said that it was “hopeful” that a deal could be reached in its negotiations with the country's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and other regional countries. The NOC also announced on July 1 that it had told workers to prepare to resume work at oil fields soon. Led by France, the United States, the United Nations and Egypt, these negotiations have centered on directly splitting oil revenue between Libya's three regions of Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania. This new system would, in turn, bypass the country's Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL), which is where Libya's oil revenue is currently deposited. 
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On GeopoliticsJul 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of China.
China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet
China is an empire in the modern sense -- a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population. 
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MemosJul 2, 2020 | 18:32 GMT
Fred Burton's Summer Reading List
Fred Burton has put together a few books to add to your warm weather reading list. Some are classics and others are brand new — I can’t wait to read Brad Thor’s new thriller NEAR DARK. The Scot Harvath series never disappoints.
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SnapshotsJul 2, 2020 | 15:49 GMT
Amid Spiking COVID-19 Cases, Israel Slows Its Annexation Push
Israel is slowing, but not yet stopping, its annexation plans in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence and possible future changes to its relationship with the United States, forestalling Palestinian unrest and international backlash. The acceleration of these two trends -- further COVID-19 infections and U.S. President Donald Trump's sliding approval ratings -- could upend the annexation process by convincing Israel to shrink its scope or even commit to a long-term delay.
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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People stand in line to receive grant payments from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in Khayelitsha, a township located near Cape Town, on May 4, 2020. 
South Africa's Budget Outlook Paints a Picture of a Lost Decade
South Africa will likely miss its recently adjusted budget targets as the country’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak delays much-needed austerity measures, leaving the South African economy in shambles for at least another five years. President Cyril Ramaphosa and his pro-business allies in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had planned to rein in government spending and the country's sky-high debt levels over the next three years. But South Africa's likely extended health and economic crisis could make that goal politically untenable, given that any budget cuts and potential layoffs would most acutely affect the ANC's support base of labor unions and their poorer Black constituents. 
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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 20:30 GMT
Russia’s Constitutional Changes Appear Headed for Approval
Preliminary results of Russia’s constitutional referendum suggest the amendments will easily be passed despite opposition groups potentially disputing results, thus setting the Kremlin on a course to prepare its political system for a future without President Vladamir Putin. With 55 percent of votes already counted, Russia’s electoral commission announced July 1 that 76.6 percent of voters have approved the proposed constitutional amendments. A turnout of about 65 percent projects a high level of legitimacy for the vote, which will support the Kremlin’s democratic narrative and limit public backlash. 
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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
What to Make of Hong Kong’s First Protests Post-Security Law
The Hong Kong protests carried out in spite of the new national security law showcase the volatile dynamic we expect to continue as authorities work to dishearten demonstrators and the broader pro-democracy camp. Following an official rejection of an application to hold rallies citing COVID-19 and past violent activity, pro-democracy demonstrators turned out by the thousands to mark the July 1 anniversary of the British handover of the city. While authorities arrested a relatively small number of protesters under the new law, how the detentions and trials proceed will indicate the legislation’s ability to truly dissuade protests in the future. There is also the possibility that further arrests will take place based on surveillance of protest activity.
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AssessmentsJul 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image depicts waving Chinese and Indian flags overlaying a map of the world.
In India, Anti-China Anger Will Bring Out Modi's Hawkish Side
A surge of anti-China sentiment among Indian lawmakers, business leaders and voters will prompt Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a more aggressive approach against Bejing in the wake of the two countries' recent border clash. This could include a variety of actions ranging from diplomatic moves to economic and trade measures, as well as a continued military build-up against China, which will only further ratchet up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. 
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SnapshotsJun 30, 2020 | 19:49 GMT
China's Security Law Ushers in a New and Uncertain Era in Hong Kong
The passing of China's new Hong Kong national security law marks the start of an uncertain and potentially volatile phase in the city's ongoing political crisis, as pro-democracy forces square-off with newly empowered city authorities backed by Beijing, increasing the risk of a sweeping crackdown on dissent that could also impact foreign institutions. Whether the next period sees tumultuous protests or a stifling of the pro-democracy camp will now depend on how Hong Kong authorities choose to apply their new sweeping powers and how the prosecution of such crimes proceed in the court system. Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp, for its part, will work to balance the need to maintain public furor against Beijing's ongoing erosion of the city's autonomy with the need to also save its strength for September legislative council elections, where it hopes to gain ground and challenge Beijing-aligned authorities.
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AssessmentsJun 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Syrian refugees walk outside a tent at a camp near the Iraqi Kurdish town of Bardarash on Oct. 18, 2019.
COVID-19 Cash Shortages Will Cripple Global Humanitarian Efforts
Reductions in funding for multilateral aid due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 are impacting the fight against the epidemic in conflict zones such as Yemen, raising the prospect of migration flows and renewed fighting, while increasing pressure on private aid organizations to fund humanitarian programs. Funding for multilateral humanitarian aid is dwindling as donor countries increasingly turn inward to solve their own COVID-19 crises at home. Donor countries are providing pandemic relief in various ways, including debt relief, financial swaps and bilateral aid. But global economic contractions, estimated to hover around 7 percent this year, are reducing aid contributions to the United Nations and other institutions, creating severe systemic funding gaps. 
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SITUATION REPORTJun 29, 2020 | 22:08 GMT
Hong Kong: Beijing Lawmakers May Consider Life Sentences, Retroactivity for National Security Law 
Hong Kong’s sole representative to China’s National People's Congress Standing Committee, Tam Yiu-chung, said he will inform the committee of public feedback calling for Beijing's proposed national security legislation to carry steeper penalties and be applied retroactively for past transgressions, the South China Morning Post reported June 27. 
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Quarterly ForecastsJun 29, 2020 | 00:02 GMT
2020 Third-Quarter Forecast
While many of the trends identified in our annual forecast remain slowed down by COVID-19, their pace is picking up as countries carefully emerge from lockdown.
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