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SnapshotsJul 10, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The U.S. Responds to China's Uighur Crackdown With More Sanctions
The U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese Politburo member will provoke a tit-for-tat response from Beijing, adding to the mounting tensions between the two countries. On July 9, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned one Chinese government agency and four individuals for their role in the ongoing crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang. While such sanctions will not alone derail the U.S.-China "phase one" trade deal, they will add to the growing points of tension that, when combined, threaten the agreement. The targeted focus of these sanctions on individuals also suggests a more measured U.S. approach to the Uighur crisis in Xinjiang, similar to Washington's approach in its response to Beijing's encroachment over Hong Kong.
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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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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows the site of a recent gas explosion at the Sina Medical Center in Tehran, Iran, on July 1, 2020. 19 people were killed in the blast.
Explosions in Iran Point to a Possible Israeli Sabotage Campaign
Israel was likely behind a July 2 explosion and fire at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, and potentially some of the other similar incidents that have occurred near Tehran over the past two weeks, including a June 26 explosion at the Khojir missile complex. Although Tel Aviv doesn't typically claim its covert actions against Iran, motive and past history make Israel the most likely actor to conduct such sabotage operations against Iranian infrastructure and assets.  Israel is frustrated by the failure of Western and regional countries to fully rein in Iran's military and nuclear capabilities, which it views as direct threats to its domestic and regional security. With the potential for a less friendly U.S. administration to take office in January, Israel may also be calculating that it has an optimal but limited window to act more aggressively against Iran's nuclear program.
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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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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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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 29, 2020 | 16:05 GMT
French Local Elections Deal a Blow to Macron's Political Prospects
A little more than three years after taking office, French President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique En Marche (LREM) party has failed to win support at the municipal level, where much of French politics takes place. The second round of municipal elections on June 28 resulted in big wins for opposition parties, which suggests France's political system is becoming increasingly fragmented and that the country's traditional parties are struggling to compete with their emerging rivals. Very low voter turnout (around 41 percent) also suggests many French voters are discontent with their current political options, which could result in the rise of anti-establishment parties and the emergence of new protest movements like the yellow vests.
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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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SnapshotsJun 26, 2020 | 20:08 GMT
With a Raid, Iraq Asserts Its Authority Over Iran-Backed Militias
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is signaling that his new government will keep powerful Iran-backed militias in the country in check after conducting a raid against Kataib Hezbollah, the group linked to numerous attempted attacks against U.S. forces over the past year. On the evening of June 25, Iraqi security forces raided a building belonging to the Iran-backed group, which resulted in the arrests of several Kataib Hezbollah leaders and members, as well as the seizure of multiple rockets. In retaliation, militia members threatened to overrun Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service building where the detained Kataib Hezbollah members were being held, placing Baghdad’s surrounding Green Zone under lockdown. Overnight negotiations between Kataib Hezbollah leaders and the Iraqi government have since resulted in the release of most of the militia members arrested during the raid. The government’s willingness to quickly deescalate the situation indicates Baghdad’s desire to assert its authority over Iran-backed
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AssessmentsJun 26, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A picture shows the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Kramim in the West Bank on June 18, 2020.
Israel's Annexation Plans Will Leave It in Need of New Allies
Israel's impending annexations in the West Bank will not spark immediate international backlash, but growing pro-Palestine sentiment in the United States and Europe will ultimately leave it politically and economically isolated in the long term. This will lead Israel to seek increased partnerships with countries whose citizens and politicians are less invested in the prospect of a Palestinian state, such as Russia and China, though doing so will come at the risk of further stoking U.S. ire. 
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SITUATION REPORTJun 25, 2020 | 18:30 GMT
Serbia, Kosovo: War Crime Accusations Prompt Kosovo to Pull Out of U.S.-Sponsored Summit
Kosovo’s government announced it would not attend a summit with Serbian leaders in the United States, which was scheduled for June 27, after a special international prosecutor in The Hague accused Kosovo politicians, including President Hashim Thaci, of war crimes during the country’s push for independence in the late 1990s, Reuters reported June 25.
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SnapshotsJun 25, 2020 | 18:08 GMT
The U.S.-EU Trade War Is Poised to Intensify
The U.S.-EU trade war continues to brew and could see Brussels and Washington move forward with more tariffs through the rest of the year, even as both sides reckon with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 24, the U.S. Trade Representative's office published a list for the public comment outlining $4.3 billion worth of European products that could be subject to new tariffs as early as August. This latest escalation is part of its 16-year dispute between Washington and Brussels over government subsidies to the U.S.-based aircraft maker Boeing and its chief European rival, Airbus. Trade negotiations between the United States and European Union have already been virtually non-existent this year, due in part to the pandemic, as well as major disagreements on issues [such as agriculture. Even if they do occur, last-minute trade talks to try to avert the escalation over aircraft subsidies will thus likely fail, as both sides
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