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SnapshotsAug 5, 2020 | 19:36 GMT
An Explosion Risks Razing Lebanon’s Last Shreds of Stability
A massive explosion in Beirut will intensify already potent popular anger at the Lebanese government and contribute to political infighting, even as it opens the door for much-needed humanitarian aid in the near term. The catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut sent a shockwave miles through the surrounding area, destroying thousands of homes and buildings. The blast has so far killed over 100 people while injuring thousands more. Available evidence about the nature of the explosion aligns with the government's account of the accident, pointing at gross negligence that will elicit anger at authorities. The damage to Lebanon's most critical port, even if temporary, will also exacerbate the country's existing food and supply shortages.
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On GeopoliticsJul 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A display shows the national flags of China and the United States at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.
The U.S.-China Ideological Divide and the Challenge of Cohesion
A series of foreign policy speeches by key officials in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has sought to redefine the U.S.-China strategic competition as one based on conflicting core ideologies between those of the Chinese Communist Party and those of the free world. But to be effective, the United States needs to revive domestic unity and engender global cooperation, while China only needs to maintain domestic unity and exploit global divisions. 
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SnapshotsJul 29, 2020 | 18:37 GMT
Is Uganda's 30-Year Run of Political Stability Nearing an End?
The presidential candidacy of Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine represents the most significant challenge to the country's longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, whose failure to address growing youth unemployment and disillusionment with the current ruling elite is placing the country on a long-term trajectory of political unrest. Wine has been able to connect with younger Ugandan voters in a way that previous opposition figures could not. Museveni and his ruling NRM party will pull out all the stops to ensure they remain in power, including crackdowns on Wine and his party's rallies, which will increase the risk of pre-and post-election unrest. But even if Museveni can control the outcome of the next election, his failure to address increasing political and economic grievances suggests Uganda’s 30-year run of political stability is nearing an end.
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SnapshotsJul 28, 2020 | 19:10 GMT
Lopez Obrador Unexpectedly Moves to Safeguard Mexico’s Pension System
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s proposed overhaul to Mexico’s pension system will preserve investor confidence by maintaining the country’s current individual account system, while still addressing pressing concerns about the system’s long-term sustainability. On July 22, Lopez Obrador announced his proposed pension reforms, which the Mexican Congress will vote on when it reconvenes in September. The proposed changes to Mexico’s current pension system include doubling employer contributions over an eight-year period; increasing total contributions from 6.5 to 15 percent; limiting the commissions charged by Retirement Funds Administrators (AFOREs); and decreasing the number of years a worker needs to contribute to access a minimum guaranteed pension from 25 to 15 years, while increasing the number of such pensions by about 40 percent.
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SnapshotsJul 28, 2020 | 18:54 GMT
Hong Kong Considers Postponing Key Legislative Elections
Hong Kong’s September Legislative Council elections may be postponed amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, which would help the city’s pro-Beijing ruling party maintain control and would remove a near-term focal point for protests. But a long delay could also reignite the opposition by creating a legislative vacuum and removing a legal way for citizens to express their level of satisfaction with the government. On July 28, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam met with elements of the Executive Council to discuss a potential delay to the legislative elections, but put off a final decision until after election nominations close at the end of the week. The election could reportedly be delayed anywhere between several months to a full year, with some elements of the ruling camp backing the longer postponement. Pro-democracy politicians have already accused the pro-Beijing camp of using a delay to hold on to power and facilitate a pro-Beijing agenda.
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SnapshotsJul 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Lockdown Fatigue Leaves Israel With More COVID-19 Cases and Fewer Options
On July 21, Israel reported over 2000 new cases of COVID-19, shattering previous springtime records that peaked around 765 on April 2. The escalating new wave of infections recently prompted the Israeli government to roll back its reopening, as well as impose localized lockdowns and new restrictions on business activity, which will risk further hampering the country's economic recovery. Israel's unity government, however, will not enact another national lockdown for fear of prompting additional protests and deepening public resistance to health measures designed to reduce the spread of the virus. The absence of a large-scale containment strategy means COVID-19 will likely continue to spread in the country, straining Israel's healthcare system and economy. 
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SnapshotsJul 22, 2020 | 16:03 GMT
Scotland Creates a New Pro-Independence Party
The creation of a new pro-independence party in Scotland could weaken the Scots’ push for independence by exposing growing fissures within secessionist camps regarding referendum strategies. In recent days, several members of Scotland's governing Scottish National Party (SNP) have left the party to work on creating a new pro-independence group, the Alliance for Independence (AFI). Scotland must hold a parliamentary election by May 2021, which suggests that the new party wants enough time to prepare for it. The United Kingdom, however, will not authorize an independence referendum, which could lead the AFI to defend unilateral measures as it seeks to differentiate itself from the SNP's milder positions. This would increase political volatility in the United Kingdom at a time when the country is adapting to Brexit and coping with the COVID-19 crisis.
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AssessmentsJul 21, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
A rally in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 11, 2020, at Umayyad Square in Damascus, Syria.
In Syria, COVID-19 and Economic Woes Will Dampen Damascus' Ambitions
Economic and health crises have undercut Damascus' appetite for new major military offensives by creating dissent in previously secure territory. This suggests the al Assad government will attempt to consolidate power within loyalist territories before renewing efforts to eliminate Turkish and American influence.
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AssessmentsJul 15, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Huawei’s U.K. headquarters in Reading, England.
In a Win for the U.S., the U.K. Moves to Oust Huawei From Its 5G Rollout
The United Kingdom's move to oust Chinese tech giant Huawei from its telecommunications networks in the coming years will not only impede the country's 5G rollout, but will further dim hopes for a U.K.-China trade deal that could help London expand its economic relationships beyond Europe post-Brexit. But the decision nonetheless marks a significant victory for the United States, which has been pressuring its European allies to purge Huawei from their 5G infrastructure -- especially if the British ban ends up being replicated elsewhere on the Continent.  
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AssessmentsJul 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a protective face mask as she attends a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020.
Germany's Next Election Season Will Begin a Period of Political Turbulence
Disputes between outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her potential successor will likely lead to an ineffective government ahead of Germany's next parliamentary election, which will take place in late 2021 and could result in the collapse of the country's ruling coalition. In addition to reducing Berlin's ability to manage the economic fallout from COVID-19, this period of political turbulence will also slow the European Union's policymaking process as the rest of the bloc refrains from making meaningful decisions until its largest economy appoints a new government.
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