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AssessmentsFeb 26, 2020 | 15:57 GMT
A demonstration in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en pipeline protest on Feb. 18, 2020, outside the Canadian Consulate in New York. Disruptions to supply chains will remain the most obvious impact, but whether this spreads to new targets and geographically, including to the United States, will be important to monitor.
What Comes Next for Canada's Anti-Pipeline Protests?
Hereditary leaders of the Wet'suwet'en indigenous group have said that they will not negotiate with political leaders over the ongoing protests affecting Canada's rail network until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and pipeline construction crews have left their territory. RCMP units stationed on Wet'suwet'en territory have begun relocating in an effort to respond to that ultimatum. But even if the Wet'suwet'en call off protest activity on their land in remote northern British Columbia, it is unclear how the dozens of groups and individuals who have now taken up the Wet'suwet'en cause will respond. Companies operating in Canada reliant upon rail transportation for personnel or products should develop contingencies in the likely case that shipments are further delayed. Furthermore, overlapping protest movements in the United States could easily replicate these tactics in places like Minnesota, where a nascent movement against a pipeline construction project has promised protests to come. Energy companies
ReflectionsJan 16, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
Omani army officers carry Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said during a funeral procession Jan. 11 in Muscat.
For Oman's New Sultan, a 21st Century Challenge
Everything about the ascension of Oman's new ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al Said, has screamed continuity -- including the sultan himself. "We will continue to follow in the same course the late sultan adopted," he said in his inaugural speech Jan. 11, a day after the death of his predecessor, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, had been announced. So far, so stable. Regardless, Haitham will have trouble filling Qaboos' large shoes. During his nearly 50-year reign, Qaboos wrote a playbook of Omani geopolitics that toward the end of his life was running thin on tactics for the 21st century. But what a playbook it proved to be for his time. Few of the region's Gulf rulers had faced as many challenges, and fewer still lasted as long. Qaboos took a backward, crumbling empire and shoved it into the 20th century. For Haitham, however, the strategies of the past
Contributor PerspectivesDec 30, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
A photograph of "The Family of Henry VIII: An Allegory of the Tudor Succession," a 16th century painting attributed to Lucas de Heere.
The U.K. May Find That Getting to Brexit Was the Easy Part
Plenty of pundits have weighed in on the electoral implications of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recent landslide victory, but fewer have addressed its strategic implications for the United Kingdom's position in the world. In part, I suspect, this is because there are few obvious analogies for the political crisis Brexit has precipitated, and, without historical comparison cases, forecasting too easily becomes guesswork. There is, though, one suggestive parallel for what Britain is going through. Extrapolating possible futures from an isolated analogy is open to obvious objections; however, it is surely better than working without comparisons of any kind -- and it prompts some sobering thoughts.
Contributor PerspectivesNov 13, 2019 | 16:40 GMT
An illustration of an aged world map.
Lessons From the Past for Trump's Transactional Foreign Policy
One of the Trump administration's hallmarks has been its transactional approach to foreign policy. Writing in Foreign Policy magazine shortly before the 2016 presidential election, the strategist Rosa Brooks suggested that "To Trump, U.S. alliances, like potential business partners in a real-estate transaction, should always be asked: 'What have you done for me lately?'" Since entering office, President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to walk away from alliances that no longer seem to be paying dividends, regardless of old friendships or cultural affinities. The U-turn in American foreign policy seems to have baffled many observers. However, the Trump administration is anything but the first to pursue a transactional foreign policy. It might be worth taking a look at the experience of the most important comparison case, 18th century Britain.
On SecurityNov 12, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
The U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington is pictured in Seattle on Nov. 8, 2019.
Lessons Learned From a Saudi Spy Case at Twitter
In an age in which cybersecurity is top-notch, sometimes all it takes for hostile intelligence to gain a treasure trove of information is some old-fashioned espionage tradecraft -- like finding an insider. In a criminal complaint filed Nov. 5 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the FBI accused two former Twitter employees and a third man of acting as agents of the Saudi government in the United States without declaring themselves. Two of the men, Ali Alzabarah and Ahmed Almutairi, are Saudi citizens, while the other, Ahmad Abouammo, is a U.S. citizen of Saudi descent. The men are charged with helping the Saudi government identify political dissidents and others on the social media platform who were critical of the government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  I've already written on the case for Stratfor's Threat Lens clients, but there are some important lessons in the affair for a wider audience
AssessmentsOct 2, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
The sun rises over an LNG terminal at sea.
Pakistan Strives to Switch to Natural Gas
Hoping to quench its economy's growing thirst for energy, Pakistan has turned to several multinational companies for an ambitious expansion of its liquefied natural gas terminals on the Arabian Sea. On Sept. 20, Petroleum Minister Omar Ayub Khan said Pakistan had chosen ExxonMobil, Trafigura, Royal Dutch Shell, Gunvor and Tabeer Energy to build five LNG facilities. Ayub's announcement touches upon a broader plan to boost the country's LNG processing capacity while shifting the economy's reliance away from oil. With a shortfall in domestic production expected to persist as more customers sign on to the grid, Pakistan's burgeoning demand for natural gas will drive ever-more LNG imports in the next few years. And though some might hesitate to invest in Pakistani LNG lest local partners run afoul of a far-reaching (and allegedly politically motivated) anti-corruption campaign, the growth of the country's LNG demand creates major opportunities for international energy companies looking
AssessmentsSep 27, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
This photo shows an oil installation in Libya.
Warning Signs Grow for Libyan Oil Production
As oil markets maintain their focus on how quickly Saudi oil production can bounce back from attacks on Abiqaiq and Khurais, a long-running crisis a couple of thousand kilometers west in Libya is putting more than 1 million barrels per day at risk. The civil war in Libya between forces from the eastern and western parts of the country is not the country's only production problem: The legitimacy of Tripoli's National Oil Corporation, the entity that officially governs the country's oil exports, is once again at stake. It faces a growing crisis over fuel distribution and a threat to its continuity from a breakaway unit that refuses to recognize the authority of the corporation's leaders in Tripoli.
AssessmentsSep 19, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
A Saudi Defense Ministry official speaks in Riyadh on Sept. 18, 2019, following Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.
Saudi Oil Infrastructure Offers a Target-Rich Environment for Iran
For years Iran has threatened that if it were no longer able to export oil because of U.S. sanctions, then no one else would be able to either. The Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s Abqaiq and Khurais oil processing complexes and two earlier attacks on the Saudi oil sector gave life to longstanding fears of Iranian attacks on Saudi critical infrastructure. Iran has clearly made the strategic decision to escalate its attacks against oil industry targets in the region in response to U.S. sanctions pressure and Washington's departure from the Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The challenge for Saudi Arabia will be trying to protect a large number of critical targets across its large territory. But unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, the billions of dollars it spends annually on defense -- including a planned $51 billion in 2019 -- simply cannot protect all Saudi infrastructure
AssessmentsSep 16, 2019 | 22:19 GMT
This photo shows a Saudi Aramco facility just outside Riyadh.
Attacks Deal a Blow to Saudi Aramco's Prospects
One of Saudi Arabia's greatest nightmares became a reality on Sept. 14 after an attack forced the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Saudi Aramco), to take its single most important piece of oil and natural gas infrastructure -- the Abqaiq oil and gas processing complex -- offline, along with 5.7 million barrels per day of crude oil production. Saudi officials have sought to reassure oil and natural gas markets that they can restore some production, but after an initial suggestion that all production could soon come back online, Riyadh announced on Sept. 16 that the damage could take weeks or even months to repair. The impact on global oil markets will be significant, but manageable. After an initial spike of nearly 20 percent on Sept. 16, the price of global benchmark Brent crude has settled to around $69 per barrel, up about 10 percent but still far below the $80 mark that oil prices
AssessmentsJun 13, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
A Huawei logo looms over a street in Barcelona, Spain.
Why Europe Won't Shut the Door on Huawei
The United States and China are in the midst of a tech war, and Europe's caught dead center. In its push to stem Beijing's expanding global influence, Washington has pressured its European allies to sever their ties with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which it accuses of being a Trojan horse for Beijing's government to spy on other countries. But while some members of the European Union have been more receptive to U.S. pressure, none so far have succumbed fully to the United States' plea to ban Huawei from participating in the development of their 5G networks. That's not to say EU countries haven't taken heed of Washington's concerns about the Chinese company, or that U.S. accusations haven't marred Huawei's reputation among European consumers and companies. But Huawei's already sizable presence in EU markets -- combined with its expertise in the 5G space -- will make it a tempting option for European
AssessmentsJun 3, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Extinction Rebellion and Planete Amazone activists stage a "die-in" on May 14, 2019, in front of the Grande Arche de La Defense in Puteaux, northwest of Paris.
How a Climate Activist Group Is Following the Occupy Movement's Footsteps
Rising Up, a left-wing activist group based in the United Kingdom, launched its first Extinction Rebellion protest during November 2018, blocking four bridges in London. The group was reportedly founded by former members of the Occupy movement and is managed by Compassionate Revolution Ltd., launched in 2015. It is seeking to replicate that campaign's occupation and direct action tactics. Since that first protest, it has continued to stage small demonstrations across the United Kingdom, and it has increasingly targeted major cities across the world as its ideology has found a receptive audience online. This success makes it highly likely the group will stage additional major protests in hopes of matching or exceeding the London occupation, and may try to hold simultaneous demonstrations in several major cities worldwide.
AssessmentsMar 15, 2019 | 19:50 GMT
Supporters of the lead pro-military party in Thailand gather outside as the party's candidates arrive to register for country's upcoming election.
In Thailand, the Junta's Policies Will Prevail, Regardless of Who Wins the Election
After five years of extended military rule since the coup in 2014, followed by the death of iconic King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016, electoral politics are tentatively resuming in Thailand. On March 24, more than 50 million voters nationwide will cast their votes for candidates vying for the country's House of Representatives. But after 15 years punctuated by bloody protests, coups and toppled governments, the memory of Thailand's tumultuous past remains fresh. And many are wary that the country could swing back into the cyclical disruptions that have jeopardized its status as a manufacturing powerhouse in Southeast Asia.
ReflectionsJan 11, 2019 | 22:23 GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron address the media during a press conference in the German chancellery on Nov. 18, 2018, in Berlin.
France and Germany Update Their Alliance
More than half a century after an iconic treaty of friendship, the French and the Germans are preparing for a modern update to their alliance. On Jan. 22, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will sit down in the border town of Aachen to sign a document deepening the bond between Paris and Berlin. The document, which will spell out enhanced cooperation on security, defense and the economy, is meant to send the message that the two stand united in the face of the European Union's many challenges, which range from growing nationalism to disputes with global superpowers like the United States and China. While the document will probably resemble more a declaration of intent than a concrete list of policy goals, it shows that the two largest economies in the European Union are still interested in preserving their alliance. This does not entail, however, that France
AssessmentsNov 8, 2018 | 20:49 GMT
Storage tanks for liquefied natural gas sit in a large oil-refinery plant
U.S. LNG Exports Are About to Reshape the Global Market
The U.S. shale revolution has had a major impact at home, but its echoes have reverberated less elsewhere around the world, at least where natural gas is concerned. That, however, is about to change. By the end of 2018, the United States will launch nine liquefied natural gas export projects that will have a collective liquefaction capacity of 36.7 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). The expansion will boost the country's capacity to roughly 63 mtpa -- a big step up from the mere 1.5 mtpa that existed before 2016. It all adds up to a big year in 2019. And growth in U.S. LNG exports will continue beyond that because more processing and liquefaction facilities are expected to come online the following year. Producers are also considering additional final investment decisions to construct new facilities beyond that. The consequences of rising U.S. -- as well as Australian -- LNG exports
AssessmentsNov 5, 2018 | 11:30 GMT
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on Oct. 23.
Will Khashoggi's Killing Force Mohammed bin Salman to Cede Some Control?
A death in Turkey has set the Saudi royal family scrambling. The apparent murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the resulting international reaction have embroiled Saudi Arabia, forcing the House of Saud to unite to address the backlash. King Salman has sent the powerful governor of Mecca, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, to Turkey to try to diffuse tension over the killing, while also summoning the Saudi ambassador to the United States back to Riyadh. The incident is bound to affect the inner workings of the royal family, particularly as the king's powerful young son and crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, struggles to escape international blame while Riyadh disavows -- publicly, at least -- that he had any involvement. Beneath the surface, competition and debate in the House of Saud is likely to be heated, because the crown prince has inevitably made enemies in the family while consolidating his power. As the
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