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SnapshotsJun 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Worst Global Recession in 80 Years Is Here. Where’s the Bottom?
Prospects for a quick global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic are officially dead, with all major international financial institutions and private forecasters now projecting huge cumulative losses and an uneven, prolonged climb out of the world’s steepest recession in 80 years. Economic models have proven incapable of dealing with uncertainties and discontinuities of the current unprecedented global lockdown. But even though magnitudes vary, recent forecasts are headed in the same direction -- down. 
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AssessmentsJun 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Members of the Saudi special forces stand aboard a landing ship off the coast of Bahrain during a military exercise in the Persian Gulf on Nov. 5, 2019.
Austerity Will Force Saudi Arabia to Revise Its Military Priorities
Facing severe budgetary strain due to COVID-19 and low oil prices, Saudi Arabia will likely reduce its arms purchases, while avoiding spending cuts that could impede its internal security or the development of its defense sector. Riyadh will be careful not to trim spending that hampers the monarchy’s internal security or goal of building its domestic defense production capacity. Saudi leadership will calibrate its decisions and seek to limit damage to its Vision 2030 goals, as it keeps an eye on the U.S. presidential election and plans for increasing U.S. scrutiny of its human rights and security policies.
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AssessmentsMay 6, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image displays rows of silicon wafers.
The U.S. Weaponizes COVID-19 Anger Against China’s Tech Sector
The United States and China have been locked in a technology cold war for several years. The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is now pressuring Washington to make even stronger moves against Beijing by fueling anti-China sentiment among U.S. voters and legislators alike. But the White House’s latest attempt to increase export controls on China and limit Beijing's overall access to U.S. technology will come at the cost of further fragmenting the global tech sector’s highly integrated supply chain network. 
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AssessmentsApr 28, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills Jan. 2, 2017, in the South China Sea.
Even a Pandemic Does not Stop the South China Sea Competition
Numerous reports have raised fears that China is taking advantage of U.S. distraction and the sidelining of two U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific due to the COVID-19 pandemic. China had made similar accusations against the United States earlier this year, claiming Washington was exploiting China's pandemic response to advance its own containment strategy. And both are correct in that the pandemic does not appear to have slowed down Chinese or U.S. activities in the region.
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On SecurityApr 14, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
When an Economic Crisis Collides With an Unprecedented Espionage Threat
I've seen a number of news reports discussing how the lockdowns and travel bans resulting from COVID-19 are hindering the ability of intelligence officers to do their jobs by preventing them from being able to conduct in-person source meets. The inability to conduct face-to-face source meets, and to make personal contact with recruitment targets to develop relationships with them, is a valid concern. I would like to suggest, however, that the economic crisis resulting from COVID-19 will also provide intelligence officers a golden opportunity to spot and recruit new agents.
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AssessmentsMar 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Fully protected members of the Spanish Army's Nuclear Bacteriological and Chemical Regiment (RNBQ) prepare to disinfect a train station in San Sebastian to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on March 24, 2020.
COVID-19: How Pandemics Disrupt Military Operations
Amid the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world are facing widespread disruptions to not only the health of their populations and economies, but their militaries. Even if the virus itself doesn't leave key personnel severely ill (or worse), quarantine measures can still severely thwart military operations. Meanwhile, military powers such as the United States may increasingly be forced to deploy additional forces to the frontlines of unfolding COVID-19 outbreaks at home. The resulting fallout could, in turn, result in setbacks in the fight against multiple non-state actors abroad, and potentially even the long-term development of military capabilities. 
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SnapshotsMar 20, 2020 | 21:07 GMT
Europe Moves to Keep Its Economy Afloat
The European Central Bank augmented its 30 billion euro (about $32 billion) a month program of quantitative easing with a Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program to buy an additional 750 billion euros (about $800 billion) in member country sovereign and corporate bonds until the COVID-19 crisis is over. The ECB also eased for the first time collateral standards and assets eligible for purchase, including Greek sovereign bonds, and included short-term corporate bonds in its buying. It is no exaggeration to say the ECB may have precluded a potential sovereign default by Italy as it and other European governments are forced to ramp up borrowing to fight the economic effects of COVID-19 containment measures and a probable major economic downturn.
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GuidanceMar 19, 2020 | 15:38 GMT
This photo shows a lone Pakistani soldier patrolling the Line of Control, the de facto border between Pakistan and India, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Aug. 29, 2019.
COVID-19: Where Most See Crisis, Some See Opportunity
As the coronavirus pandemic monopolizes more of the world’s time, money and attention, the latest surge of violence in Kashmir between India and Pakistan highlights the potential for countries to act more aggressively with less scrutiny. But state actors aren't the only ones who will be tempted to capitalize on the current chaos. As more governments become bogged down by the virus and the economic fallout from containment efforts, jihadist groups and other non-state actors will also have the opportunity to advance their positions in security hotspots around the world. This could not only raise the risk for military escalations in those areas in the short term, but could allow militias to resurge once the global health crisis eventually subsides.
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SnapshotsMar 9, 2020 | 20:06 GMT
The Crown Prince Consolidates Control as Saudi Arabia Faces Trouble Ahead
In a series of arrests of high-profile princes, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has once more shown he will brook no royal challengers. Four senior princes -- Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a former crown prince; his brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef; Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the 78-year-old brother of King Salman; and Prince Nayef bin Ahmed, Prince Ahmed's son and former head of army intelligence -- were arrested over the weekend by Saudi security forces. Dozens of other lower-level officials were detained as well. Some news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, have reported that some princes may soon be released.
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AssessmentsFeb 28, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This photo shows the Guyanese flag.
The High Stakes of Guyana's Elections
Rarely do a country's elections matter as much for its future political balance of power as the March 2 ballot will for Guyana. The national balloting comes just 11 days after Guyana exported its first cargo of oil abroad, marking the beginning of a significant economic windfall to come as the country becomes the world's latest to join the oil production club. In the coming years, an oil boom will make Guyana one of the wealthiest countries in South America. The winner of the national elections will then have the chance to cement its political legacy through the kinds of economic patronage that come with increased wealth for the government.
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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
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SnapshotsFeb 25, 2020 | 22:07 GMT
Saudi Arabia Arms Its Vision 2030 With an Investment Ministry
On Feb. 25, Saudi Arabia's King Salman issued eight royal orders designed to jump-start the country's Vision 2030 program after nearly four years of mixed results. The most notable of these orders included converting the General Investment Authority into a full Ministry of Investment and creating tourism and sports ministries. The former energy minister and Saudi Aramco CEO, Khalid al-Falih, will serve as the first investment minister. Al-Falih's appointment may indicate that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman realizes the greater pitfalls of chasing such big, high-profile announcements. It will thus be important to track whether Saudi Arabia starts winding down its pursuit of megaprojects at home and abroad, including the country's large investments into companies such as Uber and Tesla, which have been criticized as having more to do with prestige than profit.
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AssessmentsFeb 24, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
This photo shows a dry irrigation canal in Crimea.
Under Russia, Crimea’s Future Grows Dimmer -- and Drier
Water scarcity is quickly dimming Russia's hopes for economic growth on the Crimean Peninsula. Reservoirs throughout the region are at record lows for this time of year, with only a few months of reserves left to cover the Crimean population's daily consumption. But while an unusually dry winter is partially to blame, Russia's annexation has been at the core of Crimean water woes by prompting Ukraine to close off the North Crimean Canal in 2014.  Without access to external fresh water resources, permanent relief for the peninsula can be obtained only by either desalinating water from the Black Sea, or by building pipelines to feed water from Russia's Kuban River directly into Crimea. But unless Moscow coughs up the capital needed to fund such costly infrastructure projects, Crimea risks becoming a mostly barren military bastion as its industries, agricultural lands and population shrivel alongside its water reserves.
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AssessmentsFeb 11, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
Employees of PetroChina Southwest Oil & Gasfield Co., a CNPC subsidiary, work at a natural gas purification plant in Suining in southwest China's Sichuan province on Jan. 15, 2020.
In Response to Coronavirus, Russia Will Back Only Modest Action by OPEC+
It is now clear that the impact of the new coronavirus on the world oil market will be substantial, but much uncertainty remains about the total impact on demand in 2020. The most probable scenario is a "sharp but short" hit to demand, but a wider spread could deepen and lengthen the impact. OPEC and other producers will attempt to at least partially mitigate the impact on oil prices, but Russia will likely insist on a cautious approach that does not last long.
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AssessmentsFeb 5, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
Turkish-backed Syrian fighters man an anti-aircraft gun in Saraqeb, in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on Feb. 1, 2020.
Turkey Digs In Its Heels in Idlib
Moscow and Ankara’s long-standing alliance of convenience is set to face a trial by fire in northwestern Syria. A Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian offensive to retake Idlib appears poised to roll back Turkish influence in the area and send a new wave of refugees to Turkey, which is already hosting 3 million Syrians. On Feb. 3, Syrian government shelling killed five Turkish soldiers in Idlib, prompting Turkey to respond with an array of strikes against Syrian government positions. The tit-for-tat strikes herald a new, dangerous phase for the conflict in Idlib, as Syrian government forces, with Iranian and Russian support, push deeper into the province, leading Turkey to respond with the deployment of new forces directly in the path of advancing Syrian troops. For Turkey, it's a game of high-stakes military pressure to buy time for negotiations to ensure that there is no new flood of refugees to Turkey and
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