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AssessmentsOct 12, 2020 | 20:57 GMT
A picture taken during a helicopter tour organized by the government of the United Arab Emirates shows an aerial view of Dubai on July 8, 2020.
A Larger UAE Citizenry Would Mean Smoother Policymaking and Rockier Regional Ties
The United Arab Emirates is considering offering citizenship to its large expatriate population, which would significantly alter the country’s political economy, as well as its regional relationships, by assimilating non-Arab Gulf residents into its middle- and upper-classes. Over time, this new group of foreign-born Emirati citizens would likely erode the tribal and ethnic dynamics that have long shaped the governance of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, along with the cultural foundations driving many aspects of cooperation in the Arab Gulf. On Sept. 30, the Emirati government unveiled proposed changes to the country’s citizenship law that would ease the way for investors, long-term residents and wealthy foreigners to earn a permanent place in the country. With foreigners far outnumbering its local population, the United Arab Emirates’ current citizenship laws have offset the country’s long-standing demographic imbalances by ensuring the influence and prominence of its minority Emiratis via special legal and political protections. Changing
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ReflectionsOct 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People wearing masks walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in lower Manhattan on Oct. 5, 2020, in New York City.
Renewed COVID-19 Concerns Put U.S. Economic Growth in Doubt
New data shows the U.S. economic rebound remains underway but is running out of steam amid the country’s ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as acutely illuminated by President Donald Trump’s own diagnosis and recent hospitalization. What John Maynard Keynes described as “animal spirits” in 1936, today’s economists define as “sentiment,” “confidence,” or just plain “certainty” and “trust.” But regardless of what you call it, it appears Americans’ economic decisions are still being constrained by the course of the virus in their communities, and now their government -- underlining that the biggest threat to the United States and other global economies remains the continued, heightened uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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On GeopoliticsSep 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A damaged EU flag is seen in Brenzone, Italy, on Aug. 14, 2019. 
The Quest for European Unity: No End of History
Europe faces a challenge of identity and international role over the next decade. For nearly 500 years, Europe sat at the center of the international system, its internal competitions rippling out across the globe. But the relative balance of global power and influence has shifted. And rather than being the driving force of global dynamics, Europe is increasingly caught between major powers: the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and now the United States and China. Internally, Europe still strives for the creation of a continental union, though those dreams have been eroded by financial crises, Brexit and a resurgence of nationalism in recent years. Externally, Europe remains fragmented in its foreign policy and prioritization. The shifting patterns of global competition will compel Europe to rethink its internal structures and to come to grips with defining its interests abroad. Otherwise, it will find itself drifting further
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On GeopoliticsSep 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image of the Middle East and North Africa. 
A New Brand of Nationalism Takes Root in the Middle East
Once the salve for crushed Middle Eastern empires, Pan-Islamism and its vision of a singular caliphate are now increasingly seen as a threat to stability in the region, with countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia turning toward nationalism to instead define their policies and behavior. Indeed, even the countries that still claim to embody the movement’s ideals, such as Qatar and Turkey, are only doing so as a means to a nationalist end, exploiting its preachings of Islamic unity to project their government’s strength at home and abroad. This trend has most recently been illuminated by the UAE-Israel normalization pact by dealing yet another blow to the idea that a global Muslim community, despite its many differences, could at the very least agree on issues such as the Palestinian question. 
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AssessmentsAug 5, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, at sunrise.
COVID-19 Risks Robbing Dubai of Its Economic and Political Autonomy
By sapping Dubai's economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will also ultimately erode the emirate's political and economic independence from neighboring Abu Dhabi. Without the tools and funding needed to support its own recovery, Dubai will likely be forced to rely on another bailout from wealthy Abu Dhabi, which could impact Dubai's development plans, especially in tourism and finance. 
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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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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 SecurityMar 10, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A collection of weapons and ammunition federal agents say they found in the apartment of a member of the U.S. Coast Guard accused of plotting a major terror attack against Americans.
The Right-Wing Extremist Threat in Context: Internal Extremist Actors
While there have been a number of highly publicized cases involving military personnel who were violent right-wing extremists such as the Coast Guard officer above, or the Canadian army reservist arrested in Maryland along with other members of "The Base" in January, the threat is by no means limited to the military. Right-wing extremist insiders also pose a threat to companies and organizations, especially given how past attackers such as the Christchurch mosque attacker and the El Paso Walmart shooter have promoted attacks against business executives and their companies. Let's examine some ways that companies and organizations can protect themselves against extremist insiders.
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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 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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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
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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.
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