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SnapshotsOct 1, 2020 | 17:06 GMT
French President Emmanuel Macron leaves the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, on July 20, 2020. Leaders from the 27 EU member states met on July 19 to discuss the bloc’s budget and new COVID-19 recovery package.
Disputes Risk Delaying EU Disbursement of COVID-19 Relief Funds
Ongoing disputes in the European Union over how to implement the bloc’s new 750 billion euro ($881 billion) COVID-19 recovery fund could delay the disbursement of loans and grants to struggling EU economies -- a situation that would be particularly problematic for Southern Europe, where the recessions are deep. The disputes also highlight the extent to which Brussels struggles to quickly react to political and economic crises, which will continue to undermine the European Union’s ability to address internal and external challenges. In July, EU governments agreed to link the disbursement of money from the COVID-19 relief fund to keeping a strong rule of law, but did not establish the mechanism to do it. In late September, Germany presented a proposal to sever funding for countries where corruption or mismanagement in the use of the funds is detected. Other Western European governments, however, believe Berlin’s proposal is too soft, and
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AssessmentsOct 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A masked Hamas militant mans a machine gun in the back of a pickup truck in the Palestinian city of Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip, on Oct. 17, 2019. The yellow flags of the Palestinian party Fatah can also be seen in the background.
Abandoned by Old Allies, Palestinian Leaders Turn to Turkey -- and Each Other
A Turkey-brokered agreement to hold the first Palestinian elections in 15 years suggests a new appetite for cooperation between the territories’ staunch political rivals, along with a new mediating role for Ankara, in light of warming Israeli-Arab Gulf relations. On Sept. 23-24, high-level representatives from Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas met in Istanbul for a two-day discussion hosted by Turkey’s foreign ministry. After the meeting, a Hamas spokesperson announced that the two parties -- which have been engaged in more than a decade of infighting -- had agreed to begin planning elections within six months. 
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SnapshotsSep 29, 2020 | 15:42 GMT
Armenian soldiers fire artillery shells toward Azeri forces in the town of Martakert, located in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, on April 3, 2016.
Armenia and Azerbaijan Intensify Their Border Battle
The current, intense fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces near the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which started early on Sept. 27, follows months of atypically high levels of ceasefire violations between the two sides since a July 2020 skirmish in a different sector of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Russian efforts to alter its strategy in the South Caucasus may have signaled an opportunity to Azerbaijan, prompting an attempt to advance its position on the battlefield while still enjoying strong Turkish support. The established dynamics of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s ongoing conflict, however, are expected to persist, as local geography and a lack of resources limit both sides’ ability to challenge the higher-level reality along the line of contact.
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AssessmentsSep 25, 2020 | 20:27 GMT
A picture taken on Aug. 14, 2018, shows the logo of Turkey's central bank at the entrance of its headquarters in Ankara.
Contextualizing Turkey’s Surprise Interest Rate Hike
On Sept. 24, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) announced a surprise interest rate hike in a preemptive move that seeks to prevent the country’s depreciating currency from unfolding into a larger banking or balance of payments and external debt crisis. The steadily declining value of Turkey’s national currency, the lira, is largely the result of economic imbalances -- partially precipitated by a highly negative real interest rate, a credit-fueled construction boom, and large external financing needs, as well as the CBRT’s lack of credibility and near exhaustion of Ankara’s foreign currency reserves.
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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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SnapshotsSep 24, 2020 | 15:41 GMT
Poking Holes in the New EU Migration Plan
A plan to reform the European Union's migration rules will have a limited impact on reducing the migrant burden on its southern members at a time when they are dealing with severe economic recessions. It will also lead to renewed disputes between Southern and Eastern European states, while not significantly reducing the leverage that Turkey and other countries have on the bloc. On Sept. 23, the European Commission proposed a new Pact on Migration and Asylum. According to the current EU rules, the member state where a migrant first enters the bloc is responsible for them, which puts significant pressure on Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. The new pact does not abolish this principle, and instead calls on the rest of the European Union to provide greater financial and logistical support for Mediterranean countries. 
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SnapshotsSep 23, 2020 | 21:23 GMT
U.S., Russia: What to Make of Washington's Reversal on New START
The success of the White House’s attempt to score a pre-election foreign policy win by shifting its position in favor of a temporary New START extension will depend on Russia playing along, though Washington’s long-term goal of expanding the nuclear arms control treaty to a trilateral framework still rests entirely on China. In an interview with daily Russian newspaper Kommersant published on Sept. 21, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said the United States was now open to extending the arms agreement it signed with Moscow in 2010, which is currently set to expire on Feb. 5, but by no more than five years. Washington will only agree to such an extension, however, if Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees to either a joint statement or memorandum of intent (MOI) outlining the framework of a successor treaty with U.S. President Donald Trump prior to the November presidential election.
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SnapshotsSep 22, 2020 | 22:24 GMT
Reading the Fine Print of Angola’s Debt Restructuring
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s recently announced $1 billion disbursement to Angola is based partly on China indicating a willingness to defer 2020 debts. But Beijing's creditor role may be complicated by possible efforts to take an equity stake in some of the Southern African country's oil fields. And while the funds will help fill some of Angola's financing gaps, there is clearly a market view that the country may require more comprehensive debt restructuring, even if it doesn't happen until 2021 or later. 
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SnapshotsSep 17, 2020 | 21:19 GMT
U.S.: Is the Fed Out of Ammo?
Comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicate growing concern that the Federal Reserve lacks the policy tools needed to achieve objectives related to U.S. employment and inflation. Monetary policy can no longer create demand in the U.S. economy and further fiscal stimulus is needed.
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