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SnapshotsMar 5, 2021 | 21:18 GMT
Riot police approach protesters' barricades in an attempt to disperse a March 4, 2021, demonstration in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, against the military coup.
On Myanmar, Washington Moves Cautiously to Avoid Losing More Ground to China
Without the prospect of international cooperation, the United States is proceeding cautiously with pressure on Myanmar's military government in spite of a week of deadly crackdowns on anti-coup protesters. For now, it is stopping short even from imposing sectoral or deeper country-level trade restrictions, to say nothing of more aggressive financial sanctions, in order to keep Chinese influence in Myanmar from growing.
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AssessmentsFeb 24, 2021 | 22:33 GMT
A picture taken in London on Dec. 18, 2020, shows the logos of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft displayed on a mobile phone and laptop screen.
With Democrats in Power, the U.S. Push Against Big Tech Grows
As momentum builds in the United States for landmark antitrust legislation and lawsuits on Big Tech companies, potential changes to U.S. mergers law and limits on growth avenues for large tech firms like Google could impact U.S. dominance in the global tech space, increasing competition with Chinese and European firms. On Feb. 4, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the new chair of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, introduced a new bill aimed at updating the United States’ antitrust laws. The so-called Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act (CALERA) proposes giving more resources to antitrust investigators, as well as rewriting the way that mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are reviewed over antitrust concerns. Although it has not yet been presented to U.S. President Joe Biden, the draft bill does give hints about how the new Democratic-led government could treat antitrust law reforms and tackle Big Tech.
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SnapshotsFeb 19, 2021 | 21:36 GMT
A rechargeable Lithium-ion battery for the Volkswagen ID.3 electric car is pictured Feb. 25, 2020, at the Volkswagen car factory in Zwickau, Germany.
A Battery Ruling Complicates Biden's Efforts to Secure the Green Energy Supply Chain
The U.S. International Trade Commission's Feb. 10 ruling that South Korean battery maker SK Innovation had stolen trade secrets from another South Korean battery maker complicates ongoing Biden administration efforts to accelerate the domestic adoption of electric vehicles and U.S. efforts to ensure the accessibility and security of critical resources and technologies like lithium-ion batteries.
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On SecurityFeb 12, 2021 | 10:00 GMT
British fine china company Wedgwood on Oct. 14, 2020, in Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire, England.
Understanding Economic Espionage: The Past
For most of the previous two millennia, China was the international commercial center of the world. Products such as silk, porcelain and tea were rare and expensive in previous eras. The only way to get them was through trade with China. Commercial scheming by foreign powers to share in the profits generated by these products motivated trade secret theft that undermined China's monopoly on those products.
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SnapshotsFeb 4, 2021 | 16:58 GMT
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks during a meeting in Havana, Cuba, on Nov. 6, 2020.
Biden’s Sluggish Start to Talks Will Test Iran’s Patience
The United States does not appear to be rushing into negotiations with Iran, which will keep short-term security risks in the Middle East high by testing Tehran’s patience. But once Washington does eventually come to the table, the European Union may have the opportunity to usher the two sides toward a deal. On Feb. 2, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was still too early to consider engaging directly with Iran or entertaining any of its proposals, citing the need to first consult with the United States' domestic stakeholders and global partners on how to move forward. Price's comments followed Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s Feb. 2 interview with CNN, in which he suggested that the European Union foreign could “choreograph” actions taken by Washington and Tehran to return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But according
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AssessmentsJan 28, 2021 | 19:54 GMT
Vietnam rings in the new year with a fireworks show in the city center of Hanoi on Jan. 1, 2021.
With Biden in Power, Vietnam Is Set for Success
Vietnam is well-positioned to reap the economic and political rewards of continued U.S. pressure on China over the next year, as the world gradually emerges from the COVID-19 crisis. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden’s continued hardline stance toward China will present Vietnam with new opportunities to counterbalance Beijing -- and with fewer pitfalls, as Biden will ease his predecessor’s trade pressure on Hanoi. Supported by this strengthening U.S. relationship and its own domestic political stability, Vietnam will provide an attractive alternative to China for manufacturing supply chains. The Biden administration’s more measured and less overtly confrontational stance toward China will also enable the Vietnamese government to increase outreach to the United States without it being seen as taking an aggressive anti-China stance. 
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SnapshotsJan 26, 2021 | 21:40 GMT
Workers load containers on a cargo ship at Port Botany in Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 2, 2020.
Despite Rising Tensions, Australia-China Trade Remains Robust
The need to meet domestic demand, sustain economic growth and keep consumer prices reasonable will limit China’s ability to exert economic pressure on Australia, despite rising tensions between Beijing and Canberra. On Jan. 25, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released preliminary numbers showing that Australian monthly exports to China rose in December 2020 by 21% year-on-year -- putting the annual total exports to the country at $112.4 billion, just slightly down from a high of $114.8 billion in 2019. The monthly boost in exports to China was largely driven by iron ore and wheat demand.  
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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 21:32 GMT
Israeli troops are pictured during a military drill in Golan Heights on Jan. 13, 2021.
Amid U.S. Political Uncertainty, Israel and Iran Go Head-to-Head
Israel will escalate pressure on Iran in the final days of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, increasing the risk of Iranian retaliation -- particularly in proxy theaters like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and potentially Yemen. On Jan. 12, Israel conducted a widespread series of strikes against at least 15 Iranian-linked targets along the Iraqi-Syrian border, reportedly killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more. A senior U.S. intelligence official said that Israel conducted the strikes based on intelligence provided by the United States. The strikes targeted facilities that stored Iranian weaponry, which the U.S. official claimed served as a pipeline for components of Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian-linked, Afghan-dominated militia Fatemiyoun was also one of the targets. 
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AssessmentsJan 12, 2021 | 21:55 GMT
Destroyed homes are seen in the village of Aldeia da Paz outside Macomia, Mozambique, after a militant attack on Aug. 24, 2019.
In Mozambique, Militants Will Gain Ground Until They Threaten the Government
Militants in Mozambique will continue to gain ground near the liquified natural gas (LNG) park under construction in the country’s north until the government deems the economic and political threat large enough to warrant foreign support. On Jan. 1, the French supermajor Total evacuated some of its personnel from its $20 billion LNG project being built on the Afungi Peninsula in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, effectively freezing work at the site. The decision came after the Islamic State affiliate in Mozambique, Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama (ASWJ) -- which is also a part of Islamic State’s Central African Province -- attacked a village less than one kilometer from the facility’s airstrip.
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SnapshotsJan 7, 2021 | 18:13 GMT
An aerial view shows the ruins of a village on Jan. 5, 2021, in an area of Nagorno-Karabakh that was recaptured by Azerbaijan in October 2020.
Despite Violations, the Azeri-Armenian Cease-Fire Will Hold -- For Now
The Azeri-Armenian cease-fire will be undermined by both sides on the ground and in their capitals. But for now, Turkish-Russian cooperation and domestic problems in Armenia seem poised to prevent more large, state-on-state clashes. On Dec. 28, Azerbaijan said one soldier was killed by an Armenian armed unit in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, violating the Nov. 10 truce. The clash followed several earlier incidents in December. Nagorno-Karabakh authorities accused Azeri troops of capturing some of their soldiers following clashes between Azeri and Armenian-backed forces between Dec. 11-13 that killed several soldiers on both sides. Azeri and Armenian authorities have begun regularly accusing one another of violating the truce that ended weeks of fighting and resulted in reported casualties on both sides.
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On SecurityDec 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
FBI and first responders work on the scene after an explosion in Nashville, Tennessee, on Dec. 25, 2020. According to initial reports, a vehicle exploded downtown in the early morning hours of Christmas Day.
The Nashville Bombing and the Risk of Copycat Attacks
Investigations into the Dec. 25 bombing near an AT&T facility in Nashville are exploring the suspect’s potential links to conspiracy theories surrounding 5G wireless technology. Regardless of the assailant’s actual motive, the widespread disruption caused to telecommunications networks in Tennessee and nearby states, as well as growing online speculation of the attack’s connection to 5G conspiracies, will likely contribute to an uptick in threats against other communications infrastructure. Organizations operating in the telecommunications industry are potential targets and should thus prepare for an increase in threat activity. 
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SnapshotsDec 15, 2020 | 19:11 GMT
A blacksmith crafts metal in a village mansion in Ankara, Turkey, on Nov. 18, 2020.
S-400 Sanctions Risk Further Deteriorating U.S.-Turkey Relations
New U.S. sanctions will stymie Turkey’s strategy to develop an indigenous defense sector, prompting Ankara to continue exploring alternative security ties while intensifying bilateral tensions for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. On Dec. 14, the United States announced a series of defense sector-aimed sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), fulfilling long-term threats that Washington would impose penalties on its fellow NATO ally for the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system. The sanctions target Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), including its chief Ismail Demir and three other senior officials, and come as the U.S. Congress was poised to mandate CAATSA sanctions through the annual National Defense Authorization Act.  
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AssessmentsDec 11, 2020 | 22:30 GMT
American supporters of Morocco’s “Autonomy Plan” for Western Sahara take part in a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington D.C. on Nov. 27, 2010.
The Risks of the U.S. Recognizing Morocco’s Control of Western Sahara
If upheld by the next U.S. administration, Washington’s move to recognize Moroccan control over the disputed Western Sahara region would mark a major diplomatic feat for Rabat, though it will risk inflaming tensions both at home and with Morocco’s African neighbors. The White House and the Moroccan royal court confirmed Dec. 10 that Israel and Morocco have decided to establish full diplomatic relations. As part of the normalization deal, the United States said it will also recognize Morocco’s “full sovereignty” over Western Sahara. These concurrent agreements suggest that Washington promised its recognition in exchange for Rabat normalizing its ties with Israel. Should U.S. President-elect Joe Biden follow through on this pledge by establishing a U.S. consulate in the disputed territory, it would be a huge boost to Morocco’s diplomatic strategy of claiming de facto sovereignty over the territory, as Washington’s global influence far exceeds that of the African and Middle
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On SecurityDec 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cars line up on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro crossing port at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, on March 12, 2020.
U.S.-Mexico Border Crossings Are Poised to Grow in 2021
The compounding crises of 2020 will likely contribute to a new wave of immigrants from hard-hit Central American countries. While previous surges of migrants in 2018 and 2019 contributed to significant disruptions along the U.S.-Mexico border, a repeat of those episodes in 2021 is unlikely. But addressing the many security challenges that still plague the United States’ southern border will require working more deeply with Mexico on a long-term solution.
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AssessmentsDec 3, 2020 | 23:26 GMT
Members of Iranian forces pray around the coffin of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during his burial ceremony at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in northern Tehran on Nov. 30, 2020.
A New Iranian Law Could Bring the Nuclear Issue to a Crisis Point Under Biden
The Iranian parliament's ratification of a new bill expanding Iran's nuclear program reflects growing pressure by Iranian hawks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and their expectation of early engagement with the incoming Biden administration to address bilateral issues. If the law is implemented entirely it would bring the Iran nuclear issue on the cusp of a crisis within the first 100 days of the Biden administration because the moves that Iran makes under the law would be aimed at significantly reducing Iran's nuclear breakout, the time Iran would need to produce enough weapons-grade material for one device.
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