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SnapshotsJul 1, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
What to Make of Hong Kong’s First Protests Post-Security Law
The Hong Kong protests carried out in spite of the new national security law showcase the volatile dynamic we expect to continue as authorities work to dishearten demonstrators and the broader pro-democracy camp. Following an official rejection of an application to hold rallies citing COVID-19 and past violent activity, pro-democracy demonstrators turned out by the thousands to mark the July 1 anniversary of the British handover of the city. While authorities arrested a relatively small number of protesters under the new law, how the detentions and trials proceed will indicate the legislation’s ability to truly dissuade protests in the future. There is also the possibility that further arrests will take place based on surveillance of protest activity.
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AssessmentsJun 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Syrian refugees walk outside a tent at a camp near the Iraqi Kurdish town of Bardarash on Oct. 18, 2019.
COVID-19 Cash Shortages Will Cripple Global Humanitarian Efforts
Reductions in funding for multilateral aid due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 are impacting the fight against the epidemic in conflict zones such as Yemen, raising the prospect of migration flows and renewed fighting, while increasing pressure on private aid organizations to fund humanitarian programs. Funding for multilateral humanitarian aid is dwindling as donor countries increasingly turn inward to solve their own COVID-19 crises at home. Donor countries are providing pandemic relief in various ways, including debt relief, financial swaps and bilateral aid. But global economic contractions, estimated to hover around 7 percent this year, are reducing aid contributions to the United Nations and other institutions, creating severe systemic funding gaps. 
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SITUATION REPORTJun 29, 2020 | 22:08 GMT
Hong Kong: Beijing Lawmakers May Consider Life Sentences, Retroactivity for National Security Law 
Hong Kong’s sole representative to China’s National People's Congress Standing Committee, Tam Yiu-chung, said he will inform the committee of public feedback calling for Beijing's proposed national security legislation to carry steeper penalties and be applied retroactively for past transgressions, the South China Morning Post reported June 27. 
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Quarterly ForecastsJun 29, 2020 | 00:02 GMT
2020 Third-Quarter Forecast
While many of the trends identified in our annual forecast remain slowed down by COVID-19, their pace is picking up as countries carefully emerge from lockdown.
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AssessmentsJun 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Refugees and migrants stand at a port upon arriving at the Greek island of Lesbos on March 7, 2020.
Summer Weather Will Rekindle Europe's Migration Debate
The summer months will see an uptick in the arrival of migrants to Europe by sea and land, though a repetition of the 2015 crisis is unlikely. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, however, even a moderate increase in migrants will risk further destabilizing the Continent’s already fraught economic and political environment.  The European Union will increase controls of its external borders and seek to improve the expulsion irregular migrants, but the introduction of mandatory quotas to more evenly distribute migrants across the bloc is improbable. This means the migration burden will continue to fall on Mediterranean states (who are already facing some of the deepest recessions due to COVID-19), as well as the bloc’s largest economies such as Germany. The Turkish-Greek border, in particular, will become especially volatile due to Ankara’s ongoing disputes with both Brussels and Athens.
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SnapshotsJun 26, 2020 | 20:08 GMT
With a Raid, Iraq Asserts Its Authority Over Iran-Backed Militias
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is signaling that his new government will keep powerful Iran-backed militias in the country in check after conducting a raid against Kataib Hezbollah, the group linked to numerous attempted attacks against U.S. forces over the past year. On the evening of June 25, Iraqi security forces raided a building belonging to the Iran-backed group, which resulted in the arrests of several Kataib Hezbollah leaders and members, as well as the seizure of multiple rockets. In retaliation, militia members threatened to overrun Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service building where the detained Kataib Hezbollah members were being held, placing Baghdad’s surrounding Green Zone under lockdown. Overnight negotiations between Kataib Hezbollah leaders and the Iraqi government have since resulted in the release of most of the militia members arrested during the raid. The government’s willingness to quickly deescalate the situation indicates Baghdad’s desire to assert its authority over Iran-backed
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SnapshotsJun 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Seeking a Political Win, Trump Takes Aim at Immigration Visas
After weeks of speculation, U.S. President Donald Trump finally issued a presidential proclamation on June 22 outlining visa changes that will significantly impede the ability of U.S. tech companies and universities to attract international talent and investment. Should they become permanent, the changes could place the United States' competitive advantage as a business hub in jeopardy by making U.S. visa programs more difficult for foreigners to access. 
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SnapshotsJun 19, 2020 | 18:29 GMT
A Major Cyberattack Further Stokes Australia-China Tensions
Amid a recent uptick in Sino-Australian tensions, China is continuing to raise the price of Australia's sustained support of a U.S.-led international push to investigate Beijing's role in the COVID-19 pandemic and more broadly confront China. On June 19, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his country had been targeted by a sustained and wide-ranging cyberattack on government institutions, public services and businesses. Unnamed top officials said the Chinese government is the primary suspect. Australia, however, has shown no signs that it intends to back off from its confrontational diplomatic stance, despite China's continued economic threats and retaliatory actions in recent months. On June 11, Morrison said his government would not be intimidated by Beijing's "coercion" tactics, signaling his political resolve to maintain Australia's current scrutiny of Beijing's involvement in the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Hong Kong's political crisis.  
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SnapshotsJun 18, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
Turkey Expands Its Military Operations in Northern Iraq
The escalation of Turkey’s operations against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq has shown Ankara’s willingness to encroach on Iraqi territory, even if it risks damaging ties with Baghdad. On June 17, Turkey deployed commandos in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region as part of Operation Claw-Tiger, a follow up to the air-intensive Operation Claw-Eagle launched the day before. Turkey's defense ministry described the operations as Turkey’s largest in the area in five years. Although Turkey has been conducting airstrikes in northern Iraqi territory against Kurdish militants and extremists for many years, the deployment of ground forces is an unusual development illustrating escalation in the urgency with which Turkey views these operations, which continue Ankara’s goal of targeting and destroying enclaves of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 
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SnapshotsJun 16, 2020 | 15:48 GMT
North Korea and South Korea Inch Closer Toward Low-Level Military Confrontation
A mounting inter-Korean spat over propaganda balloons, amid domestic political developments deemed provocative in both countries, is raising the risk for low-level military confrontation while threatening South Korea’s efforts to begin its COVID-19 economic recovery. Over the past several days, despite the 20th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit, North Korea has demolished the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, threatened to scrap a 2018 bilateral military agreement aimed at easing inter-Korean tensions, stopped the daily calls between the two governments, and issued several warnings against South Korea's inaction to stop activists and defectors from sending propaganda-laden balloons into North Korea.
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AssessmentsJun 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image depicting the global economy.
Trump’s War Against Taxing Tech Goes Global
With international negotiations stalled, many governments are choosing to unilaterally implement digital services taxes (DSTs). The United States -- which is home to the majority of tech giants that would be subject to such taxes, including Amazon, Apple and Google -- is using the threat of tariffs to both limit the global expansion of DSTs and push international negotiations toward the proposed reforms it backs. But with so many countries against Washington's preferred outcome, which critics say would allow U.S. tech companies to opt out of tax obligations in international markets, the risk of negotiations failing to reach an agreement this year is high, as is the risk of the United States implementing tariffs on its growing number of trade partners implementing DSTs. 
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AssessmentsJun 15, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Protesters in New York City kneel at an intersection to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality on June 11, 2020.
U.S. Unrest Further Strains Trump’s Ties With Global Allies
Global U.S. allies are increasingly condemning the White House’s heavy-handed response to the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death, suggesting a further erosion of U.S. leadership that could compromise Washington’s ability to find consensus on its controversial agenda of multilateral economic and security issues. Commentary from reputable news outlets and elite opinion-makers in Europe over the past week have questioned whether American internal polarization and discord would weaken its ability to function as a reliable ally. Increasingly irritated with the White House’s break from long-standing diplomatic norms, European governments appear to be translating opinion into policy action by challenging Trump’s proposed adjustments to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit and U.S. military posture in Europe.
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SnapshotsJun 12, 2020 | 20:38 GMT
The UAE Tries to Have It Both Ways in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The United Arab Emirates is publicly signaling that it disapproves of Israel's impending annexations in the West Bank, but its strategy suggests it still wants to support the Palestinians without losing the ability to seek economic, technology, and security deals from Israel. In a June 12 op-ed published in Israeli media, UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba staked out the country's aspirations to simultaneously support both sides of the conflict by urging Israel not to carry out annexations that would prevent a future Palestinian state and harm budding relations. This comes shortly after a second plane from the Abu Dhabi-based national carrier Etihad Airways landed in Israel on June 9 to publicly deliver relief supplies in the Palestinian Territories as part of the United Nations World Food Program. 
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