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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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AssessmentsMar 27, 2020 | 20:09 GMT
Lebanese President Michel Aoun (C) wears a face mask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 during a March 26, 2020, meeting in Beirut to evaluate measures taken against the virus' spread.
COVID-19 Temporarily Tamps Down Unrest in the Middle East
Protest movements across the Middle East and North Africa, from Algeria to Lebanon and Iraq, have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fear of the virus' spread has deterred these movements from organizing in the streets more than the intermittent threat of crackdowns by security forces even though these were especially violent in Iraq. The underlying factors driving these movements remained largely unresolved, however, and the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will leave these countries with even fewer tools to appease protesters once the disease dissipates. So while the COVID-19 pandemic will depress anti-government demonstrations and activism in the near term, its inevitably negative economic impacts will spark more unrest later in the year in protest hotspots once the greatest danger of COVID-19 has passed.
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AssessmentsMar 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This photo shows a rows of seats on a passenger aircraft.
As Coronavirus Takes Flight, the Airline Industry Takes Cover
The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the airline industry, with the most highly impacted countries of China, South Korea, Italy and Iran accounting for over a quarter of global passenger revenue alone. As panicked consumers continue to cancel or suspend their travel plans for fear of getting sick, and as more governments pursue containment measures and travel bans, an increasing number of airlines will be forced to either consolidate or go out of business. In China, this will likely lead to a market that's even more dominated by the state-backed carriers. Bigger airlines in Europe, meanwhile, will merge as revenue losses deal the final blow to their smaller competitors. But while so much is still unknown about how the outbreak will unfold in the weeks ahead, what remains certain is that the airline industry is headed for even more unexpected turbulence.
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AssessmentsJan 20, 2020 | 20:17 GMT
A fire truck drives past a hill engulfed in flames on the night of Jan. 20, 2020 in Mount Adrah, Australia. The 2020 fire season has hit the southern coast of New South Wales particularly hard.
The Geopolitical Cost of Australia's Wildfires
Australia is at the start of what's shaping up to be a ­­­­record fire season with potentially drastic economic and political repercussions. As of mid-January, brushfires in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and elsewhere have resulted in insured property damage estimated at over $1.34 billion, burning nearly 12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) and resulting in 28 deaths. In addition to the areas already engulfed in flames, broad swaths of the country are at higher-than-usual risk of coming into the line of fire. And the damage to date could be just the tip of the iceberg, given that the country's annual fire seasons stretch from December to around April. As Australia's climate grows hotter and drier, so too will the severity of its wildfire woes. This sobering prospect has, once again, placed the country's oil and gas exports in the crosshairs of climate concerns. But even given the havoc fires
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AssessmentsJan 16, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
This photo taken on Oct. 2, 2019, shows fishermen boarding their boats at a small jetty on Made Island off Kyaukphyu in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
In Myanmar, Beijing Gets a Leg up on the Competition
For China, there's no time like the present to foster closer links with a key country on its frontier. Amid China's push for better transport connections, tighter border control and deeper energy security to the south, President Xi Jinping will begin a two-day visit to Myanmar on Jan. 17. Negotiations regarding some megaprojects have sparked significant concerns about China's looming presence -- and its strategic intentions -- in Myanmar, but the country may find its options to push back significantly curtailed. Indeed, with Myanmar facing Western isolation over its treatment of the Rohingya and struggling to forge national unity, China's assistance is more essential than ever if Naypyidaw is to fulfill some of its domestic priorities -- namely, advancing a peace process with ethnic armies along the northern border, managing the Rohingya crisis and developing the weak Myanmar economy. Such a situation, naturally, is bound to put China in a
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AssessmentsJan 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is seen on Jan. 2, 2020, following an attack on the facility.
Iraq Faces America's Economic Wrath
For companies active in Iraq, threats to physical security -- whether from a possible military conflict between the United States and Iran, militia violence or a resurgent Islamic State -- aren't the only thing they need to worry about. That's because dark economic times could also be on the way, especially as U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to enact sanctions on Iraq if Baghdad continues to push for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq following the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani. If Baghdad pushes U.S. forces out, the aftermath, bluntly speaking, will be messy. Given that bilateral diplomatic relations would inevitably take a nosedive in such a situation, the United States would most likely impose punishing sanctions on Iraq. And even if such measures don't come to pass, the United States' campaign of maximum pressure on Iran will certainly leave Iraq worse for wear as well.
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Contributor PerspectivesJan 10, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
A stock image of a map of North Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe.
The Factors Motivating Turkey in Libya
Turkey's parliament voted on Jan. 2 to authorize the deployment of Turkish troops to support Libya's U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord, led by Fayez al-Sarraj. Opposition political parties and some observers identified this move as a dangerous one that likely will result in the Turkish military entering into a civil war in which Turkey has no significant national interest and where it cannot realistically achieve its objectives. With three military interventions in Syria, it can be assumed that the deployment of Turkish troops to Libya is a full expression of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ambition to expand his country's military footprint across the region. Despite appearances, however, this aim does not seem to be Erdogan's main or sole intention.
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SnapshotsJan 3, 2020 | 22:41 GMT
Soleimani's Killing Sets the Stage for a Longer-Term Oil Price Rise
Crude oil rose nearly 4 percent on news of the U.S. strike that killed senior Iranian military official Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. In the short term, however, it will be difficult for the market to price in much more risk regarding possible Iranian retaliation without suffering actual losses in volume. In the next few weeks, Iran has reason to avoid strikes against tankers or its neighbors' oil infrastructure, but that could change in the longer term.
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On GeopoliticsNov 27, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Paris' Eiffel Tower is seen at night.
France Gets Its Chance to Lead Europe
In May 2017, Emmanuel Macron became the president of France; two-and-a-half years on, he has the opportunity to become the effective leader of the European Union. Indeed, France stands on the cusp of a greater role in the bloc as other movers and shakers deal with their own issues: Germany, which has been the European Union's de facto leader for at least a decade, is now too focused on domestic issues to direct the Continent, while the United Kingdom, Europe's second-largest economy, is on its way out of the union. What's more, the French economy is growing at a decent pace, giving Paris the legitimacy it lacked in the past. But the very same factors that have created an unusual opportunity for France will also constrain its room for action as Macron contends with foreign and domestic opposition to his vision. Despite Macron's diplomatic efforts, the impact of Paris' push
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PodcastsNov 15, 2019 | 17:00 GMT
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak (seated, right) and Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng (seated, left) sign joint documents following a meeting in Beijing on Sept. 6, 2019. Both officials are seated next to their countries respective national flags.
Taking the Measure of a Russian-Chinese Alliance
This episode of the Stratfor podcast explores Russia and China's rapidly changing relationship with Artyom Lukin, an associate professor of international relations at Russia's Far Eastern Federal University. Join us for an engaging conversation as Lukin explains how Russia and China's escalating rivalry with the United States is bringing them closer together -- and what the Asian juggernauts' growing economic, military and political ties may mean for the West.
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AssessmentsNov 4, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
An Iranian cleric walks past a mural painting of the Iranian flag in Tehran on Aug. 27, 2019.
Iran May Up Its Aggression as the U.S. Expands Sanctions
Although Iran has not been clearly behind or involved in a major attack on Persian Gulf oil and gas infrastructure (or on a non-oil target) since the Sept 14 drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq and Khurais oil production facilities, the risk of further escalation remains as the United States maintains its "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against Iran and the status quo continues. In fact, there will be ample opportunity over the next six weeks for matters to get worse, starting with Iran's expected announcement on Nov. 7 that it is taking additional steps away from its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.
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SnapshotsOct 4, 2019 | 21:10 GMT
Iraq: Metastasizing Protests Threaten to Upend the Government
If protests in Iraq, fueled over the past week by long-standing grievances over corruption and economic need, continue to increase in intensity and scope, they could bring down the government. Substantial unrest in major Iraqi cities over the past three days has occurred largely in Shiite areas in the central and southern parts of the country. Although they were triggered by a handful of disparate political and economic issues, the demonstrations have since coalesced into a broad movement and taken a violent turn. Clashes between protesters, who have chanted anti-government and anti-Iran slogans, and security forces on Oct. 4 have left more than 40 people dead and hundreds more injured.
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GuidanceOct 2, 2019 | 16:12 GMT
A house in the village of Roza in eastern Ukraine is left burning after fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists on Sept. 6, 2019.
Watching for Signs of Progress in Eastern Ukraine
On Sept. 18, Ukraine announced it was preparing to pull back its military presence 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from the roughly 450-kilometer front line in eastern Ukraine on the basis that Russian-backed separatist forces do the same. Specifically, Kyiv stressed that the successful completion of this plan would depend on concurring "reciprocal actions from the opposite side." This announcement follows a high-profile prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia on Sept. 7. Combined, these two recent developments suggest that the door to further de-escalation may be opening wider -- and with it, the potential for diplomatic progress toward addressing the nearly six-year conflict in eastern Ukraine.
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GuidanceOct 2, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
The unprecedented attacks will force Saudi Arabia to reconsider its stance against Iran and its other Persian Gulf neighbors.
How Iran's Attack Will Shape Saudi Arabia's Regional Stance
On Sept. 14, Saudi Arabia suffered its most significant attack since armed militants ambushed the Grand Mosque in Mecca nearly 40 years ago. The 1979 Grand Mosque seizure shaped Saudi Arabia's strategic perception of the world and its rivalry with Iran. And Tehran's recent strike on Riyadh's Abqaiq and Khurais oil processing facilities will do the same. The question is how. To protect its vital oil sector, Saudi Arabia is now undoubtedly mulling several different options of both escalation and de-escalation with Iran. Though based on powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's past actions and outspoken criticism of Tehran, the former may be most likely.
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AssessmentsOct 2, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
The sun rises over an LNG terminal at sea.
Pakistan Strives to Switch to Natural Gas
Hoping to quench its economy's growing thirst for energy, Pakistan has turned to several multinational companies for an ambitious expansion of its liquefied natural gas terminals on the Arabian Sea. On Sept. 20, Petroleum Minister Omar Ayub Khan said Pakistan had chosen ExxonMobil, Trafigura, Royal Dutch Shell, Gunvor and Tabeer Energy to build five LNG facilities. Ayub's announcement touches upon a broader plan to boost the country's LNG processing capacity while shifting the economy's reliance away from oil. With a shortfall in domestic production expected to persist as more customers sign on to the grid, Pakistan's burgeoning demand for natural gas will drive ever-more LNG imports in the next few years. And though some might hesitate to invest in Pakistani LNG lest local partners run afoul of a far-reaching (and allegedly politically motivated) anti-corruption campaign, the growth of the country's LNG demand creates major opportunities for international energy companies looking
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