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AssessmentsMay 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A trader wearing a protective mask stands on the floor of the Boursa Kuwait stock exchange in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on March 1, 2020.
Arab Gulf Economies Cope With a COVID-19 Conundrum
The Arab Gulf states within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are looking down the barrel of a serious, multilayered economic shock as COVID-19 disrupts their main revenue sources by slashing energy prices as well as overall global demand. The sharp reduction in government income across the region portends increased budget deficits and significant borrowing in the months ahead, creating debt that will complicate spending and investment for years to come. But while they may be delayed, Gulf states' diversification strategies and social reform plans won't be canceled, as the crisis has also made clearer than ever the need for GCC governments to wean their economies off of oil and gas, and their populations off of state aid. 
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GuidanceApr 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Members of Hezbollah’s medical apparatus wear full protective gear in Beirut, Lebanon, to demonstrate their readiness for the COVID-19 fight on March 31, 2020. 
Hezbollah's Soft Power Play Amid COVID-19
Hezbollah is spearheading some of Lebanon’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the central government has struggled to handle. Successful efforts to contain and manage the virus could increase the Iran-backed militant group’s popularity and political power in Lebanon, which has taken a hit in recent years. A more empowered Hezbollah, however, would draw even more ire and pressure from the United States, and could potentially raise the risk for another conflict with Israel.
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AssessmentsApr 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo of pill packets. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised serious concerns about the extremely high concentration of global pharmaceutical supply chains sourced from China and India.
Pharmaceutical Trade Remains Resilient in the Face of COVID-19
The United States and many other countries are heavily dependent on supplies of pharmaceuticals and precursor chemicals from China and India. Widespread shortages resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak remain unlikely. Legislative proposals in the United States to force companies to "reshore" supply chains will likely falter on the increase in costs and regulatory hurdles. 
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AssessmentsMar 11, 2020 | 16:34 GMT
A teacher points to a projector screen as she gives a vocabulary lesson at a high school in Worthington, Minnesota, on Sept. 5, 2019.
What Coronavirus School Closures Would Mean for the U.S. Economy
As more coronavirus cases spring up across the United States, an increasing number of U.S. schools are closing shop in an effort to reduce students' ability to infect each other, and even more importantly, older and more immunosuppressed members of their community. But by shifting the role of educator and weekday caregiver to families, these shutdowns will risk leaving a large section of the U.S. labor force with less time and energy to work, as well as less money to spend in the economy. Despite these risks, however, state officials may have little choice but to continue imposing wider school closures to avoid a full-blown health crisis -- even if it means forcing many Americans to choose between their children's education and earning a paycheck.
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AssessmentsMar 2, 2020 | 22:37 GMT
This photo shows the outline of a soldier standing guard at sunset in Niamey, Niger, on Dec. 22, 2019.
A Coordinated Jihadist Campaign Menaces the Sahel
The local al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates responsible for thousands of deaths in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa over the past year -- namely, Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara -- are now reportedly coordinating their operations. The emerging cooperation between jihadist fighters so far appears to be centered more on de-escalating tensions, rather than actually merging their efforts. But the worrying development nonetheless could empower the two groups to wreak even more havoc in the already unstable region and expand their influence across even greater swaths of Africa.
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AssessmentsJan 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of the Persian Gulf region.
Gulf Arab States Brace for a New Normal of U.S.-Iran Confrontation
As the U.S.-Iran confrontation heats up, Iran's regional neighbors are assessing where they stand in the event of a serious escalation. Washington and Tehran have stepped back from the brink of war following the U.S. assassination of senior military figure Qassem Soleimani. But should such a tit-for-tat escalation occur again, spiral further or last longer, the Persian Gulf risks being increasingly perceived as a dicey business environment, which could have lasting economic repercussions for the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In defusing this threat, however, these GCC countries have little control over Washington's regional strategy -- even when it puts their physical security in harm's way, as evidenced by the Iranian strike on Saudi oil facilities in September. Thus fears of another U.S.-Iran confrontation and the economic blowback will push them to consider their own de-escalation efforts across the Persian Gulf.
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AssessmentsDec 4, 2019 | 11:00 GMT
This photo shows a sign for Saudi Aramco's initial public offering during a news conference in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Nov. 3, 2019.
The Saudi Aramco IPO Will Hit Its Valuation Goal but Fail to Fund Vision 2030
As the Saudi Aramco initial public offering (IPO) culminates this week with the final pricing announcement on Dec. 5, some observers will tout it as a success for having reached the notional valuation range of $1.6 trillion to $1.7 trillion for the company set on Nov. 17 in the prospectus. In domestic Saudi political terms, the IPO will be seen as a major achievement for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his Vision 2030 campaign. In reality, though, it will fail on two more important metrics. It will not bring in a substantial amount of foreign money to invest in the economic diversification projects envisioned under Vision 2030, other than $1.5 billion from Abu Dhabi. It also has not played out in accordance with the expectations of transparency and sound management laid out when the crown prince announced the idea more than three years ago in his landmark interview with
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AssessmentsDec 3, 2019 | 21:23 GMT
This illustration shows the OPEC logo and an oil pipeline.
OPEC+ Will Maintain Course Headed Into 2020
When they meet Dec. 5-6, the members of the OPEC+ coalition are likely to agree to extend current oil production quotas until at least the end of June 2020 and possibly longer, despite renewed media chatter on Dec. 2 suggesting the Saudis are considering supporting a deeper cut in support of the Saudi Aramco initial public offering. This outcome is at least mildly bearish relative to current market positioning, given the probability of a return to global oversupply in the first half of 2020. Despite being relative price hawks since 2016, Saudi Arabia seems to have accepted that it is not in a position to push others to do more, even as the final IPO price of Saudi Aramco will be determined Dec. 5.
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AssessmentsNov 15, 2019 | 11:00 GMT
Egyptian prisoners of war holding their hands aloft after being rounded up by Israeli forces in the Sinai Desert following the Six-Day War in 1967.
Israel Dangles Cooperation, Rather Than Land, in Pursuit of Peace
New times call for new ideas: Where once Israel traded land for peace, it's now hoping to peddle regional cooperation for peace, all in a bid to finally gain (more) acceptance in the neighborhood. But while this strategy is likely to give Israel a modicum of greater acceptance, the country's transactional approach will encounter some formidable ideological barriers with big states like Turkey (in terms of normalization) and Iran (eventual recognition). Moreover, a transactional approach will only work as long as potential counterparts see value in working with Israel: After all, other technologically advanced countries with advanced intelligence capabilities -- and none of the baggage associated with the Palestinian question -- could also woo Middle Eastern nations, while some in the region could eventually come to view Iran as less of a threat. In such a case, Israel would find itself once again at the drawing board, looking for a
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Contributor PerspectivesNov 6, 2019 | 18:30 GMT
John Cena (L) competes with Triple H during the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Greatest Royal Rumble event in Jeddah on April 27.
The Sports World Wrestles With the Khashoggi Scandal
By most standards, Saudi Arabia tends to punch above its weight in geopolitical matters. However, the same cannot be said about sports in the kingdom. Whether considering the performance of its national and Olympic teams, the number of major sports events hosted by the country or the development of professional leagues, the Saudis are G-20 bottom-feeders, arguably superior only to Indonesia in this regard. Yes, they have a decent professional soccer league compared to the region (money helps). They also hosted the first three iterations of what is now called the Confederations Cup, FIFA's marginally prestigious World Cup warm-up tournament, and have qualified five times for the World Cup proper. Some members of the royal family have also held symbolic leadership posts in FIFA and the International Olympic Committee's sport governance apparatus (again, money helps). This began to change two years ago as it began making moves to develop a
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AssessmentsNov 4, 2019 | 09:45 GMT
Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo prays during his inauguration for his second term on Oct. 20, 2019, in Jakarta.
Coalition Politics Will Hinder Indonesian Economic Reforms
As Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo begins his second, and final, term in office, his focus has remained the same as in his first: spurring economic growth, development and investment. And, as in his first term, his pursuit of ambitious economic reform will be limited by the entrenched interests among his coalition partners and political allies that will force him to make compromises, making it more difficult to attract outside investment and spur growth.
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