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SnapshotsMar 9, 2020 | 20:06 GMT
The Crown Prince Consolidates Control as Saudi Arabia Faces Trouble Ahead
In a series of arrests of high-profile princes, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has once more shown he will brook no royal challengers. Four senior princes -- Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a former crown prince; his brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef; Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the 78-year-old brother of King Salman; and Prince Nayef bin Ahmed, Prince Ahmed's son and former head of army intelligence -- were arrested over the weekend by Saudi security forces. Dozens of other lower-level officials were detained as well. Some news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, have reported that some princes may soon be released.
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ReflectionsJan 16, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
Omani army officers carry Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said during a funeral procession Jan. 11 in Muscat.
For Oman's New Sultan, a 21st Century Challenge
Everything about the ascension of Oman's new ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al Said, has screamed continuity -- including the sultan himself. "We will continue to follow in the same course the late sultan adopted," he said in his inaugural speech Jan. 11, a day after the death of his predecessor, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, had been announced. So far, so stable. Regardless, Haitham will have trouble filling Qaboos' large shoes. During his nearly 50-year reign, Qaboos wrote a playbook of Omani geopolitics that toward the end of his life was running thin on tactics for the 21st century. But what a playbook it proved to be for his time. Few of the region's Gulf rulers had faced as many challenges, and fewer still lasted as long. Qaboos took a backward, crumbling empire and shoved it into the 20th century. For Haitham, however, the strategies of the past
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AssessmentsDec 19, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
The scene at a meeting of Ivorian opposition parties on Sept. 14, 2019, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
In Ivory Coast, an Impending Election Portends Instability
When Ivorians go to the polls in October 2020, they won't just be electing a new president, they'll also be testing the country's political stability. During the last decade, Ivory Coast has enjoyed rapid economic growth, averaging 8 percent of gross domestic product per year, following deadly and destabilizing post-electoral violence in 2010. Yet while the growth has been impressive, political reconciliation has lagged. As political forces in the country's three main regions gear up for battle next year, the question of whether Ivory Coast can prevent its political ghosts from returning to haunt the country -- and opening the door for Sahel-based militants to make more inroads in the process -- will be paramount for both the nation's stability and foreign investors.
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Contributor PerspectivesOct 23, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
A passerby picks up a copy of Nicaragua's La Prensa in Managua on March 25, 2019. The newspaper printed its cover in cyan, instead of black, with the headline, 'We are running out of ink, but not of news. The Civic Alliance will not negotiate an amnesty.'
What Happens When You Kill the Messenger in Nicaragua
For many Nicaraguans, the maxim that today's oppressed becomes tomorrow's oppressor is ringing all too true. In December 2018, the United Nations' human rights chief, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, denounced the Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega, urging Ortega to "immediately halt the persecution of human rights defenders, civil society organizations [and] journalists and news organizations that are critical of the government." Since Ortega returned to office in 2007, he and his allies have grown increasingly authoritarian, especially in the last couple of years. During this time, his administration has come to rely more on the security forces to suppress dissent, leading to hundreds of deaths in 2018. Directly in Ortega's sights has been the media, particularly print journalists who frequently criticize the administration. Ortega has labeled them enemies and accused them of publishing "fake news," while his family has also bought television stations and other media outlets to try
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On SecurityApr 30, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Candles in the shape of Sri Lanka on April 29 in Ahmedabad, India.
What the Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka Tell Us About the Islamic State
The April 21 attacks against three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka rocked the island nation and have reverberated around the globe. While the location of this attack -- Sri Lanka -- was a surprise, that an attack happened was not. We had warned our Threat Lens clients that we anticipated attacks against houses of worship over the Passover and Easter holidays -- although we certainly were not specifically expecting one in Sri Lanka. Due to the high death toll in these attacks, they have generated much press coverage, some of which has presented these attacks as something unprecedented, or as an accurate gauge of the status of the Islamic State. But these attacks were neither.
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SnapshotsApr 11, 2019 | 19:06 GMT
Sudan: Who Wins After the Military Removes the President From Office
For the second time in as many weeks, an Arab leader has been ousted following widespread demonstrations. After nearly four months of protests, Sudanese Defense Minister Awad Mohammed Ibn Ouf announced on April 11 that President Omar al Bashir had been removed from power and placed under arrest. Ibn Ouf announced that the Sudanese Armed Forces, National Intelligence and Security Service and the Rapid Support Forces would form a two-year transitional military government. Ibn Ouf also announced that the 2005 constitution would be suspended, a three-month state of emergency would be introduced and most of the country's political institutions -- its governors, Cabinet and National Assembly -- would be dissolved.
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Contributor PerspectivesApr 10, 2019 | 05:00 GMT
Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) holds her daughter, Princess Anne, at Anne's christening in Buckingham Palace on Oct. 21, 1950. Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, left, and her mother, Queen Elizabeth are also pictured.
Finding a Moment of Royal Reassurance in a Messy World
Strategists prefer to say that modern monarchy is a form of soft power, offering an attractive national image to the world and enticing foreigners to want to like the royals' country. However, seeing Princess Anne in action last week at an event marking the centenary of City Lit, the world's largest institution of adult education, suggested that right now there is more to a British royal's job than just selling soft power. Anne was quiet, calm, reassuring and reasonable -- everything that Britain's democratic institutions currently seem not to be. The price royalty pays for staying above the fray is, admittedly, that they can say very little at all about state affairs. In these uncertain times, though, monarchy's very distance from the mudslinging is becoming its greatest strength.
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GuidanceApr 9, 2019 | 20:17 GMT
Sudanese protesters rally in front of the military headquarters in Khartoum on April 8, 2019.
Sudan's President Finds Himself on Shaky Ground
In the heart of Khartoum, momentum is growing against Sudan's strongman. The ongoing protests to oust President Omar al Bashir are not only unprecedented in scale and duration, but also in attracting the support of some regular army units. On April 8, soldiers stationed near the protests engaged in clashes with other security forces aiming to crack down on demonstrators. On the morning of April 9, security forces ended a brief lull by renewing their attempt to disperse protesters, only to provoke similar resistance by regular army forces, resulting in fresh firefights. Amid these divisions in the military, the police have also ordered a halt to interventions against protesters.
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SnapshotsMar 21, 2019 | 20:34 GMT
Saudi Arabia, Morocco: Riyadh Sets Out to Bury the Hatchet With Rabat
One of the westernmost countries in the Arab world, Morocco is far from the Arabian Peninsula, yet even Rabat is finding that the Gulf Cooperation Council's internal tug of war is never far away. On March 20, Saudi King Salman phoned Moroccan King Mohammed VI to discuss the ties between their monarchies -- the two largest in the Arab world. According to the Saudi media, the pair discussed ways to improve the relationship, the economic component of which largely comprises energy imports from Saudi Arabia, bilateral tourism and Saudi investment in Morocco. The countries' political relationship, however, has hit a rough patch in recent years, as Rabat has refused to fall into line with Riyadh's regional policies. Most significantly, the Maghrebi country has insisted on remaining on the fence on Saudi Arabia's campaign to isolate Qatar. In fact, King Salman's call comes a week after Morocco's national energy regulator announced
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AssessmentsJan 31, 2019 | 19:15 GMT
Supporters of President Omar al Bashir wave Sudanese flags during a rally for him at the Green Square in the capital Khartoum on Jan. 9, 2019.
How Sudan's Leadership Will Weather the Storm of Economic Protests
Thirty years after seizing power in a military coup, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir is doing his best to avoid suffering the same fate as his predecessor. Public demonstrations that began Dec. 19 are now in their second month, and protesters are facing tear gas and live ammunition instead of negotiators. The very absence of meaningful dialogue between protest leaders and al Bashir's government indicates that the unrest will not end quickly or peacefully. The government in Khartoum has been heavy-handed historically when maintaining public order, but the stick doesn't appear to be working this time around. Neither, however, are economic promises, appeals to Islamist sentiments or attempts to exploit ethnic and religious differences. The protests have endured and have now grown into the most difficult civic challenge that al Bashir has yet faced.
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Contributor PerspectivesJan 10, 2019 | 06:30 GMT
A Chinese lunar rover begins exploring the far side of the moon on Jan. 3, 2019.
China's Giant Leap Into a New Space Race
On Jan. 3, the China National Space Administration successfully landed a lunar exploration vehicle on the far side of the moon. It was a remarkable technical achievement, possible only because China had already managed to put a relay satellite into a halo orbit some 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the moon, from which it can bounce signals from Earth down to the exploration vehicle (and vice versa), getting around the problem that the moon blocks direct communications with its far side. China was a latecomer to outer space, launching its first satellite only in 1970. It also operates on the cheap, spending less than one-fifth as much on its programs as the United States, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. However, China is now the world's second-greatest space power, and strategists are increasingly talking about a second space race, paralleling the original race between the United States and
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SnapshotsJan 4, 2019 | 21:00 GMT
Sudan: The President Hits a Pothole on His Once-Easy Road to Re-Election
Protests against the government of President Omar al Bashir have been withering since escalating on Dec. 19. The country's long-running economic stagnation is driving the latest cycle of unrest, which has been worsened by a plunge in the value of the Sudanese pound and by the doubling and tripling of the price of basic goods, including bread. The government in Khartoum is scrambling to find a way out of the deepening malaise. Even though al Bashir has weathered similar crises before, these protests do threaten his hold on the presidency. Should the battle-scarred president go down -- which remains a big "if" -- the country's stability would be shaky until a new political order could emerge. That unpredictability would complicate Khartoum's relations with its neighbors and its allies in the Gulf and elsewhere. And the violent protests and declining economy would make it even harder for businesses to operate in
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AssessmentsDec 18, 2018 | 19:18 GMT
A sparkly book display for Stratfor's winter reading recommendations
Stratfor's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide
This holiday season, our Stratfor analysts, researchers, writers and thinkers have put together a list of books that any geopolitical hobbyist or professional would be thrilled to have on their shelves. These books will help you cross a few things off your holiday to-do list -- but we also wouldn't blame you if they prompted some personal shopping too. After all, everyone deserves to give a few gifts to themselves, and the chilly winter season is the perfect time to catch up on reading.
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AssessmentsOct 18, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
Moldovan President Igor Dodon (left) speaks during a joint conference with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Kremlin in Moscow on Jan. 17, 2017.
Moldova's Elections Could Shift the Country's Focus East
As the Russia-West standoff continues unabated over Ukraine, a lesser-known -- yet no less intense -- competition is playing out between Moscow and the West over next-door Moldova. While Moldova pales in comparison to the size and population of Ukraine (Moldova has roughly 3.3 million people in a territory the size of Maryland), its significance belies its small stature. Now, parliamentary polls this coming February could do much to shift the balance of power in this standoff in favor of Russia.
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