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SnapshotsDec 7, 2021 | 21:06 GMT
Members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) are seen on a truck in Shewa Robit, Ethiopia, on Dec. 5, 2021.
Ethiopia Claims Victory as Rebels Retreat North, But Peace Remains Distant
The Ethiopian government’s recapturing of key towns is unlikely to significantly hasten the end of the yearlong civil war, as both sides remain unwilling to negotiate. The Ethiopian government announced on Dec. 6 that it had retaken Dessie and Kombolcha a month after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) seized the two strategic towns, which are both located along the A2 highway connecting the northern Tigray region to Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pointed to the latest victories as proof that his Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) had won the war against Tigrayan forces, which began in November 2020. But while TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda appeared to confirm that the rebel group had left Dessie and Kombolcha, he also noted the retreats were “part of [the TPLF’s] plan.” Announcements from both sides should be treated with skepticism, as the ongoing media blackout in Ethiopia has made it exceedingly difficult
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AssessmentsDec 3, 2021 | 22:18 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on July 13, 2021.
Belarus' Changing Tone on Crimea Portends Stronger Russian Backing and Strained Ukrainian Ties
Belarus’ changing stance on Crimea confirms its greater alignment with Russia, which will worsen political and economic tensions with Ukraine, as well as contribute to an increasingly volatile situation in the region. In an interview published on Nov. 30, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that Crimea was “de facto” and “de jure” Russian and that he had agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the peninsula, which would “mean [its] recognition [as] part of Russia.” The exact dates of Lukashenko’s Crimea trip haven’t been announced, but the Belarusian leader’s comments and decision to visit the disputed territory starkly contrast with his previous stance on the peninsula since it was annexed by Russia in 2014. 
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GuidanceDec 3, 2021 | 20:23 GMT
Geopolitical Calendar
Stay informed about the significant meetings and events Stratfor analysts at RANE are tracking.
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AssessmentsDec 2, 2021 | 11:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: Dec. 2, 2021
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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AssessmentsNov 30, 2021 | 23:04 GMT
A frame grab from video footage shows Australian Federal Police officers and local police monitoring a crowd in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, on Nov. 26, 2021.
The Solomon Islands Intervention Reveals the Challenges Australia Will Face in Securing Its Backyard
Australia’s weekend intervention in the Solomon Islands highlights the importance of the Pacific Islands to Australia’s national security, as well as the complex challenges Canberra will face in asserting itself in a region where local issues are so often intertwined with great power competition. Nearly 100 Australian Federal Police and Defense Force personnel arrived in the capital of the Solomon Islands on Nov. 26 at the request of the government after peaceful protests turned violent and overwhelmed local police forces. Protesters -- predominantly from the more populous but less developed Malaita Island -- called for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s resignation and attempted to storm his compound. Demonstrators also set fire to several government and police buildings, as well as shops in the city’s Chinatown. 
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AssessmentsNov 30, 2021 | 19:42 GMT
Passengers wait to check in for one of the last international flights out of Cape Town, South Africa, after countries began imposing travel bans to contain the spread of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant on Nov. 29, 2021.
Omicron Deals Another Blow to South Africa’s Struggling Economy
The onslaught of Omicron-related travel bans will devastate South Africa’s tourism industry, increasing inequality levels and social resistance to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic policy agenda. The European Union and more than a dozen countries around the world -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel and several EU members -- have banned flights from South Africa and neighboring states upon the discovery of a new COVID-19 strain, which the World Health Organization has named Omicron. On Nov. 26, two days after South African health officials released details of the variant, the South African rand fell to 16.4 against the U.S. dollar on Nov. 26. While the rand has since slightly rebounded to trade at 16.2 per U.S. dollar, the currency remains low and in flux as worries over the strain linger. Ramaphosa condemned the countries that have implemented travel bans for failing to uphold commitments to economic recovery
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