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SnapshotsJul 10, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The U.S. Responds to China's Uighur Crackdown With More Sanctions
The U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese Politburo member will provoke a tit-for-tat response from Beijing, adding to the mounting tensions between the two countries. On July 9, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned one Chinese government agency and four individuals for their role in the ongoing crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang. While such sanctions will not alone derail the U.S.-China "phase one" trade deal, they will add to the growing points of tension that, when combined, threaten the agreement. The targeted focus of these sanctions on individuals also suggests a more measured U.S. approach to the Uighur crisis in Xinjiang, similar to Washington's approach in its response to Beijing's encroachment over Hong Kong.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A crane moves Nord Stream 2 pipes at a port near Sassnitz, Germany, on June 5, 2019.
Nord Stream 2 Overcomes One Hurdle Only to Be Met With Another
Denmark’s decision to drop certain technical requirements for operating in its waters will allow Russia to use both of its available pipe-laying vessels to finish constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Another Russian vessel, the MV Fortuna, will now also be allowed to operate on the natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia in Danish waters beginning Aug. 3. The United States, however, is now seeking to expand its sanctions to target all services related to constructing Nord Stream 2, including supply vessels and backfilling vessels. But even if construction is completed before additional sanctions disrupt progress, Washington could still take action to prevent Russia and Germany from putting their pipeline into operation.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: July 9, 2020
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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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows the site of a recent gas explosion at the Sina Medical Center in Tehran, Iran, on July 1, 2020. 19 people were killed in the blast.
Explosions in Iran Point to a Possible Israeli Sabotage Campaign
Israel was likely behind a July 2 explosion and fire at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, and potentially some of the other similar incidents that have occurred near Tehran over the past two weeks, including a June 26 explosion at the Khojir missile complex. Although Tel Aviv doesn't typically claim its covert actions against Iran, motive and past history make Israel the most likely actor to conduct such sabotage operations against Iranian infrastructure and assets.  Israel is frustrated by the failure of Western and regional countries to fully rein in Iran's military and nuclear capabilities, which it views as direct threats to its domestic and regional security. With the potential for a less friendly U.S. administration to take office in January, Israel may also be calculating that it has an optimal but limited window to act more aggressively against Iran's nuclear program.
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GuidanceJul 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Technicians in Hong Kong walk next to a banner supporting China’s new national security law following a flag-raising ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of the city’s British handover on July 1, 2020.
China's Hong Kong Security Law Leaves Tech Companies in the Line of Fire
China's new national security law is forcing tech companies to pick a side in Hong Kong's political crisis and decide whether to comply or resist authorities in some way, or leave the city altogether -- all of which carry the risk of retaliation from either Beijing or the United States and its allies. On July 6, Hong Kong's newly established Committee for Safeguarding National Security moved to implement seven, new enabling regulations for the national security law. The regulations -- which include police powers to order internet companies to remove content or to seize their equipment with threats of fines or prison -- have since prompted a spate of social media platforms and internet firms operating in the city to pause their cooperation with Hong Kong authorities. The volatile political dynamic in Hong Kong and the steady erosion of the city's autonomy will ultimately pose the greatest long-term threat to
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On GeopoliticsJul 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of China.
China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet
China is an empire in the modern sense -- a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population. 
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MemosJul 2, 2020 | 18:32 GMT
Fred Burton's Summer Reading List
Fred Burton has put together a few books to add to your warm weather reading list. Some are classics and others are brand new — I can’t wait to read Brad Thor’s new thriller NEAR DARK. The Scot Harvath series never disappoints.
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SnapshotsJul 2, 2020 | 15:49 GMT
Amid Spiking COVID-19 Cases, Israel Slows Its Annexation Push
Israel is slowing, but not yet stopping, its annexation plans in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence and possible future changes to its relationship with the United States, forestalling Palestinian unrest and international backlash. The acceleration of these two trends -- further COVID-19 infections and U.S. President Donald Trump's sliding approval ratings -- could upend the annexation process by convincing Israel to shrink its scope or even commit to a long-term delay.
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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 14:04 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: July 2, 2020
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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SnapshotsJun 30, 2020 | 19:49 GMT
China's Security Law Ushers in a New and Uncertain Era in Hong Kong
The passing of China's new Hong Kong national security law marks the start of an uncertain and potentially volatile phase in the city's ongoing political crisis, as pro-democracy forces square-off with newly empowered city authorities backed by Beijing, increasing the risk of a sweeping crackdown on dissent that could also impact foreign institutions. Whether the next period sees tumultuous protests or a stifling of the pro-democracy camp will now depend on how Hong Kong authorities choose to apply their new sweeping powers and how the prosecution of such crimes proceed in the court system. Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp, for its part, will work to balance the need to maintain public furor against Beijing's ongoing erosion of the city's autonomy with the need to also save its strength for September legislative council elections, where it hopes to gain ground and challenge Beijing-aligned authorities.
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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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