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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 16:39 GMT
Italy’s former prime minister and current leader of the Italy Alive party, Matteo Renzi (center), holds a press conference with outgoing ministers Elena Bonetti (left) and Teresa Bellanova (right) on Jan. 13, 2021.
Italy’s Government Is in Crisis. What’s Next?
Italy is in a political crisis after a junior member of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition exited the government, effectively leaving it without a majority in Parliament. The most disruptive (but least likely) scenario would be an early general election, which would undermine Rome’s efforts to handle the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Jan. 13,  the small Italy Alive political party withdrew its ministers from Conte’s cabinet to protest his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left the senior members of the coalition -- the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party -- without a majority in Parliament. 
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SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 18:46 GMT
German journalist Tanja Samrotzki (right) moderates a panel with the candidates vying for the leadership post of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party -- Friedrich Merz, Norbert Roettgen and Armin Laschet (from left to right) -- on Dec. 14, 2020, in Berlin, Germany.
Germany: What to Expect as Merkel’s Party Elects a New Leader
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party will elect a new leader on Jan. 15-16. The ideological orientation of the new CDU leader could influence Germany’s domestic politics, as well as its relations with the European Union. The CDU is Germany’s most popular party and its leader stands a strong chance of becoming the country’s next chancellor after the Sept. 26 general election. In 2018, Merkel resigned as CDU leader and announced she would not seek another term as chancellor in 2021. During a virtual congress, the CDU’s 1,001 party delegates will elect a new leader. According to CDU tradition, the next party leader should also be the candidate for chancellor, though some members of the party are questioning this principle. 
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SITUATION REPORTJan 8, 2021 | 22:46 GMT
Algeria: Government Urges U.S. to Reverse Western Sahara Policy
During a recent meeting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker effectively punted Algerian officials’ request that the White House retract its recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, noting he “[could not] talk about the decision” and that the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden had the right to set its own foreign policy prerogatives, Tout sur Algerie reported Jan. 8.
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AssessmentsJan 8, 2021 | 22:31 GMT
A large group of pro-Trump protesters stands on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after storming the building’s grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington D.C.
For U.S. Rivals, the Capitol Siege Offers a Window of Opportunity
U.S. adversaries are likely to see the recent Capitol siege as an opportunity to quickly take action against U.S. interests ahead of Inauguration Day, calculating that a distracted Washington will be ill-equipped to respond to provocations that may strengthen their negotiating leverage with President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. Since Jan. 6, multiple key national security officials have announced their resignations, reducing the cadre of security experts who have longstanding relationships with President Donald Trump. To avoid anything close to a repeat of the Jan. 6 siege, national security officials in Washington will be laser-focused on guaranteeing the safety of the events surrounding Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, though doing so will risk diverting resources and attention from potential foreign threats. 
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ReflectionsJan 5, 2021 | 21:49 GMT
Supporters of Lebanon’s Future Movement party wave the party’s flag alongside the country’s national flag during a parade in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on Oct. 22, 2020.
In Lebanon, Time Is Running Out to Avoid a Total Unraveling
After a year of severe economic and political instability, Lebanon is edging closer toward a full-blown crisis that could overwhelm even the most entrenched members of its ruling elite, raising the specter of widespread unrest or another civil war. Little about Lebanon is tenable, with its economy in shambles, its national budget unsustainable, its infrastructure in disrepair, and its security at constant threat from extremists, regional conflicts and internal unrest. But with no checks on their power, Lebanon’s various political factions are still finding ways to ritualize this dysfunction, scrambling to stay one step ahead of a disaster that upends their place in power -- and with it, the remaining threads keeping the country from coming apart at the seams. 
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SnapshotsJan 5, 2021 | 19:34 GMT
A sign advises people to follow COVID-19 restrictions on Jan. 5, 2021, in Falmouth, the United Kingdom. In a televised address on Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country was entering its third lockdown since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.
The Next Wave of COVID-19 Lockdowns Emerges in Europe
The United Kingdom’s decision to tighten its COVID-19 lockdown measures and introduce a new relief package for businesses is a preview of similar decisions that governments in continental Europe will introduce in the coming days. The lockdown measures will result in low, or even negative, economic growth in Europe in the first quarter of 2021, which will worsen governments’ fiscal deficit and sovereign debt levels. On Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced stricter social distancing measures for England and Scotland, respectively, to cope with the rising number of COVID-19 infections. Then, on Jan. 5, the U.K. government announced a 4.6 billion pound ($6.2 billion) aid package for companies hardest hit by the tighter lockdown measures across the country. 
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SnapshotsJan 4, 2021 | 22:09 GMT
A South Korean-flagged tanker is escorted in the Persian Gulf after being seized by the Iranian navy on Jan. 4, 2021.
What to Make of the Latest Uptick in Iranian Aggression
Security risks, including threats to tanker traffic, in the Persian Gulf and Iraq will remain heightened after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office, despite his intent to enter negotiations with Tehran. The uptick in Iranian nuclear and naval activity since Dec. 31 risks provoking a military response in the region from foreign actors, including a potential U.S. strike on Iranian soil. On Jan. 3, Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that the USS Nimitz would forgo its redeployment away from the Middle East due to “recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials.” Although the Pentagon did not specify what Miller was alluding to, the comments come after a Dec. 31 statement made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was initially translated as saying Trump would be ousted from “life.” Iranian officials have since this was a mistranslation, specifying that Rouhani was referring to Trump’s
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SITUATION REPORTJan 4, 2021 | 22:05 GMT
Belarus: President Allegedly Approved Foreign Assassinations in 2012
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko allegedly authorized political killings abroad in 2012, according to an audio recording obtained and published by EUobserver on Jan. 4. The attacks never took place, but the recording purports to reveal the then-chairman of Belarus' intelligence service, Vadim Zaitsev, briefing members of a special task force about killing three opposition leaders living in exile in Germany and a journalist living in Russia.
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Annual ForecastsJan 3, 2021 | 21:37 GMT
An image of the COVID-19 vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden, the Huawei logo, and a stock market sign
2021 Annual Forecast
The geopolitical environment in 2021 will be shaped by two global developments: the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's administration to restore collaborative relationships across the globe.
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