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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People stand in line to receive grant payments from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in Khayelitsha, a township located near Cape Town, on May 4, 2020. 
South Africa's Budget Outlook Paints a Picture of a Lost Decade
South Africa will likely miss its recently adjusted budget targets as the country’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak delays much-needed austerity measures, leaving the South African economy in shambles for at least another five years. President Cyril Ramaphosa and his pro-business allies in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had planned to rein in government spending and the country's sky-high debt levels over the next three years. But South Africa's likely extended health and economic crisis could make that goal politically untenable, given that any budget cuts and potential layoffs would most acutely affect the ANC's support base of labor unions and their poorer Black constituents. 
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AssessmentsJul 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image depicts waving Chinese and Indian flags overlaying a map of the world.
In India, Anti-China Anger Will Bring Out Modi's Hawkish Side
A surge of anti-China sentiment among Indian lawmakers, business leaders and voters will prompt Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a more aggressive approach against Bejing in the wake of the two countries' recent border clash. This could include a variety of actions ranging from diplomatic moves to economic and trade measures, as well as a continued military build-up against China, which will only further ratchet up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. 
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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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SnapshotsJun 26, 2020 | 20:08 GMT
With a Raid, Iraq Asserts Its Authority Over Iran-Backed Militias
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is signaling that his new government will keep powerful Iran-backed militias in the country in check after conducting a raid against Kataib Hezbollah, the group linked to numerous attempted attacks against U.S. forces over the past year. On the evening of June 25, Iraqi security forces raided a building belonging to the Iran-backed group, which resulted in the arrests of several Kataib Hezbollah leaders and members, as well as the seizure of multiple rockets. In retaliation, militia members threatened to overrun Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service building where the detained Kataib Hezbollah members were being held, placing Baghdad’s surrounding Green Zone under lockdown. Overnight negotiations between Kataib Hezbollah leaders and the Iraqi government have since resulted in the release of most of the militia members arrested during the raid. The government’s willingness to quickly deescalate the situation indicates Baghdad’s desire to assert its authority over Iran-backed
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AssessmentsJun 26, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A picture shows the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Kramim in the West Bank on June 18, 2020.
Israel's Annexation Plans Will Leave It in Need of New Allies
Israel's impending annexations in the West Bank will not spark immediate international backlash, but growing pro-Palestine sentiment in the United States and Europe will ultimately leave it politically and economically isolated in the long term. This will lead Israel to seek increased partnerships with countries whose citizens and politicians are less invested in the prospect of a Palestinian state, such as Russia and China, though doing so will come at the risk of further stoking U.S. ire. 
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SnapshotsJun 22, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
New U.S. Sanctions Will Keep Syria Firmly in Russia and Iran's Corner
New U.S. sanctions against the Syrian government will likely leave Damascus dependent on Russian and Iranian support, while deterring aid from potential future partners such as China and the United Arab Emirates. On June 17, the United States sanctioned 39 individuals associated with the Syrian government, including President Bashar al Assad and his wife. Washington also indicated that more sanctions were to come in order to force the Syrian government back into U.N.-led peace negotiations.  Countries that have shown interest in providing Syria aid in the past are unlikely to risk incurring potentially powerful U.S. sanctions in pursuit of economically limited reconstruction contracts in Syria, leaving Damascus with Russia and Iran as its primary links with the international community. The sanctions will also exacerbate Syria's already dire economic situation, which is producing dissent from inside Syrian loyalist territories, and increasingly threatens the stability of the al Assad family's hold on the state.
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SnapshotsJun 19, 2020 | 18:29 GMT
A Major Cyberattack Further Stokes Australia-China Tensions
Amid a recent uptick in Sino-Australian tensions, China is continuing to raise the price of Australia's sustained support of a U.S.-led international push to investigate Beijing's role in the COVID-19 pandemic and more broadly confront China. On June 19, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his country had been targeted by a sustained and wide-ranging cyberattack on government institutions, public services and businesses. Unnamed top officials said the Chinese government is the primary suspect. Australia, however, has shown no signs that it intends to back off from its confrontational diplomatic stance, despite China's continued economic threats and retaliatory actions in recent months. On June 11, Morrison said his government would not be intimidated by Beijing's "coercion" tactics, signaling his political resolve to maintain Australia's current scrutiny of Beijing's involvement in the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Hong Kong's political crisis.  
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SnapshotsJun 18, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
Turkey Expands Its Military Operations in Northern Iraq
The escalation of Turkey’s operations against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq has shown Ankara’s willingness to encroach on Iraqi territory, even if it risks damaging ties with Baghdad. On June 17, Turkey deployed commandos in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region as part of Operation Claw-Tiger, a follow up to the air-intensive Operation Claw-Eagle launched the day before. Turkey's defense ministry described the operations as Turkey’s largest in the area in five years. Although Turkey has been conducting airstrikes in northern Iraqi territory against Kurdish militants and extremists for many years, the deployment of ground forces is an unusual development illustrating escalation in the urgency with which Turkey views these operations, which continue Ankara’s goal of targeting and destroying enclaves of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 
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AssessmentsJun 15, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Protesters in New York City kneel at an intersection to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality on June 11, 2020.
U.S. Unrest Further Strains Trump’s Ties With Global Allies
Global U.S. allies are increasingly condemning the White House’s heavy-handed response to the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death, suggesting a further erosion of U.S. leadership that could compromise Washington’s ability to find consensus on its controversial agenda of multilateral economic and security issues. Commentary from reputable news outlets and elite opinion-makers in Europe over the past week have questioned whether American internal polarization and discord would weaken its ability to function as a reliable ally. Increasingly irritated with the White House’s break from long-standing diplomatic norms, European governments appear to be translating opinion into policy action by challenging Trump’s proposed adjustments to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit and U.S. military posture in Europe.
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SnapshotsJun 10, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
Libya's Government of National Accord Rejects an Egyptian Cease-fire
In Libya, the Government of National Accord has rejected an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with the rival Libyan National Army and instead appears to be pushing farther east. But if the GNA succeeds in pushing deep into central and eastern Libya, it risks prompting the LNA's main foreign backers -- Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates -- into deepening their involvement in the war-torn North African country.
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 19:38 GMT
Pro-democracy protesters shine the flashlights on their cellphones as they take part in a rally in Hong Kong on June 9, 2020.
Hong Kong’s Election Lights the Fuse for Another Wave of Unrest
A year after the city's extradition bill prompted more than a million people to take to the streets in June 2019, marking a watershed moment in last year's protests, Hong Kong's political crisis is heating up once again. The next three months in Hong Kong will see protests kick back into high gear as pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps focus on winning Legislative Council elections planned for September. The central government in mainland China will fast-track its controversial national security laws ahead of the polls to increase control over protestors and politicians, while the regional Hong Kong government will work to fulfill its side of the legislation. The White House, meanwhile, will pressure China to ease back on its encroachment in Hong Kong by possibly stripping away the city's special tariff treatment, but will weigh carefully whether to escalate further to financial measures that would cripple Hong Kong's status as a business hub
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, one of the main opposition candidates running in Poland's 2020 presidential election, greets locals and supporters in Wieliczka, Poland, during a campaign event on June 5, 2020. 
Poland After the Presidential Election
Poland’s upcoming presidential election could increase political instability at a time of already mounting economic uncertainty, should a less Euroskeptic opposition candidate defeat President Andrzej Duda and secure the power to veto legislation. Regardless of who wins, in the months ahead the Polish government will need to defend both its economy from further harm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its access to EU farming subsidies and cohesion funds in the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget. Over time, growing debt levels and a worsening deficit could damage the government’s popularity and open the door to political change by impeding Warsaw’s ability to expand social welfare benefits.  
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AssessmentsJun 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of southwestern Tajikistan from the Afghan border town of Qazi Deh.
The Race to Secure Tajikistan's Afghan Border
Sustained protests and altercations with security forces in southwestern Tajikistan highlight the great challenges the Central Asian state faces in ensuring the withdrawal of U.S. troops in nearby Afghanistan doesn't prompt a surge of violence within its own borders. Hampered by limited domestic security capabilities, as well as longstanding cultural rifts with the local populations who inhabit large portions of the country's Afghan border, President Emomali Rahmon's government in Dushanbe will be forced to increasingly draw on Russia in order to protect its internal security and territorial integrity amid the heightened risk of unrest to the country’s south.  
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