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SnapshotsAug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
In Jordan, a Government Crackdown on Civil Dissent Risks Backfiring
The arrests of teachers union leaders in Jordan risks fueling unrest in the typically politically stable country against a government the United States relies on for its regional counterterrorism efforts. On July 25, Jordanian security forces arrested over a dozen key members of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate and charged them with corruption, incitement, financial irregularities and criminal activities. Forces also raided the union’s offices and shut them down for two years. Nasser Nawasreh, acting head of the Teachers Syndicate, was charged with incitement specifically over a speech he gave on July 22 that sharply criticized Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government. A government spokesman said that the arrests were conducted to prevent the union from staging planned sit-ins and demonstrations that risked harming “the state’s essential services and their functioning.”
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AssessmentsAug 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An oil pumpjack operates in Signal Hill, California, on April 21, 2020, a day after oil prices dropped to below zero amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a Global COVID-19 Resurgence, Oil Prices Are Poised to Stall
The resurgence of COVID-19 infections in many countries around the world has undermined the oil market's notion that the recovery in petroleum product demand will continue upward in the absence of a vaccine. Expectations of a swift demand recovery in recent weeks have also been hampered by concerns about new mandatory lockdowns in places where economic activity had resumed, as well as slower economic recoveries elsewhere. Crude oil prices are thus likely to stall heading into the fourth quarter of 2020 as global demand remains sluggish, while modest rises in OPEC+ supply undermine efforts to rapidly balance the market and drain excess inventories. This means the fiscal position of countries highly dependent on oil export revenues will likely continue to be strained, and that any recovery in drilling activity and the oilfield services sector will also be slow.
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SnapshotsJul 29, 2020 | 18:37 GMT
Is Uganda's 30-Year Run of Political Stability Nearing an End?
The presidential candidacy of Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine represents the most significant challenge to the country's longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, whose failure to address growing youth unemployment and disillusionment with the current ruling elite is placing the country on a long-term trajectory of political unrest. Wine has been able to connect with younger Ugandan voters in a way that previous opposition figures could not. Museveni and his ruling NRM party will pull out all the stops to ensure they remain in power, including crackdowns on Wine and his party's rallies, which will increase the risk of pre-and post-election unrest. But even if Museveni can control the outcome of the next election, his failure to address increasing political and economic grievances suggests Uganda’s 30-year run of political stability is nearing an end.
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AssessmentsJul 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Ukraine's new central bank chief, Kyrylo Shevchenko, wears a face mask as he watches lawmakers vote on his candidacy during a parliamentary session on July 16, 2020.
Is Ukraine on Thin Ice with the IMF?
A potential falling out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over monetary policy and independence of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) would be highly damaging, but not catastrophic, to Ukraine's economic recovery efforts. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has made Kyiv heavily dependent on the bailout money it's receiving from the IMF, as well as the European Union. The IMF has placed Kyiv on a fairly short leash, warning that the recent appointment of Kyrylo Shevchenko -- an advocate of easier monetary policy and ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky -- raises questions regarding the NBU's independence and possible politicization. Zelensky and Shevchenko's political views are unlikely to cause the IMF to suspend its assistance to Ukraine, though the actions of the NBU will be monitored closely.
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SnapshotsJul 28, 2020 | 19:10 GMT
Lopez Obrador Unexpectedly Moves to Safeguard Mexico’s Pension System
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s proposed overhaul to Mexico’s pension system will preserve investor confidence by maintaining the country’s current individual account system, while still addressing pressing concerns about the system’s long-term sustainability. On July 22, Lopez Obrador announced his proposed pension reforms, which the Mexican Congress will vote on when it reconvenes in September. The proposed changes to Mexico’s current pension system include doubling employer contributions over an eight-year period; increasing total contributions from 6.5 to 15 percent; limiting the commissions charged by Retirement Funds Administrators (AFOREs); and decreasing the number of years a worker needs to contribute to access a minimum guaranteed pension from 25 to 15 years, while increasing the number of such pensions by about 40 percent.
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AssessmentsJul 28, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows one of the shallow water reservoirs in Simferopol, Crimea.
Russia's Quick Fixes Won't Solve Crimea's Water Woes
Russia's ongoing efforts to stretch Crimea's dwindling water supplies will only slightly delay the need to permanently fix the region's insufficient water resources by either funding expensive infrastructure overhauls, or convincing Ukraine to reopen the North Crimean Canal. The availability of fresh water in Crimea has progressively degraded following Russia's annexation in 2014. But with drought conditions worsening through the summer and beyond, the peninsula's dire water scarcity issues are now increasingly threatening industrial and agricultural consumption.
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On GeopoliticsJul 24, 2020 | 15:53 GMT
A skyline view of Anchorage, Alaska, and the Chugach Mountains at dusk.
Remapping the American Arctic
Maps play an important role in shaping national policy, and in shaping society’s consciousness and support. But they can also reinforce ideas of relative unimportance by leaving key areas off, or having areas appear as mere incidental inclusions, which can subconsciously constrain developments in foreign policy. Indeed, it’s perhaps no surprise that many Americans still fail to recognize the United States as an Arctic nation when the majority of U.S. maps place Alaska in a small inset box, relegating the state to a secondary geographic status. The United States, however, maintains a strong interest in a secure and stable Arctic, for its Alaska citizens, for economic reasons, and for core national security. So long as the American Arctic is considered something distant and separate from the United States, it risks being sidelined in the national narrative, and thus sidelined in national priorities and attention. The United States is already playing
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AssessmentsJul 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Fighters aligned with Libya's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) patrol a village located halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on July 20, 2020.
Egypt Readies to Intervene in Libya as Hifter Struggles
In response to movements from the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt will likely launch a military intervention in eastern Libya, using tribal ties to gain public support for or the deployment to secure Egypt's western borders. While Egypt will seek to avoid engaging in direct combat with rival Turkish forces in the region, its presence on the ground will raise the risk of a wider confrontation that draws Cairo deeper into Libya's increasingly insoluble civil war. 
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AssessmentsJul 22, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An Indian army convoy makes its way toward Leh, a town near the Chinese border in Ladakh, on June 17, 2020. 
The Nature of China's Military Push Along the Indian Border
After many years of infrastructure development and gradual encroachment, China is accelerating efforts to secure its military presence and access to water rights along the Indian border near Ladakh. But while it appears Beijing has largely achieved this objective for now, the harsh Himalayan winter could again escalate its standoff with India by challenging China's ability to maintain a presence throughout the disputed territory.
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SnapshotsJul 21, 2020 | 16:23 GMT
The EU Reaches a Landmark Recovery Fund Deal, but Divisions Remain
The European Union has overcome its most serious political crisis since Brexit by approving a large stimulus package to mitigate the economic fallout from COVID-19. But the decision came at the cost of watering down some of Brussels' initial proposals, showing that internal divisions continue to complicate the bloc's policymaking process.
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AssessmentsJul 21, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
A rally in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 11, 2020, at Umayyad Square in Damascus, Syria.
In Syria, COVID-19 and Economic Woes Will Dampen Damascus' Ambitions
Economic and health crises have undercut Damascus' appetite for new major military offensives by creating dissent in previously secure territory. This suggests the al Assad government will attempt to consolidate power within loyalist territories before renewing efforts to eliminate Turkish and American influence.
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AssessmentsJul 20, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, Mexico, after announcing his plan to "rescue" Mexican oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) on Feb. 8, 2019.
Lopez Obrador's Policy Shifts Will Have a Mixed Impact on Mexico’s Energy Projects
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's reversal of certain energy policies will likely continue to have a modest impact on foreign investment and competition in Mexico's oil and gas sector. While intended to make Mexico's overall energy industry more self-reliant and state-centric, Lopez Obrador's policy shifts ultimately risk further crippling the country's state-owned oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), while delaying its electricity sector's shift to renewable energy sources. 
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