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SnapshotsAug 7, 2020 | 20:48 GMT
With Tech Bans and Hong Kong Sanctions, Trump Hits China With a One-Two Punch
In the United States' pressure campaign against China, President Donald Trump's threshold for action is decreasing and his tolerance for risk of blowback to U.S. economic interests appears to be rising -- a trend confirmed by the White House's move to both restrict transactions by U.S. entities with China's TikTok and WeChat apps, as well as impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in the Hong Kong crisis. Such blowback includes the impact of U.S. restrictions on U.S. businesses in China, as well as the threat of Chinese retaliation. Although both of these moves are part of a long-term bipartisan trend towards greater confrontation with China, U.S. President Donald Trump's electoral challenges will lead to an increasingly volatile dynamic ahead of the November vote, even as he tries to walk the line of preserving, at least in name, the U.S.-China trade deal as a key campaign promise. 
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On GeopoliticsAug 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A U.S. soldier (left) stands guard next to a South Korean soldier (right) in Panmunjom, South Korea, on July 27, 2019, during a ceremony commemorating the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
With the Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Germany, Is South Korea Next?
With the drawdown of U.S. forces in Germany underway, a reduction of U.S. forces in South Korea is now more likely than ever, given evolving U.S. defense priorities and longstanding trends on the Korean Peninsula. Rumors of an imminent U.S. force drawdown in Korea have been circulating since at least 2019, and President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to reduce large overseas basing. South Korea, however, is a particularly contentious case, as any changes to the size and structure of U.S. forces must take into consideration both the local mission of deterring against North Korea, as well as the broader U.S. strategic mission of refocusing on great power competition, particularly with China. And that will require reassessing South Korea's own national defense capabilities, the benefits and risks of having a large forward force based on the Asian mainland, and the impact of any shift in forces on
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SnapshotsAug 5, 2020 | 19:36 GMT
An Explosion Risks Razing Lebanon’s Last Shreds of Stability
A massive explosion in Beirut will intensify already potent popular anger at the Lebanese government and contribute to political infighting, even as it opens the door for much-needed humanitarian aid in the near term. The catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut sent a shockwave miles through the surrounding area, destroying thousands of homes and buildings. The blast has so far killed over 100 people while injuring thousands more. Available evidence about the nature of the explosion aligns with the government's account of the accident, pointing at gross negligence that will elicit anger at authorities. The damage to Lebanon's most critical port, even if temporary, will also exacerbate the country's existing food and supply shortages.
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AssessmentsAug 5, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, at sunrise.
COVID-19 Risks Robbing Dubai of Its Economic and Political Autonomy
By sapping Dubai's economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will also ultimately erode the emirate's political and economic independence from neighboring Abu Dhabi. Without the tools and funding needed to support its own recovery, Dubai will likely be forced to rely on another bailout from wealthy Abu Dhabi, which could impact Dubai's development plans, especially in tourism and finance. 
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AssessmentsAug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Plainclothed Belarus' security forces and riot police officers detain a protester at an opposition demonstration in Minsk, Belarus, on July 14, 2020.
In Belarus, an Election Fuels the Fight for Russia's Borderlands
The likely tumultuous aftermath of Belarus's upcoming presidential election could significantly shake up the balance of power in the strategic borderland region between Russia and Western Europe. Amid the growing popularity of opposition movements in Belarus, the outcome of the country's Aug. 9 presidential election is widely expected to be heavily contested. The likely emergence of post-election protests will cast doubt over President Alexander Lukashenko's grasp on power and could open the door to a potential regime change. Belarus's importance to Russia's external security strategy will make Moscow extremely invested in the outcome of any power struggle in the country, which could prompt Russia to intervene directly.
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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 31, 2020 | 18:13 GMT
The Eurozone's Shrinking GDP Growth Solidifies a Slow Recovery
Rising COVID-19 infections will slow the eurozone's economic recovery by forcing governments to reintroduce lockdown measures that undermine business activity. Recessions across the bloc could last well into 2021 -- keeping consumption, investment and trade below pre-pandemic levels for several more months, while increasing the chances of business uncertainty and social unrest. The economic recovery will be particularly slow in Southern Europe due to the disproportionate impact of lockdown measures on the region's tourism-based economies, some of which were already in recessions before the pandemic. Ongoing uncertainty about future lockdown measures and the potential lifting of national stimulus efforts also means the risk of bankruptcies, financial crises and social unrest across Europe will remain high in the coming months.
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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 16:39 GMT
A Year-Long Election Delay Extends Hong Kong’s Political Crisis
The one-year delay of the Hong Kong election appears to be an attempt to exhaust the opposition pro-democracy camp, though it may instead serve as a rallying point domestically and internationally. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced July 31 that the Legislative Council elections would be delayed by a year, to Sept. 5, 2021, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and her prerogative under the Emergency Regulation Ordinance. The delay, however, was more likely a desperate move by Lam and her pro-Beijing camp, who was facing the real possibility of a much larger win for the pro-democracy camp. As such, the move may embolden the opposition to keep up pressure through international contact and domestic resistance -- whether via organized rallies and protests, or in the Legislative Council before its current term ends Sept. 30. 
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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 14:48 GMT
The U.S. Economic Recession Grows Deeper and Bleaker
The United States is likely to experience a weak economy for a prolonged period, which, when combined with high debt levels, will have long-lasting effects on federal spending and perhaps even Washington's ability to exercise global influence as the country turns inward. The United States' pandemic-induced recession may have bottomed out in the April-June quarter, with GDP shrinking at a record pace. But with growth sluggish even before the pandemic, prospects for the U.S. economy remain stark. Base effects alone probably ensure positive growth in the third quarter of 2020, though signs the U.S. recovery is already slowing means another contraction in the fourth quarter cannot be ruled out. And with infections on the rise across America, there's an increasing chance that U.S. GDP growth could remain below pre-pandemic levels for years to come. 
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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Yemen’s Separatists Pause Their Push for Autonomy to Advance It Later
Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) will temporarily implement the terms of a previous peace deal with the Yemeni government to gain political leverage before ultimately returning to its pursuit of an independent southern Yemen. The STC, which is an umbrella force of southern militias and secessionists, announced July 29 that it would abide by a Saudi-brokered political reconciliation agreement with its rivals in President Mansoor Hadi's internationally recognized government. The announcement came a few hours after Saudi Arabia announced its plans to “accelerate” the implementation of the power-sharing agreement signed last year in Riyadh, which demands the STC end its attempts at self-rule in exchange for more posts in the government.
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