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AssessmentsOct 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A masked Hamas militant mans a machine gun in the back of a pickup truck in the Palestinian city of Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip, on Oct. 17, 2019. The yellow flags of the Palestinian party Fatah can also be seen in the background.
Abandoned by Old Allies, Palestinian Leaders Turn to Turkey -- and Each Other
A Turkey-brokered agreement to hold the first Palestinian elections in 15 years suggests a new appetite for cooperation between the territories’ staunch political rivals, along with a new mediating role for Ankara, in light of warming Israeli-Arab Gulf relations. On Sept. 23-24, high-level representatives from Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas met in Istanbul for a two-day discussion hosted by Turkey’s foreign ministry. After the meeting, a Hamas spokesperson announced that the two parties -- which have been engaged in more than a decade of infighting -- had agreed to begin planning elections within six months. 
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SITUATION REPORTSep 30, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
Hong Kong: Chinese Officials Warn of Potential “Terrorist Acts” at Expected Oct. 1 Protests
China's Hong Kong liaison office warned of potential "terrorist acts" at expected Oct. 1 National Day protests after a group called Fifteenth Night Operation said it would carry out a “non-peaceful demonstration” in the city and allegedly instigated people to buy weapons to attack police, Hong Kong Free Press reported Sept. 30.
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SnapshotsSep 29, 2020 | 20:24 GMT
A Split Poll Sways Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Lawmakers to Stay for Extended Term
As the room for dissent in the city shrinks, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp will find itself increasingly divided between those who want to work within the system, those who choose to confront authorities and those who want to simply opt-out of politics altogether. On Sept. 29, 15 Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers announced that they had chosen not to boycott the upcoming extended Legislative Council term, following a poll showing their supporters were divided on the issue. The lawmakers took the inconclusive poll results as a directive to exercise their own discretion, saying they chose "the lesser of two evils" in order to prevent the pro-Beijing camp from easily passing adverse legislation and to maintain a platform to express pro-democracy opinions. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A damaged EU flag is seen in Brenzone, Italy, on Aug. 14, 2019. 
The Quest for European Unity: No End of History
Europe faces a challenge of identity and international role over the next decade. For nearly 500 years, Europe sat at the center of the international system, its internal competitions rippling out across the globe. But the relative balance of global power and influence has shifted. And rather than being the driving force of global dynamics, Europe is increasingly caught between major powers: the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and now the United States and China. Internally, Europe still strives for the creation of a continental union, though those dreams have been eroded by financial crises, Brexit and a resurgence of nationalism in recent years. Externally, Europe remains fragmented in its foreign policy and prioritization. The shifting patterns of global competition will compel Europe to rethink its internal structures and to come to grips with defining its interests abroad. Otherwise, it will find itself drifting further
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SnapshotsSep 24, 2020 | 15:41 GMT
Poking Holes in the New EU Migration Plan
A plan to reform the European Union's migration rules will have a limited impact on reducing the migrant burden on its southern members at a time when they are dealing with severe economic recessions. It will also lead to renewed disputes between Southern and Eastern European states, while not significantly reducing the leverage that Turkey and other countries have on the bloc. On Sept. 23, the European Commission proposed a new Pact on Migration and Asylum. According to the current EU rules, the member state where a migrant first enters the bloc is responsible for them, which puts significant pressure on Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. The new pact does not abolish this principle, and instead calls on the rest of the European Union to provide greater financial and logistical support for Mediterranean countries. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A model of a customs road sign is seen at the mock U.K.-EU border, with a mock Big Ben in the background, at the Mini-Europe theme park in Brussels, Belgium, on May 20, 2020.
Why EU-U.K. Trade Talks Feel Like Brexit Deja Vu
If the current tensions in the trade talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union feel like a repetition of the 2019 disputes, when Britain negotiated its exit from the bloc, it’s because they are. Once more, a no-deal Brexit looms on the horizon, because unless Brussels and London reach an agreement, bilateral trade will happen under World Trade Organization tariffs starting next year. Like last year, both sides are exchanging threats and accusing each other of acting in bad faith. And, in the most notable deja vu from 2019, the status of Northern Ireland has reemerged as an obstacle to a deal. The explanation for this situation is simple: there are fundamental issues that the arrangements of 2019 left unresolved and have come back to jeopardize the negotiations in 2020. 
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PodcastsSep 24, 2020 | 05:00 GMT
Essential Geopolitics: Duterte's China Shift
In this episode of the Essential Geopolitics podcast from Stratfor, a RANE company, Emily Donahue speaks to Stratfor Asia-Pacific analyst Evan Rees. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave a U.N. General Assembly speech this week that indicated he would take a hardline position on his country's South China Sea claims.
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SnapshotsSep 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
New U.S. Sanctions Against Hezbollah Risk Thwarting Lebanon's Progress
New U.S. Sanctions against Hezbollah risk extending Lebanon's economic and political crises by undercutting French efforts to broker Lebanese domestic political and economic reforms, which require the Iran-backed militant group and political party's support. On Sept. 8, the United States issued sanctions against two Lebanese politicians for engaging in corruption and providing "material support" to Hezbollah. The policy change appears to expand U.S. actions in recent years against the group, which has long been a target of Washington's efforts to counter Iranian proxies and allies throughout the Middle East. This is the first time the United States has targeted individuals with second-order connections to the group, broadening its scope of sanctions in ways that will impact a larger cross-section of Lebanese politicians across all major factions. The widening net will also create regulatory barriers that are likely to further spook investors and international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund.
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AssessmentsSep 11, 2020 | 15:40 GMT
An external view of the building of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.
What the Fading Promise of EU Accession Means for the Balkans
The European Union will not accept any new member states for the foreseeable future, which will erode the promise of EU accession that has made the bloc an influential political and economic force in the Western Balkans. As the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis forces the European Union to remain focused on recovering (and not enlarging) its economy, candidate countries risk veering off from the reforms they had been pursuing to earn their place in the bloc. Non-EU players such as the United States, Russia and China, meanwhile, will likely become more active in the region, seeing European Union's waning presence as an opportunity to assert their own influence in the Balkans.
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SnapshotsSep 10, 2020 | 20:29 GMT
Nord Stream 2 Comes Under Fire in Germany
The ongoing debate within the German government on how to respond to the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is placing the future of Berlin’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Russia in doubt. On Sept. 8, the hospital in Berlin where Navalny is being treated said the Russian opposition figure had been removed from a medically induced coma after being poisoned on a flight to Moscow last month. That same day, Chancellor Angela Merkel told German lawmakers that she believes the European Union needs to react to the incident, but is skeptical of linking that crime to the natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Intensifying calls for sanctions within Germany’s coalition government, however -- including from Merkel’s own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, as well as its governing partner the Social Democratic Party (SPD) -- could potentially shift her position.
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AssessmentsSep 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A Greek vessel patrols the waters surrounding the tiny island of Kastellorizo, which is situated just two kilometers off the south coast of Turkey, on Aug. 28, 2020.
What's Driving Turkish Aggression in the Mediterranean Sea
Turkey is putting its 50-year view on maritime rights into practice through its Blue Homeland Doctrine, growing its naval and commercial presence in Mediterranean waters that it claims are part of its exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Oil and gas exploration is becoming a crucial tool in implementing this strategy. But Ankara's attempts to claim extensive maritime resource rights risk broadening to a wider conflict with Greece and other NATO allies that would bring foreign energy projects, and potentially the United States, into the fray.
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SnapshotsSep 8, 2020 | 20:05 GMT
The U.K. Turns up the Heat Ahead of the Next Round of Brexit Talks
The desire to avoid further economic disruption amid the COVID-19 crisis will keep the United Kingdom and European Union focused on reaching a limited trade deal before London exits the EU single market on Jan. 1. But threats on both sides to abort negotiations are again increasing the possibility of a no-deal Brexit that would force the European Union and the United Kingdom to trade under costly World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs. The latest round of EU-U.K. trade talks began in London on Sept. 8 and will end on Sept. 11. On Sept. 7, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would walk away from the negotiations if there is not a deal by Oct. 15. The U.K. government is also expected to unveil a bill on Sept. 9 that "clarifies" certain aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement it negotiated with the European Union late last year, including London's interpretation
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On GeopoliticsSep 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cadets from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.
China’s Amphibian Dilemma: Straddling Land and Sea Ambitions
China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.  This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but
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On GeopoliticsSep 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image of the Middle East and North Africa. 
A New Brand of Nationalism Takes Root in the Middle East
Once the salve for crushed Middle Eastern empires, Pan-Islamism and its vision of a singular caliphate are now increasingly seen as a threat to stability in the region, with countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia turning toward nationalism to instead define their policies and behavior. Indeed, even the countries that still claim to embody the movement’s ideals, such as Qatar and Turkey, are only doing so as a means to a nationalist end, exploiting its preachings of Islamic unity to project their government’s strength at home and abroad. This trend has most recently been illuminated by the UAE-Israel normalization pact by dealing yet another blow to the idea that a global Muslim community, despite its many differences, could at the very least agree on issues such as the Palestinian question. 
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