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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 17:12 GMT
Spain
Spain

Spain is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, France, the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. Spain is separated from France by the Pyrenees, a protective mountain barrier between the two countries. The Strait of Gibraltar divides Spain from Africa, which at its narrowest is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide. This eased the invasion of the Moors in the eighth century during the rise of the Islamic caliphate. The Arab presence lasted until the end of the 15th century, when Christian Spanish kingdoms unified modern Spain. This unification helped Spain compete with other maritime powers such as the United Kingdom and continental powers like France. Spain’s access to the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic, along with its need for natural resources, promoted its consolidation into one of the greatest naval and colonial powers of Europe. While Spain has had external challenges, its main geographic challenge comes from within. Spain’s core is Madrid, the country’s capital, most populated city and political center. Madrid sits on Spain’s Meseta Central and was chosen as the capital in the 16th century to allow more centralized control of the country. But Spain’s mountainous terrain has historically determined its political life by hindering communication between different regions within the country. This geography has led to the emergence of regionalist and separatist movements, especially in Catalonia and the Basque Country. Spain’s challenge, then, is to bring about a truly united nation with a balance of power between the central government in Madrid and the autonomous regions, especially as Catalonia.

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AssessmentsAug 26, 2020 | 15:13 GMT
A close-up of a five-euro banknote.
The Eurozone's Upcoming Financial Problems
Escalating soverign debt and fiscal deficit levels in eurozone countries due to the COVID-19 crisis will increase the probability of financial and banking crises in the years ahead, as well as surges in social unrest and higher taxes for both large corporations and big earners. Furlough schemes, subsidies and other forms of welfare spending across the eurozone are mitigating the economic fallout from the pandemic by keeping money in people's pockets and helping sustain domestic consumption at a time of deep recessions. But these schemes are financed through sovereign debt, loans from EU institutions and deepening fiscal deficits -- all of which are unsustainable.
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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 28, 2020 | 15:46 GMT
Europe Braces for Another Round of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions
Amid rising COVID-19 cases, the reintroduction of travel warnings and quarantine measures in Europe will undermine economic activity, especially in tourism-dependent countries, leading to a slower recovery in the third quarter. These dynamics will probably force governments to introduce additional stimulus measures, which would further worsen their deficit and debt situations. 
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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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AssessmentsMar 20, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Officials in hazmat suits disinfect the outside a tram as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak in Jerusalem, Israel on March 16, 2020.
Israel's Rival Factions Unite Against COVID-19 -- for Now
As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold in Israel, its political factions are being forced to consider once unthinkable compromises to put the country on the right footing against the mounting existential threat. On March 16, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin officially tasked Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz with forming a government in the next 28 days. Gantz has since pledged to create a national unity government, which, compared with the country's current caretaker government, would have more political strength and legal authority to quickly and sufficiently mitigate the anticipated economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.  Indeed, Israel's current quarantine efforts -- most of which have only been used during wartime -- are already estimated to cost the country 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2020. But even with this new pandemic-induced sense of unity, a makeshift government will unlikely be strong enough to prevent additional coronavirus-induced unrest
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AssessmentsMar 13, 2020 | 14:39 GMT
A man wearing a face mask walks in Pretoria square in Palermo, Italy, on March 11, 2020.
Europe's Tourism Industry Confronts an Unwelcome Visitor in COVID-19
Tourism is one of the sectors of the European economy that will be most affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the Continent. The importance of tourism for Europe cannot be overstated: It represents around 4 percent of the European Union's GDP and accounts for more than 5 percent of the total workforce. Tourism is particularly important in Southern Europe because it represents around 21 percent of GDP in Greece, 16 percent in Spain, 13 percent in Italy and almost 10 percent in France. It is also a significant source of employment. The vast majority of companies in Europe's tourism sector are small and medium-sized businesses, which are particularly vulnerable to economic crises. This means that Europe in general, and Southern Europe in particular, stands to lose a lot if the ongoing coronavirus outbreak extends into the spring when tourism activity starts to pick up. A contraction in the tourism sector
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AssessmentsMar 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This photo shows a rows of seats on a passenger aircraft.
As Coronavirus Takes Flight, the Airline Industry Takes Cover
The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the airline industry, with the most highly impacted countries of China, South Korea, Italy and Iran accounting for over a quarter of global passenger revenue alone. As panicked consumers continue to cancel or suspend their travel plans for fear of getting sick, and as more governments pursue containment measures and travel bans, an increasing number of airlines will be forced to either consolidate or go out of business. In China, this will likely lead to a market that's even more dominated by the state-backed carriers. Bigger airlines in Europe, meanwhile, will merge as revenue losses deal the final blow to their smaller competitors. But while so much is still unknown about how the outbreak will unfold in the weeks ahead, what remains certain is that the airline industry is headed for even more unexpected turbulence.
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SnapshotsMar 9, 2020 | 20:06 GMT
The Crown Prince Consolidates Control as Saudi Arabia Faces Trouble Ahead
In a series of arrests of high-profile princes, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has once more shown he will brook no royal challengers. Four senior princes -- Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a former crown prince; his brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef; Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the 78-year-old brother of King Salman; and Prince Nayef bin Ahmed, Prince Ahmed's son and former head of army intelligence -- were arrested over the weekend by Saudi security forces. Dozens of other lower-level officials were detained as well. Some news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, have reported that some princes may soon be released.
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SnapshotsMar 6, 2020 | 22:29 GMT
OPEC+ Fails to Find a Way Forward Amid Coronavirus Concerns
The failure of OPEC+ to agree on a production restraint comes at a time when the oil market is expected to see a continuing accumulation of inventories during the second quarter of 2020 due to demand disruptions related to the coronavirus outbreak. But even without an official restraint in place, it remains unlikely that Saudi Arabia or other Gulf Arab producers will markedly increase their own production, and Russia has limited ability to do so quickly.
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AssessmentsMar 2, 2020 | 22:37 GMT
This photo shows the outline of a soldier standing guard at sunset in Niamey, Niger, on Dec. 22, 2019.
A Coordinated Jihadist Campaign Menaces the Sahel
The local al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates responsible for thousands of deaths in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa over the past year -- namely, Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara -- are now reportedly coordinating their operations. The emerging cooperation between jihadist fighters so far appears to be centered more on de-escalating tensions, rather than actually merging their efforts. But the worrying development nonetheless could empower the two groups to wreak even more havoc in the already unstable region and expand their influence across even greater swaths of Africa.
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AssessmentsFeb 28, 2020 | 18:24 GMT
Two women wearing blue, protective respiratory masks take a tour outside the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, on Jan. 31, 2020, after two cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed in the city.
What a Coronavirus Crisis Means for Europe
Europe's stock markets have plunged in recent days, with its largest economies (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain) now all reporting upticks in cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus that emerged from China in recent weeks. Stocks in European industries reliant on Chinese supplies, such as in the technology sector, have suffered some of the sharpest losses, along with airline and credit card companies, due to the expected reduction of economic activity in Europe. But with the size and scope of the contagion expected to grow for at least several more weeks, these stock market dips may just be the tip of the iceberg as disruptions to Europe's supply chains, domestic consumption and tourism sector -- and potentially even border crossings -- begin to more acutely affect the bloc's already slowing economy.
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On SecurityFeb 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Miami skyline, photographed on April 29, 2019.
Signs of a Thwarted Russian Hit in Miami
Since former KGB officer and FSB director Vladimir Putin became Russia's president, the country's intelligence agencies have regained much of their Cold War power. As Putin's power has grown, his intelligence services have grown commensurately bolder. Though the Kremlin invariably will try to deny any role in or knowledge of assassinations and other skulduggery, for the most part, the operations are overt or only very thinly veiled.
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Regions & CountriesJanuary 23, 2020 | 18:28 GMT
A picture showing the Register in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. The most populous state in the region, it is the only country to border all other Central Asian states. Uzbekistan is a significant producer and exporter of oil and natural gas which, along with agriculture, dominate the country's economy. These resources, as well as the country's strategic location and the presence of militant groups, have brought the interest of foreign powers such as China, Russia and the United States. Because of this, Uzbekistan's primary geographic challenge is to maintain unity while also balancing against its regional neighbors and external powers. Historically, Uzbekistan was an important component of the Silk Road, and cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva are still key political and population centers in the country. After Uzbekistan became overrun by the Mongols, it became the seat of an expansive Timurid dynasty. The territory of Uzbekistan was then divided between a series of Khanates before being absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. A former member of the Soviet Union, the landlocked country gained independence in 1991. Modern day Uzbekistan is centered around its capital in Tashkent, though the country has substantial regional divisions. While the western half is largely sparsely populated desert, the majority of the population is concentrated in the demographic and agricultural heartland of Central Asia, the Fergana Valley. The valley itself is divided by a series of complex and poorly defined borders established during the Soviet era to prevent the emergence of a unified Central Asian state. These borders have led to ethnic tensions, resource disputes, and the frequent border skirmishes between Uzbekistan and neighboring states such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
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