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SITUATION REPORTJan 8, 2021 | 22:46 GMT
Algeria: Government Urges U.S. to Reverse Western Sahara Policy
During a recent meeting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker effectively punted Algerian officials’ request that the White House retract its recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, noting he “[could not] talk about the decision” and that the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden had the right to set its own foreign policy prerogatives, Tout sur Algerie reported Jan. 8.
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AssessmentsJan 8, 2021 | 22:31 GMT
A large group of pro-Trump protesters stands on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after storming the building’s grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington D.C.
For U.S. Rivals, the Capitol Siege Offers a Window of Opportunity
U.S. adversaries are likely to see the recent Capitol siege as an opportunity to quickly take action against U.S. interests ahead of Inauguration Day, calculating that a distracted Washington will be ill-equipped to respond to provocations that may strengthen their negotiating leverage with President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. Since Jan. 6, multiple key national security officials have announced their resignations, reducing the cadre of security experts who have longstanding relationships with President Donald Trump. To avoid anything close to a repeat of the Jan. 6 siege, national security officials in Washington will be laser-focused on guaranteeing the safety of the events surrounding Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, though doing so will risk diverting resources and attention from potential foreign threats. 
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SITUATION REPORTJan 7, 2021 | 21:45 GMT
Hong Kong: Arrested American Released on Bail as U.S. Threatens Sanctions
Hong Kong authorities granted bail to 50 pro-democracy activists who were arrested in yesterday’s mass raid, including U.S. lawyer John Clancey, the South China Morning Post reported Jan. 7. Responding to the arrests, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the White House was considering new sanctions on individuals and entities involved in the detentions, along with potential restrictions on the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in the United States.
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SnapshotsJan 6, 2021 | 21:38 GMT
Hong Kong Police Force Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-Wah holds a press briefing following the arrest of dozens of opposition figures under the city’s national security law on Jan. 6, 2021.
In Hong Kong, Mass Arrests Signal an Escalated Opposition Crackdown
A mass arrest of moderate pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong signals an escalation in the application of the city’s national security law to a broader segment of the political opposition, which will increasingly limit the policymaking power of any pro-democracy forces. The first-time detention of a U.S. citizen, meanwhile, will also test whether U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration will be able to navigate Hong Kong tensions without jeopardizing its broader relations with Beijing. On Jan. 6, Hong Kong police carried out a citywide operation in which nearly 1,000 officers netted 53 pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers linked to the July 2020 opposition primary for legislative council elections, leveling accusations of subversion under the city’s draconian national security law.
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Annual ForecastsJan 3, 2021 | 21:37 GMT
An image of the COVID-19 vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden, the Huawei logo, and a stock market sign
2021 Annual Forecast
The geopolitical environment in 2021 will be shaped by two global developments: the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's administration to restore collaborative relationships across the globe.
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AssessmentsDec 30, 2020 | 21:25 GMT
A poster showing six Russian intelligence officers charged with carrying out global cyberattacks is displayed before a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice on Oct. 19, 2020, in Washington D.C.
SolarWinds Will Spur Biden Into Action on State-Backed Cyber Threats
The recent SolarWinds hack will prompt U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to increase Washington’s cyber resources and, potentially, its offensive capabilities in order to better deter against future cyberattacks by Russia, as well as other state actors. This intensified focus on state-backed cyber threats will likely include more U.S. investments into cyber defense over the next four years. The Biden White House will also continue to deploy sanctions against assailant countries, though such sanctions will likely be narrow in scope for fear of stoking aggressive retaliatory measures against U.S. entities and causing significant economic damage to countries like Russia and China that are essential to the global economy. 
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SITUATION REPORTDec 30, 2020 | 18:59 GMT
EU, U.K.: Brexit Deal Signed by Johnson and EU Leaders, Ratified by U.K. House of Commons 
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson have signed the EU-U.K. trade and cooperation agreement, the Guardian reported Dec. 30. The U.K. House of Commons ratified the agreement by 521 votes to 73 on Dec. 30.  
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SnapshotsDec 29, 2020 | 20:18 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz (left) attend a cabinet meeting in the Knesset on May 24, 2020.
What Another Israeli Election Means for Netanyahu and Normalization
Israel’s new election season will empower Israeli nationalists and foreign policy hawks, straining relationships with its U.S. and European allies and potentially setting back normalization efforts with states such as Sudan, Morocco, Oman and Saudi Arabia. After failing to pass a national budget, Israel’s Knesset dissolved itself on Dec. 22, triggering yet another early ballot. Disputes over the length of the budget timeline helped catalyze long-standing tensions between the Israeli unity government’s primary political anchors, with Blue and White party head Benny Gantz accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party of trying to use the national budget to better position themself for future elections. Israel’s fourth general election in less than two years is now set for March 23. 
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On SecurityDec 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
FBI and first responders work on the scene after an explosion in Nashville, Tennessee, on Dec. 25, 2020. According to initial reports, a vehicle exploded downtown in the early morning hours of Christmas Day.
The Nashville Bombing and the Risk of Copycat Attacks
Investigations into the Dec. 25 bombing near an AT&T facility in Nashville are exploring the suspect’s potential links to conspiracy theories surrounding 5G wireless technology. Regardless of the assailant’s actual motive, the widespread disruption caused to telecommunications networks in Tennessee and nearby states, as well as growing online speculation of the attack’s connection to 5G conspiracies, will likely contribute to an uptick in threats against other communications infrastructure. Organizations operating in the telecommunications industry are potential targets and should thus prepare for an increase in threat activity. 
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SITUATION REPORTDec 23, 2020 | 17:16 GMT
Russian: Lawmakers Advance Legislation That Would Crack Down on Dissent
Russia's lower house of parliament on Dec. 23 passed a series of updates to an existing controversial law on so-called "foreign agents," expanding the list of people and groups that can be designated; banning those with the label from holding various government jobs; forcing them to mark "foreign agent" on various documents and requiring media outlets to note the designation whenever mentioning them; and prohibiting them from financing public events in Russia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
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AssessmentsDec 23, 2020 | 15:59 GMT
EU flags fly outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Dec. 7, 2020.
The EU Seeks to Update Its Regulation of Big Tech
Sweeping new EU draft rules will increase the pressure on large tech companies, but debates over their proposed requirements and penalties will likely limit their impact on big tech. The legislation's ultimate fate depends in part on how the European Union frames the proposals to the incoming Biden administration because its receptivity to rules that disproportionately affect U.S. firms could prove decisive to their implementation.
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