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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 21:50 GMT
Targeting China’s third-largest oil company highlights the South China Sea’s importance to U.S. strategy, which is unlikely to change under Biden.
The U.S. Adds Chinese Oil Giant CNOOC to Its Export Blacklist
The U.S. Commerce Department added the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to its entity list on Jan. 14, effectively cutting off China’s third-largest oil company from U.S. exports. The move highlights the South China Sea’s importance to U.S. strategy, which will likely continue -- though not necessarily expand -- under U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. The Trump administration has significantly increased pressure on CNOOC in recent months, beginning in December when it added CNOOC to a separate U.S. Pentagon list of companies that are either owned by or controlled by the Chinese military, which will force certain U.S. investors to divest from CNOOC’s shares by mid-November. Just hours before the Commerce Department’s announcement, the S&P Dow Jones announced it was removing CNOOC from impacted indices to comply with a Jan. 13 presidential order banning U.S. investment into designated Chinese military-linked companies. As a result, major U.S. exchanges will likely delist
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SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 21:35 GMT
Farmers depart on their tractors to New Delhi to participate in ongoing protests against the Indian government's new agricultural reforms in Amritsar, India, on Jan. 12, 2021.
In India, Court-Ordered Mediation Won’t Appease Angry Farmers
The suspension of India’s controversial new farming laws to hear protesters’ grievances will delay, but not derail, the implementation of the much-needed agricultural reforms.  On Jan. 12, India’s Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the implementation of three key agricultural reforms and ordered the formation of a four-man committee to mediate the government’s disagreements with the farmers engaged in ongoing protests. Per the court order, the reforms will remain suspended until the committee is able to find a new way forward. In the meantime, however, farmers’ demands will remain unresolved, which will likely lead to continued protests and demonstrations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and one of the key pillars of his broader reform push.
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SnapshotsJan 13, 2021 | 18:46 GMT
German journalist Tanja Samrotzki (right) moderates a panel with the candidates vying for the leadership post of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party -- Friedrich Merz, Norbert Roettgen and Armin Laschet (from left to right) -- on Dec. 14, 2020, in Berlin, Germany.
Germany: What to Expect as Merkel’s Party Elects a New Leader
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party will elect a new leader on Jan. 15-16. The ideological orientation of the new CDU leader could influence Germany’s domestic politics, as well as its relations with the European Union. The CDU is Germany’s most popular party and its leader stands a strong chance of becoming the country’s next chancellor after the Sept. 26 general election. In 2018, Merkel resigned as CDU leader and announced she would not seek another term as chancellor in 2021. During a virtual congress, the CDU’s 1,001 party delegates will elect a new leader. According to CDU tradition, the next party leader should also be the candidate for chancellor, though some members of the party are questioning this principle. 
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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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SnapshotsJan 8, 2021 | 17:22 GMT
Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf holds a press conference at the end of the GCC's 41st summit in the city of al-Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5, 2021.
What’s Driving Saudi Arabia to Ease Its 3-Year Qatar Blockade
By easing its three-year blockade on Qatar, Saudi Arabia is attempting to improve its troubled relationship with the United States before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. But serious differences between Riyadh and Washington remain, which will continue to create tension in their relationship. On Jan. 4, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt agreed to open their land and maritime borders, as well as their air space, to Qatar. Then on Jan. 5, the same four countries pledged to restore relations with Qatar. The breakthrough came after U.S.- and Kuwait-brokered negotiations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Saudi Arabia for the first time since the blockade began in 2017 to attend the GCC conference, where Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally greeted him in an event designed to signal a restoration of high-level relations.
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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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AnalystJan 6, 2021 | 23:26 GMT
Sam Lichtenstein
Sam Lichtenstein

Sam Lichtenstein is a global security analyst who focuses on a wide range of international security issues. He holds a master's degree from the Security Studies Program at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining Stratfor, he served for more than four years in the U.S. government, where he developed analytic expertise on various terrorism topics, including providing tactical and strategic assessments of terrorist groups' motivations, capabilities, plans and intentions, as well as opportunities to counter them.

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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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SITUATION REPORTJan 6, 2021 | 21:37 GMT
North Korea: Kim Highlights Economic Failures in Party Congress Opening Speech
In his opening speech at the eighth congress of the ruling Workers’ Party, North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un admitted that his five-year economic plan had fallen far short of its goals, and noted the need to address the country’s many “external and internal challenges,” Reuters reported Jan. 6, citing the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
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AssessmentsJan 6, 2021 | 19:01 GMT
Peruvians wearing masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 wait outside a bank to collect government aid bonuses in Iquitos, Peru, on June 15, 2020.
Peru's Economy Gets a Wake-Up Call. Will Its Leaders Listen?
Peru is a rare emerging market country that has time to address long-term issues without putting immediate growth at risk -- but only if it takes advantage of that grace period to act. Peru’s primary economic headwinds include reduced growth momentum, with concerns about the country’s long-term financial prospects and political stalemates delaying crucial economic reforms. Such headwinds could hamper fiscal deficit reduction if Peru cannot legislate tax increases or resist spending pressure. In addition, global GDP growth will determine the demand for commodities and metals prices.
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ReflectionsJan 5, 2021 | 21:49 GMT
Supporters of Lebanon’s Future Movement party wave the party’s flag alongside the country’s national flag during a parade in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on Oct. 22, 2020.
In Lebanon, Time Is Running Out to Avoid a Total Unraveling
After a year of severe economic and political instability, Lebanon is edging closer toward a full-blown crisis that could overwhelm even the most entrenched members of its ruling elite, raising the specter of widespread unrest or another civil war. Little about Lebanon is tenable, with its economy in shambles, its national budget unsustainable, its infrastructure in disrepair, and its security at constant threat from extremists, regional conflicts and internal unrest. But with no checks on their power, Lebanon’s various political factions are still finding ways to ritualize this dysfunction, scrambling to stay one step ahead of a disaster that upends their place in power -- and with it, the remaining threads keeping the country from coming apart at the seams. 
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