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On SecurityMay 12, 2021 | 09:00 GMT
The flag of mainland China.
Rethinking Post-Pandemic Business Travel to China
As the prospect of renewed international travel returns over the course of 2021, companies and individuals find themselves at a potential inflection point when it comes to travel to China. The decision on whether to return comes amid increasing tensions between China, the United States and U.S. allies -- and the associated threat of arbitrary detention of individuals for political reasons.
SITUATION REPORTMay 6, 2021 | 20:14 GMT
Iran: Guardian Council Reveals Qualifications for Presidential Candidates
Iran’s Guardian Council has outlined the qualifications for prospective presidential candidates ahead of next month’s election, which include being between the ages of 40 and 75, holding at least a master’s degree or its equivalent, having at least four years of experience in a managerial position, and having no criminal record, Radio Farda reported May 6.
On GeopoliticsApr 13, 2021 | 20:41 GMT
Mansour Abbas, head of Israel's Islamic Ra’am party, speaks with supporters during a rally in the northern Israeli village of Maghar on March 26, 2021.
Amid Political Chaos, Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Parties Mull Uniting With Islamists
Israel’s chaotic political climate is making an alliance between the Jewish and Islamic right, which seemed impossible only a few years ago, increasingly plausible -- so long as pragmatic heads prevail. Dominated by the ultra-Orthodox, Israel’s religious right is murmuring that perhaps it’s time to make common cause with the Islamist factions that make up the country’s other major religious movement, in the hopes that a united front could help both sides keep their long-held special privileges and fend off challenges from Israel’s secular community. On April 2, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the spiritual leader of the pro-Netanyahu United Torah Judaism party, released a statement saying that “cooperation with those who respect religion and Jewish tradition is better than those who persecute religion.” This was in reference to a potential government deal between Netanyahu’s religious-dominated coalition and Ra’am, the Muslim Brotherhood-derived Israeli Islamist party, with secular parties as “those who persecute
AssessmentsApr 12, 2021 | 21:58 GMT
Iranian flags fly along a highway in Natanz in June 2014.
What an Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facility Means for JCPOA Talks
Iran’s need to secure sanctions relief in newly restarted nuclear talks will limit its response to the suspected Israeli attack on Iran’s Natanz facility. Any act of Iranian retaliation, however, will increase overall global scrutiny on the negotiations between Tehran and the West. Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility south of Tehran suffered an overnight electricity blackout early April 11 after an explosion reportedly destroyed the internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges. The timing of the incident follows the first indirect diplomatic engagement between the United States and Iran in three years, and comes amid ongoing tit-for-tat maritime and regional escalations between Israel and Iran. This further indicates the incident was intentional sabotage, with the intent to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program progress, as well as potentially spoil talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany), which are set to continue in
On SecurityApr 9, 2021 | 09:00 GMT
Police escort one of 19 terror suspects being transferred to Jakarta fro Makassar on Feb. 4, 2021, at Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in Makassar, Indonesia.
Indonesia's Faltering Jihadist Movement Can Still Tap Into Age-Old Ethnic Tensions
Two attacks in Indonesia over the course of four days suggest that extremist violence is resuming there after a very quiet 2020. Recent jihadist plots and statements indicate a growing interest in targeting ethnic Chinese Indonesians in an attempt to exploit one of the darker fault lines in Indonesian society with a long history of lethal violence. Unlike previous episodes of anti-Chinese violence, a repeat in the current era would risk a response from a much more assertive and confident China. Jihadists, or others, could meanwhile exploit conflicts arising from political, economic, religious or commercial frictions to destabilize Indonesia in the near future. 
AssessmentsMar 3, 2021 | 22:57 GMT
Smoke billows above a Syrian village following an airstrike raid on March 3, 2020.
U.S. Talks Won’t Change Iran’s Proxy Strategy
Iran is using its proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to increase pressure on U.S. interests in the Middle East as it seeks to build leverage before renewing negotiations with Washington. But even if U.S. talks yield sanctions relief, Tehran remains unlikely to abandon its powerful militia network. On Feb. 26, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed Iraqi militias in Syria. The strikes, which were the Biden administration’s first military action since taking office, were intended to send a message to Iran as the two governments approach possible negotiations on U.S. sanctions and Iran’s nuclear program. Biden even told reporters that the airstrikes sought to communicate to Iran that it could not act with “impunity.” But the airstrikes also functioned as a direct response to the growing threat Iraqi militias pose to U.S. forces in the Middle East, underscoring how proxy theater activity is both a
SnapshotsFeb 23, 2021 | 21:23 GMT
Norwegian army soldiers use snowmobiles for mobility during a military exercise on March 6, 2013, in Skjold, Norway.
Increased Arctic Activity Sets the Stage for U.S.-Russia Competition
The U.S. military is increasing collaboration with Nordic states in response to expanding Russian military and economic activities in the Arctic, pointing to a future of heightened competition with the potential for both strategic and tactical miscommunication or miscalculation. On Feb. 22, four U.S. B-1 bombers arrived for their first-ever deployment to Norway in a move widely seen as a signal to Russia. Five days earlier, the United States agreed with Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to continue its participation in the biennial Arctic Challenge Exercise, one of Europe’s largest tactical air exercises and widely seen as practice to counter potential Russian belligerence, next scheduled for June 2021. The U.S. Army is also preparing to unveil its Arctic strategy in the coming weeks, as the changing climate turns the previously inaccessible region into an increasingly busy zone of military and economic activity -- particularly along the Russian frontier.
SITUATION REPORTDec 9, 2020 | 21:28 GMT
Yemen: U.S. Sanctions Iranian Official With Alleged Houthi Links 
The United States has sanctioned a high-ranking member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hasan Irlu, for operating as Tehran’s envoy to Houthi rebels and “demonstrat[ing] the Iranian regime’s indifference to resolving the conflict” in Yemen, Al Jazeera reported Dec. 8. 
AssessmentsDec 3, 2020 | 23:26 GMT
Members of Iranian forces pray around the coffin of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during his burial ceremony at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in northern Tehran on Nov. 30, 2020.
A New Iranian Law Could Bring the Nuclear Issue to a Crisis Point Under Biden
The Iranian parliament's ratification of a new bill expanding Iran's nuclear program reflects growing pressure by Iranian hawks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and their expectation of early engagement with the incoming Biden administration to address bilateral issues. If the law is implemented entirely it would bring the Iran nuclear issue on the cusp of a crisis within the first 100 days of the Biden administration because the moves that Iran makes under the law would be aimed at significantly reducing Iran's nuclear breakout, the time Iran would need to produce enough weapons-grade material for one device.
AssessmentsNov 27, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
IAEA inspectors (2nd, 3rd L) and Iranian technicians disconnect the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, Iran, on Jan., 20, 2014.
Fallout From the Killing of a High-Level Iranian Nuclear Scientist
The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will not materially impact Iran's nuclear program, but the killing is a sign that the United States and Israel are accelerating their covert strategy against Iran in the waning days of the Trump administration. Iran will respond in some form, although it will probably refrain from a hasty response that could transform the covert war with Israel and the United States on Iranian soil into an overt one.
On SecurityNov 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Emergency personnel on Oct. 31, 2020, in Lyon, France, at the scene of an attack on a Greek Orthodox priest.
How Satirical Cartoons Have Become a Flashpoint for Violence in Europe and Abroad
Recent attacks and unrest in Europe and across the Muslim world are part of a pattern of violence associated with the Mohamed cartoon controversy that has recently flared up due to an ongoing trial in Paris. Attacks in September and early October focused on individuals and symbols directly linked to the cartoons, but the target set expanded as initial attacks spawned more violence, along with apparent retaliation to the initial attacks. In Europe, the return of the cartoon controversy comes amid rising concerns over Islamophobia and associated attacks. Verdicts in the trial that began the latest chapter of the controversy are expected in December, potentially providing motivation for even more attacks. The continual reemergence of the Mohammed cartoon controversy suggests that this issue will remain an issue that motivates violence for years to come.
AssessmentsOct 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A picture taken on Nov. 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.
The Limits of Biden’s Proposed Return to Diplomacy With Iran
U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has expressed he’d be open to quickly re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran returns to full compliance. But his predecessor’s hardline policies would probably necessitate expanding the scope of negotiations with Tehran beyond the current deal, leading Iran to adopt an even harder position on its nuclear program. Biden criticized the Trump administration’s hawkish Iran policy and 2018 withdrawal from the nuclear deal in a Sept. 13 opinion piece, in which he wrote that returning to the JCPOA could be the start of broader diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. Simply re-entering the JCPOA, however, would be difficult for both Washington and Tehran, as the current U.S. sanctions architecture is now far more complex than it was when the deal was signed in 2015.
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. 
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. 
SnapshotsJul 14, 2020 | 14:21 GMT
A Call for Unity May Protect Iran's President From Impeachment, but Not His Officials
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal to parliament against efforts to impeach President Hassan Rouhani will slow, but not stop, legislators' action against Rouhani's administration in its final year. In a July 12 address to parliament, Khamenei urged unity among Iran's leaders and voiced his support for Rouhani carrying out the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2021. The movement to impeach Rouhani and officials in his administration, which has been building since Iran's new parliament took office in late May, has accelerated over the last week. Khamenei's intervention won't halt dissatisfaction with Rouhani's performance, but it will make his impeachment less likely. Other prominent figures in his administration, however, will still be at risk of being prematurely ousted from office.
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