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AssessmentsDec 21, 2020 | 15:40 GMT
Demonstrators hold a Catalonian flag ahead of a political meeting in Perpignan, France, on Feb. 29, 2020.
In Spain, the Next Phase of Catalonia's Independence Push
Pro-independence forces in Spain’s Catalonia region will likely remain in power after February regional elections, but they are unlikely to achieve their secessionist goals in the near-to-medium term. Nonetheless, Catalonia’s persistent push for independence will risk eventually undermining its own political and economic stability, as well as that of Spain’s. It could also stoke a nationalist backlash in other parts of the country. Catalonia will hold an early regional election on Feb. 14, though the vote could be postponed depending on the evolution of Spain’s COVID-19 epidemic. Opinion polls suggest that secessionist forces, which include the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Together for Catalonia (JxCat) will win enough seats in the Catalan parliament to form a government. Both parties were involved in the illegal referendum and the 2017 unilateral declaration of independence, and some of their leaders are in jail while others have fled the country to avoid arrest. 
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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.
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SnapshotsSep 23, 2020 | 21:23 GMT
U.S., Russia: What to Make of Washington's Reversal on New START
The success of the White House’s attempt to score a pre-election foreign policy win by shifting its position in favor of a temporary New START extension will depend on Russia playing along, though Washington’s long-term goal of expanding the nuclear arms control treaty to a trilateral framework still rests entirely on China. In an interview with daily Russian newspaper Kommersant published on Sept. 21, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said the United States was now open to extending the arms agreement it signed with Moscow in 2010, which is currently set to expire on Feb. 5, but by no more than five years. Washington will only agree to such an extension, however, if Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees to either a joint statement or memorandum of intent (MOI) outlining the framework of a successor treaty with U.S. President Donald Trump prior to the November presidential election.
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SnapshotsAug 13, 2020 | 21:21 GMT
The UAE Paves the Way for Arab Gulf States to Normalize Their Israeli Ties
On Aug. 13, Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced their intention to normalize relations, paving the way for increased economic and diplomatic ties and setting a precedent for other Arab Gulf states to follow suit. The agreement, which was brokered by the United States, sets a roadmap for Emirati and Israeli officials to sign trade, travel, investment and technology deals as they pursue a path of diplomatic normalization for the first time in either country's history. It also includes a pledge by Israel to maintain the freeze of its pledged annexation of parts of the West Bank, as well as for Israel and the United Arab Emirates to cooperate on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The deal, however, notably does not create a realistic roadmap to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, nor does it change the current trajectory in the West Bank toward making a future Palestinian state
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SnapshotsAug 10, 2020 | 21:25 GMT
In Hong Kong, a Series of Raids and Arrests Portends Further Crackdowns
With elections now delayed to 2021, the recent arrests of activists and a pro-democracy media tycoon in Hong Kong likely herald a new period of more aggressive crackdowns on figures Beijing perceives as threats to the city's stability. On Aug. 10, Hong Kong's newly established National Security Department police unit carried out a series of raids and arrests across the city that netted 10 individuals for allegedly violating the new national security law. The city's year-long election delay will grant Beijing and city authorities greater room to escalate crackdowns without undermining the legitimacy of pro-Beijing candidates, or sacrificing the city's political system and jeopardizing its role as a global financial hub.
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AssessmentsJun 15, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Protesters in New York City kneel at an intersection to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality on June 11, 2020.
U.S. Unrest Further Strains Trump’s Ties With Global Allies
Global U.S. allies are increasingly condemning the White House’s heavy-handed response to the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death, suggesting a further erosion of U.S. leadership that could compromise Washington’s ability to find consensus on its controversial agenda of multilateral economic and security issues. Commentary from reputable news outlets and elite opinion-makers in Europe over the past week have questioned whether American internal polarization and discord would weaken its ability to function as a reliable ally. Increasingly irritated with the White House’s break from long-standing diplomatic norms, European governments appear to be translating opinion into policy action by challenging Trump’s proposed adjustments to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit and U.S. military posture in Europe.
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On GeopoliticsJun 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi answers questions during a video press conference on May 24, 2020, in Beijing, China.
China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy Risks Backfiring on Beijing
The growing global backlash against China's involvement in both the COVID-19 pandemic and Hong Kong's political crisis is fueling a new brand of "wolf warrior" diplomacy in Beijing based on a nationalistic Chinese movie. This more aggressive stance abroad exposes a sense of vulnerability in Beijing, and poses two potential risks for the regime -- the first is that the tactic backfires overseas, and the second, and perhaps more problematic, is that Beijing loses control of the nationalistic narrative.
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AssessmentsApr 28, 2020 | 16:58 GMT
The Kremlin.
The Russian Regime Accelerates Its 'Management' of Democracy
Though democratic processes are codified by law in Russia, government limitations on opposition activity and efforts to control nearly every aspect of political life have rendered elections largely a formality. Without an opposition able to operate effectively, the Kremlin enjoys carte blanche to define policy and maintain power. For nearly two decades, the United Russia party has dominated Russian politics as an instrument of President Vladimir Putin's control. The system known in Russia as "managed democracy," under which opposition activity is heavily suppressed, has made this possible. Taking control of the media narrative plus creating new parties to draw away votes from the opposition will be key to Putins ability to retain power.
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GuidanceMar 27, 2020 | 17:03 GMT
Wearing a protective mask, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro takes to questions regarding the country's coronavirus outbreak during a press conference at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on March 18, 2020.
In Brazil, Bolsonaro's COVID-19 Rift With Congress Will Stall Tax Reforms
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to claim that concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic are overblown. This controversial position has intensified an already bitter rift with Brazilian lawmakers regarding Bolsanoro's perceived disrespect for democratic norms, consuming the time needed to enact key tax reforms before October’s municipal elections.
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SnapshotsMar 3, 2020 | 16:53 GMT
Bolsonaro's Support for Anti-Congress Rallies Stirs Fears for Brazil's Democracy
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's support for a movement to stage demonstrations against the country's Congress on March 15 has led to accusations that he is acting to undermine democracy. The move has the potential to backfire politically as it has been opposed by some conservative elected officials and media figures.
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On SecurityDec 24, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Mexican Secretary of Public Safety Genaro Garcia Luna, right, in Bogota, Colombia, on May 19, 2011.
The Business Impact of Corruption and Impunity in Mexico
The detention in the United States of Mexico's former secretary of public security highlights how corruption reaches to the highest levels of Mexico's government. Former Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested Dec. 10 in Grapevine, Texas. He has been charged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York with three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and one count of making false statements related to bribes he allegedly received from the Sinaloa cartel to help facilitate its smuggling operations. Garcia Luna held the national security post in Mexico during the administration of former President Felipe Calderon from 2006 to 2012. Before then, he headed Mexico's Federal Investigations Agency from 2001 to 2006.
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