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AssessmentsOct 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A masked Hamas militant mans a machine gun in the back of a pickup truck in the Palestinian city of Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip, on Oct. 17, 2019. The yellow flags of the Palestinian party Fatah can also be seen in the background.
Abandoned by Old Allies, Palestinian Leaders Turn to Turkey -- and Each Other
A Turkey-brokered agreement to hold the first Palestinian elections in 15 years suggests a new appetite for cooperation between the territories’ staunch political rivals, along with a new mediating role for Ankara, in light of warming Israeli-Arab Gulf relations. On Sept. 23-24, high-level representatives from Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas met in Istanbul for a two-day discussion hosted by Turkey’s foreign ministry. After the meeting, a Hamas spokesperson announced that the two parties -- which have been engaged in more than a decade of infighting -- had agreed to begin planning elections within six months. 
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SITUATION REPORTSep 11, 2020 | 22:20 GMT
Peru: Congress Threatens to Impeach President as Political Crisis Erupts
Members of Peru’s Congress submitted a request to begin proceedings to impeach President Martin Vizcarra over his alleged recorded conversation with officials at Peru’s Ministry of Culture, in which they seemingly agree on a cover-up scheme regarding government contracts awarded to a singer for services within the ministry, Reuters reported Sept. 10.
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SnapshotsSep 1, 2020 | 16:24 GMT
U.S. Pressure on TikTok Prompts a Chinese Show of Legal Force
The recent expansion of Chinese export controls reflects a long-term strategy wherein Beijing will move to counter and match U.S. efforts to limit China's global tech rise, leading to a further decoupling of the world's two largest economies. On Aug. 28, the Chinese government increased restrictions on the export of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, including text-to-speech technology and data analysis to serve up personalized content. China's ministries in charge of commerce and science and technology jointly released a revised export-control list for the first time since it was compiled in 2008. With these updates, Beijing makes itself a more decisive player in the sale of the popular video-sharing app, TikTok. But more broadly, the new export controls also signal China will deploy its own legal tools to retaliate against the increasingly aggressive use of U.S. export controls to restrict Chinese tech companies abroad.
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SnapshotsAug 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
In Jordan, a Government Crackdown on Civil Dissent Risks Backfiring
The arrests of teachers union leaders in Jordan risks fueling unrest in the typically politically stable country against a government the United States relies on for its regional counterterrorism efforts. On July 25, Jordanian security forces arrested over a dozen key members of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate and charged them with corruption, incitement, financial irregularities and criminal activities. Forces also raided the union’s offices and shut them down for two years. Nasser Nawasreh, acting head of the Teachers Syndicate, was charged with incitement specifically over a speech he gave on July 22 that sharply criticized Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government. A government spokesman said that the arrests were conducted to prevent the union from staging planned sit-ins and demonstrations that risked harming “the state’s essential services and their functioning.”
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AssessmentsAug 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An oil pumpjack operates in Signal Hill, California, on April 21, 2020, a day after oil prices dropped to below zero amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a Global COVID-19 Resurgence, Oil Prices Are Poised to Stall
The resurgence of COVID-19 infections in many countries around the world has undermined the oil market's notion that the recovery in petroleum product demand will continue upward in the absence of a vaccine. Expectations of a swift demand recovery in recent weeks have also been hampered by concerns about new mandatory lockdowns in places where economic activity had resumed, as well as slower economic recoveries elsewhere. Crude oil prices are thus likely to stall heading into the fourth quarter of 2020 as global demand remains sluggish, while modest rises in OPEC+ supply undermine efforts to rapidly balance the market and drain excess inventories. This means the fiscal position of countries highly dependent on oil export revenues will likely continue to be strained, and that any recovery in drilling activity and the oilfield services sector will also be slow.
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AssessmentsJul 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Ukraine's new central bank chief, Kyrylo Shevchenko, wears a face mask as he watches lawmakers vote on his candidacy during a parliamentary session on July 16, 2020.
Is Ukraine on Thin Ice with the IMF?
A potential falling out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over monetary policy and independence of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) would be highly damaging, but not catastrophic, to Ukraine's economic recovery efforts. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has made Kyiv heavily dependent on the bailout money it's receiving from the IMF, as well as the European Union. The IMF has placed Kyiv on a fairly short leash, warning that the recent appointment of Kyrylo Shevchenko -- an advocate of easier monetary policy and ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky -- raises questions regarding the NBU's independence and possible politicization. Zelensky and Shevchenko's political views are unlikely to cause the IMF to suspend its assistance to Ukraine, though the actions of the NBU will be monitored closely.
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SnapshotsJul 16, 2020 | 21:07 GMT
China's Economy Is Growing Again, Sort Of
Further scrutiny of China's 3.2 percent GDP growth in the second quarter of 2020 still shows uneven, slow healing from the COVID-19 crisis that leaves the Chinese economy vulnerable to setbacks and shocks, even as the headline number suggests a slight recovery from the country's deep dip earlier this year. Risks in the second half of the year include a renewed virus outbreak, residual Chinese consumer caution and weak business investment in manufacturing plants and equipment, shaky global demand for Chinese exports, heightening tensions with the United States, and severe flooding currently in much of the country.
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SnapshotsJun 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Worst Global Recession in 80 Years Is Here. Where’s the Bottom?
Prospects for a quick global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic are officially dead, with all major international financial institutions and private forecasters now projecting huge cumulative losses and an uneven, prolonged climb out of the world’s steepest recession in 80 years. Economic models have proven incapable of dealing with uncertainties and discontinuities of the current unprecedented global lockdown. But even though magnitudes vary, recent forecasts are headed in the same direction -- down. 
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AssessmentsJun 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A collection of Saudi riyal banknotes.
Saudi Arabia’s Currency Peg Will Hold -- For Now
The current collapse in crude prices is again fueling questions over the durability of the hard U.S. dollar currency peg used by Saudi Arabia. Despite the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the peg is likely to survive in the near term. But structural changes in both the global oil market and the Saudi economy means Riyadh will likely devalue its currency at some point in the next five years, as this time the kingdom will not be able to rely on a full recovery in prices for its oil exports to substantially replenish the large fiscal reserves that underpin its ability to defend currency pegs.
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AssessmentsJun 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image shows the arrival of Russian fighter jets at an air base in Libya controlled by Khalifa Hifter's rebel army.
Russia Deepens Its Commitment to Libya’s War -- and Political Future
Russia's deepening support for the Libyan National Army (LNA) proves the Kremlin views LNA leader Khalifa Hifter as crucial to its greater North African and Mediterranean strategy, and could grant Moscow the upper hand in shaping the war-torn country's political future. The U.S. military, among others, recently released photos confirming the arrival of a fleet of Russian fighter jets at two LNA-controlled air bases in Libya. The deployment will make it more difficult for the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) to make further military gains beyond Tripolitania. But perhaps most importantly, Russia's growing involvement in Libya's civil war -- alongside Turkey's continued support for the GNA -- will leave Moscow and Ankara at the helm of any potential negotiations between Eastern and Western Libya, much to the dismay of those in Europe and the United States. 
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SnapshotsMay 11, 2020 | 19:39 GMT
As Oil Prices Plummet, Saudi Arabia Opts for Austerity
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent global recession, most countries are launching significant fiscal stimulus programs to boost domestic economic activity. Governments dependent on oil and gas revenue, however, are being forced to do the opposite as the likely long-term collapse of energy prices necessitates sharp spending cuts and unpopular austerity measures. Saudi Arabia has recently joined the growing list of oil-producers now facing twin economic and political crises as a result of the pandemic.  On May 10, Riyadh announced three specific measures that Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan said were necessary to get its public finances under control for the long and painful road ahead: - Saudi Arabia will cut or delay spending totaling 100 billion Saudi riyals ($26.6 billion), which is roughly equivalent to 10 percent of Saudi Arabia's planned 1020 billion riyal ($271.5 billion) 2020 budget. It is not clear how much of the spending cuts and
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AssessmentsMay 6, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image displays rows of silicon wafers.
The U.S. Weaponizes COVID-19 Anger Against China’s Tech Sector
The United States and China have been locked in a technology cold war for several years. The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is now pressuring Washington to make even stronger moves against Beijing by fueling anti-China sentiment among U.S. voters and legislators alike. But the White House’s latest attempt to increase export controls on China and limit Beijing's overall access to U.S. technology will come at the cost of further fragmenting the global tech sector’s highly integrated supply chain network. 
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AssessmentsApr 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A pumpjack outside the Russian city of Surgut.
The Golden Age of Russian Oil Nears an End
Russia's easily accessible oil reserves have long been the cornerstone of its economy. But these conventional fields are depleting, leading to the need to invest and expand into more untapped sources. This transformation will not be easy or cheap, as various factors have led to a poorly optimized oil sector that's ill-equipped to soften the blow of rising costs. The key to maintaining a strong energy market, and securing the capital needed to develop new and expensive fields, will instead rest on whether Moscow can secure its foothold in China's increasingly oil-hungry market. In any case, Russia may have little choice but to accept that its glory days of oil dominance and high profit margins are nearing an end. 
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AssessmentsApr 8, 2020 | 18:16 GMT
A 3D rendering of the novel coronavirus floating in a cellular environment.
COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Back to Work
To help clients sift through the growing sea of COVID-19 information, RANE pulsed its network of experts to level set what should be top of mind for businesses and individuals as the pandemic unfolds. Stratfor’s geopolitical content and analysis will soon be available through RANE’s platform, where members receive exclusive access to a global marketplace of credentialed risk experts and service providers, proprietary community-driven risk intelligence, and a range of support services and risk management programs. For more information about RANE and Stratfor, visit https://go.ranenetwork.com/stratfor/rane.  This FAQ covers the following questions: What do we now know about this illness and who gets it? How can individuals best protect themselves? Do I need to worry about people getting infected by the virus living on things they touch? What do we do if someone shows symptoms while in the workplace? What can I do to mitigate the risk of being shut down by health authorities? How does this end?
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AssessmentsMar 27, 2020 | 20:09 GMT
Lebanese President Michel Aoun (C) wears a face mask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 during a March 26, 2020, meeting in Beirut to evaluate measures taken against the virus' spread.
COVID-19 Temporarily Tamps Down Unrest in the Middle East
Protest movements across the Middle East and North Africa, from Algeria to Lebanon and Iraq, have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fear of the virus' spread has deterred these movements from organizing in the streets more than the intermittent threat of crackdowns by security forces even though these were especially violent in Iraq. The underlying factors driving these movements remained largely unresolved, however, and the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will leave these countries with even fewer tools to appease protesters once the disease dissipates. So while the COVID-19 pandemic will depress anti-government demonstrations and activism in the near term, its inevitably negative economic impacts will spark more unrest later in the year in protest hotspots once the greatest danger of COVID-19 has passed.
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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 3, 2020 | 22:06 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Likud party supporters during a Feb. 29, 2020, political rally in Ramat Gan.
Another Election, Another Uncertain Outcome for Israel and Netanyahu
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emerged out of Israel's third election in a year stronger than before -- but just shy of securing the parliamentary majority needed to actually form a government. Now the question of his political survival takes precedence over pressing domestic reforms, while abroad Israel's now-normalized caretaker government will continue its strategies against Iran and the Palestinians.
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