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SnapshotsJan 15, 2021 | 18:53 GMT
A Turkish-backed fighter guards the rebel-held province of Aleppo in northern Syria on Nov. 17, 2020.
Turkey Tests the Limits of the Cease-Fire in Northeastern Syria
Turkey’s gambit to undermine the U.S.-brokered 2019 cease-fire in northeastern Syria could strengthen its position on the battlefield, while increasing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)’s reliance on Russia and the Syrian government. For weeks, the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) has been shelling the SDF-held strategic town of Ain Issa in northeastern Syria. Some nearby villages have fallen to Turkish-backed forces -- paving the way for a possible full offensive to take control of Ain Issa. The U.S.-backed SDF has called on Russia to set up observation posts west of Ain Issa to deter further Turkish-backed attacks, while the United States has stepped up diplomatic activity to negotiate a settlement between the SDF and Turkey to avoid further escalation in the area.
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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 16:39 GMT
Italy’s former prime minister and current leader of the Italy Alive party, Matteo Renzi (center), holds a press conference with outgoing ministers Elena Bonetti (left) and Teresa Bellanova (right) on Jan. 13, 2021.
Italy’s Government Is in Crisis. What’s Next?
Italy is in a political crisis after a junior member of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition exited the government, effectively leaving it without a majority in Parliament. The most disruptive (but least likely) scenario would be an early general election, which would undermine Rome’s efforts to handle the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Jan. 13,  the small Italy Alive political party withdrew its ministers from Conte’s cabinet to protest his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left the senior members of the coalition -- the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party -- without a majority in Parliament. 
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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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SnapshotsJan 7, 2021 | 18:13 GMT
An aerial view shows the ruins of a village on Jan. 5, 2021, in an area of Nagorno-Karabakh that was recaptured by Azerbaijan in October 2020.
Despite Violations, the Azeri-Armenian Cease-Fire Will Hold -- For Now
The Azeri-Armenian cease-fire will be undermined by both sides on the ground and in their capitals. But for now, Turkish-Russian cooperation and domestic problems in Armenia seem poised to prevent more large, state-on-state clashes. On Dec. 28, Azerbaijan said one soldier was killed by an Armenian armed unit in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, violating the Nov. 10 truce. The clash followed several earlier incidents in December. Nagorno-Karabakh authorities accused Azeri troops of capturing some of their soldiers following clashes between Azeri and Armenian-backed forces between Dec. 11-13 that killed several soldiers on both sides. Azeri and Armenian authorities have begun regularly accusing one another of violating the truce that ended weeks of fighting and resulted in reported casualties on both sides.
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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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SnapshotsJan 5, 2021 | 19:34 GMT
A sign advises people to follow COVID-19 restrictions on Jan. 5, 2021, in Falmouth, the United Kingdom. In a televised address on Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country was entering its third lockdown since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.
The Next Wave of COVID-19 Lockdowns Emerges in Europe
The United Kingdom’s decision to tighten its COVID-19 lockdown measures and introduce a new relief package for businesses is a preview of similar decisions that governments in continental Europe will introduce in the coming days. The lockdown measures will result in low, or even negative, economic growth in Europe in the first quarter of 2021, which will worsen governments’ fiscal deficit and sovereign debt levels. On Jan. 4, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced stricter social distancing measures for England and Scotland, respectively, to cope with the rising number of COVID-19 infections. Then, on Jan. 5, the U.K. government announced a 4.6 billion pound ($6.2 billion) aid package for companies hardest hit by the tighter lockdown measures across the country. 
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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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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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SITUATION REPORTDec 28, 2020 | 20:33 GMT
China: Regulators Reportedly Want Ant Group to Refocus on Payment Products
The People’s Bank of China issued a statement on Dec. 27 criticizing the governance and certain business practices of Ant Group, the financial unit of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, following a recent meeting between bank officials, Chinese financial regulators and company representatives. China’s regulators reportedly want Ant Group to focus its efforts on payments while reducing its efforts on lending, wealth management products and other financial products that it has begun offering in recent years.
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