In the Middle East, Strange Times Make for Strange Bedfellows

Re-Blogged From worldview.stratfor.com

Highlights

  • The Iranian threat is pulling the once-clandestine relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia into the public eye.
  • But there are other factors encouraging the two countries to work more closely with each other, including their legitimacy at home and abroad.
  • As Israel and Saudi Arabia move into uncharted territory, both risk exposing themselves to pushback and new dangers.  

A map of Saudi Arabia and Israel

(OMERSUKRUGOKSU/iStock)

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In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia Attempts the Impossible

Re-Blogged From https://worldview.stratfor.com

Highlights

  • In the regional competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon is the most recent proxy battleground.
  • Iran’s political and security connections in Lebanon mean Saudi Arabia will have a hard time countering its influence there.
  • Saudi Arabia can wield some financial tools to try to pressure Lebanon, but Iran has the means to cushion some of the impact.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

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America the Beautiful, but Divided

By Rebecca Keller – Re-Blogged rom https://worldview.stratfor.com

For nearly a year the world has worked to adapt to recent changes, both real and perceived, in U.S. foreign policy. But as the globe responds to the new priorities of its only superpower, Americans themselves remain divided over how best to engage with their surroundings.

Much like the members of the European Union, each of America’s states has its own needs to fulfill. Technological progress has given some states an edge in pursuing their goals, but it has also left behind regions that were once among the most prominent forces in U.S. politics — including the country’s flourishing breadbasket, the American Midwest. And as the socio-economic gap between different parts of the country has widened, so have their policy preferences.

By design, political discourse and debate are woven into the very fabric of American governance. But rarely do rifts among states spill into foreign policy and global issues in a substantial way. That may not be the case for much longer, however, as U.S. President Donald Trump’s populist appeals attract strong allies — and even stronger opponents — to the White House.

States like California hold political stances that are much different than those of Trump's constituents in the American Midwest, particularly on matters related to the environment, energy, immigration and the tech sector.

(DUSTYPIXEL/iStock)

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Turkey Poised to Roll Into Syria

Re-Blogged From Stratfor Worldview

Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters advance toward jihadist-controlled Idlib province along the Syria-Turkey border on Oct. 6.

(NAZEER AL-KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Weeks after Turkish forces started to deploy in large numbers along the border with Syria, adjacent to the province of Idlib, Ankara appears to be on the verge of launching yet another significant military operation into the war-torn country. Unlike Operation Euphrates Shield, which targeted lands occupied by the Islamic State, the upcoming operation into Idlib will be directed toward lands occupied by Syrian rebels. As befitting a convoluted conflict such as Syria, Turkey’s advance into Idlib will be assisted by other Syrian rebel groups trained over time by Turkey in neighboring Aleppo province. And according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest statements, they will be supported by Russian aviation. Continue reading

2017 Third-Quarter World Forecast

Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Overview

Tempering Trump Policy: Ongoing federal investigations and intensifying budget battles with Congress will make for another distracting quarter for U.S. President Donald Trump. But these disruptions won’t mitigate the rhetoric of White House ideologues, or broader speculation that the United States is retreating from the global stage. The reality of the superpower’s role in global governance, of course, is far more complicated. Meanwhile, the administration’s more extreme policy initiatives, particularly on matters of trade and climate, will be tempered at the federal, corporate, state and local levels. And though the United States will maintain its security alliances abroad, it will also generate enough uncertainty to drive its partners toward unilateral action in managing their own neighborhoods.

Sparks Fly in the Middle East: Qatar’s standoff with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will persist throughout the quarter amid intensifying battles among regional powers’ proxies across the region. More visible competition within the Gulf Cooperation Council and growing distrust between Turkey and its Gulf neighbors will reveal the weaknesses of the White House’s strategy to conform to Riyadh’s increasingly assertive foreign policy in an attempt to manage the region. The risk of clashes among great powers is also on the rise in eastern Syria: As Iran works to create a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, Syrian loyalists and U.S.-backed rebels are racing toward the Iraqi border, all while Russia uses the Syrian battlefield to jockey with the United States for influence.

A Stressed but Stable Oil Market: As Saudi Arabia’s young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to amass power, much of his focus will stay fixed on preparing for the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco in 2018. Part of that plan entails preserving a deal on production cuts among major oil producers in hopes of keeping prices stable amid climbing output in the United States, Libya, Nigeria and Kazakhstan. Compliance with the agreement will hold through the quarter, but it will slip toward the end of the year as signatories begin to craft their exit strategies.

Dancing Around the North Korean Crisis: The limits to China’s cooperation in sanctions against North Korea will become clearer as trade talks between Beijing and Washington head for a rough patch. Pyongyang’s nuclear and weapons tests will continue to fuel friction in the region, though they will not increase the chances of U.S. military action this quarter unless the North Korean regime can demonstrate a credible long-range missile capability; an achievement that is probably still at least a year away.

Europe Buys Time While Russia Airs Its Dirty Laundry: A likely electoral win for Germany’s moderate forces and early reform successes in France will reinvigorate calls to take advantage of the prevailing calm on the Continent to revamp the European Union. Doing so, however, will expose the many fault lines festering in Europe as each camp proposes a different vision for integration. And with a wary West on guard against Russian cyberwarfare and propaganda campaigns, there will be little room for substantive negotiation between Washington and Moscow this quarter. At the same time, a burgeoning protest movement will keep the Kremlin’s hands full at home.
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Look What Hungary did that Erased Their Illegal Immigration Problem Within Months

Re-Blogged From Eagle Rising

BUDAPEST, Hungary — When other countries welcomed refugees with open arms, Hungary decided it was time to eradicate illegal immigration at any cost.

The country succeeded, but that success damaged relations with the European Union in the process.

Hungary’s second border fence has just been completed in the southern town of Asotthalom. The 96-mile long, 14 ft. tall double-line of defense doesn’t look too intimidating from a distance. Go a little closer and you’ll notice several layers of razor-wire capable of delivering electric shocks, cameras, heat sensors and loud speakers ready to tell migrants they’re about to break Hungarian law if they as much as touch the fence.

illegal immigration

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Making Sense of the Attack in St. Petersburg

Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Russia is no stranger to terrorist attacks. But for the past four years, the country (beyond its restive North Caucasus region) has been free of the kinds of large assaults that have periodically rocked Europe and the United States. Then on Monday, an explosion ripped through a subway train in St. Petersburg, killing 11 people and injuring nearly 50 more. (A second device was reportedly found and dismantled at a nearby metro station.) Russia’s Investigative Committee quickly declared the incident a terrorist attack, and media outlets across the country have proposed different theories to explain who staged the attack and why. Though some scenarios are more plausible than others, each comes with its own set of consequences for the Kremlin and the country.