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Watch List: April 10, 2018

Iran on a collision course, Mexico reviews the U.S. relationship, renewed feud between Hamas and Fatah

|April 10, 2018

The items listed below represent potential emerging issues that our analysts are tracking. These can be long term or short term, but will be updated daily. If an item on our Watch List becomes critical, we will email you a full analysis explaining its significance.

Each Saturday, we will follow up our daily Watch List for each week with our conclusions on these issues.

Iran: Lawmakers from Isfahan province have warned Tehran that the province could run out of tap water in the next 2-3 months. They asked the president to take action and examine the country’s water crisis. Farmers in Isfahan have been holding protests over the issue. We need to understand the extent to which the water crisis can exacerbate social unrest in Iran, especially after the country’s currency problems and protests earlier in the year. What other provinces are experiencing severe water shortages, and how many people live there? What solutions have been proposed? The answers to these questions will help us address the real question: Is Iran about to see massive unrest?

Mexico: Mexico’s president called on each of his ministries to review the mechanisms of cooperation it has with the United States. The Foreign Ministry will head the review, which is expected to take several weeks. We need to figure out what prompted the review and whether it has a precedent. Let’s also identify the areas where Mexico is most vulnerable as well as where it could forgo extensive cooperation with the United States.

Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority did not issue salary payments to employees in Gaza this month. Employees in the West Bank did receive their wages, suggesting the move was intentional. This looks like an effort to increase discontent in the Gaza Strip just months after Hamas and Fatah were trying to follow through on a reconciliation agreement. Why are they feuding now?

Germany, France: There are reports of problems emerging in the Germany-France bilateral relationship. France is growing impatient with Germany, which it believes is acting as the undisputed leader of Europe, does not take Paris seriously and is delaying EU financial matters. What are the main points of divergence between the two countries on EU policy? Are there any signs of France trying to regain a leadership role in Western Europe?

Australia: Australia’s Fairfax Media reported that China and Vanuatu held preliminary talks on the establishment of a Chinese military base. Officials from all three governments strongly denied the report. The report is very detailed, suggesting it may have been leaked to the press. Why did the newspaper run this report? We would benefit from knowing any bias Fairfax Media may have and its accuracy on previous reports pertaining to regional governments.

U.S.: There have been six U.S. military aviation crashes in the past three weeks, resulting in 16 fatalities. Less than a year ago, the U.S. temporarily halted naval activities following a string of accidents at sea. The accidents could raise questions about U.S. aviation capabilities. Let’s go back and look at annual accidents over the years as well as the number of missions flown to make a comparison. Also note any commentary that is being used to explain these accidents.

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