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.
- United States-Afghanistan: U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was in Afghanistan on Monday. A report by Afghanistan’s 1TV says Afghan forces deployed near the Tajik border to halt Russian aid to the Taliban. The report is unconfirmed and the source’s reliability is unclear. We must first determine the source’s reliability. If that source is reliable, we need to ascertain if there is a connection between McMaster’s visit and a U.S. request to Afghan forces to do this. We also need to determine the nature of the Russian aid.
- Cambodia: Earlier this month, Cambodia asked a U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion to leave the country. Cambodia also accepted $157 million from China to build a new sports stadium. In January, Cambodia canceled an annual joint military exercise with the United States. Is Cambodia shifting from a moderately pro-U.S. position to a moderately pro-China one? What is the status of China’s moves in Southeast Asia, and what is the practical import of China’s reaching out in this region?
- China: The South China Morning Post reports that a former inspector in the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) is being investigated for a “serious violation of party discipline.” The CCDI is the anti-corruption organization that has been carrying out President Xi Jinping’s purges. Is this an indication of a shift in the target of these proceedings or an indication that some in the CCDI were going beyond their mandate at the local level?
- Japan-U.S.: Japan’s deputy prime minister and the U.S. vice president met on Tuesday. At a press conference following the meeting, they discussed development of Japanese-U.S. economic ties via a potential trade deal. The questions to tackle here are what current trade issues exist between the U.S. and Japan, what is the U.S. trying to incentivize Japan to do in the context of North Korea, and what are the domestic political constraints in Japan for moving toward a deal like this.
- France: The first round of French elections is approaching on Sunday. While the results matter relatively little, we should be prepared to understand where France goes from here, no matter who advances and is eventually elected in a second round of voting in early May. What will the major candidates seek to do and what political constraints will they face if they come to office? This analysis needs to be done for both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, assuming polls hold and the two advance to a second round.