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.
Aug. 17, 2016
- Ukraine: The Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s main intelligence directorate has warned of an imminent Russian provocation in the east. It is the second time in the last seven days that they have issued a warning on this. Is there any reason to think Ukraine is right about this, or are they just making something out of nothing?
- Ukraine: On the other hand, Ukraine has apparently announced a restructuring of part of its military, eliminating over 100 generals in the State Border Guard Service and the National Guard, among others. This contradicts the notion that the Russians are about to wage war – imminent war is not the time to revamp command structure. This is an oddity we must understand.
- Russia: President Vladimir Putin is going to visit Crimea on Aug. 19. What does this mean? Is he doing it for any other reason beyond being visible? We need to look at this and both Ukrainian items without any assumptions. By itself this isn’t that odd but in context it could have meaning that we are currently missing.
- Turkmenistan: Teachers in Turkmenistan are reportedly facing long delays – up to several months – in receiving wages. If teachers aren’t getting paid, who else isn’t getting paid? Let’s look at Turkmenistan’s civil servants carefully and see who isn’t getting paid and how bad the situation is. This is part of our general Central Asia watch, so let’s see if this has spread to any other countries too. An entire class of disgruntled people who can cause significant instability could be a major destabilizer.
- Iran: There seems to be some internal pushback in Iran against letting the Russians use Hamadan air base to conduct airstrikes in Syria. Foreign troops operating on Iranian soil is a hot button issue in Iran. This could be a trigger for a lot of different things – is there serious internal political discord over the issue? How is it being viewed more broadly in the country?
- Turkey: Turkey signed the 1957 European Convention on Extradition four days before the attempted coup. What does this convention say that is helpful to the Turks and how long were they planning on signing? Was it a sudden move, or had it been planned for a while? The implications could give us insight into the coup attempt.
- Germany-Turkey: A supposedly confidential German government report said Turkey is becoming a central hub for Islamists. Turkey fired back that Germany is guilty of a “twisted mentality” toward Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. We need to have an assessment and forecast of the German-Turkish relationship, because as German-Turkish relations go, so will Europe-Turkey relations.
- Israel-Mexico: Foreign direct investment in Mexico is up for the first half of the year, and Israel was responsible for the second highest amount of FDI. What are the Israelis doing in Mexico? They have money to spend, but it is rare for Israel to concentrate so much investment like that in one country – what are they investing in?
- Russia-Hamas: The deputy Russian foreign minister is meeting with the chairman of Hamas in Qatar. Was this meeting already scheduled? If not, why the urgency to have a discussion? Is there anything significant in this, especially in the context of the Iran situation?
- Venezuela: The foreign trade minister says that the private sector can now bring foreign exchange into the country exempt from the current restrictions. Is there any reason to think this will change the behavior of investors in Venezuela?
- Belarus: Following up on yesterday’s watch item on Belarus, we note supposedly routine military exercises with the Russians in Belarus, the Russians providing Belarus with high quality radar. Belarus’ elections are coming up on Sept. 11. Elections are frequently the time when instability arises – we need to see if there is any chance these elections destabilize Belarus.