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Watch List: Aug. 8, 2017

|August 8, 2017

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.

  • China: China is conducting naval exercises off the Korean Peninsula. We need to determine the size of these exercises, what they consist of, and where they are taking place. China appears to have shifted back to pressuring North Korea over its nuclear program. Is that the result of U.S. trade threats? The Chinese position needs to be examined closely.
  • Philippines: The U.S. is reportedly prepared to bomb Islamic State targets in the Philippines, although the Philippine government denies this. Is this a real possibility? It would mean the U.S. would have boots – forward air controllers, at least – on the ground. If true, this would indicate the U.S. is getting nervous about IS in Asia, even if it doesn’t follow through on the bombings. Separately, the Philippines has admitted it did not want the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to condemn China for militarizing and reclaiming land in the South China Sea. Is there a shift underway in Southeast Asia?
  • Japan: Japan has upgraded its threat level on North Korea in an annual defense white paper. We need to scrutinize this report and determine whether previous defense white papers have led to changes in Japanese actions. On the surface, this rhetoric suggests the Japanese are readying their public for some sort of action, or at least rattling North Korea’s cage.
  • Indonesia-Russia: Indonesia and Russia finalized an unusual deal for Indonesia’s purchase of Russian fighter jets. Indonesia’s trade minister noted that U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia had opened new opportunities for the Southeast Asian country. What is Indonesia’s strategy here, and what does this say about Russia’s presence in the region?
  • Poland: The Polish government is reportedly preparing legislation to limit foreign ownership of the media. We need to examine if this is legal under EU rules. Additionally, there is a conflict brewing between the military, the intelligence service and the president in Poland. This seems to change the internal dynamics radically.
  • Afghanistan: The Taliban are asking for Saudi involvement in Afghanistan. At a time when the U.S. is planning another round of combat in the country, the Taliban are reaching out to an American ally. Let’s examine what the Taliban are trying to do with this move.

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