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Watch List: Dec. 6, 2017

Rescinded resignations, Chinese delegations, embassy relocations

|December 6, 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: Beijing has sent its vice minister of foreign affairs to Washington – the second delegation to visit the capital this week. The purpose of the first was to discuss North Korea and trade. Can we determine the purpose of the second? Is it normal for Beijing to send such an official the way it has?
  • Israel: The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy there accordingly. What would the move involve? Which Palestinian groups are planning to protest the move? How are other countries of the region reacting?
  • Lebanon: Saad Hariri, who had left his post as Lebanese prime minister, has rescinded his resignation. This could mean that Saudi Arabia, which many believe orchestrated his departure, has reached an understanding over Lebanon with its regional rival Iran. It could also, however, mean that Saudi Arabia’s plan to pressure Hariri has failed. Why did Hariri rescind his resignation? Did Riyadh overplay its hand? What does this mean for Lebanese stability and the wider Saudi-Iranian competition in the Middle East?
  • Russia: Two stories about Russian involvement in North Korea have piqued our interest. One claims that Russia is ready to “exert influence” on North Korea, according to Russia’s deputy foreign minister. The other claims that Russian fuel exports have helped to lower the price of fuel in North Korea. Has Russia ever submitted a proposal of any kind to resolve the crisis? Have fuel prices really decreased? Are the reports even reliable?
  • Saudi Arabia: Most of the people implicated in Saudi Arabia’s recent anti-corruption campaign have reached settlements with the government, according to the country’s attorney general. Releasing captives seems a strange way to manage a purge. Has there been any public backlash against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who orchestrated the crackdown? Has the government in Riyadh profited from the arrests?


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