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.
- Turkey: A Turkish diplomat said Turkey still plans to deploy air and naval forces to Qatar, in addition to the ground forces already stationed there. What is the strategic purpose of this deployment? What does a base of operations in Qatar do for Turkey?
- Balkans: Turkey is supporting the construction of a highway between Sarajevo and Belgrade, a project that will cost 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion). What other infrastructure is Turkey helping to build in the Balkans? Is Turkey devising its own mini “Belt and Road” initiative to increase influence in the region?
- Golan Heights: The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corp. reported last week that Hamas is seeking to set up a military force in the Syrian Golan Heights. Hamas has likely been seeking to do this for a while, but is there any evidence that it is actively trying to set up a military force there? Is there any military force in the Syrian Golan Heights emerging that threatens Israeli interests?
- Yemen: The situation in Aden remains unstable. Separatist forces now control most of the city, and the Saudi-led coalition seems to be going along with it. What’s the current situation in Yemen? What does this situation tell us about the three external powers – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran – involved in this conflict and the relationship between them?
- Uzbekistan: The head of Uzbekistan’s National Security Service resigned Jan. 25 and has been replaced. Why?
- North Korea: South Korea and the United States held a joint military exercise this week. Meanwhile, a U.S. Defense Department official suggested that the U.S. needs to open talks with South Korea about Seoul sharing a greater portion of the defense burden in South Korea. We need a sense of the current state of U.S.-South Korean relations. On the surface, it seems like there are different factions in South Korea pushing for different policies. Is this accurate?
- Lebanon: Lebanon seems to be seething with protests and rallies, as well as political squabbling between government officials. Normally, we wouldn’t pay much attention to such events, but in the context of a number of Israeli threats against Lebanon, this becomes relevant. Why is this bout of unrest emerging in Lebanon now? Does it have anything to do with Iran’s role in the country? Could it be related to Hezbollah, now that the group has brought some of its fighters back from the Syrian civil war?
- Iraq: The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the assassination of an Iraqi former army general in southwestern Kirkuk. This is the type of operation that IS would engage in when it was still an insurgent group. What is the Islamic State up to in Kirkuk? Are we seeing the first area where the Islamic State could re-emerge after the loss of Raqqa? Is there any indication of an influx of IS militants into this region after the collapse of Raqqa or other IS positions?
- Albania: Albanian government officials rejected criticism of a potential deal between Albania and Greece on their maritime boundary. What’s going on here? Is there a change in Greek-Albanian relations?
- Ukraine: Members of the Contact Group, which was formed to find a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine conflict, said the number of cease-fire violations along the line of contact has declined, according to a Russian representative in the group. Also, Ukrainian armed forces took over a village in Luhansk, though details on how this happened are scant. Let’s try to find out if there was a conflict here or if the Ukrainian forces were able to simply take control of the village without much pushback. We’ve had lulls in the Ukraine conflict before, but it seems like there is momentum toward some kind of stabilization or change in this situation. What’s going on?