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Watch List: July 13, 2017

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  • Last updated: July 13
  • Total word count: 457 words

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.

  • France: The French government announced a reduction in public spending to avoid breaking the European Union’s budget deficit rules. The cuts will include a reduction in the Defense Ministry’s budget. France is the third largest contributor to NATO, and it was expected that its defense spending would increase in 2017.  We need to determine what parts of the French military will be most affected by the defense cuts and whether the country will be able to meet its obligations to NATO.
  • Brazil: Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted July 12 of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison. The conviction is part of the “Operation Car Wash” investigation into allegations of corruption at state-run oil firm Petrobras. Silva was previously implicated in the “Mensalao” corruption scandal involving allegations that public funds were used to secure political support for legislation. In that instance, he was not charged with a crime. We need to better understand how corruption affects national and regional affairs.
  • Philippines: A senior official in the Philippine Department of Energy said that the country may by the end of the year resume drilling for oil and natural gas in waters around Reed Bank, a part of the South China Sea claimed by China where Beijing has warned the Philippines against drilling unilaterally. The Philippines is a critical part of the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific; a Chinese-Philippine alliance would help to solve China’s main strategic weakness: the various chokepoints around its coast that it cannot currently control. We will be examining whether Manila is signaling interest in joint exploration with Beijing – a move that would be politically and legally tricky, but one that would help cement Chinese influence in the Philippines. It may also be signaling a greater willingness to ignore Beijing’s warnings.
  • Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan is increasingly out of step with the rest of Central Asia. The other four nations in the region have strong authoritarian regimes and maintain a hard line against Islamism. On July 13, the president of Kazakhstan warned against Islamist extremism and the president of Kyrgyzstan stressed the need to prioritize education over religion. Uzbekistan, meanwhile, is moving in the opposite direction. This may create problems between the Uzbek government and the other governments in the region and could have a major impact on stability in Central Asia.