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Watch List: June 21, 2018

An opposition rally in Turkey, clashes in Iraq, talk of succession in Kazakhstan

|June 25, 2018

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: The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, held a major rally in southeast Turkey, while potato and onion prices have recently surged 100 and 300 percent, respectively. Because of upcoming elections this weekend, these developments take on special importance. HDP has generally supported Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A BBC correspondent on the ground described the rally as the largest in the past three years, and one Kurdish paper said hundreds of thousands turned out. Meanwhile, inflation for basic food staples, which has bedeviled Iran all year, now has come home to roost in Turkey. Find more details on the rally and the reaction to the hike in prices for food staples.

Iraq: Iraqi security forces have clashed with an Iran-backed Shiite militia. This comes as a misunderstanding has emerged between Turkey and Iran over Turkish operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Iraq. Turkey said Iran wanted to coordinate more attacks, while Iran said it doesn’t want to violate other countries’ sovereignty. What’s really going on here?

Kazakhstan: A speaker in the Kazakh Senate has said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev may not run for re-election in 2020. It’s not normal for succession to be discussed openly in Kazakhstan. Has there been any backlash to this statement or is this just part of managing a stable transition of power?

Uzbekistan: According to reports, Uzbek police are patrolling Tashkent around the clock to control crime. Other reports suggest vigilante groups could also be formed to keep the capital safe. The formation of policing forces outside of the normal government structure is eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

United States: U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton will reportedly travel to Moscow next week to set up the groundwork for a Putin-Trump meeting. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is scheduled to visit China ahead of his trip to South Korea next week. Russia and China are two countries the U.S. has defined as strategic competitors, and these are two high-level visits. Why were these trips planned now?

United States: The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that the non-Hispanic white population decreased for the first time in U.S. history between 2015 and 2016. In addition, the white population is not just declining but aging rapidly, Americans are delaying having children, and immigration from Europe has ebbed. We expect a serious economic and political reorganization in the United States within the next 10 years. How does this shift in demographics affect our forecast, if at all?

China: There have been rumors that China might have three aircraft carriers in the works, one with a catapult system. We’ve written about how carriers are becoming obsolete. Why is China focusing on carriers? Let’s forget about catapults and compare China’s industrial plan to the United States’ when it comes to shipbuilding.

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