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Watch List: May 10, 2018

More developments in Syria, more Malaysian strongmen, more arms to India?

|May 10, 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.

Iran, Israel: Israel Defense Forces have destroyed “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure sites in Syria with airstrikes May 10, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said. It was Israel’s largest barrage since the Syrian conflict began, and it came in response to missile fire into the Golan Heights allegedly by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds force. Israeli officials have gone out of their way to say the fighting is contained to Syria and relegated only to Iranian targets. This suggests Israel is attempting to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran. Stay on top of all developments.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s once and future strongman, Mahathir Mohamad, won in the country’s general elections May 9, teaming up with a protege he once jailed to defeat another protege, scandal-ridden Prime Minister Najib Razak, and end the United Malays National Organization’s uninterrupted hold on power since independence in 1952. It’s high political drama, but our interest is in whether this electoral shift will change Malaysia’s strategic orientation, considering its valuable position alongside critical sea lanes in Southeast Asia. Notably, on May 10, Mahathir said several Belt and Road-related deals with China may be reconsidered under his government. (Mahathir was notably antagonistic toward the West during his 22 years in power.) Let’s figure out if his election frees Malaysian foreign policy up, especially with regard to China.

Uzbekistan: Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is making his first official visit to the U.S. next week. On the agenda are trade, regional security and Afghanistan. According to Uzbek media, Mirziyoyev and U.S. President Donald Trump expect to jointly declare a “new era of strategic partnership.” Meanwhile, the U.S. has reportedly allocated $15 million for the development of independent media in Central Asian states. Find out what a strategic partnership would look like, and whether it portends a greater U.S. role in Central Asia.

India, U.S.: Legislation is moving through the U.S. Congress that would grant India the same level of access to U.S. arms sales as other core U.S. allies. Will it pass? If it does, what is India interested in buying?

Armenia: New Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has called for deeper relations with both Russia and Europe. What does that mean specifically?

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