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Watch List: May 9, 2018

Tracking the fallout from the nuked nuclear deal

|May 9, 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.

Israel, Iran: Israel wasted no time raising the pressure on Iran with another round of airstrikes against what monitors say were weapons depots and missile launchers operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps at an outpost south of Damascus. (Unsurprisingly, the head of the IRGC welcomed the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal.) This comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, are off to Moscow for a chat with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There’s a lot for us to track, though troop movements on either side are at the top of the list. Stay frosty.

Europe, U.S., Iran: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz pledged to protect European firms from any adverse effects of the Trump administration’s move to leave the Iran deal. Right now, it’s unclear how far Europe is willing to go – and how far the U.S. would be willing to retaliate. We can get a head start by identifying which European countries have the most economic interest in Iran and how much those countries trade with the United States.

China, U.S., Iran: Beijing says it will “protect and execute” the Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. has already proved more than willing to apply secondary sanctions to Chinese banks and firms accused of violating the North Korea sanctions, and its recent sanctions on Chinese tech firm ZTE (over earlier violations of existing Iran sanctions) dealt a painful blow to the Chinese economy. The U.S. is also looking for other ways to pressure China on trade and technology theft. Nonetheless, conflating three discrete points of contention – trade, China’s support for North Korea and Chinese support for Tehran – could prevent Washington from getting what it wants from any of them. Can China actually protect third parties, or is this just an excuse to look good at the United States’ expense? How will this affect U.S. goals on trade and North Korea?

Eastern Mediterranean: Cyprus, Israel and Greece agreed to proceed with a pipeline project to take natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe. Let’s explore why the decision was made now and what each country stands to gain from the pipeline (other than the obvious).

Montenegro: Details have been leaked of a U.S. and Montenegro intelligence-sharing deal reached in February. Russia thinks of the Balkans as its turf. Let’s pore through what’s in the deal.

NAFTA: Mexico is considering a compromise on auto manufacturing as a way to break the impasse in NAFTA negotiations. A deal on a revised agreement needs to be reached by the end of this month for the deal to be approved by the current legislatures in each country. Will this be enough? What happens if they miss the deadline?

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