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Watch List: Oct. 5, 2017

Nuclear power in Saudi Arabia, Turkish operations in Syria, Japan buys missiles from the U.S.

|October 5, 2017

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.

  • Russia, Saudi Arabia: Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom has sent proposals to Saudi Arabia for the construction of a nuclear power plant. Right now, cooperation between the two countries seems limited to energy. Is there any chance Russia could – or would want to – encourage Saudi Arabia’s nuclear capability? What would that mean for Iran?
  • Turkey: According to the Yeni Safak newspaper, Turkey delivered its first military shipment to Idlib, Syria, on Oct. 5. We need to examine the size of the Turkish force operating in Syria. Is it possible Turkey will go after Afrin, a Syrian Kurdish area, too?
  • Japan: The U.S. approved the sale of 56 advanced medium-range missiles to Japan. What capabilities would these give the Japanese? What specific threats are they suited to address?
  • Italy, Albania: Italy is expecting to donate 5,000 light arms and some basic light vehicles to Albania. What is Italy’s interest in Albania?
  • China: China’s oil demand rose by 690,000 barrels per day in July, marking a 6 percent year-over-year increase, with total oil demand rising to 11.67 million barrels per day. What’s driving this surge?
  • Nagorno-Karabakh: The newly appointed U.S. co-chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group, Andrew Schofer, arrived in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Oct. 4 on a fact-finding visit. This comes after Russia reportedly discussed settling the dispute. What are U.S. interests in this conflict zone, and is this a sign that there’s a shift or resolution in the works?
  • Turkmenistan, Russia, Qatar: Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Turkmenistan on Oct. 2 and failed to reach agreements on a number of topics, ranging from economic to security issues. Separately, leaders of Turkmenistan and Qatar discussed trade cooperation and relations between the two countries on Oct. 4. This should be placed in the context of Turkmenistan’s energy outlook. Turkmenistan wants to find new markets for its energy exports, and instead of focusing on the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, which would help bring its gas supplies to Europe, it is considering a gas pipeline project that would extend through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. What is the role of Turkmenistan in the global gas market, and what is the prospect of closer ties between these countries?
  • Pakistan: The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said he believes Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has connections with terrorist groups. Though this is not a new accusation, in the current political climate, this should be viewed as an attack on Pakistan. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, however, has said that the U.S. will give Pakistan one more chance and that the U.S. has new rules of engagement in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s government has downplayed the issue. Is there a fundamental break between Pakistan and the U.S.?

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