The coronavirus pandemic has created economic and territorial challenges for Mexican drug cartels. These challenges are likely to hinder the growth of Mexican drug cartels and continue to raise tensions within the illicit drug markets, as the virus continues to affect cartel profits. The Mexican government has been fighting the war against the drug cartels for the past several decades. The emergence of the coronavirus is presenting new and unexpected complications in narcotics sales, causing economic impediments for the cartels.
ON OCTOBER 19, 2020, the United States announced plans to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, after a 27-year designation. The designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism dates to 1993 when Sudan was accused of having hosted members of terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and al Qaeda, including its leader, Osama bin Laden. Sudan is one of four nations designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism, along with Iran, North Korea, and Syria. This severely impedes Sudan from having access to loans, foreign investment, and debt relief. We predict with low to moderate confidence that Sudan’s removal from the state sponsors of terrorism list will help Sudan revive its economy and bolster its transition to democratic rule.
THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the “October Revolution” in Iraq is very likely to devolve into street violence as sit-ins and demonstrations are set to resume. The source of this potential stems from three primary groups of actors: Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and their supporters, Sadrists, and the protesters. These demonstrations and violence are unlikely to overthrow the government. However, they may damage the public image of the Kadhimi government.
In the latest development regarding the water rights debate between Egypt and Ethiopia centered around the Nile River and Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopia has announced the signing of a new contract to construct another dam in its northern Tigray region. This development is occurring simultaneously with Egypt’s launching of an international campaign of sorts to gain support in opposition of the GERD completion. We therefore assess with high confidence that this will continue to add to the volatile relations between the two countries.
The conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) could interfere with the government’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. A report by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warns that the latest violence in the eastern DRC could have serious consequences for the fight against coronavirus. It can be stated with high confidence that an increase in displaced population numbers, due to violence, will significantly increase the spread of COVID-19 in the DRC.
With cases of COVID-19 in United States nearing 950,000, the country’s meat supply may experience a decline with major meat plants closing across the country. A Smithfield food plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, one of the country’s largest pork-producing plants, closed indefinitely after nearly 785 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. Smithfield is one of several meat-producing companies. Two other major companies, JBS USA and Tyson Foods Inc., have also suspended or cut back on production in recent weeks, due to the detection of COVID-19 cases in their food-processing facilities. We can state with high confidence that the closure of the meat plants will negatively impact the food supply in the United States for a prolonged period.
In the changing climate of our planet, the loss of the Arctic ice cap has increased the accessibility to resources located inside the Arctic Theater. The result of this change is that the Russian government, among other nations, including Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States, has taken an interest in the economic and military opportunities on the top of the world. In a push to control the region, the Russian government has taken a more aggressive approach in military innovation and expansion into the region over the past 30 years. It can be stated with moderate confidence that the Russian government will continue to push military advancements and its expansion in the Arctic Theater in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
THE SAUDI ARABIAN-LED COALITION of Arab states, which been fighting in support of the Yemeni government and against the Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels, has placed into effect a unilateral two-week ceasefire amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The unilateral ceasefire is expected to suspend hostilities on the alliance’s part, which will make it the first nationwide truce to take hold in Yemen during the five-year war. This announcement could potentially indicate that the war in Yemen may enter a long-standing intermission, and even help bring an end to the war.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has created economic and territorial challenges for Mexican drug cartels. These challenges will likely hinder the growth of Mexican drug cartels and assist the Mexican government in its efforts to dismantle the illicit drug markets as the virus continues to spread in the Americas.
WITH RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN largely absent from the public eye, confusion has set in with cases of COVID-19 increasing every day. Recent federal intervention is proving to be more reactionary than proactive. Consequently, the majority of measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 has been taken by local governments, with Moscow setting the example. Given the continuing nature of this situation, we predict with moderate-to-high confidence a national state of emergency will be declared in the next two weeks.
By Nikki Pfadt, Senior Analyst, Subsaharan Africa Section Analytical Question: State of democracy and human rights in Ethiopia | Date: 26 March 2020 International organizations have recently called upon the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, to end an internet shutdown in the Oromia region of the country that is blocking millions of Ethiopians from …
Over the past few of weeks, COVID-19, the life-threatening disease that is caused by SARS-COV-2 (novel coronavirus) has wreaked havoc on the United States. Thus far, this pandemic has brought unprecedented orders by public officials, such as school cancellations, restaurant and bar closures, and even limitations as to when and who can venture in public. This new reality raises the question of what extent federal and local governments will go to in order to maintain virus-containment and public order. This question has brought the term martial law into the spotlight. Martial law is commonly defined as the act of suspending all civil authority, such as state and local governments, and placing the areas in their jurisdiction under the control of the US Armed Forces. In addition, the implementation of martial law can include the temporarily suspension of various constitutional rights.
For countries that are currently enforcing strict national lockdowns, such as Italy, Spain, and previously China, it can be stated with low confidence that non-essential international travel bans will last for at least three to five months. If countries like the US and the UK, which have not yet imposed strict measures, go into a national lockdown within the next week, it can be stated with low confidence that the travel ban will last for the next three to five months. However, if such countries choose not to implement lockdowns, it can be stated with low confidence that travel bans will last no more than two months. For countries that have seen COVID-19 cases, but have not been majorly effected, nor have implement lockdowns, such as many of the Latin American and African countries, it can be stated with low confidence that travel bans will last no longer than two months.
Following a seven month ban of social media, the Indian government has eased Internet restrictions in India’s Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory. We assess, with moderate confidence, that this will result in decreased political stability and increased police activity in the Jammu and Kashmir region, which will likely result in increased ethnic tensions in the region. On March 4, the Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir released an order restricting Internet speed to 2G. As the new order does not include “white-listed” websites or place restrictions on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as past orders did, it marks the end of a ban on social media sites that had been in place since August 2019. The current order is active through March 17, unless modified earlier.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the US Marshalls Service have reportedly arrested Jessica Johana Oseguera Gonzalez, aka “La Negra,” the daughter of the Jalisco New Generacion Cartel’s (CJNG) leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes. This arrest, which took place on , on February 27, may point to an increased focus by both US and Mexican officials on dissolving drug trafficking organizations along their shared border. Oseguera Cervantes was attempting to visit her brother, Rubén Osegura-González following his extradition to the US. His recent extradition may indicate renewed counter-narcotics cooperation between the US and Mexico. While it is possible that future endeavors will aim to neutralize drug trafficking across the US- Mexico border, it is too soon to state with confidence that future operations will prioritize detaining the family members of prominent drug trafficking organizations.
It is certain that Iran will continue to retaliate to the killing of Soleimani; however, the attack on the Ukrainian plane has served as a significant barrier for Iranian plans. With tensions of a potential civil war and the world powers watching closely, Iran appears to be backing off momentarily. Although it is quieter than before, we believe more attacks will be seen in the upcoming months. It can be stated with moderate confidence that Iran will continue its attempt to push US forces out of Iraq by proceeding to sporadically attack US bases in the region. It can also be stated with moderate confidence that we may see the awakening of some form of sleeper cells, to include cyber, within the US in the future.
A militia ambush in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has left three people dead, and seven others injured. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) took responsibility for the attack. Despite this recent ADF attack, it can be stated with moderate confidence that Sunni militant groups will not gain a stronghold in the eastern DRC in 2019.
Following the inability of North Korea and the United States to sign a nuclear deal at the Hanoi summit in February, and recent threats made by North Korea to halt nuclear talks, US president Donald Trump stated on March 22 that the US would not be imposing any additional sanctions on North Korea. Although this may help keep nuclear diplomacy with North Korea alive, it could be stated with high confidence that this decision will not contribute to a nuclear deal being signed between the US and North Korea in 2019.
The Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) carried out numerous low-scale operations against primarily government targets in the past week, showcasing the relative freedom the ELN has to operate in certain regions of Colombia. Since the ELN continues to carry out operations relatively uninhibited, our assessment is reinforced, with high confidence, that the organization is growing in power in 2019.
By: Morgan Clasgens, Analyst, Asia Section Analytical Question: Current and projected state of the Pakistani Taliban The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on March 20, 2019, which killed six Pakistani police officers in the Balochistan region of Pakistan. This attack, along with the multiple other attacks carried out by the Pakistani Taliban this …