Conviction of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman signals uncertain future for Sinaloa cartel
Analysis

Conviction of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman signals uncertain future for Sinaloa cartel

Following his third and most recent arrest by Mexican authorities and his subsequent extradition to the United States, guilty verdicts were recently announced in the trial of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera. While this individual conviction is significant for US and Mexican authorities, it is unclear whether the removal of Guzmán from the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel will significantly impact the group’s operational capacity or stability in the near term. Continue reading

Report indicates rise in piracy in Gulf of Guinea
Analysis

Report indicates rise in piracy in Gulf of Guinea

The 2018 maritime piracy report, which was recently released to the public, gives a detailed report on piracy incidents that happened in the past year. The data in the report points to a rise in piracy in some areas with a drop in others, but it is still too early to state with confidence if the war against maritime piracy is being won overall. Continue reading

Preparations underway for second summit between Trump and Kim
Analysis

Preparations underway for second summit between Trump and Kim

Despite a drastic reduction in tensions and increased dialogue between North Korea and the United States, North Korea has not taken any major steps in dismantling its nuclear weapons program since the leaders of both countries first met back in June of 2018. Now a second summit between US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un is scheduled to take place between February 27 and 28. It could be stated with moderate confidence that this summit will not result in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Continue reading

Pending US Congress resolution may impact proxy war in Yemen
Analysis

Pending US Congress resolution may impact proxy war in Yemen

A War Powers Resolution limiting the United States’ aid in Saudi Arabia, a major contender in the Yemeni proxy war, has reportedly passed through the United States House of Representatives and is currently making its way through the Senate. If this resolution were to pass, it would indicate a possible deceleration for the proxy war in Yemen due to the degree of involvement that Saudi Arabia has in the war, with American assistance. Continue reading

Sinaloa Kingpin Dámaso Núñes strikes deal with US federal prosecutors
Analysis

Sinaloa Kingpin Dámaso Núñes strikes deal with US federal prosecutors

Sinaloa cartel kingpin Dámaso López Núñes has struck a deal with United States federal officials and might agree to testify against Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán in his upcoming trial. This important development adds to our assessment with high confidence that the Sinaloa Cartel is in decline because of the arrest of head kingpin El Chapo’, whose trial is about to begin. Continue reading

Trump proposes meeting Putin despite tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions
Analysis

Trump proposes meeting Putin despite tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions

United States President Donald Trump has extended an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet in Washington in the near future, despite the mutual expulsion of diplomats between the two countries. The possibility of a summit may point to alleviating tensions caused by the poisoning of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal in Britain, which prompted the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US. While the outcome of a potential summit remains uncertain, we believe with high confidence that the US economic sanctions on Russia will stay in place throughout 2018. Continue reading

Rising violence in Mexico prompts US travel restrictions
Analysis

Rising violence in Mexico prompts US travel restrictions

Intensifying violence along Mexico’s Caribbean coast has led the United States to prohibit government personnel from traveling to Playa del Carmen4. The increase in violence is supportive of the concept that Mexican drug cartels are battling for territory, and while it would be premature to attribute the most recent security threat to a particular cartel, it is with high confidence we believe the Jalisco New Generation Cartel to be the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico. Continue reading

Al-Shabaab uses international aid money to fund its operations
Analysis

Al-Shabaab uses international aid money to fund its operations

A United Nations investigation has revealed that portions of aid money from international partners, including the United States, given by the UN to people displaced by conflict and famine in Somalia, are ending up in the hands of al-Shabaab. This reinforces our belief, with high confidence, that al-Shabaab is in a general state of resurgence in southern Somalia due to the declining influence of international aid in the Horn of Africa. Continue reading

US-Cuba relations remain tense amid release of new medical study
Analysis

US-Cuba relations remain tense amid release of new medical study

he United States Department of State recently released a medical study concerning US government personnel stationed at the American Embassy in Havana, who experienced a wide array of neurological ailments in 2016 and 2017. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reinforces our belief that relations between the US and Cuba will not improve in 2018. This is largely due to the decreasing level of trust between Washington and Havana regarding the health and safety of US diplomatic personnel stationed in the Cuban capital. Continue reading

Relations between Poland and the EU worsen over migrant plan
Analysis

Relations between Poland and the EU worsen over migrant plan

The European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, is threatening legal action against Poland if it continues to refuse to accommodate asylum seekers under the European Union’s migration plan (European Commission 2017). Poland is unlikely to change its position on accepting more migrants. Warsaw’s stance may prompt legal action from the European Union, which will only worsen an already declining relationship between the two. Continue reading

Al-Nusrah Front rebrands itself again, merges with other groups
Analysis

Al-Nusrah Front rebrands itself again, merges with other groups

The militant group formerly known as the al-Nusrah Front has rebranded itself and merged with four other factions to create a group now formally known as Tahrir al-Sham (BBC Monitoring). This rebranding could possibly allow the group to introduce new tactics and capabilities, which were unavailable to it prior to the merger. I assess with high confidence that Tahrir al-Sham will not be defeated in 2017, due to the merger that has occurred. Continue reading

Colombia meeting may lead to speedier implementation of peace process
Analysis

Colombia meeting may lead to speedier implementation of peace process

Following the 27th murder of a Colombian community leader this year, Colombian officials and former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) met to discuss the implementation of the peace treaty and its obstacles. This may lead to improvements in the peace process, but it is still too early to determine with high confidence if the talks will lead to actual changes. Continue reading

Revised Trump administration statements indicate possible policy change on climate change
Analysis

Revised Trump administration statements indicate possible policy change on climate change

Regardless of past indications, the Trump administration’s stance toward the Paris Climate Agreement appears to have shifted following an open letter from several of the country’s largest companies and wealthiest investors. This shift potentially indicates an inclination by the Trump administration to acquiesce to pressure from corporate interests. In light of this, it can be stated with moderate confidence that President Donald Trump will not remove America from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2018. Continue reading

Civil war highly likely in the Central African Republic despite UN active peacekeeping
Analysis

Civil war highly likely in the Central African Republic despite UN active peacekeeping

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, the African Union, and the European Union’s French Mission have all participated in efforts to prevent armed conflict between Muslim and Christian rebel groups in the Central African Republic. However, it can be stated with high confidence that a civil war will flare up in the country in 2017. Continue reading

North Korea responds to sanctions by the UN Security Council
Analysis

North Korea responds to sanctions by the UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) recently passed new sanctions against North Korea as a result of Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test on September 9, 2016. The sanctions resulted in a verbose response by the North Korean government directed at the UNSC and the United States (US). It can be established with high confidence that such rhetoric is usual and sanctions will not have any serious effect for months, thus solidifying the view that the North Korean regime will remain stable throughout 2016. Continue reading

Nigeria exempted from OPEC oil production cut
Analysis

Nigeria exempted from OPEC oil production cut

On Wednesday November 30, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia agreed to a cut in oil production. A stipulation of the deal was that Nigeria, a member of OPEC, is to be exempted from the oil cut. With Nigeria’s reprieve and Angolan participation, it can be said with moderate confidence that, depending on the severity of the Angolan production cut, Nigeria may once again become Africa’s top oil producer by January of 2017. Continue reading