Stratfor's Geopolitical Intelligence Guidance For The Week Of February 20, 2011
As we pointed out earlier, the upcoming week will be quiet on economic and market events. What it, however, will be heavy on is revolutions, riots and the good old ultraviolence. Below is a useful primer from Stratfor for what is becoming an increasingly more complex geopolitical chess game, for the time being confined in the Maghreb, but soon spreading all across the Muslim crescent and soon thereafter into East Asia.
The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to
provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a
forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and
evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.
1. Protests and Unrest: There has now been some spark of unrest in
places as far afield as Cote d’Ivoire and Iran. For the most part, these
protests are limited in size and scope, and not all of them are
connected. But are some? Are there protests unified by common themes?
Are there common forces at work behind the scenes in some cases?
Examine the following countries in particular:
- Bahrain: There is a dissonance between the protesters in the street
and the organized political opposition. How does this play out? To what
extent is Iran meddling in a meaningful way with these protests? Is
there any indication that this unrest will spread to Kuwait or the
Shiite areas in eastern Saudi Arabia?
- Libya: After several days of agitation, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam delivered a speech
on national television. The content of the speech indicates the state
believes it is facing a serious uprising and a potential civil war. We
need to know which military units have been involved in trying to tamp
down unrest and which have been kept in reserve. We also need to dig
deeper into the allegations that mercenaries and hired thugs are behind
the unrest, specifically who organized them. Seif al-Islam implied in
his speech that he has the support of his father and the military, but
we have to test that claim and watch for fractures within the military.
We also need to be monitoring any moves by members of the military’s old
guard as well as another of Gadhafi’s sons, Libyan National Security
Adviser Motasem Gadhafi, who is Seif al-Islam’s rival.
If the situation spirals out of control, it is not clear that the
Libyan military would be capable of ousting Gadhafi and his family from
power as a way to preserve order, as the militaries in Tunisia and Egypt
were able to do with the leaders of those countries.
- Yemen: The situation is escalating, with the opposition seizing on
President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s weakness. Where do tribal loyalties
currently lie and how committed is the army to backing the Saleh regime?
At what point are they likely to break with him?
- Tunisia: The protesters have remobilized to demand the ousting of
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, a remnant of the Ben Ali regime. How
the army deals with these protests will be telling.
2. China: Following a call for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China,
several gatherings took place in different Chinese cities Feb. 20,
including Beijing and Shanghai. It is important not to look at the China
gatherings only through the lens of a Tunisia- or Egypt-style
“revolution.” Where did the call originate? Why were there no organizers
present at the announced rally sites? Why were the 13 targeted cities
chosen, but others left off the list? Why distribute a call for a
popular protest in China over websites and blogs commonly blocked or
monitored in China. Was there external involvement? Is this a one-off
incident, or does it portend further attempts or the potential for a
wider movement of activism across China?
3. Iran: We need to continue gauging the breadth and significance of
Iran’s efforts to take advantage of unrest around the region. The
looming passage of a small Iranian warship and a support vessel through
the Suez Canal is one aspect of this certain to provoke rhetorical
bluster. But where and how aggressively is Iran pushing across the
region. What new insight can we gain into its efforts from recent
1. Iran, Iraq: Our focus in the region needs to return to Iran and
Iraq, which remain central to our outlook for the year. Where do we
stand on understanding the likely status of American military forces in
Iraq beyond the end of the year? Have the first 45 days of the year at
all altered our assessment of or shed new light on how Washington and
Tehran will interact and maneuver this year?
2. Israel: Israel has dodged a bullet, at least for now, with the
military regime in Cairo remaining at the helm. How will
Egyptian-Israeli interactions change? How do Israeli policies and
priorities shift? We need to understand Israel’s position moving forward
- Feb. 21: EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss
engagement with Bosnia-Herzegovina and reforms as the Balkan country
aspires to join the European Union.
- Feb. 21: Lithuania’s Special Representative for Protracted Conflicts
Giedrius Cekuolis will visit Azerbaijan and meet with officials to
discuss ways to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
- Feb. 21: Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman will meet in
Vienna with U.N. Office on Drug and Crime Executive Director Yuri
Fedotov and International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano.
- Feb. 21: An EU expert mission will visit Serbia to investigate
reforms in Serbia’s judiciary and law enforcement, as well as the fight
against corruption and organized crime.
- Feb. 21-22: The anti-terrorism center heads from Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) member states will meet in Moscow in accordance
with the CIS Cooperation Program, which covers measures against
terrorism and other violent acts of extremism for 2011-2013, and the
Action Plan of the Anti-terrorist Center for 2011.
- Feb. 22: The Bulgarian Consultative National Security Council,
summoned by President Georgi Parvanov after the recent governmental
wiretapping scandal, will meet to discuss internal security and meeting
- Feb. 23: Greece’s largest labor union will hold a general strike over proposed austerity measures.
- Feb. 23: Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will meet
with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Uruguayan Foreign Minister in Kiev to
discuss bilateral and regional cooperation.
- Feb. 23-24: Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro will visit Spain.
- Feb. 24: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will meet with
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels to discuss
energy and trade foreign policy.
- Feb. 24: Russia will launch the new-generation Glonass-K navigation satellite.
- Feb. 24-25: King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain will visit
Russia to meet with President Dmitri Medvedev and participate in the
opening of the Prado in the Hermitage exhibition for the Year of Spain
in Russia and Year of Russia in Spain events.
- Feb. 24: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will travel to
Ukraine to meet with President Viktor Yanukovich, Prime Minister
Nikolai Azarov, and Foreign Minister Uruguayan Foreign Minister. He will
also lecture students at a Kiev university.
- Feb. 24-25: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Russian
government will meet with the European Commission in Brussels to hold
direct talks on energy trade, human rights, food import standards and
conflicts in which Russia is suspected of being involved.
- Feb. 25: Irish elections will be held.
MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA
- Unspecified Date: Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq is expected to announce the ministers of his new emergency Cabinet.
- Feb. 21: The budget session of the Indian Parliament will begin.
- Feb. 21: Iraq’s train network will cease all operations because of a cut in state aid needed to pay staff.
- Feb. 21: The High Court in Mumbai, India, will decide the fate of
Pakistani national Ajmal Kasab, an alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist in
the Mumbai attacks.
- Feb. 21: Georgian Foreign Minister Girgol Vashadze will continue his
two-day visit to Qatar, his first official visit to the country.
- Feb. 21-25: Taiwanese Minister of the Council for Economic Planning
and Development Christina Liu and five other federal ministers and
high-profile business leaders will travel to India to promote Taiwanese
- Feb. 22: Afghan President Hamid Karzai will inaugurate his country’s
new parliament after a monthlong delay due to a special court’s
decision on electoral fraud.
- Feb. 22: French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde will visit
Tunisia to discuss economic cooperation and to show France’s support for
the new Tunisian new government.
- Feb. 22: A U.S. Congressional delegation will visit Middle East.
Consisting of seven Republicans, the delegation will visit Syria, Turkey
and Israel and will discuss regional issues and relations with the
- Feb. 22: EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton is expected to visit Egypt to hold talks with Egyptian officials.
- Feb. 22-24: Iraq is expected to sign an agreement for the Akkas natural gas field after a delay in January.
- Feb. 23-24: Iran will hold its first International Clean Energy
Conference in Kerman where discussions will focus on technological
developments in clean technology energy projects and issues related to
electric power distribution and energy conservation.
- Feb. 24: A Bahraini criminal court will resume the trial of 25 suspects held on terrorism-related charges.
- Feb. 25: A “Revolution of Iraqi Rage” demonstration demanding
change, freedom and genuine democracy will be held in central Baghdad’s
- Feb. 25: French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Turkey to meet
with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Turkey’s EU
membership bid, France’s G-20 presidency and regional issues.
- Feb. 21-22: Thailand’s Internal Security Act will continue to be
enforced on the Phra Nakorn, Wattana, Pathumwan, Pomprab Sattru Phai,
Wang Thonglang, Ratchatavee and Dusit districts of Bangkok in order to
- Feb. 21-22: Honduran President Porfirio Lobo will continue an
official three-day visit to South Korea and meet with President Lee
Myung Bak to strengthen bilateral economic ties and to discuss regional
and global security issues.
- Feb. 21-23: Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will pay an
official visit to China to meet with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen
Jiabao, and leading legislator Wu Bangguo.
- Feb. 21-23: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will meet with
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, parliamentary leaders and businessmen
in Japan to strengthen bilateral relations and open new avenues of
- Feb. 22: The economic cooperation committee formed by China and
Taiwan will hold its first meeting. The committee will discuss the
Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement and other economic cooperation
- Feb. 22: Foreign ministers from Association of Southeast Asian
Nations member states will meet to discuss the recent conflict between
Cambodia and Thailand.
- Feb. 23: Honduran President Porfirio Lobo is scheduled to visit Singapore.
- Feb. 23-25: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit South
Korea to meet with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Song Hwan, and
discuss a number of issues, including North Korea. He will then travel
to Mongolia to meet the Mongolian foreign minister.
- Feb. 23-25: The Chinese National People’s Congress Standing
Committee will meet to make final preparations for the next annual
session, expected to convene in March.
- Feb. 21: UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan will visit Brasilia.
- Feb. 21: Venezuelan state electric firm Corpoelec will cut off power
to 11 mayoralties in Bolivar state if it does not receive payments owed
for electric service.
- Feb. 21-23: Latvian Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis
continues his five-day visit to Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary
of State Hilary Clinton, as well as with officials from the Defense
Department, National Security Council and the Defense Logistics Agency.
- Feb. 22: The first Pakistan-U.S.-Afghanistan trilateral talk will be
held in Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her
Pakistani and Afghani counterparts will attend the summit.
- Feb. 22: French Foreign Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie is scheduled to visit Brazil.
- Feb. 22: Cabinet ministers from the Venezuelan economic and productive sectors will address the National Assembly.
- Feb. 22-25: Peru and Mexico will hold a meeting in Mexico City to
make a legal revision to the text for the approval of a bilateral free
- Feb. 23: Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes will visit Colombia.
Funes is scheduled to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
and business representatives.
- Feb. 25: Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo will meet with Argentine
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to discuss impediments to
imports of Paraguayan products into Argentina.
- Feb. 21: The heads of state from South Africa, Chad, Tanzania,
Burkina Faso and Mauritania will meet in Cote d’Ivoire as constituents
of an African Union panel tasked to solve the ongoing crisis in the
- Feb. 21: Sudan’s National Assembly will resume sessions and will approve the Southern Sudan referendum results.
- Feb. 22-25: A British parliamentary delegation led by Baroness
Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock will travel to Sudan to meet with Sudanese
officials and discuss the post-referendum situation.
- Feb. 25: Petroleum companies Royal Dutch Shell and BP will meet with
South African Energy Minister Dipuo Peters to discuss the South African
purchase of a stake in their Sapref oil refinery, located in Durban.