The American Kafir

2011/03/07

Intelligence Guidance: Week of March 6, 2011

Source Link: Stratfor

Intelligence Guidance: Week of March 6, 2011
ADAM JAN/AFP/Getty Images
Bahraini protesters at a demonstration outside Manama’s Al-Qudaibiya Palace on March 6

Editor’s Note: 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.

New Guidance

1. Bahrain: We need to focus on the unrest here. Have the protests reached the point when the military and security forces may crack down violently or, most importantly, when the regime may be endangered? Unrest here may not reach that point, but we need to watch for any indication of escalation or deterioration of social stability. Some opposition groups have announced their willingness to talk with the regime. Do these groups represent enough of the protesters to be able to speak for them? What is the status of the talks? We will need to watch them closely. Will there be meaningful changes to the Bahraini Cabinet? Will such changes be sufficient to placate the majority of protesters? Is there any indication of Iranian involvement?

2. Saudi Arabia: Riyadh is watching events in Bahrain particularly closely as it attempts to crush any unrest amongst its own Shiite minority along the Persian Gulf coast. As with Bahrain, we need to look out for a major crackdown as well as the swelling of the protests to a size that might prove destabilizing for the regime. There are reports in the Iranian press that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may visit Saudi Arabia soon. We need to verify these reports and, if true, get a sense of his itinerary and objectives.

3. Iran: In the cases of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain — and across the region — we need to look closely for any indication of the nature and extent of Iranian involvement. Tehran has an enormous opportunity to take advantage of unrest across the region by manipulating protests for its own purposes. Last week’s guidance on Iran stands: We need to understand Tehran’s larger thinking and strategy moving forward. Iran began the year in a strong position. How far does Tehran want to push things, and how quickly and aggressively does it want to maneuver?

4. Russia: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Moscow this week at a time when no one is sure where U.S.-Russians relations stand. Following the 2009 “reset” of relations, there has been a sense of greater cooperation between the two sides. However, all the previous disagreements still loom in the background. Where is the point at which these disagreements endanger this newfound cooperation? Or, is a new understanding of overall Washington-Moscow relations on the horizon?

Existing Guidance

1. Libya: What does a post-Gadhafi Libya look like? What factions are emerging within the opposition? We need to look at key individuals as well as groups. How much power does the newly formed “national council” actually have? What indicators do we need to watch for as potential signs of deterioration of the situation into a civil war?

2. Iraq: We need to understand what protests in Iraq mean for the stability of the country moving forward. In Iraq, the Iranian question is even more critical. What hand did Iraq’s eastern neighbor play in these protests, and what is Iran trying to achieve in Iraq right now? How does the recent return of Muqtada al-Sadr fit in? We also need to look at what the Iraqi government is doing to manage the unrest. Why have intellectuals been rounded up and arrested? Is ethnosectarian rivalry playing a significant role? We need to investigate the nuance and subtlety of the motivations and dissatisfaction driving the key actors behind these protests.

3. Yemen: What is the status of talks between the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition? Is the example of the rest of the region, and particularly of resurgent tribal loyalties in Libya, having a meaningful impact on how Yemeni tribes and other factions see their options? We need to look for any signs of changes that could upset the fragile balance in Yemen, including the loyalty of the military and security forces to Saleh.

4. China: Though there has been no “Jasmine Revolution,” the protest movement in China remains potentially significant. What lies behind these gatherings, and do they have staying power? What is the control group behind the gatherings, and is it unified? Is the movement gaining momentum? What can we learn from the National People’s Congress?

5. Pakistan: Relations with the United States have deteriorated, and we need to look closely at the status of the American-Pakistani relationship and the potential implications for Afghanistan and the region.

EURASIA

  • March 7: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will arrive in Finland. The vice president will meet with Finnish Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi and President Tarja Halonen to discuss the world economy and other issues.
  • March 7: Former French President Jacques Chirac will go on trial for misuse of public funds.
  • March 7: France will auction 4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) of 13-week fixed-rate short-term treasury bills, 2 billion euros of 26-week fixed-rate short-term treasury bills and 2 billion euros of 52-week fixed-rate short-term treasury bills.
  • March 7-9: Chilean President Sebastian Pinera will pay a state visit to Spain and will meet with Spanish King Juan Carlos I and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
  • March 7-11: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Managing Director for Turkey, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia Olivier Descamps will lead a delegation to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
  • March 8: Greece will sell 1.25 billion euros of six-month treasury bills.
  • March 8-10: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will visit Moscow. The vice president is scheduled to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on March 9 and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on March 10.
  • March 8-12: An arbitration hearing to settle a contract dispute between oil firm Burlington and the Ecuadorian government will begin in Paris.
  • March 9: EU-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo are scheduled to begin in Brussels.
  • March 9: The British All Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus and the Cypriot High Commission in the United Kingdom are expected to discuss the political and economic problems of Cyprus in the House of Commons.
  • March 9: Czech and Slovak human rights activists are expected to block the Slovak-Austrian border crossing at Jarovce and Kittsee on the outskirts of Bratislava to protest the trial of 13 Austrian environmental activists.
  • March 9: Portugal’s Treasury and Government Debt Agency is scheduled to buy back government bond lines and issue new debt in the amount of 750 million euros and 1 billion euros.
  • March 9-10: Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn will visit Croatia and meet with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Luka Bebic, Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Gordan Jandrokovic, along with representatives of the Ukrainian minority in Croatia.
  • March 10: Newly appointed French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe will visit Berlin and meet with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to discuss the political developments in Libya and North Africa.
  • March 10: Armenian Minister of Transport and Communication Manuk Vardanyan will attend the third Armenian-Romanian intergovernmental commission in Bucharest to discuss bilateral cooperation in trade, tourism and industry. A business forum is also scheduled.
  • March 10-11: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and 27 ministers will hold a crisis summit on Libya and North Africa in Brussels.
  • March 11: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will visit Moldova and meet with Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat in Chisinau.
  • March 11: The bribery trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is scheduled to resume.
  • March 11: Eurozone heads of state are scheduled to hold a special summit to discuss a preventative plan of action for future debt crises.
  • March 12: The Public Chamber opposition movement is scheduled to hold protests to demand democratic change in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Musavat party is scheduled to hold demonstrations across Azerbaijan the same day.
  • March 12: Neo-Nazis are expected to come out in support of the Workers’ Social Justice Party’s planned march in Novy Bydzov in the Czech Republic. The Novy Bydzov Initiative plans to hold a counter-march.
  • March 13: Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi will visit Azerbaijan to discuss multilateral and bilateral cooperation in economic development and energy.
  • March 13: Local assembly elections will be held in 12 Russian regions, including Dagestan.

MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA

  • March 7-8: Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will visit Iran to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi. Mammadyarov will participate in the Iran-Azerbaijan intergovernmental commission, co-chaired by Salehi.
  • March 7-8: Dutch Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima, accompanied by a Dutch trade mission, are scheduled to continue a visit to Oman.
  • March 7-10: Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon and thirty Tajik businessmen will travel to Karachi, Pakistan, to meet with Pakistani trade and development officials and Pakistani businessmen. A joint business forum will be held on Mar 10.
  • March 8: The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission will hold a public hearing on a government proposal to raise the compressed natural gas price by about 50 percent.
  • March 8: A key Kuwaiti opposition group will rally to force the resignation of the prime minister. The group wants a new government to battle corruption, guarantee public freedoms and find solutions for various economic issues. It is headed by former parliament speaker Ahmad al-Saadun.
  • March 8: Former Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid , former Industrial Development Authority Director Amr Assal and steel magnate and former National Democratic Party official Ahmed Ezz will stand trial on charges of profiteering and facilitating the illegal acquisition of public funds.
  • March 8: U.S. CIA contractor Raymond Davis will stand trial in Pakistan in the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis.
  • March 9: Lebanese bishops will meet to elect a new spiritual head for Lebanon’s Maronite church.
  • March 9-10: Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji al-Otari will visit Tehran to participate in the 13th Iran-Syria conference. Several Syrian economic affairs experts will accompany him.
  • March 9-10: Dutch Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima, along with a Dutch trade mission, will visit Qatar.
  • March 11: A Saudi youth group known as Jeddah Youth for Change has scheduled a protest in Jeddah, near the al-Beia Roundabout, in solidarity with the Libyan uprising to demand an elected ruler, greater freedom for women and the release of political prisoners. Hundreds responded to the call for the Saudi “Day of Rage” on Facebook.

AMERICAS

  • March 7-13: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will continue a visit to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other administration officials. Gillard will also meet with U.S. intelligence heads, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
  • March 9: Ecuador’s National Electoral Council has prohibited state financing of political propaganda after this date.
  • March 9-Nov 22: Azerbaijani military units will attend field artillery training in the United States.
  • March 11: A meeting of foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will be held in Quito, Ecuador. The election of an UNASUR secretary-general will be discussed at the meeting.
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