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    Fourth Quarter Forecast


    The U.S. preparation to disengage from

    Iraq and Afghanistan will remain theinternational systems center of gravity inthe fourth quarter. This includes the United

    States and Iran working together in Iraq.

    In recent weeks, there have been signsthat Washington and Tehran are reaching a

    sort of compromise, or at least removing

    their strongest objections, to allow or encourage the Iraqi factions to settle their differences and endthe political stalemate that has held since the March elections. The United States is still a long wayfrom leaving Iraq completely, but both Washington and Tehran want to see U.S. forces largely out of

    Iraq. With Washington focusing more on Afghanistan, there is room for tacit understandings on the

    Iraq issue.

    In Afghanistan, things are not as clear-cut (not that they are simple in Iraq). Though the current party

    line from U.S. President Barack Obamas administration is that the strategy needs to be given time towork, the review of the efficacy of current efforts due at the end of the year is already being prepared.

    Amid the reviews and assessments, it is growing increasingly clear that in Afghanistan, there is no realvictory to be had, and the question is just how much needs to be accomplished before U.S. forcescan withdraw. The biggest complication for the United States in Afghanistan is Pakistan. Islamabad has

    shown Washington what it can do if pushed, briefly shutting down the single most important U.S.

    supply line into Afghanistan from Sept. 30 to Oct. 10. Pakistan has always been a concern in theAfghanistan campaign; geography has left Washington heavily dependent on Pakistan for supplyroutes into Afghanistan, yet the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is no more substantial than

    the ink line on a map, and the fight clearly crosses borders. The supply line is not the only leverage

    Pakistan has; it also holds the intelligence flow and relationships with the Taliban that are so vital toWashingtons exit strategy planning. The United States will be forced once again this quarter to

    balance the reality that Pakistan is both a necessary ally in the war in Afghanistan and a battlefield inits own right.

    The acceleration of U.S. preparations to pull out of its two long-running conflicts, and Washingtons

    brief introversion and protectionist rhetoric that will surround the November elections, will shape twoother global trends this quarter. Russia will strengthen its influence over former Soviet republics

    Belarus, Ukraine and the Central Asian Stans while reaching into Moldova and the Baltics to extend

    its influence along the European frontier. Moscow sees a limited time for its efforts to integrate andconsolidate its position not only because the United States focus on the Middle East and South Asiais decreasing but also because of Russias next elections.Russias increasing focus on the Balticswilltest Moscows ties with Germany and Poland, while the attention on Moldova will trigger Central

    European states likeRomania to turn more actively toward the United States, but it is not clear howmuch attention, at least in this quarter, Washington can spare.

    Where U.S. distraction and the sense of a closing window of opportunity will clash the most is in

    Washingtons relations with China. China is often the focus of U.S. domestic politics, particularly duringtimes of economic trouble, and the upcoming election is no different. Chinas yuan policy is the most

    obvious target, but while Washington is unlikely to carry out any action that will fundamentally harmeconomic ties with Beijing, the political perception of actions could have a more immediate impact. AsBeijing manages U.S. economic pressures and rhetoric, it also fears that Washington is starting to

    break free from its conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan enough to set its sights on the Asia-Pacific region.Like Russia, China is seeking to expand and consolidate its influence globally, especially in its nearabroad. In accelerating these actions, it is raising tensions not only with its smaller Southeast Asian
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    2010 STRATFOR Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1-512-744-4300

    neighbors, but also with U.S. allies like Japan and India. Much like the Central Europeans, theSoutheast Asian states will be looking to the United States to counterbalance China.

    At the center remains the United States. Major powers like Russia and China, which have beenwatching closely the U.S. commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, once again see their opportunities to

    expand their influence diminishing due to not only U.S. actions but also their own domestic political

    deadlines. In this quarter, Washington will be both preoccupied with the Congressional elections andseeking ways to compromise enough to get out of its long-running wars. The election distraction gives

    China and Russia a brief opening, and neither is likely to pass up the opportunity to accelerate and

    consolidate its influence in its near abroad.

    Global Trends

    Global Trend: The U.S.-Iranian Struggle in Iraq

    Washington and Tehran continue to challenge one another over the future of Iraq, and ultimately over

    the balance of power in the Middle East. This sparring will continue in the fourth quarter, with one

    rather significant exception: Washington and Tehran are likely to reach a preliminary agreement onthe factional balance in Baghdad, with a new power-sharing government for Iraq emerging. Thoughthis sets the stage for a broader understanding between the United States and Iran, significant

    movement toward a regional balance of power will remain a work in progress. But the U.S.-Iranian

    competition is also spreading beyond Iraq. Washington is working with Saudi Arabia and other Araballies to try and wean Syria from Iranian influence and further isolate Tehran regionally. This centerson Lebanon, and thus also requires Israeli cooperation. It has also drawn the United States back into

    its position as the broker of Middle East peace talks, but substantial progress is unlikely in this quarter.

    Global Trend: The War in Afghani stan

    While anxiety and tensions appear to be mounting within the U.S. administration about the efficacy of

    the counterinsurgency-focused strategy being pursued in Afghanistan, no major strategic shift is likelyto occur before the strategy review being prepared for the end of the year is completed. Tacticalevolutions and shifts can be expected as each side adapts to the other, but with the U.S.-led campaign

    now focusing its efforts in southwest Afghanistan, operations there can be expected to largely continue

    apace despite the winter months ahead.

    Global Trend: The Russian Resurgence

    Russia will continue in the fourth quarter to consolidate gains made in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus

    and Kyrgyzstan. Russian actions in the Central Asian states, and the deployment of additional Russiantroops to the region, will be complicated by elections in Kyrgyzstan, security crackdowns and the

    potential return of Islamist militancy in Tajikistan, and U.S. maneuvering related to the war inAfghanistan.

    Moscow will also assert itself in Moldova and the Baltics to prepare the ground for the future expansionof Russian influence there. Theelections in Latvia in October, in which a pro-Russian party gained the

    second-highest number of parliamentary seats, and Moldova in November represent opportunities forRussian influence to increase. Russias resurgence in Moldova and the Baltics will begin ripplingthrough the rest of Eastern and Central Europe, leading those states toreach out to the United States

    or European heavyweights for support. Russias maneuverings will also test the limits of the Berlin-

    Moscow axis as Russia looks for a way to balance its resurgence plans with its need to maintain itsrelationship with Germany. Moscows long history with Berlin gives it a firm understanding of whatGermany needs as well as how to leverage the European power for its own purposes, and althoughsome strains will show, neither country is willing to abandon their association.
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    2010 STRATFOR Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1-512-744-4300

    Germany wants to show Russiathat it is a reliable security partner so that it can tell its fellowmembers of the European Union that it can control, or at least manage, Moscow and Berlin has

    chosen the Moldovan breakaway republic of Transdniestria as the testing ground for potentialcooperation. The question is how much cooperation Berlin wants or even really expects from Moscow.

    With itssights on reinforcing its leadership in Europe, Berlin will not look for a break in its ties withRussia, but it will back off from pitching the Russian-proposedEuropean Security Treatyto its fellowEU member states if Moscow does not give it something it can claim as a success on Transdniestria.

    Global Trend: U.S.-Chinese Tensions

    Friction will continue between China and the United States over economic policies, Washingtons

    strengthening ties with allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region and Beijings increasingassertiveness in its periphery. However, the two countries will prevent their relationship from

    fundamentally breaking down this quarter. Washington will threaten to take actions on the yuan,

    either with its own tools (such as a U.S. Treasury Department report on currency manipulation) orthrough international channels (such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade

    Organization), but will refrain from doing anything against the yuan that has a direct, immediate andtangible effect on trade in the fourth quarter. Instead it will reserve concrete retaliatory action fordisputes on specific goods on a case-by-case basis.

    The Global Economy

    The vast stimulus packages that countries launched during the economic crisis are starting to bescaled back and phased out. There is no sudden cut in public spending, but the pump priming is not

    sustainable indefinitely. There are signs of growth, albeit uneven, around the world, and while it is farfrom spectacular and strong concerns remain that the apparent recovery will not last long, there is atenuous stability globally. Two areas where this could become unhinged in the quarter are Europe and

    U.S.-China relations. Europe is shifting its attention from Greece and Spain toIrelandandPortugal,

    countries that will prove less cantankerous politically and thus easier for Germany and the Europeansto manage. If the regional management falls short, however, there is a small chance that Europe couldfall back into financial crisis something that would ripple outward. We do not foresee this

    happening, however, and expect the combined effects of European Central Bank operations and thereassurance of the 440 billion euro ($615 billion) European Financial Stability Fund to make the fourth

    quarter far less dramatic than the second quarter.

    Although Washington appears more ready to take measures against China regarding the yuan, in thisquarter it will not carry out measures that do anything much more than require additional talks, at

    least in the near term. Should the White House suddenly feel pressured to take more concrete actionthat fundamentally affects trade, the system could come unhinged quickly. While that is highly unlikelyat the moment, there is growing pressure inside Washington for more substantial action against China.

    Former Soviet Union

    Regional Trend: The Kremlin Wars

    The battle inside the Kremlin will intensifyin the fourth quarter as the tandem of

    Russian President Dmitri Medvedev andPrime Minister Vladimir Putin begins to

    purge high-level Russian figures and thecampaign season leading up to the 2011

    legislative and 2012 presidential elections

    starts. Such political reorganizations tendto become dangerous for those in charge,
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    2010 STRATFOR Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1-512-744-4300

    but Putin and Medvedev know it is the only way to make the government more secure and effective asthe country modernizes at home and resurges abroad.

    South Asia

    Regional Trend: A DestabilizingPakistan

    Islamabad will continue working withWashington in the counterinsurgencyoffensive against Taliban and al Qaeda-led

    transnational jihadists, buttensions havebecome evident(for example, in the

    temporary disruption of U.S. supply linesthrough Pakistan to Afghanistan). Recovery

    from the massive floods that took place inthe third quarter will consume most of the Pakistani states focus in the fourth quarter. The aftermath

    of the flooding and U.S. military activity in Pakistani territory are bringing tensions between Pakistans

    civilian and military leadership to a head. ThePakistani militarywill face a major test as it attempts tomanage militants, deflect public displeasure at U.S. cross-border operations and avoid becoming thescapegoat for the slow or failing relief efforts in flood-stricken areas.

    Pakistani relations with Indiaare unlikely to improve and could worsen in the fourth quarter. Pakistan-based transnational Islamist militants have several opportunities for attacks; for example, they could

    exploit the unrest in Kashmir to fuel anger against India and make the environment more amenable toattacks. This threat shapes Indias behavior. New Delhi is also raising concerns about increased

    Chinese military cooperation with Pakistan, and will use the perception of a Chinese threat to workmore closely with the United States in hopes of influencing Washingtons policy on issues like Pakistan

    and its militant links. Such dialogue will be highlighted during U.S. President Barack Obamas plannedNovember visit to India. It is unlikely that Beijing will expand its footprint in Pakistan so significantly

    that India feels sufficiently threatened to take action, but Indias awareness of the Chinese moves

    could further complicate Washingtons already difficult task of balancing between the two competingSouth Asian states.

    Middle East

    Regional Trend: Turkeys Resurgence

    Domestically, the Justice and Development

    Party government will focus on

    consolidating the gains it made with thereferendum on constitutional changes

    approved in September. Externally, Ankarawill continue working onrepairing and

    improving ties with the United States. The

    unilateral cease-fire declared by theKurdistan Workers Party (PKK)rebel group

    will last at least one more month, though minor clashes could occur. Whether this cease-fire will lastlonger will depend on the governments talks with Kurdish elements in Turkey and in Iraq (to get their

    support against the PKK) and intensified back-channel negotiations with PKK leadership. Such talkswould deprive the Turkish army and its allies in Turkeys judiciary of their best tool to undermine the

    ruling partys clout: the national security issue. The military has long claimed it is the institution best

    equipped to deal with the PKK threat, and there is a chance the military will take action to disrupt orcomplicate the talks between the government and the Kurdish rebels.
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    2010 STRATFOR Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1-512-744-4300

    Regional Trend: Egypt in Transition

    With the Egyptian parliamentary election nearing, opposition forces will try to challenge Egyptian

    President Hosni Mubaraks regime by gaining publicity. But the real political contest in Egypt will not beplayed out in these parliamentary elections, in which Mubarak's National Democratic Party will emerge

    victorious. The bigger competition is playing out between Mubarak and his allies and the armys top

    brass over a presidential succession plan.Under Mubaraks succession plan, the president would runfor another term, then hand power to Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman (who likely would

    become vice president). At a later point, Suleiman would hand control to Mubaraks son, Gamal. The

    preparations toward this end will continue this quarter, and may include quiet and careful attempts bythe president to stem army opposition to his succession plans. Nonetheless, the Egyptian armysgrowing clout in politics is a trend that will transcend the quarter and is one that the ailing presidentwill unlikely be able to reverse.

    East Asia

    Regional Trend: Chinas Assertive

    Foreign Policy

    China will continue showing a strong sense

    of purpose in pursuing its interests in its

    periphery. These issues includeChinasrelations with Japan, in which tensions thatrecently spikedwill be containable but not

    eradicable this quarter, and Beijingsattempts to tighten bonds and undermine U.S. overtures in Southeast Asia. China will also continuebuilding its relationship with Pakistanand make inroads into other South Asian states, such as Nepal.

    Chinas expanding regional influence is generating resistance among Chinas neighbors,especially

    Japan and India. The fourth quarter will see the beginnings of greater coordination between thoseneighbors, and with the United States, on this issue.

    Regional Trend: Chinas Domestic Economy

    China will announce economic plans that target slightly slower growth rates in the coming years,based on its expectations of global conditions and desire tocontinue with structural reforms(in real

    estate regulation, energy efficiency, regional development and other areas). It will also look to itspolitical future, especially thetransition of power in 2012. However, Beijing will continue its active

    fiscal stimulus and relatively loose monetary policies amid concerns of slowing growth too quickly, withthe intention of carrying out those structural reforms in a way that will limit the associated negativeeffects on growth and social stability.

    Regional Trend: North Koreas Leadership

    The Korean Peninsula has calmed some since theChonAn incidentand its aftermath, and Pyongyang

    has made clear progress in its long-anticipated leadership transition, with Kim Jong Un, the youngest

    son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, moved into top positions and making public appearances. Thefourth quarter will see more such appearances by the new heir apparent as he begins to build his

    public image and the elder Kim manages the various elite interests in North Korea to build support forhis son. Pyongyang will push in this quarter for multilateral talks, but in typical North Korean fashion,

    this could be presaged by provocations. China and Russia will continue pressing for negotiations, andthe United States, South Korea and Japan will shift to doing the same, seeking to reduce tensions.
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    2010 STRATFOR Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1-512-744-4300

    Sub-Saharan Africa

    Regional Trend: Nigerian P olitics

    The quarter will be dominated by the

    political wrangling that typicallyaccompanies the competition for the ruling

    Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

    nominations, which are tantamount towinning the general elections. Dates forthe PDP primaries have yet to be set (after

    being delayed from October), but that fact

    will have no bearing on the intensity of the fight to come, particularly over the presidential nomination.There will be a struggle within the PDP over support from the delegates asPresident Goodluck

    Jonathanbattles against the northern candidates that pose the biggest challenge to his election. One

    of these northern opponents will rise to the forefront by the end of the quarter and turn thecompetition into a two-man race. The internal party struggle, however, will be complemented bynegotiations beyond the PDPs official structure, as militant forces such as the Movement for the

    Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will enter the picture. The faction led by Henry Okah,

    members of which carried out theOct. 1 bombings in Abuja, will require particular attention, thoughthe MEND commanders who bought into the federal government amnesty program will also have to be

    appeased. Nigeria will not see a sustained militant campaign this quarter, but there will still be anincreased level of unrest in the Niger Delta, as well as in other parts of the country, as militantspolitical patrons use their proxies to intimidate and undermine their political opponents.

    Regional Trend: Sudans Referendum

    Preparations for the referendum on Southern Sudanese independence will be the primary focus for

    both the north and the south this quarter. Khartoum does not want the vote to be held and will seekways to either postpone the referendum or discredit the eventual outcome before it occurs, while also

    preparing for a military confrontation by stationing troops in the border regions and supporting proxies

    opposed to the Southern Sudanese government. This does not mean Khartoum wants a war to breakout; rather, it will use its military as a reminder that it is ready for such a scenario. The south,

    meanwhile, will show that it is prepared to go back to war, but will also seek to develop economic tieswith other countries to somewhat diversify its economy away from oil. Meanwhile, both sides will

    simultaneously lay the groundwork for new negotiations on a revenue-sharing agreement for crude oilpumped in Southern Sudan, as the south has no other option but to usenorthern pipelines to exportit.

    Regional Trend: The Conflict in Somalia

    High levels of violence between Islamist insurgents and African Union (AU) Mission in

    Somalia/Transitional Federal Government forces will continue, but neither side will be able to tip thescales enough to achieve a strategic victory. The number ofAU peacekeepers sent to Somaliawill also

    increase, but the deployment will not be as large as seen during the Ethiopian occupation from 2006-

    2009. Anything more substantial than a few thousand extra troops, such as the 20,000 total that theUgandan government has been pushing for in the months following theal Shabaab suicide blasts inKampala, will have to wait until the following quarter if it is to ever come to fruition.
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    2010 STRATFOR Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1-512-744-4300


    Regional Trend: The Franco-GermanTandem and Central Europe

    Germany will continue using the economiccrisis to impose its vision for morestringent European economic requirements

    on its neighbors. This will manifest inongoing efforts toreform enforcementmechanismsfor eurozone rules on budget

    deficits and government debt. Berlin wants

    to make enforcement of the rulesautomatic, thus forcing essentially all members of the European Union to adoptconstitutional debtbreaksakin to what Berlin passed in 2009. Paris is opposed to the automatic mechanisms, as it wants

    the process to requiremore political input from national legislatures. This division will continue tostrain the Franco-German relationship, though we do not foresee a serious break in fourth quarter.

    A key issue that the two are already cooperating on is the debate on the European Unions next budgetperiod (2014-2020), which is set to intensify in the fourth quarter. The budget debate will pit Centraland Eastern European member states against the Berlin-Paris axis. This is just one in a long list of

    disputes between the EU periphery (essentially Central and Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom,Denmark, Ireland and Sweden) and core (France, Germany and Belgium) a dynamic that isexpected to grow in the fourth quarter.

    Central Europeans, including the Baltic States, will continue attempting to re-engage the United Statesin the region, particularly viaballistic missile defenseandmilitary cooperation. They will also push for

    the November NATO summit in Lisbon to reaffirm the collective security component of the NATO pact.

    This will annoy France and Germany, which wantRussia to be included as a partner. However, theCentral Europeans will also be making contingency plans, looking to use new forums such as theVisegrad Four alliance of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which traditionally has

    been a political grouping for security matters. There are many obstacles to greater CentralEuropean unity, starting with the countrieshistorical lack of cooperationand Polands desire for a seat

    at the table with Germany and France, which limits Warsaws ability to lead Central Europe.

    Latin America

    Regional Trend: Venezuelas Grow ing


    Venezuelas economic troubles will growmore severe, threatening key elements of

    the state. Though the government lacksany good options to reverse this trend, itwill be able to exploit these troubles to

    tighten its grip over the country throughtheempowerment of local communalcouncilsand theincreased deployment of militia forces. After losing its two-thirds legislative majority,the ruling party now has an imperative to push through as much legislation as it can to expand the

    executive branchs powers before the legislative session concludes at the end of the year and moreopposition lawmakers are seated in January.

    But Venezuelas problems are not only internal. In the coming quarter, Venezuela will become moreconcerned about what appears to be agradual shift in Cubas orientationtoward the United States. No
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    2010 STRATFOR Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1-512-744-4300

    definitive moves in the U.S.-Cuban relationship should be expected in the next quarter, but Cuba mayattempt to leverage its heavy influence in Venezuela to attract Washingtons interest.

    Venezuelas vulnerabilities have led to increased cooperation with Colombia in the political, economicand even security realms. Unwilling to risk Colombia pursuing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

    (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels on Venezuelan soil, Venezuela appears to have

    taken steps to flush a number of these rebels across the border into Colombia, contributing in part toColombias latest military successes against the FARC. Tepid cooperation between Bogota and Caracas

    may continue through much of the quarter, but this developing rapprochement is on shaky ground.

    Venezuela will cooperate enough to keep the Colombian military at bay, but will also need to becautious in trying to avoid a FARC backlash, even if the groups power appears to be waning.

    The more vulnerable Venezuela becomes, the harder-pressed it will be to find an external ally willingto provide the economic and political capital needed to sustain the regime. Venezuela will look

    primarily to China for this lifeline. China is growing more assertive in pursuing its commercial interestsabroad and will entrench itself more deeply in the Venezuelan oil sector, but Beijing remains cautiousagainst presenting too strong a challenge to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere.

    Regional Trend: Brazils Rise

    Brazil will have a presidential runoff election Oct. 31, but the countrys attention is primarily occupied

    with its currency crisis. The reals steady appreciation is exacerbated by Brazils increasinglycompetitive relationship with China and by short-term injections of capital from Petroleo Brasileiroscapitalization plan for developing the offshore pre-salt oil deposits. There are no easy solutions toBrazils currency problems, and even short-term interventions will be made with extreme caution for

    fear of reviving Brazils past chronic inflation issues. Brazils currency crisis will remain the newgovernments largest concernfar beyond this quarter.

    Externally, Brazil will continue its military modernization plan and will play a more proactive role, albeitprimarily rhetorical, in regional issues, such as Colombian-Venezuelan relations and Argentinasongoing dispute with the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Brazil can use these

    issues to assert its own authority in the South Atlantic. Brazil will maintain a close relationship with

    Iran and Turkey to build a stake in more distant foreign policy issues, but will not play a decisive rolein Middle Eastern matters.

    Regional Trend: Growing Divisions in Mexicos Cartel Wars

    Cartel violence will persist across Mexico and cartel activity will continue spreading farther south into

    Central America, but the coming quarter will see a more defined balance of power emerge among the

    drug-trafficking organizations within Mexico. Under this balance, the Sinaloa Federation and its allies

    will benefit from the high-profile arrests and operational losses of its rivals (Los Zetas, the BeltranLeyva Organization, and others). Though the Mexican government remains gridlocked on most issues,Mexican President Felipe Calderon also understands the limits of the states war against the cartels and

    faces a pressing need to stem the record levels of violence before the 2012 national elections. A

    political exit strategy from the war will begin to take shape. The strategy is likely to favor dominantcartels and potential negotiating partners like Sinaloa. As Sinaloas rivals continue to lose key leaders

    and operational capability, these groups will rely more on improvised explosive devices, kidnappingsfor ransom and extortion tactics and will diversify their criminal activities in an attempt to remainrelevant on the Mexican drug trafficking scene.
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