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Things Will Get Worse for Britain Before They Get Better

Andrew K.P. Leung, a Wikistrat Senior Analyst and Chairman of Andrew Leung International Consultants Limited in Hong Kong, argues that the United Kingdom is between a rock and a hard place: It can’t start negotiating its exit from the European Union until it triggers Article 50, but when it triggers Article 50 it loses its leverage. Until that happens, Leung expects the pound will continue to fall and prices in Britain will rise.

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Brexit Calls Britain’s Ability to Fulfill Its Commitments Into Question

Dr. Matthew Hurley, a Wikistrat Senior Analyst and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, argues the pound’s future is grim. Brexit casts doubt on the United Kingdom’s willingness and ability to fulfill its commitments, he says: the basis of fiat currency.

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Can ISIS in Libya Be Contained?

Wikistrat - ISIS in Libya infographic

Most Wikistrat analysts believe the self-declared Islamic State (or ISIS) in Libya can be contained by Western powers, but a sizable minority cautions against complacency.

In a recent online voting exercise, two-thirds of our analysts agreed ISIS can “definitively” or “probably” be contained — meaning allowing them to consolidate, but not expand, and strike once they’ve reached a pre-determined level of “state-ness”.

Dr. Joel Sokolsky, a Wikistrat Senior Analyst and professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada, argued that ISIS does not pose an existential threat to Europe or the United States. “It is a bad situation,” he admitted, “but one that can be managed via hard conventional attacks from combined Allied sea-based forces, strike aircraft and the quick in-and-out of special forces.”

Contributing Analyst Thomas Wade, a U.S. Army veteran and history professor at the University of Phoenix, agreed, pointing out that the relatively lightweight Western military presence in Iraq is helping national forces there push back ISIS.

But Steve Chisnall, a former Royal Air Force Air Vice-Marshal and now the director of strategy at the University of Southampton, was more cautious, arguing that — like Iraq and Syria — Libya is awash in different factions. “No one fully knows who is fighting whom.” That makes containment a dicey proposition.

Monica Jerbi, a Wikistrat Contributing Analyst, drew on her expertise of organized crime to argue that when a criminal enterprise is shut down, those who aren’t caught in the sweep aren’t scared into becoming law-abiding citizens — “they disperse, learn and start over somewhere else.” ISIS fighters in Libya could do the same.

Click here or on the thumbnail to download the infographic.

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Impact of Akhtar Mansour’s Death on Reconciliation and ISIS

Wikistrat Infographic

Akhtar Mansour’s Death Unlikely to Affect Peace Talks

Last week, after Mullah Akhtar Mansour was confirmed killed in a U.S. drone strike, Wikistrat ran a two-day voting activity in which experts were asked to assess the implications of the Taliban leader’s death for the future stability of Afghanistan.

Specifically, analysts rated the impact on peace talks between the group and the government in Kabul as well as the chances of ISIS taking advantage of Mansour’s death to expand in Afghanistan.

Most analysts did not see a significant change in the prospects for reconciliation. 81 out of 94 said Mansour’s death would have no or little bearing on the possibility of an accord.

Pascale Siegel, one of Wikistrat’s top counterterrorism experts, argued that whomever succeeds Mansour as Taliban leader will first have to build up his authority. “I’d say reconciliation is pushed back to the backburner for now,” she said.

Wikistrat Infographic

An Opportunity for ISIS – Maybe

Analysts were more divided on the question of how this affects ISIS. Nearly half said Mansour’s death could lead to a moderate increase in ISIS’s presence in Afghanistan, but a large minority argued it would have no such impact.

“ISIS does not have a significant presence,” said Dr. Smruti S. Pattanaik, who is also a research fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis in New Delhi, India. “Only a breakaway Taliban faction has owed allegiance to ISIS.”

Tim Foxley, a former British Ministry of Defence analyst with experience in Afghanistan, was more cautious, saying any conflict in trying to find a new Taliban leader may well cause more splintering.

The worst possible outcome, argued Siegel, is ISIS playing a role in adjudicating an intra-Taliban conflict. “That would be even more worrisome.” Read More →

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Wikistrat’s Outlook on China: Foreign Policy

Wikistrat - Outlook on China Foreign Policy poster

Wikistrat’s analysts have been busy over the last few months projecting the social, economic, political and foreign policy future of China.

This poster highlights some of the key takeaways from our recent simulations:

  • China is investing significantly into modernizing trade routes with Europe. It is notable that China’s focus on Europe decidedly lacks a security component.
  • China’s interest in East Africa is in directly managing political stability so economies thrive and goods can be sold.
  • China will gain disproportionately from a partnership with Russia and will continue to use Russia to gain position and experience in world affairs.
  • China is unlikely to do more than admonish North Korea for recent nuclear tests.
  • As tensions increase with Taiwan, the mainland is likely to seek the KMT’s return to power.
  • Uncertainty about China’s intentions in the South China Sea could trigger a conflict there. Read More →

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Nord Stream II Would Push Central Europeans West

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If Nord Stream II is built, it could push Central European countries that are still mildly sympathetic to Russia into the anti-Russian camp led by Poland and Ukraine, some of Wikistrat’s analyst warn.

This infographic summarizes a discussion members of Wikistrat’s Europe and Energy Security Desks conducted on our online, interactive platform earlier this month.

The proposed extension of the Baltic Sea pipeline between Russia and Germany is controversial. Various former East Bloc nations have written the European Commission to express their concern. The EU executive agrees that current gas pipelines, which run mostly through Ukraine, are safe and sufficient.

But Russia wants to bypass its former satellite and sabotage the European Union’s attempts to diversify away from an over-reliance on Russian gas. Read More →

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