Visão do 3º Trimestre 2011
A visão global do que esperar deste terceiro trimester do negro ano de 2011 aqui apresentada pela Stratfor é muito informada e consistente. Sobre a Europa e as suas famosas dívidas soberanas a análise é clara: “In terms of who will succumb to the crisis next, we are watching Belgium, Spain and Italy — in that order — closely. It will be a summer filled with strikes and protests…”. Sobre a presidência polaca da Europa: “Keeping Moscow’s closer ties to Berlin in mind, Poland will use its six-month EU presidency to address three issues. First, Warsaw will enter the debate over the European Union’s 2014-2020 budget period, particularly the Cohesion Fund (essentially, money transfers between core EU states and poorer member states), facing off against the United Kingdom, France and Germany, which want to limit this fund in the next budgetary period. This fight will begin in the third quarter but will last well into 2012 and it will cause further fissures between new and old EU member states. Second, Poland will probe Russia’s periphery by pushing for an EU Association Agreement with Ukraine. Third, Poland will test Germany’s commitment to joint European defense by making EU-wide defense policy one of the main issues of its presidency.”
STRATFOR has long argued that the United States is fighting an untenable war in Afghanistan and eventually would face the hard facts of the conflict, reorder its priorities and start bringing an end to the intensive military campaign. With the killing of Osama bin Laden and the transition of Gen. David Petraeus to the CIA after he spearheaded a long-haul counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, the United States has an opportunity to negotiate the conditions for withdrawal with Pakistan — a process we expect to occupy a great deal of Washington’s attention in the third quarter.
Russian efforts to consolidate influence in its periphery will continue to drive events in Eurasia as Moscow works to strengthen relations with Germany and France through major business, military and energy deals. And as we predicted in our annual forecast, the Central Europeans will be left with little choice but to build up alternative security arrangements to counterbalance Russia. The eurozone’s financial troubles will add to the trend of regionalization that we have been tracking in Europe, but for this quarter at least, the eurozone will retain the tools it needs to contain the damage caused by the crisis. Likewise, in China, where STRATFOR has been watching for signs of a sharp economic downturn, this will not be the quarter in which things fall apart, although high inflation and slowing growth will aggravate the already-building social unrest in the country.
The effects of the so-called Arab Spring will continue to cause stress for governments in the Middle East, but STRATFOR does not expect any of the current uprisings to reach the level needed to effect regime change this quarter. What continues to hold our interest in the Middle East is the potential for Iran to exploit the regional unrest and compel Saudi Arabia into a negotiation — however preliminary — that would reshape the balance of power in the Persian Gulf region as the United States struggles to prevent Iran from filling a developing power vacuum in Iraq.
Global Trend: Bringing Closure to the Afghan War
The most important new trend STRATFOR sees in the third quarter is the developing shift in U.S. strategy on Afghanistan, away from the counterinsurgency-focused strategy instituted by Gen. David Petraeus and toward an accelerated withdrawal. This shift will not be very noticeable on the battlefield during the summer fighting season but will be especially pronounced in the political realm in both Washington and Islamabad this quarter. U.S. President Barack Obama will balance between preempting anti-war candidates and maintaining the appearance of an orderly exit from the war as the U.S. presidential campaign gains momentum, but will also have new military leadership to help scale down the war effort to the more modest and achievable goal of crippling al Qaeda’s core operations.
Pakistan will feel the most immediate consequence of the shift in U.S. war strategy in the coming months. Pakistani leadership will be divided over the threats and opportunities presented by a U.S. withdrawal, which will leave Pakistan to clean up a messy jihadist landscape but will also give Islamabad the chance to re-establish its influence in its northwestern periphery. It is up to the United States this quarter to compel the cooperation of the Pakistani military leadership in the withdrawal effort. Although progress is by no means assured for the quarter and much will be handled behind the scenes, a flurry of negotiations will likely be held between the United States and Pakistan, Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan Taliban and the United States with Pakistan operating as a conduit. Visible strains between Islamabad and Washington should be expected as this process takes place, especially if al Qaeda remnants and Taliban factions on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border significantly increase pressure on Islamabad for fear of being betrayed in a U.S.-Pakistani deal. India will continue its efforts to maintain a non-military presence in Afghanistan, but the United States will prioritize Pakistan’s concerns over India’s in the interest of accelerating a withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Global Trend: Struggle in the Persian Gulf
STRATFOR said in its annual forecast that the United States will seek to retain a significant presence in Iraq to balance Iran rather than withdraw fully. We also expected a significant, behind-the-scenes progression in U.S.-Iranian negotiations toward the year’s end as Washington tries to cope with the strategic dilemma of leaving a power vacuum in the heart of Mesopotamia for Iran to fill. The United States has attempted to renegotiate an extension of the Status of Forces Agreement on Iraq or devise a new accord altogether, but Iran so far has been able to block U.S. efforts in this regard.
However, the struggle is not over, and the United States will continue trying to persuade more independent-minded Iraqi factions to support an extended stay for U.S. forces. Iran will continue to use agents of influence in Iraq, particularly members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia, to remind both U.S. and Iraqi officials of the consequences of defying Iran’s wishes on this issue. Confident in its position in Iraq, Iran will also try to assert its influence in Afghanistan and try to convince Washington that a broader negotiation with Tehran is needed in order to exit the war. However, given the limits to Iran’s influence in this arena, such efforts are unlikely to make much headway.
With an eye on Bahrain, Iran has an opportunity to undermine the stability of its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf region through Shiite unrest, but Tehran will likely exercise more restraint this quarter as it attempts to forge an understanding with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia will keep its guard up against Iran, standing ready to back Bahrain in quashing periodic demonstrations by Shiite dissenters, but could entertain negotiations with Iran that would seek to limit Iranian interference in the affairs of the Sunni Gulf states at the cost of respecting an expanded Iranian sphere of influence — at least until U.S. capabilities and intentions in the region become clearer. Should such talks move forward this quarter, they will remain in the very early stages.
Saudi Arabia will continue to sort out internal succession issues this quarter, but it will be heavily burdened with trying to manage a shaky political transition in Yemen between members of the Saleh clan and the main opposition forces. Unless Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signs a deal voluntarily stripping himself of power (so far, an unlikely prospect), Saudi Arabia will quietly prevent Saleh from returning to Yemen, at least until a constitutionally-mandated 60-day deadline expires in early August that would require fresh elections and legally deprive Saleh of the ability to block a deal. The more overstretched Saudi Arabia becomes with issues like Yemen and Bahrain, the more confident Iran will be in its ability to shape politics in the Persian Gulf region.
Global Trend: Russia’s Relations With the West
Russia will continue its two-track foreign policy with the United States: cooperating further with Washington on Afghanistan while countering U.S. influence in Central Europe. The Kremlin will continue building up its relationship with Germany, an ongoing process that will be illustrated this quarter by the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline coming online and by significant business deals. Another indicator of closer Russo-German relations will be joint negotiations over Moldova (which Germany will use to show the rest of Europe that Berlin has the clout to bring Moscow to the negotiating table on security matters). Not wanting to be left out as Berlin and Moscow strengthen their relationship, France will also be engaged in major energy and military dealings with Russia.
The “Great Recession” may be over, but in recent months, the pace of the gathering recovery has slowed somewhat. We do not foresee a return to recession in the third quarter, but weakening economic activity in several areas raises the likelihood that a major economic imbalance — like the eurozone crisis, the Japanese earthquake, China’s struggle with inflation and negative perceptions of U.S. economic imbalances — could have far-reaching detrimental effects.
Our annual forecast on the eurozone holding together still stands. Germany will be able to minimize the domestic political costs of bailing out peripheral countries while imposing painful austerity measures on those countries without pushing them to the point of collapse. Greece will, as forecast, receive its second bailout, and financial institutions will offer some token level of participation in debt restructuring while the European Central Bank will remain flexible enough to sustain unconventional supportive mechanisms, such as buying government bonds and accepting peripheral debt as collateral. In terms of who will succumb to the crisis next, we are watching Belgium, Spain and Italy — in that order — closely. It will be a summer filled with strikes and protests, but none will affect governments to the extent that they will reverse austerity measures in any meaningful way.
Regional Trend: Syria’s Crisis
Syria will struggle to stamp out dissenters, but it is unlikely to face a serious threat of regime collapse. The crisis in Syria and continued refugee flow into Turkey will cause increasing tensions with Turkey, leading to more rhetoric and a limited possibility of border skirmishes. However, Syria and Turkey are likely to exercise a great deal of restraint in dealing with each other so long as the Syrian regime can hold itself together.
Regional Trend: Turkey’s Foreign Policy
Turkey will face internal stress as the government is forced to confront the limits of its “zero problems with neighbors” foreign policy. The underlying geopolitical forces in Syria and Iraq will continue pushing Turkey into playing its natural role as a counterbalance to Iran. Israel’s efforts to mend its relationship with Turkey could also progress in the coming months as Ankara works on refining its foreign policy.
Regional Trend: Egypt’s Next Steps
Egypt will see more turbulence this quarter than the last as the military regime tries to prepare the country for elections scheduled for September. Election delays are possible, but we suspect that the military wants to return to ruling — as opposed to governing — sooner rather than later. The military regime will attempt to exploit existing fissures within the opposition with the aim of undermining the political rise of Egypt’s Islamists.
Regional Trend: Trying Times for Hamas?
In Gaza, Egypt — in coordination with Turkey — will take a leading role in trying to contain Hamas and in distancing the Islamist militant group from the Syria-Iran nexus. Hamas will focus on maintaining internal cohesion in the face of rising pressure for the movement to transition more fully into politics.
Regional Trend: The Libya Campaign
Divisions among the NATO countries conducting the bombing campaign in Libya will grow in the third quarter. Though the airstrikes will continue for the near term in an attempt to remove Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, a simultaneous process to lay the groundwork for a negotiated solution between eastern and western Libya will begin. Those leading the charge to unseat Gadhafi will remain hesitant to include him in any future arrangement, so talks in the third quarter will revolve around other elements within the regime. Russia can be expected to quietly drive these negotiations as it uses the Libya crisis to establish a foothold in the North African energy sector and broaden cooperation with France.
Regional Trend: Further Consolidation in Moscow
On the domestic front, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will finish building a new political structure that will consolidate his authority over the state, while giving the appearance of a more open and democratic society (regardless of what political office Putin assumes in 2012 after the presidential election).
Regional Trend: Poland’s EU Presidency
Keeping Moscow’s closer ties to Berlin in mind, Poland will use its six-month EU presidency to address three issues. First, Warsaw will enter the debate over the European Union’s 2014-2020 budget period, particularly the Cohesion Fund (essentially, money transfers between core EU states and poorer member states), facing off against the United Kingdom, France and Germany, which want to limit this fund in the next budgetary period. This fight will begin in the third quarter but will last well into 2012 and it will cause further fissures between new and old EU member states. Second, Poland will probe Russia’s periphery by pushing for an EU Association Agreement with Ukraine. Third, Poland will test Germany’s commitment to joint European defense by making EU-wide defense policy one of the main issues of its presidency.
Regional Trend: China Navigates Economic Straits
STRATFOR does not forecast the temporary U.S.-China thaw to falter, Japan to fully recover or the Korean Peninsula dynamic to shift, and while maritime territorial disputes will continue, they will not spiral out of control. What STRATFOR is concerned with this quarter is China’s simultaneous struggle with inflation and slowing growth. China’s ability to navigate between dangers on both sides will drive events in the region this quarter. Inflation has so far outpaced efforts to contain it, forcing revisions to the government’s annual target, and is now expected to peak in the third quarter. At the same time, threats to growth are becoming more menacing and will discourage forceful moves against inflation and encourage a loosening of policy, leading to greater economic volatility and a higher chance for policy errors. Persistent high inflation will cause further supply disruptions and labor pressure. Whether stirred by inflation or slowing economic activity, large and intense incidents of unrest will continue to flare.
While STRATFOR maintains that China’s economy will eventually face a sharp slowdown, we do not think it will happen this quarter. There are several worrisome signs: credit tightening is starting to affect certain sectors, export growth is slowing, the trade surplus is shrinking and some manufacturers are going bankrupt. Yet exports to major markets like the United States and the European Union have not collapsed, and we do not expect them to this quarter. Second, China’s central government still has the resources and tools to subsidize or otherwise mitigate ailing sectors and more broadly to reaccelerate growth. Third, the central government is not acting urgently to implement a draft plan to bail out roughly 3 trillion yuan (about $460 billion) worth of bad debt from local governments, suggesting that the impending banking crisis is not yet coming to a head.
Regional Trend: The Venezuelan President’s Health
The major question for Venezuela this quarter is the health of President Hugo Chavez following a major abdominal surgery and what appears to be a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Chavez will push his health limits in trying to reassure his adversaries and allies alike that he is still in the political scene. However, he likely will face increasing difficulty in managing a complex array of regime rifts at home as members of his regime and within the opposition attempt to position themselves for a post-Chavez scenario. In spite of the uncertainty over the president’s health and Venezuela’s growing difficulty in maintaining oil production crucial for state revenues, STRATFOR does not expect Chavez’s hold on power to face a serious threat this quarter.
Regional Trend: Mexico’s Cartel Violence
Cartel-related violence across Mexico will continue at the high levels seen over the last six months. Specific regions in which we anticipate substantial violence over the next three months include the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas; and the southern states of Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacan, Morelos and Puebla.
Regional Trend: Nigerian Militants
For the first time, the Nigerian government will be more concerned with militancy in the north than in the southern Niger Delta region, where continued government patronage will keep militant activity relatively contained. The domestic policy initiatives Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan had planned for the beginning of his first elected term will not be as important as the problem posed by the Boko Haram Islamist militant sect based in the northeast. The government will devote its energy to intelligence, police and army operations with the aim of undermining the group. This goal will not be achieved in the third quarter, as Boko Haram will try to fight back.
Regional Trend: The Partition of Sudan
STRATFOR does not expect war to break out when Southern Sudan declares independence July 9, but without a formal mechanism in place for the north and south to share crucial oil revenues and infrastructure, and with the Abyei and South Kordofan regions still in dispute, tensions between the two sides will continue to simmer. We do not expect a major disruption in Sudan’s energy production. Encouraged by external stakeholders like China, the two sides will strike ad hoc agreements on financial exchanges — such as crude oil pipeline transit fees levied by Khartoum on Juba — in order for business to continue as usual, though these deals will be subject to future revision.
“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR”