Zapad 2017 NATO Russia

Who's Afraid of Big, Bad Zapad?

Zapad 2017, a massive joint Russia-Belarus military exercise, begins Thursday. The exercise will take place in Belarus and Kaliningrad, near the borders of Poland and the Baltic states. Many NATO members are concerned. Yet, Predata signals show interest in the exercise varies by country.... Continue Reading

Saudi Arabia Iran

After Hajj, Iran-Saudi Rivalry Back On

Some have speculated the successful participation of Iranian pilgrims in this year’s Hajj could mark the start of a rapprochement between the two regional enemies. In early September, a leader of Iran’s pilgrimage team thanked the Saudis for their support, and Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced diplomats from both nations would visit the other to inspect their respective diplomatic facilities. The bonhomie was short-lived, however. On September 3, Iran’s defense minister said his country would co... Continue Reading

Russia Zapad Lithuania

As Zapad Looms, Lithuania Faces Russian Meddling Risk

With Zapad 2017, Russia's massive quadrennial military exercise, set to begin in Belarus September 14, a Predata anticipatory signal for Russian civil interference in Lithuania has spiked to its highest level in over a year. This means that during the exercise there is high risk of Russian non-military aggression against the Baltic nation -- such as fake news campaigns, website defacement, or other cyber operations. With NATO battlegroups deployed throughout the Baltic states to keep an eye on Z... Continue Reading

Elections Russia Europe

Leçons du Passé: Understanding Russian Interference in the French Election

It would have been difficult to fault France watchers in the Kremlin for overconfidence in January 2017. François Fillon, the leading candidate in the polls at the time, was a long-time contact of Vladimir Putin. Polling second was the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, whose National Front party ran on a platform of economic nationalism, repatriating power from Brussels, rapprochement with Moscow on Ukraine and Syria and rejecting immigration –all wish list items for Moscow. Trailing far behin... Continue Reading

russian interest
Xi Jinping China

Xi's China: What Dreams May Come

After becoming Communist Party chief and leader of the People’s Republic in 2012, Xi Jinping began popularizing the slogan the “Chinese Dream” ( 中国梦). The Dream is the great rejuvenation of China, achieved materially through two centenaries: to become a “moderately well-off society” by 2021, the 100-year anniversary of the Communist Party, and to become a fully-developed nation by 2049, 100 years after the founding of the People’s Republic. The Chinese Dream has become an ideological underpinnin... Continue Reading

communist congress
Iran Nuclear Deal Rouhani

Iran: Domestic Politics Drive Nuclear Deal Posturing

On August 15, President Rouhani threatened to withdraw from the P5+1 nuclear deal “within hours” should the United States impose further sanctions on Iran. A day before the statement, in a show of power, Ayatollah Khamenei named a slate of new, mostly conservative members to the Expediency Council, a high-level advisory body that mediates legislative disputes between Parliament and the Guardian Council. ... Continue Reading


Political Risk Moves Markets in Different Ways

You would think a disruptive mass protest would negatively affect a country’s market and asset prices. But recent political unrest around the globe suggests this isn’t necessarily true.  Markets are quickly shrugging off political risk associated with both peaceful and violent unrest around the world, underscoring how hard it is for global macro strategists to know when civil disruptions will rattle investor confidence.    Predata tracks digital activity and engageme... Continue Reading


Has China Lost Interest in Pyongyang's Provocations?

In two July tests, North Korea proved it has the capability to hit the continental United States with a ballistic missile. Alarm bells sounded in the West. But in China, by the measure of online conversation about North Korea and its WMD program, the tests were not perceived as particularly significant to the bilateral relationship. Historically, the Predata signal that tracks DPRK-China relations shown above has reacted emphatically to Pyongyang's provocations. That these latest, dramatic launc... Continue Reading

Low Chinese Interest in ICBM Launches
Estonia Russia

With Estonian Local Elections Approaching, Russian Meddling May Intensify

Predata signals that anticipate non-military Russian interference in Estonia have risen to their highest levels since February, indicating heightened risk of Russian meddling in its Baltic neighbor in July. Interference operations may involve the lead-up to municipal elections in October or target Estonia's large ethnic Russian population, which has taken to the streets in the past to protest issues of Soviet historical memory, such as the relocation of a war memorial in the Bronze Night riots.... Continue Reading

Iran-Saudi Rivalry Saudi Arabia Qatar Iran

Qatar the Outcast

ON MAY 14, Predata observed that, while the war of words between Tehran and Riyadh had been heating up, the reaction of Persian-language and Arabic-language audiences to this increase in threatening rhetoric was muted. Four weeks later, several developments suggest that the potential for an expansion of the two countries’ proxy war may have grown. On May 23, the government of Bahrain cracked down on Shia protestors – resulting in five deaths and hundreds of arrests. Predictably, while Saudi Ara... Continue Reading

iran saudi june 11