Germany's Election, Syria's Long-Term Outlook, And US Global 'Credibility'

This week, in Business Monitor Online, we published three particularly topical political risk articles.

Our Europe team published a Germany Election Primer ahead of the general election on Sunday, September 22. It hardly needs stating that this is the big election in Europe this year, given Germany's centrality in Europe, the EU, and the eurozone.

BMI View: Angela Merkel will retain the chancellorship, but the composition of the current government looks likely to change from a centre-right coalition to a grand coalition between the centre-right and centre-left. This implies a slight shift in fiscal, immigration, and eurozone policy, and more disagreement on energy policy, but any changes in overall trajectory will be modest.

The primer discusses various coalition permutations and their policy implications.

Secondly, our Middle East and North Africa team has published our updated Long-Term Political Forecast For Syria. The article looks beyond the current chemical weapons issue that has been dominating headlines, and outlines various scenarios for how the conflict could end. These include a regime victory, negotiated settlement, rebel victory/regime collapse, and extended stalemate. What seems certain is that regardless of whether President Bashar al-Assad or his regime remains in power, Syria is facing a long period of conflict, and any peace that is achieved is likely to prove fragile.

Thirdly, we have also published an article about the United States' geopolitical credibility and its security commitments, in light of its refrain from military action in Syria. The article discusses US policy towards the Iran nuclear issue, North and South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and eastern Europe in view of potential future threats.

This Week's Trivia Question

Last week's question was as follows: Last week [i.e. the previous week] saw the 55th anniversary of the sale of a small fishing village by a Middle Eastern country to an Asian country. What was that territory, and what were the two countries involved? The clue was that this place has for some years been said to be of great strategic interest to China.

The answer is the sale of the village of Gwadar, in Pakistan, by Oman to Pakistan in September 1958. Earlier this year, a Chinese company took over operations at the port from a Singaporean firm, and there has long been speculation that China favours using Gwadar as a naval base.

This week's question is as follows: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had an elder brother called Basil, who was the heir-apparent to the presidency before his death in a car crash in 1994. Which other current Head of State, who has in recent years successfully defeated his country's rebels in a long-running civil war, also has a brother called Basil who is a politician? The country in question is in Asia. We will reveal the answer next week.