Five Stories to Watch Next Week:
There are simply too many developing stories to follow in the world. To make things easier, we narrowed them down to five that you should really watch next week:
Reopening America — As usual, the biggest story to watch next week concerns the coronavirus pandemic. All 50 states have begun reopening at different paces following weeks of being shut down. Some states are lifting restrictions rapidly, while others are doing so more gradually. We have to watch week to week how the process unfolds and what practices work best. Beyond the obvious concerns about public health, state governments are certainly aware of new data from the Labor Department, which details how the jobless rate rose in all 50 states and the District of Columbia last month. Forty-three states recorded their highest levels on record since 1976. The severity of the outbreak varies by states, but the economic devastation is everywhere.
Flynn’s case and declassifying Trump-Russia documents — Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, on Wednesday joined the call for the transcript of her client’s conversations with former Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak to be released. “I think the reason we haven’t seen [the transcripts] is because the word ‘sanctions’ doesn’t even appear in them,” Powell said during an interview. Powell’s comments came one day after Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, called on the director of national intelligence to release the unredacted transcripts of the conversations between Flynn and Kislyak. A newly declassified email shows Rice documenting a meeting during the Obama administration in which top officials express concerns about Flynn’s communications with Lislyak. Earlier this month, the Justice Department moved to drop its case against Flynn. We’ll see next week whether anything further develops with Flynn’s case, including the possible release of the transcript.
China prepares to impose national security law in Hong Kong — China is beginning one of its most important political event of the year on Friday: The annual gatherings of its National People’s Congress (NPA). Near the top of the agenda will be a national security law for Hong Kong that the NPC will propose. The legislation would, if enacted, undercut Hong Kong’s autonomy and effectively bring Hong Kong under Beijing’s total control. The bill would, among other things, criminalize “foreign interference,” secessionist activities, and subversion of state power. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists strongly oppose the law. We’ll see next week whether Beijing decides to enact the legislation. President Trump said the US will respond “very strongly” if China does so.
Iran-Israel cyber fight — Last month, Iran launched a cyberattack on Israeli water and sewage facilities, targeting tanks, pumps, and pipelines. Then, according to reports, Israel responded earlier this month by launching a cyberattack on the Bandar Abbas port terminal in southern Iran, causing major damage. Days later, on Thursday, several Israeli websites were hacked in an alleged Iranian attack. Watch next week to see if Israel responds by hitting Iran again. Israel has enormous cyber capabilities and, according to experts, intended its alleged attack on the Bandar Abbas port to be a limited warning. If this tit-for-tat continues and the situation escalates, expect more widespread, damaging cyberattacks. At some point, one of the countries may also decide to respond kinetically, and not with cyber tools.
US to push for new arms talks with China, Russia — President Trump’s new negotiator for arms control, Marshall Billingslea, is “planning to meet with his Russian counterpart soon to discuss a new US proposal for a far-reaching accord to limit all Russian, Chinese, and US nuclear warheads,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Billingslea will launch new talks with Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy Russian foreign minister. The two have been finalizing an agenda for the meeting, which will likely take place in Vienna. The Journal notes that the talks will “mark the first time the Trump administration has opened negotiations on an agreement to replace the New START accord,” which limits the Russian and American stockpiles of long-range nuclear arms and is set to expire in February. Be on the lookout for this meeting. That this report came out now is a likely indicator that plans are in motion to make this meeting happen soon. News of the talks came as the US moved to withdraw from the decades-old Open Skies treaty, which allows countries to fly over each other’s territory with equipment to assure they are not preparing for military action.