Niger: Crossing the deadline.
Also: Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, India, Pakistan, the US, Portugal and South Korea.
NIGER. Crossing the deadline.
Niamey awaits intervention from its neighbours.
A deadline for reinstating President Mohamed Bazoum, set by the Economic Community of Western African States, passed on Sunday night. Niger’s military rulers closed the country’s airspace in anticipation of a possible invasion.
INTELLIGENCE. ECOWAS has threatened the use of force to return Bazoum, but there is no sign that Niger’s military is stepping back. Conversely, thousands of civilians gathered in Niamey on Sunday to voice support for the junta, while Mali and Burkina Faso (both subject to recent coups) have promised to aid the generals. France, which has ignored the junta’s cancellation of basing agreements, said on Saturday it would back efforts to overturn the coup.
FOR BUSINESS. The economic fallout is just beginning. On Sunday, Canada was the latest G7 member to suspend aid (40% of Niger’s budget comes from foreign partners). Uranium security is coming into focus. France imported 1,440 tonnes from Niger in 2022 (20.2% of total imports). French firm Orano continues to operate its Aïr mines in Niger, but France’s uranium diversification plans with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan may need to be accelerated.
SAUDI ARABIA. UKRAINE. Talk of the town.
High-level talks show solidarity and parade Saudi prestige.
Saudi Arabia hosted around 40 countries in Jeddah over the weekend to discuss a framework for peace in Ukraine. China sent a delegation but Russia did not. Beijing on Sunday said it would back another round of dialogue.
INTELLIGENCE. In its latest show of diplomatic heft, Saudi Arabia brought together virtually every major country, bar Russia, to discuss the war in Ukraine. Riyadh has touted itself as a mediator as it attempts to move into the company of India and Brazil as middle-power countries capable of resolving great challenges. The meeting is also a boost for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for whom the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is now a distant memory.
FOR BUSINESS. While the peace framework is likely being discussed in good faith, for Riyadh, the talks are more about enhancing its status – it also continues to benefit from the war given the rise in oil prices. China did not participate in similar talks in June in Copenhagen, so its appearance here is a particular boon. Riyadh’s convening power also assures investors its prospects are now stable, irrespective of the crown prince’s alleged conduct.
Written by former diplomats and industry specialists, Geopolitical Dispatch gives you the global intelligence for business and investing you won’t find anywhere else.
INDIA. PAKISTAN. Full court press.
Judicial decisions affect political fortunes.
Imran Khan was arrested on Saturday after an Islamabad court sentenced him to three years in prison. On Friday, India’s Supreme Court suspended a case against opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, allowing him to return to parliament.
INTELLIGENCE. Khan was accused of selling official gifts worth $500,000 and has been barred from politics for five years, likely stopping his run at the next election, slated for November, but now possibly delayed. Across the border, Gandhi’s overturned conviction will allow him to contest elections next year. Gandhi’s popularity, while trailing that of Narendra Modi, has grown since being charged with defamation. Khan, on the other hand, may finally be bowled out.
FOR BUSINESS. All former leaders who have tried to challenge Pakistan’s military have ended up in prison. Khan hoped to buck the trend, but unlike with his arrests on separate charges earlier, the reaction on the street has been muted, and his party base has been dismantled. The army also dominates Pakistan’s sclerotic economy, but here its control is slipping under IMF-mandated reforms. On the economy, at least, Modi can point to relative success.
INDIA. SPACE. Over the moon.
Delhi’s space mission enters lunar orbit.
The Indian Space Research Organisation said on Saturday that its Chandrayaan-3 rocket had entered the moon’s orbit. The Chandrayaan mission cost $75 million, less than what NASA spent last year on environmental compliance.
INTELLIGENCE. The mission hopes to touch down near the moon’s south pole on 23 or 24 August. India’s last attempt was four years ago, but the command team lost contact with its vessel just before it landed. The success is a boost to India’s space program, which has struggled to compete with China, Russia and the US, the only countries to have achieved a controlled lunar landing. It is also a boost to India’s arms capability, which faces many similar challenges.
FOR BUSINESS. India’s program survives on a combination of cheap, skilled engineers as well as copying existing technology and best practices. In that sense, it is not a leader or innovator in aerospace. But the commercial opportunities are evident. India currently has around 2% of the global space market but is attempting to increase its share, including by sending vessels into space more cheaply than its commercial and geopolitical competitors.
With the brevity of a media digest, but the depth of an intelligence assessment, Daily Assessment goes beyond the news to outline the implications.
UNITED STATES. ENERGY. We have ignition (again).
Hopes rise of a fusion-fuelled future.
According to preliminary reports announced on Sunday, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California repeated a net energy gain in a fusion reaction last month. The feat was first achieved in December 2022.
INTELLIGENCE. There is increasing hope that humanity can achieve a boundless-energy future. The repetition of the original experiment is encouraging. The geopolitical implications are enormous. But as the saying goes: “fusion power is just 20 years away and always will be.” The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, in France, where 35 nations (including China and Russia) are participating in parallel research, may start to receive more focus.
FOR BUSINESS. As with last week’s excitement on room-temperature superconductors, don’t expect fusion power to solve the world’s energy or climate challenges just yet. For one thing, the energy gain relates only to the laser reaction, not the total input. For another, each pellet required for the process costs around $100,000. This would need to drop to $1 to make the process viable. Fossil fuels and conventional energy will remain a reality for years to come.
PORTUGAL. SOUTH KOREA. The party’s over.
Major events appear to produce more risks than rewards.
Amid searing heat, Pope Francis wrapped up his five-day visit to Portugal on Sunday for World Youth Day. Meanwhile, Scouts from the US and Britain left an international jamboree in South Korea due to extreme weather.
INTELLIGENCE. An estimated 1.5 million attended an open-air mass near Lisbon, as temperatures topped 40 Celsius. The challenge was nothing compared to South Korea’s World Scout Jamboree, however, where the US evacuated attendees to a nearby army base despite President Suk Yeol directing military doctors and “unlimited” air-conditioned buses to the event. The debacle recalled painful memories of Seoul’s 2022 Halloween crush, which killed 159.
FOR BUSINESS. Major events were once an economic prize. But increasing expectations, complexity, and media attention is forcing governments to spend more on preparations, which can make the whole enterprise unviable. Australia recently cancelled the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Canada soon after withdrew from hosting in 2030. Just as the jamboree was falling apart, Pope Francis said that South Korea would host World Youth Day in 2027.
Emailed each weekday at 5am Eastern (9am GMT), Daily Assessment gives you the strategic framing and situational awareness to stay ahead in a changing world.