SOURCE: Stratfor

Stratfor

October 06, 2014 11:52 ET

Stratfor Monitors Top Global Conflicts and Geopolitical Trends Heading Into Final Quarter of 2014

Company's 2014 Fourth Quarter Forecast Outlines Anticipated Developments on the Global Geopolitical Front, Including U.S.-Iran Relations, the Russia-Ukraine Conflict and the Islamic State Threat

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwired - Oct 6, 2014) - Stratfor, a leading geopolitical intelligence and consulting firm that provides strategic analysis and forecasting to individuals and organizations around the world, today released its 2014 Fourth Quarter Forecast, highlighting core global themes and regional developments that will define the world's geopolitical landscape during the final quarter.

Negotiations between the United States and Iran on a nuclear framework will draw increased attention in Q4 as the Nov. 24 deadline for an agreement approaches. As Stratfor noted in its earlier 2014 Annual Forecast, analysts do not expect a comprehensive deal to be reached before the end of the year.

"Since the nuclear negotiations began, Stratfor has maintained that it would be politically and technically impossible for the United States and Iran to reach a full agreement that would wholesale lift sanctions by the end of 2014," said Reva Bhalla, Stratfor's vice president of global analysis. "But even while there may be some short-term obstacles that still need to be sorted out, we expect the emerging détente between the two countries to endure. The nuclear issue with Iran may be the primary focal point, but there are a number of common interests between Washington and Tehran that will continue to strengthen their developing relationship, even if the rhetoric suggests otherwise."

One common interest is the ongoing battle against the Islamic State and efforts to contain the militant group. Stratfor contends that the United States will inevitably be pulled in multiple directions as it works to preserve negotiations with Iran while also staying focused on its mission against the Islamic State, adding to the uncomfortable reality that completely destroying the militant group is not an attainable goal.

"That being said, the military campaign in the fourth quarter will be effective in putting the Islamic State on the defensive and stripping the jihadist group of its conventional military capabilities," added Bhalla.

Other key trends and regional developments Stratfor will be monitoring in Q4 include:

  • Russia's ongoing efforts to neutralize Ukraine. While it has not been an easy year for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow finds itself in a much stronger position as winter approaches and can leverage its energy exports to dictate the terms of negotiations with Ukrainian leaders. The same European countries that gave Kiev the courage to stand up to Russia are now pressuring Ukraine to bend to Russian demands for their own energy security.

  • An obstinately stagnant Eurozone crisis will continue to deepen political frictions across Europe, most notably between Germany and France -- the foundation of the European Union. Germany's resistance to quantitative easing measures will grow, while at the same time high unemployment will push France to become more vocal in its demands for intervention by the European Central Bank, more spending by the EU and more action by Berlin to boost domestic investment and German public consumption.

  • As China's economy continues to slow down, leaders will have little option but to continue pumping credit into the economy and containing local financial crises as they emerge, while patiently striving to improve bank discipline and curbing shadow loans to overextended property developers, speculators and building materials companies. China is not yet at risk of a nationwide crisis, but Beijing's burden is growing.

  • In Hong Kong, pro-democracy protests show every indication of persisting well into October and possibly beyond, threatening to paralyze business throughout key city districts and leaving Beijing with few good options to respond. While the protests have attracted widespread attention, Stratfor does not expect to see them spread onto the mainland.

  • Venezuela will likely avert a major economic crisis in the fourth quarter, though the country's economy continues to spiral downward. The government of President Nicolas Maduro will rely on already strained public finances to keep its economy afloat and to continue funding crucial imports and social programs. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela will continue to lose popularity as inflation increases and as the price of food and consumer goods rise.

  • The three African countries bearing the brunt of the Ebola outbreak -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- will feel the economic, social and political effects acutely. With exception to isolated cases of Ebola, such as the one reported in Dallas on September 30, Stratfor does not expect to see a wider or global spread of the disease within the fourth quarter.

VIDEO: Hear more from Stratfor's Reva Bhalla and managing editor Ben Sheen as they discuss key highlights from Stratfor's 2014 Fourth Quarter Forecast: www.stratfor.com/video/conversation-fourth-quarter-forecast-preview-2014.

Stratfor's entire 2014 Fourth Quarter Forecast is available to subscribers on the company's website at www.stratfor.com/forecast/stratfors-fourth-quarter-forecast-2014

About Stratfor
Stratfor is a leading geopolitical intelligence and consulting firm that provides strategic analysis and forecasting to individuals and organizations around the world. By placing global events in a geopolitical framework, the company helps customers and subscribers anticipate opportunities and better understand the broader impact of regional and international developments. Full analysis on global events and more details on the company can be found on Stratfor's website at www.stratfor.com.