The Strategic Survey 2020
Strategic Survey 2020 The Annual Assessment of Geopolitics
The worst pandemic in a century tested governments, strained societies and frayed
international ties during the year to mid-2020. But there was much more to this period
than COVID-19. Climate change – another severe global challenge – grew more critical. US
President Donald Trump was impeached, the United Kingdom left the European Union, and
Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani was killed.
Strategic Survey 2020 provides a comprehensive overview of major developments in every
region of the world, and in-depth analysis of key geopolitical and geo-economic issues:
War The US–Taliban agreement to end the United States’ longest war; the persistence of
other complex armed con□flicts.
Power China’s growing in□fluence, especially in Europe and the South Paci□fic; Turkey’s force
projection in the Middle East and beyond; the EU’s quest for strategic autonomy; the
new geopolitics of the Red Sea; the implications of Ethiopia’s giant dam for relations
between Nile states; the increasing use of economic sanctions as a tool of statecraft.
Rules The decline of multilateralism; prospects for arms control; key gaps in international
law; Central Asia’s connectivity; changes in the status of Jammu and Kashmir; dual
legitimacy in Venezuela.
Strategic Survey 2020 also assesses a diverse range of political leaders:
- Progress of three ambitious reforming presidents: Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa,
Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico.
- Foreign-policy legacies of two veteran leaders: Angela Merkel and Abe Shinzo.
- Trump’s challenges to both the transatlantic relationship and China.
- Evolution of and prospects for Vladimir Putin’s presidency.
Strategic Survey 2020 is the indispensable guide to the events, actors and forces that de□ ned
an exceptionally complex year. It highlights the geopolitical issues that will shape the
international agenda in 2021.
Chapter 1 Introduction 5
Editor’s Introduction 5
Drivers of Strategic Change 7
Chapter 2 Key Events 11
Chapter 3 Strategic Prospects 17
Chapter 4 Strategic Policy 25
2020: The Politics of Pandemic 25
How has the most severe disease in a century shaped geopolitics?
Shifting Attitudes Towards Multilateralism 38
Cooperation is needed more than ever: why are its institutions under strain?
Key International Legal Gaps 47
What are they, and how can they be closed?
Prospects for Arms Control 61
Will the future resemble the past?
Climate Change: Year of Reckoning, Postponed 70
COVID-19 deferred action – but did it create an opportunity?
Chapter 5 North America 79
Drivers of Strategic Change 80
2019–20 Review 83
US–China Relations 90
No way back?
Trump and the Transatlantic Relationship 100
How far has US policy towards Europe changed?
Chapter 6 Asia 109
Drivers of Strategic Change 110
2019–20 Review 113
Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision at the Crossroads 130
Will it endure after Abe?
Hong Kong 139
A triumph of experience over hope?
Changes in Jammu and Kashmir 148
What are the strategic implications?
The US–Taliban Deal 160
Will Afghanistan’s peace process work?
China’s Strategic Ambitions in the South Pacific 168
Past the peak?
Chapter 7 Europe 179
Drivers of Strategic Change 180
2019–20 Review 183
Germany’s Foreign-policy Challenges 191
How is the EU’s largest state navigating global change?
China’s Influence in the European Union 200
Why has the past year been so difficult?
European Strategic Autonomy 210
From symbolic to substantive?
Chapter 8 Russia and Eurasia 219
Drivers of Strategic Change 220
2019–20 Review 223
Russia: The Road to 2024 232
What challenges face Putin and his system?
Zelensky’s First Year as Ukrainian President 242
Is he fulfilling his promises?
Central Asia: Connectivity, COVID-19 and Geopolitics 252
What next for the Eurasian heartland’s international ties?
Chapter 9 Middle East and North Africa 263
Drivers of Strategic Change 264
2019–20 Review 267
The New Geopolitics of the Red Sea 277
Why is interest in the region resurging?
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Nile Geopolitics 288
Will Africa’s huge new dam create a crisis?
Turkey’s Force Generation Abroad 299
How and why is Erdogan projecting power?
Chapter 10 Sub-Saharan Africa 309
Drivers of Strategic Change 310
2019–20 Review 313
Debt Crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa 321
How severe – and will Washington and Beijing help?
South Africa’s Difficult Choices 336
Does ‘Ramaphoria’ have a future?
Chapter 11 Latin America 345
Drivers of Strategic Change 346
2019–20 Review 349
The Expansion of Brazilian Organised Crime 358
How serious a threat to Latin American governance and beyond?
Venezuela’s Political Stalemate 367
How long can it endure?
Mexico’s ‘Fourth Transformation’ 377
Can López Obrador deliver change while distrusting institutions?