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Hard Numbers: Israel eyes big UAE trade, US West Coast burns, WTO rejects Trump tariffs, Germany takes in migrants

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani stand by prior to signing the Abraham Accords with US President Donald Trump at the White House. Reuters

500 million: Israel expects to boost its exports to the UAE to up to $500 million annually after normalizing ties with the Emiratis. Both countries — along with Bahrain, another Gulf nation that recently agreed to establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state — made the deal official on Tuesday by signing the Abraham Accords.


87: The US West Coast currently has 87 active large wildfires, with California and Oregon as the hit hardest states. California Governor Gavin Newsom has blamed the fires on climate change, while President Donald Trump (baselessly) questioned the science on global warming during a visit to the region.

250 billion: The World Trade Organization has ruled that the Trump administration broke WTO rules when it imposed $250 billion in additional tariffs on Chinese products in 2018. This is the first in a series of upcoming rulings in cases where countries have appealed against US tariffs, the cornerstone of Trump's protectionist trade policy.

1,500: Germany has agreed to take in 1,500 additional migrants from Greece, where thousands of asylum seekers are still homeless after a fire destroyed Europe's largest refugee camp, on the island of Lesbos. The final amount is ten times the number of migrants the German government was initially willing to accept.

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It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here, have your quick take. Plenty going on this week. I could of course talk about all these new Biden appointees, but frankly, there's not that much that surprising there. Moderate, lots of expertise, not very controversial, almost all of which could get through a Republican controlled Senate, presuming that markets are going to be reasonably happy, progressives in the Democratic party somewhat less so. But no, the big news right now internationally, certainly about Iran. The Iranians started this year with the assassination by the United States of their defense leader, Qasem Soleimani. Everyone was worried about war. Now, closing the year with the assassination of the head of their nuclear program and historically the head of their nuclear weapons program.

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Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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