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Despite a deepening humanitarian crisis, a recent nationwide blackout, ongoing opposition protests, and tight international sanctions, Venezuela's strongman President Nicolás Maduro remains, however improbably, in power. The army brass has so far stuck with him, and he continues to count on the external support of China, Turkey, and Russia. Over the weekend, Russia reportedly sent nearly 100 troops to Venezuela.

Now it appears that after several weeks of more or less ignoring opposition leader Juan Guaidó – whose claim to the presidency is supported by more than 50 countries – Maduro is going on the offensive.

Last Friday, Maduro's security services arrested Guaidó's chief of staff, eliciting a barrage of international condemnation, but little substantive response from the US, Canada, and other countries that back the opposition.

After all what can they do? Severe sanctions against the ruling clique are already in place. A military response is still "on the table," but hardly seems like a realistic option right now. And that may have been Maduro's point: to undermine Guaidó by calling his supporters' bluff.

Still, while Maduro is clinging to power, it's not clear what his real game plan is. He seems to have little inclination or capacity to address the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that his policies have inflicted on Venezuela. Refugees continue to flee.

Assuming Maduro thinks he can hang on, what's the next move?

The clear signal: Neither side has great options right now, but a stalemate at this point probably helps Maduro more than Guaidó.

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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.

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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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Your move, Iran