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What We’re Watching: Clashes in Jewish-Arab cities, Nepal's COVID crisis, Uganda's forever president

Integrated Israeli cities on the brink: Another bloody day in Israel and the Gaza Strip: Israeli forces continued to bomb Gaza Wednesday, killing several Hamas commanders. At least 56 Gazans have now been killed in Israeli strikes, including 14 children. Meanwhile, rockets continue to fall inside Israeli cities, causing millions to flee to bomb shelters. The Israeli death count now stands at eight. The more startling development for intelligence analysts, however, has been the increasingly violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in integrated Israeli cities following weeks of confrontations in Jerusalem: an Arab man was pulled from his car and attacked by Jewish vigilantes in a suburb outside Tel Aviv, while Arab Israelis have burnt synagogues and attacked Jewish Israelis. Integrated cities like Lod, Acre and Haifa are often highlighted as models for broader Palestinian-Israeli peace, but as Haaretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer points out, these unprecedented clashes show that Israel's security apparatus failed to understand that Palestinians in Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank are still motivated "to rise up and show solidarity with each other." International actors are reportedly trying to get the two sides to agree to an imminent ceasefire. Will it work?

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What We're Watching: Putin's next move, jabs for Palestinians, Wine goes to court in Uganda

What next for Navalny? Thousands of protesters supporting jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny braved an overwhelming police response on Sunday, turning out in more than 80 cities across the country to demand his release from prison. It was the second protest to occur in the two weeks since Navalny was jailed after his return from Germany, and more than 5,000 people were arrested nationwide. The intensity of the police response shows the Kremlin is taking no chances with the protesters, even though their numbers are still relatively small — nowhere near, say, the hundreds of thousands who poured into the streets of Belarus' capital last fall. And it's hard to imagine Vladimir Putin agreeing to release Navalny under pressure from the streets. In fact, it looks like his kangaroo courts are gearing up to lock up the nettlesome anti-corruption crusader and throw away the key. Europe and the US have threatened action if that happens, but sanctions against Russia have proved ineffective in the past. Lacking a political party in a system that is rigged for the party in power anyway, Navalny only has the streets: can they really shake things up enough from below that power starts to crack at the top?

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What We’re Watching: Uganda’s generational election, Indian farm reform paused

Is it Wine o'clock in Uganda yet? Ugandans go to the polls on Thursday in a presidential election pitting current leader Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, against opposition chief Bobi Wine, a former pop star turned politician. The campaign period has been, in Wine's words, "a war and a battlefield" — authorities have arrested and assaulted him and shot at protesters who support him. The vote will occur amid a social media blackout that the government imposed after Facebook removed the accounts of some pro-Museveni activists, and the integrity of the vote has already been questioned by the EU and US. Museveni, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, is popular in the countryside, where he is lauded for having brought stability, growth, and subsidies. Wine is more popular among young and predominantly urban Ugandans who want change — Museveni has held power since before 80 percent of Ugandans were even born. Tensions are extremely high ahead of the vote, and the possibility of post-election violence is real.

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Elections to watch in 2021

This year, voters in dozens of countries will choose new leaders. With the human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic as a backdrop, how will the worst global crisis in more than a hundred years play out at the ballot box? Here are a few key elections to keep an eye on in 2021.

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What We’re Watching: Thai king is untouchable, Ugandan challenger arrested, US caves on Mexico DEA threat

No reform for Thai monarchy: Defying the wishes of thousands of pro-democracy activists and protesters, Thailand's parliament declined to move forward constitutional reforms that would curb the powers of the king. The vote had been delayed until Wednesday due to violent clashes between protesters, royalists and the police that left 55 people injured and put inflatable rubber ducks in the crossfire. Shortly after parliament's decision, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned that he would use "all available laws" to end the protests, which have been going on for months, signaling that he might start enforcing Thailand's draconian lèse majesté law, which punishes any offense of perceived insult to the royal family with up to 15 years in prison. Will the streets stand down, or is the situation about to get worse?

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