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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gives a press statement in Brasilia.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro's broken silence, Iranian attack plans, Bibi’s return, Colombia & Venezuela’s lunch date

Bolsonaro lets his friend say the hard part

In a prepared and combative statement lasting less than two minutes, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday did not concede the election he lost on Sunday. He also failed to congratulate — or even mention — his opponent, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Instead, he welcomed ongoing nationwide protests by pro-Bolsonaro truckers, saying they’re the result of a “feeling of indignation and injustice about how the elections were conducted.” He cast himself as a person who plays by the constitutional rules and said he was proud to have stood for freedom of markets, religion, and expression. “The right has truly risen in Brazil,” he said. After Bolsonaro walked off without taking questions, one of his closest allies stepped up to the podium to say Bolsonaro had in fact authorized him to begin the presidential transition. As that legal and logistical process gets underway, we are watching closely to see how far Bolsonaro pushes the popular protests to try to gain political leverage. Bolsonaro lost to former President Lula by the narrowest electoral margin in Brazil’s modern history. Buckle up.

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Supporters of Iraqi leader Moqtada al-Sadr swim as they protest inside the Republican Palace in the Green Zone, in Baghdad.

REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

What We're Watching: Deadly clashes in Iraq, China-Russia military drills, Colombia-Venezuela restore ties

Iraq’s deepening political crisis

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters stormed the government palace and took to the streets Monday after popular Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc won the most seats in parliamentary elections last fall, announced he was stepping back from politics. At least 30 people were killed and more than 380 were injured in clashes between al-Sadr supporters, Iran-aligned groups, and Iraqi security forces. Moreover, al-Sadr announced he was starting a hunger strike until the violence stops. It's the the worst violence Baghdad has seen in years, most of which is concentrated around the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government buildings. For almost a year, Iran-aligned parties have prevented al-Sadr from forming a new government, prompting his 73 lawmakers to resign en masse this summer in protest, which in turn led to sectarian clashes. Al-Sadr — who has long railed against Iran’s influence over Iraqi social and political life— retains widespread influence over some institutions and has proved adept at whipping his supporters into a frenzy. (Last month, hundreds of his supporters breached Baghdad’s Green Zone and occupied parliament.) The Supreme Court will decide on Tuesday whether parliament will be dissolved and new elections called – though the constitution says the legislature must agree to dissolve itself. That’s unlikely given that parliament is now dominated by a pro-Iran bloc, which became the biggest parliamentary faction by default after al-Sadr withdrew. Iraq’s military announced a nationwide curfew as the situation continues to deteriorate.

Updated on Aug. 30.

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