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From left to right, the presidents of Russia (Vladimir Putin), Iranian (Ebrahim Raisi), and Turkey (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) hold talks in Tehran.

utnik/Sergei Savostyanov/Pool via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Tehran trilateral, EU food jitters, Sri Lankan presidential vote

Putin, Raisi & Erdogan in Tehran: friends with differences

Leaving the former Soviet region for the first time since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Tehran on Tuesday with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts. The conflict in Syria, where Russia and Iran are on the opposite side of Turkey, was the main item on the agenda, but little of substance was announced beyond a pledge to rid the country of terrorist groups and to meet again later this year. Importantly, Turkey’s recent threat to invade northern Syria to destroy Kurdish militant groups based there still hangs in the air — a point underscored by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for Russia and Iran to be more “supportive” of Turkey’s security concerns. Still, both Moscow and Tehran have warned him against an invasion. Putin and Erdogan also failed to close the remaining gaps on a UN-backed plan to restart Ukraine’s seaborne grain exports. Lastly, while Putin and the Iranians traded shots at NATO and the West, there was no public mention of the current, fast-fading efforts to revive the long-stalled 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

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Sri Lankans celebrate the resignation President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Colombo.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

What We're Watching: Sri Lanka swears in new leader, Bolsonaro spends big, Biden to kiss the ring

Sri Lanka has a new acting president

Gotabaya Rajapaksa finally resigned — by email — on Thursday as president of Sri Lanka, a country rocked by months-long mass protests, economic collapse, and political turmoil over his rule. He fled the country on Tuesday, likely to avoid arrest, and is now in Singapore, but Rajapaksa’s final destination remains unclear. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the sitting PM Rajapaksa appointed interim president before getting out of Dodge, was sworn in as acting president on Friday. Wickremesinghe’s ability to govern, however briefly, is uncertain given that protesters also want him out. Parliament’s process for selecting the new leader now begins, with a vote coming as early as next week. MPs will have to come up with an alternative candidate to serve out the remainder of Rajapaksa's term until 2025, or hold a snap election. Whoever becomes president will then have to pick a prime minister to lead a government that'll need to pass tough economic reforms to secure an IMF bailout, the only way Sri Lanka can salvage its ruined economy. Demonstrators ignored a new curfew to publicly celebrate Rajapaksa’s resignation overnight, and all eyes are on what happens next on the streets of Colombo.

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Demonstrators celebrate after entering the Sri Lankan PM's office in Colombo to demand his resignation as interim president.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lanka slipping into anarchy

Things have gone from bad, to worse, to outright crazy in Sri Lanka since the beginning of the year.

We warned you early on that the country would default on its huge sovereign debt, which it did in May. Since then, the economic crisis has quickly morphed into full-blown political turmoil and a social catastrophe the likes of which the region has not seen for a long time.

And there’s no easy fix.

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Demonstrators gather on the lawn of the Sri Lankan prime minister's office in Colombo.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Chaos in Sri Lanka

Just when we thought Sri Lanka’s worst-ever crisis was about to end, things took another unexpected turn on Wednesday.

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Demonstrators celebrate after entering the p-presidential palace in Sri Lanka.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

What We’re Watching: Sri Lankan anger boils over, Musk sours on Twitter

Protesters occupy presidential palace in Colombo

Long-simmering public wrath directed at Sri Lanka’s leader over the country’s economic collapse finally boiled over.

Fed up with months of food and fuel shortages, thousands of protesters broke through security barricades on Saturday to invade the official residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who had fled hours earlier. The demonstrators ransacked the premises, swam in the pool, and took selfies surrounded by luxury that ordinary Sri Lankans can only dream of. They also set fire to the nearby prime minister’s home, and say they won’t leave until Rajapaksa steps down — which he has agreed to do by Wednesday.

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Sri Lankan army patrol on a main road in Colombo following clashes between anti-government protesters and supporters of the Rajapaksa family.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lanka on the brink

For weeks, Sri Lanka has been in the grips of a deepening economic and political crisis, teetering on the brink of anarchy and chaos as a largely bankrupt state at risk of becoming a failed one. Massive protests driven by soaring fuel and food prices have forced the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and upped the pressure on the international community to help alleviate the suffering of Sri Lankans. China and India, which have both vied for influence in the small island nation, are looking on nervously. We spoke to Eurasia Group’s Peter Mumford to get a sense of what might happen next and what the geopolitical stakes are.

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Sri Lanka is voting, China is smiling

Voters in the island nation of Sri Lanka, located in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of India, head to the polls today in a legislative election that could not only reshape the country's democracy, but affect the geopolitical balance of power in Asia.

The election is a family affair. The vote is an opportunity for a party controlled by the Rajapaksa family, a powerful political dynasty that ran the country with a strong hand from 2005 to 2015, to cement their rule over the country again. In 2015, they lost the presidency to the opposition, which took steps to strengthen Sri Lanka's democracy but failed to deal effectively with terrorism and the economy.

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