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A family with their belongings wade through rain waters following floods in Jamshoro, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Yasir Rajput

What We’re Watching: Pakistan floods, Arctic diplomacy, Iran’s nuclear deal response

Pakistan’s floods get political

After an ongoing economic crisis, political tumult, and increased terror attacks, Pakistan is now facing its worst floods in a decade. Thirty million people —about 15% of the population — have been displaced, most of them in Pakistan’s poorest provinces. As of Sunday, the death toll had crossed 1,000. As inflation continues to soar, hitting 45% on essential items last week, and the government appeals for international support, ousted PM Imran Khan pinned the blame for mismanaging the calamity on Shehbaz Shafir, the current prime minister. Khan keeps pushing for immediate snap elections, but it’s unclear if Pakistan’s worst natural disaster in years will keep the government or displace it. So far, the country is on economic life support, with a $1.2 billion loan expected to be approved Monday by the IMF. But will it be enough to keep Sharif in play?

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Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

What We're Watching: Thai PM suspended, US strikes Iran in Syria, Macron woos Algeria

Thai PM in limbo

On Wednesday, Thailand's top court suspended PM Prayuth Chan-ocha while it decides whether his term in office started when he took over in a 2014 coup or when he was “elected” five years later. If the court decides the former, Prayuth would be removed for exceeding the constitutional limit of eight years in power. Such a verdict would likely fire up the youth-led protests demanding his resignation, which started with a bang in 2020 but soon ended with a whimper following a crackdown on their leaders for questioning the role of the monarchy. The ruling drops in two weeks, and until then Prayuth's deputy — who also took part in the 2014 power grab — is in charge. Fun fact: the eight-year limit was put in place by the military to target deposed former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister Yingluck was ousted by Prayuth. Guess who's likely running for PM in the next election? Thaksin's millenial daughter, Paetongtarn.

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GZERO Media

Is it “now or never” for the Iran nuclear deal?

It’s been hard to keep track of the latest developments surrounding the turbulent Iran nuclear talks in recent months.

Mostly, the talks – which resumed in April 2021 – have appeared to be on the verge of collapse, though there have been recent indications of a breakthrough. This week, Iran’s nuclear negotiator said that a deal with the Europeans and Americans is “closer” than ever, but we’ve watched this movie before. Is it different this time?

What’s the Iran nuclear deal again? Brokered by the Obama administration in 2015, the deal aims to give Iran some economic sanction relief – freeing up billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue – in exchange for Tehran agreeing to place temporary curbs on its nuclear enrichment program, which Washington says is being developed for nefarious reasons.

The agreement remained intact until 2018 when former President Trump ditched the deal that he called “laughable.” Iran said that it was doing its part to honor the deal’s terms, but Israeli spies revealed additional uranium enrichment at several undeclared sites in Iran, giving rise to a still ongoing probe by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Putin Seeks Military Support From Iran, Another G7 Pariah | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Putin seeks military support from Iran, another G7 pariah

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60:

Is the severe heat wave sweeping across Europe the new summer normal?

Of course not. It is the coolest summer, just about you'll ever see going forward. Since we are at 1.2 degrees centigrade of warming and we're heading to 2.5, which is double where we are right now, and Europe is hit generally harder than the United States, It's going to get vastly hotter across Europe. So, I mean, enjoy it while you can. This is comparatively cool weather. Really kind of depressing to think about.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi meet on the sidelines of the Caspian Summit in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Putin in Iran: Alliances, arms, and energy on agenda

Iran and Russia are considered staunch enemies of the West, paying for it with crippling sanctions and diplomatic isolation — in Tehran's case over its nuclear program and in Moscow's over its invasion of Ukraine. The two countries, consequently, have turned to one another and boosted their economic and military cooperation.

But even as the US attempts to back a new, anti-Iran order in the Middle East, Russia is making its own moves there.

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Luisa Vieira

Crow on the menu during Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia

US President Joe Biden is currently en route to the Middle East for the first time since taking office, and he’ll be making stops in Israel and the West Bank before making a more controversial swing through Saudi Arabia.

Yes, the same Saudi Arabia that, as a presidential candidate, Biden promised to treat like a “global pariah” because of the kingdom’s grim human rights record, its brutal war in Yemen, and the alleged involvement of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But that was then, and this is now. With inflation soaring, midterm elections approaching, and prospects for a new Iran nuclear deal receding, Joe Biden is hopping on a jet to Riyadh with a few key issues in mind.

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G7 and EU leaders gather for a group shot at Schloss Elmau castle in Germany.

REUTERS/Lukas Barth

What We're Watching: West gets tough(er) on Russia, protests rock Ecuador, Qatar pushes Iran nuclear talks

Western leaders up the ante

Leaders of the G7 — the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada — have ended their gathering in the Bavarian Alps, and all of them, including non-NATO member Japan’s prime minister, have arrived in Madrid for a NATO summit set for June 28-30. The agendas for both gatherings have included a range of topics, but none more urgent than collective responses to Russia’s war in Ukraine. There will be more announcements this week on how best to impose heavy near- and longer-term costs on Russia by banning the import of Russian oil and possibly imposing a price cap on the small volumes of Russian oil Western countries still buy. But Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky will continue to warn that Ukraine can’t afford a protracted war and that his military needs powerful weapons ASAP to beat back slow-but-steady Russian advances in the Donbas region. The US has promised to deliver an advanced air defense system. Russia has responded to these gatherings by renewing long-range artillery strikes on Kyiv and other cities, including a missile strike on Monday that hit a shopping mall with more than 1,000 civilians inside.

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An image of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting displayed at a House hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill.

Jason Andrew/ Reuters

What We’re Watching: United States of Guns, Ukrainian strategy, Iran censured

The United States of Guns

The US House of Representatives kicked off a grueling two-day hearing on gun violence in America on Wednesday, just two weeks after a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. Miah Cerrillo, 11, whose classroom was attacked, recounted how she painted herself with a classmate’s blood and played dead. Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was killed, recalled how she ran miles barefoot looking for her daughter that fateful day. The hearing is part of the Congressional debate on how to respond to a spate of recent deadly shootings, most notably in Uvalde, as well as at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, where Black Americans were targeted by a white supremacist. Senate Democrats, in coordination with the White House, are working on narrow legislation that could get the support of at least 10 Republicans needed to pass. Proposals center on addressing mental health issues in young males and incentivizing states to introduce their own “red-flag laws” to remove guns from dangerous owners. The Democrat-controlled House, meanwhile, has advanced a bill with eight gun-control measures – including banning large-capacity magazines – but it's unlikely to pass the Senate, where Dems hold a razor-thin majority. It’s a busy week for the House, which will also launch hearings on the Jan. 6 riots on Thursday. Check out what Eurasia Group's lead US analyst, Jon Lieber, has to say about how the Dems hope to use these hearings to gain an edge in the midterms here.

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