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A man reacts during a rally to support the National Defense Force and to condemn the expansion of the Tigray People Liberation Front fighters into Amhara and Afar regional territories at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 8, 2021.

REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

What We're Watching: Everyone vs Ethiopian PM, Brazil ditches Huawei, (more) trouble in Sudan, Argentina's midterms, Iraqi powder keg

Opposition forces unite in Ethiopia's civil war. The Tigray People's Liberation Front, which has been locked in a brutal year-long civil war against Ethiopian government forces, has now teamed up with another powerful militant outfit that wants to oust Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The TPLF, now in alliance with the Oromo Liberation Army — which claims to represent Ethiopia's largest ethnic group — have swept towards the capital Addis Ababa in recent days, prompting the embattled Abiy to call on civilians to take up arms in defense of the city. The Tigray-Oromo alliance, called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces, has called for Abiy's immediate ouster, either by negotiation or by force, and for the prosecution of government officials for war crimes. The UN says all sides in the conflict have committed abuses. The US, which has threatened to suspend Ethiopia's trade preferences over the government's alleged war crimes, is currently trying to broker a cease-fire. When Abiy came to power after popular protests in 2018, he was hailed for liberalizing what was formerly an extremely repressive government (controlled, as it happens, by the TPLF). Now it's looking like he may have unleashed the very forces that could tear the country apart and drive him from office — or worse.

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What We're Watching: A powder keg in Iraq

Iraqi PM's narrow escape. Iraq's PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi is lucky to be alive after a barrage of explosives was fired at his compound inside a high-security zone, injuring several security personnel. The brazen attack was carried out by pro-Iran militias, who have been violently calling for a recount since their parties did poorly in the recent parliamentary elections. On Friday, the militias tried to breach the fortified area known as the "Green Zone," which includes the PM's compound and Western embassies. Pro-Iran factions are particularly worried that Shia Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — whose party won the biggest share of votes and is trying to form a government — will try to temper Tehran's growing influence over the oil-rich country. (Al-Sadr has called for way less foreign interference in Iraq from Iran and the West). Even before the recent unrest, things weren't going well in Iraq, where power supplies are scarce and the economy is in shambles. What's more, Iraqis have little faith in the political elite's ability to fix things, as was reflected in the record-low election turnout. We're watching to see if this latest round of violence begets… more violence.

Men walk near election campaign posters ahead of the parliamentary election in Mosul, Iraq.

REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

Iraq has elections this weekend — will anybody show up?

Iraq will hold on Sunday its fifth election since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, and the first since a widespread protest movement in 2019 ousted the government in place at that time. Over 900 candidates are vying for 329 parliamentary seats against a backdrop of still-elevated economic, social, and security tensions in the oil-rich country. Eurasia Group analyst Sofia Meranto explains what's at stake in the vote.

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