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What We're Watching: Poland ditches ban on foreign media, Somalia's power struggle, Erdogan vs Istanbul

Poland backs down on contentious media law. Poland’s populist President Andrzej Duda has vetoed a law that would have barred companies outside of the European Economic Area from owning a stake in Polish media corporations. Critics say the now-nixed law was aimed at silencing US-owned news channel TVN24, which has covered Warsaw’s increasing authoritarian tendencies in recent years. Indeed, Washington was blindsided on December 17 when Poland’s parliament adopted the new law, saying it violates a trade and economic agreement between the two countries. Duda’s ruling Law and Justice Party, meanwhile, which heads one of Europe’s most “illiberal” governments, says the legislation was not aimed at ally Washington, but rather at freezing out hostile actors – like Russia – from its media ecosystem. Duda has been in a tight spot: the nationalist leader previously said he supported the proposed legislation, but he has clearly decided that a deepening row with Washington amid rising inflation and a COVID spike at home is not worth the headache.

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Turkey without friends

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a lot of foreign governments really mad. Let's call the roll.

Europe. The EU is angry that Turkey is drilling for oil in the eastern Mediterranean, and NATO is furious that member Turkey has defied its protests to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia. Erdogan has repeatedly rejected pushback from EU leaders by calling them fascists and Islamophobes.

Just this week, Erdogan refused to express sympathy with France following the beheading of a French schoolteacher by an Islamist extremist, attacked Macron's own response to the murder, suggested the French president needed "some sort of mental treatment," and countered Macron's vow to crack down on Islamist radicals with calls for a boycott of French products.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Unrest in Paris' suburbs, Turkey's coverup, and immigration to the US on hold

Riots in Paris' suburbs: Low-income suburbs on the outskirts of Paris have long been flashpoints of unrest over racial and economic inequality. This week, youths living in districts north of France's capital lit cars on fire and aimed fireworks at police in protest against stay-at-home measures, now in their sixth week, aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Police said that a traffic accident involving a policeman and a motorcyclist, who was critically injured in the crash, was likely the impetus for the uptick in violence. The riots in Paris' suburbs, known as banlieues, are perhaps a grim sign of what's to come in many countries where low-income families are now jammed together in crowded apartments with little reprieve, and where stay-at-home orders have disrupted jobs in the informal economy that many of these residents rely on to put food on the table.

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