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Nigeria's struggles

The reports are horrifying. Bullets flying overhead as school-age kids scream out in fear. Chaos. Shrapnel. Hundreds go missing.

This was the scene last week when militants stormed a high-school in Katsina, northern Nigeria, to abduct hundreds of students, 400 of whom remain missing. It's a horror story reminiscent of the 2014 kidnapping of schoolgirls that prompted the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign championed by former US first lady Michelle Obama.

The attack, which has now been claimed by the militant group Boko Haram, comes just weeks after the brutal slaying of Nigerian farmers in Borno state by militants on motorcycles. (At least thirty of the victims were beheaded.)

Nigerians have grown increasingly furious at the government for not doing more to keep them safe. But what are the conditions that have allowed groups like Boko Haram and Islamic State cells to gain a foothold in Africa's most populous country and largest economy?

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Thailand's monarchy, Nigeria protests, Bolivia's new president & COVID latest

Watch Ian Bremmer discuss the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

With Thailand's anti-government movement growing, is the monarchy in danger?

No, the monarchy is not in danger. The prime minister, Prayut, is in massive danger. These people want him out. That could lead to, yet another, military coup. By the way, markets don't tend to move because it happens a lot in Thailand all the time. This is a lot of demands for economic reform. A lot of demands for incompetence in the country. The economy has been hit massively. Thailand is massively dependent on tourism and something that is certainly not happening with coronavirus going on. It's extraordinary. There has been a fair amount of anti-monarchy sentiment and willingness to go after them in the demonstrations, which is illegal to do in Thailand, but there's still a lot of support. The royalist at military coordination is very high. That's not going to change the resources they have that they're able to spread around the country for patronage is massive. It is nowhere near the popularity that the former very long-lasting king had, but the monarchy in Thailand, no, is not in danger.

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Why are young people fed up in Nigeria?

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has been rocked for two weeks by major unrest, as youth-led groups have hit the streets to protest police brutality and the lack of jobs. The demonstrations caught authorities by surprise — could they herald a broader and more permanent shift in which young Nigerians demand a bigger say in shaping their country's future?

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What We’re Watching: Nigerians reject police brutality, US arms Taiwan, Argentina COVID protests grow

Nigeria reckons with police brutality: Fed up with a federal police unit accused of warrantless arrests, torture and murder, thousands of Nigerians took to the streets over the weekend to demand the government dissolve the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The protests were sparked by a viral video of a man allegedly being beaten to death by SARS agents. Although President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to disband the unit, protesters say that doesn't go far enough and demand sweeping changes to policing in Nigeria as they did over the summer in the aftermath of the George Floyd rallies against police brutality in the US. The protests have spread outside the country and gotten attention from celebrities and influencers on social media, where the hashtag #EndSARS has trended globally for days. We're watching to see if the movement gains enough traction for Buhari to accept an overhaul of the entire police system in Nigeria, where police officers are immensely powerful.

US-China spar over Taiwan: The Trump administration is moving forward on several deals to supply high-tech weapons and military equipment to Taiwan, as the territory — which Beijing claims is part of mainland China — is rapidly becoming a pawn in the US-China rivalry. The Trump administration notified the US Congress that it has approved the sale of sophisticated weapons to Taipei — including drones and long-range missiles — all of which could help Taiwan defend itself from a potential Chinese invasion. Beijing reacted by demanding Washington halt all sales in accordance with the "One China" policy that does not recognize Taiwan's independence. Meanwhile, Washington and Beijing also traded barbs over this week's meeting of the "Quad" group of countries (the US, Japan, Australia, and India), which China views as an American attempt to create a NATO-style military alliance as a bulwark against Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Whatever happens with the Quad in the future, it's clear that Beijing and Washington are unwilling to ease tensions over Taiwan, and the question is not if but rather when China will move to retake its renegade province by force.

Argentinians are furious: As Argentina's COVID-19 caseload surpassed 900,000 this week, thousands of protesters across several cities demonstrated against the government's handling of the pandemic. Protesters say that after months of mismanaged lockdowns, center-left President Alberto Fernández has been unable to contain the virus' spread or implement measures to help boost the country's battered economy (even before the pandemic, Argentina had suffered from years of recession). Critics argue that the real person in charge is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the powerful vice president and former chief executive who has faced a string of corruption and criminal charges in recent years. For the opposition, the Fernández-Kirchner duo has used the COVID crisis to crack down on individual freedoms and to surreptitiously pass unpopular reforms that undermine the independence of the judicial system to protect government allies with pending court cases (including Kirchner herself). This is the fifth spontaneous mass protest to erupt in Argentina in recent months, and as the pandemic only worsens, angry Argentinians likely think they have little to lose.

US election seen from Nigeria: "The kind of democracy we'd like to be"

Christopher Olaolu Ogunmodede is an editor at The Republic in Nigeria. He covers African foreign policy, institutions, and political economy. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Willis Sparks: Does the outcome of the US election matter to Nigeria's government or to Nigeria's future as a people?

COO: I think it does matter. The United States is a superpower, and it's a partner of Nigeria. It is one of Nigeria's largest donor partners on official development assistance. A lot of foreign capital comes from the United States. A lot of foreign investment in Nigeria comes from the United States. There's a large Nigerian diaspora in the United States.

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