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Newly elected National Rally leader Jordan Bardella with the outgoing Marine Le Pen during the party congress in Paris.

Lafargue Raphael/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: French far-right handover, Big Oil makes big bucks, China vs. COVID, Peruvians want prez out

50: For the first time in 50 years, the main French far-right party will not be captained by a Le Pen. Marine Le Pen, daughter of founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, has now handed over the reins of the National Rally to Jordan Bardella, 27, in a clear play for young voters.

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Luisa Vieira

Is Latin America’s new “pink tide” for real?

Since it’s August we obviously can’t ask much of you, but try this for fun: take out a red marker and a black and white map of Latin America.

Now, color in all the countries currently led by leftist leaders. You’ll immediately be filling in five of the largest economies — Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Perú. By October, you’ll likely have added Brazil, the biggest of them all.

Along with stalwart leftists in Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the new presidenta of Honduras, your map will have a big splash of rojo/vermelho bigger than any we’ve seen in at least 15 years. That’s when observers first hailed — or feared — a new “pink tide” in Latin America.

But is the region really back in the red, so to speak? Or is this pink tide different from previous ones? Spoiler: they are not the same. Let’s look at what’s going on.

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Somalia appoints former al Shabaab spokesperson as minister in Mogadishu

REUTERS/Feisal Omar

What We're Watching: Somalia's new cabinet, takeaways from US primaries, Peru's president in peril

Somalia appoints former al-Shabab militant to cabinet

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has named former al-Shabab spokesperson, Muktar Robow, as Somalia’s minister for endowment and religious affairs. A veteran of the Afghan war, who was training with al-Qaida in Afghanistan during 9/11, Robow helped found al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow the Somali government in a bid to invoke a strict interpretation of Sharia law. The militants have killed tens of thousands since 2007, and they’ve recently been involved in cross-border attacks in Ethiopia. Robow (aka Abu Mansour), who once had a $5 million bounty on his head, broke from the al-Qaida-linked militants back in 2017. Arrested by Somali authorities in 2018 to prevent him from running for office, Robow had been under house arrest in Mogadishu until last year, when he was taken back into custody. This week, he was released just before his new role was announced. As the new face of Somalia’s war against al-Shabab, Robow is tasked with helming the ideological battle against the terrorists. Some believe this will strengthen the government’s hand against al-Shabab, but critics fear it could lead to sectarian violence.

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Russian cosmonauts pose with a flag of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic at the International Space Station.

Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS

Hard Numbers: Russia quits ISS, Global GDP growth slows, Peruvians sour on Castillo, Lebanon buys wheat

24: After 24 years as a member of the International Space Station — a major step in post-Cold War reconciliation — Russia announced Tuesday it’ll leave the module by the end of 2024. But the US says it didn’t get the memo.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro attend a news conference following talks in Moscow.

Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

For Latin America, political risks overshadow economic gain from Ukraine crisis

Countries that rely heavily on imported food and energy face the greatest risk of social and economic crises from the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet even those that are themselves big producers of these essential commodities are suffering fallout from the war. Rising prices for basic goods in many parts of Latin America, for example, are testing governments already struggling to manage elevated public frustration caused by pandemic hardships. We asked Eurasia Group expert Yael Sternberg to explain how this is playing out.

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Packs of 1,000-ruble notes at a printing factory in Moscow.

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Hard Numbers: Ruble rebound, UK nabs Russian yacht, Peruvian impeachment fails, NK missile confusion

7: The Russian ruble soared by 7% against the US dollar on Tuesday, reaching its highest level since the invasion of Ukraine over a month ago. Russia's currency has now wiped out most of its war-related loss in value, in part due to optimism over peace talks hosted by Turkey.

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President Pedro Castillo during the appointment of the new Prime Minister, Aníbal Torres.

Latin America News Agency via Reuters

New president falls victim to Peru’s messy politics

A series of scandals and resignations have forced Peruvian President Pedro Castillo to shuffle his cabinet four times in his first six months in office. Lawmakers have already tried to impeach him once. Though his latest cabinet shuffle could bring some respite, Castillo is not out of the woods yet — and may never be. Why all the turmoil? We asked Eurasia Group analyst Yael Sternberg.

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U.S. army instructor from the Joint Multinational Training Group trains Ukrainian service members to operate with M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (SMAW-D) grenade launcher, supplied by the United States.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: US troops in Eastern Europe, Peru government reshuffle, Denmark lifts COVID restrictions

US deploys troops to Eastern Europe. A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the US of “ignoring” Kremlin demands to limit NATO further expansion to the East, the White House sent more than 3,000 troops to alliance members Germany, Poland, and Romania. This was in addition to an order for 8,500 US troops to be ready to deploy to Eastern Europe on short notice. With Russia continuing to mass more than 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, Moscow and Washington have been at loggerheads in diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis, raising fears of war. Russia wants guarantees that NATO will not expand further East into what the Kremlin sees as its sphere of influence. But the West refuses to accept that demand, offering instead to commit only to limits on weapons deployments in Eastern Europe. It’s worth noting that none of the 3,000 US troops are being sent to Ukraine — neither NATO nor the US have an appetite for sending troops there. But Putin, it seems, just might …

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