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What We’re Watching: Sudanese protesters vs each other, NBA vs China, EU vs Poland

Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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The EU takes a swing at Poland and Hungary

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Billionaire populist Czech PM Babiš is on his way out after election loss

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What's happening in Poland? Should we worry?

Well, legal niceties aside, within the realm of the treaties, the European Union treaties, agreed, it is fundamental that the laws apply and are respected. And if the Polish constitutional court, loaded with political appointees, now decides that they don't apply in Poland, that sort of undermines the very concept of Polish membership of the European Union. So we'll see what happens. We haven't heard the last of this, but it's a fundamental battle. There's no question about that.

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Polexit isn’t in Poland’s future; Texas bans COVID vaccine mandates

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Polexit fears, China & India energy woes, and Texas Governor Abbott's ban on COVID vaccine mandates.

Is a "Polexit" from the EU a real possibility?

You just want to say "Polexit", right? I mean, you don't get to brand that, Poland. It's like being in the G20. You don't get to be in line. You're the 21st largest economy, at least you were when they put that together. They're annoyed about that. They're not going to leave the EU, but there is a real fight over recent judicial rulings that EU laws are not aligned with Poland. Poland supersedes. There's going to be a fight. There might be some fines. Everyone's going to be animated about it. But Poland's not going anywhere. Are some demonstrations though.

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What We’re Watching: Polish coalition on the ropes, Ethiopian PM’s call to arms, Russian mercs in Libya

Polish government in trouble: Poland's rightwing coalition government is on the ropes after PM Mateusz Morawiecki fired his deputy, Jaroslaw Gowin, for opposing two key pieces of legislation: a raft of tax reforms that Morawiecki says will help the middle class but Gowin fears will actually hurt them, as well as a proposed new law restricting foreign media ownership, which critics say is meant to silence unfriendly reporting by a US-owned TV network. Without the support of Gowin's small center-right Agreement party, the coalition government — formed by the ruling PiS and the far-right United Poland — could lose its slim majority in parliament, which in turn would force Morawiecki to call an early election. If he does so, he'll face a tough rival in a familiar face for Poles: former PM and European Commission top honcho Donald Tusk, who wants to run for his old job.

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What We're Watching: EU sues Poland, pandemic widens global gender gap, Niger foils coup attempt

EU takes Poland to top court: In a significant escalation in the ongoing row between Brussels and Warsaw, the EU has referred Poland to Europe's top court, citing concerns over its undermining of judicial independence. Brussels has long expressed concern about the dilution of democratic norms under President Andrzej Duda and his ruling Law and Justice party, which came to power in 2015. Since then, Duda has given broad powers to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which has purged and suspended Polish judges who are critical of government actions and cut the salaries of judges who oppose changes to the judicial system. Brussels has long been at loggerheads with member states Hungary and Poland, both of which are led by "illiberal" populists. This came to a head last year when Brussels included a provision in the bloc's pandemic recovery package that made disbursement of funds contingent on respecting EU rule-of-law norms.

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What We're Watching: India-Pakistan talk water, Saudis float Yemen ceasefire, Polish writer in peril

India and Pakistan break bread over... water? Representatives from India and Pakistan are meeting this week to discuss water-sharing in the Indus River for the first time since the two countries severed relations following India's suspension of autonomy for Kashmir almost three years ago. It's a big deal — especially for the Pakistanis, whose farmers get 80 percent of the water they need to irrigate their crops from the Indus. Even more importantly, the meeting is also the latest sign of an apparent thaw in Indo-Pakistani ties, starting with last month's ceasefire agreement on Kashmir. A recently released readout of the secret talks that preceded that truce shows unusual impetus by both sides to make progress, and was followed up by rare conciliatory messages between Delhi and Islamabad. Given the long history of animosity between the two nuclear-armed nations -- they have gone to war three times since 1948 -- it's hard to be optimistic, but let's see if these water talks can move things along further.

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Why anti-democratic movements in Europe and the US are remarkably similar

Political movements that promote authoritarian leaders and anti-democratic governments have gained significant ground in Eastern Europe in the past twenty years. And according to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum, it's a trend that goes beyond that specific region. "This will sound very bizarre, but the trajectory of events and the nature of political debate in Poland is amazingly similar to the United States, the kinds of arguments that people make, the, the level of polarization… you can see this impulse to destroy and undermine the institutions of democracy everywhere." What is the appeal of such movements and what has the pandemic done to expand their influence?

Applebaum and Ian Bremmer take on those questions on GZERO World, which began airing on US public television stations nationwide on Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Authoritarianism's Enduring Appeal: Anne Applebaum Discusses

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