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Annie Gugliotta

World Cup politics go way beyond Qatar

The 2022 World Cup now underway in Qatar is the most political edition of the tournament in decades. But it's also playing out politically far away from the host country in parts of the globe where fans often pay more attention to the sport than to their elected officials.

For instance, in Brazil, supporters of left-wing President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva want to reclaim the yellow jersey from the fans of outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazilian progressives say Bolsonaro’s supporters co-opted the color of their five-time winning national side during the recent presidential election campaign.

Let’s find more examples from a few Eurasia Group soccer nuts, ahem, experts.

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Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr storm the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq.

REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

What We're Watching: Iraqis storm parliament, US nears landmark climate deal, Senegal set to vote

Anti-Iran protesters storm Iraq’s parliament

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters breached Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Wednesday and stormed the parliament. The demonstrators – supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc won the most seats in parliamentary elections last fall – chanted anti-Iran slogans as they rummaged through paperwork and took selfies. Crucially, they rallied against the candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani, a former minister backed by a pro-Iran alliance, to become the next PM. For almost a year, Tehran-aligned parties have prevented al-Sadr from forming a new government, prompting the cleric’s 73 lawmakers to resign en masse last month in protest, and plunging the crisis-ridden country further into political and social turmoil. As a result, the pro-Iran bloc became the biggest parliamentary faction … by default. The demonstrators have since disbursed, but temperatures are rising in a country where joblessness and popular disillusionment are sky-high. What’s more, al-Sadr has proven adept at whipping his supporters into a frenzy in recent months, suggesting that instability in Iraq is likely to get much worse.

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Lula’s Comeback Upends Brazilian Politics | Senegal's Dicey Situation | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Lula’s comeback upends Brazilian politics; Senegal's dicey situation

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

We'll start in Brazil. Will Lula run for president and seriously challenge Bolsonaro?

And the answer is, it increasingly looks that way. The Supreme Court threw out former President Lula's former conviction, saying they didn't have jurisdiction. And the court that he was actually charged, court members were surprised by this. Lula's own PT party surprised by this. It means a couple of things. One, he's much more likely to run. He's extremely popular on the left. His PT party has about 20% approval in the country. And that means that between Bolsonaro, the president, and Lula on the left, there's very little room in the center. This is going to be an incredibly contentious and polarized election, much more so than in the United States, even this past November.

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What We're Watching: "Apocalyptic" unrest in Senegal, Biden's Afghanistan plan, post-COVID tourism

"Apocalyptic" protests in Senegal: At least five people have been killed in clashes with police as protests over poverty, unemployment, and the jailing of a popular politician rock the West African nation of Senegal. Ousmane Sonko, who heads the opposition Movement to Defend Democracy (M2D) and is considered the most viable challenger to current president Mackie Sall, was accused of rape in February and arrested last week. Sonko says the charges are a politically motivated attempt to remove him from politics before the 2024 presidential election. His supporters immediately hit the streets, voicing a range of grievances including joblessness and poverty. Though youth unemployment has fallen over the past decade, it still exceeds eight percent and close to two-thirds of the country's 16 million people are under the age of 25. As Sonko supporters pledge to continue protests this week, Senegal's head of conflict resolution says the country is "on the verge of apocalypse."

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