Ian Bremmer offers a quick a survey of nations currently welcoming American tourists, in case your cabin fever has you longing to fly away. Think Caribbean, the Balkans, or even the U.K.—but as they say in the fine print of any offer, "Some restrictions may apply."
Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with this week's Europe In 60 Seconds (from the Adriatic Sea):
What's going on in Belgrade and what's going to be the consequence of that?
Well, a wave of protests partly met by fairly substantial police violence. It's partly against new COVID restrictions, there's an outbreak of COVID. But partly the general political situation in the country with a sort of very harsh regime in the effect, or a very dominant regime to be precise. We'll see what happens.
What's my take on the run-off in the Polish presidential election this Sunday?
Well, that's going to be a most important election for Poland, primarily, but also for Europe as a whole. The regime and sitting President Duda has been calling out all of the propaganda means conceivable in order to win the election. But still, according to opinion polls, too close to call. Let's just hope for a positive surprise from Poland on Sunday.
UK ends ban on Saudi arms sales: The UK is ready to resume weapons exports to Saudi Arabia after a one-year moratorium. In June 2019, a British court ruled that those sales were unlawful if the arms would later be used against civilians in Yemen, where the Saudi military has been fighting Houthi rebel forces since 2015. The UK government said it is now confident that the Saudis will not use British-made weapons in Yemen in any way that violates international humanitarian law. The decision to end the ban has raised ethical concerns about the UK's involvement in this war, where thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed by Saudi strikes. Prior to the ban, the UK was the second top arms seller to Saudi Arabia after the US. Meanwhile, the war in Yemen — considered the world's worst humanitarian crisis right now — continues this week with a fresh Saudi campaign against the Houthis, following a short-lived ceasefire due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Riots over planned Belgrade lockdown: Dozens of protestors and police were injured in riots outside Serbia's parliament on Wednesday. The previous night, demonstrators had stormed the building to demand the resignation of President Aleksandar Vučić over his intention to reinstate a lockdown of Belgrade to contain rising coronavirus infections. Serbia was one of the first European countries to introduce mobility restrictions in response to the pandemic, but also one of the first to reopen — possibly too soon. Many of the thousands of protestors were not wearing masks and among them was Nada Kostić, a controversial lawmaker known for pushing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Less than a month ago, Vučić's party won Serbia's parliamentary election; opposition parties boycotted the vote, and said the result was illegitimate. This crisis will likely prevent Vučić from making rapid progress on his two international priorities: relations with the EU and peace talks with Kosovo.
What We're Ignoring
A laughable request from China: China revealed on Wednesday that it is willing to join nuclear weapons control talks with Russia and the US… as long as the US commits to curbing its own atomic arsenal to match China's current level. "China would be happy to participate the next day," a senior Chinese official said. "But actually, we know that's not going to happen." China has about 320 warheads, while Russia and the US keep at least 5,000 each, so the US would have to get rid of over 93 percent of its nuclear weapons to meet China's terms. Moscow and Washington are currently trying to extend the 2010 New START treaty before it lapses next February, but the Trump administration wants China to be a part of any future deal. Beijing, for its part, refuses to play ball until it is reduces its own atomic gap with the world's top two nuclear powers.
What We're Watching: A big blast hits Iran, Serbia and Kosovo sit down again, Dominican Republic has a new president
Iran's main nuclear site gets hit: An explosion at the Natanz nuclear site, Iran's main nuclear facility, will likely set back Tehran's nuclear program by months, the Islamic Republic confirmed Sunday. A powerful bomb evidently destroyed infrastructure that Iran has used in recent years to build more advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium — fuel that can be used to make an atomic bomb. The attack has been widely attributed to Israel, though the Israeli government rarely acknowledges actions carried out by its intelligence agencies. Since President Trump walked away from the Iranian nuclear deal in 2018, isolating the US from its European allies, Iran has flouted its own commitments by ramping up its production of enriched uranium and blocking international inspectors from key nuclear facilities. Now, analysts warn that this latest episode could push Iran to move more of its enrichment programs in harder-to-find places underground.
Serbia-Kosovo to resume talks: EU-sponsored talks between longtime foes Kosovo and Serbia will resume this week, almost two years after a disagreement over territorial exchanges prompted Kosovo to slap 100 percent tariffs on Serbian products. The aim of the talks is to reach a peace deal between Serbia and Kosovo, the majority-Albanian region of Serbia that suffered a campaign of Serb-directed ethnic cleansing in the late 1990s and then declared independence with US and EU backing in 2008. Though the EU has long brokered talks between the rivals in the hopes of stabilizing the Western Balkans and strengthening their ties with the EU, the US has recently tried to play a more prominent role in overseeing a détente between the two sides, presenting a rival plan that riled the EU. Meanwhile, Kosovo's President Hashim Thaçi was forced to abandon a meeting with President Trump last month when the Hague announced they had filed war crimes charges against him.The Dominican Republic has a new president: Opposition candidate Luis Abinader is poised to become the next president of the Dominican Republic after amassing an insurmountable lead over the incumbent, Gonzalo Castillo. Abinader, a US-educated businessman whose second surname is, as it happens, Corona, won despite having to briefly suspend his campaign to recover from the coronavirus himself. The vote had originally been planned for May but was postponed due to the pandemic. Abinader will be just the second member of the Lebanese diaspora to lead a Caribbean country after Robert Malval, who was prime minister of neighboring Haiti from 1993-1994. In addition to addressing the devastating economic blow of losing tourism inflows, Abinader will also have to manage a delicate issue with neighboring Haiti: the spread of COVID-19 in Haiti attributed to migrants returning home from the Dominican Republic.
Malawi's election do-over: Five months after Malawi's constitutional court ruled that widespread irregularities compromised the incumbent President Peter Mutharika's re-election, Malawians participated in a historic rerun on Tuesday. Some 6.6 million people were registered to vote in the much-anticipated contest that will determine whether the 80-year old Mutharika, who has been involved in a string of corruption cases since he took up the post in 2014, can head off his main rival, opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera. Disputes over the first election gave rise to months of unrest as well as clashes between Chakwera's supporters and police.
What's Serbia's president gonna use that power for? In elections largely boycotted by the opposition, president Aleksandar Vučić's party swept up more than 60 percent of seats in Serbia's parliament, giving him further control over a fragile democracy that, rights groups say, has eroded since he came to power in 2017. His opponents said the result was illegitimate, pointing to what they said was biased coverage in state media. Now that Vučić has nearly complete control over the Serbian state, we're watching to see what he does about two important international issues: First, how will he balance his intention of bringing Serbia into the EU while also cultivating ever-closer ties with Russia and China? Second, can he reach a peace deal with Kosovo, the majority-Albanian region of Serbia that suffered a campaign of Serb-directed ethnic cleansing in the late 1990s and then declared independence with US and EU backing in 2008? The EU and US have proposed rival peace plans and Vučić is currently dancing between them. He heads to Washington for talks on the issue this weekend.
Tunisians protest unemployment: Protesters and police have clashed in the southern Tunisian province of Tataouine in recent days, as hundreds flocked to the streets to protest surging unemployment and economic stagnation ten years after the popular revolution in that country gave rise to the broader "Arab Spring." Police fired tear gas and hurled stones at the crowd, but the harsh measures seemed only to embolden protesters who have continued to hit the streets. They say that six years since the first free presidential elections were held, the government has failed to boost economic opportunity for millions of Tunisians, and that a 2017 government pledge to employ thousands of Tunisians to work on oil and development projects was never acted upon. The country's youth unemployment rate of 36 percent is one of the highest in the world.