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What We're Watching: Egypt closes Gaza border, Swedish PM resigns, Tunisia's indefinite emergency

Egypt closes Gaza border: Egypt closed the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip this week, giving no indication when it'll reopen. Rafah, one of two economic gateways to Gaza and the only entrance not controlled by Israel, is the primary exit point for Palestinians in the Strip to travel overseas. So why did Egypt close it? Well, Cairo — which has been trying to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza since an 11-day war broke out in May — is extremely peeved at the lack of progress, and blames Hamas for the impasse. Much of this is linked to a recent wave of violence, whereby Hamas launched a series of bomb balloons across the border with Israel, causing multiple fires across Israeli communities, and prompting Israel to launch several military strikes in response. Egypt has long been a negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians, and Egypt-Israel ties have warmed in recent years: last week, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel met with Israel's PM Naftali Bennett, and invited him to visit Egypt.

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China warns Sweden of tit-for-tat action over telecoms ban

October 22, 2020 5:00 AM

BEIJING • China yesterday told Sweden to reverse a ban on Chinese tech firms from its 5G network, warning of "negative impacts" if it did not.

European view on Russia allegations; how Sweden is faring

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe (specifically, from Croatia at the moment):

What's been the European reaction to the allegations in the US that Russia has been paying Taliban for attacking US forces?

Well, I think the reaction has been fairly limited, and I think one reason for that is that I doubt very much that European governments or relevant agencies have been briefed on this particular piece of intelligence. And until it's sorted out, what is the reality behind it? I don't think you will see very much of a European reaction.

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Sweden Coronavirus Regrets; Boris Johnson's Hong Kong Promise

Sweden's state epidemiologist has expressed regrets about not having tighter coronavirus controls. What's the reaction been in Sweden?

Well, the guy has been going somewhat back and forth over what he actually meant by that particular statement. But I think there's a general feeling, yes, we could have done things better that relates to testing and that relates to quite a number of other things. And there is a concern that as Europe is now opening up, Swedes are treated as slightly different, slightly more dangerous than people from other countries. There is concern over that.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Nicaragua's coverup, Russia's plea, Sweden's death toll

Is Nicaragua covering up COVID cases? As other countries across Latin America have imposed strict lockdowns to stem the spread of COVID-19, Nicaragua's nominally socialist strongman president Daniel Ortega has continued to encourage mass gatherings, citing the country's low caseload as justification for carrying on with business as usual. But Nicaraguans who have lost loved ones to respiratory illness in recent weeks say the government isn't counting them, and that their deceased relatives were whisked away for "express burials," accompanied by members of pro-government paramilitary groups. Taken together with reports that hospitals are packed with people showing coronavirus symptoms, the official toll of just 10 people is looking like a gross cover up. Meanwhile, although Ortega and his wife, the powerful vice president Rosario Murillo, have said the crisis is overblown, they haven't made a public appearance in months, a sign, critics say, that they are seeking to prevent their own exposure to the outbreak.
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Is the Swedish approach to fight the coronavirus working?

Is the Swedish approach to fighting the virus working?

Well, that remains to be seen. It's been somewhat less of a lockdown of society. But if you compare with other Nordic countries, we have roughly twice as many deaths of people as we have the other Nordic countries taken together. So, to put it mildly, the jury's still out on that.

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The Sweden Model: Can it work for you?

People around the world are now comparing the coronavirus response of their own governments to those in other places, and the controversial strategy adopted in Sweden has drawn particular attention. What exactly is the "Sweden Model" for managing COVID-19, and would it work in other countries?

What is the "Sweden Model?" It's a coronavirus management strategy led by Anders Tegnell, state epidemiologist at Sweden's National Institute of Health. Sweden's government has closed universities and banned large public gatherings, but it has not ordered citizens to stay home or wear masks. Nor has it closed schools, gyms, bars or restaurants. The government has offered advice but hasn't imposed a lockdown.

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Ian Bremmer: The United States isn't Sweden

I don't usually respond directly to individual op-eds but when it's Tom Friedman in The New York Times, and you're talking about how we respond to global coronavirus, well, it seems like it's a good time to weigh in. The op-ed in question: "Is Sweden Doing It Right?" And asking essentially, on the back of that, therefore, should we be Sweden, the United States? Is that the direction that we want to go in? And by the way, do we know what Sweden actually did? And this is really one that you need to take a red pen to.

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