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Thousands of Israeli protesters rally against PM Benjamin Netanyahu's new government in Tel Aviv.

Gili Yaari via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Israel’s mass anti-corruption protests, Sweden’s NATO own goal, Germany's mixed signals

Israelis protest proposed judiciary changes

Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beersheba on Saturday to protest judicial changes proposed by PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s new government, the country’s most right-wing coalition to date. While demonstrations have been underway for weeks, more than 100,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv in the biggest rally yet to oppose the proposed reforms that they fear will weaken the High Court of Justice’s power and independence. Bibi’s government feels the judiciary is biased against it and interfering with its ability to govern, and the PM is vowing to push through the reforms despite the outcry. On Sunday, meanwhile, Bibi finally dismissed key ally Aryeh Deri as interior and health minister, days after the high court ruled he was ineligible to hold a senior cabinet post due to a previous criminal conviction. Deri is head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, some of whose members had threatened to turn away from Bibi's wobbly government if the PM fired their boss. Just weeks in, this is another sign that Bibi is going to have a hell of a time keeping his coalition together.

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Annie Gugliotta

What's happening in Nagorno-Karabakh?

The long-simmering conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has once again heated up, with Armenia accusing Azerbaijan of blocking the only road that connects the disputed region with Armenia.

The Azeris, of course, deny this and blame Russian peacekeepers. But what's clear is that the longer the area remains cut off from Armenian supplies, the higher the risk of a humanitarian crisis in a land that's been embroiled in an unresolved conflict for decades.

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Voters heading to the polls.

GZERO Media

The big votes of 2023

In 2022, voters in South Korea, France, Kenya, Brazil, the United States and other countries produced some dramatic and consequential election results.

Here are four major elections to watch in 2023.

Nigeria (Feb 25)

Nearly 100 million voters in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, will head to the polls in February to choose a new president, and because this country is Africa’s political heavyweight and largest economy, outsiders will be watching closely. The incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, is term limited. In his place, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, the country’s most populous state, has won the internal fight to lead the incumbent All Progressives Congress Party.

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Supporters of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu demonstrate as a Turkish court reaches a verdict in his trial.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

What We're Watching: Turkish political verdict, Nagorno-Karabakh flareup, Sunak's immigration plan, Lula's military

Bombshell ruling in Turkey

On Wednesday, a Turkish court sentenced Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu to 2.5 years in prison for the obviously heinous crime of calling election officials "fools" after they annulled the result of the May 2019 race he won. Context: Imamoglu's slim victory then was questioned by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Law & Justice party, which forced a rerun only to see Imamoglu win again by a wider margin. The double loss was a slap in the face for Erdoğan, who is running for re-election just six months from now — with Imamoglu favored to be his main rival. On the one hand, Erdogan is trying to pull the oldest authoritarian trick in the book by getting loyalist judges to throw his enemy in jail. On the other, since Imamoglu will surely appeal, the snail-pace legal system won’t confirm his conviction ahead of the presidential vote. Will Erdogan’s move further boost the mayor in the polls, convincing an alliance of six opposition parties to pick Imamoglu as their candidate? Throwback: in 1997, when Erdoğan himself was mayor of Istanbul, he did time in jail and was banned from political office for … reciting a controversial poem. Five years later he was elected as Turkey’s first Islamist PM.

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks by video link during NATO's annual parliamentary assembly in Madrid, Spain.

Europa Press/ABACA via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: NATO doubles down on Ukraine, Erdoğan mulls Syria ground operation, Chinese COVID protests mellow, news outlets make Assange petition

Lasting support for Ukraine?

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hoped for a quick victory that would disarm Ukraine and replace its government. Ukrainian fighters, backed and armed by NATO governments, have shredded Putin’s Plan A. His Plan B is to inflict punishment on Ukrainian civilians with attacks on the infrastructure that provides light and heat during the cold, dark winter ahead to try to divide opinion in Europe and the United States over their long-term support for Ukraine’s government. That’s the backdrop for two noteworthy pieces of news this week. On Tuesday, NATO foreign ministers, gathered in Bucharest, will renew their vow, first made in 2008, that Ukraine will one day join their alliance. In the meantime, individual member states will offer more weapons, perhaps including US small precision bombs fitted to rockets that help Ukraine strike enemy targets deep behind Russian lines. The alliance itself will offer electricity generators, fuel, and medical supplies. The message to Moscow: You won’t win a war of attrition. Ukraine’s allies will boost that country’s defenses for as long as it takes to deny Russia a victory.

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A view shows the city centre without electricity after critical civil infrastructure was hit by a Russian missile attacks, in Kamianske, Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine.

Reuters

Hard Numbers: Ukraine’s battered power grid, Turkey slashes interest rates, the Philippines scraps Russia deal, Black Death’s lingering effects

40: Up to 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been seriously damaged since Russia began its latest bombardment on Oct. 10. The Ukrainian government on Thursday told residents to charge all their appliances ahead of more disruptions to the power grid, which are being felt as far west as Lviv.

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Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: Erdonomics vs. Turkish economy

This week, Turkey’s annual inflation rate reached 83.45%, a 24-year high. And that's just the official number — independent experts believe the actual figure is more than 186%, which means prices have almost tripled.

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A Russian soldier patrols the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: Ukraine nuclear inspection, US Navy near Taiwan, Libya on the brink, Greece-Turkey air dispute

14: A team of 14 international inspectors — none of them from the UK or the US — got Russian clearance to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe's largest. Heavy shelling near the site briefly disconnected the facility from the grid on Friday, raising fears of a major accident in a country still haunted by the memory of Chernobyl.

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