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A demonstrator wears elaborate face paint during a march for Mahsa (Zhina) Amini and those protesting her death in Iran.

Reuters

Is the West doing enough to help Iranians?

The actions of Iranian protesters over the past two months – particularly women – have been awe-inspiring. Despite the prospect of incarceration, and worse, they’ve refused to kowtow to the bushy-eyebrowed mullahs calling the shots in the Islamic Republic. Fear of execution looms large, but Iranian women continue to abandon their headscarves and chant in the streets for regime change.

Things are only getting more dangerous after Iran’s parliament recently voted in favor of the death penalty for protesters. The first such sentences were handed down in recent days. Indeed, the stakes could not be higher, and yet hopeful Iranians continue to risk their lives.

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Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

What We're Watching: Thai PM suspended, US strikes Iran in Syria, Macron woos Algeria

Thai PM in limbo

On Wednesday, Thailand's top court suspended PM Prayuth Chan-ocha while it decides whether his term in office started when he took over in a 2014 coup or when he was “elected” five years later. If the court decides the former, Prayuth would be removed for exceeding the constitutional limit of eight years in power. Such a verdict would likely fire up the youth-led protests demanding his resignation, which started with a bang in 2020 but soon ended with a whimper following a crackdown on their leaders for questioning the role of the monarchy. The ruling drops in two weeks, and until then Prayuth's deputy — who also took part in the 2014 power grab — is in charge. Fun fact: the eight-year limit was put in place by the military to target deposed former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister Yingluck was ousted by Prayuth. Guess who's likely running for PM in the next election? Thaksin's millenial daughter, Paetongtarn.

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What We're Watching: Angela Merkel's punk rock farewell, Iran nuclear talks resume

Angela Merkel's punk rock farewell. Although she doesn't officially step down as German Chancellor until next week, Angela Merkel's sendoff took place on Thursday night in Berlin, with the traditional Grosser Zapfenstreich — a musical aufweidersehen, replete with torches and a military band. By custom, the honoree gets to choose three songs for the band to play. Among Merkel's otherwise staid choices was a total curveball: You Forgot the Colour Film, a 1974 rock hit by fellow East German Nina Hagen, a renowned punk rocker. The song, a parody bit about a man who takes the singer on vacation but has only black-and-white film in his camera, was understood as a dig at the drabness of life in the East. We're listening to the tune, and... digging it, kind of — but we still prefer Merkel's own Kraftwerk-inspired farewell song from Puppet Regime. Eins, zwei, drei, it's time to say goodbye...

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Is the Iran nuclear deal dead – again?

When then-candidate Joe Biden was vying to move into the Oval Office, he remained wishy-washy on several policy issues. But one thing was abundantly clear: rain, hail or shine, Biden planned to return to the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015 by his boss Barack Obama and nixed by anti-Iran hawk DJT.

But it takes two to tango, or in this case to tank a key diplomatic pursuit. The Iranians, who in the spring seemed gung-ho about the idea, are now slow-walking it, making a return to the nuclear deal in the near term seem very remote.

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