Then and Now: Sudan's transition, US-China trade war, Nigeria's election

3 months ago: Sudan's transition In August, GZERO checked in on Sudan's former strongman Omar al-Bashir who had been put on trial for corruption after being deposed by mass protests against his three-decade long dictatorship. The trial is ongoing and has revealed damning details such as al-Bashir's receiving tens of millions in cash from the Saudi Crown Prince, but his years of alleged crimes against humanity have not been reckoned with, and there seems little chance of his facing justice before the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Meanwhile, Sudan's political transition is still in flux. The first post-Bashir cabinet, a joint civilian-military body, took office in September. It is supposed to oversee a three and a half year transition period until general elections. But this power-sharing arrangement, which preserves elements of the old guard, hasn't placated everyone. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets this month protesting the enduring influence of al-Bashir's allies in politics, and calling on the government to ramp up investigations into those who went missing when security forces brutally cracked down on protesters in the capital, Khartoum, in June. Now, as Sudan's economy teeters on the brink of collapse, the government is focused on getting Sudan removed from the US sponsors of terrorism list, which would open it up to investment and debt relief. The US says that could happen, but not immediately.

6 months ago: What comes next in the US-China trade war? Six months ago, the stakes of the ongoing US-China trade war peaked again when China, responding to a bout of US tariffs on Chinese goods, imposed retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of American products, as we noted here. Not to be outdone, the Trump administration upped the ante again, responding with fresh tariffs of its own and threatening to extend its tariffs by December 15 to virtually everything America buys from China. But President Trump's inconsistent signals on tit-for-tat penalties have created confusion about what might come next. Last month, Presidents Xi and Trump said they were willing to sign a partial trade deal – a temporary truce– that would see the US roll back some tariffs in return for Beijing ending a freeze on purchases of some US agricultural products. But now, four weeks later, the talks are shrouded in uncertainty because of disagreements over what should be included in the final text. But even if a partial deal is reached that reverses the escalations of the past few months, the US and China will still be in tension over deeper issues, including China's support for state companies, its extortion of technology from American firms, and its bid to become the global leader in advanced technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence.

9 months ago: Nigeria's uninspiring election Back in February we contemplated the uncertainty surrounding Nigeria's upcoming elections – the first since a landmark peaceful transfer of power that had served as a model for the entire region. This spring, Nigerians reelected incumbent president and former military leader Muhammadu Buhari, who came away with 56% of the vote. The former military leader has attempted to rebrand himself as a "converted democrat" but oppressive tendencies have proven hard to give up. Since Buhari's reelection, repression of journalists has drawn increasing international concern. Buhari has failed to tackle allegations of corruption against his political allies, while using his anti-graft agenda to crack down on political opponents. Meanwhile, jihadist terror has spread across large swathes of the country, and the locally grown Boko Haram militant group has extended its reach. When Buhari recently departed for a personal overseas trip, believed to be for medical reasons, he refused to hand over temporary authority to his deputy, which many said violated the constitution. Nigeria's democracy is young and delicate. Buhari is testing its limits.

Scientists, engineers and technologists are turning to nature in search of solutions to climate change. Biomimicry is now being applied in the energy sector, medicine, architecture, communications, transport and agriculture in a bid to make human life on this planet more sustainable and limit the impacts of global warming. New inventions have been inspired by humpback whales, kingfishers and mosquitoes.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

The Trump administration's Middle East peace plan – three years in the making—is expected to be revealed tomorrow at a joint White House press conference between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Recall that the economic part of the plan, which calls for $50 billion of international investment to boost the Palestinian economy, was released last summer to weak applause, because it didn't include a framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Here are a few things to look for when more details are released tomorrow.

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The 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucuses, a critical early contest on the path to winning the nomination, will take place on Monday, February 3rd. After that, the pace of the primaries picks up fast, with important contests in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Here's the latest polling of the frontrunners in each of those states. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tops polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, but former Vice President Joe Biden is number one in Nevada and has a commanding lead in South Carolina.

John Bolton's book: Details of former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's hotly-anticipated White House memoir, "The Room Where it Happened" have started to leak, including an allegation that President Trump was explicit about holding up security aid unless Ukraine investigated his Democratic rivals. This will intensify pressure on moderate Senate Republicans to join Democrats in calling for Bolton and other direct witnesses to the President's conduct to testify under oath in the impeachment trial. This may also provide an opening for Democrats to lobby Chief Justice John Roberts – who is presiding over the Senate trial – to subpoena Bolton himself. We're watching to see how Republicans in the Senate respond to this new pressure.

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51: Following a recent uptick in Taliban violence, Afghan security forces have struck back, killing at least 51 of the group's fighters in recent days. This comes amid a renewed stalemate in US-Taliban peace talks that recommenced in Doha last week.

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