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UK Brexit treaty breach & collision course with EU; Belarus repression

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

What's really going on between the EU and the UK with the UK government threatening to change the so-called Withdrawal Agreement?

Yup, it's really bad. Because what Boris Johnson has proposed is for the UK government to defect and break international law by going away from a substantially important part of the Withdrawal Agreement that has to do with the Northern Ireland peace process. This is a break of trust between the EU and the UK, if it goes ahead. It will have very serious ramifications. And I think if it happens, I think sorry to say, that we are headed for a crash between the European Union and the UK with bad ramifications all across the board. We'll see. Not good.


What's the update in Belarus?

Well, bad, bad, bad. Repression, repression, repression. Picking up the one after one of the opposition leaders and threatening them with expulsion, sometimes expelling them, sometimes torturing them in prison. He has thrown himself at the mercy of President Putin, the Kremlin. We'll see what that leads to. But let's also see the coming Sunday, if there will be as massive demonstrations in Minsk as we've seen before. The crisis is by no means over, including not over for Mr. Lukashenko.

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It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here, have your quick take. Plenty going on this week. I could of course talk about all these new Biden appointees, but frankly, there's not that much that surprising there. Moderate, lots of expertise, not very controversial, almost all of which could get through a Republican controlled Senate, presuming that markets are going to be reasonably happy, progressives in the Democratic party somewhat less so. But no, the big news right now internationally, certainly about Iran. The Iranians started this year with the assassination by the United States of their defense leader, Qasem Soleimani. Everyone was worried about war. Now, closing the year with the assassination of the head of their nuclear program and historically the head of their nuclear weapons program.

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Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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