What We're Watching: Colombian Rebels Rearm

Iran – There's a lot going on with Iran this week. The UN's atomic watchdog (great band name!) said Monday that Iran has accelerated production of low enriched uranium, which brings the country closer to violating the Iran nuclear agreement. Then, during a press conference with his German counterpart, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued an uncharacteristically blunt threat, warning that the US "cannot expect to stay safe" after launching what he called an "economic war against Iran." Finally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Iran today, with Trump's blessing, to try to ease growing tensions and find some basis for talks that might lead to a new US-Iran nuclear deal.

Rebels rearming in Colombia – Just two years after a landmark peace deal between the government and the leftist FARC insurgency, thousands of rebels who laid down their weapons are taking up arms again. They are frustrated at the slow pace of economic and security improvements, particularly in rural areas, that the government pledged as part of the peace accord. Rightwing President Ivan Duque recently failed in his bid to revise the peace agreement, which he sees as too lenient. But unless the government can better deliver the benefits of peace, the deal may fall apart on its own.

European tech firms cutting the world in half – Amid deepening trade and technology rivalry between the US and China, two of Europe's leading technology firms — Nokia and Ericsson — might create separate units for the Eastern and Western hemispheres, according to a report by The Sunday Telegraph. Details are murky, but the idea seems to be to shield the "Western" parts of their businesses from any concerns arising from the "Eastern" units' activities in China, while at the same time protecting the "Eastern" businesses from getting caught in the crossfire between Beijing and the West. Here's how the decoupling of Chinese and Western firms could play out for the tech sector. And here's how it could hit you in the wallet.

What We Are Ignoring

Piranha Executions in North Korea – A British tabloid claims that Kim Jong-un has executed a suspected coup plotter by slashing him with a knife and tossing him into a tank filled with Brazilian piranhas to be devoured. We are ignoring this because the article is a little fishy, so to speak, and because although Kim's brutal streak is well known, we are old enough to remember the last incorrect reports about Pyongyang purges and executions… from last week. As a side note, we think the piranha gets an unjustly bad reputation, but judge for yourself.

Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.

Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.

Foreign policy played a bigger role in last night's Democratic presidential debate than in previous ones, in part because of events that came on the heels of President Trump's surprise, and disastrous, withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria. Some candidates used the opportunity to play up their foreign policy bona fides, but not all of their punches landed cleanly. Here are some key takeaways.

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Will there be agreement, and will negotiations carry on if there is no agreement in the EU?

Lord William Hague: Well, they won't carry on if there is no agreement at the European Council in the next few days. But in the EU, while you always think of things going to the last minute, in fact they usually go beyond the last minute. And that could happen in this case where there could be political agreement, agreement in principle to a Brexit deal. But they'd have to have another European Council, and more detail hammering out the actual text of it before another summit on the 28th of October, which would mean some extension to Brexit.

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Since Syria's brutal civil war began eight years ago, millions of Syrians have fled their country to escape the bombs and bullets. But hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Syria's borders, where they languish in packed refugee camps. The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is sprawling, and of its nearly 70,000 residents, some 11,000 are family members of foreign ISIS fighters, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The surprise American withdrawal from northern Syria last week paved the way for Turkey and Syria's Bashar al-Assad to move in. Some 160,000 civilians have now fled the border region that Turkey is bombarding, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a stretch of Syria that had been relatively secure since the defeat of ISIS's self-declared caliphate back in March. Here's a look at the camps for displaced people in the area.

Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.

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