What We're Watching: Colombian Rebels Rearm

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.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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