What We're Watching: A big blast hits Iran, Serbia and Kosovo sit down again, Dominican Republic has a new president

What We're Watching: A big blast hits Iran, Serbia and Kosovo sit down again, Dominican Republic has a new president

Iran's main nuclear site gets hit: An explosion at the Natanz nuclear site, Iran's main nuclear facility, will likely set back Tehran's nuclear program by months, the Islamic Republic confirmed Sunday. A powerful bomb evidently destroyed infrastructure that Iran has used in recent years to build more advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium — fuel that can be used to make an atomic bomb. The attack has been widely attributed to Israel, though the Israeli government rarely acknowledges actions carried out by its intelligence agencies. Since President Trump walked away from the Iranian nuclear deal in 2018, isolating the US from its European allies, Iran has flouted its own commitments by ramping up its production of enriched uranium and blocking international inspectors from key nuclear facilities. Now, analysts warn that this latest episode could push Iran to move more of its enrichment programs in harder-to-find places underground.


Serbia-Kosovo to resume talks: EU-sponsored talks between longtime foes Kosovo and Serbia will resume this week, almost two years after a disagreement over territorial exchanges prompted Kosovo to slap 100 percent tariffs on Serbian products. The aim of the talks is to reach a peace deal between Serbia and Kosovo, the majority-Albanian region of Serbia that suffered a campaign of Serb-directed ethnic cleansing in the late 1990s and then declared independence with US and EU backing in 2008. Though the EU has long brokered talks between the rivals in the hopes of stabilizing the Western Balkans and strengthening their ties with the EU, the US has recently tried to play a more prominent role in overseeing a détente between the two sides, presenting a rival plan that riled the EU. Meanwhile, Kosovo's President Hashim Thaçi was forced to abandon a meeting with President Trump last month when the Hague announced they had filed war crimes charges against him.

The Dominican Republic has a new president: Opposition candidate Luis Abinader is poised to become the next president of the Dominican Republic after amassing an insurmountable lead over the incumbent, Gonzalo Castillo. Abinader, a US-educated businessman whose second surname is, as it happens, Corona, won despite having to briefly suspend his campaign to recover from the coronavirus himself. The vote had originally been planned for May but was postponed due to the pandemic. Abinader will be just the second member of the Lebanese diaspora to lead a Caribbean country after Robert Malval, who was prime minister of neighboring Haiti from 1993-1994. In addition to addressing the devastating economic blow of losing tourism inflows, Abinader will also have to manage a delicate issue with neighboring Haiti: the spread of COVID-19 in Haiti attributed to migrants returning home from the Dominican Republic.
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What We’re Watching: Biden and Putin chat, Scholz takes the reins in Germany, Remain in Mexico returns, Pécresse enters the French fray, Suu Kyi learns her fate

World War III or nah? US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to speak by phone on Tuesday, as the crisis surrounding Ukraine gets dicier by the day. Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops along its border with the country, and the US is warning that Putin is gearing up to invade soon, though the underlying intel isn’t public. No one is quite sure what Putin’s up to with this stunt. Is he trying to pressure Kyiv into moving ahead with the lopsided (but probably best possible) Minsk peace accords of 2015? Or is the Kremlin seeking a broader NATO commitment not to expand further? Or does Putin actually want to invade Ukraine? Either way, Biden has his work cut out for him. Putin is clearly more comfortable risking lives and money to preserve a sphere of influence in Ukraine than the West is, so the US president has to be careful: don’t set out any red lines that NATO isn’t willing to back, but also don’t push the situation into a broader war that no one (ideally) wants.

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Watch Ian Bremmer's State of the World 2021 speech live on December 6

WATCH LIVE: Join us today at 8 pm ET to hear Ian Bremmer's unique perspective on the most pressing geopolitical events shaping politics, business, and society in our "GZERO" world.

Ian's State of the World speech will examine:

  • Are the US and China engaged in a cold war?
  • How powerful have tech companies become on the global stage?
  • Is there hope for the world to unite to fight climate change and other shared challenges?
A Q&A session with Ian follows, moderated by Julia Chatterley, anchor and correspondent at CNN International.
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 President Hakainde Hichilema presents his national statement as a part of the World Leaders' Summit at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 1, 2021

A harrowing debt default, cinema-worthy corruption cases, and a controversial attempt to change the constitution all provided the backdrop for Hichilema Hakainde’s election as Zambia’s president earlier this year. Despite attempts by incumbent president Edgar Lungu to rig the vote, Hichilema won a landslide victory by promising to boost jobs and crush corruption. But does Hichilema, a businessman-turned-politician, have what it takes to fix the faltering fortunes of Africa’s second-largest copper producer, a country that was once one of the continent’s fastest growing economies?

We sat down with Eurasia Group analyst Connor Vasey to find out how things have gone during the new president’s first few months in office.

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Hard Numbers: Evergrande stock crashes, New Caledonians vote, Gambian prez re-elected, UK citizenship law

0.23: Shares of Evergrande plunged nearly 20 percent on Monday to $0.23, their lowest value ever in the Hong Kong stock exchange. Investors are worried that the ultra-indebted Chinese property developer may soon default on payments to foreign creditors, and authorities are scrambling to prevent the panic from spreading to the broader financial sector.

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The Taliban may have allowed “cosmetic changes” - like allowing younger fighters to take photos with iPhones – but their governing style hasn’t truly changed, renowned author Ahmed Rashid told Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. In fact, not much about the group has actually reformed since he wrote his groundbreaking book, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.

“We thought for a long time that the Taliban would be educating and training their younger generation to become bureaucrats and handlers of civil society, but we were wrong,” he said. In fact, the moderate faction of the Taliban have been losing out to the hardliners, which includes members of the Haqqani network, a US-designated terrorist organization.

Few people know more about the Taliban than journalist and author Ahmed Rashid, who wrote the book on the group — literally.

In the months after 9/11, his critically acclaimed 2000 study Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia became a go-to reference as the US geared up to invade Afghanistan and knock the militant group from power.

Now, twenty years later, with the US out of Afghanistan and the Taliban back in charge, Ian Bremmer sat down with Rashid to learn more about the Taliban today in a GZERO World interview.

How much has the group changed since the days of soccer-stadium executions, television bans, and blowing up world heritage sites? How should the rest of the world deal with them?

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Demonstrators hold flags and placards as they march to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions and the mandatory vaccination in Vienna, Austria, December 4, 2021.

40,000: At least 40,000 people joined protests in Vienna on Saturday against new lockdowns and vaccine requirements, the second week in a row the city has seen mass demonstrations of this kind. Amid a surge in new cases, the Austrian government announced that a nationwide vaccine mandate would come into effect on February 1.

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