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What We're Watching: Biden's move in Yemen, Twitter's reversal in India, Arab world's grim economic prospects

A young Yemeni fighter shouldering a weapon smiles at the camera near Marib, Yemen October 16, 2015. Marib is a city that is heavily armed even by the standards of Yemen, where the ready availability of weapons helped start civil war and is now preventing anyone coming out on top. Yemenis often say there are three guns for every person, a boast that has become an urgent concern in a country where the United Nations says the humanitarian situation is "critical".

Biden on Yemen: In 2015, the Saudi military began an offensive and air campaign against Houthi rebels who had plunged Yemen into civil war and were launching missiles into Saudi Arabia. US President Barack Obama supported the move, though some in his administration came to regret that decision as evidence mounted that Saudi bombs (many of them made in America) were killing large numbers of Yemeni civilians and exacerbating what the UN has dubbed the world's worst humanitarian crisis. President Donald Trump then went all-in with the Saudis, and in 2019, he vetoed a bid by Congress to end US support for Saudi bombing. Now, President Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to halt US support and will send an envoy to Yemen to broker talks aimed at ending the conflict. For now, Yemen remains plagued with hunger, poverty, and atrocities on all sides.

Twitter's reversed reversal in India?: Just days after the Indian government clapped back at pop star Rihanna and activist Greta Thunberg over their tweets supporting Indian farmers who are protesting against new agriculture laws, the social media giant Twitter itself has been drawn directly into the controversy. When some of the farmers and their supporters began tweeting with the hashtag #modiplanningfarmersgenocide, public officials demanded that Twitter block the accounts. Twitter complied. In response, outraged free-speech advocates demanded that Twitter reverse that decision. Twitter complied with that too. Now India's government wants Twitter to reverse its reversal. Promote free speech or police incendiary misinformation: what's a social media behemoth to do these days?

Arab world's grim economic future: A top official from the International Monetary Fund has warned [paywall] that Arab countries face a "lost decade" if they don't invest in technology and make key economic reforms to curb the pandemic's long-term economic impacts on the region. In the short term, it's time to spend big on health and COVID vaccines. However, to address long-term problems such as declining oil and gas revenues, ballooning debt and sky-high youth unemployment, the IMF says Arab leaders need to rethink how their governments raise money — including from higher taxes — and cut subsidies that burden state coffers when oil prices are low. With the GDP of the Middle East and North Africa expected to decline a region-wide 3.8 percent in 2020, experts are urging governments to create the fiscal space they'll need to breathe oxygen into their economies in the near future.


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