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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.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is an unusual politician. The 39-year old political outsider boasts of his political triumphs on TikTok, dons a suave casual uniform (backwards-facing cap; leather jacket; tieless ), and refuses to abide by Supreme Court rulings.

Bukele also enjoys one of the world's highest approval ratings, and that's what helped his New Ideas party clinch a decisive victory in legislative elections on February 28, securing a close to two-third's supermajority (75 percent of the vote had been counted at the time of this writing).

His triumph will resonate far beyond the borders of El Salvador, Central America's smallest country, home to 6.5 million people. Now that Bukele has consolidated power in a big way, here are a few key developments to keep an eye on.

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Now that millions of high-priority Americans have been vaccinated, many people in low-risk groups are starting to ask the same question: when's my turn? Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert, has an answer, but probably not the one they're hoping for: "It probably won't be until May or June before we can at least start to get the normal non-prioritized person vaccinated." On GZERO World, Dr. Fauci also addresses another burning question: why aren't schools reopening faster? And while Dr. Fauci acknowledges that reopening schools must be a top priority, he has no quick fixes there, either. In fact, that's kind of a theme of the interview.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Dr. Fauci's Pandemic Prognosis

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

I thought I would talk today, I haven't spoken much about former President Trump since he's no longer president and I intend to continue that practice. But given this weekend and the big speech at CPAC and the fact that in the straw poll, Trump won and won by a long margin. I mean, DeSantis came in number two, but he's the Governor of Florida, CPAC was in Orlando, so that's a home court bias. In reality, it's Trump's party. And I think given all of that, it's worth spending a little bit of time reflecting on what that means, how I think about these things.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

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