What We're Watching: Europe's migrant crisis, Bibi's win, and Russians standing their ground

What We're Watching: Europe's migrant crisis, Bibi's win, and Russians standing their ground

A fresh humanitarian crisis on Europe's doorstep: A dramatic surge of migrants has arrived on Greek shores in recent days, after Turkey abandoned a 2016 deal with the EU under which it has housed some 3.7 million Syrian refugees in exchange for billions of euros in aid. Ankara took this step after a dangerous flare up last week in Syria, where Turkish troops are trying to halt a Syrian assault on Idlib province that's driving more refugees across the Turkish border. Some 10,000 migrants have since tried to breach the Greek border in recent days, leading Greek police to use tear gas and other riot control methods. One child died after a makeshift boat capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos, a main destination for migrants. Meanwhile, Greece's prime minister announced Tuesday that all asylum applications would be frozen while Athens deals with the emergency. Brussels has pledged emergency aid.


Netanyahu wins, but how big? With about 90 percent of votes in from Israel's parliamentary election, its third in less than a year, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party came out victorious, winning four more seats than its rival Blue and White party. At the time of this writing, Netanyahu is still two seats short of a 61-seat parliamentary majority. If Netanyahu, who is set to face a corruption trial on March 17, gets to 61 seats by merging with his allies on the right, he could seek parliamentary immunity from graft charges. But if the tally is a 60-60 split with the opposition, Netanyahu might need to entertain some sort of unity government with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz. While much will be determined in the days ahead, one thing is clear: Netanyahu has won an election that was essentially a referendum on whether his legal troubles ought to disqualify him from leadership.

Putin isn't giving up any ground, literally: Russian President Vladimir Putin has submitted a flurry of proposed constitutional amendments, including measures that would effectively ban same sex marriage, criminalize blasphemy, and prevent Russia from giving any part of its territory to a foreign power. That last measure will directly affect two major territorial disputes: one with Japan over the fate of islands occupied by Soviet forces during World War Two, and another with Ukraine over the fate of Crimea, which Moscow has politically and economically integrated into Russia since illegally annexing the peninsula in 2014. It seems that even for the country with the largest land territory on earth, every hectare counts.

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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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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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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