What We’re Watching: Sudan's New Strongman?

What We’re Watching: Sudan's New Strongman?

Sudan's new strongman? – In response to a brutal crackdown that has reportedly killed more than 100 pro-democracy protesters in Sudan this month, the country's vice president, nicknamed Hemeti, has promised justice. "We are working hard to take those who did this to the gallows," he said during a televised speech. The problem is that Hemeti, whose real name is Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, commands the Rapid Support Forces. That's a paramilitary force, widely known as the Janjaweed, which has carried out genocidal atrocities elsewhere in the country in recent years—and is accused of unleashing the very attack on protesters that Hemeti says demands punishment. Assuming that Hemeti fails to bring himself to justice, we'll be watching to see if he becomes Sudan's next strongman.

Iran's Centrifuges - Iran says that by June 27, its stockpiles of enriched uranium will exceed the limits imposed by the 2016 Iran Nuclear Deal, signaling the Islamic Republic's withdrawal from the agreement. (The Trump administration withdrew last year.) Tehran, which announced the restart of centrifuges last month, says there's still time to avoid this outcome if the European governments that signed the deal will help Tehran avoid new and tighter US sanctions. But the Europeans, though sympathetic, find themselves caught between a rock and a US-dominated global financial system. That's why they've reportedly warned Iran that if it does violate the terms of the deal, it can expect zero further help.

The Argentine Power Grid - Over the weekend, Argentina's entire electrical grid failed, cutting power to the country's 44 million people as well as to neighboring Paraguay and Uruguay. The lights are back on, but officials remain in the dark about the blackout's cause. An investigation will be complete in 15 days, but the outage has already delivered a shock to the political system. To reduce government debt and spur investment in Argentina's poor infrastructure (the quality of Argentina's electricity supply ranks 113th in the world), President Mauricio Macri cut energy subsidies, which pushed electricity bills higher. His main opponent in October's election says the blackout proves Macri's policies have failed.

What We're Ignoring: Turkmen Target Practice

Turkmen military readiness – If you click this link, you'll see Turkmenistan's president flashing his marksmanship skills from atop a bicycle. But despite vehement protest from Signal's (avid cyclist and aspiring Central Asian strongman) Alex Kliment, I'm ignoring this display of moveable gunplay for three reasons. One, he's traveling at about one mph. He's not even pedaling. Two, he's about 15 feet from the targets. Three, when I see the Turkmen president cycling toward me with a handgun, I'm going to duck and cover. I won't just stand there like a hapless paper target. The too-easily-impressed Kliment and President Berdymukhamedov are both out of luck.

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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