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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.

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It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here, have your quick take. Plenty going on this week. I could of course talk about all these new Biden appointees, but frankly, there's not that much that surprising there. Moderate, lots of expertise, not very controversial, almost all of which could get through a Republican controlled Senate, presuming that markets are going to be reasonably happy, Progressive's in the Democratic party somewhat less so. But no, the big news right now internationally, certainly about Iran. The Iranians started this year with the assassination by the United States of their defense leader, Qasem Soleimani. Everyone was worried about war. Now, closing the year with the assassination of the head of their nuclear program and historically the head of their nuclear weapons program.

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Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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