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What We’re Watching: Irish PM rotation begins, Karachi stock exchange attacked, Poles go to runoff

What We’re Watching: Irish PM rotation begins, Karachi stock exchange attacked, Poles go to runoff

Ireland has a new Taoiseach: Mícheál Martin was elected on Saturday by parliament as Ireland's new "taoiseach" (prime minister). Martin, leader of the center-right Fianna Fáil, will head a coalition government with the center-left Fine Gael and the Green Party. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael — which have taken turns in power since 1905 — will rotate the prime minister position in the latest example of mainstream parties striking odd deals to exclude anti-establishment forces, in this case the far-left Sinn Féin. The new coalition now has five years to show voters it can be more than a "green" version of business-as-usual.


Separatists target Pakistan stock exchange: At least seven people died after armed militants from a local separatist group stormed Pakistan's stock exchange in Karachi on Monday. The attack was claimed on social media by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which demands self-determination for this mineral-rich province. The BLA has traditionally targeted Chinese interests in the region, but there have been more recent clashes with the Pakistani military. There is also growing suspicion that the BLA is conducting joint operations with their former rivals from the Balochistan Liberation Front.

Poland presidential vote goes to runoff: President Andrzej Duda won the first round of Poland's presidential election on Sunday, but fell short of the 50 percent majority needed to avoid a July 12 runoff against Rafal Trzaskowski, the liberal mayor of Warsaw. Exit polls showed Duda — an ally of the governing Law and Justice party — got almost 42 percent of the vote, while Trzaskowski from the centrist Civic Platform party received over 30 percent. Despite Duda's double-digit lead, the runoff is expected to be very tight in a high-stakes election for Poland, and for the country's tense relationship with the European Union. The Polish president is less powerful than the prime minister but can refuse to sign legislation, and the ruling party doesn't have enough votes to override a veto if Trzaskowski wins.

What We're Ignoring

Iran wants Trump in handcuffs: Iran on Monday asked Interpol to detain US President Donald Trump after issuing an unprecedented arrest warrant for Trump and nearly 40 other US officials Teheran links to the killing of Qassim Suleimani earlier this year. Suleimani, the former leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq in a targeted assassination that brought both sides to the brink of war. Brian Hook, US envoy for Iran, dismissed the move as a "publicity stunt," while Interpol flatly refused to honor the request. Iran said it will continue to pursue the matter even after Trump leaves office.

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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, progressives 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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