What We’re Watching: Libya’s kaleidoscopic war, Spain’s royal scandal, Burundi’s sudden death

A new phase in Libya: The intractable conflict in Libya, now in its sixth year, appears to have reached a new phase in recent days. After a series of military gains by the Government of National Accord (GNA) – the internationally recognized government which is backed by Turkish troops – its rivals in the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar with support from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Russia, proposed a unilateral ceasefire and the formation of a new nationwide leadership council. The idea, presented by President el-Sisi of Egypt, was promptly rejected by the GNA, which hopes to capitalize on recent military gains – including its takeover of the oil-rich city of Sirte – to solidify its control over Libya's eastern provinces. In response to the LNA's setbacks, Russia appeared to intensify its operations Tuesday, sending a host of new aircraft conveys to help General Haftar push back against the GNA offensive. Turkey's President Erdogan, meanwhile, lobbied President Trump to further support his cause in Libya.


Royal wrongdoing in Spain? Spain's top court is investigating whether the country's former king received millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks from Saudi Arabia in connection with a Spanish consortium's construction of a high-speed rail link between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Swiss prosecutors are also reportedly probing financial links between then-King Juan Carlos and the late Saudi King Abdullah. Juan Carlos, who abdicated the throne in 2014 in favor of his son Felipe, now has no immunity from prosecution. Spain's current king has renounced any inheritance from his father, but this is just the latest in a series of financial scandals hanging over Spain's increasingly controversial royal family.

Burundi's outgoing president is dead: Just weeks after Burundi expelled World Health Organization representatives who criticized the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, the country's outgoing head of state, President Pierre Nkurunziza, has died, reportedly of a heart attack. The 55-year old Nkurunziza was to be replaced in August by a political ally after a tumultuous 15 years in power that have included a failed coup attempt, a harsh crackdown on political opponents and ongoing civic unrest that forced thousands of Burundians to flee the country in recent years. Reports are abuzz that Nkurunziz, who denied the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in recent months and pushed back against calls for social distancing guidelines, died from COVID-19. He and his wife had sought medical treatment in Kenya in recent weeks.

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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. To understand what that means for the country's politics and public health policy, GZERO sat down with Christopher Garman, top Brazil expert at our parent company, Eurasia Group. The exchange has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

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The Trump administration sent shockwaves through universities this week when it announced that international students in the US could be forced to return to their home countries if courses are not held in classrooms this fall. Around 1 million foreign students are now in limbo as they wait for institutions to formalize plans for the upcoming semester. But it's not only foreign students themselves who stand to lose out: International students infuse cash into American universities and contributed around $41 billion to the US economy in the 2018-19 academic year. So, where do most of these foreign students come from? We take a look here.

For years, the Philippines has struggled with domestic terrorism. Last Friday, Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a sweeping new anti-terror bill that has the opposition on edge, as the tough-talking president gears up to make broader constitutional changes. Here's a look at what the law does, and what it means for the country less than two years away from the next presidential election.

The legislation grants authorities broad powers to prosecute domestic terrorism, including arrests without a warrant and up to 24 days detention without charges. It also carries harsh penalties for those convicted of terror-related offenses, with a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Simply threatening to commit an act of terror on social media can now be punished with 12 years behind bars.

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16,000: Amid a deepening economic crisis in Lebanon that has wiped out people's savings and cratered the value of the currency, more than 16,000 people have joined a new Facebook group that enables people to secure staple goods and food through barter.

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