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What We’re Watching: Brits arm Saudis, Belgrade riots, Chinese nukes

What We’re Watching: Brits arm Saudis, Belgrade riots, Chinese nukes

UK ends ban on Saudi arms sales: The UK is ready to resume weapons exports to Saudi Arabia after a one-year moratorium. In June 2019, a British court ruled that those sales were unlawful if the arms would later be used against civilians in Yemen, where the Saudi military has been fighting Houthi rebel forces since 2015. The UK government said it is now confident that the Saudis will not use British-made weapons in Yemen in any way that violates international humanitarian law. The decision to end the ban has raised ethical concerns about the UK's involvement in this war, where thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed by Saudi strikes. Prior to the ban, the UK was the second top arms seller to Saudi Arabia after the US. Meanwhile, the war in Yemen — considered the world's worst humanitarian crisis right now — continues this week with a fresh Saudi campaign against the Houthis, following a short-lived ceasefire due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Riots over planned Belgrade lockdown: Dozens of protestors and police were injured in riots outside Serbia's parliament on Wednesday. The previous night, demonstrators had stormed the building to demand the resignation of President Aleksandar Vučić over his intention to reinstate a lockdown of Belgrade to contain rising coronavirus infections. Serbia was one of the first European countries to introduce mobility restrictions in response to the pandemic, but also one of the first to reopen — possibly too soon. Many of the thousands of protestors were not wearing masks and among them was Nada Kostić, a controversial lawmaker known for pushing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Less than a month ago, Vučić's party won Serbia's parliamentary election; opposition parties boycotted the vote, and said the result was illegitimate. This crisis will likely prevent Vučić from making rapid progress on his two international priorities: relations with the EU and peace talks with Kosovo.

What We're Ignoring

A laughable request from China: China revealed on Wednesday that it is willing to join nuclear weapons control talks with Russia and the US… as long as the US commits to curbing its own atomic arsenal to match China's current level. "China would be happy to participate the next day," a senior Chinese official said. "But actually, we know that's not going to happen." China has about 320 warheads, while Russia and the US keep at least 5,000 each, so the US would have to get rid of over 93 percent of its nuclear weapons to meet China's terms. Moscow and Washington are currently trying to extend the 2010 New START treaty before it lapses next February, but the Trump administration wants China to be a part of any future deal. Beijing, for its part, refuses to play ball until it is reduces its own atomic gap with the world's top two nuclear powers.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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Does Cuba belong back on the US's State Sponsors of Terrorism list? The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board showed their support for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's decision on this issue in a recent opinion piece, "Cuba's Support for Terror." But in this edition of The Red Pen, Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analysts Risa Grais-Targow, Jeffrey Wright and Regina Argenzio argue that the WSJ's op-ed goes too far.

We are now just a few days away from the official end of Donald Trump's presidency, but the impacts of his latest moves in office will obviously last far beyond Joe Biden's inauguration. There's the deep structural political polarization, the ongoing investigations into the violence we saw at the Capitol, lord knows what happens over the next few days, there's also last-minute policy decisions here and abroad. And that's where we're taking our Red Pen this week, specifically US relations with Cuba.

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Watch Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, lend perspective to this week's historic impeachment proceedings.

Impeachment. President Trump became the first president ever to be impeached twice this week. And the question on everybody's mind is will he be convicted in the Senate? And I think the answer right now is we just don't know. I'd probably bet against it. There was a really strong Republican vote against impeaching him in the House, with only 10 of the over 100 Republicans breaking with the President and voting to impeach him. And the question now is in the Senate, is there more support for a conviction? Senate Majority Leader McConnell has indicated he's at least open to it and wants to hear some of the facts. And I expect you're going to hear a lot of other Republicans make the same statement, at least until the trial begins.

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They call it Einstein. It's the multibillion-dollar digital defense system the US has used to catch outside hackers and attackers since 2003. But it was no match for what's looking like one of the biggest cyber breaches in US history. Ian Bremmer breaks it down.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Cyber attack: an act of espionage or war?

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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