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What We're Watching: Uproar in the Ivory Coast, AMLO's brother in hot water, Pompeo's roadtrip

What We're Watching: Uproar in the Ivory Coast, AMLO's brother in hot water, Pompeo's roadtrip

Ivory Coast president sparks uproar: Violence has broken out across major cities in the Ivory Coast in recent days after President Alassane Ouattara announced that he would seek a third presidential term, a move that would involve challenging the constitution, which does not allow for three consecutive terms. (Ouattara's ruling RHDP party says that this rule doesn't apply because of a technicality dating back to 2016.) Ouattara's bid to stay on comes after Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly — whom Ouattara tapped earlier this year to succeed him — died of heart failure last month. Protesters say that Ouattara's move is unconstitutional and that he should step aside after two terms in the job marked by ongoing ethnic violence amid a decade-long civil war that has killed some 3,000 people. Further exacerbating tensions, the country's former president Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro have been barred from running this October.


Is AMLO his brother's keeper? Mexico's left-populist president Andres Manual Lopez Obrador (known to many as AMLO) was elected in 2018 in part on his pledges to root out endemic corruption. And in recent weeks, graft investigations have produced bombshell allegations that several former presidents of Mexico took kickbacks in the energy sector. But now the famously ascetic AMLO has a problem in the family: a leaked video from 2015 shows his brother, Pio Lopez Obrador, accepting a bag of cash from David Leon, a prominent member of AMLO's Morena party. President Lopez Obrador has said that the cash was for Morena operating expenses. Leon has recently been tapped to run the Health Ministry but says he won't take office until the issue is settled. AMLO says the tapes should be reviewed by the authorities, and that all involved should testify if asked. He has even volunteered to take the stand himself in what would be a political telenovela (soap opera) for the ages.

Pompeo on the road: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting Israel and the United Arab Emirates this week, in part, to help iron out details of the historic US-brokered normalization of ties between the two countries. But in recent days, the deal has been clouded by revelations that the Trump administration used its bargaining power to negotiate the sale of sophisticated F35 fighter jets to the Emirates. Israel is not happy about the reported side deal, because it would erode the country's "qualitative military edge" in the region. Pompeo will also visit Sudan and Bahrain, two other countries reportedly considering normalizing ties with Israel. Achieving a broader realignment of the Middle East in which key Arab powers close ranks with the Jewish State in order to push back against growing Iranian influence would be a major foreign policy achievement for the Trump administration. Pompeo's trip comes as the US is seeking to "snap back" sanctions against Iran at the UN, and as the president's son in law Jared Kushner prepares to make his own visit to the region later this week.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream