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.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truck loads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the EU's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why should all eyes be on the Virginia suburbs?

I'm here in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, where the state will be having a gubernatorial election on November 2nd. The Virginia governor election is held in the year after the US presidential election typically, and is generally seen as a bellwether for how popular the incumbent president of the United States is. In 2009, the Republican candidate won by a commanding 16 points despite the fact that Virginia has been trending more and more Democratic in recent years due to the population growth here in the suburbs, which tend to be more blue than rural areas of the state.

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Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital world.

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