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- Tonight’s edition (1,963 words, 7 minutes) takes us to Tehran, Ethiopia, China and Pakistan.
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Welcome back to Axios World.
Raisi displays his impressive microphone collection today in Tehran. Photo: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg via Getty
The election of conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s next president injects new urgency into the efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, but could preclude the possibility of a “longer and stronger” agreement.
Why it matters: President Biden hopes to put Iran’s nuclear program “back in a box” by salvaging the previous deal and then negotiate a follow-on accord to extend the deal’s timelines and cover Iran’s missile program and other issues.
Driving the news: In his first press conference today, Raisi ruled out negotiating over missiles or meeting with Biden.
Yes, but: Raisi did underscore today the necessity of the sanctions relief Iran would receive if the U.S. returns to the 2015 deal, which Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
The latest: A sixth round of talks ended yesterday without a deal, though before departing Vienna some of the negotiators expressed optimism that one could be reached in the next few weeks.
Raisi’s election victory was stage-managed, with Iran’s Guardian Council preventing all other well-known candidates from running — an unusual level of political control even for Iran.
What to watch: Whether or not Raisi is to become supreme leader, there is another transition looming in Iran. Khamenei will have a loyalist in the presidency to help him ensure the revolution endures.
Waiting to vote in Addis Ababa. Photo: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty
Ethiopians went to the polls today in long-delayed elections. Well, some did. Millions were prevented from voting due to security or logistical concerns, and others boycotted the vote, citing the repression of opposition parties.
Why it matters: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won a Nobel Peace Prize and launched a war that has devolved into ethnic cleansing — all without having been elected. This election had been seen as a chance for him to gain democratic legitimacy and Ethiopia to hold its first free and fair election.
The big picture: Abiy took power in 2018 promising new political freedoms and espousing a vision of an Ethiopia defined by national rather than ethnic or regional identity.
China has now administered 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines — 500 million of them in just the past month. That's half of the global total during that period.
The big picture: China's vaccine rollout started slowly, due in part to a low sense of urgency and also to the fact that the government was focusing on exporting doses.
China's current pace of 20 million vaccinations per day is far higher than the peak of around 3 million per day in the U.S., even adjusted for population.
In other news...
Screengrab via Apple Maps.
I'm visiting the main square of a city that is beautiful from every angle, including from the sky. Where am I?
Scroll to the bottom for the answer.
Protesting the pardons of Catalan leaders, in Madrid. Photo: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty
1. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez today confirmed plans to pardon 12 separatist Catalan leaders who organized an unsanctioned referendum in 2017, citing the need for “forgiveness” and reconciliation.
2. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven lost a no-confidence vote on Monday, giving him a week to call a snap election or try to form a new coalition.
3. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s party easily won a snap election on Sunday, a surprise result that comes seven months after he signed a cease-fire deal with Azerbaijan that was seen by many Armenians as a betrayal.
4. Regional elections in France on Sunday provided a series of embarrassing defeats for both President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.
5. Armin Laschet, the front-runner to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, backed a “cautious” approach to China in an interview with the FT, saying Beijing was as much partner as competitor.
Swan (L) with Khan. Screengrab via "Axios on HBO."
Why does Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemn Islamophobia in Europe and around the world but remain silent about the genocide against Uyghur Muslims in nearby Xinjiang, China?
More from the interview:
Surkov (L) with Putin in 2012. Photo: Alexei Nikolsky/AFP via Getty
Henry Foy conducted a delightful and disturbing interview with Vladislav Surkov in this weekend's "Lunch with the FT."
Why it matters: “Never elected, he was Putin’s chief ideologist and by most accounts his closest political confidant for more than a dozen years, who went on to stage-manage the 2014 annexation of Crimea and Russia’s involvement in the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine,” Foy writes.
Now out of the Kremlin, Surkov offered a tantalizingly candid account of how Putin’s Russia actually functions.
He also defended the steady diet of propaganda he helped prepare over the years.
Surkov even defended his own ouster in 2020, saying that people who grow too powerful behind the scenes must be replaced every once in a while.
Women brush their teeth with eucalyptus branches at the Monday Market in Mekele, capital of Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty
"We thought we'd be able to make it to the end of the month. It's just getting harder and harder. It's essentially a matter of days."— An adviser to Jimmy Lai, the jailed owner of Apple Daily, on how long the Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper can survive after Chinese authorities froze its bank accounts and jailed top executives.
We're visiting Piazza San Marco in beautiful Venice, Italy.