Wednesday's world stories

Nov 25, 2020 - World

Past friction between Biden and Erdoğan foreshadows future tensions

Biden and Erdoğan in 2016. Photo: Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Ankara — The incoming Biden administration's foreign policy priorities and worldview will collide with those of the Turkish government on several issues.

Why it matters: The U.S. needs its NATO ally Turkey for its efforts to contain Russia, counter Iran and deal with other crises in the Middle East. But relations between Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are expected to be strained.

Nov 25, 2020 - World

Palestinians prepare charm offensive for Biden

Abbas and Biden in Ramallah in 2010. Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Palestinian leaders are considering several initiatives that they hope will encourage strong relations with the incoming administration and make it easier for Biden to roll back Trump's policies.

Why it matters: After four years of deep crisis in U.S.-Palestinian relations, President Mahmoud Abbas desperately needs to rebuild his standing in Washington.

Nov 25, 2020 - World

Bibi Barometer: Gantz's "submarine affair" probe signals end of pact

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Pool, Gali Tibbon/Getty Images

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz may have put the last nail in the coffin of Israel's power-sharing government when he formed an inquiry panel to probe the "submarine affair," a scandal that has ensnared some of Netanyahu's close advisers and confidants.

Why it matters: For Netanyahu, this is a declaration of war by his coalition partner. The inquiry could lead to the conclusion that Netanyahu mishandled sensitive national security matters and cause him major political damage.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 25, 2020 - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Nov 25, 2020 - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Nov 25, 2020 - World

Soldier faces spying charges in first case of its kind in New Zealand

Photo: New Zealand Defense Force

A soldier based in New Zealand has been charged with spying, the NZ Defense Force confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

Why it matters: The soldier allegedly has ties to far-right extremist groups, per multiple local media reports. They're the first person to face espionage charges in New Zealand.

Nov 24, 2020 - Health

France to end second lockdown after three weeks

Photo: Marc Piasecki via Getty

France will begin a three-stage plan to phase out its second COVID-19 lockdown of the year, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Last week’s virus cases across the country amounted to one-third the number of cases seen in early November, the New York Times reports. Health experts have warned France not to repeat its mistakes from the spring as the nation moves to ease restrictions.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Nov 24, 2020 - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Survey: Underrepresented employees face greater work challenges during pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

People of color, women and LGBTQ+ employees report greater difficulties working during the pandemic, according to a McKinsey report released last week.

Why it matters: Existing inequities have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The disproportionate effects on these communities won't disappear as COVID-19 continues to ravage the world.

Nov 24, 2020 - Health

Scotland becomes first nation to make period products free

Scotland on Tuesday approved legislation that will make menstrual products free across the country for all who require them.

Why it matters: Scotland will be the first nation in the world to make period products fully free and available. The effort is meant to eradicate "period poverty," in which people go without menstrual products due to financial limitations.

U.S.-based Chinese activists targeted by Guo Wengui supporters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In the weeks before the U.S. presidential election, three prominent Chinese activists in the U.S. found their homes surrounded by anonymous protesters who accused them of spying for the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The three activists, who had fled China due to repression from Chinese authorities, now face physical threats on U.S. soil.

America's Chinese communities struggle with online disinformation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Disinformation has proliferated on Chinese-language websites and platforms like WeChat that are popular with Chinese speakers in the U.S., just as it has on English-language websites.

Why it matters: There are fewer fact-checking sites and other sources of reliable information in Chinese, making it even harder to push back against disinformation.

Business activity is plunging in Europe

Data: IHS Markit; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A gauge of business activity in the U.S. continued to soar past pre-pandemic levels, while Europe's lockdown hurt its activity further in November, according to preliminary data from IHS Markit.

Why it matters: The index is a closely watched measure of the manufacturing and services sectors across the globe.

Nov 24, 2020 - World

Pope Francis meets with NBA players to discuss social justice drive

Pope Francis meets with NBA players and officials from the National Basketball Players Association at the Vatican on Monday. Photo: Vatican Media

Pope Francis met with five NBA players and National Basketball Players' Association officials at the Vatican on Monday to discuss their efforts to address "social and economic injustice and inequality," per an NBPA statement.

Driving the news: The pope, who invited the delegation to the Vatican, spoke in support of nonviolent anti-racism protests following the killing of George Floyd in May, and also in an upcoming book.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated Nov 24, 2020 - World

Tracking Biden's first calls to world leaders

Combination images of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: NZ Prime Minister's Office/Instagram/Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One ritual of becoming president-elect is the carousel of congratulatory phone calls with other world leaders.

What to watch: The order in which the calls are returned is watched closely around the world.