Have Iran and China Blinked on Crackdowns? Warnock Pulls Ahead in Georgia
Author: Greg Valliere
December 5, 2022
THE BIGGEST SURPRISE THIS WEEKEND was in Iran, where the Attorney General announced that the country would ban the feared “morality police” and lift the requirement that women must wear hijabs, a policy that has ignited months of violent protests in most Iranian cities.
IRANIAN EXPERTS REACTED cautiously, questioning whether the country’s hard-line ayatollahs are on board, and whether simply changing dress codes would satisfy protesters, who want regime change.
OUR TAKE: Iran is still a huge threat to the region, as it enriches uranium and completes work on a nuclear bomb. And it’s unclear whether these reforms are imminent or just a trial balloon. But young Iranians have forced the beginnings of liberalization, which is very good news.
PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANT FOR THE MARKETS, another authoritarian regime appears to be relenting on its harsh policies — China, where rare protests apparently have pushed the regime toward a less rigid Zero Covid policy.
GOVERNMENTS IN MOST MAJOR CITIES have lifted strict Covid laws such as mandatory testing for anyone who wants to enter public buildings. Significantly, officials in Beijing have begun to state that current Covid infections are less lethal than previously, and that extensive vaccines of the elderly will further suppress Covid.
THESE BRAVE PROTESTS ARE UNLIKELY to result in regime change in Iran or China; that would be too much to hope for. But these protests undoubtedly have been a wake-up call in Beijing and Tehran; the message in today’s world of social media is that it will be extremely difficult to crush dissent.
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ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE IN THIS VOLATILE POLITICAL YEAR, but it increasingly appears that Raphael Warnock (D) will win his hotly disputed Georgia Senate race against Herschel Walker (R). We talked with a friend in Atlanta yesterday who said the issue is whether Warnock wins easily or wins narrowly. The latter seems more likely.
THIS WOULD BE A BIG DEAL for Democrats, not just because it would be another embarrassment for Donald Trump, but because one extra seat would give the party a 51-49 majority and some leverage over mavericks Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
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