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Foreign Policy

Our prime weekend reads

Sweden has long had a kind of healthy global image: home to Ikea, Pippi Longstocking and meatballs in cream sauce. But that reputation took hold during the coronavirus pandemic as the country became a lonely advocate of herd immunity and wavered accordingly. Now the government has put some restrictions in place, but confusion remains about how Swedes should react to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, progressive groups have developed a robust strategy for taking root in the foreign policy ranks of US President-elect Joe Biden.

And a decade after the Arab Spring, a look at the persistence of a permanent, but never completed, revolution.

Here are Foreign policy‘s top weekend reads.

A nurse, wearing personal protective equipment in a tent at the Sophiahemmet private hospital, is doing tests on a patient in Stockholm on April 22 to check for symptoms of COVID-19.Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP via Getty Images

1. Sweden’s second wave is a failure of government – and leadership

Swedes, rocked by a staggering second wave of coronavirus infections, are less against mask recommendations and social distancing guidelines and more against their government’s chronic mixed news – a result of disputes between the Prime Minister and public health official Carl- Johan Karlsson writes.

President-elect Joe Biden gives a thumbs up as he leaves Pennsylvania Hospital after a follow-up appointment with the Radiology Department in Philadelphia on December 12th. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

2. Progressives try to influence Biden on key foreign policy jobs

Although Progressives recently won several key positions in Biden’s cabinet, their foreign policy team is still fairly established. But the left isn’t worried yet – cabinet posts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to political appointments and they have a plan to take root on a lower level, reports Jack Detsch of FP.

A man mourns the loss of seven family members who were killed on February 2 in the town of Sarmin, northern Syria’s Idlib province, in a house hit by pro-regime forces in a reported air strike.Omar Haj Kadour / AFP via Getty Images

3. Betrayed by their leaders, failed by the West, Arabs still want democracy

The Arab Spring was less of a coordinated, democratic movement than a series of local struggles against decades of failed governance. Ten years later, the fact that these struggles instead provoked further repression is an indictment not only of brutal Arab dictatorships but also of the western countries who adopt them, writes Oz Katerji.

A young man pushes a cart in front of Tigrayan flags in Martyrs’ Square in the city of Mekelle, Ethiopia, on September 9th. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP via Getty Images

4th The war in Tigray is a struggle for Ethiopia’s past – and future

There are fears that the burgeoning civil war in Ethiopia could lead to one of the largest state collapses in modern history. This is ironic in view of what the conflict is about: Not whether Ethiopia should exist, but how it should be governed, writes Teferi Mergo.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on June 14, 2019. VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO / AFP via Getty Images

5. China will not save Iran

China is making progress in Iran. However, observers shouldn’t worry about the prospect of a robust alliance between Beijing and Tehran. China cares far more about wooing the West than wooing Iran, and it will not risk further US sanctions by saving Iran from its own financial peril, writes Wang Xiyue.

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