Afghanistan

Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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What We're Ignoring

Kim Jong Un's "invincible" military: North Korea's supreme leader is desperate for American attention these days. At the same time he's showing the South a little more love, Kim is lashing out at the US, now vowing to build an "invincible" army to defend his country from American hostility. The supreme leader, who just two weeks ago tested his first hypersonic missile, is doubling down on his strategy of getting more — and more powerful — weapons to convince President Joe Biden to stop ghosting him and return to the negotiating table. But it hasn't worked so far, and unless Kim has a bigger ace up his sleeve, the talks will remain frozen — as will North Korea's hopes of getting the US to lift economic sanctions in place because of Pyongyang's nuclear program.

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When Zoe Marshall decided to switch careers in her forties and become a fishmonger, she was scared. After leaving her job of 23 years, Zoe was forced to pivot in order to keep her family's home. Despite challenges, she forged ahead, opening Sea-Licious. Accepting Visa payments in her fishmonger shop, this access to commerce helps Zoe provide convenience to her customers and confidence in their transactions. Though she's one of the only women in the fish market each morning, her business and its place in the local community are flourishing with Visa's help.

Learn more about Zoe and her story.

Moderna plans African vaccine hub: Vaccine maker Moderna will spend $500 million to build a new facility in Africa that can produce 500 million annual doses of the company's COVID jab, which along with Pfizer, uses complex mRNA technology that can't be easily transferred. (Pfizer is already constructing a similar vaccine hub for local production in South Africa). Indeed, this is great news for the continent, where barely 4 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, due to lack of supplies coming in from wealthy donor countries and the COVAX facility. What's more, Moderna plans to use its hub to develop other vaccines against other infectious diseases rife across Africa like Zika or regular influenza. Still, the facility won't be ready for at least two more years, so in the near term African countries will continue relying on foreign suppliers to inoculate their populations against COVID, prolonging the pandemic.

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After four long years of Donald Trump's bull-in-a-china-shop approach to foreign policy, Joe Biden says: America is back. But was it actually true? Some major foreign policy snafus so far have thrown America's renewed global standing into question. The French government had such high hopes for the Biden folks that AUKUS felt like such a betrayal. A botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan facilitated the near-instant Taliban takeover after 20 years of American occupation. The next true test to America's global standing will be COP26 , the most consequential climate summit since Paris in 2015, because leaders are now looking to avoid environmental catastrophe. China, the world's largest carbon emitter, must be on board. Ian Bremmer explores the question: is America's credibility irreparably damaged no matter what Biden, or any future president, says or does?

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Biden's rocky start on foreign policy

When Kabul fell in August — as Taliban fighters swarmed Kabul and Afghan civilians tried to escape by clinging to the last departing planes — many Americans recalled a similar scene from half a century earlier: the 1975 Fall of Saigon, which marked the Vietnam War's end.

The coincidence is more than just a matter of spectacle. In clear, disturbing ways, the United States's failed campaign in Afghanistan mirrors the Vietnam effort some 50 years ago.

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These are exciting times for Qatar. The tiny but fabulously wealthy Gulf state has been providing the US and other Western powers with invaluable assistance in dealing with a newly ascendant Taliban in Afghanistan. It is preparing to hold its first elections next month, and next year it will host the FIFA World Cup, international soccer's biggest stage and the second most-watched global sporting event after the Olympics.

Qatar has been very successful in raising its international profile in recent years, but it is now finding that this success brings challenges of its own. We talked with Eurasia Group Middle East analyst Sofia Meranto to find more about what's happening in the country.

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the US Senate hearing on Afghanistan, French President Macron's popularity, and China's hostage diplomacy.

As top US military officials testify right now on Capitol Hill, just down the road, do you expect the Biden administration to suffer any long-term consequences for its botched Afghanistan withdrawal?

The answer is yes, but at the margins. I still think Biden will be most remembered overwhelmingly for how he handles the pandemic as well as for the three trillion plus dollars that will likely, but not certainly, get passed to pay for infrastructure and improve the social contract in the US. On both, he has been taking hits. Certainly the former has not gone well in terms of the pandemic response and on balance, I still think that means that the House in midterm elections is going to flip fairly solidly Republican. Means that they understand they have a narrow window to get policy done. Okay. That's it.

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