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Four Big Protests to Watch Now

Four Big Protests to Watch Now

From the bloodied streets of Baghdad to the umbrella-filled parks of Hong Kong, from Haiti to Ukraine, and Bolivia to Zimbabwe, protesters are out in force in just about every region of the world right now. Here's a look at four of the biggest protests going on today.


Iraq: Deadlier by the day– Tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators poured onto the streets of Baghdad and other cities, demanding an end to corruption and high unemployment. The uprising, the first since Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi came to power a year ago, has been spontaneous and driven chiefly by young people. Most of them have no memory of Saddam Hussein's brutal reign, and they resent not having benefited from the stability that was supposed to come after years of sectarian violence and military occupation. The government has responded with a brutal clampdown that's further inflamed public rage: at least 110 people have been killed and scores injured. Even if Abdul Mahdi falls, will a subsequent government be able to meet these expectations?

Haiti: On the brink of crisis – It's been four weeks since thousands of people flooded the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. They're outraged over political corruption, soaring inflation and shortages of basic supplies including fuel and food. Some 2.6 million Haitians were vulnerable to food shortages before the protests began, but demonstrators' barricades of large rocks and burning tires have cut off the flow of goods and humanitarian aid to many of Haiti's already-struggling localities. As government forces respond with a heavier hand, and protests turn deadlier – at least 17 have been killed and 200 injured –schools remain closed for 2 million pupils. If the status-quo continues, a full-blown humanitarian crisis could ensue, the United Nation warns.

Hong Kong: Not going anywhere – What began 18 weeks ago as pushback to a now-withdrawn extradition bill, has evolved into a pro-democracy movement opposing Beijing's encroachment on the semi-autonomous territory's unique freedoms. The rallies have grown violent in recent weeks, with protesters setting fires and, in some instances, using petrol bombs. Meanwhile, last week, police used lethal force for the first time. The temperature has risen further since Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's Chief Executive, used colonial-era emergency powers to ban face masks at public gatherings. The gas-mask clad movement appears more emboldened than ever, but Hong Kong's government shows no signs of backing down either: over the weekend, Lam issued a not so veiled threat that Beijing could intervene to quash the protests. But China's President Xi Jinping faces a big choice: doing nothing risks the appearance of weakness, while cracking down could ruin one of the world's main financial hubs.

Algeria: Swapping cronies isn't enough – It's been eight months since protesters took to the streets demanding the ouster of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The 82-year old was kicked out in April after 20 years at the helm, replaced by a military-backed government run by army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah. Protesters say they won't stop until a civilian democracy is installed, but so far, the political and military strongmen considered to be Algeria's true power brokers, known as "le pouvoir" (the power), have refused to make real concessions. An election is slated for December, but protesters have rejected it, saying it won't be free or fair as long as Bouteflika's cronies maintain positions in the government. Thousands of protesters continue to flood the streets, and the government appears determined to keep a firm grip on power: In July, 18 protesters were arrested and put on trial for "undermining national unity." The regime says it's in a transition period and working on reforms. But people on the streets merely see the replacement of one corrupt regime with another.

Where do these protests ever lead? Last month we wrote about the resurgence of protests among Egypt's youth. But that was swiftly quashed. And France's once-potent Yellow Vest movement has also fizzled. Protests are one thing. Systemic change is another.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

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Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

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In the fall of 2019, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world, Ian Bremmer asked Dr. Fauci what kept him up at night and he described a "a pandemic-like respiratory infection." Fast-forward to late February 2021 and Dr. Fauci tells Ian, "I think we are living through much of that worst nightmare." Dr. Fauci returns to GZERO World to take stock of the nightmare year and to paint a picture of what the end of the pandemic could look like—and when it could finally arrive.

Catch the full episode of GZERO World, where Dr. Fauci discusses the latest in vaccine roll out, schools re-openings, and plenty more, on US public television stations nationwide, beginning Friday, February 26. Check local listings.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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