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Hong Kong: Not going anywhere – What began 18 weeks ago as pushback to a now-withdrawn extradition bill, has evolved into a pro-democracy movement opposing Beijing's encroachment on the semi-autonomous territory's unique freedoms.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.

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"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truckloads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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500: Fuel shortages in conflict-ridden Haiti are putting many hospital patients at risk. If fuel isn't delivered ASAP, UNICEF says around 500 people – including children and COVID patients – are at very high risk of deterioration. Supplies and deliveries have been disrupted for weeks because of heightened gang activity in the country.

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Sort of, but governments haven't lost all control yet. On the one hand, The Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson says that governments can still push tech companies for transparency in their algorithms, while Microsoft has partnered with the US government to together fight hackers "so the company is seen as a champion for freedom and democracy." On the other, over time Thompson expects tech firms in the US and China to gradually become more powerful as the state becomes less powerful toward them. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Big Tech: Global sovereignty, unintended consequences

As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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