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Guns of August: Ongoing Wars Around the World

Guns of August: Ongoing Wars Around the World

The potential for renewed political and ethnic violence in Kashmir may be the most important news today, but there are several other places where war is already raging. In honor of one of the great works of 20th century political and military history, Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August, here's a quick look at some of the worst, or most intractable, conflicts in the world today.

Yemen – The five-year-old war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and government forces backed by Saudi Arabia (with help from the US) has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Despite recent steps towards peace, this conflict — a major flashpoint in the Iran-Saudi rivalry—threatens to spill beyond Yemen's borders as Houthis step up rocket attacks on Saudi Arabia.


Syria – A conflict that began with protests against Bashir al Assad's government in 2011 has killed about 400,000 people, driven 5.6 million from the country, and made internal refugees of another 6 million. Assad, with support from Russia and Iran, has won the war. But repeated attacks on Idlib Province, the last rebel stronghold, continues to kill civilians, including children. The United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, al Qaeda, and various militia groups have all been directly or indirectly involved in the fighting.

Libya – Since the death of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has descended into civil war. A UN-recognized Government of National Accord rules in Tripoli. A rival government led by General Khalifa Haftar controls much of the country's east. Each side controls oil fields within its territory, and each has its own central bank. Haftar's bid to capture Tripoli has (so far) failed, but it has killed more than 1,000 people, including more than 100 civilians, since April. The UN estimates that 1.3 million people need urgent humanitarian help.

Ukraine – Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists have fought to a stalemate in the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. Fighting has killed more than 10,000 people. Moscow has used the conflict to try to pressure Ukraine's government into a rewrite of its constitution that would give regional governors in these provinces—and therefore Moscow—veto power over Ukraine's national foreign and trade policies. Russia's intervention has blocked some moves by Ukraine to move toward the EU and NATO, but has not returned Ukraine to Russia's orbit. Despite a recent ceasefire, sporadic fighting continues.

Democratic Republic of Congo – The victory of opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi in presidential elections last year sparked hopes of a path to end a quarter century of violence that has displaced 4.5 million people. But over one hundred armed groups continue to wreak havoc in the eastern part of the country in a conflict fueled by access to the country's lucrative mineral reserves. Meanwhile, the DRC struggles with a year-old Ebola outbreak that has been declared a Global Health Emergency.

Afghanistan – The longest war in US history continues, 18 years after Washington first sent troops to crush the Taliban, who still control much of the country. Hundreds of civilians are still losing their lives every month. Amid fresh peace talks, Washington is currently trying to convince the Taliban to engage directly with the enfeebled Kabul government, something the militants have thus far refused to do. The Trump administration wants out — but can Washington broker something that achieves that objective without giving away too much?

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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