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.
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?
<p><strong>In recent years, the Chinese leadership has actively engaged</strong> <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-china/afghan-rivals-to-meet-in-china-after-us-talks-stall-idUSKBN1X20C7" target="_blank">both</a> the Western-backed government in Kabul and — given the likelihood they will eventually regain some degree of political power — <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/69110b85-bce9-45cb-a2f4-eadcd3edc6e3" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Taliban fighters</a>, in hopes of ending the never-ending conflicts that have long made Afghanistan ungovernable. </p><p><strong>China has good reason to become more deeply involved.</strong> Afghanistan shares a short border with China's mainly Muslim Xinjiang region, and Beijing has long feared that instability in Afghanistan, heightened as the US and NATO prepare to withdraw troops, might allow Uighur separatists to use Afghan territory as a <a href="https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/uyghur-factor-china-perceives-afghanistan-threat" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">base for military operations</a>. China also sees Afghanistan as an arena in which to promote stronger commercial and security ties with its Pakistani ally and gain advantage on its Indian rival. </p><p>Most importantly, Afghanistan offers major new economic opportunities for China via potential expansion across Afghan territory of China's <a href="https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/chinas-massive-belt-and-road-initiative" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Belt and Road</a> infrastructure development project. Beyond the interest of Chinese companies in its <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/China-Buys-into-Afghanistan-Erica-Downs.pdf" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">mineral wealth</a>, Afghanistan is China's <a href="https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/slowly-but-surely-china-is-moving-into-afghanistan-24276" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">direct overland path to the Middle East</a>. It could also become part of the <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/beijing-cautiously-ramps-up-belt-and-road-dreams-in-pakistan-afghanistan/30862796.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">China-Pakistan Economic Corridor</a>, a project of central economic and geopolitical importance for Belt and Road. </p><p><strong>Deeper Chinese involvement might bring all kinds of good things for Afghanistan.</strong> All of the country's factions know China has staying power and a willingness to spend that others won't match. If China can persuade Afghanistan's government, the Taliban leadership, and local warlords that a sustainable power-sharing deal might make them all rich, it could bring a degree of stability that no foreign occupier can. Belt and Road could provide badly-needed infrastructure and the trade and investment opportunities that come with them. </p><p><strong>And that's great… unless you're an Afghan who needs outside powers to try to force powerful locals to respect your rights.</strong> As we've written in the past, <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/05/crucial-moment-womens-rights-afghanistan" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Afghanistan's women</a> in particular face a precarious existence in a world where the fundamentalist Taliban exert major influence. Women and girls stand to lose <a href="https://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan/gender-participant-training" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">significant gains in health and education</a> made over the past two decades if Taliban promises to preserve them prove empty. Whatever high-minded rhetoric is written into diplomatic deals between China and Afghan factions, protections for human rights inside Afghanistan will never be a Chinese priority. </p><p><strong>Or maybe it's all a mirage.</strong> Before China commits to big long-term investments — economic, political, and theoretically military if Chinese assets are threatened — its leadership must calculate whether engagement is a sustainable strategy. What if Afghan power brokers eventually decide they'd rather fight over spoils than keep the peace in their common interest? What if Taliban leaders can't control every Taliban faction? What if mounting debt, for both Pakistan and Afghanistan, make expanded regional infrastructure investment too risky? </p><p>Over the years, China's leaders have seen Britons, Europeans, Russians, and Americans stuck in Afghanistan without an exit strategy. Those are mistakes no one in Beijing is eager to repeat.</p>
More Show less
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.
<p><strong>What's happening in Georgia?</strong></p><p>Well, turmoil in Georgia is very much a result of the Salvador authoritarian instincts that is there in the ruling Georgia Dream coalition or party that is led by the oligarch Ivanishvili. Then there has been an escalation of confrontation and this led to the verdict by a court against the leader of the opposition. The prime minister resigned over the question of whether he should be arrested. A new hard-line prime minister was put in place and the leader of opposition has been arrested. There's a reason to be very concerned with where Georgia is heading</p>
More Show less
February 25, 2021
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.
February 25, 2021
Egypt and Sudan want some dam help: Cairo and Khartoum have called on the US, EU, and UN to intervene in their ongoing dispute with neighboring Ethiopia over that country's construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the Nile. Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream of Ethiopia and worry about their farmers losing water, want binding targets and dispute resolution mechanisms, while Ethiopia, which sees the dam as a critical piece of its economic future, wants more flexibility and has given little ground in talks. Efforts by the African Union to mediate have failed as Ethiopia presses ahead with filling the dam even after being sanctioned by the Trump administration last year for doing so. The dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as it is called, has threatened to spill into military conflict at several points in recent years. Can the "international community" turn things around?
<p><strong>US airstrike on Iran-backed militias: </strong>On Thursday, President Biden<a href="https://gzeromedia.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=7404e6dcdc8018f49c82e941d&id=9f47879c00&e=5c2c4c0008" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="" target="_blank"> ordered </a>an airstrike against "multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups," according to the US military. The US side has called this a "proportionate military response" to three rocket attacks launched from Syria on US forces in Iraq. The first of those three attacks killed an American civilian contractor and wounded five others. If Iran is testing the new US president, this strike is meant to signal that the US will hit back if tested, but still hopes both sides can de-escalate. We'll be watching to see how many more punches Iran's proxies in Syria want to throw before Washington and Tehran <a href="https://gzeromedia.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=7404e6dcdc8018f49c82e941d&id=0dd37526bb&e=5c2c4c0008" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="" target="_blank">move to restart</a> nuclear talks.</p><p><strong>India-Pakistan ceasefire:</strong> <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/pakistan-versus-india-nuclear-powers-by-the-numbers-2630284489" target="_self">Longtime foes</a> India and Pakistan have<a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/25/india-pakistan-agree-to-stop-cross-border-firing-in-kashmir" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> agreed</a> to a ceasefire in the predominantly Muslim area of Kashmir for the first time in almost two decades. (A 2003 ceasefire along the <a href="https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-between-india-and-pakistan" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Line of Control</a> was consistently violated.) In theory, this means that armed forces from both South Asian nations have agreed to stop exchanging fire across the border by midnight Friday, in a bid to end a low-grade conflict that's killed hundreds of locals and military personnel over the past few decades. Relations between the two sides have long been hostile but soured further in 2019 when New Delhi blamed Islamabad for a terror attack that killed 30 Indian military personnel, resulting in a series of tit-for-tat attacks and cross-border skirmishes. The row between the two nuclear powers went from bad to worse that same year, when India <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/31/india-strips-kashmir-of-special-status-and-divides-it-in-two" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">revoked </a>Kashmir's special status in an attempt to integrate the region into India, irking Islamabad and sparking an uptick in violence. However, the two sides have committed to halting hostilities and sorting out the status of disputed Kashmir before — it would be a massive feat if they can pull it off this time around. </p><strong>Coup in Armenia?</strong> Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused the army of <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56194421" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">attempting to stage a coup</a> after the military establishment called on him to step down over the PM's alleged foreign policy blunders in the <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/war-in-the-south-caucasus" target="_self">Nagorno-Karabakh conflict</a> with <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-graphic-truth-how-do-azerbaijan-and-armenia-stack-up" target="_blank">Azerbaijan</a>. The PM — who has been <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-illiberals-veto-eu-budget-bangladeshs-all-female-cop-unit-armenian-pm-in-trouble" target="_self">under pressure to resign for months</a> over his ill-fated decision to surrender some territory to the Azeris in order to stop the conflict and ensure a longterm truce — responded by firing the head of the armed forces. Meanwhile, thousands of Pashinyan's supporters heeded his call to turn up on the streets of the capital, Yerevan, where they were met by a similar number of <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/unrest-in-armenia-after-claims-of-attempted-coup/31121396.html" target="_blank">anti-government demonstrators</a>. With the two main opposition parties supporting the army's demand for the PM to call it quits, Pashinyan is fast running out of options to stay in power. Meanwhile, of the two main outside players involved in Nagorno-Karabakh, so far Turkey has <a href="https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkey-condemns-coup-attempt-in-armenia/2156830" target="_blank">condemned</a> the coup attempt, while Russia has kept mum. Indeed, Pashinyan's political survival could in part depend on Russia, which has forces and military bases in Armenia. What will Vladimir Putin do?
More Show less