Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire may not hold but direct war is unlikely

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Let's go. Number one. What are the chances the Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire holds?

Well, I mean, in this environment, a hold is virtually zero. There's very little restraint on the ground. Local, military leaders, especially in the autonomous region of Karabakh, aren't necessarily listening to everything that the Armenian government has to say. One shot, one drone leads to more. And, there is no process by which the Armenians and the Azeri leadership can say that, "They're winning, yet." And so, that makes it hard. But the fact that the Russians are engaging, we had trilateral talks with the Armenians and the Azeris, the Russians matter the most here. They're the ones that have ensured, some level of frozen instability between the two. There's been significant behind the scene's engagement in Moscow with diplomats, from both sides. And, I think the Russians have made very clear to the Turks at this point, that the Turks are not going to get a leadership seat in the Minsk group, broader negotiations. And, that the Russians would not tolerate a broader expansion of the war that threatened Armenian territorial integrity itself, as opposed to Nagorno-Karabakh. If they were to do that, the Russians would come in and defend Armenia. So, a lot of people are dying, certainly in the high hundreds, at this point. We've got nearly a hundred thousand additional people displaced. This is a horrible thing to see happen, but it's not the tipping point of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.


I do think that there needs to be new reinvigorated negotiations. The fact is, that the Armenians presently hold, not just Karabakh, which is the territory that had been given to Azerbaijan by Stalin but is mostly Armenian. And, that was taken by the Armenians after the Soviet Union collapsed, that's not going to change. That's kind of like the Crimea situation between Russia and Ukraine. But there's also been territories around Karabakh. There are Azeri territories that the Armenians have occupied as a buffer zone. And, there has to be an ability to get off of that, to negotiate a way from that. I also think that if there are more people killed on both sides, not only is it harder for both sides to climb down, but the potential for the Armenian say to formally recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Armenian territory, which makes the Azeris harder to climb down their own leadership, and weakens, presently if that's real. So, there is positioning, it's not just about the fact that this is still going to be a frozen conflict, and we know what the contours of the eventual solution will be. But, it's also that you have two leaders in place, that can't be seen as losing, these of these, the other on an issue that is incredibly important for them. I don't see an either one has provided significant diplomatic support, looks like some mercenaries, and some direct military support, but I can't see in any way, the Turkish military directly intervening on the Azeri side. So again, even though this is horribly damaging from humanitarian perspective, I would personally be really stunned to see this lead into Armenia, Azerbaijan direct war.

Okay. What's happening with Britain's new coronavirus lockdown measures?

Well, as you probably know, the United Kingdom has some of the highest levels of cases, per capita in the world, right now. This was a UK that originally was letting the virus rip through the country, and just going to protect the older people. That didn't work. They had to lock down. They then started opening up, and the cases have now gone up a lot. Boris Johnson has had to start locking down. Again, they didn't want to, they said, "They weren't going to." They now have this three-tier system between medium, high, and very high of alert systems. And, that's going across the country. But it's really hurting the poor North the most, that have the biggest transmission per capita, and are being locked down the hardest. Obviously, that's creating an enormous amount of agitation against Boris Johnson, both inside his own conservative party; and also providing more support for the labor party in the country. He doesn't have to run for elections anytime soon, but this is a real problem. If you are Boris Johnson and the UK right now, it's going to hurt their economy much worse, than pretty much any other economy in Europe, certainly more than the United States. Also, gives him more incentive, the silver lining, not to accept a no deal hard out. They're in World Trade Organization land, with Europeans at the end of this year. So, a little more likely they end up with a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Always got to be a silver lining.

Does the Taliban really support Donald Trump?

Well, I mean support. Do they like American leaders? No, of course they don't. They don't like the Americans. They would rather, the Americans leave. They like Trump more than Biden, because Trump's the guy that's been pushing to end the war, as far, as fast as possible, even against the interests of the military leaders, and advisors inside the Pentagon; as well as many American allies. Some have claimed that Trump is cutting and running, but of course this war has been going on for decades now. Most Americans really tired of it; the costs, the lack of success, the human costs. I mean, all of this is deeply problematic. And so, if you're the Taliban, and the United States has facilitated both direct talks, multilateral talks, a peace deal, but is also saying, "Irrespective of what happens, we're ending the war, we're pulling out." Well, if you're the Taliban, all you have to do is hunker down, pretend you're engaged in negotiations. And once the Americans are out, you can do what you want. So absolutely, the Taliban are happier with Trump, than they would be with Biden.

Now, there has been a big flap about whether or not the Taliban endorsed President Trump. I don't think the Taliban is really in the practice of formally endorsing leaders. But there was a CBS interview a few days ago, with the Taliban leadership and their spokesperson that said that, "Trump would be better for them." And, there was a senior official in the Taliban that said that, "He wants Trump to win," even though originally that was reported as the Taliban formal spokesperson said that, "They endorsed Trump." So, I mean, there's a lot of noise around this. None of it really matters. But I understand why it made a bunch of news. And, the reality is that the United States is getting out of Afghanistan, and President Trump has done more to accomplish that, than others. Not a surprise, the Taliban finds that that kind of a vacuum is useful. But at the end of the day, the relationship between any U.S. President and the Taliban, is going to be pretty strange. By the way, kind of like the Chinese, kind of like the Russians, kind of like the Iranians, it's interesting that individual U.S. Presidents may say very different things, but their ability to fundamentally move the needle, is a lot less on these issues. There a lot more constrained, than is widely reported.

Advancing global money movement for everyone, everywhere

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=?

Even with innovations in fintech and digital payments, roadblocks related to basic infrastructure like electricity and internet connectivity still prevent many migrant workers from being able to transfer money to their families back home with a truly digital end-to-end flow. While more workers can send money digitally today, the majority of people still receive funds in cash. Read more about why public-private partnerships are key to advancing the future of global money movement and why it matters from experts at the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

More Show less

Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.


The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

More Show less

How will artificial intelligence change the world and especially the job market by 2041? AI scientist Kai-fu Lee just wrote a book about precisely that, and he predicts it'll shake up almost every major industry. AI, he explains, will be most disruptive to many so-called "routine" occupations, but the damage may be reduced by shifting "empathetic" workers to jobs that require human empathy. Watch his interview on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson believes in tech firms doing business in China because connecting with people there is a huge social good for the world. But in demanding LinkedIn de-platform certain people, he says, the Chinese government crossed a line, and "you can't justify that."

Watch Ian Bremmer's interview with Nicholas Thompson in an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Sectarian clashes in Lebanon: As Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, were on their way to a protest in Beirut Thursday, gunfire broke out, evidently between Hezbollah militants and those of the Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. The protesters were rallying against the ongoing state probe into last year's devastating twin blasts at a Beirut port, saying that state authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. They have called for the dismissal of Judge Tarek Bitar — who is leading the probe and on Monday issued an arrest warrant for a prominent Shiite parliamentarian linked to Amal. Each side has blamed the other for starting the violence Thursday, which killed at least six people, injured dozens more, and threw the entire city into a panic. In a grim omen, the clashes, which are among the worst in recent years, erupted along one of the old front lines (dividing Muslim and Christian neighborhoods) of the 15-year sectarian civil war that devastated the country up until 1990. With the country mired in economic and political crises, the people of Lebanon can't seem to catch a break: just last week the country was plunged into complete darkness when its decrepit power grid ran out of fuel. Meanwhile, Najib Mikati, who became prime minister designate in July after months of political deadlock, declared a "day of mourning," but civil strife continues.

More Show less

35.4: The US has overtaken China as the country with the largest share of the world's Bitcoin mining networks, now accounting for 35.4 of the global mining presence. This comes after the Chinese government banned domestic cryptocurrency mining operations to promote its own digital yuan that would track every single transaction.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal