World of conflict: Israel & Syria, Abiy's Ethiopia, Peru's presidents, US in Afghanistan

Watch as Ian Bremmer discusses the world in (more than) 60 seconds:

Number one: what do you make of Israeli airstrikes in Syria?

The relationship between Israel and Trump has very little to do with the way the Israeli government defends their perceived national security in the region. This was not just strikes in Syria, it was strikes against Iranian target in Syria, and a lot of them, in response to apparently some improvised explosive devices in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel of course has said it's their territory.


The Trump administration has also said it's their territory. Israel has vast superiority, both in terms of military cyber capabilities and intelligence compared to every other country in the region, and they're willing to use it. And that creates more deterrence. So, the fact that we've seen this before, we'll see it again. And the transition to a Biden administration is going to matter not one wit in terms of that.

Number two: more US troops are leaving Afghanistan, what does that mean for the incoming Biden administration?

Not that much. We're going down from 4,500 to 2,500 troops. That's different from taking all of the American troops out. So, the US is still fighting this forever war that started after 9/11 and is obviously not going to be concluding successfully anytime soon. Let's also keep in mind that there are well over 10,000 US contractors on the ground, many of which are military advisers helping with infrastructure, things like that and working with the Afghan government.

They're not going away. So much of American force is through drone strikes, which has nothing to do with the number of troops on the ground. Those drones coordinated from outside of Afghanistan. Then of course, you've got all the satellite imagery, which not only informs those drone strikes, but also providing real-time intelligence to the Afghan government and other forces on the ground, including from other countries. That's not changing. I mean, I know there's an enormous amount of how possibly could Trump make this announcement. We do need to recognize that Trump lies about all sorts of things. And when he promised that he was going to drain the swamp, of course he did not. And indeed, if you look at his cabinet, you're talking about a bunch of policies that are really awesome for the 0.1% and not so awesome for the average working stiff in the United States.

But if you look about other promises that he made, like trying to end these forever wars, bring the troops back, and reducing immigration into the United States, both of those things, which are also popular with Trump's base, he has actually persisted with and he's persisted with despite an enormous amount of opposition from inside his own administration and from inside the US bureaucracy. And this is one of those places. I've got to say in terms of trying to bring the Afghan war to a close, I'm probably closer to where Trump has been and where Biden is probably going to be than where Obama was or where Hillary Clinton was. In this regard, I think that Biden is not so upset with the idea that there are fewer US troops on the ground in Afghanistan when he takes over.

What's going on in Ethiopia?

A big fight happening between the Tigray who are a small part of the Ethiopian population, less than 10%, but used to basically run the government and the new Ethiopian government run by Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy. He wants to end ethnic federalism. He's gotten rid of these tribal or ethnically driven political parties in favor of his own broader party. He's an ethnic Oromo, that's the largest group in Ethiopia, but they're not getting to run as Oromo. It's trying to create a democracy that's based on the popular will as opposed to us versus them of all of these different ethnic groups that are regionally based and tend to subvert the interests of the other. Remember, representative democracy is very different than majoritarianism or minoritarism, which tends to really be bad for the out group. Problem is that the Tigray are really angry about this and so they've launched military strikes, perhaps more importantly, they decided to hold their own elections and now are saying that they've got their own Tigray government in their own Republic. That's leading to a big fight. We've already seen tens of thousands Tigray refugees streaming into Sudan. There is a difficulty getting humanitarian aid getting in, which has largely been blocked. There's been hundreds dead, probably over a thousand at this point. And the entire effort of Prime Minister Abiy, remember he won the Nobel peace prize, but his ability to make Ethiopia a functional democracy is facing existential challenges right now.

Finally, Peru has had three presidents in a week, what's going on?

Lots of corruption charges, massive economic crisis. Their economy is going to contract by about 20% this year. Congress has gotten rid of a popularly supported president and brought in their own, this impeachment that was driven by Congress, not by the people. That was that's how Vizcarra was forced out. Then you had a very short term, a few days, a new president that was appointed, and was enormously unpopular, and had favored the impeachment, big demonstrations, including a few Peruvians getting killed by the military. That made things worse. So, that president's out. Now we have a new caretaker president who probably won't last very long, but at least opposed the impeachment. So, it makes it more popular on the ground, on the street. Peru's an enormous mess, not just economically - over 50% in majority of Peruvians serving in Congress right now are under some form of investigation. If you think the United States has it bad, you've seen nothing until you go to like Peru, worse than Brazil, worse than the UK, worse than any major democratic government, in terms of governance right now that we can find in the world. That's saying something, it can always get worse.

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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Listen: India's latest COVID explosion hits home as one Delhi-based journalist speaks with Ian Bremmer about her own father's death from the virus. Barkha Dutt has been reporting on the pandemic in India since it began, but nothing could prepare her for the catastrophic second wave that has hit her country in the last few weeks—and that has now shattered her own family. Would her father have survived if the oxygen tank in his ambulance had been working, or if the ambulance hadn't gotten stuck in Delhi traffic?She asks similar questions of her national government. Why was it caught so unprepared by this second wave, well over a year into the pandemic? Why has India, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, been so slow to vaccinate its own citizens? And how much of the blame falls at the feet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

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

What's going on between the United Kingdom and France over fishing rights?

Yes, good question. Why on earth are they sending the Royal Navy to chase away some French fishermen from the island of Jersey? Fishing rights is very controversial. It was one of the key issues in the Brexit negotiations. Extremely divisive. Fishermen are fairly determined people but sending the Royal Navy to handle the French fishermen was somewhat excessive. I guess it played rather well with the English nationalists for Boris Johnson in the local elections, though.

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COVID has officially killed almost 3.5 million people around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. But some public health experts believe that the real number could be more than twice as high, because of challenges to accurately reporting the death toll in many countries around the world. A new study from the University of Washington contends, for example, that actual deaths are nearly 60 percent higher than reported in the US, twice as high in India, more than four times as high in Russia... and a staggering ten times higher than the official tally in Japan. Here's a look at how official figures compare to actual estimated deaths in the 20 countries where COVID has claimed the most lives.

While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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