Israel's election results, US-Iran nuclear talks, and vaccine passports

Ian Bremmer discusses Netanyahu's challenge, the US-Iran nuclear talks, and why vaccine passports are a good idea on this edition of World In 60 Seconds.

Will Israel's Netanyahu be able to successfully form a new government?

Well, he's been given the charge to. I guess he has 28 days to do it. It's a really, really tight equation. He'd have to get both an ultra-right party that's got a bunch of serious Islamophobes in it and a Muslim party to join. I think they're heading for no-such-luck, and the fifth election in just a couple of years. Israel just keep getting it done. Not as much to worry about, given that the pandemic's been handled with all those vaccines, but still quite a problem.


What's the latest on renewed US-Iran nuclear talks?

Well, they're happening. Not together. They're moderated. And, you know, the Americans and Iranians are in separate rooms, but they are engaging. There's a big question about who goes first. Do the Americans have to open sanctions first? The Iranians have to start getting back in the program. How do you sequence it? The Iranians need the Americans a lot more than the Americans need the Iranians. They are moving back towards the old JCPOA that everyone in power would basically like to see back in place. Even though you get criticism domestically against Biden in the US. By the end of the year, latest beginning of next year, you get back into the Iranian nuclear deal. I'll make that call and you'll see another million-ish barrels of Iranian crude on the markets.

Are vaccine passports a good idea?

Yes. Yes, they are. And it is true that this is an additional level of privacy that you won't have. That ship has sailed. The most important thing is that we have a way to track people that are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, and therefore can't transmit the virus and allow the global economy to pick up much, much faster, which is more important to me, frankly. And Lord knows, I've been traveling to a bunch of countries historically that have required me to get jabs. Places like India, Nigeria, Ethiopia. It's not a problem. You get a jab, you show them your vaccine passport. The fact that technologically enabled right now means that the surveillance is going to be more significant.

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University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland says drinking makes us feel good and has historically encouraged socializing. But there are negative implications, as well. We now have the problem of "distillation and isolation": getting as much booze as you want and drinking alone, especially during the pandemic. There's a gender issue too: the "bro culture" associated with alcohol can exclude and even be dangerous for women. Not all regions have the same problems, though, as drinking habits vary widely. Watch Slingerland's interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Delta variant woes, and Lebanon one year after the Beirut blast.

An Olympian refuses to return home to Belarus and an anti-Lukashenko activist has been found dead in Ukraine. What's going on?

Yeah. That anti-Lukashenko activist was found hanged in a park in Kiev. Once again, not exactly likely a suicide. These anti-Lukashenko activists have a way of turning up injured or dead. It's a horrible regime. Their friends are limited largely to the Russians. That's about it. The economic pressure is growing from Europe, from the United States, very coordinated. But the problem is a very hard to do much to Lukashenko when he has not only support of his military, but also the support of most of the workers in the country who aren't prepared to strike because they want to ensure they still have jobs. I expect this is going to continue, but human rights abuses are stacking up. It is nice to see that the Americans and the Europeans are coordinating policy as well as they have been.

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Raisi won't have it easy: The newly "elected" president of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, was officially endorsed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. In his inaugural address, the 60-year-old hardliner pledged to get US sanctions removed and to respond to rising socioeconomic grievances within Iran, but he warned that he wouldn't lash Iran's prosperity or survival to "the will of foreigners." In Iran, the president's role focuses mainly on domestic policy, but with the economy reeling one of Raisi's big early challenges will be to continue complicated talks with the Biden administration to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, which would lead to the US lifting some of the harshest sanctions. Both sides say they want a new deal, and have gone through half a dozen rounds of negotiations already, but they remain at odds over who should make what concessions first. Raisi also pledged to restore Iranians' flagging trust in their government and to improve the economic situation, but in ways that are in line with "revolutionary principles." He'll have his hands full with that. And don't forget that the likely imminent (re)takeover of neighboring Afghanistan by the Taliban — whom Tehran don't like at all — will also occur on Raisi's watch. Good luck, Mr. President, you'll need it.

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It's been 365 days since twin blasts at a Beirut port decimated Lebanon's capital. More than 200 people were killed and some 7,000 were injured, yet accountability has been scarce. There is ample evidence that multiple Lebanese officials knew that ammonium nitrate was being improperly stored at the port. Four high-ranking politicians, including former PM Hassan Diab, have been charged by a Lebanese judge, but they all refuse to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Since then, Lebanon's already-dire economic and financial crises have only intensified. The Lebanese pound, the national currency, has plummeted, losing 90 percent of its value since 2019, when the country's economic crisis erupted. And more than 50 percent of the population is now living below the poverty line.

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The Biden administration is finally devoting more attention to Southeast Asia. Last week US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines, marking the first regional visit by a Biden cabinet official. A trip by Vice President Kamala Harris is already in the works as well, and this week Secretary of State Tony Blinken will meet (virtually) with ASEAN counterparts.

The flurry of activity comes after earlier concerns that President Joe Biden was neglecting Southeast Asia, the region where US-China rivalry is the most intense. To understand better what Austin's visit meant, and what comes next, Eurasia Group's lead Southeast Asia analyst Peter Mumford spoke to us from Singapore.

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158: To boost vaccination rates, New York City will soon require proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test to enter gyms and restaurants, as daily new infections in the Big Apple have jumped 158 percent over the past two weeks due to the more contagious delta variant. New York is the first major US city to take this step, following similar schemes already in place in France and Italy.

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