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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.

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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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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