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Balance of Payments and Balance of Power

Balance of Payments and Balance of Power

When a country suffers a balance of payments crisis (an inability to pay back its foreign debts), it’s invariably painful for many of its citizens and creditors. But in some cases, it can also produce geopolitical shockwaves. If Turkey’s economic crisis worsens and the combative Erdogan looks abroad to change the subject from his own failings, keep an eye on three things:

First, to Syria – in the northwest, Bashar al-Assad’s forces are moving to crush the last rebel holdouts in Idlib province, where Turkish troops have crossed the border to set up their own observation posts; while in the north, tensions could flare again between Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish forces whom Ankara considers terrorists.

Second, if Erdogan does look for an external lifeline, his choice about whom to ask will be fraught with geopolitical overtones, as the IMF, Russia, China, and Qatar may all emerge as potential backstops, each with its own agenda, conditions, and geopolitical connotations.

Lastly, don’t forget that more than 3 million Syrian refugees are still housed in Turkey under a deal between Ankara and Brussels in which the EU helps to pay for their lodging and care. Letting even a small number of those people attempt to cross into Europe could quickly inflame what are already volatile European politics surrounding migrant policy.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the Tsar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

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A body blow for Pakistan's Prime Minister: Imran Khan suffered an embarrassing defeat this week when members of the National Assembly, the country's lower house, voted to give the opposition bloc a majority in the Senate. (In Pakistan, lower house legislators and provincial assemblies elect senators in a secret ballot.) The big drama of it all is that Khan's own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party holds a lower house majority, which means that lawmakers supposedly loyal to his party voted in secret for opposition candidates. Khan's allies claim that PTI members were bribed to support the opposition, and the prime minister says he will ask for a lower house vote of confidence in his leadership. That vote will not be secret, but even if he survives, the political damage is done. Without a Senate majority, he has no chance of passing key reform plans, including constitutional amendments meant to centralize financial and administrative control in the federal government. Khan has, however, refused to resign.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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