Guns for Bosnia

Guns for Bosnia

Here’s a story we need to keep an eye on. When the Dayton Peace Accords halted war in 1995, a destroyed Bosnia was divided into two parts: an ethnic Serb enclave called Republika Srpska and a Bosnian-Croat federation next door. Not everyone loved the arrangement, but it was the best way to reach a much-needed peace. In March of this year, a shipment of 2,500 automatic rifles is scheduled to arrive in Republika Srpska. Bad news?


Republika Srpska says it needs the weapons to fight terrorists. Reports say Russians will be training officers in how to use them. Local authorities deny that, but there is certainly a close relationship between Republika Srpska and Moscow. Local Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik has met with Vladimir Putin half a dozen times in less that four years. He has also cultivated ties with a sanctioned Russian paramilitary motorcycle gang called the Night Wolves.

Why might Russia be interested in Republika Srpska? Moscow is unhappy that the neighboring country of Montenegro joined NATO last June, and surely wants to prevent Bosnia from doing the same. One way to keep Bosnia off balance is to raise the temperature among Serb separatists in Republika Srpska.

Your Friday author can personally attest that Bosnia is a beautiful but politically fragile country with a troubled history that’s very much alive. The conflict that cost so many lives there in the 1990s was not so much ended as frozen. The entry of more weapons into Republika Srpska, at a time when Bosnia is struggling with the highest youth unemployment rate of in the world, could melt that stability fast. There’s a real risk of renewed violence here.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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