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Now is the Springtime of Our Discontent

Now is the Springtime of Our Discontent

The cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing that flower anew every spring. Around the world there are several international crises and conflicts that reliably heat up as the weather changes. Here’s a look at three important ones to keep an eye on in the coming months:


In Afghanistan, when the snows melt, the fighting gets worse. The Taliban have already begun their perennial “spring offensive” and fresh violence could doom already fragile hopes for a new political breakthrough. Earlier this year, the weak US-backed Afghan government offered a comprehensive peace to the Taliban, but the group has refused to put down its arms or talk with Kabul until US forces leave the country — which isn’t in the cards. With Islamic State affiliates also increasing attacks, the situation in Afghanistan will only deteriorate further in the coming months.

Warmer weather also means more refugee flows across the Mediterranean to Europe. While those flows have fallen since Italy and Libya reached an accord on controlling migrant smuggling in early 2017, fresh political uncertainty in Libya could make things more difficult this summer, and even a modest uptick in arrivals will ensure that refugee policy remains a hot-button issue across Europe. Nowhere is that more true than in Italy itself, which has yet to form a government after an election defined by anti-immigrant furor.

Lastly, to Nigeria, where clashes between nomadic herders and farmers in the central and southern parts of the country have left nearly 10,000 dead since 2011. Desertification of pasture lands in northern Nigeria has forced herders to stay in central zones deeper into the spring, leading to conflict with local farmers. The violence, which now rivals the war with Boko Haram in severity, is likely to affect Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election — it is concentrated in several swing states. President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking re-election, has been slow to react.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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

Can Europe get to the bottom of Russian opposition leader Navalny's poisoning? And if so, would it change anything?

One has got to the bottom of it, to certain extent. The evidence, there was a German laboratory confirming nerve agent, Novichok. They sent it to a French laboratory and the Swedish independent laboratory, they came to the exact same conclusions. I mean, it's dead certain. He was poisoned with an extremely poisonous nerve agent coming from the Russian state laboratories. Now, there is a discussion underway of what to do. I mean, the Russians are refusing any sort of serious discussions about it. Surprise, surprise. And we'll see what actions will be taken. There might be some sort of international investigation within the context of the OPCW, the international organization that is there, to safeguard the integrity of the international treaties to prevent chemical weapons. But we haven't seen the end of this story yet.

Watch as Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, explains what's going on in technology news:

Would Facebook actually leave Europe? What's the deal?

The deal is that Europe has told Facebook it can no longer transfer data back and forth between the United States and Europe, because it's not secure from US Intelligence agencies. Facebook has said, "If we can't transfer data back and forth, we can't operate in Europe." My instinct, this will get resolved. There's too much at stake for both sides and there are all kinds of possible compromises.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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