TROUBLE FOR THE CROWN PRINCE

TROUBLE FOR THE CROWN PRINCE

There are intriguing signals from Riyadh this week that some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful men are feeling the heat. On Tuesday, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz boarded a plane in London, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was there to meet him when he landed in Riyadh. Here’s why that’s a big deal:


  • Prince Ahmed is the last-surviving full brother of King Salman.

  • Years ago, Prince Ahmed hoped to one day succeed his brother as king. Instead, King Salman named his son Mohammad bin Salman, known widely as MBS, as his next in line.

  • In response, Prince Ahmed moved to London, where he has reportedly criticized both the king and crown prince over Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen.

  • MBS doesn’t appreciate criticism. That’s the subtext behind speculation that he may have ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

  • Nor does MBS want to share power. That’s the message of his move last year to detain a number of powerful princes and some of the kingdom’s most powerful businessmen, and his broader consolidation of control over the kingdom’s interior ministry and national guard.

This raises a couple of interesting questions. Is Prince Ahmed’s return from exile a signal from King Salman that power will now be shared among senior family members rather than concentrated in the hands of MBS? It seems unlikely Prince Ahmed would have risked a return from exile without some guarantee of safety. And if King Salman still intends that his son will be the next king, how secure can Prince Ahmed feel about his future inside the kingdom?

This curious manoeuvring comes at a time when the Saudi government faces heavier foreign pressure than at any time since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

First, the Turkish government refuses to allow the Khashoggi murder to fall from front pages. On Wednesday, Turkey issued its first official statement on the killing: “In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia.” The body was then dismembered “again, in line with advance plans.” This won’t be the last word we hear from Turkey on this story.

Second, the US and UK governments called this week for an immediate halt to the war in Yemen and for all parties to the conflict to join UN-led peace talks within 30 days. This is a direct rebuke to MBS, with whom President Trump appears to have good relations, because MBS has taken direct ownership of a Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen that fuels a crisis in which, according to the UN, as many as 14 million Yemenis face risk of starvation.

The bottom line: These stories touches on three crucial elements of the Saudi story: Succession, an aggressive Saudi foreign policy, and reform within the kingdom. For now, it still seems unlikely that MBS will have his wings clipped in a lasting way. But fallout from the Khashoggi murder, domestic and international, continues to mount.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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