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A WFP official looks on as UN-chartered ship carrying Ukrainian wheat docks in Djibouti.

Hugh Rutherford/WFP/Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Africa got grain, Ukraine counteroffensive, CCP save the date

Ukrainian grain arrives in Africa

Finally, some more good food news. The first cargo of Ukrainian grain to Africa since the Russian invasion docked Tuesday in Djibouti en route to famished Ethiopia. The UN-chartered ship carries 23,000 metric tons of wheat, enough to feed some 1.5 million Ethiopians for a month. But the drought-stricken country needs a lot more, particularly amid an ongoing civil war in the northern Tigray region that’s caused a humanitarian crisis. What's more, neighboring Somalia and Kenya are also at risk of famine due to the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in 40 years. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, UN food agencies got three-quarters of their grain from Ukraine, so they've had to scale down their operations in the region right when food aid is most needed. The UN-brokered deal for Russia to resume grain shipments from Ukraine's Black Sea ports is slowly bringing down global food prices, which were soaring in part because until recently 20 million metric tons of grain meant for export were stuck in Ukraine. It also offers relief to African nations, many of which have been hit hard by rising food prices stemming from the war between the Sunflower Superpowers. Food shipments are coming, but they are slow — especially for the 22 million people across the Horn of Africa who are at risk of starvation.

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Former US President Donald Trump

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

What We’re Watching: Mar-a-Lago  "under siege," US pitches Africa, Italy’s left falters, Greek spy scandal

Trump claims FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago

Former US President Donald Trump said Monday that the Feds were searching his sprawling residence in Palm Beach, Florida. In a statement, Trump complained that his swanky Mar-a-Lago estate is "currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents." If his claim is true, the raid would be a big escalation in efforts by the Department of Justice to investigate the former president for trying to overturn the 2020 election result and inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC that resulted in several deaths. It could also be related to a separate DOJ probe into 15 boxes of classified documents that Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago after leaving office. Although federal law prohibits moving classified material to unauthorized locations, Trump might argue that, in his final days as president, he got to make the final call on declassifying the files. Either way, the raid — which has not yet been confirmed by the DOJ — will surely cause political ripples in the coming days: the former president and his fans will cite the search as proof that the so-called "deep state" is trying to stop him from running again in 2024, while Democrats and never-Trump Republicans likely hope that the FBI was indeed looking for evidence linked to the Jan. 6 committee hearings that could help indict Trump.

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Protesters rally agains the constitutional referendum in Tunis.

Mahjoub Yassine/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

What We're Watching: Tunisian referendum, Lavrov on African tour

Tunisia holds constitutional referendum

Tunisians go to the polls Monday to vote in a referendum over the new constitution pushed by President Kais Saied. The vote is scheduled on the first anniversary of Saied sacking the government and suspending parliament in the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring. At the time, he justified the move as necessary to prevent a bigger crisis, but his opponents called it a coup; since then, Saied has consolidated power by taking it away from any institution or group that challenged him, including judges and trade unions. The president's growing dictator vibes have upset many Tunisians who initially supported him, but he still has fans among younger people tired of corruption and dysfunctional parliamentary politics. Most opposition groups have boycotted the plebiscite, so the "yes" vote is likely to win (albeit with a low turnout). If the new charter is approved, Saied promises to hold legislative elections within six months. But they'll be less decisive under the revised constitution, which vastly expands presidential power at the expense of parliament and the judiciary.

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Why Do The World's Poorest Pay More For The Same Food? | Pula's Thomas Njeru | GZERO Media

Why do the world's poorest pay more for the same food?

Smallholder farmers in developing countries currently produce about 30% of the world's food. But they are way less productive than large-scale farmers in the developed world.

Thomas Njeru, who knows a thing or two about smallholder farming because he grew up on a small farm in his native Kenya before co-founding a micro-insurance firm for smallholders, says boosting the productivity of smallholders could up global food output by 30% — more than enough to cover the 10% deficit we now face.

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Putin attends a meeting with Senegal's President and African Union chair Macky Sall in Sochi.

REUTERS

Are the West’s efforts to isolate Russia doomed?

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and Europe have launched a concerted campaign to punish Russia economically and isolate it politically. The West wants to send a strong message to other powers that might be tempted to violate the so-called rules-based international order. But many developing countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America are reluctant to go along, blunting the effectiveness of this campaign. We spoke to Eurasia Group expert Christopher Garman to better understand the reasons for their skepticism, and what the consequences are likely to be.

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Luisa Vieira

Should NATO watch its southern flank?

As NATO leaders gather this week in Madrid for their first summit since the war in Ukraine began, they will talk mainly about the immediate bogeyman, Russia, and the long-term strategic rival, China. Meanwhile, host Spain is seizing the opportunity to get the alliance to pay at least some attention to Africa and parts of the Middle East, where Russia and jihadists are stirring up trouble that could impact Mediterranean countries.

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Big Democracies That Depend On Russia | GZERO World

Big democracies that depend on Russia

Western leaders love to say that Russia's war in Ukraine is a fight for democracy itself.

But not all of the world's democracies agree.

India, the world's largest democracy, remains neutral and keeps buying Russian arms and oil.

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Africa Still Sees COVID Glass Half Empty — African CDC Chief | GZERO Media

Africa still sees COVID glass half empty — African CDC chief

Is the pandemic over? Depends on where you are, according to Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"If you are sitting in Africa, they have the glasses half empty.

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