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Clashes in Brazil as Bolsonaro's support plummets

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here with the Quick Take. Back in the office, we are functioning and open after a year and a half which is absolutely insane. 80 new employees since the pandemic who haven't met each other in person, most of the time. So God, we're happy to be back here. And wanted to kick it off by talking about Brazil.

Haven't talked about Brazil in a while, but it is their Independence Day. And wow, what an Independence Day it is. President Bolsonaro, who is in the cellar, popularity wise, the lowest popularity he's had since he's been president. And for lots of reasons, mishandling of COVID, economic problems, energy shortages, even a little bit of corruption scandals. Seen as not an effective president of the country and presidential elections next year. So, a combination of things that are setting him off individually. And has said quite famously in the past few days, that in upcoming elections, he's either going to win, or be arrested, or be killed. That those are the only three options.

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What We're Watching: Suga's post-Olympics approval, Taliban take capitals, Mozambique and Rwanda vs jihadists, US offers Brazil NATO partnership

Suga's collapsing popularity: For the past 18 months, debate within Japan and around the world has raged over whether Japan could and should stage the Olympic Games amid a pandemic. For better and for worse, the Games were held and are now closed. So, what's the political fallout for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has governed in a state of near-constant crisis, and for his government? The good news for them is that a new poll from Asahi Shimbun, released last weekend, found that 56 percent said it was a good idea to hold the Games, and just 32 percent said it was a mistake. The bad news is that approval for Suga's government has fallen to just 28 percent, the lowest of his time in office. A slow vaccination rollout continues to cost him.This fall, Suga's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will decide when to hold both its party leadership race and the next national general election. The LDP will likely remain in power, but Suga's future is now very much in doubt.

Taliban take key capitals: As the US continues to withdraw forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban are overrunning ever-wider swaths of territory, including urban areas that they haven't controlled in decades. Over this past weekend alone, the jihadist insurgents swept through no fewer than six provincial capitals, including the strategically important northern city of Kunduz. The US has mounted fresh airstrikes — including with a few old B-52s — to help the beleaguered Afghan security forces hold the line, but with that support reportedly scheduled to stop at the end of August, the writing is on the wall: the Taliban are on their way back to controlling Afghanistan. As we recently wrote, Afghanistan's neighbors are bracing for a growing rush of refugees fleeing the war-ravaged country, and the EU, just a few years removed from the last refugee crisis, is watching warily as well.

Mozambique and Rwanda retake jihadist hotspot: Mozambican and Rwandan troops this week gained control of the gas-rich port city of Mocimboa da Praia in northern Mozambique. For more than three years, Islamist fighters loosely aligned with the Islamic State, have waged a brutal insurgency in the northern Cabo Delgado province. Mocimboa da Praia, the site of one of Africa's biggest liquefied natural gas projects, has become a jihadist hub in recent years. Fighting has killed more than 3,100 Mozambicans and displaced 800,000 more. Last month, Rwanda sent 1,000 troops to support Mozambique's army, and the military alliance — which also includes support from Zimbabwe, Angola, and Botswana — managed to retake control of the port, airport, and hospital in Mocimboa da Praia. This massive feat comes after the European Union said last month that it will establish a new military mission in Mozambique to help the government push back against the increasingly brazen Islamic insurgency. Still, analysts warn, the Mozambican government needs to remain vigilant because the militants might still regroup in the months ahead.

US offers NATO partnership to Brazil? During a visit to Brazil last week, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly told President Jair Bolsonaro that if he bans the Chinese tech company Huawei from building 5G networks in his country, the US would push for Brazil to become a NATO global partner. That's not quite full membership, but it would give Brazil preferential access to arms purchases and other security perks with the world's most powerful military alliance. According to the Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo, which broke the story, the move is a bid by Washington to get Brazil on its side in a global push to squeeze Chinese tech firms out of 5G infrastructure. But Folha also reports that there are deep divisions within the Brazilian military about this: some higher-ups are implacably hostile towards China, while others say that Brasilia shouldn't ruin relations with Brazil's largest trade partner. Currently the only Latin American country that enjoys a NATO partnership is close US-ally Colombia.

Can Brazil (and Bolsonaro) recover from a crippling year?

Jair Bolsonaro had a Trump-like rise to power to become the president of Brazil, but some of the same attributes that got him elected have contributed to the many economic, political and public health crises plaguing his country. In addition to the COVID pandemic, Brazil is still suffering from the impact of its worst ever recession which began in 2014. Bolsonaro promised to turn that around—but economic growth remains low and unemployment very high. As for the Amazon, its rapid deforestation accounted for one third of the destruction of the world's tropical forests in 2019 alone. Bolsonaro is up for reelection next year, and it's going to be an interesting campaign. The likely challenger is Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, who is as far left as Bolsonaro is right.

Watch the episode: Brazil on the brink

Can ‘Lula,’ the hero of Brazil’s left, unseat Bolsonaro?

The political legend Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known to all as "Lula," is the likely challenger to Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil's 2022 presidential elections. Lula is an old acquaintance of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil's former president and elder statesman, who discussed Lula's political prospects in an interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. "I know Lula very well, for a long time. And Lula, from that time on has been convinced he has a destiny to be the leader of the nation, still," said Cardoso. "I don't know now what will occur in the coming elections. He's convinced he will be he again, the candidate."

Watch the episode: Brazil on the brink

Brazil's awful year: does the buck stop with Bolsonaro?

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil's former president and elder statesman, spoke frankly with Ian Bremmer about how ill-equipped Brazil's government has been to manage multiple crises. "It's obvious that the government is not managing quite well...by denying truth. It's impossible to deny that the people are dying," Cardoso said in an interview on GZERO World. He also discussed the political division plaguing his country. "I'm more cautious than normal political men are. I have been president, so I know that it's not simple, but it's difficult to explain how it was possible for the president [Bolsonaro] to seem so indifferent with respect to the pandemic."

Watch the episode: Brazil on the brink

Brazil on the brink

Latin America's largest economy has endured years of economic hardship, a barrage of political scandals, and one of the worst pandemic death tolls in the world. So where does Brazil go from here and how much longer can its president hold onto power? Former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who remains one of the most influential political figures in the country, joins Ian Bremmer to discuss Brazil's increasingly divided society, the potential fate of its current far-right leader, the prospects of his most likely challenger (known to all as "Lula") the climate crisis in the Amazon, and the country's complicated relationship with China.

Bolsonaro's Brazil is divided and in crisis

Ian's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Happy Monday. Good to see everyone and got a Quick Take for you as we kick off this week. Thought we would talk today about Brazil. It is the epicenter today for coronavirus. The healthcare system in the country is getting overwhelmed. Over 90% of ICU beds are filled in most of the states in the country. As a consequence, you are triaging healthcare. This is what you remember happened briefly in Northern Italy at the beginning of the pandemic a year ago. It's what we feared could happen in New York City, though never quite did. You've got nearing 4,000 deaths a day in Brazil right now, per capita that's worse than anything we've seen in the United States. And yeah, we blame the government. We blame President Bolsonaro.

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Can Bolsonaro bounce back from a terrible March?

March was without a doubt the most difficult month for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro since he came to power in 2019. The country's healthcare system collapsed under a surge of Covid-19 cases. He was forced to reshuffle his cabinet and had a falling out with leaders of the military, an institution that has been one of his biggest supporters. And to top it all off, the courts vacated the corruption conviction of Bolsonaro's biggest rival, the popular leftist leader Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva, who will probably challenge his re-election in 2022. What comes next? Eurasia Group analysts Filipe Gruppelli Carvalho and Silvio Cascione explain the deepening political crisis that Brazil's controversial president now faces.

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