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What We're Watching: Taliban government, Bolsonaro’s insurrection sputters, Myanmar uprising

Taliban name interim government: Three weeks after taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban on Tueaday appointed an interim government made up largely by veterans of the 20-year war against the US. The most high-profile names are PM Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, foreign minister under the first Taliban regime (1996-2001); interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, with a $5 million US bounty because he's the leader of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, a group responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on US and Afghan forces; and deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top negotiator with the US in Qatar. The Taliban had promised an inclusive government that would represent all Afghans, but the interim one is dominated by ethnic Pashtuns. It also has exactly the number of women most predicted: zero. The Taliban hope that an interim cabinet will make it easier for them to gain international recognition and to get on with the complicated business of governing Afghanistan — and find the money to do so.

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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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Yes, a January 6 could happen in Brazil

The next elections are more than a year away, but Brazilians are already holding their breath: President Jair Bolsonaro will face off against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in a very tight contest between two of the most popular and yet controversial political leaders in Brazil. Polls are giving Lula an edge today, mostly because of Bolsonaro's mismanagement of the pandemic, but a lot will change until October 2022, especially as a recovering economy makes Bolsonaro more competitive.

If Lula wins, coming back to power after spending almost two years in jail for alleged corruption, Brazil will take a dramatic policy shift in many areas, especially on the environmental agenda. But stakes are high not only because of that: with so much in play, Bolsonaro is threatening to contest the election results if he loses. We find out more from Silvio Cascione, Brazil director at Eurasia Group.

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Haitian president's killing reflects unprecedented rise in violence

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

What do we know about the assassination of Haiti's president?

Well, we know it's not making an awful lot of news the assassination of the leader of a country, because Haiti's a tiny economy. It's incredibly poor, it's been devastated by natural disasters and also by general lawlessness in the country. And over the last month, gang violence has become historically unprecedented. The police have been unable to maintain law and order in the streets, in most of the cities or sort of, major towns in Haiti. You've had thousands of Haitians displaced. You've had dozens of civilians killed and then overnight a gang entered the personal residence of the president. Again, police and presidential guard unable to stop them and he's dead. And his wife, the First Lady is in the hospital. It's a pretty staggering situation and obviously, some international support, some peacekeepers could be useful on the ground. Aid by itself is not going to do it right now.

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What We're Watching: Bolsonaro criminal probe, Lebanon's "social explosion," Zuma defies court, Putin's definition of champagne

Bolsonaro probe heats up: A smattering of protests broke out in cities across Brazil this weekend after the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for a criminal probe into President Jair Bolsonaro for "dereliction of duty" linked to procurement of COVID vaccines. What's this all about? A recent congressional inquiry into Bolsonaro's broad handling of the COVID crisis revealed that he knew — and failed to report to authorities — a shady deal negotiated by his health ministry to buy jabs from a private Indian pharmaceutical company for more than 10 times the price originally quoted. The allegations have sparked fresh calls to impeach Bolsonaro, but conviction would require support from two-thirds of the lower house of Congress, an unlikely scenario given Bolsonaro's broad web of alliances in parliament. Still, the unfolding political drama is indeed having an impact on the street cred of the populist president, who rose to power on an anti-establishment, anti-corruption platform: Bolsonaro's net approval rating now hovers at -23 percent. Brazilians, who have been pummeled by the COVID crisis, will surely be watching the probe very closely ahead of next year's presidential vote. The timing is not great for Bolsonaro, whose nemesis, leftwing former president Lula, is gaining steam in the polls.

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Brazil’s uncertain role in the world: Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and has been long considered an emerging global power. How does Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who served as Brazil's 34th president from 1995 to 2003, see Brazil's role in the world? On the topic of climate change, Cardoso observed, "The average people don't look after the Amazon, as an asset or a problem. And the Amazon represents both, an asset and a problem. We have to keep the Amazon going on." Cardoso, who is considered Brazil's elder statesman, also shared his perspective on his nation's relationship with China and attempts at global peace, in an interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Brazil on the brink

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

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