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Luisa Vieira

The EU’s natural gas troubles won’t end after ditching Russia

When Russian energy giant Gazprom shut off the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline for routine summer maintenance last week, Germany and the rest of the EU feared that Russian President Vladimir Putin would refuse to turn the tap back on as a way of punishing the West for sanctions against Russia.

The jitters dissipated somewhat when Nordstream went back online Thursday, albeit at 40% capacity. But Berlin and other European capitals still worry that if things go south, they’ll need to ration gas at the worst possible time: when they need it to keep homes warm during the winter. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is urging EU members to ration natural gas by 15% through next March to prepare for a likely future cut in supply.

The Europeans have long realized that over-depending on (and over-investing in) a single energy source makes them geopolitically vulnerable. But cutting off Russia and turning to the Middle East and North Africa will be anything but smooth sailing.

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Junta announces on TV it has taken power in Burkina Faso.

RTB/Handout via EYEPRESS

West Africa needs a fresh approach to democracy

A recent string of coups in West Africa has sent a troubling sign about the health of democracy in the region. Can anything be done to reduce the likelihood of future military takeovers? According to Amaka Anku, head of Eurasia Group’s Africa practice, the situation requires new approaches to governance and institution-building. We sat down with Amaka to learn more about her views.

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A group of military widows in Mali show their support for the armed forces during a demonstration.

Nicolas Remene/Le Pictorium/Cover Images

Why West Africa might see more coups

Guinea-Bissau had a failed coup attempt on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the military seized power in nearby Burkina Faso. In just a year and a half, West Africa has seen four successful coups and two failed bids.

While we’ve been seeing fewer armed takeovers of governments in the region in recent years, West Africa was once known as the continent’s “coup belt.” Do recent rumblings signal a comeback for military coups in the region?

Here are three reasons why more might be on the way.

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What We're Watching: Duterte's threat, West Africa's single currency, Raisi's hard line

Philippines' choice — jab or jail: As more countries get their hands on COVID vaccines, many are coming up with interesting schemes to convince skeptics to get the shot. But if you're in the Philippines, tough-talking President Rodrigo Duterte has the ultimate tough-love "incentive": he says he'll throw you in prison if you refuse your shot. A government spokesperson immediately sought to clarify Duterte's threatening comment, reassuring Filipinos that turning down a jab is not — yet — a criminal offense. This comes as the country's vaccination drive remains very slow, having fully inoculated only 2 percent of its population, in part due to high levels of vaccine hesitancy. Many Filipinos are turning down the Chinese shots provided by Duterte's pal President Xi Jinping because they perceive them as less effective and less trustworthy than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are scarce in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the Philippines continues to suffer one of Southeast Asia's worst COVID outbreaks.

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A dangerous déjà vu in Mali

Malians woke up on Wednesday without a government. Although details are still murky, we do know a group of soldiers detained President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and forced him to step down. The rebel troops have promised a return to democracy — but isn't that what coup masterminds always say right after seizing power?

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