Then and Now: Sudan's transition, US-China trade war, Nigeria's election

Then and Now: Sudan's transition, US-China trade war, Nigeria's election

3 months ago: Sudan's transition In August, GZERO checked in on Sudan's former strongman Omar al-Bashir who had been put on trial for corruption after being deposed by mass protests against his three-decade long dictatorship. The trial is ongoing and has revealed damning details such as al-Bashir's receiving tens of millions in cash from the Saudi Crown Prince, but his years of alleged crimes against humanity have not been reckoned with, and there seems little chance of his facing justice before the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Meanwhile, Sudan's political transition is still in flux. The first post-Bashir cabinet, a joint civilian-military body, took office in September. It is supposed to oversee a three and a half year transition period until general elections. But this power-sharing arrangement, which preserves elements of the old guard, hasn't placated everyone. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets this month protesting the enduring influence of al-Bashir's allies in politics, and calling on the government to ramp up investigations into those who went missing when security forces brutally cracked down on protesters in the capital, Khartoum, in June. Now, as Sudan's economy teeters on the brink of collapse, the government is focused on getting Sudan removed from the US sponsors of terrorism list, which would open it up to investment and debt relief. The US says that could happen, but not immediately.

6 months ago: What comes next in the US-China trade war? Six months ago, the stakes of the ongoing US-China trade war peaked again when China, responding to a bout of US tariffs on Chinese goods, imposed retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of American products, as we noted here. Not to be outdone, the Trump administration upped the ante again, responding with fresh tariffs of its own and threatening to extend its tariffs by December 15 to virtually everything America buys from China. But President Trump's inconsistent signals on tit-for-tat penalties have created confusion about what might come next. Last month, Presidents Xi and Trump said they were willing to sign a partial trade deal – a temporary truce– that would see the US roll back some tariffs in return for Beijing ending a freeze on purchases of some US agricultural products. But now, four weeks later, the talks are shrouded in uncertainty because of disagreements over what should be included in the final text. But even if a partial deal is reached that reverses the escalations of the past few months, the US and China will still be in tension over deeper issues, including China's support for state companies, its extortion of technology from American firms, and its bid to become the global leader in advanced technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence.

9 months ago: Nigeria's uninspiring election Back in February we contemplated the uncertainty surrounding Nigeria's upcoming elections – the first since a landmark peaceful transfer of power that had served as a model for the entire region. This spring, Nigerians reelected incumbent president and former military leader Muhammadu Buhari, who came away with 56% of the vote. The former military leader has attempted to rebrand himself as a "converted democrat" but oppressive tendencies have proven hard to give up. Since Buhari's reelection, repression of journalists has drawn increasing international concern. Buhari has failed to tackle allegations of corruption against his political allies, while using his anti-graft agenda to crack down on political opponents. Meanwhile, jihadist terror has spread across large swathes of the country, and the locally grown Boko Haram militant group has extended its reach. When Buhari recently departed for a personal overseas trip, believed to be for medical reasons, he refused to hand over temporary authority to his deputy, which many said violated the constitution. Nigeria's democracy is young and delicate. Buhari is testing its limits.

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

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When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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A Castro-less Cuba: Raúl Castro, younger brother of the late Fidel, is expected to retire on Friday as secretary-general of Cuba's ruling communist party. When he does, it'll mark the first time since the 1959 revolution that none of Cuba's leaders is named Castro. The development is largely symbolic since Castro, 89, handed over day-to-day affairs to President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2018. It's worth noting that US sanctions laws do specify that one of the conditions for normalizing ties with Cuba is that any transitional government there cannot include either of the Castro brothers. So that's one less box to tick in case there is a future rapprochement across the Straits of Florida. But more immediately, we're watching to see whether a new generation of leaders headed by Díaz-Canel will bring any serious reforms to Cuba. COVID has killed the tourism industry, plunging the island into an economic crisis that's brought back food shortages and dollar stores reminiscent of the early 1990s.

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16: Brazil's new plan to save the Amazon promises to curb deforestation, but not too much. Although it would reduce annual forest loss to the average recorded over the past five years, next year's target is still 16 percent higher than the Amazon's total deforestation in 2018, the year before President Jair Bolsonaro — who favors economic development of the rainforest — took office.

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Should the Biden administration "reverse course on China" in the hope of establishing a friendlier relationship, as diplomat Kishore Mahbubani argues in a recent Financial Times op-ed? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Michael Hirson take out the Red Pen to explain why it's not that simple.

And today, we are talking about the United States and China. The relationship between the two most powerful nations in the world is the worst it's been since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Pundits and policymakers alike all around the world are trying to figure out how Washington and Beijing can at least stop the bleeding because a reset is nowhere in the cards.

That's the topic of the op-ed that we are looking at today. It's from the Financial Times, written by Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, and the title summarizes the key argument: "Biden should summon the courage to reverse course on China." Meaning, he should throw out the Trump era approach and open the door to more cooperation and kinder, gentler relations.

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