A potentially deadly new coronavirus that can be transmitted from one person to another is now spreading across China. Chinese state media say it has infected about 440 people and killed nine, but the number of undetected or unreported cases is certain to be much higher. Complicating containment efforts, millions of people are on the move across the country this week to celebrate the Chinese New Year with family and friends.
No one knows what Iranians really think of their government. Outsiders aren't allowed to ask them, and they're not allowed to say. But Iran's supreme leader, its security forces, and all who support them have a common problem: No Iranian under the age of 45 is old enough to remember the 1979 Islamic Revolution that gives them their mandate to rule.
That reality has come into focus again in recent days. On January 3, US forces assassinated Qassim Suleimani, a popular and powerful Iranian general. The killing was a response to an attack by Iran-backed militias in Iraq that killed an American contractor, and to attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad on December 29 and December 31.
On Saturday, voters in Taiwan's presidential and parliamentary elections will choose between the Democratic People's Party (DPP), which is pro-independence and openly critical of China, and the Kuomintang (KMT), which argues for engagement with the mainland.
Of course, China isn't the only issue riling Taiwan's voters. Pocketbook issues matter here as elsewhere. But months of unrest in Hong Kong have riveted and appalled Taiwan. Some there see Hong Kong's protests and violence as evidence of the dangers of confrontation with Beijing. But many others see a concerted effort by China to stifle freedoms of speech and assembly—and a warning that closer ties with Beijing are therefore dangerous.
Each January, Eurasia Group, our parent company, publishes its forecast of the top ten global political risk stories of the coming year. You can read the full report here:
The report's authors, Ian Bremmer (our boss) and Cliff Kupchan (fan favorite), raised a lot of eyebrows today by choosing US politics as risk #1 for 2020. We'll detail that choice here, and then touch (very) briefly on the rest of this year's list.
#1 - Rigged!: Who Governs the US? - If the November US presidential vote is close—most of us think it will be—the loser will challenge the legitimacy of the result. And unlike the contested George W. Bush-Al Gore presidential election 20 years ago, this year's loser, regardless of party, is much less likely to simply accept a court-decided outcome as the final word.
On August 16, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower walked into Washington's Statler Hotel to give his first formal speech as president, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He used that address, which he titled "Chance for Peace," to make the case to both Soviet leaders and the American people that a US-Soviet Cold War was a bad idea—and not inevitable.
In it, he detailed how many schools, hospitals, and power plants could be built for the cost of a single bomber plane. He warned that "every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired" represented a "theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed," and warned that a life spent arming for potential conflict was "not a way of life at all, in any true sense... it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
After a months-long investigation into whether President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine's president into investigating his political rivals in order to boost his reelection prospects in 2020, House Democrats brought two articles of impeachment against him, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Click here for our GZERO guide to what comes next.
In the meantime, imagine for a moment that you are now Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority leader and senior member of Donald Trump's Republican Party. You've got big choices to make.
Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.
Not much was agreed beyond a broader exchange of prisoners and a renewed commitment to a ceasefire that has never held. Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.
Turkey's government has captured many thousands of ISIS fighters as a result of its operations in northern Syria. Many of these prisoners have already been deported to some of the more than 100 countries they come from, and Ankara says it intends to send more. There are also more than 10,000 women and children – family members of ISIS fighters – still living in camps inside Syria.
These facts create a dilemma for the governments of countries where the ISIS detainees are still citizens: Should these terrorist fighters and their families be allowed to return, in many cases to face trial back home? Or should countries refuse to allow them back?