What We're Watching: Few Iraqis vote, Czech Republic in crisis, China-India talks crash again

announced, in Sadr City, in Baghdad People celebrate on the street after preliminary results of Iraq's parliamentary election were announced, in Sadr City, in Baghdad, Iraq October 11, 2021

Iraq's dud of an election: Just 41 percent of eligible Iraqi voters showed up at the polls this weekend, the lowest turnout in the post-Saddam Hussein era. Lack of enthusiasm for the vote – the first since mass protests in 2019 over political corruption and economic stagnation prompted a fierce crackdown – shows the depths of popular dissatisfaction with the political elite. The election came as Iraq grapples with crumbling infrastructure, a moribund economy, and ongoing sectarian strife among Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish players, with Iran meddling on behalf of the Shia groups. Preliminary results show that no candidate is on a path to win a clear majority, meaning that negotiations to choose a PM tasked with forming a government could take weeks or even months. Gulf countries and the US are hoping for a moderate who can ensure the stability of Iraq and challenge Iran's clout in the region. Iraq's current prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, in some ways fits the bill, having played a key role in mediating negotiations between longtime rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.


Is the Czech Republic headed for a constitutional crisis? The country's billionaire populist prime minister Andrej Babiš suffered a shock defeat in elections over the weekend, edged out by a center-right "Together" coalition that agrees on little beyond the need to defeat him. But the plot thickens! The Together bloc has announced it will seek to form a government with a center-left opposition group led by the Czech Pirate party, but they can't do so officially unless they are asked to by Czech President Miloš Zeman, a staunch Babiš ally who was taken to a hospital over the weekend and remains in intensive care. Zeman said before the vote that he'd ask the party that won the most votes to form a government. That's Babiš' party, which was beaten only by a coalition of parties. It's not clear what happens next. If Zeman is out of the picture, the post-election responsibilities would fall to the speaker of parliament, but he's a member of Babiš' party too. With the current legislature's mandate set to expire in just ten days, the Czech Republic's relatively young democracy is now at risk of a serious constitutional crisis.

China-India high-altitude talks crash again: For more than a year now, China and India have been locked in a tense border standoff high in the Himalayas. The two sides even came to blows last summer; hand-to-hand combat between border guards left 20 Indians and four Chinese dead. Now each side maintains thousands of heavily armed troops, backed by artillery and air power, along the boundary. Over the weekend, commanders from each side met – for the 13th time – to hash out an agreement on who controls what. But each side accused the other of being intransigent and, for the second winter in a row, Asia's two giants will keep their forces in areas where the temperature regularly drops to -30 degrees Celsius. A new "cold war" in Asia?

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Listen: Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital world.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

In the lead-up to this year's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, much of the attention has been focused on last summer's wildfires across the US and Europe, and more recently skyrocketing European energy prices. But what about Asia, the world's biggest and most populated region, which also has the highest share of global carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming? Asia has unique climate risks but also many opportunities for solutions, and whatever happens at COP26, Asian countries led by China and India are primed to lead the world in the struggle to make the planet greener before it's too late. In a live discussion moderated by Shari Friedman, Eurasia Group's Managing Director of Climate and Sustainability, global experts discussed these and other topics during the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit sponsored by Suntory.

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We're just days away from COP26, the landmark global climate conference that's been dubbed the last chance to get the climate crisis in check. In the lead-up to the event in Glasgow, dozens of countries have released new ambitions to reduce their future carbon footprints. For years, climate activists and experts have called on governments to introduce carbon pricing schemes – either through taxes or emissions-trading schemes. So who's heeded the warning? We take a look at the top ten carbon emitters' share of global emissions and details about their respective national carbon pricing schemes.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Do cryptocurrencies make it harder to enforce foreign policy sanctions?

Well, that is exactly what the Biden administration worries about. As part of growing concerns of whether unregulated currencies undermine a whole host of policies, sanctions and foreign or trade policy should be a priority area. And just like others who wish to evade tracing of their wealth or transactions, the very states or their sanctioned entities should be assumed to resort to all options to evade restrictions while continuing to do business. So having cryptocurrencies undermining the ability to enforce strategic goals logically raises eyebrows in Washington.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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