What We're Watching: A peace deal in Sudan, India-China border flare-up, EU threatens Ankara

What We're Watching: A peace deal in Sudan, India-China border flare-up, EU threatens Ankara

Sudan, rebels shake hands: Sudan's transitional government and an alliance of rebel groups signed a peace agreement on Monday that aims to stabilize the Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions after almost two decades of conflict. The deal covers several key issues, including the integration of rebel fighters into the national army and the return of refugees who fled the conflict since 2003. Indeed, it's the first major step towards peace in conflict-ridden Sudan since the ouster of former strongman president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The joint military-civilian cabinet in Khartoum now plans to hand over Bashir to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he will face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity over his role in the Darfur war during which 300,000 were killed and more than 2 million were displaced. However, at least two rebel factions refused to join the latest peace agreement, highlighting the fragility of the nascent deal.


India-China border flares up: A standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the disputed Himalayan border area this week prompted both sides to amass thousands of additional troops as well as advanced weaponry to survey the contested Line of Actual Control. This latest confrontation — which reportedly amounted to little more than a screaming match — comes after Indo-China tensions peaked in June, when skirmishes in Ladakh, a disputed region in Indian-administered Kashmir, resulted in dozens of deaths on both sides (iron bars and fists were the weapons of choice). These clashes represented the deadliest flare up in decades between the two regional powers, who have long been at loggerheads in the remote borderlands as well as elsewhere in South Asia. Indeed, this latest escalation suggests that diplomatic efforts to cool tensions might not be working, and that under the nationalistic leadership of China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi, the border area will likely remain a tinderbox for years to come.

EU wades into Greece-Turkey sea row: The European Union is mulling sanctions against Turkey over Ankara's plans to drill for oil and gas in parts of the Eastern Mediterranean claimed by Greece, an EU member state. Although details remain murky, Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, said that if dialogue fails, the sanctions may target Turkey's ability to use EU ports and equipment. While Turkey's foreign minister responded by insisting that Ankara favors a negotiated solution, including sharing hydrocarbon resources from the disputed area, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — a hardline nationalist who has threatened Greece with military action — has yet to weigh in publicly. Greeks and Turks have been bickering about this issue for months, and last week both sides held separate naval drills in the contested region off Cyprus despite a German-led diplomatic effort to persuade them to back down.

Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints from people who've been victims of tech support scams. But it's not just Microsoft's brand that the scammers leverage; fraudsters have pretended to be from a number of other reputable tech companies and service providers. These scams will remain an industry-wide challenge until sufficient people are educated about how they work and how to avoid them.

To measure the scope of this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned YouGov for a new 2021 survey across 16 countries. Results from the 2021 survey reveal that, globally, fewer consumers have been exposed to tech support scams as compared to the 2018 survey. However, those people who continued with the interaction were more likely to have lost money to the scammers than we saw in our previous survey. To read the highlights of the survey, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

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Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

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Castillo takes over in Peru: After almost two months of protests, baseless allegations of fraud from his rival in the runoff election, and even rumblings of a coup, Pedro Castillo will be sworn in as president of Peru on Wednesday. A former rural school-teacher famous for riding on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat and waving a giant pencil to show how much he cares about education, Castillo has big plans to achieve big change. But he won by just a razor-thin margin in a deeply divided country, and Peru's dysfunctional political system will likely hobble his attempts to get major legislation passed. Moreover, despite having moderated his positions, half of the country still sees him as a communist who might turn Peru into another Venezuela. Castillo's most immediate task is dealing with the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a COVID-fueled economic crisis that has hit poor Peruvians — his base — the hardest.

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13: The two Koreas have restored their communication hotline almost 13 months after Pyongyang abruptly cut it in response to Seoul not doing enough to prevent North Korean defectors from sending propaganda leaflets across the shared border. The hotline was established in 2018 following a historic meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky facts about the Games that have many people on edge.

Today — what's the smallest country (by population) to win a gold medal in a summer Olympics?

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