What We're Watching: Bibi's trouble, Putin's Kyrgyz problem, Bolsonaro "ends" corruption

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu on the ropes: Things have gone from bad to worse in recent days for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longtime prime minister. Protests — the biggest anti-government mobilization in years — swept the nation after Israel recorded the highest number of new daily COVID cases amid its worst-ever recession. But one thing Netanyahu has always had going for him is the steadfast loyalty of his Likud party… until now. As the Israeli PM's approval rating dipped to 26 percent, several Likud members broke with decades of precedent by speaking out against his poor handling of the country's "second wave." (A whopping 49 percent of Israelis say they've lost faith in the government and want new elections.) Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett, a former protégé of Netanyahu who heads the far-right Yemina party, is surging ahead in the polls. In recent weeks it seemed increasingly likely that Netanyahu would steer the country towards new elections (the fourth in less than two years) in order to bypass a parliamentary stalemate on key issues. But with his upcoming corruption trial and cratering support, it seems like the forever leader's options might be running out…


The Kremlin's Kyrgyz concerns: The prime minister has resigned. Opposition parties are squabbling over who is in control. Mass protests are calling for the ouster of the president. The political crisis in Kyrgyzstan, which began with allegations of fraud in last weekend's parliamentary vote, is deepening by the day, and Russian president Vladimir Putin can't be happy about it. Alongside the recent democratic uprising in Belarus and a spiraling war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, this is the third major new crisis to flare up among former Soviet republics that Russia considers to be within its sphere of influence. On Thursday, the Kremlin weighed in saying Kyrgyzstan is "in chaos" and cited its treaty obligations to stabilize the country. We are watching to see if local forces can settle their differences enough to get to an election re-run, or whether Putin — who just two weeks ago pledged his support to the embattled Kyrgyz President — feels he has to act more decisively before things get worse.

No more corruption in Brazil? Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has decided to end the landmark "Operation Car Wash" corruption investigation because, he says, under his watch, government corruption is no longer a problem. "Operation Car Wash" was a sweeping graft probe that landed hundreds of businesspeople and former President "Lula" da Silva in jail for accepting illegal kickbacks from construction projects — and helped Bolsonaro win Brazil's 2017 presidential election after it exposed rampant corruption linked to the then-ruling Workers' Party. It seems Bolsonaro may have forgotten that Sergio Moro, the federal prosecutor who led that probe before he became Bolsonaro's former justice minister, quit months ago after the president fired the national police chief for looking into the alleged criminal activities of several Bolsonaro allies (including two of Bolsonaro's sons). We're keeping an eye on how the president's latest gambit plays out in next month's municipal elections.

That's Bank of America's new target in its Environmental Business Initiative in order to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

Here's how it will drive innovation to address climate change.

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.

More Show less

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.

More Show less

More than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines have been fully approved or are currently in early use globally, and COVAX, the global initiative started last year by the World Health Organization and other partners, is pushing for equitable access to vaccines for all. But most of the half billion jabs given so far have gone to citizens of wealthy countries, with half going to the US and China alone. What's the problem with so-called vaccine nationalism? Ian Bremmer explains that besides the clear humanitarian concerns, the continued global spread of COVID increases the risk of new mutations and variants that can threaten the entire world, vaccinated or not.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Should wealthy individuals and nations shoulder more of the burden in addressing climate change? Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that Big Tech leaders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk should shift more of their focus to fighting for our own planet's survival, instead of space exploration. "We're doing as much as we can to make life difficult on planet Earth for ourselves. But there's virtually nothing we could do to make it as difficult as life on Mars, where there's, among other things, no oxygen." Kolbert, the author of Under a White Sky, discusses why it's so crucial for a few rich countries to bear most of the climate burden, since they're also the biggest emitters. Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 16. Check local listings.

In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

More Show less

Fighting climate change is about making the planet get less hot. The more quickly countries slow down their carbon emissions, the faster that'll happen. All the more important for the nations that pollute the most — but not all of them are on board. Although the majority, including China, are setting future targets to go Net Zero, India doesn't want to commit (yet) to when to stop burning fossil fuels to spur economic growth. We take a look at when the world's top polluting economies intend to go carbon-neutral, compared with their share of global emissions, of renewable energy as a source of electricity, and percentage of global coal consumption.

Peruvian runoff: Perú's presidential election is going to a runoff in June between two surprise and polarizing contenders, each of whom won less than 20 percent of votes in a highly fragmented first round. Pedro Castillo, a far-left union leader and teacher who benefited from a late surge in the polls, will battle rightwing populist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to weaken the political influence of the country's business elite and maybe to allow the state to nationalize parts of the mining sector to pay for social programs for the poor. Fujimori wants to use mining revenues to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and healthcare. The runoff will probably be a national referendum on Fujimori, a divisive figure running for the top job for the third time. No Peruvian president has ever left office without facing corruption charges, but Fujimori already faces several — and she'll avoid jail time if she wins.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal