What We’re Watching: Sudan's New Strongman?

What We’re Watching: Sudan's New Strongman?

Sudan's new strongman? – In response to a brutal crackdown that has reportedly killed more than 100 pro-democracy protesters in Sudan this month, the country's vice president, nicknamed Hemeti, has promised justice. "We are working hard to take those who did this to the gallows," he said during a televised speech. The problem is that Hemeti, whose real name is Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, commands the Rapid Support Forces. That's a paramilitary force, widely known as the Janjaweed, which has carried out genocidal atrocities elsewhere in the country in recent years—and is accused of unleashing the very attack on protesters that Hemeti says demands punishment. Assuming that Hemeti fails to bring himself to justice, we'll be watching to see if he becomes Sudan's next strongman.

Iran's Centrifuges - Iran says that by June 27, its stockpiles of enriched uranium will exceed the limits imposed by the 2016 Iran Nuclear Deal, signaling the Islamic Republic's withdrawal from the agreement. (The Trump administration withdrew last year.) Tehran, which announced the restart of centrifuges last month, says there's still time to avoid this outcome if the European governments that signed the deal will help Tehran avoid new and tighter US sanctions. But the Europeans, though sympathetic, find themselves caught between a rock and a US-dominated global financial system. That's why they've reportedly warned Iran that if it does violate the terms of the deal, it can expect zero further help.

The Argentine Power Grid - Over the weekend, Argentina's entire electrical grid failed, cutting power to the country's 44 million people as well as to neighboring Paraguay and Uruguay. The lights are back on, but officials remain in the dark about the blackout's cause. An investigation will be complete in 15 days, but the outage has already delivered a shock to the political system. To reduce government debt and spur investment in Argentina's poor infrastructure (the quality of Argentina's electricity supply ranks 113th in the world), President Mauricio Macri cut energy subsidies, which pushed electricity bills higher. His main opponent in October's election says the blackout proves Macri's policies have failed.

What We're Ignoring: Turkmen Target Practice

Turkmen military readiness – If you click this link, you'll see Turkmenistan's president flashing his marksmanship skills from atop a bicycle. But despite vehement protest from Signal's (avid cyclist and aspiring Central Asian strongman) Alex Kliment, I'm ignoring this display of moveable gunplay for three reasons. One, he's traveling at about one mph. He's not even pedaling. Two, he's about 15 feet from the targets. Three, when I see the Turkmen president cycling toward me with a handgun, I'm going to duck and cover. I won't just stand there like a hapless paper target. The too-easily-impressed Kliment and President Berdymukhamedov are both out of luck.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

China's GDP grew a lower-than-expected 4.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, a whopping three percentage points less than in the previous period. It's a big deal for the world's second-largest economy, the only major one that expanded throughout the pandemic — and now at risk of missing its growth target of 6 percent for the entire year.

Normally, such a drastic slowdown would have put the ruling Communist Party in a tizzy. But this time, Xi Jinping knows this is the price he must pay for his big plans to curb rising inequality and boost the middle class at the expense of the CCP's traditional economic mantra: high growth above all else.

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Religious tension rising in Bangladesh: Clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Bangladesh have surged over the past week, leaving at least four people dead. After an image was posted on Facebook showing the Quran at the feet of a statue at a Hindu temple, Muslims burned Hindu-owned homes and attacked their holy sites. Both sides have taken to the street in protest, with Hindus saying that they have been prevented from celebrating Durga Puja, the largest Hindu festival in the country. Such acts of sectarian violence are not uncommon in Bangladesh, a majority-Muslim country where Hindus account for nine percent of the population. Indeed, as Eurasia Group's Kevin Allison recently warned, unverified social media content stoking inter-ethnic conflict is a massive problem throughout South Asia, where for many people Facebook is synonymous with the internet.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

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China gets away with a lot these days in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. That's because over the past decade, its economy has experienced explosive growth, making it an indispensable trading partner for almost every country in the world. At the same time, China has been expanding its share of the global economy, and is now set to overtake the US as the world's biggest economic powerhouse in the near term. We take a look at China's annual growth rate and share of the global economy based on GDP over the past decade.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is the legacy of Colin Powell?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tragically died of complications of COVID-19. He was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first Black National Security Advisor and the first Black Secretary of State. And he leaves a legacy of a long career, dedicated almost entirely to public service.

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Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

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Colin Powell's legacy

US Politics

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