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.

As digital technology reshapes the workplace, a move toward skills-based training and employment will unlock opportunities for companies and job seekers alike. While automation and AI are already taking on many routine tasks, demand for people with technology skills is rising fast around the globe. Getting the right people into the right jobs within the right organizations is one of the biggest challenges facing the world of work. So how can it be overcome? To read some recent skills-related stories, visit Microsoft On the Issues.

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.

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Iran has vowed to avenge Sunday's attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. Tehran blames Israel, which — as in the past — has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible. And all this happens just days after indirect talks on US plans to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. What the Iranians do now will determine the immediate future of those negotiations, a Biden administration priority.

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The end of "forever" in Afghanistan: The Biden administration says it'll withdraw all remaining US troops in Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that prompted Washington to invade the country in the first place. It's unclear how the withdrawal will affect American plans to steer intra-Afghan peace talks in the right direction under the terms of a peace agreement reached by the Trump administration and the Taliban in May 2020. Trump promised to pull out next month as long as the former al-Qaida hosts kept their end of the bargain by not launching deadly attacks (spoiler alert: they have not). Biden's move honors his campaign pledge to end a "forever war" that has claimed more than 2,300 American lives and cost the US Treasury almost $1 trillion since 2001. However, critics fear that a hasty departure could leave the Afghans helpless to prevent the Taliban from returning to power, rendering the entire mission not only expensive, but ultimately pointless.

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week on World In 60: J&J vaccine woes, Blinken warns China, Fukushima water and a large rabbit.

How will the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect the overall pandemic fight in the United States?

Yeah. Right at it, right? Well, we heard that the FDA has suspended vaccines from J&J because of blood clots. They found six in seven million cases. It's kind of like the suspension of AstraZeneca in Europe. It's likely only going to last for a few days. It's a very small percentage of the total number of vaccines that are being jabbed right now into the arms of Americans. It's not going to really slow America's ability to get everyone vaccinated, but it is going to create more vaccine hesitancy. People at the margins will say, "Is this safe? They said it was fine. Now they're saying it's not okay." I understand why there's enormous caution on the part of the FDA, but I wish, wish, wish the communications had been a little softer around all of this. Also will be a problem in terms of export, as J&J is going to be a piece of that. And again, others around the world will say, "Well, if I don't get Moderna, if I don't get Pfizer, I'm not sure I want to take it at all." So all of this is negative news, though I would still say the United States this year is looking really, really good among major economies in dealing with pandemic.

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750 million: While struggling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world right now, India has approved Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine. Moscow has a deal in place to produce 750 million doses of the shot in India.

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In recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced early phases of vaccine trials in children, and Johnson & Johnson also plans to start soon. If you know a kid who wants to learn about vaccines, how they work, why we need them, this story is just what the doctor ordered.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

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