What We’re Watching: Iranian inauguration, Taliban go urban, Belarusian activist dead, China’s hog hotels

What We’re Watching: Iranian inauguration, Taliban go urban,  Belarusian activist dead, China’s hog hotels

Raisi won't have it easy: The newly "elected" president of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, was officially endorsed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. In his inaugural address, the 60-year-old hardliner pledged to get US sanctions removed and to respond to rising socioeconomic grievances within Iran, but he warned that he wouldn't lash Iran's prosperity or survival to "the will of foreigners." In Iran, the president's role focuses mainly on domestic policy, but with the economy reeling one of Raisi's big early challenges will be to continue complicated talks with the Biden administration to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, which would lead to the US lifting some of the harshest sanctions. Both sides say they want a new deal, and have gone through half a dozen rounds of negotiations already, but they remain at odds over who should make what concessions first. Raisi also pledged to restore Iranians' flagging trust in their government and to improve the economic situation, but in ways that are in line with "revolutionary principles." He'll have his hands full with that. And don't forget that the likely imminent (re)takeover of neighboring Afghanistan by the Taliban — whom Tehran don't like at all — will also occur on Raisi's watch. Good luck, Mr. President, you'll need it.


Taliban capture key city: After taking over most of rural Afghanistan, the Taliban are now closing in on Afghan cities. This week, an Afghan general told residents to evacuate Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province, after the Taliban seized most of the urban area. This is a big blow for the government because it promised to defend provincial capitals. (Helmand witnessed back in 2009 one of the US/NATO military's most successful campaigns against the Taliban, although NATO forces always failed to stop the Taliban from using the province's poppy fields to fuel their lucrative opium trade.) Meanwhile, the Biden administration now says it'll expand US visa eligibility for Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover. But, but, but… they'll need to apply outside the country, and Washington doesn't intend to help them get out. Afghanistan's neighbors could step in, but the last thing they want is a refugee crisis on their borders.

Belarus targets dissidents: Two days after a Belarusian sprinter sought refuge in Poland because she feared for her life after criticizing her country's government at the Tokyo Olympics, a prominent Belarusian dissident in exile has turned up dead in Ukraine. People close to Vitaly Shishov, head of a Kyiv-based NGO that helps Belarusians escape persecution, believe his death by hanging was carried out by hitmen sent by strongman President Alexander Lukashenko. Shishov is one of many young Belarusians who left the country a year ago following the regime's crackdown on mass street protests after Lukashenko's victory in the August 2020 presidential election, which outside observers say was rigged. If it's true that Lukashenko had Shishov killed, the Belarusian leader is clearly upping the ante on targeting his opponents abroad, just months after grounding an EU-bound flight to arrest an anti-government journalist. And there's not much Brussels can — or will — do about it.

China's pig hotels: If you're a Chinese pig, you're in luck. The state plans to house about 10,000 of you in a luxury condo with 24-hour security, veterinarians on call, gourmet meals, and health monitoring. This doesn't mean they don't want to eat you anymore (they do!), but rather, that they aim to keep you safe from all sorts of viruses — especially the devastating African swine flu, which wiped out half of all Chinese hogs in 2018. So say goodbye to eating scraps on a family farm, you now live in the lap of luxury. The catch is that you'll still be expected to get plump and juicy for char siu.

Walmart aspires to become a regenerative company – helping to renew people and planet through our business. We are committed to working towards zero emissions across our global operations by 2040. So far, more than 36% of our global electricity is powered through renewable sources. And through Project Gigaton, we have partnered with suppliers to avoid over 416 million metric tons of CO2e since 2017. Read more about our commitment to the planet in our 2021 ESG report.

The German people have spoken. For the first time in over 70 years, the country's next government is all but assured to be a three-way coalition.

That coalition will probably be led by the center-left SPD, the most voted party, with the Greens and the pro-business FDP as junior partners. Less likely but still possible is a similar combination headed by the conservative CDU/CSU, which got its worst result ever. A grand coalition of the SPD and the CDU/CSU — the two parties that have dominated German federal politics since World War II — has been rejected by half the electorate.

Both the Greens and especially the FDP have been in coalition governments before. But this time it's different because together they have the upper hand in negotiations with the big parties wooing them.

The problem is that the two minority parties don't agree on anything much beyond legalizing weed. So, where does each stand on the policies that divide them?

More Show less

China and Canada's hostage diplomacy: In 2018, Canada arrested a Huawei top executive Meng Wanzhou because US authorities wanted to prosecute her for violating Iran sanctions. China responded by arresting two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in what looked like a tit-for-tat. Over the weekend, Meng and the "Two Michaels" were all freed to return to their home countries as part of a deal evidently brokered by Washington. The exchange removes a major sore spot in US-China and Canada-China relations, though we're wondering if establishing the precedent of "hostage diplomacy" with China, especially in such a prominent case, is a good one for anyone involved.

More Show less

40: Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body representing 40 Indian farmer groups, took to the streets Monday to mark a year since the start of mass protests against new farming laws that they say help big agro-businesses at the expense of small farmers. The group has called for an industry-wide strike until the laws are withdrawn.

More Show less

Germany's conservative CDU/ CSU party and the center-left SPD have dominated German politics since the 1950s. For decades, they have vied for dominance and often served in a coalition together, and have been known as the "people's parties" – a reference to their perceived middle-of-the-road pragmatism and combined broad appeal to the majority of Germans. But that's all changing, as evidenced by the fact that both performed poorly in this week's election, shedding votes to the minority Greens and pro-business Free Democrats. We take a look at the CDU/CSU and SPD's respective electoral performance over the past 60 years.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Happy week to all of you and thought I'd talk a little bit about Germany and Europe. Because of course, we just had elections in Germany, 16 years of Angela Merkel's rule coming to an end - by far the strongest leader that Germany has seen post-war, Europe has seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And indeed in many ways, the world has seen in the 21st century. Xi Jinping, of course, runs a much bigger country and has consolidated much more power, but in terms of the free world, it's been Angela Merkel.

More Show less

Germany's historic moment of choice is finally here, and voters will stream to the polls on Sunday for the country's first post-World War II vote without a national leader seeking re-election. They will elect new members of the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament. The leader of the party that wins the most seats will then try to secure a majority of seats by drawing other parties into a governing partnership. He or she will then replace Angela Merkel as Germany's chancellor.

If the latest opinion polls are right, the center-left Social Democrats will finish first. In coming weeks, they look likely to form a (potentially unwieldy) governing coalition with the Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats, which would be Germany's first-ever governing alliance of more than two parties.

More Show less

As the US economy powers ahead to recover from COVID, many developing economies are getting further left behind — especially those in Latin America. Economic historian Adam Tooze says the region, which did relatively well during the global recession, is now "looking at a lost decade." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: How the COVID-damaged economy surprised Adam Tooze

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal