What We're Watching: Italy's Uncertainty, Zimbabwe's Crisis, and an Iranian Tanker Heading for Greece
Italy's prime minister resigns – Giuseppe Conte, the caretaker prime minister appointed to mediate an uneasy governing alliance between Italy's anti-establishment 5Star Movement and the right-wing Lega party, resigned on Tuesday. Rather than wait for a no-confidence vote triggered by the rightwing Lega Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Conte stepped down on his own terms. Salvini, who's popularity has been rising, had hoped that by triggering snap elections he could get himself appointed prime minister, will now have to wait for Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, to decide what comes next. While Lega and smaller right-wing allies want a new vote, center and left-wing parties are apparently working to see if they can form a majority coalition – perhaps including 5Star -- that would allow Mattarella to appoint a new government without fresh elections. We're watching to see how the dust settles in Europe's third-biggest economy.
A crisis brewing in Zimbabwe – When strongman Emmerson "The Crocodile" Mnangagwa ousted his old boss Robert Mugabe in 2017, he promised a better future for a country that had known years of hyperinflation and successive economic crises. It hasn't panned out. The legacy of Mugabe's incompetent economic policies, along with some bad weather, have pushed the country back to the brink of crisis in recent months. After the official inflation rate hit 175% in June, the government stopped publishing figures altogether, but independent analysts say the number may now be as high as 500%. Protesters angry about food shortages have hit the streets in recent days, prompting the government's usual response: truncheons. With a third of the population now facing a food crisis, and the government taking a hard line, we are watching to see if Zimbabwe's economic crisis fast becomes a political one as well.
Greeks baring rifts – After failing to convince British courts in Gibraltar to turn over the Iranian tanker called Adrian Darya 1, née Grace 1, the Trump administration is now pressuring the Greek government to deny assistance to the vessel which is plying its way across the Mediterranean as we speak. Greece's new prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is known for his pro-US views, but a Greek foreign ministry official was quoted as saying that "any decision will be in line with European Union rules on Iran." The US is finding out that going it alone on Iran means, well, going it alone. The tanker, which is carrying roughly $140 million worth of oil, should arrive in Greece by early next week.
What We're Ignoring
Bolsonaro's Amazon debacle – Commenters on Amazon's Brazil website are raving about a new 190-page book that explains why the country's controversial president, Jair Bolsonaro, "should be respected and trusted." It's a joke, because 188 of the pages are blank. On the one hand, LOL. But on the other, isn't accelerating deforestation in the Amazon rain forest one of the main things Bolsonaro's critics rage about? Those 188 blank pages aren't helping matters.