What We’re Watching: Libya delays vote, Sudan’s embattled PM, COVID cures, EU-UK fish deal

What We’re Watching: Libya delays vote, Sudan’s embattled PM, EU-UK fish deal

Libya election postponed. As many had expected, Libya’s election will in fact be postponed. The vote, the first since psycho autocrat Muammar Qaddafi was ousted in a NATO-backed uprising 10 years ago, was supposed to happen on Friday. Now the country’s electoral board says it will be postponed by a month, until January 24. The move isn’t a surprise: for weeks the two rival governments that run Libya — and their outside backers — have been squabbling over electoral rules and candidate eligibility. The question now is whether delaying the vote genuinely gives the parties time to agree on a process that seems legitimate enough to hold, or whether the move risks further unraveling a fragile and fragmented country. The UN has already raised alarm about rival armed groups setting up positions in and around Tripoli.

Sudan PM to step down? Meanwhile, Libya’s southeastern neighbor Sudan isn’t having an easy time of it either. Beleaguered PM Abdalla Hamdok could soon step down amid protests over the transitional military-civilian government. Hamdok represents the civilian wing under a deal negotiated after the ouster of Omar al-Bashir in 2019. But that agreement has always been shaky — in October, the military staged a coup and arrested Hamdok, only to release and reinstate him a month later under a fresh arrangement. But supporters of the civilians rejected that new pact, and in recent days they have thronged the streets to call for “no partnership, no negotiation, no compromise” with the generals. Sudan can ill-afford another political crisis — one-third of the population is already in need of humanitarian assistance, and the number of Sudanese in outright life-threatening conditions rose 75 percent to 13 million in 2021. Meanwhile, Sudan is also struggling to accommodate refugees from the ongoing war in neighboring Ethiopia, and to navigate the ongoing diplomatic and security challenges posed by the Ethiopian construction of a massive hydroelectric dam upstream on the Nile.

Covid pill pops, Pentagon miracle jab to follow? The FDA on Wednesday approved the first oral, at-home, antiviral medicine for those infected with COVID-19. Pfizer's Paxlovid pill reduces severe illness by up to 90 percent in high-risk people who take it early in the course of their infection. In the coming days US regulators are likely also to greenlight a similar pill made by Merck, called Molnupiravir, though France seems less keen. The arrival of mass produced oral therapeutics is a major turning point in the pandemic, giving doctors and public health systems a powerful tool to reduce mortality from the disease, while also reducing pressures on hospitals. Also this week we learned that the US Military has developed what sounds too good to be true: a vaccine that works not only against all current variants but against all future ones too? Forgive us for thinking this was an Onion headline at first, but we're eager to learn more about Pentagon Pharma's potentially game-changing jab.

UK and EU reach 🐟 deal. The EU and the UK reached a compromise on Wednesday to end a contentious fight over fish. The two sides will share fish stocks next year by reverting to the quotas included in last year's post-Brexit trade agreement. On the plus side, each side now knows exactly how much fish it (and the other) is permitted to catch in 2022, though on the downside environmentalists still say the number is too high. Still, this deal doesn't solve the nasty bilateral UK-France row over who gets to fish which waters in the English Channel. In recent weeks, the UK has shown more willingness to compromise by granting French fishing vessels more licenses to operate in the disputed waters, but Paris wants a lot more. Fishing rights are a big deal in the two countries — expect them to come up as a campaign issue in next year's French presidential election.
People working at computers in a room labeled Malware Lab

Microsoft observed destructive malware in systems belonging to several Ukrainian government agencies and organizations that work closely with the Ukrainian government. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) published a technical blog post detailing Microsoft’s ongoing investigation and how the security community can detect and defend against this malware. Microsoft shared this information over the weekend to help others in the cybersecurity community look out for and defend against these attacks. To read more visit Microsoft On the Issues.

President Vladimir Putin

No one knows whether Russian President Vladimir Putin plans on invading Ukraine. But the president of the United States sure seems to think this is a real possibility, saying Wednesday that Putin will likely "move in" in the near term. Biden, prone to political gaffes, was then forced to awkwardly walk back comments that Russia would face milder consequences from the West in the event of a "minor incursion."

The timing of this blunder is... not great. It comes just as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to meet his Russian counterpart on Friday in hopes of lowering the temperature after recent diplomatic efforts in Geneva were deemed a failure by Moscow.

Indeed, with the Kremlin having amassed at least 100,000 troops surrounding Ukraine on three sides, the growing threat is impossible to ignore. So what would a Russian military offensive into Ukraine actually look like, and how might the West respond?

More Show less

Omicron has arrived. It's more contagious, but less severe. Some parts of the world are even looking forward to the pandemic becoming endemic.

Not China. Xi Jinping's zero-COVID strategy has worked wonders until now, but it's unlikely to survive omicron, explains Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

More Show less

Chilling at the beach, retired German Chancellor Angela Merkel is so over politics. Or is she?


Subscribe to GZERO Media's YouTube channel to get notifications when new videos are published.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Happy Tuesday after the long weekend for those of us that had a long weekend. I thought I would kick us off with the first major foreign policy crisis of the Biden administration. And that is of course, Russia-Ukraine. Afghanistan, of course, was a debacle, but not exactly a global crisis. This of course has the potential to really change the way we think about European security and about US relations with the other major nuclear power in the world. So, I would say that the level of concern is even higher and there are a lot of things we can say.
More Show less
What We’re Watching: Xinjiang at the Beijing Olympics, Boris in deep(er) trouble, Indonesia’s new capital

Selling Xinjiang. Xi Jinping — a man well known for both his grand vision of China’s future, and for his willingness to get large numbers of people to do things they might not otherwise do — said in 2018 that he wanted 300 million Chinese people to participate in winter sports. The Chinese government announced this week that this goal has been met in honor of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, which open in China’s capital on February 4. Multinational companies are consistently impressed by the commercial opportunities created when 300 million people decide to try new things. But it’s an inconvenient truth that most of China’s most abundant snow and best ski slopes are found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, a place where Western governments and human rights organizations have accused Beijing of imprisoning more than one million minority Uyghurs in re-education camps. In these prisons, critics say inmates have experienced “torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment.” As China’s government opens new profit opportunities in Xinjiang, multinational corporations will face pressure from multiple directions not to invest there.

More Show less
Hard Numbers: Tongan emergency fundraising, EU docks Poland pay, new Colombian presidential hopeful, Turkey gets UAE lifeline

345,000: As of Wednesday afternoon ET, Tonga's Olympic flag-bearer has raised more than $345,000 online to help the victims of Saturday's volcanic eruption and tsunami. Pita Taufatofua, a taekwondo fighter and cross-country skier, has not yet heard from his father, governor of the main Tongan island of Haapai.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week, discussing Boris Johnson's tenuous status as UK PM, US Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Ukraine, and the volcano eruption in Tonga:

Will Boris Johnson resign?

It certainly looks that way. He's hanging on by his fingernails. He's losing members of Parliament. He's giving shambolic media interviews. In fact, I think the only people that don't want him to resign at this point is the Labour Party leadership, because they think the longer he holds on, the better it is for the UK opposition. But no, he certainly looks like he's going. The only question is how quickly. Is it within a matter of weeks or is it after local elections in May? But feel pretty confident that the days of Boris Johnson are numbered.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

China vs COVID in 2022

GZERO World Clips

COVID at the Beijing Winter Olympics

GZERO World Clips


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal