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What We're Watching: Mali's protests, Israel's annexation, Poland's election

What We're Watching: Mali's protests, Israel's annexation, Poland's election

Go home, Malians tell president: Tens of thousands of Malians gathered in the streets of the capital city, Bamako, on Friday to demand the resignation of increasingly unpopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. In the second mass protest against him in less than a month, demonstrators said they are fed up with rampant corruption, a weak and disgruntled military incapable of stopping rising jihadist attacks, and the government's botched response to the kidnapping of opposition leader Soumaila Cissé by Al Qaeda-linked militants. Keita has led the sprawling West African nation since 2013, when he was elected to fill a power vacuum soon after French troops helped put down an Islamist rebellion in the north. The Economic Community of West African States, a regional political and economic bloc, is urging Keita — reelected in 2018 for a new 5-year term — to form a unity government to end the unrest.


Israel pushes ahead with annexation: Despite widespread international condemnation regarding its plan to annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank, Israel's government may, as early as next week, begin the process of doing just that. The move would not extend citizenship to Palestinians in those areas even though they would be subject to direct Israeli rule. Back in January, the Trump administration said that an annexation plan must be tied to a broader Israeli-US peace plan, but that process has since stalled. The stakes are high. Both the Palestinian Authority that operates in the West Bank and the Kingdom of Jordan have threatened to walk away from longstanding security agreements if Israel pushes ahead with annexation, prompting fears of a return to the violence that characterized the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States published an op-ed in an Israeli daily last week, warning that annexation would threaten the normalization of Israel's relations with the entire Arab world. Prime Minister Netanyahu has made cultivating closer ties with countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE a foreign policy priority.

Poland's tight polls: There are just a few days until Poland's June 28 general election, and incumbent right-wing President Andrzej Duda isn't spending many of them in Warsaw or Krakow. Instead, he's headed to the White House for a widely publicized face-to-face with President Trump. Duda says the ad-hoc meeting was scheduled at the last minute to discuss crucial issues of public health and security in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But many analysts say that with his main opponent, Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowki, rising in the polls, this is Duda's last-ditch effort to cozy up to Trump – who is admired by much of Poland's influential right-wing electorate. Strong ties with Washington are doubly important for Duda given his country's increasing isolation from the European Union, which has criticized his government for eroding democratic norms. Duda may be banking on Trump to get him over the line, but whether that will be enough to overcome the pandemic-induced economic crisis that has been a boon for Poland's centrist candidates in recent weeks remains to be seen.


UPDATE: An earlier version of this article stated that the Israeli government had announced that it was going to begin annexing up to 30 percent of the West Bank next week. In fact, it is not known precisely how much territory the government intends to annex or at what pace.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, stretching for more than 2,000 miles, is home to the world's highest mountains. The mountain range is also home to the world's third-largest concentration of snow and ice, earning it the moniker the third pole; only the North and South Poles contain more. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalayas are the main source of fresh water for around two billion people living in the region. However, by the end of this century, two-thirds of that snow and ice could be lost because of climate change. A network of data scientists and environmentalists around the world, and on the ground in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, are working to understand the extent of glacial melting in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, its effects and what can be done to minimize its impact. To read more visit Microsoft on the Issues.

When Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday — plunging the country into chaos as it faces once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises — he became the fourteenth Italian to vacate the prime ministership in three decades. (For contrast, Germany has only had three chancellors since 1982, and France has had five presidents.)

But Conte, who had no previous political experience until he was tapped for the top job in 2018, is not so much throwing in the towel as he is taking a massive gamble that President Sergio Mattarella will again appoint him to head Conte's third coalition government in less than three years.

The recent dysfunction is unique even within the context of instability-prone Italian politics. How did Italy get here, and what might come next?

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Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.

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9.2 trillion: COVID vaccine hoarding by rich countries and uneven global access to the jabs will draw out the global recovery from the pandemic. In fact, it'll cost the world economy as much as $9.2 trillion, according to a new study by the International Chamber of Commerce.

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