What We’re Watching: Suu Kyi on trial, Blinken in Israel, Mali coup 2.0

What We’re Watching: Suu Kyi on trial, Blinken in Israel, Mali coup 2.0

Suu Kyi in the dock: Myanmar's former leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday made her first court appearance since the military coup that deposed her last February. Suu Kyi, 75, faces uncorroborated charges — ranging from illegally importing walkie-talkies to breaching COVID rules — that could put her behind bars for the rest of her life. The National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi's political party that defended her in court, is now also at risk as the military junta is trying to dissolve it — mainly because it trounced the pro-military party in the December parliamentary election. Myanmar's generals seem to think that they can go back in time to the days of complete dominance if they throw Suu Kyi in jail and ban the NLD. But they may be underestimating the popular appetite for democratic change in a country where the military is as powerful as it is unpopular. Whatever the junta decrees, expect the NLD to continue its political activities underground and in exile.


Blinken on tour: Less than a week after a ceasefire went into effect between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has touched down in the region for a tour. Blinken met on Tuesday with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he listed the following as threatening a viable two-state solution between Israeli Jews and Palestinians: "Settlement activity, demolitions, evictions, incitement to violence, payments to terrorists." Blinken also met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as well as other leaders of Palestinian civil society. The Secretary of State hopes to provide a steady presence amid a tenuous truce, but he did reiterate America's commitment to rebuilding the Gaza Strip after recent Israeli airstrikes. Blinken warned, however, that no money would go to Hamas, which is designated a terror group by the US State Department. In a significant development, he also announced that the US would reopen its Jerusalem Consulate – whose autonomous Palestinian affairs office was downgraded under the Trump administration – in a bid to boost ties with Palestinians.

Another coup in Mali? Last August, Mali's democratically elected government was toppled in a coup led by Col. Assimi Goita, who emerged from that dustup as interim vice president. Now, he has detained the transitional president, prime minister and defense minister for not consulting him before forming a new government, and seized power himself. Goita says next year's general election will go ahead as planned, but that until then he will head the transitional government. Meanwhile, neighboring countries, as well as former colonial power France and the African Union, condemned the move and demanded the release of the detained leaders. Goita, for his part, denied this is another coup, referring to his move as a mere "cabinet reshuffle." Mali is now set to experience fresh political instability amid rapidly worsening insecurity in the broader Sahel region, where jihadists groups are taking advantage of weak governance to control vast swaths of territory. Jihadist violence claimed over 2,800 lives in Mali in 2020, the bloodiest year to date in the mineral-rich state.

All businesses have a role to play in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

That's why Bank of America is part of the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials, a group of financial institutions working to assess and disclose the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with their loans and investments.

Betrayal. Treason. Duplicity. These are some of the words used by the French government to describe the US' recent decision to freeze Paris out of a new security pact with the UK and Australia in the Indo-Pacific, which nixed a contract for Australia to buy French submarines.

Macron's subsequent tough stance against one of its oldest and closest allies is unusual, including his decision to briefly recall the French ambassador from Washington, the first time a French president has done so. But this headstrong strategy is also a deliberate diplomatic choice.

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Eighteen months later, some countries are already recovering from COVID, while others are still in the thick of it. What's the current state of play on vaccines, what's holding up distribution, will the world emerge stronger or weaker, what should the private sector do, and has Biden delivered on US leadership expectations?

Top leaders from the United Nations, the WHO, the World Bank, and Microsoft weighed in during a Global Stage virtual conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft during the 76th UN General Assembly, moderated by The New Yorker's Susan Glasser.

"Science needs to succeed over politics" — WHO's Dr. Mike Ryan | GLOBAL STAGE | GZERO Media youtu.be

For Dr. Mike Ryan, head of emergencies at the World Health Organization, one big obstacle is vaccine hesitancy. And the worst part about it is, in his view, powerful people who weaponize misinformation to serve their own political or economic needs. We need to have a healthy debate about vaccines and their safety, he says, but ultimately "science needs to succeed over politics."

World Bank Chief: Developing Countries Need to Know When Vaccines Coming | GLOBAL STAGE | GZERO youtu.be

For his part, World Bank President David Malpass says that wealthy countries and more recently India's Serum Institute are producing so many vaccines that there will likely be enough stocks to inoculate the entire world by the end of the year. However, to accomplish that, he warns, the nations that need jabs must know when they'll get them so they can prepare the groundwork to get the shots in people's arms.

Michelle Bachelet: Building back better is not going back to 2019 | GLOBAL STAGE | GZERO Media youtu.be

Even if we are able to vaccinate the world in time, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, says that building back better after COVID shouldn't mean returning to the same world we had before the pandemic. What we had back then, she explains, were political, social, and economic systems that didn't respond to people's needs — now we can either break through them, or break down to become an (even more) unequal world.

Why Public & Private Sectors Should Work Together| GLOBAL STAGE | GZERO Media youtu.be

Building back better is also about the private sector. The question is not if but rather how corporations will get involved. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, believes the private sector has a big role to play in helping to roll out COVID vaccines. But the most important thing it can do, he says, is collaborate effectively with the public sector — with a clear understanding of each side's role "so we each do what we're equipped to do and what we do best."

Biden's International Leadership "All Focused at Home" | GLOBAL STAGE | GZERO Media youtu.be

Many countries are disappointed about a multilateralist like Joe Biden not delivering on US vaccine exports that the rest of the world desperately needs. But it doesn't surprise Ian Bremmer, who says Biden upset his allies the same way by withdrawing so abruptly from Afghanistan or leaving the French out of the AUKUS loop. For Bremmer, Biden, initially viewed as way more competent and trustworthy than Donald Trump, is now one of the least trusted US presidents in recent history — apart from Trump himself — because whatever he says, his international leadership is "all focused at home."

Can the UK join a North American trade deal? The acronym for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement was never all that elegant, but now London wants to throw two more letters into that soup. That's right, the UK wants to join USMCA, the trade pact brokered by the Trump administration in 2020 as an update to the 1990s-era NAFTA agreement. London had hoped that Brexit would free it up to ink a bilateral free trade deal with the US, but as those talks have stalled in recent months, PM Boris Johnson now wants to plug his country into the broader three-party deal. The fact that the UK already has deals with Canada and Mexico should help, in principle. But it would doubtless be a complex negotiation. And there's at least one huge hurdle: US officials are reportedly unaware of any mechanism at all for bringing aboard additional countries.

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1 billion: US House Democrats this week voted to cut $1 billion worth of military aid for Israel. The money — which was stuffed into a larger appropriations bill meant to fund the US government and raise the debt ceiling — was supposed to go specifically to Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. The move sets up a showdown between progressives who want to slash US aid to Israel and the pro-Israel moderate wing of the party.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

How will the QUAD leaders address the microchip supply chain issue during their meeting this week?

Well, the idea for leaders of the US, Japan, India, and Australia, is to collaborate more intensively on building secure supply chains for semiconductors, and that is in response to China's growing assertiveness. I think it's remarkable to see that values are becoming much more clearly articulated by world leaders when they're talking about governing advanced technologies. The current draft statement ahead of the QUAD meeting says that collaboration should be based on the rule of respecting human rights.

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On the one hand, UN Secretary-General António Guterres believes COVID has fractured trust between mainly rich and poor countries, especially on vaccines, as the pandemic "demonstrated our enormous fragility." On the other hand, it generated more trust in science, especially on climate — practically the only area, Guterres says, where the US and China can find some common ground these days. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Well, we're in the thick of "high-level week" for the United Nations General Assembly, known as UNGA. As always, the busiest few days in global diplomacy are about more than just speeches and hellish midtown traffic in Manhattan. Here are a few things we are keeping an eye on as UNGA reaches peak intensity over in Turtle Bay.

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