What We’re Watching: Truce in Nagorno-Karabakh, Brazil pauses Chinese COVID vaccine trial, Peruvian leader resigns

A serviceman examines a residential area of the city damaged in a rocket attack in Ganja, Azerbaijan on 11 October

Did the Azeris win in Nagorno-Karabakh? After six weeks of intense fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenia and Azerbaijan have signed a long-term truce, brokered by Moscow. The deal is broadly seen as a win for the Azeris, who can keep land won during the decades-long conflict, while Armenia has agreed to withdraw from adjacent territory. While in recent weeks both sides said they would not give up until they emerged victorious, Armenia's strategic edge all but disappeared this week, when it lost control of the strategic area of Shusha (which Armenians refer to as Shushi), the enclave's second largest city, as well as a key road used to supply its troops with weapons. What happens now? President Putin said that Russia will send peacekeepers to guard the borders, while Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan, will also take part in the "peacekeeping" mission. After the deal was inked, euphoric Azeris flocked to the streets of Baku to celebrate, while furious Armenians stormed the parliament in Yerevan and raided the office of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, calling him a "traitor." Three previous ceasefires collapsed, but this one appears to set out a more comprehensive map for reconceptualizing the South Caucasus, where Armenia and Azerbaijan are located. Will it hold?

Brazil halts Chinese COVID-19 vaccine trial: Brazilian health authorities hit pause on a Chinese company's COVID-19 vaccine trial after an undisclosed safety "incident" occurred in late October. The drug, which is being produced by Sinovac Biotech, is one of China's most promising vaccine candidates. As part of a Phase III trial, the final stage before a vaccine's approval, Sinovac began vaccinating participants in São Paulo over the summer. The drug company is also conducting advanced trials in Indonesia and Turkey, though neither of those countries have suspended the program at the time of this writing. Sinovac, for its part, said that it is "confident in the safety of the vaccine," a stance echoed by the Chinese government (although the company is privately owned). While it is not uncommon for clinical trials to be suspended when new issues arise, several Chinese vaccines have already been given limited approval by the government even before the safety and efficacy of the drugs have been fully fleshed out, violating a slew of international safety protocols.

Vizcarra out in Perú: Martín Vizcarra agreed to step down as president on Monday after the Peruvian parliament voted to remove him over allegations that he accepted bribes from construction companies when he was a regional governor. This comes just two months after Vizcarra survived another impeachment vote after being accused of trying to block an investigation into misuse of public funds. These political crises come as Perú is been pummeled by the pandemic, suffering one of the world's highest per capita mortality rates. Since both the presidency and the vice presidency are now vacant (Mercedes Aráoz stepped down as VP in May following a brief stint as interim president), the acting head of state will be Manuel Merino, speaker in Perú's unicameral Congress. Merino will serve as interim president until the next parliamentary election, currently scheduled for April 2021, where the current frontrunner is former football (soccer) player and Lima district mayor George Forsyth. Meanwhile, Merino's caretaker government faces tough challenges ahead in dealing with the pandemic, getting the Peruvian economy back on track after huge losses in the mining sector, and navigating a fragmented political landscape that risks further turmoil as the vote looms.

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The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

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Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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1 billion: One billion Indians have now gotten at least one COVID vaccine shot. It's a big turnaround for the country, which stumbled with the initial rollout and then suspended vaccine exports for months to deal with a deadly wave in the spring. Still, only 30 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated in India, the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines.

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Listen: The nature of work had already been changing long before the global pandemic accelerated trends around flexible work, remote work technology, and the gig economy. While some industries and workers have benefitted from these changes, others have been left behind - including many women who dropped out of the workforce due to family concerns, or service-industry professionals whose jobs evaporated.

The latest episode of Living Beyond Borders, a special podcast series from GZERO brought to you by Citi Private Bank, looks in depth at the future of work and how the latest trends will change business, the economy, and the global political balance. Moderated by Caitlin Dean, Head of the Geostrategy Practice at Eurasia Group, this episode features Ida Liu, Global Head of Private Banking at Citi Global Wealth and Alexander Kazan, Chief Commercial Officer at Eurasia Group.

Ida Liu Global Head of Private Banking, Citi Global Wealth

Ida Liu

Global Head of Private Banking, Citi Global Wealth

Alexander Kazan, Chief Commercial Officer at Eurasia Group

Alexander Kazan

Chief Commercial Officer, Eurasia Group

Caitlin Dean, Practice Head, Geostrategy, Eurasia Group

Caitlin Dean

Practice Head, Geostrategy, Eurasia Group

Three years ago, Facebook changed its algorithms to mitigate online rage and misinformation. But it only made Facebook worse by boosting toxic engagement, says Nick Thompson, The Atlantic CEO & former WIRED editor-in-chief. Thompson believes Facebook simply got in over its head, rather than becoming intentionally "evil" like, say, Big Tobacco with cigarettes. "I think they just created something they couldn't control. And I think they didn't grasp what was happening until too late." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

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