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.

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal