Africa is endowed with very rich biodiversity, among which include pathogens causing many of the infectious diseases afflicting the continent. Sadly, Africa has failed to use this as an opportunity to develop solutions (e.g., diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines) that could benefit the world. Brookings, Christian Happi: What’s next for R&D in health for Africa?
GERMANY – RUSSIA
Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, conferred with the Ukrainian and Russian presidents in Kyiv and Moscow on February 14 and 15, respectively, turning these maiden visits into a shuttle-diplomacy effort. Far from even-handed, however, Scholz effectively sided with Russia against Ukraine (see EDM, February 15). German economic interests as well as imponderable idiosyncrasies inspire Berlin’s Russia-First approach not only with regard to Ukraine. Vladimir Socor, The Jamestown Foundation: German Chancellor Effectively Takes the Kremlin’s Side in Russia-Ukraine Conflict
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed an estimated 124 million people into extreme poverty globally, the first increase in extreme poverty in 20 years. To meet the magnitude of this need, governments around the world have dramatically ramped up social protection measures, and in particular cash transfers, which comprised one-third of all COVID-related social protection programs. A staggering 17 percent of the world’s population, or 1.3 billion people, were covered by at least one COVID-related cash payment between 2020 and 2021. Brookings, Anir Chowdhury, Cina Lawson, Elizabeth Kellison, Han Sheng Chia, Homi Kharas, Jacquelline Fuller, Michael Faye, Michal Rutkowski, Rodrigo Salvado, and Stefan Dercon: Accelerating digital cash transfers to the world’s poorest
In late January, Islamic State group (IS) fighters launched an audacious attack on al-Sinaa prison just outside Hasaka in northeast Syria. Hundreds of the IS attackers were killed before the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the U.S. military, regained control of the facility. However, hundreds more — including large numbers of IS prisoners — are believed to have escaped into the desolate borderlands between Syria and Iraq. Days later, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that U.S. forces had succeeded in killing IS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in his safe-house outside the town of Atmeh, 250 miles west of Hasaka along the Syrian-Turkish border. Brookings, Steven Heydemann: Not by counterterrorism alone: Root causes and the defeat of the Islamic State group
Libya is facing political turmoil again. On February 10, the country’s parliament, the House of Representatives, voted to sack the current Prime Minister Abdulhamed Dbeiba and appoint Fathi Bashaga, the interior minister in the previous government and main architect of the resistance against General Khalifa Haftar’s attack on Tripoli in 2019. Sources on the ground told me that the vote wasn’t transparent and was made by a very brief show of hands after several members of parliament had left the session. Moreover, there was no formal list of deputies present. Bashaga, who received the support of Aghela Saleh, the president of the House of Representatives, now has ten days to appoint a cabinet and obtain its approval from the parliament. Atlantic Council, Karim Mezran: Will Libya have two prime ministers again ?
The world is moving toward electric vehicles and clean energy, but a green future doesn’t depend on wind turbines, solar panels, and Teslas alone. It will also require a vast supply of advanced batteries. As a result, global demand for lithium—an essential battery ingredient—is outpacing supply, with the gap expected to grow in the years to come. Council on Foreign Relations, Gabrielle Sierra, Frank Fannon, Vijay Vaitheeswaran: Batteries Not Included
The phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is a key part of the global climate change agenda as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their negative environmental impacts and associated are well known. They lead to overconsumption, divert business to rent-seeking energy-intensive activities and drain government expenditure at the expense of public goods such as infrastructure, healthcare and education. Low energy prices also mainly benefit the wealthiest populations. The MENA region is responsible for almost half of global energy consumption subsidies. Chatham House, Adel Hamaizia, Tom Moerenhout: Five takeaways from a decade of energy subsidy reforms in MENA
As Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s term nears its end, many fear that he will remain unaccountable for gross human rights violations. The Philippines’ political highlights of 2021 revolved around Duterte’s final manoeuvres in office, the dramatic overture of the election season and the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded to a Filipino citizen. East Asia Forum: Is it ‘back to the future’ for Philippine politics under Marcos Jr?
Over the last 30 years, demographic shifts in each of the post-Soviet countries have changed power relations both within and between them. The most obvious changes are in the size of the populations of each state, with declines in nine of the fifteen and increases registered only in the six former Soviet Muslim-majority countries. At the same time, ethnic homogenization in favor of the respective titular nationalities has been an unrelenting process in each of the 15—except for the Russian Federation, which has become more ethnically diverse over the past three decades. The Jamestown Foundation, Paul Globe: Demographic Shifts Change Power Relations Within and Between Post-Soviet States
On February 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin met separately with his defense and foreign ministers, Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, respectively. The Kremlin press service provided video footage of the opening remarks from both meetings, with the ministers sitting at a long table, 10 meters away from Putin, apparently in line with the president’s continued strict COVID-19 prevention regime, which isolates him from even his closest advisors or Cabinet members. Putin and Lavrov severely criticized the West for failing to address Moscow’s key security demands: stopping (reversing) the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), withdrawing Alliance military infrastructure to pre-1997 positions, and pledging not to deploy “attack weapons” anywhere close to Russia. The Jamestown Foundation, Pavel E. Felgenhauer: Is the Russian Military Stepping Down or Feigning Withdrawal While Planning an Attack?
RUSSIA – UKRAINE – SECURITY
Policymakers and analysts clinging to the mantra of ‘Minsk implementation’ must learn hard lessons about why this agreement is no diplomatic silver bullet. Chatham House, Duncan Allan, Kataryna Wolczuk: Why Minsk-2 cannot solve the Ukraine crisis
In 2022, two political challenges lie ahead for the ruling Moon Jae-in administration and the Democratic Party of Korea — the nation’s 20th presidential election on 9 March and the 8th local elections on 1 June. East Asia Forum, Kim Kee-seok: South Korea’s presidential litmus test
The 2020s will undoubtedly be characterized by new technology regulation. But while today’s technologies are global, the rules governing their development and use are not. Brookings, Nicholas Davis, Mark Esposito, and Landry Signé: The anatomy of technology regulation
Any day now President Biden will announce his nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer. As we await the news, consider the significant changes that have occurred in the appointment process over the last 120 years; changes that speak in part to the changing role of the Court itself. Brookings, Russell Wheeler: Changes in Supreme Court appointments—fewer justices, longer terms, more contentious confirmations