Iraq at a crucial moment (Part 2)
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s to-do list reads like Mission Impossible. Staff his cabinet with honest officials; rebuild war-torn Sunni areas in the north; placate an angry Shia south that is desperately short of water and power; deal with Kurdish demands; reintegrate Iranian-backed militias into civilian life; balance carefully between Iran and the U.S. He must do all this without a secure parliamentary majority or even a solid support base. Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s position as an honest broker gives him great strength, but if he fails, Iraq could become Libya.
Lebanon’s condition moves toward critical
Lebanon today is the world’s only country that has two armies and two governments in peacetime. Its shadow government wields more power than the official one, while its economy, politics, military, soil, water and even the air is toxic. Interference from its neighbors has negated any chance of pulling the country back together.
The limited global impact of Trump’s ‘America First’ energy policies
Coal is back in the U.S., with production and exports rising. This has coincided with a President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies in the energy sector. But coal’s comeback is more a function of market forces than politics. And it could be short-lived. Despite all the sound and fury, Mr. Trump's initiatives to support fossil fuels will have far less of an impact on energy markets and global efforts to reduce climate change than his critics claim. Europe, however, could still benefit.
In Chile, stagnation and stasis despite shifting politics
The old party coalitions are breaking down in Chile, while new rules could shake up congressional representation. With the economy stuck in low gear, voters are frustrated. But despite all this, the country looks likely to elect a familiar face in November – former President Sebastian Pinera. If he wins, it will mark unprecedented stasis in Chilean politics since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship.
Palm oil, Russian fighters and the European Parliament
Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, has been clearing significant areas of its tropical forests to make room for palm plantations. The EU is alarmed and wants to discourage the policy by reducing palm oil imports. This counterproductive approach to preventing tropical deforestation already has backfired.
The greening of China’s auto industry
Chinese car ownership and production have shot up spectacularly in recent years. The country has joined the push for driverless electric cars as part of an environmental strategy that also stresses greatly expanded public transport. Depending on which strategy Beijing selects, carmakers could be headed for boom years or hard times.
Lebanon’s ramshackle state and the last vestiges of public services are falling apart. President Michel Aoun's election at the end of October has done little to end the country's political paralysis, as Hezbollah continues to block the formation of a new government. Unless it relents, the next stop may be partition.
Africa’s poaching wars
Poaching in Africa has intensified in recent years, leaving less than half a million elephants on the continent. The flip side of this ecological tragedy is a multibillion-dollar business for criminal and terrorist groups. That makes poaching a geopolitical problem requiring an international response.
China’s slowdown could bring environmental benefits
Beijing is eager to use China’s economic slowdown as a means to improve the country’s environment. The slower growth gives the government maneuverability to address some of the country’s most pressing environmental problems. Nevertheless, doubts remain as to whether authorities are truly committed to green issues or are merely saving face. Lacking rapid economic growth to appease the populace, the government must address the other concerns, such as the environment.
The energy mix revolution in Japan
Japan is moving full throttle toward renewable energy. Five years ago, before the Fukushima Daiichi accident in March 2011, such a development would have been inconceivable because the country’s so called “nuclear village” held tight control over the energy sector. The powerful pro-nuclear lobby comprised of elite bureaucrats, utility executives, academics and jour...