🌍 The enemy of my enemy

🌍 The enemy of my enemy

Plus: Cash returns to the Amazon

Hi there Intriguer. Scientists from China and the US have created a robot capable of melting itself to escape a cage before re-solidifying on the outside. In other words, humans, in our infinite wisdom, have casually recreated the terrifying shapeshifting robot from Terminator 2. We’re all for increased US-China cooperation, but let’s start with handshakes and gift exchanges before bringing android assassins to life, shall we?

Today’s edition is a 4.5 min read:

  • 🇮🇳 The US and India bolster security and tech ties.
  • 🌳 Germany pledges €200m to help protect the Amazon.
  • ➕ Plus: US evidence of a global water crisis, how the papers are covering the jailing of Uzbek protesters, and a football superstar is running for President (again).

– VC & EP

  1. 🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan: After a three decade tug-of-war, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan finally agreed their 1,400km border last week. With Russia losing regional influence, tensions have flared between many ex-Soviet states, so it’s good to see two of them make nice.
  2. 🇬🇧 United Kingdom: Teachers, rail workers and civil servants led the largest UK strikes in over a decade on Wednesday (aka “walkout Wednesday”). Protestors are asking that pay rises keep pace with inflation, which hit a 40-year high of 11.1% last year.
  3. 🇲🇲 Myanmar: Australia has announced new sanctions targeting Myanmar’s military junta, two years after the ouster of democratically-elected President Aung San Suu Kyi. Australia said ‘the time had come’, with thousands of civilians ‘jailed, tortured or killed’.
  4. 🇭🇹 Haiti: Four suspects in the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Moise are now in US custody to face criminal charges. Gangs have filled the vacuum left by Moise’s killing, prompting the Dominican Republic (Haiti’s neighbour) to call for foreign intervention.
  5. 🇱🇷 Liberia: President and former football superstar George Weah has announced he’ll seek a second term in October’s elections. His 2017 win marked Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power since 1944, but his government has been mired in (alleged) corruption.

General Electric has proposed moving a military jet engine factory to India as part of a new US-India security deal.

The enemy of my enemy: India and the US deepen security cooperation

Briefly: Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval travelled to Washington on Tuesday (31 January) to meet his American counterpart, Jake Sullivan. The pair promised to bolster security and tech ties in several key areas.

2022 was a weird year for India-US relations: On the one hand, they became new BFFs (best friends forever) thanks in part to The Quad, a US/India/Japan/Australia partnership to balance China support a free and open Indo-Pacific.

On the other hand, the US felt pretty jilted when India not only stayed near-silent over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but even served as an economic lifeline to the Kremlin (India-Russia trade hit a new record). India also buys 85% of its arms from Russia, which India will need if things get nasty with China or Pakistan.

So, the US wants to offer India some non-Russian alternatives. Doval and Sullivan agreed to share advanced defence and computing tech and potentially transfer some production of General Electric fighter jet engines to India. India also sought American support in the great global semiconductor race (PM Modi’s $10B “India Semiconductor Mission” still looks puny compared to the much larger US, EU and Chinese strategies).

Intrigue’s take: The US-India relationship is a classic case of national interest at play. Both see in the other a partner to counter-balance China’s assertive behaviour (including border clashes with India). But China isn’t the only tricky neighbour on India’s doorstep; think Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Russia… it’s quite the block.

So America’s begrudging silence on India’s continued dealings with Russia – and Washington’s willingness to help wean India off Russian arms – suggests the US understands (though doesn’t like) India’s position.

Also worth noting: 


How different newspapers covered: the jailing of Uzbek anti-government protesters.

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Maybe money really does grow on trees.

It’s raining cash in the Amazon

Briefly: Like the jaguar and other endangered species, money is making its way back to the Amazon after a few (ahem) difficult years. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has pledged €200 million to fund green projects during his visit to Brazil on Monday (31 January), including a donation to the Amazon Fund (which was ditched by former President Bolsonaro in 2019).

Scholz also visited Chile and Argentina over the weekend to secure more critical minerals for Germany’s auto industry. Together with Bolivia, the countries form the ‘lithium triangle’, the world’s largest lithium deposit. Most of the region’s lithium production is currently exported to China for use in electric vehicle manufacturing.

Intrigue’s take: Germany’s pledge is welcome news for Brazilian president Lula da Silva’s ambitious green agenda, which includes a net-zero deforestation pledge. Deforestation rates soared during former President Bolsonaro’s four-year term, but Lula’s return to power has lifted the international community’s spirits and put big donors in a spending mood. Maybe money does grow on (Amazonian) trees.

Also worth noting: 

  • Scholz also reiterated the need to speed up negotiations for an EU-South America trade deal during his visit (which would further help Germany secure critical mineral supplies).
  • Scholz is currently in a governing coalition with Germany’s Green Party.

Lake Mead is drying up as US states fail to agree to cut water usage. Credits: NASA

🎶 Dream of Californication desertification…

California has rejected a joint proposal by six other thirsty US states to cut water usage and safeguard the Colorado River’s reservoirs (Lake Mead and Lake Powell). Increased water consumption and droughts have brought water levels down to critically-low levels, endangering the water supply of over 40 million people across seven states and Mexico.

Low water levels are a threat to energy security too, since the Colorado River basin produces more than 4,200 megawatts of hydroelectricity.

But the US isn’t the only place that’s short on H2O: water conflicts around the world are on the rise as climate change puts pressure on precarious water-sharing deals everywhere.


Speaking of, here’s what we’re reading and watching about the global water crisis.


Will India decrease its reliance on Russian weapons?

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Yesterday’s poll: How would you rate Pope Francis’ tenure as pontiff?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🙂 Great, he’s helped strengthen the Church’s global image (52%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 😑 Bad, he’s turned the Church away from tradition (15%)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🤷 No opinion (33%)

Your two cents: 

  • 🤷 J.Z: “¯_(ツ)_/¯”
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