Jack Merlin Watling - 11 May 2015
ONES TO WATCH
POLAND: Presidential election expected to move to second-round run off. President Bronislaw Komorowski failed to gain over 50% of the vote according to an exit poll on Sunday and must now face a run-off with his conservative rival. The failure has been blamed on a complacent and lacklustre campaign, but is nevertheless a surprise given strong economic growth through Komorowski’s term.
GREECE: Progress over bailout negotiations as IMF payment looms. Greece and the EU have signalled that expectations are high for a deal after weeks of deadlock. If a deal is not reached Greece will face loan repayments to the IMF beginning with over €700 million on Tuesday.
USA: Health fears for Jimmy Carter. The 90 year old former US President cut short an election monitoring trip to Guyana for treatment in Atlanta. The Guyana election is the hundredth that the Carter Centre has monitored and a significant engagement for him to pull out of.
MACEDONIA: Fear of ethnic violence amid political crisis and shootout with police. Although Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski stressed that the attackers were not part of Macedonia’s Albanian minority, many fear that the country’s political crisis could lead to ethnic tensions after the government and opposition accused each other of trying to destabilise the country. Eight police officers were killed alongside fourteen gunmen in a shootout in Kumanov.
MONDAY 11 MAY 2015
CUBA: First visit by French head of state. This will also be the first visit by a Western leader to the country since a rapprochement between the US and Cuba in December. It is expected that President Hollande will push for improving trade relations between Cuba and the EU as part of a regional strategy to expand trade with South America.
GEORGIA: US forces conduct joint exercises with Georgia. Russia has shown discomfort at US ‘Noble Partner’ drills to be held for two weeks near Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi. Although US-Georgian military co-operation began in Afghanistan before Georgia's five day war with Russia, the drills are a source of tension and involve the deployment of US armoured and airborne units to the country.
GUYANA: General election. The poll has been called over a year early after President Ramotar of the People’s Progressive Party was forced to suspend parliament in order of to avoid a vote of no-confidence.
TUESDAY 12 MAY 2015
IRAQ: President Fuad Masum to visit Iran. Iran has supplied Baghdad with equipment and military advisors during its offensive against the Islamic State and President Masum has expressed an interest in strengthening security and economic cooperation.
YEMEN: Five day humanitarian ceasefire scheduled to begin. Houthi representatives have responded positively to an offer from Saudi Arabia of a five day humanitarian ceasefire after aid agencies were forced to withdraw. Few expect it to last however as southern separatist fighters have not declared their position and Saudi Arabia has threatened a zero-tolerance policy on violations. Moreover Saudi bombing of infrastructure renders the delivery of aid exceedingly difficult.
WEDNESDAY 13 MAY 2015
TURKEY: NATO Foreign Ministers meet in Antalya. Discussions are to centre on the Islamic State and wider a-symmetric militancy as well as tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. Partner nations are also attending.
GERMANY: Petro Poroshenko meets with Angela Merkel. President Putin has signalled that he believes progress is being made in bringing peace to Eastern Ukraine. European leaders remain sceptical and are continuing to strengthen military cooperation with US forces training Ukrainian troops.
US: Leaders of the GCC will arrive in Washington for talks. The talks will cover the situation in Yemen, Syria and the position of Iran in the region. The US will seek to reassure its allies over the P5+1 Nuclear Deal.
Jack Merlin Watling - 7 May 2015
ONES TO WATCH
UK: General Election. British voters go to the polls on Thursday in what is expected to be one of the closest elections in British history with only a couple of seats determining whether it will be possible for either the Conservative or Labour party to form a governing coalition with the Liberal Democrats or Scottish National Party. Business leaders and Britain’s international partners remain deeply concerned with the prospect of either a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, or a deciding influence held by Scottish Nationalists with their promise to end austerity and potentially disunite the United Kingdom.
ISRAEL: Netanyahu forms desperate coalition hours before deadline. Netanyahu has allied with the far-right Jewish Home Party to avoid forfeiting his electoral victory after Foreign Minister Lieberman dropped his support for a coalition on Monday. The move leaves Netanyahu’s governing Likud party with a very weak position, dependent upon the extreme right.
YEMEN: Aid agencies preparing to pull out. Aid agencies warned they could be forced to pull out of the “humanitarian catastrophe” zone at short notice due to food and fuel shortages caused by the intense fighting. This comes within hours of Houthi militants launching their first deliberate attacks against Saudi civilian targets across the border.
THURSDAY 7 MAY 2015
GREECE: Golden Dawn leaders stand trial. 70 members of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party are being charged with organized crime as their party has orchestrated violent attacks and has practiced widespread intimidation. The defendants include the party’s leader and several of its MPs, many of whom have been held in custody for over a year.
RUSSIA: German Foreign Minister attends WWII memorial in Volgograd. The Victory Day celebrations come as Angela Merkel restarts direct negotiations with Vladimir Putin over Ukraine. In a bid to support the talks Germany’s foreign minister will visit Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad and pay respects to the fallen.
ITALY: Gulf security conference focuses on Libya. The Libya and the Future of Cooperative Security conference in Rome will discuss the ongoing situation in Libya and see dialogue between Italian staff planners and the Gulf states. Gulf air forces have contributed to an ongoing security crisis by bombing in support of proxy forces. Analysts expect that Italy will play a leading role in any potential peacekeeping activities in Libya.
FRIDAY 8 MAY 2015
GERMANY: Summit on refugee crisis. The conference is aimed at both improving German contributions to European support for migrants, and to curb growing numbers of violent attacks on refugees inside Germany. Germany and Sweden, who currently host the majority of Syrian refugees in Europe will likely aim to spread the burden more equally across EU member states.
US: Hearing on ‘London Whale’ trading scandal. The London Whale scandal saw JPMorgan Chase traders Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout fraudulently transfer money through London, losing the bank up to $6.3 billion. The case has raised questions about the enforcement of transnational banking crimes as Martin-Artajo has successfully evaded extradition from Spain, while Julien Grout has similarly been protected in France.
SATURDAY 9 MAY 2015
TURKEY: US training programme for Syrian rebels to begin. The Turkish government has confirmed that US forces will begin to train and equip vetted Syrian rebels in order to build an anti-government force of around 15,000 troops. The programme will be closely scrutinised as there is deep scepticism of the effectiveness of vetting.
INDIA: Modi unveils flagship social security reforms. The reform packages announced in the February budget are aimed at extending insurance cover to vulnerable and rural communities, and to make it easier for the elderly to receive pension payments. Access to banking is heavily restricted for many communities, with villagers having to travel for miles by foot to receive their pensions.
SUNDAY 10 MAY 2015
RUSSIA: Direct talks between Merkel and Putin. As Ukraine prepares its defences for further fighting after NATO warned of a new Russian build up at the border, Merkel will be seeking to hold together the vulnerable Minsk II agreement. Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed on Wednesday. As well as her negotiations with Putin Merkel will follow her Foreign Minister in honouring Russia’s sacrifice during the Second World War. She is expected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
POLAND: Unexpectedly close presidential elections. When President Bronislaw Komorowski kicked off the election campaign he was expected to win a comfortable second term, having overseen strong economic growth at the helm of the Civil Platform party. However an uninspiring campaign has seen his rivals catch up and is now expected to require a second round vote. Komorowski was empty chaired at a leaders’ debate on Tuesday.
Jack Merlin Watling - 4 May 2015.
ONES TO WATCH
IRAQ: Islamic State militants counter attack, trapping government forces in Baiji. Despite recent advances by the Iraqi army, supported by Shia militias, Islamic State fighters have recaptured most of Iraq’s largest oil refinery at Baiji, trapping around 150 Iraqi soldiers. The government troops are running low on ammunition, food and water.
COLOMBIA: President to rule on fumigating coca crop after WHO warning. The World Health Organization has stated that one of agrochemical giant Monsanto’s most popular products is ‘probably’ carcinogenic. The president’s decision is to come just days before Colombia had planned to crop dust illegal drug plantations.
NEPAL: US marines arrive for aid mission. International aid is pouring into the country. despite damage to airports and roads. rural communities are beginning receive help.
PAKISTAN: Security Council may censure Pakistan for release of Mumbai attack coordinator. Lashkar-e-Taiba who coordinated the Mumbai attack was released on the 9th of April resulting in strained relations between Pakistan and India. The move is also a significant step backwards for Pakistan’s counter terror strategy.
YEMEN: Saudi special forces rumoured to be operating in Aden. Saudi Arabia has denied the presence of its Saudi led coalition troops in the Southern Yemeni port city, but journalists have noted non-Yemeni troops in the region with sophisticated weaponry. Anti-Houthi forces have claimed that a raid on Aden’s airport was led by their own men who had received advanced training. The assault was supported by close air support from coalition aircraft.
MONDAY 4 MAY 2015
SYRIA: UN tries to restart peace talks. The UN will be meeting with Syrian factions separately in Geneva to develop a framework for peace talks. Recent talks hosted by Russia were boycotted by the Syrian opposition. Direct negotiations between the warring factions are expected to begin in six weeks.
NAGORNO-KARABAKH: Parliamentary election results expected. Elections in the breakaway region claimed by both Armenia and Azerbaijan were held on Sunday. The election has been dismissed by the US, EU, OIC and Azerbaijan.
NATO: Relations between Greece and Turkey improve as Turkey hosts Greek jets. The ‘Tiger Meet’ exercises are one of the most visible NATO exercises with joint air maneuvers involving 11 air forces, displays and interforce competitions. The very visible hosting of Greek jets by Turkey is a significant step in improving security cooperation between the two wary NATO members.
QATAR: French president signs €6.3 billion deal to sell Qatar 24 Rafale fighters. The deal will add considerably to over €15 billion of French arms exports already signed this year, aiding Frances struggling economy. However tensions between Qatar and its fellow GCC states renders the deal controversial.
US: Kurdish President on week long US tour. Masoud Barzani is touring the US to test support for Kurdish independence. Barzani may also be seeking to gain greater support for Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State as many Kurdish groups remain cut off from international arms.
TUESDAY 5 MAY 2015
FRANCE: National Assembly to vote on extended counter-terrorism law. The bill will extend the state’s powers of surveillance through the intelligence services and has been opposed by civil society groups as well as the data hosting companies who see the new compliance requirements as prohibitively expensive. Both of the major parties support the bill and it is expected to pass easily after the prominent Charlie Hebdo massacre.
ISRAEL: Former Prime Minister to be sentenced for corruption scandal. Ehud Olmert was found guilty last year for corrupt practices committed while he was mayor of Jerusalem, but recent evidence has led prosecutors to press further charges, which will add considerably to Olmert’s existing six year sentence.
CHINA: EU Foreign affairs chief co-chairs strategic talks. The talks will be watched closely by the US as American and European policy towards China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy is not closely aligned.
EU: European Commission publishes economic forecasts for 2015. GDP, Inflation, Unemployment, Budget deficits and Public debt projections will be included for all 28 member states, candidates and key trade partners.
WEDNESDAY 6 MAY 2015
UK: Mass strike ballot opened by unions a day before the UK general election. 17,000 union members will be balloted in potentially the biggest UK industrial action in over 30 years. The ballot comes in the wake of the union’s failing to agree terms with India’s Tata Steel conglomerate but is seen as a mechanism for maximising union impact around the election.
INDIA: Verdict expected in the trial of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan. Charged after a hit and run car accident ten years ago in which a homeless person died, Salman Khan could be imprisoned for up to 10 years if a guilty verdict is delivered.
Editing by Jeremy Walker.