Jack Merlin Watling, 2 March 2015.
ONES TO WATCH
RUSSIA: Opposition fears further violence following murder of Boris Nemtsov. The shooting may suggest that the model of “managed opposition” is breaking down, raising the spectre of a return to the targeted killings of the 1990s. The Kremlin meanwhile suggested that the assassination was a “provocation” by opposition groups trying to create a martyr.
HONG KONG: Anti-China movement could still revive. Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police on Sunday near the Chinese border, leading to three arrests. The protests were ostensibly against “parallel trading” whereby goods bought in China are sold in Hong Kong for huge profits, but they show that Hong Kong continues to face significant unrest.
BANGLADESH: Murder of US blogger raises key questions over rise of Islamic extremism. Machete wielding men killed Avijit Roy and seriously injured his wife after they left a book fair on Thursday. Large marches in support of freedom of expression took place on Sunday, but the attack raises concerns about the rise of extremist groups in Bangladesh.
MONDAY, 2 MARCH 2015
PAKISTAN: New Polio vaccination campaign despite security risks. Vaccination drives have been perceived as a cover for CIA operations since it was revealed they were used to gather intelligence on Osama Bin Laden. More than 60 polio workers have been killed over the last two years. Pakistan has the highest incidence of Polio worldwide, and the police are now arresting people who refuse to vaccinate their children.
SOUTH KOREA: US-South Korean joint war drills. The exercises, held annually, are designed to test the preparedness of US and South Korean forces for a high intensity conflict on the Korean peninsular involving coordinated ground, air and sea maneuvers. They are highly sensitive and may provoke a show of force from North Korea.
BAHRAIN: John Legend plays controversial concert. After lending his name to an Amnesty campaign for freedom of expression and devoting his recent Oscars speech to justice and democracy, Legend has faced criticism from Bahraini opposition activists for agreeing to sing at Bahrain’s Spring of Culture Festival.
SWITZERLAND: Iran nuclear negotiations continue. The parties must agree to finalise the treaty terms by 31 March, with both sides raising expectations of success. Any statements emerging from the negotiations today will feed into the political controversy surrounding Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to the US Congress on Tuesday.
SWITZERLAND: UN reports on human rights in Ukraine. The report is likely to condemn the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. The conference will include a briefing from Ivan Simonovic, UN assistant secretary-general for human rights.
SWITZERLAND: Russian and US foreign chiefs discuss Ukraine and Syria. Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry are expected to meet at the wings of a UN summit in Geneva. The discussion occurs as an uneasy ceasefire in Ukraine threatens to unravel completely and Syrian peace talks held in Moscow came to naught.
TUESDAY, 3 MARCH 2015
PAKISTAN: Indian Foreign Secretary visits Pakistan. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is visiting both Pakistan and Bangladesh to improve bilateral relations after India pulled out of negotiations over Kashmir last year. Security issues will feature prominently.
UK: State visit of Mexican President. President Enrique Peña Nieto will visit the UK on an official state visit lasting three days. He will visit Aberdeen to sign an energy collaboration agreement, and will be looking to woo British oil infrastructure firms.
US: Israeli Prime Minister addresses Congress. In a controversial snub to the White House, PM Binyamin Netanyahu will address both houses, where he’s likely to launch a fierce attack the Obama administration’s policy on Iran. With two weeks to go until Israeli elections on March 17, he will be playing to an Israeli audience, but he has been criticised at home and in Washington for playing partisan politics with Israel’s relationship with the US.
US: Obama cabinet officials address American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The Obama administration courts further controversy in sending Susan Rice and Samantha Powers to address the influential lobby group after Rice criticised Netanyahu’s address to congress for making US-Israel relations a partisan issue.
EU: European Commission publishes environmental outlook report. The report will make recommendations that could influence the EU’s position in the Paris 2015 Climate talks.
BRUSSELS: Major Ebola conference follows upsurge in new cases. Heads of state from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Togo will meet UN officials and African Union representatives to discuss progress in tackling the disease.
ZAMBIA: Will the chief prosecutor be forced to prosecute himself? Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito was charged with fraud and abuse of his office, but caused a constitutional quandary when he ordered the case to be dropped. Magistrates must now decide whether the director of public prosecutions can be forced to prosecute himself.
WEDNESDAY, 4 MARCH 2015
US: Boston bombing trial commences after long delays. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with killing three and wounding 260 on 4 March 2013 faces a potential death sentence. His trial was delayed after the defence queried the selection process of jurors, claiming the jury did not represent a cross-section of the community.
Editing by Paul Raymond.