Jack Merlin Watling, 20 April 2015
ONES TO WATCH
YEMEN: Backroom negotiations to avert international ground war. The Saudi-led bombing campaign has driven back Houthi fighters in the south but as Al Qaeda makes use of the chaos to claim territory, rumours have emerged of intense diplomatic efforts to stabilise the country and forestall intervention by the Egyptian military.
MEDITERRANEAN: Europe faces Catch-22 as up to 700 migrants drown off Libya. The European Union has come under severe criticism for not aiding migrants trying to cross from Libya to Italy, but EU naval officials fear that patrolling rescue vessels would encourage people to take to the sea. Up to 700 migrants are believed to have died after their boat overturned en route from Libya. Italy’s PM has called an emergency summit on EU policy.
FINLAND: Expectations that pro-EU Prime Minister to be ousted. Early counts suggest a victory for Finland’s Opposition Centre Party under Juha Sipila, but as the country faces economic woes its new Prime Minister may find himself reliant on eurosceptic and nationalist MPs with serious implications for the EU and NATO.
SOUTH AFRICA: Violence against foreigners heralds crisis. Xenophobic attacks against foreigners have escalated, causing President Jacob Zuma to cancel a state visit and take the reigns. The attacks overlay a struggling economy and systematic power cuts across the country that have crippled support for a government already hounded by corruption scandals.
NIGERIA: Unidentified disease spreads in Ondo, killing within 24 hours. Lab tests have yet to identify a virus that has killed at least seventeen people in Ondo province, although they have ruled out Ebola.
MONDAY 20 APRIL 2015
PAKISTAN: Xi Jinping doubles Pakistan’s submarine fleet on state visit. As India tests new ballistic missile capabilities China is selling Pakistan eight submarines, as well as signing agreements relating to nuclear power, that some fear will support Pakistan in developing a maritime nuclear capability. China has tense relations with India and Xi Jinping said of his two day trip that he feels “as if I am going to visit the home of my own Brother.”
CUBA: First post rapprochement US trade mission to Cuba. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is to lead a trade delegation to Cuba seeking to encourage tentative trade links for the travel, financial services, healthcare, agriculture and education sectors. The trip will be extremely sensitive both for US-Cuban relations and for American domestic politics.
GREECE: Trial of far right Golden Dawn party officers on organised crime charges. 70 people are to go on trial for crimes including murder and political violence. The accused include members of Greece’s neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which has become increasingly powerful during Greece’s economic woes and has extensive support among the country’s police and security forces.
TUESDAY 21 APRIL 2015
EGYPT: First verdict against overthrown president Mohamed Morsi. The former elected president will receive the verdict along with 14 others charged with inciting the killing of protesters in clashes on 5 December 2012. Seven of the defendants are being tried in absentia.
IRAN: Nuclear talks with P5+1 restart after working agreement. The race to finalise treaty terms before July will commence on Tuesday. Coming to a final treaty will prove exceedingly difficult, especially as Republican lawmakers in the US apply legislation to limit the lifting of sanctions, a key demand of Iranian negotiators.
BALKANS: EU oversees meeting to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Belgrade and Pristina have been locked in dispute after Kosovo declared independence in 2008, expanding already unstable ethnic tensions. The EU has been hosting ongoing peace talks and after some success it is hoped that the two states can normalise diplomatic relations after their Prime Minister’s meet.
EU: European Commission unveils next round of measures to tackle Illegal fishing. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is believed to represent at least 15 per cent of global catches, causing both environmental and economic havoc. The EU has stepped up measures to control its fishing fleets in recent years, and these latest steps could see trade repercussions on governments that fail to regulate the industry.
GERMANY: Trial of 93 year old Auschwitz guard. SS Rottenführer Oskar Groening was responsible for accounting for assets seized from the dead at Auschwitz. He is being charged in connection with the mass murder of 425,000 people. He denies having any responsibility for the murders. The trial will see over 55 survivors and victim’s families as plaintiffs.
WEDNESDAY 22 APRIL 2015
USA: Bowe Bergdahl to appear before a court-martial. The US Army Sergeant who was held captive by the Taliban for five years before being recovered in a controversial prisoner swap faces charges of desertion and misbehavior in the face of the enemy in a case that could prove highly embarrassing to the White House.
EGYPT: Al Jazeera journalists to appear in court for retrial hearing. Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are still facing trial for ‘spreading false information’ in support of the Muslim Brotherhood despite their colleague Peter Greste’s release.
HONG KONG: Government to release political reform plan. The plan will outline the process for elections to be conducted in 2017 and will be debated by Hong Kong’s legislature. However with ongoing protests and a movement demanding universal suffrage the plans could spark demonstrations and clashes with police.
RUSSIA: Argentine President visits Moscow seeking investment and arms. Relations between Argentina and Russia have strengthened as Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner meets Vladimir Putin to try and boost mutual investment. However the visit has caused Britain to reinforce the Falkland Islands after reports that Russia intends to lease Argentine military aircraft.