Jack Merlin Watling, 30 March 2015.
ONES TO WATCH
YEMEN: Will Saudis and Egyptians send in ground troops? Officials say ground forces could be deployed within days. Arab leaders in Egypt agreed on an Arab military force to counter regional threats and said Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen will continue until Shia Houthi rebels “withdraw and surrender their weapons”.
NIGERIA: Results of Presidential election. Polling was extended for a second day on Sunday following technical problems with electronic poll booths. The poll was the first in which an opposition candidate has a serious chance of unseating the incumbent, but it has already triggered violence, which could spread.
MONDAY 30 MARCH 2015
KUWAIT / SYRIA: Humanitarian conference for Syria. UN head Ban Ki-Moon and Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos host a meeting to rally vital international financial support to meet the vast humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees. Over 12 million people, including 5.6 million children, now need assistance inside Syria, while some 3.9 million people are registered as refugees across the region. Last year the conference raised pledges of US $2.4 Billion.
JAPAN: Indian defence minister visits for bilateral talks. Manohar Parrikar is seeking to strengthen a strategic defence partnership with Japan and to boost Indian exports. Asia’s second- and third-largest economies agreed in September to strengthen defence ties, a move not welcomed by China, which has expressed concerns over ‘encirclement’.
UKRAINE: European Commission President and EU Foreign Policy chief visit. Jean-Claude Junker and Federica Mogherini visit Kiev as Ukraine tries to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, expanding the breach between Russia and Europe.
UK: Litvinenko inquiry resumes. The inquiry is reviewing evidence to establish whether Litvinenko was assassinated by the Russian government in 2006. The inquiry had been halted for eleven days while witnesses were asked to provide evidence.
TANZANIA: Will a new constitution strengthen moves for Zanzibar’s independence? A referendum set for 30 April could scrap the 1977 constitution, which was written during one-party rule. But while supporters say the new version would strengthen democratic institutions, some fear it could put wind in the sails of the island of Zanzibar’s campaign for full independence.
TUESDAY 31 MARCH 2015
IRAN: Deadline for political framework agreement in P5+1 nuclear negotiations. All sides have sought to raise expectations ahead of the deadline, thereby increasing the stakes for any side that walks away from the deal. A two to three-page agreement is expected to be released. Iran has said that it will only agree if all economic sanctions are removed.
JAPAN: Fukushima nuclear cleanup expected to miss target. Over 20,000 tons of radioactive water is expected to remain untreated beyond the Japanese government’s self-imposed 31 March deadline.
US: Man faces trial for shooting police in Ferguson. Jeffrey Williams admits to firing shots that killed two officers, but claims that he was beaten while being taken into custody. After a report denounced the Fergusson police department for institutional racism and police shootings sparked riots in 2014, this trial will further raise racial tensions across the United States.
WEDNESDAY 1 APRIL 2015
PALESTINE / ISRAEL: Palestine joins International Criminal Court. Much to Israel’s discomfort, Palestine’s membership of the court opens up the possibility of war crimes charges against Israel. Notably, the agreement could also intensify intra-Palestinian rifts, as the PLO could also use the court against their Hamas rivals. A UN report recently accused Hamas of committing war crimes.
QATAR: Hosts talks between warring Yemeni factions. President Hadi of Yemen requested that Qatar host talks between the government and Houthi rebels who have seized much of the country including the capital. The various sides had agreed in principle to talks in Doha. Since a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes last week it is unclear if, or when, any talks will take place.
RUSSIA: Appeals of five men accused of Nemtsov assassination. The five Chechens were arrested after Putin said he would personally oversee the investigation into Nemtsov’s murder. The Kremlin has a long history of blaming Chechens for acts of political violence and many consider the trial to be a farce.
IRAN: Revolution Day. The anniversary of the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran will see speeches from senior politicians that will bear careful scrutiny, irrespective of whether a nuclear deal is met the day before.
UKRAINE: Energy Minister says Ukraine will stop buying Russian gas. Falling prices have allowed Ukraine to increase gas imports from the EU, attempting to end its dependency on Russia as Russia has sought to use gas as an economic weapon to win concessions for Russian backed rebels in East Ukraine.
SOUTH SUDAN: Pre-transitional period begins as agreed in peace talks. This would see negotiations for the formation of a national unity government before 9 July, attempting to end a bitter civil war.
INTERNATIONAL: April Fools’ Day. The tradition of playing practical jokes on the first of April goes back to the Middle Ages. Watch out for prank news stories! Create a free website Powered by Start your own free website A surprisingly easy drag & drop site creator. Learn more.
Editing by Paul Raymond.