Jack Merlin Watling, 6 April, 2015.
ONES TO WATCH
YEMEN: Battle for Aden as medical aid flown in. Houthi rebels are pushing for total control of Aden, having claimed they had taken the port on Sunday. They have also threatened attacks across the Saudi border. The Red Cross said on Sunday that it was planning to fly two aeroplanes into Yemen on Monday carrying medical supplies and aid workers. Meanwhile protests and a deadly attack on security forces have been reported in Saudi Arabia’s Shia-dominated Eastern Province, likely in response to Saudi operations in Yemen.
TURKEY: British troops begin training Syrian opposition forces. The US led initiative, set to start this week, will put thousands of Syrians through training, equip them and deploy them inside Syria. The fighters taking part have been ‘screened’ but the effectiveness of this screening will be watched carefully.
EGYPT: Ongoing anti-state violence. After a policeman was killed in Sunday’s bombing of the May 15th Bridge in Cairo’s upmarket Zamalek neighbourhood, a further security crackdown is expected in and around Cairo. Violence has also been flaring in Sinai and may prompt additional military action.
MONDAY 6 APRIL 2015
PAKISTAN / YEMEN: Special parliamentary session to decide whether to join Saudis bombing Yemen. Pakistan has close military ties to Saudi Arabia but is being careful not to provoke the Houthi rebels’ Iranian backers, who have plans to pipe natural gas to their southern neighbour.
RUSSIA: Next round of Syrian peace talks. Previous peace talks held by Russia have been denounced by opposition groups because of Russian support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. US diplomatic chief John Kerry’s comments that the US would be willing to negotiate with Assad have increased expectations of diplomatic efforts, and the Moscow talks could lead to further negotiations.
INDONESIA: Verdict in case of Australian drug traffickers on death row. Postponed several times amid frantic diplomatic efforts to obtain their release, the two Australians, accused of being in the “Bali 9” drug trafficking ring are to hear their final verdict on Monday after President Joko Widodo rejected their plea for clemency.
VIETNAM: Russian PM on state visit to Vietnam and Thailand. Dimitri Medvedev will hold negotiations with President Truong Tan Sang immediately after Vietnam signed a free trade agreement with the EU. Russia has been seeking economic and strategic allies to mitigate the effect of western economic sanctions and is also working to strengthen China’s position in Asia.
TUESDAY 7 APRIL 2015
ISRAEL: Hacker group Anonymous threaten “electronic holocaust” against Israel. The internet activists have threatened to bring down government websites and web infrastructure for Israeli banks on Tuesday in protest against “crimes in the Palestinian territories.” Anonymous brought down many Israeli websites during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2012.
IRAN: Turkish President on state visit despite tensions. President Erdogan is set to sign twelve bilateral agreements to boost trade and cooperation. Meanwhile Turkey and Iran back opposing sides in Syria. An Iranian MP called for the visit to be cancelled after Erdogan’s comments that “Iran is trying to dominate the region,” and that it “cannot be tolerated.”
INDIA: Government vaccination programme gets under way. The Indian government is launching a massive campaign to vaccinate children across rural communities in a bid to tackle diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, TB, polio, hepatitis B and measles.
NEPAL: Mass protests planned by opposition pushing for new constitution. Government negotiations with opposition groups have been in deadlock for months. The opposition once again plans to take to the streets to bring the capital to a standstill.
WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 2015
NIGERIA: West African leaders discuss Boko Haram. A summit in Abuja will bring together military commanders from the African states contributing to an anti-Boko Haram task force. Success in fighting the extremist group, which recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, will be a crucial test for Nigeria’s President Elect, Muhammadu Buhari.
RUSSIA: Greek PM on state visit to Moscow. Alexis Tsipras has expressed sympathy for Russia as the EU imposes sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine. The Greek PM is also seeking alternative funding options for Greek loans. Russia meanwhile is seeking to break its economic isolation, and friendly relations with a state that controls access to the Mediterranean are an attractive proposition.
INDIA: Former PM Manmohan Singh in the dock over corruption charges. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s wavering over whether the evidence merited a prosecution has already raised concerns that Singh’s supporters may put political pressure on the judiciary. The charges relate to accusations of corruption in the coal industry.
Editing by Paul Raymond.