Jack Merlin Watling - 16 April 2015
ONES TO WATCH
YEMEN: Egyptian troops en route as Houthis thought to move towards Saudi border. The Saudi led bombing campaign has been intensifying and becoming increasingly unpredictable. At the same time rumours are emerging of a push north towards the Saudi border by Houthi militias and photos have been leaked of Egyptian infantry units en-route to the conflict.
INDIA: Hindu political group calls for the sterilisation of India's Muslims. India's Hindu fundamentalist movement Shiv Sena has made the call only days after demanding the disenfranchisement of the Indian Muslim population.
THURSDAY 16 APRIL 2015
GREECE: Deadline for reform proposals to unlock bailout aid. Proposals must be finalised on Thursday for a deal to be reached at the Eurogroup meeting on April 24th. Athens’ early projections have been met with scepticism by the EU and IMF negotiators who doubt Greece’s optimistic revenue projections. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will be speaking on the prospects of reform and economic renewal in Washington.
RUSSIA: Vladimir Putin stages annual live phone in question & answer session. Putin’s annual call in show will see him in conversation with pre-screened members of the public answering their questions on selected issues. 1.7 million questions have purportedly been submitted to the Kremlin already. It is expected that the situation in Ukraine, possible recognition of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as Russia’s defence position and military preparedness will form significant components of the discussion.
UK: Rio Tinto AGM targeted by protesters. Trade unionists and welfare activists will converge on London having travelled from Mongolia, Madagascar, Inuit communities in Canada, Indonesia, Namibia and other countries.
HAGUE: Lebanon tribunal opens case against famous Lebanese journalist. The Tribunal’s work, investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, has been a long source of tensions within Lebanon. This trial however has raised concerns over the freedom of the press after Karma al-Khayat was accused of being in contempt of court and could face up to a seven year jail sentence.
INDIA / PAKISTAN: India to fire the latest in a series of tit-for-tat missile tests. India will launch the nuclear-capable Agni-III missile from an Island off shore of the eastern state of Odisha. The launch comes as Prime Minister Modi seeks French assistance in building new nuclear power facilities and Canada approves the export of uranium to India for the first time since India developed nuclear weapons.
RUSSIA: International security conference brings China’s Chang Wanquan to Moscow. As Japan reports that incursions into its airspace from China and Russia reach ‘Cold War Levels’ the two countries are to discuss their strategic relationship at a conference bringing together fifteen defence ministers from across the Eurasian region. US concerns over growing Chinese militarism and Russian naval and air exercises over Europe will mean the conference is carefully watched.
UK: Opposition leaders pre-election TV debate. After a chaotic seven-way leaders debate in the run up to a neck and neck May 7th election, opposition leaders are hoping to distinguish themselves in a separate televised debate. Both the parties in Britain’s ruling coalition have refused to participate.
FRIDAY 17 APRIL 2015
ISRAEL / PALESTINE: Palestinian Prisoners' Day marked after Israel arrests dozens in West Bank raids. The annual day of protest over 6,000 Palestinians detained by Israel, will be particularly tense this year after Israel conducted a series of raids on the West Bank town of Nablus, detaining many who had previously been released in a prisoner swap.
THAILAND: Publication of the country’s post-coup constitution. Thailand will publish the first draft of a new constitution after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, then army chief, seized power in May of last year. This will be Thailand’s 20th new constitution and it is expected to be aimed at preventing a Thaksinite government gaining control as before. It will for the first time identify ‘the third gender’, recognising Thailand’s transgender citizens in law and is also expected to bolster the power of the courts to limit the next monarch.
INDIA: Opposition Congress Party leader to emerge from ‘personal sabbatical’. Rahul Gandhi, Scion and Vice President of the Congress Party, disappeared from public view after the victory of Narendra Modi. His return is expected to herald a new strategy for his party, which could decide its future.
GREECE / RUSSIA: Greek Defense Minister visits Russia for defence talks. The move comes after a controversial recent aligning of Greek and Russian interests at the expense of the wider EU block and a visit to Russia by Greek Prime Minister Tsipras to encourage closer ties in spite of the EU Russia standoff over Ukraine.
BAHRAIN: Grand Prix race begins. Bahrain's Grand Prix has in the past been the target of protests. Following a recent gulf-wide clampdown after Sunni-Shia tensions escalated in response to the Saudi air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Grand Prix could see opposition demonstrations.USA / INTERNATIONAL: World Bank and IMF Annual Spring Meetings. The three day conferences will focus on the global economy, international development, and global financial markets.
SATURDAY 18 APRIL 2015
IRAN: Iran marks its annual army day with an expansive military parade. The Australian Foreign Minister is to attend. This will be watched closely in light of Iran's rapprochement with the west and increasingly aggressive posturing towards its Saudi neighbours.
SUNDAY 19 APRIL 2015
FINLAND: Parliamentary elections as economy on the brink. Finland has been in recession for three years while the four party ruling coalition remains highly unstable. Opposition leader Juha Sipila, who many expect to emerge as Finland’s next Prime Minister has warned that Finland could become the next Greece, but without the promise of foreign bailouts.
CUBA: Opposition stands against Communist Party in National General Assembly elections. Cuba is seeing a surprise run by two opposition politicians against the ruling Communist Party for positions in the National General Assembly. The two men have been allowed to stand, but censors have altered their campaign material to suggest that they are dangerous. The challenge is the first since a rapprochement between Cuba and the US, started in December.
SAUDI / UAE: French FM to visit the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Laurent Fabius is visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time under the rule of King Salman. This trip is described by the French as being particularly focused on economic and commercial cooperation but Fabius will also be meeting the defence minister and it is expected that much of the time will be spent discussing the regional crises of Yemen, Iraq/Syria and Iran.
RUSSIA: Opposition plan protest in Moscow. A coalition of opposition groups have requested permission for 30,000 demonstrators to protest in Moscow, but numbers are expected to be very low as Russia’s opposition remains demoralised after the assassination of Boris Nemtzov. Putin remains broadly popular across the country.