Jack Merlin Watling, 5 March 2015.
ONES TO WATCH
US: Race relations in the spotlight as Selma anniversary approaches. The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, at which Barack Obama will speak, has been overshadowed by the killing of a homeless man by police in LA and the release of a scathing report on the “culture of racism” in the Ferguson, Missouri police dept. Sunday marks half a century since the Bloody Sunday clashes between civil rights activists and state troopers.
WEST BANK: Palestinian Liberation Organisation discusses ending security co-operation with Israel. In exchange for security assistance, Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. However Netanyahu refused to hand over these funds in late 2014 prompting the PA to threaten to withdraw their cooperation ahead of the Israeli election on 17 March. Most analysts expect that they will continue to co-operate with Israel.
THURSDAY, 5 MARCH 2015
VENEZUELA: Anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez. Ongoing clashes between the police and opposition groups may escalate on the anniversary of Chavez’s death. Venezuela’s economy is also suffering as the low price of oil slashes government revenue and scarcity of basic goods pushes the price of a packet of 36 condoms to $755.
LIBYA: House of Representatives returns to peace talks in Morocco. The internationally recognised government has agreed to return to the negotiation table after pulling out last week because of a suicide bombing. However, just hours before the peace talks, both sides have engaged in “tit-for-tat” airstrikes against oil infrastructure.
SYRIA / FRANCE: Syrian National Council chairman Khaled Khoja visits Francois Hollande. The visit by the Syrian opposition-in-exile’s chief follows France stepping up its role in attacks against Islamic State. After French politicians made an unofficial visit to Damascus, the Syrian opposition is lobbying against European countries opening diplomatic relations with Assad in response to the Islamic State.
CHINA: Increased military spending to be announced at National People’s Congress. China now has the second largest military budget in the world. China is trying to expand its influence in Southern and South East Asia. With the US “pivot” of its military forces to the Pacific under the Obama administration, this increase in spending may prompt the US to focus even more resources on that part of the world.
RUSSIA: Italian PM meets with Vladimir Putin. Matteo Renzi visits Moscow to discuss Ukraine and in particular the vulnerability of the port city of Mariupol. Intermittent clashes continue in spite of an EU brokered ceasefire, although the agreement appears to be stabilising. Ukraine’s economy meanwhile is unravelling under significant pressure from Russia.
SOUTH SUDAN: Optimism as South Sudan power-sharing agreement signed. The agreement, reached by President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar in Addis Ababa has prompted hopes for an end to a war that has killed over ten thousand South Sudanese people in the last fifteen months. The agreement will bring in a transitional government on 1 April, and a unity government by 9 July.
GREECE: European Central Bank likely to decide on whether to accept Greek government bonds. If it doesn’t, more injections of liquidity will be needed to keep Greece afloat.
FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 2015
RUSSIA: Alexei Navalny expected to be released from Prison. The opposition leader was jailed on 19 February, preventing him from attending protests. His reaction to the assassination of Boris Nemtsov may play a significant role in the future of the Russian opposition. Many expect a harsh crackdown on dissent as the Russian economy slides towards collapse and the war continues in Ukraine.
GULF/SOUTH KOREA: South Korean president visits rulers of United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Park Geun-hye is on a tour of the Middle East to boost Korean business opportunities. South Korea is a major arms exporter and is seeking to expand its customers beyond the Asian market.
UNITED KINGDOM: John Kerry visits to meet Gulf foreign ministers. The visit aims to coordinate joint efforts against the Islamic State with the US stepping up operations in Syria.
SATURDAY, 7 MARCH 2015
UNITED KINGDOM: Large Climate march to take place in London. As Green Party membership surges and in the run up to the UK general election, the march is entitled “Time to Act.”
EGYPT: Premier League gets underway with no one to watch. After 19 people were killed at a football match on 8 February the Egyptian government banned fans from attending matches. The Premier League was suspended, but will now resume without spectators. This may cause protests - away from the stadiums.
MALAYSIA: Department of Civil Aviation release report on disappearance of MH370 a day before the anniversary. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared with 227 passengers and caused outcry from relatives. The wreckage has still not been located. The report could prompt further criticism of how the government dealt with the crisis.
UKRAINE: Deadline for withdrawal of heavy weapons from vaguely defined de-militarised zone. The original deadline of 3 March, established by the Minsk II agreement, was postponed after fighting continued. Many are now more optimistic that the extended deadline will be met after several days with no significant fighting.
SUNDAY, 8 MARCH 2015
EGYPT: Al Jazeera journalists face trial... again. International pressure continues for the acquittal of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, released on bail on 13 February after spending over four hundred days behind bars. The journalists are accused of “spreading false news” and being members of a terrorist organisation.
Editing by Paul Raymond.