Jack Merlin Watling, 22 January 2015.
ONES TO WATCH
YEMEN: Will the ceasefire last? Yemen’s embattled U.S.-backed president has reached an agreement with Shiite Houthi rebels who besieged him in his house on Tuesday, but whether the deal will hold is another question. If the country falls into all-out civil war it would have major repercussions across the region, heightening tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
ZAMBIA: Opposition supporters teargassed as voting extended to third day. Voting in Zambia’s presidential election was disrupted by torrential rain, while supporters of the leading opposition candidate clashed with security forces in the capital on Wednesday. Ongoing political tension could cripple Zambia’s crucial copper industry.
NEPAL: Opposition threatens to burn the constitution. Nepal is paralysed by national strikes after a riot broke out in the Constitutional Assembly on Tuesday. The deadline for issuing a new constitution is Thursday, but the Maoist opposition have threatened to symbolically burn it and organise mass protests should the government proceed.
THURSDAY, 22 JANUARY
CUBA: US Envoy Roberta Jacobson visits Havana. She will be the most senior US official to visit Cuba in 35 years. While ties warmed since the White House announced an ease on its sanctions against Cuba, Havana has not yet normalised diplomatic relations with the United States. Ongoing talks could have significant domestic repercussions in the US as Obama embarks on his penultimate State of the Union tour.
EUROPE: European Central Bank meets to discuss Eurozone stimulus. The ECB is expected to buy around €50bn / month of bonds, pushing European stocks up just days before crucial Greek elections. With expectations high, a lower injection of cash could prompt a market shock. Meanwhile German chancellor Angela Merkel will be delivering her keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Merkel has long opposed an ECB stimulus.
IRAQ / UK: UK hosts anti-IS Summit. British prime minister, David Cameron, is to meet the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, in London while the UK hosts a British-American summit on fighting the Islamic State. The summit is to be chaired by British foreign secretary Andrew Hammond and US secretary of state John Kerry. Countries of the anti-IS coalition, including Middle Eastern states, are sending delegates.
USA: Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses Iran nuclear negotiations. The negotiations are a politically fraught topic in a Republican-dominated senate and witnesses – Antony Blinken, deputy secretary of state, and David Cohen, under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence – are expected to face fierce questioning. Iran and the P5+1 countries aim to reach a preliminary agreement by 1 March 2015.
UN: General Assembly meets to discuss growing anti-semitism. 37 countries have asked the UN to discuss the issue following attacks in Southern France, Belgium and the the hostage stand-off in a Kosher supermarket in Paris.
GREECE: Final Syriza rally before election. The Greek leftist party Syriza will be holding its final election rally before polling begins in Greece. The leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, is to be joined by the head of the recently formed Spanish leftist party Podemos in a show of solidarity. Although Syriza has indicated that it does not intend to immediate leave the Euro its rise has prompted growing concern across Europe. The rally coincides with Angela Merkel’s keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
UKRAINE: The European Court of Human Rights rules in the case of Tymoshenko v. Ukraine. Yuliya Tymoshenk, a former Prime Minister, accuses Ukraine of breaching the prohibition on torture and inhumane or degrading treatment and on rights to freedom of expression among other abuses. The judgement will coincide with Ukraine’s Day of Unity and Liberty which marks the Unification Act of 1919 and is a state holiday.
FRIDAY, 23 JANUARY
ETHIOPIA: The African Union hosts a summit on Women’s Empowerment. Diplomats are likely to spend time on the sidelines discussing an African military intervention to halt the advance of Boko Haram in Cameroon, Niger and northern Nigeria.
SATURDAY, 24 JANUARY – 50th Anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death
SUNDAY, 25 JANUARY
EGYPT: Anniversary of the 2011 Revolution. Although the government is expected to close Tahrir Square and ban public gatherings, there is a very high probability of protests and violent clashes with security forces.
GREECE: General Election. Greeks head to the polls for a snap election after December’s elections proved inconclusive with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failing to secure support for his presidential candidate. Leftist anti-austerity party Syriza are expected to win the most votes, potentially marking a key turning point in Greece’s relationship with the Eurozone.
INDIA: Obama begins three day state visit. Obama is heading to India to discuss a broad range of bilateral issues relating to security and the economy. He will also be the first US President to be the guest of honour at India’s Republic Day Parade. Expanding security cooperation between the US and India coincide with growing tensions with China’s role in the region and expanding protectionist taxation of Chinese imports into the US.
YEMEN: Human Rights Watch release report on women’s rights. The report examines the role that many women played in the 2011 Arab Spring the treatment during recent political upheavals. The report coincides with increasing insecurity in Sana’a as Houthi guards stand outside the President’s Palace.
Editing by Paul Raymond.