Jack Merlin Watling, 27 November 2014.
ONES TO WATCH
UNITED STATES: Obama hunts for a new Defence Secretary. Chuck Hagel’s departure has sparked fierce debates about Obama’s strategy for tackling the Islamic State and US relations with Israel and Egypt. Those debates will sharpen as Hagel’s replacement faces tough confirmation hearings in a Republican-dominated Senate.
THURSDAY 27 NOVEMBER
INTERNATIONAL: OPEC meets in Vienna. Major oil producers hold one of their most crucial meetings in recent years, with crude selling at below $78 a barrel due to lower demand from the US, China and Europe. Saudi officials have signalled they’re unlikely to push for a major change in output, but a cut could cause price rises.
FRANCE / ISIS: France sends 6 mirage fighter jets to Jordan to fight Islamic State. This may be a sign that France, which has so far declined to join US-led airstrikes inside Syria, is closer to doing so.
FRIDAY 28 NOVEMBER
INDIA: Guru charged with murder, sedition, attempt to murder, rioting. Rampal Maharaj was arrested on Wednesday at his ashram in the northern state of Haryana following a violent standoff between supporters and police. His trial could prompt further clashes.
SATURDAY 29 NOVEMBER
EGYPT: Verdict expected in trial of Hosni Mubarak. Ex president faces prison for unlawful killing of protesters during the 2011 revolution that ousted him. A not-guilty verdict could spark protests, despite increasingly harsh laws against public demonstrations.
SUNDAY 30 NOVEMBER
SOUTH SUDAN: UN peacekeeping mandate expires. The Security Council is expected to extend the mandate for UNMISS peacekeepers, which expires just as South Sudan enters “fighting season” amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis and civil war.
MOLDOVA: Parliamentary elections in an ex-Soviet state. The poll is seen as a referendum on European integration in defiance of Russia, as neighboring Ukraine struggles to handle a war triggered by following a similar pro-Europe line.
YEMEN: South moves closer to independence. Separatist protesters in Aden and Mukalla are demanding independence from Sanaa, and have warned the government of “escalation” unless northerners leave southern provinces and foreign energy exports are halted by today. Major demonstrations are likely in the coming weeks – but it could all be bluster.
TURKEY: Erdogan hosts Pope Francis in a 3-day visit. The Pontiff is expected to talk about the persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq but also the need for dialogue with the Islamic State. He may weigh in on Turkey’s relatively good treatment of Syrian refugees, following his criticism of the EU for its policies on asylum.
Editing by Paul Raymond.