Jack Merlin Watling, 29 January 2015.
ONES TO WATCH
GREECE: Will Syriza and Germany find a compromise? Athens’ new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said he wants to see a pan-European deal on Greek debt to encourage growth, but Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is still talking tough after his party’s victory in the weekend’s elections. Germany's vice-chancellor said it was unfair of Greece to expect other states to pick up its bills. Let the renegotiation begin.
LEBANON / ISRAEL: Tensions rise after a Hezbollah attack kills two Israeli soldiers. Israel fired shells back across the border, killing a Spanish peacekeeper. While hostilities have so far been confined to the border region, neither side wishes to be seen as backing down. With an election on the way, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu may feel the pressure to launch further attacks.
THURSDAY, 29 JANUARY
EU: Extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council meets in Brussels. High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini convened the council following a missile attack on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday which killed 20 people. EU leaders issued a rare joint statement condemning the attack. Further sanctions against Russia are possible, though a final decision is expected to be left until a summit next month.
USA: Senate debates a tough Iran bill. The Kirk-Menendez bill would require congressional review of any deal with Tehran, while hitting the Islamic republic with stiffer economic penalties should talks fail. It would be a Republican victory and a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to reach a deal with Iran.
INTERNATIONAL: Human Rights Watch releases its annual World Report. It will detail the organisation’s work and assess progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries. Following a year that saw the rise of Islamic State, attacks on minorities, violations against civilians and clampdowns on press freedom, it’s unlikely to make happy reading.
FRIDAY, 30 JANUARY
ETHIOPIA: African leader meets as northern Nigeria burns. Officially, the African Union summit is being held to discuss women’s empowerment, but delegates will likely hold fringe meetings to discuss a possible African Union operation against Boko Haram, which has massacred its way through Nigeria in recent weeks and now threatens stability in Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
SATURDAY, 31 JANUARY
SPAIN: Leftist Podemos party holds a “March for Change” rally in Madrid. A recent poll put the party in the lead for Spain's next general election, which is due by the end of the year. With the rise of the far left in Greece, another debt-stricken Eurozone country, it’s an election bankers will be watching closely.
SUNDAY, 1 FEBRUARY
IRAN: Iranians mark the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. It’s the start of ten days of official celebrations, culminating in mass rallies and an address by the country's president on 11 February, marking the day on which the Shah's troops were defeated by armed guerillas. The opposition may use the celebrations to stage protest.
HONG KONG: Pro-democracy activists stage a rally through the city. It’ll be the first major march since police cleared the pro-democracy Occupy movement’s protest camps. Organisers say some 50,000 people will take part. Tension remains high in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city. On 24 January, the founders of the movement were arrested and later released as part of an ongoing police investigation.
Editing by Paul Raymond.