Jack Merlin Watling, 27 April 2015
ONES TO WATCH
NEPAL: Thousands dead after severest earthquake in 80 years. India has already landed medical teams while the international community seeks to provide relief following a massive earthquake and ongoing aftershocks. Thousands have been made homeless and many travellers are unaccounted for.
YEMEN: Negotiations fail as Saudi Arabia renews bombing campaign. Backdoor negotiations failed to make progress after the Yemeni government rejected peace talks with Yemen’s ousted former president Saleh, who is supported by the Houthis. The breakdown prompted Saudi aircraft to bomb Yemen’s capital of Sana’a while the Saudi navy shelled the southern port of Aden.
MALAYSIA: Security forces claim to have foiled Islamic State attack before ASEAN talks. 12 men have been arrested for being members of the Islamic State and planning to engage in terror attacks. Explosives were seized by security forces on the day that regional leaders arrived for the ASEAN conference starting on Monday.
INDONESIA: Eight drug traffickers on 72-hour notice to face firing squad. Members of the ‘Bali Nine’ drug trafficking group are due to be executed in spite of desperate lobbying by Australia, Nigeria, Brazil and Ghana whose citizens are among the prisoners. One French citizen is still awaiting appeal.
MONDAY 27 APRIL 2015
UKRAINE: EU officials arrive in Kiev for EU-Ukraine summit. The summit will seek to implement the Association Agreement, signed in June 2014 between the EU and Ukraine, opening the door to investment and financial assistance. Ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine is also likely to dominate the discussion as the Minsk II ceasefire is once again threatened by insurgent attacks by Russian backed separatists.
SUDAN: Election results to be announced as opposition reject their legitimacy. Opposition parties have called on the international community to reject the results of Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The European Union also considers the elections illegitimate owing to violence and a low turnout. The announcement will be controversial and is expected to be followed by protests.
INDIA: Afghan President in delicate talks on state visit. Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, is visiting India in an attempt to strengthen relations. But while desperate for stronger economic ties with India, he must be careful not to concern India’s adversaries in Pakistan and China. Pakistan’s good will towards Afghanistan is crucial for maintaining security. Ghani must therefore be delicate in establishing stronger bilateral strategic relations as his words will be carefully scrutinised.
SPAIN: Memorial for victims of Germanwings plane crash. Spain’s King and Prime Minister will attend the service to be held in Barcelona in memory of 150 passengers who died when the aircraft crashed in the French Alps.
ITALY: Ban Ki-Moon meets Italy’s Prime Minister to discuss migrant boats. The conference follows a considerable expansion of European resources being put into saving the lives of people trying to cross the Mediterranean. However UN conflict prevention and mediation in Libya are crucial for tackling the causes of the refugee crisis.
ETHIOPIA: African Climate Conference ahead of Paris Climate talks. Infrastructure, industry and agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa are projected to be severely affected should average global temperatures rise above two degrees. The African Union is therefore seeking to build ‘Climate Resilient Infrastructure’ and to develop a unified negotiating position ahead of the global climate conference in Paris later this year.
KUWAIT: Erdogan visits Kuwait. The visit is ostensibly aimed at improving security cooperation as Erdogan has stated that Gulf security is inseparable from Turkey’s security. However many believe that Kuwait is seeking to mediate between Turkey and Egypt on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Turkey’s relations with Egypt deteriorated after the ousting of the President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
TUESDAY 28 APRIL 2015
UNITED STATES: US Supreme Court deliberates on state bans on same-sex marriage. The case is not just central to the progress of LGBT rights in the US, but could also set a landmark precedent on the rights of state legislatures. The court will begin to hear oral arguments on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional as applied by Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. The court is expected to give a ruling in June.
INDIA: Finance Ministry meets Public Sector Banks pushing reform of banking sector. India’s banking system is under pressure as many small public sector banks struggle to recoup loans and lack capital to pursue profitable investments. In a bid to improve access to capital for investment the Finance Ministry is seeking to merge many smaller banks. The move will be delicate, but is a crucial component of Prime Minister Modi’s pledge to revive India’s economy.
BANGLADESH: Supreme court begins appeal hearings of war criminals. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, a leader of Bangladesh’s Islamist movement, and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, were previously found guilty of war crimes, committed during the 1971 Liberation War and sentenced to death. Their sentences prompted protests and clashes with police. The supreme court hearing may lead to further disturbances.
WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 2015
US: Japanese Prime Minister to address Congress. Shinzo Abe is on a tour of the US to drum up support for a Trans-Pacific Free Trade Deal and to improve strategic relations with the US as Japanese relations with Russia sour over aerial stand offs. Also of interest is discussion of Japan selling ‘maglev’ technology to the US after Japan’s first magnetic levitation train broke the land speed record.
UK: Moody’s MENA Investor Conference. The conference will see discussion of Islamic Finance and financial opportunities amidst widespread political instability across the region. The outlook of international investors will be of particular interest to Egypt who are desperate for investment, while businesses will be very interested in potential opportunities in Iran should international sanctions be lifted as a result of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.
CYPRUS: Sisi meets with Cypriot President and Greek Prime Minister. The meeting follows an agreement in November to form new treaties between Egypt and the EU, with Cyprus and Greece acting as Europe’s ‘ambassadors.’ However Egypt’s relations with Cyprus also raise questions about the country’s ties to Russia, for whom Cyprus is a key strategic ally.
ISRAEL / PALESTINE: PLO leadership meet to redefine relations with Israel. The Israeli government dropped its previous economic and security agreements with the Palestinian Authority, leading Palestinian leaders to seek new terms after Israel’s recent election.