IRAN/US/SYRIA – Iran’s reaction to the U.S. airstrike on the Syrian airbase was to say that the Americans were fighting on the same side as ISIS and Al Qaeda. The Head of Parliament’s National Security Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said the ‘consequences will not be good for America.’ The interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani said the airstrikes were to conceal the USA’s ‘support for the terrorists.’

RUSSIA/USA – Following the American airstrikes the Russian Defense Ministry has suspended the deconfliction co-operation with the USA which is designed to prevent each side ‘bumping’ into the other. Washington had told Moscow about its plans prior to the bombing.

EGYPT/TERROR – The climate in which yesterday’s bombing of Egyptian Coptic Christians is one where clerics routinely use violent language to denigrate minorities and call for their murder. A recent example is cleric Muhammad Al-Zoghbi calling Shia Muslims ‘filthy people…nothing like the Sunnis’. Speaking on Al-Rahma TV he said the Shia were worse than the ‘accursed Jews’. The program’s presenter said ‘Amen’.

VENEZUELA/OPPOSITION – The Venezuelan opposition leader,  Henrique Capriles has been banned from holding office for 15 years. The Socialist government of President Maduro is facing the worst economic crisis in Venezuela’s history.

COMING UP

The most important set piece event of the week has to be the Turkish referendum. The vote is expected to be close. If the result is in favour of changing the constitution then President Erdogan will have even greater powers than he does now. He will personally appoint most of the Supreme Court judges, and will be able to rule by decree in many areas. It will further strengthen his hand in attempts to stay in power for another decade, and continue his crackdowns on media and other freedoms.

The visit to Russia by the U.S. Sec of State Rex Tillerson has added interest following last week’s air strikes on the Syrian government airbase. It’s the first official trip to Russia by the new U.S administration and Tillerson is scheduled to see Sergei Lavrov, and possibly President Putin. The atmospherics ahead of the trip are not good.

 DIARY

April 10/11 – G-7 Foreign Ministers informal meeting in Lucca (Italy).  Formal, informal – what’s the difference?  In the latter the men sometimes don’t wear ties.  Either way it’s Rex Tillerson’s first G7 so he can continue to establish relationships with counterparts from Japan, Italy, France, Germany, UK, and Canada.

April 10 – Spain’s PM, Mariano Rajoy, hosts summit of Southern European counterparts to try and forge a joint position on Brexit. Gibralter on the menu.

April 11 – Latest effort at Cyprus re-unification talks begin in Geneva.

April 12 – Tillerson heads off to Moscow to see Lavrov for the first face to face since the U.S. air strikes against Russia’s ally – Syria.

April 12 – NATO head meets President Trump.

April 14 – Easter Friday. Beginning of three days of ceremonies in Rome and the Vatican starting with Pope leading the ‘Way of the Cross’ at the Colosseum.

April 15/25 – U.S. V President Mike Pence travel to S Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and Hawaii.

April 16 – Turkey holds referendum to see if the constitution should be changed to give the President far greater powers, and Parliament far fewer.

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