Restart the clock – the first ‘Mire’ for 2016.
IRAQ/TIKRIT – 5 ISIS suicide bombers attacked an Iraqi military base near Tikrit on Sunday killing at least 15 security officials. All five bombers also died. Iraqi forces retook Tikrit from IS last year. IS also attacked a base near Ramadi last week.
RUSSIA/USA – Russia has named the USA and NATO as threats to its national security in the Kremlin’s end of year security strategy document. It’s the first time they have been named as an ‘external threat’.
GAZA/HAMAS – Hamas banned New Year celebrations in hotels, cafes, and restaurants in the Gaza Strip. This was intended “to minimize as far as possible phenomena that contravene the heritage, customs, values and directives of Islam”. Some Gazans took to social media to complain and accuse Hamas of hypocrisy. According to MEMRI, a human rights activist named Mustafa Ibrahim said Hamas pretends to the West that it is a moderate movement “while in the domestic arena, it tries to tell many of its members that it governs based on religious Islamic law”.
IRAN/MISSILES – President Hassan Rouhani has called for the expansion of Iran’s missile program to continue “with greater speed and seriousness”. This follows news that the U.S. is considering new sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program in response to the test-firings of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads late last year.
VATICAN/PALESTINE – The Vatican’s first official accord with Palestine has come into effect. It details how the Roman Catholic Church can operate in territory controlled by Palestinians. The Vatican recognizes Palestine as a state.
VIETNAM/CHINA – Vietnam has accused China of violating its sovereignty by landing a plane on an airstrip China built on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
CHINA/AIRCRAFT CARRIER – China has confirmed it is building a third aircraft carrier. It bought the first from Ukraine, essentially as a training vessel. It has been building one of its own since 2011, and has now announced, what was already suspected, that a third carrier is to be constructed.
Jan 4th – Sweden will officially begin checking the identities of people arriving over the bridge which connects it to Denmark. This is in response to last year’s waves of refugees and migrants. Denmark is also due to begin stricter control measures on its border with Germany.
Jan 5th – MPs take their seats in the new Venezuelan parliament. However, the Socialist Party, which badly lost the election, is using the Supreme Court trying to strip the coalition parties of some of the seats it won to reduce its majority. Watch for how many of the coalition MPs attempt to take their seats. 3 have been suspended by the Supreme Court.
Jan 8th – UK/Japan talks on security including China’s growing naval capacity.
Jan 10th Pakistan/Afghanistan/China/USA talks in Islamabad on reconciliation plan for Afghan government and the Taliban.
Jan 10th – Syria’s President Assad due in Tehran to meet Iranian officials.