RUSSIA/REVOLUTION – Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the abdication of Czar Nicholas II. Time to celebrate? In 1987 yes, in 2017 – the authorities appear unsure what to do. The abdication ushered in the Soviet Revolution, but these days the Russian leadership is slower to trumpet the ‘glory’ days of communism and about 25% of Russians support re-instating the monarchy. In recent years, the Kremlin has begun romanticizing the Czar, after all, the increasingly autocratic President Putin does seem to have some of his characteristics.  So the first of many 1917 anniversary events this year is likely to see Moscow trying to reconcile the contradictions of celebrating both the Czar’s life and his demise.

IRAN/POLITICS – The economic credentials, and indeed future of the relatively moderate President, Hassan Rouhani, have taken another blow. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested to the Assembly of Experts that the President was not implementing the ‘Resistance Economy’ doctrine he (the Ayatollah) had backed in 2014. “If all the necessary steps had been taken” he said, “we would have observed a tangible difference in the country’s economic conditions and people’s lives”. His intervention strengthens the hands of the hardliners who are increasingly challenging the President and some of whom are against the nuclear deal he negotiated in 2015.

JIHAD/CHINA – The MEMRI monitoring group has published a fascinating report saying that the latest Al-Qaeda linked Arab language magazine ‘Islamic Turkestan’ has called on jihadists around the world to attack Chinese targets in their own countries. The timing comes as hundreds of jihadists are thought to have left Iraq and Syria and scattered. The Islamic Turkestan group wants to establish an independent state in the Muslim majority Chinese region of Xinjia

COMING UP

A busy week. The Brits may trigger Article 50 and get on with Brexiting, the Dutch may be seen to be one of the more right wing countries in the EU, and Turkey’s President Erdogan may decide his approval ratings are far more important than EU/Turkey relations.  So for once this year we turn to the White House for some calm rational, bi laterals as Mrs Merkel meets Mr Trump tomorrow.  By no co-incidence their two finance ministers, Wolfgang Schaeuble and Steven Mnuchin have a meeting in Germany the following day. The Germans want to avoid a trade war with US and to develop close ties with the new administration.

DIARY –

Mar 13th – Reserve Bank of India will lift ATM cash withdrawal limits in place since November.

Mar  13th – Foreign ministers of 5 countries expected to meet in London to discuss prospects for a settlement to the Yemen crisis.

Mon 13th – UK’s Brexit bill back in the House of Commons following the Lords attaching two amendments to it.

Mar 13th – OECD in Paris releases growth figures for the G20

Mar 14th – President Trump hosts Angela Merkel.

Mar 14th – Hawaiian state authorities challenge President Trump’s updated travel ban in a federal court on the grounds that it breaches a religious freedom clause in the constitution and damages the Hawaiian economy.

Mar 14th – Chile hosts 1st post-Trans-Pacific Partnership conference with China, South Korea and others.

Mar 15th – 100th anniversary of the abdication of Czar Nicholas II of Russia.

Mar 15th – Dutch general election. Geert Wilders Anti-Immigrant Freedom Party may win the most seats of any one party but will be kept from power by a coalition of other parties.

Mar 15th – French Republican presidential candidate Francois Fillon due in court accused of paying his wife a salary for work she did not do.

Mar 15th – Depending on a result of the court (see above) President Trump’s travel ban due to begin.

Mar 15/16 – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Japan. N Korea missile tests high on the agenda.

Mar 15th – Pakistan. 1st nationwide census in 19 years begins.

 Mar 15/18 – He’s still going.  Saudi’s King Salman, and 1,500 strong team, in China until Saturday.

Mar 16th – Emmanuelle Macron, centrist candidate for President in Berlin to see Merkel and to see if he can raise his foreign policy credentials.

Mar  16th – Irish PM Enda Kenny visits the White House.

Mar 17th – Sec of State Tillerson moves on to South Korea.

Mar 18th – Sec of State Tillerson due in Beijing to see foreign minister Wang Yi, but he may also see President Xi Jinping.

Mar 19th – World Teacher of the Year announced in Dubai. $1 million dollars for the winner!

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