Continuing our weekly Monday review of news stories which may not have made headlines over the weekend, and the news-agenda diary for the coming week.

IRAN/PROTESTS –  The Revolutionary Guard says the security forces have halted the unrest in the country.  The IRGC also blamed the unrest on ‘foreign enemies’ citing the United States, Britain, the Zionist regime (Israel), Saudi Arabia, hypocrites (mujahideen) and monarchists.

TURKEY/RUSSIA – NATO member Turkey has denied reports that it will allow Russian soldiers to be stationed in the country following Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.

USA/PAKISTAN –  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the USA has placed Pakistan on a special watch list for its severe violations of religious freedom. Pakistan is the first country to be placed on the list, which is for countries involved in or tolerant of severe violations of religious freedoms. Theoretically listing Pakistan is a step towards triggering sanctions. The USA had already suspended most of its security aid to the country.

SENEGAL/ATTACK – Gunmen have shot dead 13 people and wounded seven others in the southern region of Casamance. The motive and responsibility the attack on a group of civilians searching for firewood are not known. The area is home to separatist rebels.

ZIMBABWE/CORRUPTION – 2 former Cabinet ministers from the Mugabe era have been charged with corruption.  This is the latest sign of a crackdown on Mugabe loyalists by the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

SAUDI/PROTEST – 11 princes have been arrested for staging a protest against the kingdom’s ‘austerity’ measures. They’d gathered in Riyadh to demonstrate against the suspension of the government policy of paying their utility bills which is part of a drive to cut payments to Royals but increase national spending.

COMING UP – The high-level talks between the South and North Koreans over whether North Korean athletes will compete in the Winter Olympics are worth watching. (See Diary). These are the first such talks in more than 2 years. Perhaps this will lead to something significant, or, it could be the North playing the good guy knowing that severe pressure from the USA is about to bear down on them on the nuclear issue.

Can Mrs Merkel put together a coalition government this week?  It’s about time… the elections were in September. Failure will mean fresh elections, and that could be the end of Mutti.

DIARY

Mon – 34th birthday of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army (other titles are available) Kim Jong Un.

President Xi Jinping

Mon – Chancellor Merkel opens 2nd day of negotiations for a coalition government with SDP.

Mon – President Macron in China for talks with President Xi.

Mon – President Trump expected to announce his personal award for ‘Most dishonest and corrupt media of the year”. ‘Fire and Fury’ may have made the shortlist.

Mon – Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage meets EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in a move seemingly designed to upset the UK government.

Tues –  Kim Jong Un (34 & 1 day) expected to hold talks with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in about N Korean participation in winter Olympics.

Tues – Deadline for China to end joint commercial ventures with N Korea as per a U.N. Security Council resolution

Thurs – Deadline for President Trump recertification of sanctions related to the 2015 Iran-nuclear agreement. (Poss Fri)

Thurs – Bulgaria takes over the presidency of European Council for next 6 months and so can set agenda for summits.

Sat –  Egypt expected to extend ‘State of Emergency’ for another three months.

Sun –  Israeli PM Netanyahu in India. This is only 2nd visit there by an Israeli PM.

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