IRAN/SYRIA – The latest named casualty among Iranian led militia in Syria is Zamen Etemadi of the Afghan Shia Fatimiyoun Brigade. He was buried in the Iranian province of Alborz.

IRAN/SAUDI/TRUMP –  Donald Trump’s decision to make Saudi Arabia the first country he will visit as President has attracted a lot of attention, including in Tehran.  The Tabnak News Agency’s take on it was that it sets the stage for an Arab/US alliance to counter Iran. It said he was engaged in an ‘Iranophobic’ project.

COMING UP

The set piece event is the Beijing ‘One Belt, One Road’ summit. President Xi wants buy in to the new ‘Silk Road’ which will increase links between China, Central Asia and Europe. Many countries will invest and co-operate, others will ask what’s in it for us’. The Trump/Erdogan meeting could be a little fraught given that the US is arming Kurdish factions fighting in Syria, which Turkey regards as akin to arming terrorist groups. Mr Erdogan may also remind Mr Trump that he wants the leader of the Gulen movement handed over. The Iran Presidential election is a big deal – the incumbent, President Rouhani is the favourite to win. He is what passes for a relative moderate in the Islamic Republic.  1,600 people applied to stand, the Guardian Council approved 6 candidates.  The result will impact on the Trump administration’s attitude towards Iran and the nuclear deal.

DIARY

Mon – Chinese President Xi Jinping expects at least 20 world leaders at his One Belt, One Road summit. It’s supposed to be the new Silk Road.

Mon – Newly elected French president Emmanuelle Macron expected to name his Prime Minister.

Mon – President Trump meets Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi at the White House.

Mon – Trump’s proposed travel ban from various Muslim majority countries may itself be banned when a Court in Seattle hears the Administration’s appeal against a Hawaiian judge’s injunction blocking it.

Tues – Sacked FBI director James Comey may get to give his side of the story to a Senate committee investigating the Russian hacking election scandal. It’s a closed session so he may wait until there’s a session open to cameras.

Tues – President Erdogan meets President Trump at the White House.

Weds – Italian PM Gentiloni continues the Italian policy of keeping close ties with Russia. He’s in Sochi to see President Putin.

Weds – 70th Cannes Film Festival.

Weds – Former U.S military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning due to be released early from Fort Leavenworth military prison following President Barack Obama’s commutation of her sentence before leaving office. Manning leaked U.S. military secrets to WikiLeaks.

Fri – Presidential elections – Iran.

Sat – 15th anniversary of East Timor independence from Indonesia.

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