GAMBIA/ICC – The new Gambian President Adama Barrow says he will reverse his predecessor’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court according to an EU official quoted by the AP.
SYRIA/AL-BAB – Syrian rebel forces together with Turkish troops have advanced into the western suburbs of Al-Bab which is held by ISIS. At least one Turkish soldiers was killed. Al-Bab is the major ISIS stronghold in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.
TURKEY/CONSTITUTION – President Erdogan has approved changes to the constitution granting the Presidency significantly more power and reducing the power of Parliament. A referendum will now be held April 16.
SAUDI/CONSPIRACY – Another Saudi cleric has used Saudi television to repeat the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an inside job. Sheik Awadh Al-Qarni saiad the twin towers were toppled by a controlled explosion and that ‘it is in the West’s interests fo terrorism to continue in the Islamic countries, so that it can exploit and utilize it’. This sort of remark passes as mainstream thinking in sections of Saudi Arabia and is not challenged.
A lot of headlines are likely to be generated during Wednesday’s visit by Israeli PM Netanyahu to see President Trump in Washington. On the agenda – West Bank settlements, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and the Iran deal.
Apart from that there’s a lot of background positioning going on away from the headlines. For example, the G20 Foreign Affairs meeting in Germany on Thurs/Fri should see some high level bi-lateral meetings between heavy hitters, ditto the Munich Security Conference on Fri/Sat/Sun. There’s almost always a significant story to emerge from both. With Merkel/Pence and Lavrov/Tillerson meetings scheduled this will be no exception.
Feb 13 – Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in Washington to see President Trump. He’ll be the 3rd foreign leader to see the new President since Jan 20th.
Feb 15 – Indian Space Research Organization launches 104 satellites using its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
Feb 15 – UN forces due to begin withdrawal from Ivory Coast.
Feb 15 – Moscow hosts another meeting with Pakistan, India, China, Iran and Afghanistan to discuss Afghan war as Russia seeks to regain its role as a global player.
Feb 16/17 – The foreign ministers 0f G20 meet in Berlin.
Feb 15 – U.S. Sec of State Rex Tillerson expected in Mexico. Tbc.
Feb 15 – Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu in Washington D.C. to see President Trump.
Feb 15/16 – NATO Defence Mins meeting in Brussels. 1st chance for U.S. Defence Sec Mattis to meet his counterparts.
Feb 16 – ‘Poops in Space’. NASA announces winner of ‘Space Poop Award’. No really. $30K presented for the best idea for disposing of astronaut excreta.
Feb 17 – French PM Bernard Cazeneuve in UK.
Feb 17/19 – Munich Security Conference.