SYRIA – al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra,, released seven members of the U.S.-backed rebel group Division 30 that were abducted last month. Why the release has happened is unclear.
IRAN – Tehran has handed over documents detailing the history of Iran’s nuclear project to the IAEA. This will be considered progress ahead of the U.S. vote next month on whether to accept the Iranian nuclear deal
COMING UP – The Pakistani and Indian National Security Advisors are due to meet in New Delhi at the end of the week. To an extent this is gesture politics, but given the state of the relationship, the gesture is welcome.
The fighting in eastern Ukraine can be expected to escalate. There are a number of reasons for this, chiefly that the ceasefire is increasingly crumbling over a wide area. Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Crimea, and the level of the escalation is partially dependent on how hot he wants to make things.
Syria is worth watching to see if the US access to the Turkish airbase at Incirlik is now kicking in, and also for signs that President Assad is ensuring he keeps his escape route to the Tartus region open in case of emergency. The Saudis are back in Moscow and so are the Iranians – it is clear there are efforts in many quarters to push for a peace conference on Syria. There’s a long way to go, but the diplomatic wires are buzzing.
In Brazil we can expect to see demonstrations against the President Dilma Rousseff over an ongoing corruption scandal involving the states petrochemical company. A difficult time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be visiting.
Greece is expected to be able to make a $3.5 billion repayment to the European Central Bank on Thursday but with the allies of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras dropping away the situation remains volatile. The German parliament will vote on the terms of the Greek bailout this week, but this is expected to go through.
The latest joint Russian/Chinese military exercises will take place, this time in in the Sea of Japan. They’re doing a lot of this. It could be the start of a beautiful one sided friendship.