A regular round up of headlines and snippets which may have been lost in the deluge of news….
THAILAND/CONSTITUTION – A clear majority of people appear to have voted in favour of accepting a military backed constitution. This opens the way for a general election next year, but future governments can only govern under the military dictated terms of the constitution.
CHINA/ SOUTH CHINA SEA – The Chinese seem to have begun to do what they recently threatened – carry out military patrols in the airspace over the disputed Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal with a frequency intended to make them ‘routine’. Fighter jets and bombers have made passes through the airspace in recent days despite last month’s ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that Chinese claims to the area were ‘invalid’.
SYRIA/MANJIB – The Syrian Democratic Forces, which are backed by the USA, have wrested control of most of the city of Manbij from ISIS after two months of fighting. Manjib is strategically important because the area borders Turkey and has been used as a transit point for ISIS fighters and weapons.
IRAN/NUCLEAR – The tensions within the Iranian regime over the nuclear deal with the West were on display again during Friday prayers in the holy city of Mashhad. The prayer leader there is Ayatollah Alamo ol Hoda, a close supporter of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Hoda mocked President Rouhani calling him ‘Mr Gullible’ for supporting the nuclear deal. Other prayer leaders also criticized Rouhani claiming that sanctions had not been lifted, and that the deal was a victory for the USA. The Supreme Leader’s office is thought to approve the sermons of Friday prayer leaders before they are given.
IRAN/AHMADINEJAD – Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suggested he will not be running in next year’s Presidential election, but he didn’t rule it out. He told a rally in Yazd province that ‘..it is not expedient now for me to enter politics. I will be in the service of nation when the time comes’. The election is next May.
The most interesting meeting this week is surely that between Presidents Putin and Erdogan. (See Diary). The Turkish leader will enjoy the discomfort his visit to St Petersburg will cause NATO allies, as indeed will the Russian President who will want to gauge how much joint relations have recovered since the shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkey last year. This is Erdogan’s first bi-lateral meeting with a head of Government/State since the failed coup of July 15th.
Aug 8 – Japan’s Emperor Akihito to address the nation following reports he wishes to abdicate within the next few years.
Aug 8 – Presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan in Baku.
Aug 9 – Brazil’s Senate to rule if there is a legal basis to begin impeachment hearings against former President Dilma Rousseff.
Aug 9 – Turkish President Erdogan in St. Petersburg.
Aug 11 – Zambia holds presidential and parliamentary elections and a constitutional referendum.
Aug 12 – Data on the gross domestic products of the Eurozone, in the second quarter of 2016 released.
Aug 14 – Pakistan. Independence Day. 69th year.