ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 13- 19 February

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 13 February to Sunday, 19 February from Foresight News

By Nicole Hunt

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has been ordered to appear before the Supreme Court again on Monday, this time to be indicted on charges of contempt of court over what prosecutors say is his refusal to ask Swiss authorities to re-open graft investigations against allies, including President Asif Ali Zardari. Whether Gilani actually appears or not depends on the outcome of his last-minute appeal against the order.

The beginning of the week is filled with little bits and pieces that will be closely watched as part of the ongoing EU debt saga. Short-term debt auctions in France and Germany get things started on Monday, followed by the release of Greece’s fourth quarter GDP estimate on Tuesday, the same day the OECD publishes its Economic Survey of Germany.

Tuesday also marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of ill-fated protests in Bahrain. Inspired by the toppling of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia a month earlier and Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt just days before, protesters took to the streets and Manama’s Pearl Roundabout to demand political reform. The protests were later crushed as a state of emergency was imposed a month later, with the help of Saudi Arabian troops, and the Pearl Roundabout was demolished on 18 March.

As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces the prospect of having to appear before Parliament in the coming weeks to defend himself against allegations of economic mismanagement and shady friends, the country’s opposition Green Movement has called for demonstrations across the country to mark the one year anniversary of 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi being placed under house arrest for their support of Arab Spring protests.

Back to the EU on Wednesday as fourth quarter GDP estimates are released for the euro zone and Germany.

While recent Arab League meetings have been dominated by what’s happening in Syria and the state of the League’s observer mission there, a lower-profile meeting in Cairo shifts the focus briefly to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Members of the League’s Follow-Up Committee are set to discuss the next steps in Palestinian negotiations with Israel, following the passing of a 26 January deadline without any Israeli commitments for a settlement freeze.

On Thursday, North Koreans mark what would have been the 70th birthday of recently-deceased leader Kim Jong-Il. Expect extravagant celebrations and more public mourning, and perhaps another parading of Kim’s son and heir, Kim Jong-un.

Ministers from the 56 countries that make up the Paris Pact Partners meet in Vienna to discuss how to combat the trafficking of opium and heroin from Afghanistan. The UNODC’s most recent Afghanistan Opium Survey, published in January, showed that opium prices in the country soared by 133 per cent last year.

Big celebrations are expected in Libya on Friday to mark the one year anniversary of the beginning of protests against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. As the initial protests prompted a violent crackdown from Gaddafi forces, the situation in Libya quickly turned into the most global of the Arab Spring protests, with NATO forces beginning action there in March and international action continuing up until Gaddafi’s death on 20 October and the subsequent declaration of liberation by the National Transitional Council.

The Rwandan Supreme Court is expected to announce the fate of two journalists sentenced to prison after being convicted of denying the 1994 genocide, inciting civil disobedience and causing divisions. Agnes Uwimana Nkusi and Saidati Kukakibibi, sentenced to 17 and seven years, respectively, await the outcome of their appeal.

Voters in Latvia go to the polls on Saturday to decide whether to introduce Russian as the country’s second official language. Native Russian speakers account for approximately a third of the population in the former Soviet nation; over 50 per cent of the electorate must approve the measure for it to take effect.

In Cairo, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaa get together to iron out the details of a new unity government, which is expected to be announced at the end of their meeting. They’re also expected to confirm a date for elections, which are due to take place around 4 May, one year from the date they signed an agreement ending four years of internal conflict.

Saturday is also the beginning of Rio Carnival!

And on an otherwise fairly quiet Sunday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is back in the spotlight – not in front of the courts, but on TV screens as he makes his appearance on the 500th episode of The Simpsons.