Nevruz, the commemoration of spring's arrival, has special connotations in Turkey this year. On Thursday 21 March, Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the PKK (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Workers' Party) – labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union – announced a ceasefire and called for the PKK's withdrawal from the country.
Even though the European Union is undergoing a serious political and economic crisis, casting doubt on its aspirations for achieving genuine continental identity, there are still many candidates interested in forming part of the bloc.
The countries that make up the former Yugoslavia have separately entered negotiations with the EU and all are currently in different stages of integrating the organisation – all of them except Bosnia and Herzegovina that is.
January 17th 2013 has become a day of celebration for Somalis. At last, after several decades of war, unrest and a lack of support on the part of the different administrations in Washington, on 17 January the US recognised the recently designated Somali president and his government.
This recognition has many consequences. Undoubtedly the most important though, is the possibility now open to the Somali central government to become a major recipient of the humanitarian aid and international funding the country so acutely needs.
Recent news that sixty Syrian combatants on the side of President al-Assad had been admitted to a military hospital in Port Sudan (a city located on the Red Sea) appears to vindicate reports over the last few months of a close union being forged between Sudan and Iran.
Last October the Iranian naval flotilla freighter Kharg and corvette Shahid Naqdi docked in Port Sudan, just days after the air strikes on the munition factory in Yarmouk, near Khartoum.The strike was supposedly carried out by Israel in retaliation against Sudan's apparent supply of weapons to Palestinian militias.
Its 2013 and at long last 'election year' in Malaysia. So ends the period of continuous rumours about the date of the elections which began early 2012 and has been circulating incessantly in the news media ever since. Before the end of June 2013 a new national parliament will be elected.
Taking advantage of the 'success' of his mediation in the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has engineered a self-coup. Amid a context of “Morsimania” - with the foreign press given over to glowing analysis of his personality and pragmatic foreign policy – President Morsi announced on 22 November, via his spokesman Yasser Ali, a new constitutional declaration of seven articles that places him above the law and the country's institutions.
Neither the new legislation altering the powers of Algeria's communes and wilayas (provinces), nor the innovations seen in May's legislative elections - now applied at local level (quota of women representatives, judicial supervision, an Islamic coalition, newly legalized political parties) - seem to be producing any mobilising effect on the Algerian electorate. Around 21 million voters are expected to vote on November 29th for roughly 24,000 commune and 2,000 wilaya councillors – numbers that have risen due to a population increase.
Barring any last minute rescheduling 2013 is to be election year in Lebanon. As is customary there, a reform of the electoral law is already at the centre of national political debate. In the last twenty years the country has had four different electoral laws for a total of five legislative elections. In fact however, just a few points that have been modified in each case.
The Syrian civil war has inevitably ended up involving its Turkish neighbour. A first and dramatic consequence were the waves of refugees who began to abandon Syria in 2011. It is estimated that to date some 94,000 people have crossed the border and the United Nations predicts that by the year's end Turkey will have to take charge of 280,000 refugees.