A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
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Leading the week
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, otherwise known as the Jan. 6 Committee, will hold its last hearing on Monday (December 19) before releasing its final report on Wednesday (December 21). The panel’s Democratic chair Bennie Thompson has teased the prospect of fresh evidence at Monday’s hearing, which will conclude with votes to adopt the report as well as referrals – including criminal ones – based on its findings. The final report is expected to include a significant emphasis on the role Donald Trump allegedly played in inciting the insurrection, something that has reportedly rankled some current and former committee staffers uneasy about a potential conflict of interest in Liz Cheney’s focus on Trump, given speculation about her potential candidacy in 2024. In any case, the report’s release is expected to be met immediately with fierce criticism from Republicans, who have sought to portray the committee as partisan from the start, with GOP leader Kevin McCarthy having described the panel as a ‘political weapon to further divide our country’.
Leaders from the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), whose members also include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, are due to meet in the Latvian capital Riga on Monday (December 19) for a summit focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine and its ramifications for northern Europe. The assembled leaders will likely address, among other subjects, September’s suspected attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea that carry gas from Russia to Europe. In November, Swedish authorities announced that they had determined the incident was caused by ‘gross sabotage’, though they stopped short of making any accusations as to who was behind the attacks. Many have pointed the finger at Russia, though its motivation isn’t immediately obvious; the Kremlin slammed such suggestions as ‘stupid and absurd’ before the country’s defense ministry accused Britain of having carried out the attacks.
Jordan, meanwhile, is hosting the second edition of the Baghdad Conference on Tuesday (December 20) in its capital Amman. French President Emmanuel Macron will join leaders from the region for talks which come amid heightened tensions between Turkey and Iraq, as well as between Iran and Iraq. Baghdad has condemned recent Turkish attacks in its Kurdistan region, which Ankara argues are justified because PKK fighters based there are able to plot attacks against Turkey. Iran, meanwhile, has also conducted attacks against Iraq-based Kurdish opposition groups, labelled terrorists by Tehran, amid the ongoing anti-government protests in Iran. One thing to keep an eye on is whether any Gulf states attend the gathering amid suggestions they may have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to Iraq as they focus on broader relations with the US, Russia and China.