Week Ahead: Syria and Somalia conferences

BOSTON — This is the week when the violent crisis in Syria will be discussed by Arab and Western powers and there will be a summit on Somalia's ongoing crises in London. Yemen and Senegal will hold historic elections. 

And let's not forget Mardi Gras and Carnival which will roll out the good times in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro.

Seeking solutions for Syria  

Syria's violence continues and the country teeters on the edge of civil war. It is well known that there is open revolt against President Bashar al-Assad in Homs and other cities, including parts of Damascus. But it is not so well known that Assad has supporters who adamantly back him.

The friends of Syria, a group of Arab nations and western powers, will hold their first meeting in Tunis on Friday, Feb. 24, to seek solutions to the Syrian crisis.

And a new approach is sought for Somalia

Representatives from more than 40 governments and organizations will meet in London on Thursday, Feb. 23, to discuss a new international approach to solving Somalia's economic, political and security problems. No easy answers to Somalia's problems. British Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting the summit to address piracy, terrorism and ther root causes of Somalia's collapse. It seems like a lot to accomplish during a 5 hour conference.

And there's another problem. A number of Somali-run websites have a leaked copy of a draft communique to be issued at the close of the London conference. Maybe Cameron will use the 5 hours to convince all the participants to agree to his draft statement.

More from GlobalPost: British Foreign Secretary William Hague visits Somalia

Crucial election in Yemen

Yemen goes to the polls on Tuesday Feb. 21. It is an historic poll that will decide who will succeed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was in power for nearly 33 years until he was eased from power after nearly a year of protests to his rule. The selection of a new Yemeni leader will mark another change of leadership that can be chalked up to the Arab Spring.

More from GlobalPost: Yemen President Saleh granted immunity 

And a contentious election in Senegal 

For years Senegal has been a prosperous, stable bastion of democracy in West Africa. But now that is beginning to look in jeopardy. The problem. It's Africa's "third term syndrome." President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, has been in power for two six-year terms and that is not enough for him. He is standing for a third term, although Senegal's constitution limits presidents to two terms.

Usually Dakar is an orderly city bustling with commerce. But it has been rocked by rock throwing, tear-gas blowing demonstrations for five days in a row. Now that the Senegalese police tear-gassed a central mosque, lots of people are angry and it looks like the protests will continue. The election is set for Sunday, Feb. 26, and it appears that the elections will be surrounded by controversy, and may well be met with more demonstrations if Wade wins.

More: Dakar rocked by anti-Wade demonstrations

Mardi Gras to rock and roll in New Orleans, while Carnival sambas in Rio

Yes, Fat Tuesday is coming up. Feb. 21 will start the biggest, best party in the U.S. as New Orleans let's the good times roll with Mardi Gras.

What could top that? Rio's legendary Carnival with its hip-twitching sambas and outrageously skimpy sequined costumes. Jennifer Lopez and Fergie are attending Rio's festivities. It's definitely the week for epic parties.

Don't forget Oscar night

It's the red carpet night of the year. Hollywood's endless television extravaganza that everyone loves to hate. And hates themselves for staying glued to the tube for so long.

Sure there are lots of stars to see: Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Michelle Williams, Viola Davis, Brad Pitt and Christopher Plummer, to name a few.

But many are counting on the biggest star to be Uggie – the Jack Russell terrier who stole the show in "The Artist" and is supposed to do a skit with Oscar emcee Billy Crystal. Now that sounds like something to watch. Take a look at Uggie doing a star turn on Ellen.

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