The Hemispheres News Digest

Early to Mid-November 2015 in International Relations

Opposition leaders executed in Bangladesh

Senior Bangladeshi opposition leaders Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury were executed Saturday for war crimes committed during the bloody War of Liberation in 1971 after a final clemency appeal was rejected.

Both members were convicted for genocidal atrocities. Mujahid was a senior member of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party, while Chowdhury led BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party), the main opposition force. (Source: The Guardian.)

Despite these accusations, however, there has been concern regarding backlash, as supporters of each politician have threatened justice and questioned the legal validity of the proceedings. A reporter returning from Chowdhury’s funeral was shot at repeatedly while inside his car. This event thus exacerbates concerns regarding instability in Bangladesh. Read more here.

China gets involved in the fight against ISIS

This week, ISIS executed Chinese national Fan Jinghui, prompting president Xi Jinping to “resolutely crack down” on such terrorist activity. This sentiment was exacerbated by the loss of 3 Chinese failway executives in the Malian siege.

China, with formidable security presence including over 2 million soldiers, has called to expand its presence internationally to combat terrorist threats. (Source).

Despite this, however, this represents a major setback and limitation for China in that it has not taken a more effective, direct response against terrorism such as officially joining the international coalition against the Islamic State before this point. As such, Beijing is contemplating a framework to send more troops abroad. Although China cracks down on terrorism within its borders, as it recently did in Xinjiang, it tends to let the United States, Britain, France, and Russia take the lead in terms of fighting international threats. China does not necessarily have to militarily intervene in the Middle East, but sitting on the international sidelines is becoming less and less of an option. Read more here.


Myanmar Landslide

90 people are reported dead in a landslide in Myanmar that occurred in the early morning of Sunday November 22. Located in the Kachin state, the landslide occurred at a jade mine when waste material collapsed, burying the victims. Among the victims are those who live close to waste dumps in hopes of finding pieces of jade to sell for themselves.


More people are missing and the Myanmar Red Cross along with local authorities are working to find them. Read more here.

Paris Update

This is the second day Brussels is under a city-wide lockdown. Belgian forces are on the hunt for several terror suspects including Salah Abdeslam, who was involved in the Paris attacks. He is described as armed and dangerous and according to friends, he was recently in Brussels trying to get to Syria. Interior Minister Jan Jambon says that the “terror threat in Belgium will not be over once Salah Abdeslam is out of harm’s way” (Source). It is unclear to whether Interior Minister Jambon believes there will be another attack, but this time targeted towards civilians in Brussels.


So far Belgian authorities have charged three people with involvement in the Paris attacks. A total of nine people have been named as perpetrators in this violent

2016 US Presidential Election Update

Following the Paris attacks, Democratic presidential hopefuls lined up in Iowa to debate. The primary focus of the debate was about how the US should best deal with the Islamic State (IS). Former Secretary of State and frontrunner of the Democratic presidential race, Hilary Clinton, was reported to appear stiff and defensive when her opponents challenged her. Although Clinton, compared to her opponents, is more knowledgeable and experienced with foreign policy issues, neither she nor Bernie Sanders nor Martin O’Malley provided a plan for managing the threat of the militant group (Source).


The Iowa debate ended with banter about the economy, minimum wage, Syrian refugees, and of course criticizing the Republican party. Read more here.