Watchlist: Austria Says "No" to the FPÖ

Week of December 5th

Yahya Jammeh, the President of The Gambia for 22 years.


More Marbles for Barrow

Adama Barrow beat out incumbent Yahya Jammeh in The Gambia’s presidential elections last Friday, December 2nd. Barrow's election came as a surprise for most, as Jammeh had held office for over 20 years. Barrow held no previous political office and was completely unknown before beginning his campaign 6 months ago. Jammeh’s own rule began as a political coup, while Barrow was chosen to be the candidate for a coalition of several political parties intent on ending Jammeh’s tenure. Voting in The Gambia consists of placing marbles in into drums marked for the candidates and Barrow received 263,515 votes to Jammeh’s 212,099. Jammeh accepted the results of the election and offered to work with the incumbent Barrow should he reach out. Watch to see what new change Barrow will bring to The Gambia when he assumes office. EMMA STOUT


Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of Jakarta

A unity rally was held in the capital of Indonesia as thousands of citizens held demonstrations against the city’s governor in Jakarta. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or “Ahok” in Chinese, was accused of insulting the Islam during his campaigning for the election. Since Indonesia is one of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nations, Mr. Purnama is a double minority in this country, being that he is a Christian and Chinese by ethnicity. The rally was meant to elucidate the Indonesian culture, as the parade featured traditional dances and an enormous flag saying, “We are Indonesia.” Back in September, during a campaign speech, Mr. Purnama explained that Islamic groups who were quoting a Koranic verse in order to deter support for him were disadvantaging voters. This verse is interpreted by some as forbidding Muslims from living under the government of a non-Muslim. Islamic groups viewed this as a criticism of the Koran and filed complaints to the police. The new leader apologized for his statement but denied blasphemy, which would have landed him in jail for five years. Last week, prosecutors in Indonesia confirmed that this case has the potential to go to a court trial. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to see the results of Mr. Purnama’s comments and the future of Indonesia’s government. SANURI GUNAWARDENA


Aftermath of the Crash of the Chapecoense Plane: Wake and Fallout

A wake was held at the stadium of the Chapecoense soccer team this Saturday who died in a plane crash this past Monday. President Michel Temer was present for the solemn rain-drenched ceremony, where he decided to maintain a low profile and gave only limited remarks, just as he did at the opening ceremonies of the Rio Olympics this past summer. Fans in Chapeco described the lose of the team as more tragic because of the rapid success of the team, who has started in the lowest tier of Brazilian soccer and worked their way up, and the normalcy of the players, who were often seen on the streets of the small city and were seen like neighbors to some fans. It is relatively clear now after some investigation, that the plane which crashed had only just enough fuel for the flight time and had no extra fuel prepared in case of delays. The flight was going from Bolivia to Medellin, Colombia, to play in a South American final, the Copa Sudamericana, the club’s biggest ever game. Bolivian President Evo Morales has promised a full-scale investigation into the company LAMIA, from which Chapecoense had chartered the flight. ANDREW MITCHEL


Far Right Loses in Austria's Revote

This Sunday, Austrians headed to the polls to finally decide the presidency after the far-right Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) Norbert Hofer objected to initial voting procedures. Mr. Hofer lost by 31,000 votes in a narrow 50/50 margin last May, until Austria’s highest court backed the party and allowed for a delayed new vote. He again faced 72-year-old former economics professor and Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen. Both candidates beat out the center right and left parties before May’s runoff, shocking Austrians everywhere and solidifying the once unthinkable possibility of an FPÖ win. Indeed, Mr. Hofer has faced multiple criticisms throughout his campaign for being, “nationalist, intolerant, and anti-European” for his harsh rhetoric against Muslim immigrants and the party’s Nazi origins. While Mr. Hofer was confident Donald Trump’s win in America would help him win, in results announced December 4th, Van der Bellen was the official winner. In his victory speech he announced, “I will try to be an open-minded, a liberal-minded and first of all a pro-European federal president of the Republic of Austria." Stay tuned for how this victory for the left will affect the rise of the far-right across the globe. MEGHAN ROWLEY

Middle East

Assad’s Forces Advance Once Again

“If you do not leave these areas urgently, you will be annihilated. … You know that everyone has given up on you. They left you alone to face your doom, and nobody will give you any help.” These are the words delivered by the Russian-backed Syrian Government forces to rebels in eastern Aleppo, as the final bloody assault on rebel territory intensifies. As the strategic epicenter of the war in Syria, Aleppo symbolizes the final major territory held by opposition forces. These opposition groups include the formerly US-backed Free Syrian Army and Jihadist groups such as Jabhat Fatah al Sham, among others. This past week, the government's capture of the Tariq al-Bab district of the city only advanced their assault on rebel groups. Many reports indicate over 50% of the besieged city has now been recaptured by President Bashar Al Assad. On Saturday, Russia discussed interest in negotiations with the US regarding a withdrawal of opposition forces from eastern Aleppo, where advances by the Russian-backed Syrian army and its allies threaten to deal a crushing blow to the dwindling rebellion. According to Syrian General Muhammad Suleiman the army expects to recapture more 60% of eastern Aleppo within days. JALAL TALEB

Iran Deal Back in the Spotlight

The United States Senate voted on Thursday to extend the Iran Sanctions Act by ten years, a move which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claims violates the nuclear deal signed 3 years ago. In a speech on Sunday, Rouhani called on US President Barack Obama to block the bill, promising that Iran would “act promptly” if the bill passes. US officials have claimed that renewal would not violate the nuclear agreement, and that it would allow sanctions to be quickly reapplied should Iran infringe on the deal in the future. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, “We believe the Iran Sanctions Act extension is not necessary, but we also believe it won’t interfere with the Iran deal.” On Sunday, 264 of Iran’s 290 parliament members issued a statement requesting that the government retaliate. Despite the deal which relaxed sanctions against Iran, the Iranian economy continues to struggle, and Rouhani has promised that he does not intend to violate the agreement. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said “I do not believe the nuclear deal is in jeopardy…of course, in Iran, we have options for every alternative.” MAYA ZREIK

Featured Posts
Recent Posts