Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
A U.S. warplane shot down an Iranian-made armed drone after it approached U.S.-led coalition soldiers in southern Syria yesterday, the third occasion in two weeks on which the U.S. has brought down a pro-Assad regime aircraft seen as a threat to coalition and rebel fighters, Dion Nissenbaum, Ben Kesling and Maria Abi-Habib report at the Wall Street Journal.
The downing of the drone merely “helps those terrorists whom the United States fights,” the Russian deputy foreign minister said yesterday, though behind the heated remarks there were signs that the U.S. and Russian militaries were working together to manage the situation, writes Michael R. Gordon at the New York Times.
Russia has requested a “detailed explanation” of why the U.S. shot down a Syrian warplane Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last night, the AP reporting.
Australia will soon resume airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria following the suspension of operations in response to the shooting down of a Syrian warplane by the U.S. earlier this week, Australia’s defense chief confirmed today, the AP reporting.
Iran has set up a drone base close to a U.S. military base near Palmyra in Syria which could be the source of the drone that was shot down by the U.S. yesterday, U.S. defense officials told NBC News’ Courtney Kube.
America will have to do more to counter Iran’s actions in Syria before it an “demolish” the Islamic State there, including Iran’s use of proxy militias to challenge U.S. efforts to train local forces in southeastern Syria, writes Dennis Ross at POLITICO MAGAZINE.
The race to capture territory vacated by the Islamic State in eastern Syria is raising the risk of confrontation between the U.S., Iran and Russia, a risk that is already materialising, Rebecca Collard, Erika Solomon, Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Katrina Manson examining the signs at the Financial Times.
The ongoing surge of U.S. military operations and arms sales across the Middle East by President Trump is happening without an engaged public discussion about the risks or about diplomacy or other tools needed to protect the U.S., the downing of a Syrian warplane on Sunday and last month’s strike against a pro-Assad regime militia just the latest episodes in an escalation that lacks well-defined goals and strategy understood by the American public, write former Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and Brian Katulis at the Washington Post.
The KOREAN PENINSULA
China has failed to convince North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile programs, President Trump declared via Twitter yesterday – an “extraordinarily cavalier” statement given his formerly ardent efforts to obtain the cooperation of Beijing in dealing with Pyongyang, observe Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris at the New York Times.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is willing to collaborate with the U.S. in putting maximum pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program, but believes it is also important to send a message to Pyongyang that “if it decides to denuclearize and to come to the negotiating table, then we are willing to assist them,” he told the Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth ahead of his first visit to the White House next week.
Discussions on taking on a potential role as broker for negotiations with North Korea are being discussed by the European Union with South Korea and China, E.U. officials said, Jeremy Page and Laurence Norman reporting at the Wall Street Journal.
Activity at an underground site in North Korea used to test nuclear weapons has been detected by U.S. satellites, U.S. officials concerned that North Korea could initiate a test during a visit by Chinese officials to Washington today, CNN’s Barbara Starr, Elise Labott and Zachary Cohen report.
The U.S. is weighing up a ban on travel to North Korea following the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier shortly after his return to America from North Korea where he had been imprisoned for the past 17 months, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly having been considering the move since late April when American teacher Tony Kim was detained in Pyongtang, the AP’s Josh Lederman reports.
Japan will test its missile interceptor capability tomorrow in the wake of several recent missile tests by North Korea, according to Japanese media, Ellen Mitchell reporting at the Hill.
Is war with North Korea the next step? President Trump has begun the U.S.’ final campaign to disarm North Korea, but will it involve going after Chinese banks, or war with Kim Jong-un? Gordon G. Chang writes at The Daily Beast.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was present while C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo briefed President Trump on sensitive intelligence nearly every day for three weeks in January despite senior officials across the government being convinced that he had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail, Matt Apuzzo, Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman writes at the New York Times. Continue Reading »