News Roundup and Notes: December 30, 2014

The News Roundup will be back on January 2, 2014. From the entire Just Security Team, we wish you a very happy new year. Here’s today’s news.

AFGHANISTAN

The Afghan Taliban has released a statement declaring the “defeat” of the U.S. and allied NATO forces, a day after the coalition officially ended its combat mission in the country. [BBC]  The war in Afghanistan remains “fierce,” and is “as intense as it has ever been since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001,” report Margherita Stancati and Habib Khan Totakhil. [Wall Street Journal]

Sen. John McCain urged the Obama administration to “replace its calendar-driven draw-down of U.S. forces with a plan based on conditions on the ground,” in a statement issued yesterday.

IRAQ and SYRIA

Germany is sharing intelligence with American agencies about citizens and residents suspected of having joined rebel groups in Iraq and Syria, as the threat posed by extremism outweighs the concerns over the Snowden revelations in Berlin. [Washington Post’s Greg Miller] 

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. The U.S. and partner nations conducted 12 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria on Dec. 29, and a further six strikes on targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

The Islamic State has published an interview with a Jordanian pilot captured by the group last week after his aircraft crashed in northern Syria. [AP]

A different landscape has emerged in Iraq since the Islamic State assault in June, and the longer the country’s “fragments exist on their own the harder it will be to rebuild the country even as a loose federation,” report Isabel Coles et al for Reuters. 

NORTH KOREA

North Korea likely hired foreign hackers to assist with the Sony hack last month, according to U.S. investigators. [Reuters’ Mark Hosenball and Jim Finkle] Meanwhile, a security firm told the FBI that its data on the cyberattack points to former Sony staff as the perpetrator, although the agency is sticking to its conclusions. [Politico’s Tal Kopan]

The U.S., South Korea and Japan have agreed to a trilateral information-sharing arrangement regarding the missile and nuclear threats posed by North Korea. [DoD News] 

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Arab states endorsed a Palestinian draft UN resolution for a peace deal with Israel, aiming to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by 2017, despite U.S. and Israeli opposition. [Reuters’ Louis Charbonneau and Ali Sawafta]

Israeli military forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank; soldiers opened fire after a group throwing rocks did not heed a call to stop and disregarded warning shots. [New York Times’ Isabel Kershner] 

PAKISTAN

Suspected Mumbai attacks mastermind, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, has been rearrested by Pakistani authorities on an unrelated kidnapping charge, a day after a court ordered his release on bail. [BBC]

“Covert wars” funded by drug money are underway in the Baluchistan region bordering Iran and Pakistan, and could have consequences for issues such as the nuclear negotiations with Iran, reports Umar Farooq. [The Daily Beast] 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The NSA was unsuccessful in cracking certain online encryption programs, at least as of 2012, according to the Snowden documents, reports Der Spiegel.

The U.S. carried out an airstrike in Somalia targeting an al-Shabaab senior leader on Monday, a Pentagon spokesperson said. [CNN’s Jamie Crawford and Dana Ford]

Congress has allocated $65 million for a school at Guantanamo. The investment underlines the Pentagon’s intention to maintain the military base even if the president is able to move out the remaining 132 detainees, writes Carol Rosenberg. [Miami Herald]

President Obama discussed a number of national security issues in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, including developments in the Middle East and with Cuba.

As rival sides in Libya battle for control of the country, a ground invasion of Tripoli is “imminent,” according to Khalifa Haftar, the renegade general who is leading the offensive against Islamists in the country. [Foreign Policy’s Bel Trew]

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About the Author(s)

Ruchi Parekh

Former Associate Editor at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@RParekh88).

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security