News Roundup and Notes: October 27, 2015

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.

IRAQ and SYRIA

The Pentagon is looking into a number of options to strengthen the military campaign against ISIS, including embedding some US forces with Iraqi troops, officials say. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]  The proposed measures come amid mounting White House dissatisfaction with progress against the Islamic State. [Washington Post’s Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe]

Representatives of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) did not visit Moscow, spokesmen from four factions fighting under the FSA banner told Reuters today. The comments come in response to reports by Russian media that such visits had taken place.

The global left’s response to Russia’s bombing of medical facilities in Syria has been muted compared to the response to the US bombing of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, observes Sam Charles Hamad. [The Daily Beast]

At least 120,000 people have been displaced in Syria over the past month due to fighting, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. [Al Jazeera]  Kareem Fahim and Maher Samaan explore the escalating humanitarian crisis gripping Syria. [New York Times]

ISIS has executed three captives in Palmyra by tying them to an ancient building and detonating it, reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [CNN]

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s apology for the Iraq war comes just as the Chilcot Inquiry is expected to be published, and his engagement with Zakaria’s questioning on CNN “has been interpreted as an acknowledgment that he will be criticized in the report.” [Politico’s Michael Goldfarb]

AFGHANISTAN

The Army Green Berets who called in the US strike on the MSF hospital in Kunduz knew that it was a hospital but thought that it was under Taliban control, the AP has learned.

Many questions remain unanswered about the Oct. 3 strike in Kunduz, Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports. [Washington Post

The Taliban has urged humanitarian agencies not to “hold back” in their rescue efforts following an earthquake yesterday in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan that left at least 300 people dead. [Reuters]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israeli authorities prevented the installation of surveillance cameras inside the al Aqsa mosque yesterday, escalating tensions as diplomatic efforts seek to halt violence between Israelis and Palestinians. [Wall Street Journal’s Rory Jones and Jay Solomon]

The “extremely serious” situation between Israelis and Palestinians may “deteriorate” further, the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas said in Brussels alongside EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini yesterday. [Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman]

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday for his statement affirming Israel’s commitment to maintaining the status quo at the Haram al Sharif and the Temple Mount. [UN News Centre]

The US-brokered deal with Israel and Jordan prevented a serious crisis with Jordan. [Haaretz’ Barak Ravid]

SOUTH CHINA SEA

A US Navy Destroyer sailed close by China-built artificial islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, US defense officials said. The Chinese foreign ministry condemned the incident as “illegal;” the US ship breached the 12-mile zone China claims around the reefs in the Spratly archipelago. [BBC; Al Jazeera]

The move by the Obama administration was designed to “push back against China’s challenge to international order,” and more so-called “freedom of navigation” operations are likely to be carried out in the future. [Foreign Policy’s Dan de Luce and Keith Johnson]

YEMEN

Preparations have begun for peace talks between the warring parties to Yemen’s conflict, the UN special envoy to that country said yesterday. [UN News Centre]

Saudi Arabia supports a humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen but does not trust the Houthi rebels to stick to such a truce, Reuters reports.

Officials in the Obama administration are “at odds” over US support of the Saudi-led coalition air campaign in Yemen, some concerned of the risk of being accused of abetting war crimes. [Politico’s Nahal Toosi]

BENGHAZI

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was not “cooperative” during last Thursday’s Benghazi hearing, says the panel’s chair Trey Gowdy, suggesting that her answers were not entirely truthful or complete, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“What has always been particularly harmful to the congressional oversight system is when panel members misuse the information they have collected” during public testimony of a witness, opines Walter Pincus, commenting on the Benghazi hearing last week. [Washington Post]

The Obama administration “deliberately misled the nation about the deadly events” in Benghazi in 2012, argues Kimberley A. Strassel, suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s testimony last week demonstrated this. [Wall Street Journal]

CYBERSECURITY

Facebook is carrying out a secret lobbying campaign in support of CISA, the major cyber bill set for a final vote in the Senate today, according to digital rights advocacy group, Fight for the Future. [The Hill’s Cory Bennett]

Sen Patrick Leahy has expressed concerns that the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) would weaken government transparency. [The Hill’s Cory Bennett]

Destructive cyberattacks by states pose a mounting threat, according to deputy director of the NSA, Richard Ledgett. [BBC]

The Department of Justice is pushing back against Apple’s claims that unlocking a suspect’s phone would “tarnish the Apple brand” and result in an undue burden on the company. [The Hill’s Katie Bo Williams]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The British government has been called on to cancel an invitation to Egypt’s President, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to visit Downing Street on the basis that he is a military dictator responsible for a “regime of terror.” The call comes in a letter from 55 signatories. [The Guardian’s Rowena Mason]

A now-closed FBI investigation of defense lawyers presented no ethical conflict, the 9/11 trial judge ruled yesterday. Following this ruling, plot suspect Walid bin Attash announced himself ready to discuss releasing his attorney, Cheryl Bormann and representing himself. Carol Rosenberg reports. [Miami Herald]

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a Shi’ite mosque in the Saudi city of Najran that killed at least one person. [Al Jazeera]

Turkey detained 30 people today during a raid against ISIS militants in the city of Konya, a local news agency reported. [Reuters]

Could Russia really “cut” the Internet? asks Michael Pizzi, providing analysis following a recent New York Times article concerning an increase in Russian naval patrols close to undersea data cables. [Al Jazeera America]

  

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security