News Roundup and Notes: November 23, 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.

PARIS ATTACKS

Belgian authorities conducted raids across the capital early today, detaining 16 people as part of a joint police and military effort to prevent what the country’s prime minister described as a “serious and imminent” threat of a terror attack similar to that in Paris. [New York Times’ Andrew Higgins and Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura; AP]  Paris attack suspect Salah Abdelslam was not one of those detained and remains on the run. [The Guardian’s Jason Burke]

Brussels lockdown. The Belgian capital entered its third day of security lockdown today. The city remains on the highest level of security threat. Many public spaces were closed over the weekend and there is a strong military presence on the streets. EU buildings are open but guarded. [Reuters; Wall Street Journal’s Natalia Drozdiak et al]  Brussels has been at the center of the investigations into those responsible for the Paris attacks. [France 24]

The photo of a third unidentified suicide attacker was released yesterday by French police. Authorities hope to identify the man who died attacking the Stade de France. [NBC News]

French President François Hollande begins a weeklong series of diplomatic visits today, aimed at building an international coalition against the Islamic State. [Wall Street Journal’s William Horobin]  UK Prime Minister David Cameron met with Hollande in Paris today, saying that the “world is coming together” to tackle the ISIS threat.

Cameron has offered Hollande the use of a RAF airbase on Cyprus to launch airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. [The Guardian’s Matthew Weaver]  He added that it was his “firm conviction” that the UK should start airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. [BBC]

The Paris attacks make the UK argument for strikes in Syria even weaker, opines Mary Dejevsky, arguing that instead there should be a renewed emphasis on the Vienna peace talks. [The Guardian]

Attacks were planned to target Hannover stadium with three bombs during a friendly international football match last week, an attack disrupted by the cancelation of the match, German security officials say. [The Guardian’s Ben Knight]

Flaws in counterterrorism intelligence were exposed following the Paris attacks, with a number of those involved in the attacks known to security services in several countries. Authorities “attribute the lapses in communication, inability to keep track of suspected militant and a failure to act on intelligence, to a lack of resources in some countries and a surge in the number of would-be jihadis.” [Reuters’ John Irish et al]

Europe is demonstrating a marked shift toward security and away from privacy in the wake of the Paris attacks, reports Katie Bo Williams. [The Hill]

“The expanding web of connections among the Paris attackers,” a visual guide from the New York Times.

“The five ways US politics changed after Paris.” Glenn Thrush explores how the attacks changed the 2016 political landscape, at Politico.

“What happened in Paris can happen here.”  Mitchell D. Silber explains how a similar attack could take place in the US, and what should be done to prevent it, at the Wall Street Journal.

IRAQ and SYRIA

American Special Operations Forces will arrive in Syria “very soon” to assist in organizing local forces in the battle against ISIS, a senior official said. [AFP]

Turkey is seeking a UN Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens living in Syria, days after the Russian ambassador was called on in Ankara in protest of the “intensive” bombing of villages . [Reuters]

Obama comes under fire. Former Obama administration terrorism adviser, Michael Vickers calls on President Obama to changes his strategy against the Islamic State, saying that the militant group needs to be treated like the Taliban in 2001. [Politico Magazine]  Sen Dianne Feinstein described the White House strategy as not being “sufficient” to effectively tackle ISIS, in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”  And former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel accused the strategy of lacking priorities, suggesting that the US needs “to more clearly define the political strategy that should lead the military strategy,” on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

National Security dominated the Sunday shows, check out The Hill for their “wrap-up.”

President Obama has ordered an inquiry into whether intelligence on the Islamic State had been altered to present a more favorable view of the US military campaign against the group. [New York Times’ Michael D. Shear]

Refugee crisis. President Obama has accused GOP presidential candidates of helping ISIS through their rhetoric over the refugee crisis, saying that “prejudice and discrimination” assists the militants and “undermines our national security,” during a news conference in Malaysia. [Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere]  Josh Zeitz argues that it is fair to compare the plight of Syrian refugees to that of the Jewish victims of the Nazi state in the 1930s, at Politico Magazine.

The ISIS propaganda machine is a “surreal world” in which events are “distorted” by the “ubiquitous presence” of cameramen. Greg Miller and Souad Mekhennet provide the details. [Washington Post]

“We lose the war against ISIS by being simplistic. We lose it by letting emotion overtake reason.” Frank Bruni considers the wrong responses to the militant group, at the New York Times.

“The ruins of Kobane.” Liz Sly considers the destruction of Syria and what Kobane symbolizes in the country’s ongoing civil war. [Washington Post]

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has repeatedly changed her stance on Iraq, last week suggesting that the surge she had once opposed was a good thing. Jennifer Rubin reports. [Washington Post]

Syrian passports have become a valuable commodity on the black market, as European states have pledged to grant asylum to refugees from the war-torn nation. [Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi]

The Washington Post editorial board describes Hillary Clinton as smart for distancing herself from President Obama on how to tackle the Islamic State.

American foreign policy suffers from a number of crucial defects, explored by Robert J. Samuelson at the Washington Post.

MALI HOTEL ATTACK

Malian investigators are following “several leads” after the attack on Friday targeting the Radisson Blue hotel in the capital, Bamako which left 19 people dead, following an eight-hour siege and the taking of 170 hostages. [Reuters]

A statement from the group which initially claimed responsibility for the attack, Al-Mourabitoun, identified the two gunmen, according to a Mauritanian news site. [AP]  Mali’s president has expressed doubt that the group was responsible for the attack. [Al Jazeera]

“What the Mali attack means,” explained by Joe Penny at the New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board opines that the Bamako attack is “a reminder that Mali is hardly safe even with foreign forces present.”

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The UK is set to increase its defense spending, including the announcement of two new 5,000 strong strike brigades for rapid deployment missions. Patrick Wintour reports. [The Guardian]

An Israeli and three Palestinians are dead following a series of incidents in the occupied West Bank yesterday, according to police. [Reuters]  And two people have been wounded in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem today. [Haaretz]

Rival factions in Libya have been urged to stop fighting and tackle the Islamic State by France’s defense minister. [Al Jazeera]

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been sentenced to prison time, according to an Iranian news agency. [Reuters]

Russia has formally eased a ban on the export of nuclear technology to Iran, in response to the nuclear accord concluded in July. [Reuters]

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the West to choose “between sticking by its diplomatic guns on Ukraine or working arm-in-arm in Syria,” reports Jan Cienski. [Politico]

Bahrain has been torturing detainees according to a new report by Human Rights Watch, accusations which undermine British government claims that its close Gulf ally has reformed its practices, reports Ian Black at the Guardian. 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security