News Roundup and Notes: November 25, 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

Russia is ready to coordinate airstrikes against ISIS as part of a joint command with the US, France and others, including Turkey, according to the Russian ambassador to France today. [Reuters]

The UN and NATO have called for calm following the downing of a Russian war plane by Turkish aircraft. Russian President Vladimir Putin described the incident as a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists,” cutting off military ties with the Turkish defense ministry. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that everyone should respect his country’s right to defend its borders. [The Guardian’s Julian Borger]

US and European security leaders called for the restart of talks between NATO and Russia that stalled last year, eager to ensure the de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, reports Bryan Bender. [Politico]

President Obama affirmed Ankara’s right to defend itself following the incident, and urged Turkey and Russia to engage in talks to avoid military escalation. [The Hill’s Jordan Fabian]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “we have to do everything now to avoid a further escalation,” in a speech before parliament today. [AP]

One of the pilots is “alive and well” at a Russian air base in Syria, while the other, along with a marine sent in on a rescue mission, was killed. [BBC]

US-led airstrikes continue. The US and coalition military forces carried out 9 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Nov. 23. Separately, partner forces conducted a further 17 strikes on targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

Ethnic tensions have arisen following the recapture of the Iraqi city of Sinjar from the Islamic State earlier this month, Sunni Arabs accusing Kurdish forces of pushing them out of the city. [Wall Street Journal’s Sam Dagher and Ben Kesling]

Republican presidential candidates disagree on how to respond to the threat of the Islamic State. Patrick O’Connor reports. [Wall Street Journal]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board suggests that the incident proves its view that “the last months of the Obama administration will be the most dangerous since the end of the Cold War.

The Guardian editorial board calls on Russia and Turkey to “stay cool” following the downing of a Russian fighter jet, observing that the incident “exposes the fragility that lies beneath talks of an international coalition” against ISIS in Syria.

The Russian jet straying into Turkish airspace “was a test of Turkish and NATO resolve,” and Moscow’s “challenge is so fundamental to the international system, to democracy and free market capitalism that we cannot allow the Kremlin’s policy to succeed in Syria or elsewhere,” argues former senior Pentagon adviser, Evelyn Farkas. [Politico Magazine]

Will this Turkey and Russia “business get out of control?” asks Daniel W. Drezner, presenting a number of deciding factors in whether this is “a new phase of conflict” or “merely a skirmish.” [Washington Post]

The US should recognize the new geopolitics of Iraq and Syria, suggests John Bolton, arguing that the “best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.” [New York Times]

Saudi Arabia is not “pulling its weight” in the fight against ISIS, reports Adam Taylor at the Washington Post.

“Is Turkey really at the table” in finding a solution in fighting the Islamic State? Despite its claims of commitment, it is “often … part of the problem,” writes Steven A. Cook, at Politico Magazine.

The Bush administration fostered “sectarian divisions and creat[ed] a long-lasting insurgency” in Iraq which assisted the rise of the Islamic State, opines Juan Cole. [Washington Post]

Kurdish Rojava in northern Syria appears something of a “secular utopia,” where a “strange political experiment” is taking place despite the conflict surrounding it, reports Wes Enzinna. [New York Times]

President Obama “has more he could say” about the fight against ISIS, but they are not “things that he wants to say out loud.” Edward-Isaac Dovere explains, at Politico.

PARIS ATTACKS

President Obama met with French President François Hollande at the White House yesterday, Obama pledging US solidarity with France but outlining no new actions that America would take against ISIS. Peter Baker reports. [New York Times]  Instead, Obama took the opportunity to push for an increase in European contributions to the fight against the Islamic State, reports Karen DeYoung. [Washington Post]

Belgian authorities have revoked or blocked the security clearances of airport employees with past connections to people who left for Syria, an attempt to contain the threat posed to the country by homegrown extremism. [Al Jazeera]  Brussels remained on lockdown for a fourth day yesterday. [New York Times’ Andrew Higgins]

Belgium has issued an international arrest warrant for Mohamed Abrini, a man suspected of assisting in the Paris attacks. CCTV footage from before the attacks shows Abrini driving a Renault Clio used in the attacks and in the company of key suspect, Salah Abdeslam. [Al Jazeera]

Two participants in the Paris attacks appear to have been planning another attack, aimed at La Défense, Paris’s business district, according to the Paris prosecutor. The two men died in the St-Denis raid days later. [New York Times’ Aurelien Breeden]

The French Council for the Muslim Religion said it would create a preaching permit for imams in an effort to ensure the promotion of “tolerant and open Islam.” [AFP]

“While defending ourselves is a must, it might have been nice had a French Socialist president stepped up as an educator, preferring pedagogy to demagogy,” writes Sylvain Cypel, commenting on François Hollande’s response to the Paris attacks. [New York Times]

AFGHANISTAN

Human error was responsible for US airstrikes that destroyed the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz on Oct. 3, a US military report concludes. “A combination of factors” led to the bombing and the hospital wasn’t struck intentionally, say US officials who have seen a draft of the report. [New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein and Eric Schmitt; Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold]

At least 13 Afghan soldiers and two foreign nationals have been captured by the Taliban after their plane made an emergency landing in a Taliban-controlled area of the northern Faryab province yesterday, reports Mujib Mashal. [New York Times]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

At least 12 members of the Tunisian presidential guard force have died following a terror attack targeting a bus in the capital, Tunis yesterday. [Wall Street Journal’s Tamer El-Ghobashy]

Iran has carried out a series of cyberattacks on the US State Department over the past month; US officials and privacy security groups report a surge in such attacks since Tehran concluded a nuclear accord with six world powers in July. [New York Times’ David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth]

ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack yesterday in Egypt’s northern Sinai that targeted a hotel, killing seven people. [Al Jazeera]  And Murtaza Hussain writes that Egypt’s “brutal prisons” fuel ISIS recruitment in the country. [The Intercept]

New York is tightening security measures ahead of the holiday season, in light of the recent attacks in Paris. Mara Gay reports. [Wall Street Journal]

Al-Qaeda member, Abid Naseer received a 40-year prison sentence yesterday, found guilty of plotting to carry out a car bomb attack on a shopping center in northern England. [New York Times’ Stephanie Clifford]

Asian trade is key to US national security, write David Carden and David Adelman, commenting on the Pacific Rim trade deal which will be a “linchpin” in this effort. [Politico]

The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National District Attorneys Association has called on lawmakers to legislate to allow investigators gain access to encrypted communications. [The Hill’s Cory Bennett]

A UN staff member was killed by a land mine in Mali yesterday. [Reuters]

“The origins of jihadist-inspired attacks in the US,” a visual guide from Sergio Peçanha And K.K. Rebecca Lai at the New York Times. 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security