News Roundup and Notes: November 30, 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

Warplanes, believed to be Russian, conducted airstrikes on the northwestern Syrian town of Ariha yesterday, killing at least 30 people, according to rescue workers in the area, which is not a stronghold of the Islamic State. [Reuters]

Russia tried to downplay the possibility of a grand coalition with Western nations against ISIS on Friday, President Putin’s spokesman said that Moscow’s “partners are not ready” to work together. [Washington Post’s Andrew Roth]

Russia-Turkey relations. Moscow has implemented an array of sanctions against Ankara in response to the downing of a Russian war plane on the Syrian border. [Wall Street Journal’s Paul Sonne and Emre Peker]  Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today dismissed any suggestion that his country should apologize for downing the Russian jet. [Reuters]  Neil MacFarquhar reports that tensions between the two countries are fueled by similarities between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. [New York Times]  

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appears weak in the fight against ISIS, reports Loveday Morris at the Washington Post.

Assertions by President Obama that ISIS has been contained are a “joke,” said the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr. [The Hill’s Jonathan Swan]  And the Obama administration’s strategy against ISIS needs to be “sped up and intensified,” according to former defense secretary and CIA chief, Robert Gates. [The Hill’s Kyle Balluck]

The majority of members of the US-led coalition against ISIS have not actively participated, with only a handful of countries conducting airstrikes against the group. [New York Times’ Peter Baker]

Islamic State fighters are reportedly being tortured following their capture by US-backed Kurdish forces. Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef provide the details at The Daily Beast.

Should the British parliament endorse airstrikes against ISIS in Syria? Five commentators consider the rights and wrongs of the debate, at the Guardian.

ISIS has established a system of bureaucracy across its territory in Syria and Iraq that “wrings every last American dollar, Iraqi dinar and Syrian pound” from those who live under its control, report Matthew Rosenberg et al. [New York Times]

The Islamic State is most helpfully thought of as a state “entity that needs to control territory in order to sustain its message, validate its propaganda and maintain much of its capacity,” write Eli Berman and Jacob N. Shapiro at Politico Magazine, suggesting how this conception can be used to fight the group.

“As with Spain, so now with Syria.” Ross Douthat compares and contrasts the Spanish Civil War with the ongoing conflict in Syria. [New York Times]

A common curriculum taught to Shi’ite, Sunni and Christian children alike in refugee camps in Lebanon, offers a “powerful antidote” to ISIS, writes UN special envoy for global education, Gordon Brown. [Washington Post]

PARIS ATTACKS

President Obama paid a visit to the Bataclan concert hall early today, attending a memorial for the terrorist attack that took place there. [The Hill’s Kyle Balluck]

“The twin challenges of climate change and terrorism will test Obama’s global standing,” writes Nahal Toosi, discussing the president’s visit to Paris. [Politico]

Thousands of protesters defied a government ban on demonstrations ahead of the UN climate summit held there this week, police deploying tear gas against those gathered. [Wall Street Journal’s William Horobin]

The Economist explores French efforts to ramp up global commitment to the fight against ISIS in the wake of the Paris attacks.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The NSA’s bulk phone record collection program closed yesterday, as required by the USA Freedom Act, signed by President Obama in June. [Politico’s Alex Byers]

The US, Pakistan and China are pushing to revive peace talks between the Afghan central government and the Taliban in the next few weeks, according to officials. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani intend to meet on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Paris today, a potential first step. [Wall Street Journal’s Saeed Shah and Margherita Stancati]

The Islamic State is working to cement its control of the Libyan city of Sirte, where the group has established a stronghold close to Europe. [Wall Street Journal’s Tamer El-Ghobashy and Hassan Morajea]

The Economist explains how to improve international cybersecurity.

Italy has plans to shut down “clandestine” mosques in the country, part of the government’s counterterrorism efforts, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Friday. [AFP]

President Obama last week signed a $607 billion defense policy bill despite restrictions contained in the legislation preventing him from transferring prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay to the US. [AP]

The Yemeni city of Taiz is experiencing heavy fighting, forcing more than 30 hospitals and medical facilities to close. [Al Jazeera]

Two UN peacekeepers and a contractor were killed following a mortar attack on a UN base in northern Mali early Saturday, a spokesperson said. [AP]

Israel has suspended diplomatic contact with EU bodies engaged in Israel-Palestine peace efforts, a response to the EU’s decision to label products produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. [Wall Street Journal’s Rory Jones]

The fatal shooting attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs appears to be an act of domestic terrorism, the town’s Mayor John Suthers said yesterday. [The Hill’s Kyle Balluck]

Pope Francis arrived in Bangui on Sunday morning, the first visit by a pontiff to an armed conflict in recent memory, reports Kevin Sieff. [Washington Post] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security