The Early Edition: April 28, 2016

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

Syria ceasefire. UN Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura has called on the US and Russia to “revitalize” the collapsing ceasefire, which is in “great danger.” [AP; New York Times’ Nick Cumming-Bruce; BBC]  Cooperation between the White House and the Kremlin on the Syria issue is “fraying,” reports Karen DeYoung, Moscow this week accusing the Obama administration of “appeasing” regional allies by ignoring the presence of terrorists in the opposition forces it supports. [Washington Post]

Russia has called on the UN to blacklist two key Syrian opposition groups, accusing them of being “closely linked to terrorist organizations, primarily ISIL and al-Qaeda.” [Al Jazeera]

An airstrike on a Médecines Sans Frontières-supported hospital in Aleppo has killed at least 14 patients and staff this morning. [Washington Post’s Erin Cunningham]  Civil defense sources have blamed the Syrian government for the strike, but there has yet to be any official confirmation. [BBC]

US Special Operations forces have killed more than three dozen Islamic State operatives linked to the Europe terror attacks, defense officials have told The Daily Beast, reports Kimberley Dozier.

Lebanese soldiers killed an ISIS leader today in a military operation in the border region with Syria, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency and security sources. [Reuters]

The situation at the Syria-Turkey border demonstrates the gravity of the situation, reports Roy Gutman, commenting on the violence and humanitarian crisis there. [Politico]

US-led airstrikes continue. The US and coalition military forces carried out 23 strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq on April 26. [Central Command]

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

An email privacy bill requiring federal agencies to obtain a warrant before searching Americans’ digital communications was unanimously passed by the House yesterday. The new law, the Email Privacy Act, will amend the 1986 Email Communications Privacy Act, closing a “loophole” that technically allowed law enforcement agencies to require tech companies to hand over customers’ data, regardless of the age of that data. [The Intercept’s Jenna McLaughlin; The Hill’s Mario Trujillo]

The encryption status quo is “unacceptable,” say Sens.  Richard Burr (R, NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif), chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who are circulating a proposal in the Senate designed to ensure that tech companies and individuals give the “appropriate technical assistance” on judicial request to law enforcement agencies. [Wall Street Journal]

YEMEN

 A car bomb has exploded outside the home of Yemen’s Aden security chief Shelal Ali Shayyeh, wounding at least two people.  Shayyeh escaped unharmed. [Reuters’ Mohammed Mukhashaf et al]  There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. [Al Jazeera]

Saudi Arabia must complete an inquiry into its military intervention in Yemen and admit any mistakes it made quickly, the UK has urged, accusing the Saudis of being “frustratingly slow” in producing a report on the repeated allegations that it has been indiscriminately bombing Yemeni civilians. UK ministers also said that they would not be revoking any of the UK’s arms exports licences until a report has been produced. [The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour]

NORTH KOREA

North Korea tested a mid-range “Musudan” missile this morning, but it crashed soon after lift-off, according to South Korea’s defense ministry. This is the second failed launch this month. [Reuters’ Ju-min Park et al; CNN]

China “will absolutely not permit war or chaos” on the Korean peninsula, China’s President Xi said today. Although its sole major ally, China does not approve of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development drive, and recently backed fresh UN sanctions against it. [Reuters’ Michael Martina]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

A report detailing the failings which led to a US gunship attacking a Médecines Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 civilians last October 3 is to be declassified and released by the Pentagon. MSF said the strike was “tantamount to a war crime” at the time. [The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman]

Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam appeared in court in Paris yesterday and was charged with murder and being a member of a terrorist organization, having been flown to Paris by helicopter from Belgium shortly beforehand. Abdeslam declined to respond to the charges, his lawyer subsequently explaining that he had been too tired to do so following his extradition, but would be cooperating fully with the investigation. [The Guardian’s Kim Willsher; France 24]

A suicide bomb close to the Grand Mosque in Bursa, Turkey, injured a number of people yesterday. The attacker, whom officials say was a young woman, died at the scene. [Wall Street Journal’s Emre Peker and Dion Nissenbaum; New York Times’ Ceylan Yeginsu]  This morning, Turkish authorities have detained 15 people in connection with the attack. [Reuters’ Daren Butler]

Islamic State have been infiltrating Libya’s oil crescent region and attacking oil fields, the Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya warned yesterday.

‘America First.’ Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump delivered a speech yesterday setting out his vision for foreign policy should he become the next US president. During his speech, Trump accused President Obama of being directly responsible for the “chaos” in the Middle East, for China’s increasing military presence, and Russia’s growing hostility. He pledged a build-up of the military, to “very, very quickly” destroy Islamic State, and the rejection of various international trade deals. [Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Jose A DelReal; BBC]

Be cautious in judging the 28-pages when they become available, advises Carol Giacomo, echoing the warning of the leaders of the independent commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks and produced the report of which the 28-pages is the remaining redacted portion. They issued a statement last week warning future readers that the pages contain allegations based mainly on “raw, unvetted material” which has not had “the benefit of follow-up investigation.” [New York Times]

“Put bluntly, the United States is relying on an authorization to fight those responsible for Sept. 11 to wage war against groups that had nothing to do with those attacks and, in some cases, didn’t even exist at the time.” Just Security’s Jennifer Daskal argues that the Obama administration’s expansive interpretation of the 2001 AUMF “empowers future presidents in dangerous ways.” [New York Times] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security

Zoë Chapman

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security, Legal Researcher at UK-based human rights organization, JUSTICE