The Early Edition: October 4, 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.

SYRIA

The US suspended talks with Russia over the ongoing war in Syria yesterday, accusing Russia of joining with the Assad regime in the brutal bombing of the besieged city of Aleppo, Michael R. Gordon and Andrew E. Kramer report at the New York Times.

The UN Security Council began negotiations on a draft resolution seeking an immediate truce in Aleppo yesterday, Russia immediately rejecting any grounding of aircraft and questioning whether a resolution at this time would produce any results, Michael Astor reports at the AP.

Aleppo’s crisis needs bold new initiatives including “proposals to limit the use of the veto by permanent members of the security council,” UN human rights chief Zeid al Hussain said. [Reuters]

Al Hussein also warned Russia over the use of incendiary weapons in Aleppo, saying that crimes by one side do not justify illegal acts by the other. [Reuters]

Rebels repelled a Syrian army offensive in southern Aleppo, they said today. [Reuters]

At least 15 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed as they pressed toward Dabiq, Suzan Fraser and Bassem Mroue report at the AP, citing Turkish officials and an activist group.

A prominent member of the Nusra Front was killed in a US airstrike in rebel-held Idlib in Syria’s northwest yesterday, the US Defense Department said. [Reuters]

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Kurdish wedding party near the northeastern city of Hasaka yesterday, which killed 22, CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq and Emanuella Grinberg report.

Why is Syrian President Assad still in power? Al Jazeera’s Zoe Hu says it’s because of his recurring strategy of exploiting – and sometimes fulfilling – expectations for reform in order to cultivate power.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out 20 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Oct. 2. Separately, partner forces conducted 14 strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command

IRAQ

Kurdish Peshmerga forces preparing for the attack on Islamic State-stronghold Mosul have asked the UK for equipment to protect themselves from the Islamic State’s chemical attacks, Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.

The battle for Mosul could force a million people to flee their homes, which the UN says it is nowhere near ready to deal with, Loveday Morris reports at the Washington Post.

COLOMBIA

The ceasefire will remain in effect, despite the result of a referendum Sunday rejecting a peace deal between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels, President Juan Manuel Santos said, inviting Colombia’s political parties to an emergency meeting Mondayto form a “big-tent coalition” to rework the peace deal. Nick Miroff reports at the Washington Post.

A panel of experts will meet with the right-wing political opponents who opposed the accord, Santos announced yesterday as he sought to salvage the peace deal. [Wall Street Journal’s Sara SchaeferMunoz]

Colombian Senator and previous president Álvaro Uribe is seen by some as the only person who can renegotiate the peace deal in a way that will convince those who oppose it that it isn’t too lenient toward the rebels, Juan Forero and Kejal Vyas write at the Wall Street Journal.

There may still be a chance of renegotiating the terms of the deal, but the political hurdles are high and hope now largely rests in “the exhaustion of both sides,” suggests the New York Times editorial board.

The future of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is in limbo following the peace deal’s defeat Sunday. Leader Rodrigo Londono reaffirmed the group’s commitment to peace and said his troops would honor FARC’s commitment to the government by sticking to the ceasefire after the referendum result, yet it is not clear how many concessions the group will now take, and nobody expects them to turn in their weapons just to end up in jail, Joshua Goodman and Andrea Rondruiguez reflect at the AP.

Why did Colombians reject the peace deal? Hisham Aidi at Al Jazeera explains the “shocking” but “not inexplicable” result of Sunday’s referendum.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban forces in Kunduz have been defeated, the BBC quotes the governor of Kunduz province as saying today. The Taliban launched a coordinated attack on the city before dawn Monday, a year after they briefly retook the city.

Despite this, heavy fighting continued in and around the provincial capital for a second day today, according to Al Jazeera.

American military advisers were on the ground helping in the defense of the governor’s compound, a focus of the Taliban attack, Mujib Mashal and Najim Rahim report at the New York Times.

PHILIPPINES

The Phiblex amphibious landing drills between the US and the Philippines began today, perhaps for the last time now that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed a desire for a more “independent” foreign policy, observes Trefor Moss at the Wall Street Journal.

The US’s alliance system in East Asia, which has helped to keep the peace – with the exception of the Vietnam War – for more than half a century, is now in trouble on account of Duterte’s anti-American hostility, Andrew Browne writes at the Wall Street Journal.

TURKEY

Turkey is extending its state of emergency by three months to help it fight terrorism, Turkey’s government said. Emre Peker reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkey suspended 12,801 police officers today on suspicion of links to Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, representing 5 percent of Turkey’s entire police force, Reuters reports.

Turks accused of complicity in the failed July 15 coup can attend a new “crisis management center” and submit their written defenses, NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The UK government unveiled a new policy that could suspend parts of the European Convention on Human Rights during future conflicts. The measure is aimed at protecting British troops from “vexatious” legal claims by “a whole industry of lawyers,” the BBC reports.

Former Washington Post bureau chief in Tehran Jason Rezaian has filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government accusing it of hostage-taking, torture and terrorism over his 544-day imprisonment in Iran during its nuclear negotiations with the US, Rick Gladstone reports at the New York Times.

Libya is a “strategic gateway” to the rest of Africa for the Islamic State, according to an essay by one member, and unless the West acts quickly, the jihadists are poised to make the situation in Libya look “like a mere preamble,” suggests Nicholas Jubber at The Daily Beast.

Two US warships docked at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, Sunday, the first such port call since the two nations normalized relations 21 years ago, and a sign of warming military ties between them, Khanh Vu suggests at the Wall Street Journal.

A Maryland man has been charged with plotting to attack a member of the US military on behalf of the Islamic State, the Justice Department said yesterday. After spending months expressing support for the militant group on social media, Nelash Mohamed Das met with an FBI source whom he believed was a fellow Islamic State supporter, the Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Rector reports.

Two former CIA captives have described how they were threatened with a makeshift electric chair while being held in the infamous “Salt Pit” prison in Afghanistan in independent interviews with Human Rights Watch, Alex Emmons reports at the Intercept.

WikiLeaks will publish around one million documents related to three governments and the US election before the end of the year, founder Julian Assange said today. [Reuters]

The UK will continue to block the formation of a European Union army as long as it remains a member of the bloc, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said today. [Reuters] 

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About the Author(s)

Zoë Chapman

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