The Early Edition: October 7, 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 and IRAQ

Fierce fighting took place between Syrian government forces and rebels in the south of Aleppo today, while air strikes on eastern Aleppo by Syrian and Russian jets remained significantly lighter than during the previous two weeks, Reuters reports.

A truce in Syria was proposed by UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura yesterday, who offered to personally escort jihadist fighters in eastern Aleppo to safety if the bombing was stopped, Nick Cumming-Bruce and Rick Gladstone report at the New York Times.

Aleppo could be “destroyed” by the end of the year if things do not change soon, de Mistura also said yesterday. [AP’s Jamey Keaten and Philip Issa]

The Russian military strongly warned the US against striking the Syrian army in a statement yesterday, which noted that Russia’s air defense weapons in Syria are poised to fend off any future attacks. The AP’s Vladimir Isachenkov reports.

Russia said it was increasing cooperation with Iran in Syria yesterday and increasing its military presence in the Mediterranean with the addition of a small warship armed with cruise missiles, the Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Grove reports.

A German official called for sanctions against Russia over its bombardment of Aleppo today, Reuters reports.

President Assad’s side in the Syrian civil war is increasingly as fragmented as its opponents, forces aligned along sectarian lines but with competing approaches and concerns, Anne Barnard observes at the New York Times.

Involving Shi’ite militias in the operation to oust the Islamic State from Iraq’s Mosul will not bring peace and Turkish-trained forces should be involved in the campaign, Turkey’s foreign minister said today. [Reuters]

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out nine airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Oct. 5. Separately, partner forces conducted 18 strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

YEMEN

The first mistake was “granting ousted president Saleh impunity against all crimes he committed” and allowing him to stay in politics, the second was allowing the Houthi militia to expand control over other territories. Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman reflects on the war in Yemen, from its origins to what must be done next, with Sudarsan Raghavan at the Washington Post.

The war in Yemen has been “forgotten” while the world focuses on Syria, Hakim Almasmari and Angela Dewan write at CNN, providing a summary of the situation there.

TURKEY

A motorcycle bomb hit a police station in Istanbul’s Yenibosna district yesterday, wounding at least 10 people, according to Turkish officials. Ceylan Yeginsu reports at the New York Times.

Turkish police have detained six people in connection with the attack, the AP reports.

Iran’s foreign minister visited Ankara for talks on improving bilateral ties between Iran and Turkey despite the fact that Iranian proxies are fighting Turkish-backed rebels for control of the Syrian city of Aleppo, Yaroslov Trofimov reports at the Wall Street Journal.

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “obviously doesn’t care what Washington thinks” about the plans to construct a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank, so President Obama will have to find another way to preserve the option of a two-state solution before he leaves office, suggests the New York Times editorial board.

The State Department has taken every opportunity to speak out against Israel’s expansion program ever since last year when Secretary of State John Kerry said it was closing off possibilities for a two-state solution, but critics of the program say the US should do more, William Booth and Carol Morello observe at the Washington Post.

Yesterday’s denouncement by the State Department was “notable” for its explicit mention of the belief that proceeding with the settlement expansion is “another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation,” quotes the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald.

PHILIPPINES

The Philippines has suspended participation in any joint patrols with the US of the South China Sea, the Philippine defense chief said today. Trefor Moss reports at the Wall Street Journal.

US-Philippines ties are going through “bumps in the road” and the Philippine military could manage if the US withdrew aid, the Philippine’s defense minister said today. [Reuters]

Philippine soldiers have captured three suspects in the bombing of a night market in President Duterte’s hometown of Davao city that killed 15 people and wounded 69 others, the AP reports. The blast on Sep. 2 prompted Duterte to declare a “state of lawlessness” which empowered the government to use the army in countering terror threats in urban areas.

THE UNITED NATIONS

Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres was formally nominated to be the next UN secretary-general by the UN Security Council yesterday, the AP’s Edith M. Lederer reports.

Guterres said he plans to “serve the most vulnerable” when he takes over from existing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon early next year, the BBC reports.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The FBI has not been able to definitively connect contractor Harold Martin III, arrested on Aug. 27 on suspicion of leaking code for the NSA’s hacking tools, with top-secret information leaked from the NSA and published on the web, Scott Shane and David E. Sanger report at the New York Times.

Russia had hundreds more nuclear warheads deployed than the US as of Oct. 1, David Axe points out at The Daily Beast, and asks whether we should be worried about that.

A coalition of human rights organizations called on President Obama to honor an executive order issued this summer requiring the US to investigate when civilians are harmed in operations abroad, including drone strikes, in a letter sent to the White House yesterday. [The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux and Cora Currier]

The suspect shot while attacking shoppers with a knife at a Minessota mall last month was likely radicalized, officials said, releasing surveillance video showing the attack yesterday. Phil Helsel reports at NBC News.

The Taliban is still holding out in Afghanistan’s northern city of Kunduz five days after it launched its attack there, Afghan officials said. [AP]

Activity at all three of the tunnel complexes at North Korea’s nuclear test site has been spotted in new satellite photos taken Oct. 1, fueling speculation that Pyongyang will conduct another nuclear test in the coming days, Alastair Gale reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Chinese companies are exporting a powerful chemical that presents a potential terrorism threat, according to an AP investigation, Erika Kinetz and Desmond Butler report.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his “resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end,” the organization announced.

A bomb exploded on a train in southwest Pakistan today, killing at least three people, officials said, no one immediately claiming responsibility for the attack. [AP]

Gunmen killed about 20 soldiers guarding a refugee camp in Niger’s Tasara region yesterday, a local official reported. [AP’s Dalatou Mamane]

The Islamic State and al-Qaeda groups’ turf wars in Africa will have an “enormous” impact on the security of many fragile states in the continent and on the future of Islamic militancy, Jason Burke writes at the Guardian.

UN peacekeepers stayed in their bases rather than protect civilians during an outbreak of fighting which killed more than 300 in South Sudan this July, abandoning their posts entirely at one civilian protection site, according to a report by the US-based Center for Civilians in Conflict. [The Guardian‘s Jason Burke]

How Sweden became “one of the biggest exporters of jihadists in Europe” is explained by the BBC’s Yalda Hakim. 

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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