The Early Edition: October 11, 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.

YEMEN

The US went ahead with a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings that it could be implicated in war crimes for supporting the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen that has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, according to government documents and current and former officials. Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay report at Reuters.

The “atrocities” committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen would not have been possible without the “steadfast, aggressive support” of the US and the UK, Glenn Greenwald writes at the Intercept.

Two missiles were fired at the USS Mason in the Red Sea Sunday night from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, according to Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis. [Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe]

The Obama administration should “retaliate swiftly and decisively” against the attack, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday, Kristina Wong reports at the Hill.

A ballistic missile fired from Yemen apparently targeted a Saudi air base near the holy city of Mecca Sunday, the deepest strike yet into Saudi Arabia by the Houthis and their allies, Jon Gambrell reports at the AP.

Saudi Arabia said it will investigate an airstrike on a funeral in Sana’a, Yemen, that killed 142 mourners on Saturday, expressing regret but stopping short of accepting responsibility for the attack, Ahmed al Omran and Asa Fitch report at the Wall Street Journal.

An international enquiry into whether the attack was a war crime was called for by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, supported by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who condemned both the attack and the Saudi-led bombing campaign believed to be responsible for it, Nick Cumming-Bruce and Eric Schmitt report at the New York Times.

The US condemned the strike, National Security spokesperson Ned Price saying that “US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check.” [CNN’s Ray Sanchez]

Fragments of what appear to be US-made MK-82 bombs have been found at the site of the attack, Alex Emmons reports at the Intercept.

Yemen has become “another Syria.” The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall explains how President Obama’s “hands –off” approach in Yemen, as in Syria, as well as US and UK arms sales, have fueled a Saudi-Iranian proxy war that could “blow up in the west’s face.”

SYRIA

Russian jets resumed their heavy bombardment of rebel-held eastern Aleppo today after several days of reasonable calm, according to a rebel official and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [Reuters]

Western air forces must be prepared to confront Russian jets over Aleppo to enforce a no-fly zone, UK members of parliament will be told by a former minister during an emergency three-hour Commons debate today which is anticipated to force the UK Foreign Office to set out how it intends to respond after Russia’s veto of a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in eastern Aleppo. Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.

Refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged for the second time yesterday, telling reporters he was “deeply disappointed” by the lack of unity on Syria within the UN Security Council. [AP]

France said it will ask the International Criminal Court to investigate potential war crimes in the Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday, its foreign minister telling reporters that “we do not agree with what Russia is doing.” [Al Jazeera]

Russian President Putin has canceled a planned trip to France next week over French President François Hollande’s suggestion yesterday that Russia is guilty of war crimes in Syria, CNN’s Angela Dewan reports.

Relations between France and Russia have deteriorated following Russia’s veto of a French-drafted UN Security Resolution on Syria, Reuters reporting that the French President was reconsidering earlier whether to host President Putin at the meeting in Paris on Oct. 19, which at that point Russia’s ambassador to France said Putin still wanted to attend.

At least 10 people have been killed in an Islamic State bombing attack in a village in northern Syria, Reuters reports.

Medical workers in Aleppo are exhausted and the overstretched facilities there face an impending fuel shortage, Doctors Without Borders said in a statement yesterday. [AP’s Philip Issa]

The Syrian regime has adopted a “policy of terror” against the population since the beginning of the Syrian war, including “a plan to target the humanitarian mission,” the President of Doctors Without Borders Mego Terzian told Al Jazeera’s Zena Tahhan.

The Islamic State’s propaganda operations have dropped off dramatically under increased military pressure, according to a study by terrorism researchers at West Point. Scott Shane reports at the New York Times.

IRAQ

Advance warning gives civilians hope that they will soon be liberated and encourages enemy fighters to defect, the spokesperson for the US-led coalition supporting Iraq’s military said yesterday, defending the open discussions about an imminent operation to retake Mosul. Susannah George reports at the AP.

A large Shia force plans to set up a blocking position to the west of Mosul to stop the Islamic State from escaping to Raqqa in Syria while the Iraqi army attacks Mosul, a decision that Iraq’s military is seeing as a rebuff, Martin Chulov explains at the Guardian

RUSSIA

Russia has moved nuclear weapons to its border with Europe, CNN’s Elise Labott reports.

Russia and China will hold their second joint anti-missile drills next year, Chinese state media said today, after South Korea and the US prompted anger with their plans to deploy a US anti-missile system in South Korea. [Reuters]

The US missile defense poses a great danger to Russian and Chinese nuclear potentials, the Russian Armed Forces General Staff said. [Interfax]

Russia advanced its reconciliation with Turkey yesterday, including an agreement to revive a halted natural-gas pipeline project, President Putin visiting Turkey himself – meaning he wanted to discuss regional problems face-to-face, which is “especially important” in the context of current Russia-US tensions, according to one expert. Neil MacFarquhar reports at the New York Times.

The “new Cold War’s only just begun,” Michael Weiss suggests at The Daily Beast, discussing Russia’s behavior both at home and abroad.

LIBYA

Divisions over Libya are threatening the European Union’s new push to cooperate more effectively on defense and security, Jacopo Barigazzi reports at POLITICO.

The Islamic State trained hundreds of recruits to extend its caliphate to “Europe’s doorstep” in Libya’s Sirte, recently discovered documents reveal. Maria Abi-Habib reports at the Wall Street Journal.

CHINA and SOUTH KOREA

Seoul summoned China’s ambassador to South Korea today over the alleged ramming and sinking of a South Korean coast guard vessel by Chinese fishing boats, the AP reports.

A formal complaint has been lodged with Beijing by South Korean officials over the sinking, which happened Friday and resulted in no casualties, reports the AP.

South Korea will use greater force against Chinese boats illegally fishing in its waters, it said today. [Reuters’ Ju-min Park]

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The FBI is probably continuing to ask companies for more information than the law allows, a recently revealed subpoena shows. [The Intercept’s Jenna McLaughlan]

WikiLeaks published 2,000 new documents it says were hacked from the emails files of the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign yesterday, the Hill’s Julian Hattem reports.

Why does the US fear that Russia is hacking the presidential election? Gordon Corera sums up the issues at the BBC.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Taliban entered the capital of Helmand province yesterday after weeks of fighting, the group’s most successful assault to date on the strategic city, reports Pamela Constable at the Washington Post.

A Syrian man was arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting an “Islamic-motivated explosive attack in Germany” yesterday morning after a manhunt over the weekend, the New York Times’ Melissa Eddy reports.  The suspect was subdued by other Syrian migrants who recognized him from police wanted posters, Stephanie Kirchner reports at the Washington Post.

A planned summit to discuss the conflict in Ukraine involving Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany can only take place if there is “real progress” on the key stumbling blocks in the coming days, a French diplomatic source said today. [Reuters]

The family home of a Palestinian convicted of being an accomplice to a deadly shooting attack on Israelis last year was demolished by the Israeli military today, the AP reports.

No evidence or suspects were discovered to corroborate an intelligence report of car bomb attacks in and around Bangkok after a police search today, the AP reports.

Britain’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is a “stealth initiative to bolster Britain’s nuclear deterrent,” suggests Peter Wynn Kirby at the New York Times.

Colombia’s second-largest rebel group released a hostage yesterday ahead of an expected announcement that it is beginning peace talks with the government, the AP reports.

Turkish authorities have switched focus from alleged followers of Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen to the country’s Kurdish minority community in recent weeks as the post-coup crackdown continues, observes Erin Cunningham at the Washington Post.

Death sentences for terrorism offenses are often handed down following unfair trials by special courts with no respect for human rights and the rule of law, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday. [AP’s Michael Astor] 

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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