The Early Edition: October 12, 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

Saudi air forces shot down a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthis at a city in the kingdom’s southwest last night, according to a statement by the Saudi-led coalition. [Reuters]

The West’s response to the Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a funeral in Sana’a on Saturday will determine if the war in Yemen deepens or moves toward a resolution, Maggie Michael and Ahmed Al-Haj write at the AP.

IRAN

Indications that Iran-allied Houthi rebels were responsible for firing two ballistic missiles at the USS Mason off the coast of Yemen Sunday are being identified, US officials told Reuters’ Phil Stewart.

The Pentagon said it would find out who fired at the USS Mason and “take action accordingly” yesterday, adding that “anybody who puts US Navy ships at risk does so at their own peril.” [NBC News’ Courtney Kube and Corky Siemaszko]

The waters off Yemen are an emerging “missile kill-zone” meaning that even the best-defended US Navy warships may be pulled back from the region, while the US’s allies in the war-torn country stand even less of a chance, observes David Axe at The Daily Beast.

The attack on the US Navy is “another reminder” that the nuclear deal with Iran has done “more to embolden than moderate Tehran’s ambitions,” according to the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

IRAQ

The “uneasy mix” of forces poised to begin the battle to oust the Islamic State from the city of Mosul could delay the operation or lead to separate conflicts, warns Loveday Morris at the Washington Post.

Iraq’s Prime Minister rejected Turkey’s claims that its forces must be part of the operation to retake Mosul, putting increased pressure on the relationship between the two nations, Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports at the AP.

Turkish troops will remain in Iraq until the Islamic State is removed from Mosul, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said today. [Reuters]

Turkey must not be left out of the Mosul operation, Turkish President Erdoğan insisted yesterday, telling the Iraqi prime minister to “know his place.” [AP’s Susan Fraser]

The Islamic State has a new weapon in Iraq: exploding drones. Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt at the New York Times explain that the Islamic State has used small commercially available drones with explosive devices attached to them in the three known exploding drone attacks in Iraq so far.

Two Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and two French soldiers wounded by an exploding drone launched by the Islamic State earlier this month, Kurdish officials said today. [Reuters]

SYRIA

Accusations by the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that there is evidence showing Russia was responsible for the attack on an aid convoy in Syria yesterday have been dismissed as “Russophobic hysteria” by the Russian defense ministry, Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.  Johnson also said that he believed Russia should be investigated for war crimes in Syria.

Islamic State militants are putting up “stiff resistance” to attacks by Turkey-backed rebels in northern Syria, Turkey’s military said today. [Reuters]

More German troops will be deployed to Turkey to help operate NATO surveillance aircraft as part of the US-led fight against the Islamic State in Syria, government sources said. [Reuters]

When will Iran, President Assad’s most important ally, abandon him? Ahmed al-Burai at al Jazeera suggests that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Iran – which has backed Assad militarily and politically – would surely bet on several horses and is “almost certainly” laying the ground for a post-Assad Syria.

Putin’s behavior in Syria mirrors his approach to Chechnya, observes Oliver Bullough at the New York Times, describing the parallels between the two conflicts.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out eight airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Oct. 10. Separately, partner forces conducted nine strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

AFGHANISTAN

Gunmen disguised as police officers attacked a Shi’ite shrine in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, last night, killing at least 14 people, officials and witnesses said. [New York Times’ Zahra Nader and Mujib Mashal]

Rampant government corruption is blamed for the increasing threat posed by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, most of which has been under the control of the militants for the past month, Karim Sharifi and Lynne O’Donnell report at the AP.

TURKEY

Hundreds of senior military staff serving at NATO in Europe and the US have been fired by Turkey in the wake of the July 15 failed coup, documents show, enveloping some of the armed forces’ best trained officials in the post-coup purge. Robin Emmott reports for Reuters.

Arrest warrants for 215 police officers were issued by Turkish authorities today as the post-coup purge continues, Reuters reports.

Greece has denied the asylum claims of four more of the eight Turkish military officers who fled there after the failed coup, the Wall Street Journal’s Nektaria Stamouli reports.

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The White House promised to give a “proportional response” to Russia yesterday after US intelligence officials concluded it was behind the D.N.C. hack and subsequent leak of thousands of files in an attempt to influence the outcome of the US presidential election, The Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee and Damian Paletta report.

It is “unlikely that our response would be announced in advance,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, which could mean some type of covert retaliation but could equally mean levying sanctions without warning, according to an international cyber policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. [POLITICO’s Louis Nelson]

The White House denied there was any political interference in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server yesterday in response to newly leaked emails showing discussions between a campaign aide to Clinton and Department of Justice officials, Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The US Supreme Court agreed to decide whether high-ranking George W. Bush administration officials may be held liable for policies adopted following the 9/11 attacks yesterday, Adam Liptak reports at the New York Times.

A major terrorist attack on a Berlin airport was narrowly thwarted with the arrest of a Syrian refugee yesterday, according to the head of Germany’s federal domestic intelligence service. Alison Smale reports at the New York Times.

Lawyers representing November 2015 Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam have quit, saying he is likely to remain silent, Inti Landauro reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The government of Uruguay offered to bring the family of hunger striking ex-Guantánamo Bay detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab to him, saying that the visas to bring his wife and children to Uruguay have already been approved. [AP]

EU leaders meeting in Brussels next week to discuss sanctions on Moscow have “reason to be wary” given President Putin’s behavior in recent days, including sending Russian military jets to skirt the airspace of France, Norway, Spain and the UK, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit China next week, China confirmed today, for what a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said would involve a “deep exchange of views.” The announcement comes as the Philippine’s relationship with its traditional ally, the US, frays, Reuters observes.

A British man and two Somali women were arrested following a raid on a suspected al-Shabaab recuirtment base in Nairobi, the Guardian’s Murithi Mutiga reports.

FARC rebels still believe peace in Colombia is in reach and will not be the ones to start fighting again, they say. Juan Forero reports at the Wall Street Journal.

US military operations abroad is the most frequently-cited reason for homegrown terrorism, according to a secret FBI study, which concluded that it remains almost impossible to predict future attacks. [The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain and Cora Currier]

The last thing an EU troubled by debt, refugees and populist movemebts needs is its own army, and should instead focus on strengthening NATO, according to Judy Dempsey at the Washington Post. 

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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