The Early Edition: November 2, 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.

Just Security’s Three-Year Anniversary Event, “National Security and Transparency in this Administration and the Next,” is taking place TODAY. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion with panelists Amy Davidson (Staff Writer, The New Yorker), Jack Goldsmith (Henry L. Shattuck Professor, Harvard Law School), Jameel Jaffer (founding director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University; Former deputy legal director at the ACLU; Executive Editor, Just Security), and David McCraw (Assistant General Counsel, The New York Times). Details are available here.

IRAQ

Iraqi forces paused on the outskirts of eastern Mosul today hampered by bad weather conditions reducing visibility, Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports at the AP.

The cloud of sand and dust thrown up by a sandstorm handed a tactical advantage to the Islamic State, CNN’s Tim Lister suggests.

A great deal of fighting remains in Mosul despite Iraqi forces reaching the Gogjali neighborhood, within the city limits, yesterday, Tim Arango and Falih Hassan report at the  New York Times.  A BBC team of reporters embedded with the Iraqi troops is tweeting from the front line.

Iraqi Special Forces seized control of the state television headquarters from Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Mosul despite fierce resistance including anti-tank missile fire from the jihadists, Simeon Kerr reports at the Financial Times.

Iraqi forces are advancing from the south toward Mosul today, the AP reports.

The Iraqis moved closer to the town of Hamman al-Alil south of Mosul where the Islamic State has reportedly executed dozens of prisoners, Maher Chmaytelli and Stephen Kalin report at Reuters.

The ground assault by Iraqi forces to the south of Mosul has been grindingly slow, in contrast to the speedy advance from the east, Susannah George reports at the AP.

Tensions between Iraq and Turkey rose after Turkey deployed tanks and artillery near the Iraqi border, prompting Iraq’s prime minister to warn Turkey against provoking a confrontation while saying he does not want war, Al Jazeera reports.

SYRIA

A 10-hour “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo on Nov. 4 was ordered by President Putin, the Russian General Staff reported. [RT]

Russia told rebels fighting in Aleppo to leave the city by Friday evening, saying they would be allowed to exit the city unharmed during the pause via two corridors. [Reuters]

All parties in Aleppo are conducting hostilities resulting in large numbers of civilian casualties, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said yesterday.

Russia’s defense minister accused rebels fighting in Aleppo of massive shelling of residential areas today, also claiming that rebels blocked civilians from leaving rebel-controlled neighborhoods, killing scores of them. [AP]

Other countries involved in Syrian peace negotiations have “sabotaged” the process with their ongoing backing of militant groups determined to oust President Assad, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Greece today. Derek Gatopoulos and Nicholas Paphitis report at the AP.

Syrian President Assad expects to remain in power at least until his third seven-year turn ends in 2021, he told the New York Times’ Anne Barnard in an interview at his palace, claiming that the “social fabric” of Syria has improved since the civil war, which he blamed squarely on rebel forces, began five years ago.

Russia’s policy in Syria began over 20 years ago, emerging from the devastation in Grozny, and could have been stopped if the west had said “no” back then, writes Oleg Kashin at the Guardian.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out two airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Oct. 31. Separately, partner forces conducted 11 strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

YEMEN

The Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of Yemen has “righteousness, legitimacy, a lot of support” and will continue “no matter what it takes,” Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US Prince Abdullah Al-Saud told delegates at last week’s Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference at which he was a keynote speaker. ‘[The Intercept’s Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons]

Despite calls for the parties involved in Yemen to commit to the peace process, they continue to undertake unilateral actions and make “reckless political decisions,” UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the Security Council on Sunday, calling on all parties to recommit themselves to promises made earlier and to engage fully with the UN-mediated peace process. [UN News Centre]

U.N. FORCES in SOUTH SUDAN

UN peacekeepers failed to respond to pleas for help from civilians facing an attack by South Sudanese troops in July, a report  issued Tuesday concluded. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone]

The commander of the peacekeeping force in South Sudan was fired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following the release of the report, Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.

Measures to bolster the UN Mission in Sudan’s protection of civilians will also be introduced, including through greater accountability of personnel, Ban said yesterday. [UN News Centre]

EUROPE

Greece blocked EU sanctions on an Iranian bank the US accuses of financing terrorism, officials said. Laurence Norman and Nektaria Stamouli report at the Wall Street Journal.

Russia is revamping Soviet-era military bases in Crimea, according to a report by Reuters.

Belgian “city of jihadis” Vilvoorde is struggling to reintegrate Islamic State fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, writes Jim Brunsden at the Financial Times.

Swiss police raided a mosque in the northern city of Winterthur and the apartments of three people this morning, detaining four people including an imam who allegedly called for the killing of Muslims who refused to participate in prayers, the AP reports.

COLOMBIA

The UN Mission in Colombia was authorized to verify the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities by the Security Council following a request from the Colombian government and the FARC rebels, reports the UN News Centre.

Colombia is making “substantial progress” with getting its stalled peace deal back on track, President Juan Manuel Santos said today during a state visit to Britain. [Reuters]

TURKEY

Arrest warrants for 137 academics over suspected links to Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen were issued by Turkish authorities today, Reuters reports.

Can critical NATO ally Turkey’s democracy survive President Erdoğan? Asks the New York Times editorial board.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Who’s “good to go,” “cleared and gone,” and “still waiting,” and which are the “forever prisoners?” The Miami Herald’s Guantánamo periodic review guide provides the status of President Obama’s March 2011 order to the Pentagon to set up annual review boards for those detainees not yet cleared for release.

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The suspected Russian hack of the US election highlights both the risks of more mundane attacks, as opposed to the “cyber 9/11” US government officials have warned of for years, and a new weapon in information wars: the disclosure of hacked information to influence policy or public perception, Robert McMillan and Jennifer Valentino-Devries write at the Wall Street Journal.

Proposed changes to the January settlement of two lawsuits brought against the New York Police Department for its surveillance of Muslim citizens, if carried out, will better protect all citizens from unconstitutional spying, writes the New York Times editorial board.

The UK must be able to retaliate against cyber-attacks from hostile “foreign actors,” UK Chancellor Philip Hammond said in a speech setting out how the government intends to spend £1.9 billion on cybersecurity. [BBC]

Journalists, dissidents and activists in Arab Gulf states face surveillance, imprisonment, intimidation and silencing for posting their beliefs of social media, according to “140 Characters,” a new campaign and report from Human Rights Watch. [The Intercept’s Jenna McLaughlin]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The UK had no impact on US policy in Iraq in 2003 and was rarely able to overturn sometimes ill-informed American decision-making, the lead British administrator in Iraq in 2004 Sir Jeremy Greenstock said. Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.

The trial of teenage Israeli sergeant Elor Azaria accused of the manslaughter of a Palestinian currently underway in Israel’s Jaffa is one of the most divisive trials in Israeli history, suggests William Booth and Ruth Eglash at the Washington Post. The fact Azora killed the Palestinian man is not in issue because it was caught on video.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will discuss potential joint military and police operations with Malaysia to combat Abu Sayyaf militant kidnappings of sailors, Jim Gomez reports at the AP.

A car bomb at a military checkpoint on a road leading to Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri killed nine people, police blaming Boko Haram for the attack. Haruna Umar reports at the AP.

Bosnian leaders are shunning the west twenty years after the US brokered peace there following the almost four-year war between the country’s Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, Drew Hinshaw observes at the Wall Street Journal.

Why do Arabs resent the Sykes-Picot agreement? Al Jazeera discusses the ways in which the Middle East continues to bear the consequences of the treaty which divided the map of one of the most volatile regions in the world into states that cut through ethnic and religious communities. 

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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