The Early Edition: November 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.

IRAQ

Iraqi Special Forces engaged the Islamic State in heavy fighting as they moved deeper into the urban areas of eastern Mosul, the Islamic State disabling an Abrams tank with a rocket, the AP reports.

Iraqi forces recaptured six districts in eastern Mosul today, according to a military statement. Michael Georgy and Babak Dehghanpisheh report at Reuters.

The Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is no longer in Mosul, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, noting the therefore “cruel irony” of his audio recording issued yesterday calling for his fighters to defeat Iraqi forces in Mosul after he himself appeared to have “vacated the scene.” [The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour]

Thousands of residents left eastern neighborhoods of Mosul yesterday in convoys of trucks, buses and other vehicles, the first significant wave of civilians to escape the city, William Booth and Loveday Morris report at the Washington Post.

Joint efforts to oust the Islamic State from Mosul have transformed relations between Baghdad and the Kurds, Yaroslav Trofimov reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The way in which the Islamic State chooses to defend Mosul will be the key to how the battle now unfolds, observes the Economist, suggesting that its fighters may retreat west across the Tigris River to make a stand in Mosul’s Old City.

Even a complete military victory in Mosul will not change the reality that there is still no political agreement in place that could reconcile Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority with the Shi’ite-dominated government, writes Tim Arango at the New York Times.

Residents of parts of Mosul vacated by the Islamic State describe what life was like under the militants for Al Jazeera’s Salam Khoder.

Is it wrong to call the Mosul battle a “liberation?” Raed Jarrar at Al Jazeera suggests that the narrative around the violence in Iraq has been carefully constructed by the US to “justify its ongoing military presence in the country.”

SYRIA

A ten-hour “humanitarian pause” came into effect in Aleppo this morning, activists reporting a relative calm in the city, the AP’s Sarah El Deeb reports.

Rebels fighting in Aleppo plan to defy Russia’s ultimatum to leave Aleppo by this evening, after which it has warned it will conduct a bombardment that will level what remains of Aleppo, insisting that the promised safe corridors out of the city do not exist and that Russia’s threatened blitz of the city will not change the course of the war, Martin Chulov, Kareem Shaheen and Patrick Wintour report at the Guardian. A Russian carrier group expected to take part in the bombardment has moved into its final positions in the eastern Mediterranean.

Rebels launched a fresh wave of attacks on government-held western Aleppo ahead of the humanitarian pause yesterday, the AP’s Philip Issa reports.

AFGHANISTAN

An Afghan journalist was killed by a roadside bombing in Afghanistan’s Helmand province today, the AP reports.

An airstrike called in to protect US and Afghan troops involved in heavy fighting with the Taliban near Kunduz killed up to 30 civilians yesterday morning, Sune Engel Rasmussen reports at the Guardian.

Afghan government forces and their NATO-led coalition allies are responsible for more and more civilian deaths in Afghanistan, this year being well on its way to becoming the deadliest for Afghanistan’s people since the UN mission there began documenting civilian deaths seven years ago, writes Max Bearak at the Washington Post.

TURKEY

The two co-leaders of Turkey’s main Kurdish opposition party the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and several of its lawmakers were detained by police this morning as part of what state media called a counterterrorism investigation, the New York Times’ Ceylan Yeginsu reports.

A car bomb attack in the biggest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast region killed eight people hours after the arrests were made, Suzan Fraser and Cinar Kiper report at the AP.

The blast struck the police station in Diyarbakir where some of the party leaders were being held, Reuters reports.

If the People’s Democratic Party engages in “terror” then it should “pay the price,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in response to the arrests, which were ordered because the HDP members refused to provide testimonies to Turkish state authorities. [Hürriyet Daily News]

A long-term implementation of the state of emergency was signaled by the Turkish government, EU Minister Ömer Çelik describing it as the only mechanism that can “fully eradicate the threat posed by the Gülenists.” [Hürriyet Daily News]

RUSSIA

Russia is trying to divide and weaken Europe, the president of Bulgaria told the BBC.

Russia and NATO conducted disaster-relief drills just 150 miles apart in the southeastern Balkan region of Europe yesterday, Alexander Smith reports at NBC News.

Four suspected militants were shot dead last night after allegedly firing on police who tried to stop their vehicle, filled with weapons, in the town of Khasavyurt in the restive Caucasus region of Dagestan, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said. [AP]

“Pushy, headstrong” Russia presents what David Ignatius at the Washington Post calls a paradox: it is a corrupt country in decline economically, technologically and in terms of its population, but it displays “the cockiness of a street fighter” in waging war with Syria, Ukraine and cyberspace with apparent disdain for US power.

THE PHILIPPINES

President Rodrigo Duterte managed to play off the US and China, improving his position with both and cementing his images at home as a strong nationalist unbeholden to foreign powers, observes Max Fisher at the New York Times.

U.N. FORCES in SOUTH SUDAN

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon instigated an investigation into deadly attacks in South Sudan with the “preordained” outcome of placing the blame on the Kenyan commander of the UN peacekeeping force there, Kenya alleged. Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.

A task force to carry out the recommendations of the UN probe into its Mission in South Sudan, which found it failed to protect civilians as violence broke out around its premises in Juba in July, was set up by Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations. [UN News Centre]

GUANTANAMO BAY

Some defense lawyers’ handling of classified information is being investigated by two special Pentagon prosecutors appointed by the general overseeing Guantánamo Bay war court prosecutions, Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The White House and the Department of Homeland Security will launch an unprecedented effort to counter cyberattacks in response to fears among US government officials that Russian hackers may try to interfere with next week’s presidential election, Ken Dilanian, Josh Meyer, Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin and Robert Windrem report at NBC News.

Russia is not capable of altering the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election through cyberespionage, but it may continue to meddle after voting has ended to create doubt over the legitimacy of the result, Greg Miller and Adam Entous at the Washington Post cite US officials as saying.

CrowdStrike maintained its position that Russia was behind the DNC hacks despite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s assertions in an upcoming interview with Russian government-run news station RT that the Russian government was not the source, Joe Uchill reports at the Hill.

Newly discovered emails the FBI suggested may be “pertinent” to its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server do relate to her tenure as secretary of state and are not duplicates of documents previously reviewed during the investigation, a US official told CBS News.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was warned in 2008 to start protecting sensitive documents “by at least encrypting them” by then-top Obama campaign aide Denis McDonough in an email which was exposed as part of the trove hacked from Podesta’s account and released by WikiLeaks. [The Intercept’s Dan Froomkin]

The FBI will open an investigation into one of its own Twitter accounts that had lain dormant for over a year until it began releasing links to documents with “political impact” this week, Julian Hattem reports at the Hill.

Canada’s spy agency illegally retained the phone numbers and email addresses of those they were not directly investigating over a ten-year period and were not forthright with the judges who authorized the intelligence gathering, a Canadian court ruled yesterday. The AP’s Rob Gillies reports.

The entire internet infrastructure of Liberia was brought to a standstill by hackers using the same weapon used two weeks ago in the largest cyber-attack in history, Nicky Woolf reports at the Guardian.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Game 7 of the World Series teaches us four small lessons about foreign policy, according to Daniel W. Drezner 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