The Early Edition: November 15, 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.

AFGHANISTAN

There is a “reasonable basis to believe” that US soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan, including torture, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said yesterday. Somini Sengupta and Marlise Simons at the New York Times report that prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who has been considering whether to start a full investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan, said that a full investigation was now likely.

“Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity on the territory of Afghanistan between 1 May 2003 and 31 December 2014,” according to the report issued by Benouda’s office yesterday.

YEMEN

There is no clear risk of serious Saudi breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen, the UK Foreign Office has concluded, while conceding that UK defense personnel cannot “form a complete understanding” of the Saudi-led coalition’s attitude toward international humanitarian law because they do not “have access to all the information required,” Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.

IRAQ

The Islamic State has been removed from a third of the eastern side of Mosul, an Iraqi interior ministry spokesperson said today, Reuters reports.

“Independence? What are you talking about?” The overarching reactions to the battle of Mosul in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region are “hopelessness, apathy and cynicism,” Tanya Goudsouzian writes at Al Jazeera.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out eight airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Nov. 13. Separately, partner forces conducted 13 strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

SYRIA

Airstrikes hit several districts in rebel-held Aleppo for the first time in weeks today, killing at least three people, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [Reuters]

A third hospital in 24 hours was hit by an air strike in the rebel-held village of Awaijel, west of Aleppo, early this morning, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. [Reuters]

A Russian jet crashed while trying to land on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast yesterday, Russian officials said. Ivan Nechepurenko reports at the New York Times.

President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone for the first time yesterday, both endorsing the idea of joint effort to “normalize relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues,” including Syria, according to a statement from the Kremlin. [New York Times’ Neil MacFarquhar]

Trump is right to seek to work with Russia to beat the Islamic State in Syria, but he must push for political reforms to stop the militant group gaining recruits, the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said today. Tom Miles reports at Reuters.

EUROPE

A new security and defense plan was signed off at a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels yesterday, identifying Europe’s main tasks as responding to external threats, building the security resilience of non-EU partners, and protecting the bloc itself, the AP’s Lorne Cook and Angela Charlton report, noting that the plan fell far short of the idea of an “EU army” previously tabled.

The plan was formed under pressure on the bloc to increase its own military spending with the election of Donald Trump as US president, Julian E. Barnes and Laurence Norman write at the Wall Street Journal.

Donald Trump will maintain the US’s commitment to NATO, President Obama said today, speaking at the White House before heading to Europe this morning, David Smith reports at the Guardian.

President Obama arrived in Greece today on the first stop of his final foreign tour as US president, the AP reports.

German police targeted the DWR “True Religion” Islamist organization in dawn raids on around 190 mosques, flats and offices, Reuters reports.  The raids came as the German government banned the group, which it accuses of attempting to recruit fighters for the Islamic State, the BBC reports.

Five people allegedly linked to the Islamic State and suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in Moscow and the Caucasus were arrested by Russian intelligence agency FSB, the AP reports.

TURKEY

The EU must decide between Turkey and Turkey’s enemies, and it should not expect Turkey to change its anti-terror laws,Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said today. [Reuters]

Yildirim will meet with Russian President Putin on 5 and 6 Dec., Reuters reports.

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

An Israeli bill allowing settlers in the occupied West Bank to remain in homes built on private Palestinian land puts the two-state solution at risk, France said today. [Reuters]

Right-wing members of the Israeli government have renewed calls for the abandonment of a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestine, encouraged by the “combination of changes in the United State, in Europe and in the region,” including Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Isabel Kershner reports at the New York Times.

IRAN

Donald Trump was urged by 76 national security experts to change his hostile opinion on the nuclear agreement signed with Iran last year, the New York Times’ Rick Gladstone reports.

It won’t be the first time a Republican administration has walked away from an arms deal negotiated by Democrats if Trump follows through on his campaign promise to dismantle or renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal, observes Michele Kelemen at NPR, drawing parallels with the 1994 deal with North Korea struck by Bill Clinton she says would have frozen Pyongyang’s nuclear program in exchange for aid.

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The extradition order of Lauri Love to the US, a British autistic man accused of hacking into the FBI, the US central bank and Nasa, was signed by British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, the BBC reports.

Donald Trump’s election as US president raises the possibility that Washington may increase domestic surveillance, former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden said yesterday. Hugh Bronstein reports at Reuters.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter does not condone the actions of former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden, which set back the relationship between the Pentagon and the technology community, he said yesterday. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]

Leaking and whistleblowing are “more urgent, and more noble, than ever” in the Trump era, Glenn Greenwald argues at The Intercept.

Swedish Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren is questioning WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for a second day today at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Reuters reports.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

President Obama blamed “congressional restrictions” on the failure to close Guantánamo Bay detention center, the AP reports.

Former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and Deputy Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez hopes that President-elect Donald Trump will reintroduce harsh and now-illegal interrogation methods, he told The Daily Beast’s Kimberly Dozier. Rodriguez, who as a CIA officer during the Bush years championed waterboarding and destroyed tapes of interrogations, has been named as a possible pick by Trump for head of the CIA .

Al-Shabaab has been quietly retaking towns left by withdrawing Ethiopian troops in Somalia in recent months, Al Jazeera’s Hamza Mohamed reports.

If the revised peace accord unveiled by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos over the weekend holds it will set a strong road map for Colombians to begin healing the wounds of a brutal conflict that lasted for over five decades and build a more tolerant society, writes the  New York Times editorial board. 

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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