Show sidebar

The Early Edition: January 3, 2017

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.

DONALD TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY

Deciding how to respond to Russia over its alleged interference in the US presidential election without a final, conclusive report would be “unbelievably irresponsible,” Donald Trump’s incoming press secretary said, adding that he expects a more detailed intelligence report to be released in the coming days. Louis Nelson reports at POLITICO.

It’s “not a question of necessarily revealing” new details about the hacking, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said yesterday following Trump’s comments Saturday that he knows “things that other people don’t know” but which he would reveal on “Tuesday or Wednesday,” the Hill’s Kyle Balluck reports.

The Russians were behind the election hacking, along with possible others, Trump adviser former CIA director James Woolsey told CNN, Barbara Starr, Jim Sciutto and Ryan Browne reporting.

The NSA and the CIA leaked information about Russian interference in the US presidential election, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) suggested in a tweet yesterday, Mallory Shelbourne reporting at the Hill.

How much danger does President Putin’s Russia pose to the US? This question, at the heart of the issue of how to respond to Russia’s alleged hacking, is splitting the GOP in an increasingly public way, writes Paul Sonne at the Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration is “obviously” attempting to “delegitimize” Trump in focusing on Russia’s alleged role in the hacking of the DNC in the lead-up to Trump’s entering the White House, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will suggest in an interview airing this evening on Fox News, Jennifer Calfas reports at the Hill.

What exactly does Russian President Vladimir Putin want with Trump? Chris Matthews at MSNBC talks to Human Rights Foundation’s Garry Kasparov and Feature Story News’ Simon Marks.

North Korea’s claim that it is developing missiles that could reach the US “won’t happen!” President-elect Donald Trump stated in a Tweet yesterday, the BBC reporting.

Beijing’s failure to crack down on North Korea is to blame, Trump tweeted less than an hour later, Damian Paletta reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Trump’s “clear warning” to North Korea demonstrates that he is aware of the urgency of the threat posed by its nuclear capability and will not depart from a policy of sanctions against it, South Korea said today. [Reuters]

Trump has backed himself into a corner on North Korea, according to analysts, leaving him with four options if he really wants to stop Kim Jong Un from developing a rocket powerful enough to reach America, Katie Hunt writes at CNN.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s plans to reinforce his country’s commitment to settlement building are receiving renewed attention as a more sympathetic US administration prepares to take charge, write Griff White and Ruth Eglash, providing an edited version of their recent interview with Bennett at the Washington Post.

World leaders seeking a change have taken the chance presented by having an incoming and an outgoing US president whose worldviews are diametrically opposed, and President-elect Donald Trump has been quick to encourage them, writes Edward Isaac-Dovere at POLITICO.

What are the major international challenges Trump will face when he takes office on Jan. 20? NBC News’ Chief Global Correspondent Bill Neely takes a look.

SYRIA

A group of Syrian rebels say they have suspended participation in preparations for planned peace talks because of what they describe as ongoing violations of a four-day old ceasefire by Assad regime forces, the AP reports.

The Barada Valley region of Syria has been the target of days of air strikes and shelling despite the truce elsewhere, hundreds of civilians fleeing the region where pro-government forces are fighting several armed groups including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham which was excluded from the ceasefire agreement, Al Jazeera reports.

Efforts by Turkey and Russia to end violence in Syria and launch a political process were unanimously welcomed by resolution by the UN Security Council on Saturday. [UN News Centre]

Clashes in northern Syria left 18 Islamic State fighters dead yesterday, Turkey’s military said today. [Reuters]

At least eight people including al-Qaeda-linked fighters were killed when an air raid hit several cars in northwest Syria late Sunday, Bassem Mroue reports at the AP.

British man Ryan Lock was killed fighting the Islamic State in northern Syria on Dec. 21 after traveling to the country to fight with the Kurdish YPG last August with no previous combat experience, the Guardian’s Matt Blake reports.

IRAQ

Five car bombs detonated in Baghdad yesterday, killing 64 people, the Islamic State claiming responsibility. Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim report at the Washington Post.

One attacker detonated his bomb-filled pickup truck at a day laborer point in the center of a market, Iraqi officials confirmed. [AP/NBC News’ Don Melvin]

The Islamic State is developing its ability to use drones as weapons in Iraq, and is likely to be able to produce more than the “small aerial IEDs” it uses now, reports John Beck at Al Jazeera.

At last 6,878 Iraqi civilians were killed last year as a result of violence, the UN said yesterday, Sinan Salaheddin reporting at the AP.

A service member in the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State has died in a “non-combat related incident” in Iraq, the US military confirmed yesterday.

The so-far unnamed soldier appears to have been British following an announcement by the UK Ministry of Defense, the BBC reports.

How can anyone cling to the belief that executing Saddam Hussein was worth the trillions of dollars it cost, Will Bardenwerper at the Washington Post reflected on Dec. 30, ten years to the day since Hussein was hanged in Baghdad’s Kadhimayah district.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out 17 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Jan. 1. Separately, partner forces conducted nine strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

ISTANBUL CLUB SHOOTING

Iakhe Mashrapov is being named as the person responsible for Sunday’s attack on an Istanbul nightclub, which left 39 dead, by Turkey’s state-funded TRT World news channel.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack yesterday, saying it targeted Turkey in retaliation for its military operations against it in Syria, Maria Abi-Habib and Emre Peker report at the Wall Street Journal.

This is the first time the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack in Turkey, observes Roy Gutman at The Daily Beast.

It is possible that the suspect trained in Syria, according to Turkish media, Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler reporting at Reuters.

A total of 14 suspects are being held by Turkish authorities after six more were detained today, the AP reports.

While Turkey deserves Western support as it fights on the front lines against jihadists, the tragedy is that President Erdoğan seems intent on alienating his friends and anti-terror allies, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Turkey’s Parliament will vote to extend the state of emergency for another three months this week after it was implemented on July 20 last year after the failed coup-attempt, Prime Minister Binali Yildrim announced. [Hürriyet Daily News]

RUSSIA

Two Russian Navy ships arrived in Manila today for a goodwill visit as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attempts to bolster ties with Moscow, the AP reports.

The Russian government was not behind suspicious Internet activity on a Vermont utility computer found last week according to evidence uncovered by federal officials investigating the incident, Ellen Nakashima and Juliet Eilperin report at the Washington Post. An employee at Burlington Electric Department triggered an alert indicating that his computer had connected to a suspicious IP address associated with the Russian hacking operation on the DNC as he checked his Yahoo email Friday.

Today’s engagement between the US and Russia is not a return to the Cold War, but the result of its ending, writes Peter Pomerantsev at the Financial Times.

The US must join with Europe in resisting Russia’s cyber-meddling, a tactic Russia has been using against European countries for years, Josh Rogin writes at the Washington Post.

AFGHANISTAN

Russia is obstructing the removal of one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords from a UN sanctions list, a move felt necessary for the implementation of a peace deal that is seen as a model for a similar deal with the Taliban and other insurgents, Jessica Donati and Habib Khan Totakhil report at the Wall Street Journal.

Russia is actively advocating on behalf of the Taliban in Afghanistan, even arguing that the group is a necessary bulwark in the war against the Islamic State, writes Thomas Joscelyn at The Daily Beast.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Donald Trump needs to carefully consider US prosecutors’ proven ability to efficiently try, convict and imprison those accused of terrorist acts before he enacts his loose campaign promise to “load [Guantánamo] up with some bad dudes,” suggests the Washington Post editorial board.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

China’s aircraft carrier conducted drills in the South China Sea along with other warships and fighter jets for the first time, China’s Defense Ministry confirmed. [AP]

A Syrian man was arrested in Germany on suspicion of seeking $190,000 dollars from the Islamic State for the purchase of vehicles he intended to use for bomb attacks, German authorities said yesterday, Geir Moulson reporting at the AP.

The verdict in the case of Sergeant Elor Azaria, an Israeli army medic who shot and killed a Palestinian man as he lay wounded on the ground in occupied West Bank last March, the incident captured on video and drawing international attention, is expected tomorrow, Luke Baker reports at Reuters.

The world’s terrorists just can’t resist social media even though they understand that – as Donald Trump said over the weekend – “no computer is safe,” writes Austin Bodetti, examining this “fatal attraction” at The Daily Beast.

Obama’s legacy. As the outgoing President’s tenure comes to an end, a panel of Guardian US writers deliver their verdicts on his major achievements, including foreign policy, over the past eight years.

“Let us make 2017 a year for peace.” António Guterres pledged to “put peace first” on the first day of his five-year tenure as UN Secretary-General on Jan 1, having been formally appointed on Oct. 13 last year. [UN News Centre]

Tags:


About the Author

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security, Legal Researcher at UK-based human rights organization, JUSTICE